Saturday, November 29, 2008

Introducing Mr. Robot Coupe

I thought I'd share with you my favourite piece of kitchen equipment at my new work place - other than the dishwasher, that is. It's a Robot Coupe food processor, and I use it to mainly shred fruit, veg, and cheese for our various baking products.

Robot Coupe make a huge variety of commercial mixers, prep machines, food processors, etc. and they are great. The one I use at work is this one, and I have to say that I am totally in love with it. Man, it'll shred anything - and keep on shredding! And the beauty of it is that it comes apart easily and all the parts go right in the dishwasher. It makes life a whole lot easier, let me tell you. At $1100+, I won't be getting one at home anytime soon, but it sure is a treat to use at work!

Friday, November 28, 2008

101 Uses for a Roast Chicken #11: Chicken, Veggie, and Barley Soup

Yes, another installment of everyone's (well, all five of you) favourite foodie series: the seemingly unending 101 Uses for a Roast Chicken. God, is this only #11?

OK, it's winter, it's cold (at least for some us), it's also cold season. In an attempt to use up some of my many frozen chicken carcasses, as well as incorporate some barley that I inherited when my brother moved across the country last summer, I decided to make this soup.

The stock was done, as usual, in my handy crock pot. Instructions here. To flavour this particular stock, I used:

1 lemon, quartered
1 bunch cilantro (just chuck it all in whole)
2 carrots
5 cloves garlic
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 onion
salt & pepper to taste

I got about 10 cups of stock and around 2 cups of chicken meat from the bones. To make the soup, I once again let the stock sit in the fridge overnight so that the fat solidified and could be skimmed off when it came time to finish off the soup. I as the stock heated up I added:

1 chopped onion
2 chopped carrots
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
1L jar home-canned tomatoes, these ones with the green peppers and garlic added to them
1 can mini-corn, sliced into bite-sized pieces
3 cloves freshly grated garlic
2/3 cup barley

Simmer until barley is soft.

As you can see, lots of garlic, lots of lemony goodness. So, not only is this soup comforting on a chilly winter's night, it's nourishing should you have what my good friend Karen refers to as the "snarflies."

Dear Karen: I do hope you're feeling better soon, and I wish I could send some soup to you in E-town! doesn't mail well!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Tuna Melts

I have to be in a really specific frame of mind to enjoy something made with tuna.

When I was in university and weight-lifting, I did a tuna & rice cake diet, which, while it worked great, made me rather sick of tuna pretty quickly. My ex husband was a body builder and he practically lived on tuna, eating at least a tin a day. It would be pretty off-putting for my readership to learn the ways in which he ate the tuna, but let me just say that combined with my tuna overload in uni and his bizarre addiction to the stuff, I eat very little tuna nowadays.

But once in a while, I get a weird hankering, and last night one came upon me. I decided to make a tuna melt, and I totally enjoyed every bite.

1 tin tuna, drained
2 tbsp low-fat mayo
2 green onions, sliced
1 bagel, split (I used one of my homemade bagels, but you can use an English muffin if you'd like, or a bun, or a couple of slices of bread, or whatever)
1/2 cup grated mozzarella or cheddar

Do you really need instructions?!

I could totally have gone for some fries with this, but I instead had some roasted nugget potatoes. It was delish!

Dining at Rancho Chico

Every so often, I indulge in a bit of cross-border shopping, which is how my SIL and I spent Tuesday. The local US shopping mecca is Wally World in Colville, Washington, and we always make sure we go for lunch at this Mexican place called Rancho Chico (151 N Main St, Colville, WA Tel: (509) 684-4819). A quick boo around the net indicates to me that this might be a chain, though they don't seem to have a central web site.

Anyways, this place took on legendary proportions with my SIL's family, so when I first ate there back at the end of June, I was totally stoked. My SIL highly recommended the burrito, which is what she always had. For starters, however, we were served nice warm tortilla chips with a little pot of salsa and another of a cabbage mixture. The salsa was fresh and had just enough kick, but it was the cabbage thingy that really caught my attention. I never asked them about it until today, when I was told it's a "cabbage salsa" AKA "chunky salsa." The ingredients are cabbage, tomato, cilantro, onion, a bit of jalapeno, salt & pepper. Very simple, but very, very good.

My first meal at Rancho Chico wasn't terribly memorable. The burrito was bland and I left disappointed. My second meal was a couple of months later, and I decided upon the Arroz con Pollo, and I am happy to report that it was excellent. I also had a great maragarita there that was potent and inexpensive (the best kind!). Today, I had the seafood chimichanga, and it was my favourite meal yet. Filled with baby shrimp, dungeoness crab meat, and scallops, it was served with rice and refried beans. I'm not a fan of refried beans at the best of times, so I won't comment too much on them now, but the chimi was excellent.

The lunch menu doesn't consist of any desserts, but at the end of your meal, you are served a deep friend tortilla wedge soaked in a sweet syrup and topped with a dollop of whipped cream and a squeeze of coulis. It's just the little bit of sweetness you need at the end of a big meal.

The food is served quickly and is always very hot - so hot that today I burned my finger when adjusting my plate at my seat! The service is friendly and efficient, and the prices are very reasonable given the serving sizes. Our chimis cost $8.95, the Arroz con Pollo is $7.95, and I think the burrito is also $7.95.

While the decor is bordering on tacky and the dining room very dark, the food is totally worth it.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Cheddar & Dill Biscuits

I had a very busy day at work on Monday. We were a bit behind with the coffee shop baking, so I made a huge recipe of Morning Glory Muffins, a carrot cake (for the residents' dessert), and these wonderful biscuits, which are apparently very popular. They smelled divine!

5 cups flour
6 1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp dried dill weed
1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese
3/4 cup cold butter, cubed
1 3/4 cups milk

Whisk together the dry ingredients. Cut in the butter until mealy. Stir in the milk to create a sticky dough. Tip onto work surface and knead gently a few times to get a nice dough. Roll out to about 1" and cut as desired. Bake at 350F for about 15 minutes.

For our purposes, we double this recipe and get approximately 1.5 dozen large biscuits out of it. If you're not a fan of dill, feel free to use another herb you do like, and vary the cheese.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


I was really disturbed one morning last week while watching CBC Newsworld. During one of the business segments, there was a story about how, since food prices are rising and incomes are not, SPAM is becoming more and more common on the shopping lists of those trying to stretch their food budgets as much as possible.

Yahoo has a fuller account here.

My first response was, Eeeeeeewwwwww! SPAM is like totally gross! I think I had SPAM once or twice as a little kid, probably on a camping trip. If it was anything like canned corned beef, which we had quite a big of growing up, it was totally repulsive.

Then the sadness settled in.

I live on a small income, and I get by. And I don't eat a ton of processed, chemical-filled, unidentifiable foods, either. I manage to eat healthy whole foods, with the occasional junky binge here and there. My cupboards are not full of KD and ramen and I don't subsist on tuna casserole of Chef Boyardee. I certainly avoid SPAM and most canned meats like the plague (once in a while I do crack open a tin of tuna or a tin of salmon).

Sure, SPAM is cheap, but let's take a look at the nutritional information, which I gleaned from Wikipedia (such info is irritating to come by on the SPAM web site, which is one of the most annoying, absurd sites I have ever had the misfortune of directing my browser to):

1 serving = 2oz/56g: 7g protein, 2g carbohydrates, 15g fat (including 6g saturated fat), 170 calories, and nearly 1/3 of the daily recommended intake of salt

The labeled ingredients are: chopped pork shoulder meat with ham meat added, salt, water, sugar, and sodium nitrite to help keep its color.

Historically, it was widely used during WWII when rationing was on. Since then, it's become quite the legend. There is a collection of SPAM cookbooks.

But so what? Apart from price, there are absolutely no redeeming qualities about this product at all!

Surely the $2.50 - $3 a can of SPAM costs nowadays could be better spent. A dozen eggs would be a far better source of protein and nutrients, is far more versatile, and would go much farther on a small budget. There are other much healthier food choices out there than purchasing a can of SPAM for dinner. Really. Really.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Magazine Monday #17: Sausage & Mushroom Penne Gratin

This week's MM recipe comes from my very well-used Nov. 2008 issue of Gourmet, from which MM #17 and MM #13. I certainly have gotten my money out of this one!

The Sausage & Mushroom Penne Gratin was fabulous, easy to put together and quick. It's not exactly diet food, but we all need something rich once in a while. This was like a really deluxe mac & cheese...Definitely a keeper!

For the month of December, I'll be hosting MM while Ivonne takes a bit of a break. So, if you have any magazine recipes you'd like to share with us, let me know in the comments and I'll put a link up on the appropriate Monday!

Friday, November 21, 2008

More Muffins

Yesterday at work, I made more muffins (we go through a lot every week). I started off with 3.5 dozen Fruit-fulls again, and then made a large batch of apple muffins.

These are super simple. They are a variation of a basic recipe we use there that can be adapted in a whole bunch of ways, and I got nearly three dozen commercial-sized muffins in the end. The recipe that follows is the recipe we use at work, but if you want to make them at home, just use 1/3 of a recipe.

Apple Muffins

12 cups flour
6 tbsp baking powder
3 tsp salt
12 eggs
6.5 cups apple sauce
4 cups packed brown sugar
2 cups veg. oil
6 tsp vanilla

Combine dry ingredients in a really large mixing bowl and make a well in centre. Combine the wet ingredients in a medium bowl and add to the dry ingredients. Stir to combine. Bake at 350F.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Cookbook Review: Barefoot Contessa: Back to Basics

The flap reads: "Here Ina covers the essentials, from ten ways to boost the flavors of your ingredients to ten things not to serve at a party, as well as professional tips that make successful baking, cooking, and entertaining a breeze. The recipes—crowd-pleasers like Lobster Corn Chowder, Tuscan Lemon Chicken, and Easy Sticky Buns—demonstrate Ina’s talent for transforming fresh, easy-to-find ingredients into elegant meals you can make without stress."

Subtitled Fabulous Flavour from Simple Ingredients, the title of Ina Garten's newest release, Back to Basics, pretty much sums up the premise of this book.

In the introduction, Garten says that she's uninterested in food trends, and would rather let fresh, seasonal, and locally available ingredients speak their own volumes rather than be overly embellished by all kinds of fanciness. The result is a collection of simple but sophisticated recipes using uncomplicated ingredients and techniques. Interspersed between the chapters are some helpful top 10 lists, like "10 no-cook things to serve with drinks" and "10 things not to serve at a dinner party." There is even a flower arranging techniques list.

The styling is elegant and nice on the eye, and the pictures are mouthwatering. The recipes are easy to follow and the instructions are not convoluted or unnecessarily complicated, showing that simple, tried-and-true methods produce amazing food.

The recipe I tried out for the purposes of this review was the Brownie Pudding on page 218. I really needed a chocolate fix badly one night this week, and since I had all the ingredients on hand (except the optional framboise liqueur) I decided to make it. The recipe was quick to put together and made an absolutely outstanding pudding! It was so chocolatey it was nearly black, and it wasn't too sweet - just perfect. I'll definitely be making this again.

This is a great cookbook for the advanced cook and beginner cook alike; the sophistication of the food combined with the simpler ingredients and methods appeals to many different levels of kitchen experience.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Muffin-making, Commercial Style

I thought I'd share some photos from my new workplace. I took these on Monday, when I made a huge batch of muffins, which are sold at the coffee shop at the local hospital. The facility where I work, very part time, is a seniors residence, and the residents are provided one meal a day (dinner). In addition, the kitchen at this place provides all the baking for the hospital's coffee shop.

Monday, I made something called Fruit-Full Muffins.

The recipe involves lots of frozen fruit, 12 cups of flour, etc. This kitchen doesn't have a stand mixer large enough to accommodate the muffin batter, so we mix them by hand. As in, with our actual hands. Trust me, it's the best way in a situation like this.

I got 42 large muffins from this batch.

This particular kitchen is five years old and has new, awesome equipment. It's probably the nicest kitchen I've ever worked in. Here are the muffins in the spiffy convection oven.

Here are the muffins, just out of the oven. And they were seriously yummy!

This place doesn't care if I share their recipes on line, so here is the recipe for Fruit-Full Muffins.

3 cups flour
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup unsweetened apple sauce
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 large egg
1 1/2 cups chopped rhubarb
1 1/2 cups chopped strawberries
1 cup cranberries (we use fresh/frozen, but you can use dried, too)


1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tbsp ground walnuts
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 375F.
2. In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients. In a medium bowl, combine the wet ingredients. Make a well in the dry ingredients and add the wet. Stir to just combine. Add the fruit until combined. Sprinkle topping on top. Bake for 20 - 25 minutes, or until done. This should make about 12 muffins.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


I've been wanting to make some bagels for a while, and finally felt energetic enough to do so on Friday afternoon. Previously, I used Rose Levy Beranbaum's recipe from The Bread Bible, and that recipe produced some seriously nice bagels. It does, however, take quite a while as there is a sponge process that takes up to 24 hours. For all my training and experience, I'm an instant gratification kind of gal, and I wanted to find a decent recipe for bagels that I could make in an afternoon. I found one in my trusty copy of Le Cordon Blue Complete Cook, a book I highly recommend if you want to learn the basics of French cuisine and baking.

Bagels (adapted by moi)

2 tbsp dried yeast
2 tbsp oil
2 tsp salt
3 tbsp sugar
4 cups bread flour
1 1/2 - 2 cups water
1 egg, beaten, to glaze

1. OK, basically, follow these instructions. You want a nice dough with some stick to it, nothing too dry or dense. After the dough has come together, allow it to rest for a few minutes, then stick it in a well-oiled bowl, coat dough with oil, cover, and allow to rise until doubled.

2. Punch down the dough and divide it into 12 balls - or lumps, more like. Make sure you keep them covered while you shape them! To shape, roll the balls into tight balls that are as round as possible. Poke your finger into the centre and expand the hole by spinning the dough. When the hole is big enough, use two fingers and spin the ball a few times to get a decent-sized hole. Place the shaped bagels on lined baking sheets and cover with a towel. Allow to proof for a further 15 - 20 minutes.

3. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Preheat oven to 400F. Cook the bagels in the water for 1 - 2 minutes on each side, then remove them to racks to allow them to cool for 5 minutes. Brush them with the beaten egg. At this point, you can sprinkle on sesame seeds, poppy seeds, or other stuff if you so choose. I am partial to sesame seeds myself.

4. Bake for 20 - 25 minutes, or until golden brown.


Monday, November 17, 2008

Magazine Monday #16: Unstuffed Sweet & Sour Cabbage

I know this is going to sound strange, but one of my favourite vegetables is...wait for it...cabbage. I am not kidding. I put it in soup a lot since it freezes well, I put it in stirfrys, and I often slice it thinly and steam it as a side dish, served with a spot of butter and some salt & pepper. Yeah, it makes you emit gaseous clouds, but I don't care about that. Cabbage is also cheap, and the combination of the arrival of the November 2008 issue of Gourmet and a sale on cabbage at my local overpriced grocery store (33 cents/lb) inspired me to make this week's Magazine Monday contribution.

The recipe can be found here.

I was a little skeptical of this recipe at first, because it seemed to contain some odd pairings: red wine vinegar, cranberries, brown sugar. But, as I tasted the sauce, I was impressed at the bright, bold flavours. This was a great meal, very hearty and reminiscent of cabbage rolls, something I love (my mom's were the best). It's also a really economical meal, and now I have leftovers for most of this week. You can't go wrong with that.

Sunday, November 16, 2008


I have just been commissioned for a wedding cake for someone I went to school with! The wedding is in August! It's for 180 people! I'm so stoked!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Cookbook Review: Rachael Ray's Big Orange Book

The flap reads: "Just one for dinner tonight? Forget the cold cereal. Rach has a chapter of recipes that make dining on your own a thoroughly civilized occasion, with great meals that won’t leave you with a fridge full of leftovers. Vegetarians on the guest list? No problem! Choose from dozens of meat-free meals that are every bit as satisfying as your tried-and-true standards and savory enough to please the carnivores in your crowd. Observing a Kosher menu? Check out the selection of menus just for Kosher cooks, all ready in less than, you guessed it, 30 minutes. There's even a mother lode of burger recipes for fans of the bun—so many options you could make a different burger every day for a full month!"

I'm not the hugest Rachael Ray fan around, but she has grown on me over the years to the point that I won't automatically turn off her show when I come across it on the Food Network. I started to appreciate her versatility and I like watching her multi-task during her 30-minute episodes. Recently, she's become quite the brand, with a magazine and a collection of cookware in addition to her cookbooks. The Big Orange Book is the first Rachael Ray book I've ever been intimately involved with.

My overall impression upon flipping through was chaos. Really. The cover is bold, as are the photos and the titles printed in bright colours. The recipes are long, containing a lot of ingredients. And I know that is a 30-minute meal concept so there are bound to be a lot of ingredients compared to your regular recipe. The way the recipes were written wasn't consistent. Sometimes, if there were multiple dishes the ingredients for each dish were listed seperately, but sometimes they weren't. The instructions were also long, and while they were formatted for the multi-tasking Rachael is so well-known for, I found them at times confusing and unnecessarily convoluted.

A couple other nitpicky things I didn't like include the fact that every single time Rachael's famous "EVOO" was mentioned, the editors felt the need to translate it this acronym in parentheses (extra virgin olive oil). It was so redundant. Another thing was that most of the recipes had hot sauce in them. I hate hot sauce.

All that being said, there are some pretty tasty recipes in here. I made the Cold Chicken Satay Noodles and they were quite yummy. Her burger chapter is totally mouth-watering and has some wonderful ideas.

There are plenty of great ideas in here if you are a beginner cook or someone who has run out of ideas for fast family fare. For me in my situation, I'm not sure this is the right book at the right time, and I'm not sure I can find enough space on my bulging bookshelves to keep it around.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Christmas 2008 Baking Planning

I'm not the biggest fan of Christmas; in fact, it's my least favourite time of year. I find it very stressful, at times sad, and full of pressure. Not to mention expensive. But, I do love the baking part of it, and I always look forward to getting my magazines around this time of year because they're full of great recipes and ideas. Every year, I like to change things up a bit while including things that my family particularly enjoys.

Christmas 2006 baking can be viewed here. I was really sick that year and didn't do too much that was very exciting.

This picture here is of last year's baking, which included a cream cheese shortbread that I made into pretty snowflake cutouts; my family's favourite, mincemeat tarts; cookies with Christmas Smarties; mocha Viennese shortbread; maple pecan cookies; and some kind of chocolate square which I can honestly say I have no recollection of making at all (good thing I took a picture, I guess...).

This year, after polling the family, I'm going to make the mincemeat tarts and mocha shortbread again because they were so popular. Additionally, this is what's on my list:

cocoa sugar cookies (from the Dec. 2008 issue of Canadian Living)
blondies with Christmas Smarties
Lemon Pistaschio Buttercream Cookies
Chocolate toffee squares

There might be some changes or additions to the list, but so far this is what I have planned. I usually start at the end of November and freeze things as they're completed. I also mail away and give away quite a bit of baking as gifts, since it's something affordable for me to do.

Any of my readers have favourites they'd like to share?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Chocolate Bread & French Toast

So, I've been 24 hours without the internet due to an outage in my area. Thank God things just came back on line a short time ago, because I was about to go crazy.

A little while back, I came across a post by Peabody that had a seriously yummy chocolate bread recipe in it, and she used the bread to make a Rocky Road bread pudding. It looked amazing. Despite being down with a bug, I made the bread yesterday. Called Guatemalan Hot Chocolate Bread, you can read the post and find the recipe here.

My bread dough didn't turn out great; there seemed to not be enough liquid so I had to add more. But in the end, I wound up with a decent loaf that smelled pretty amazing. Taste-wise, it's not a sweet bread at all (at least mine wasn't) but it had a very rich flavour.

I was then stuck with the decision about what to do with the chocolate bread. I could have made a bread pudding, and I even got out a basic recipe I've been carting around for a while to try, but I'm low on eggs and payday isn't until next week. So, I decided to take a page from Emily Rose's book (or blog) and make French Toast.

It was decadent, made even more so by that magic ingredient that makes just about anything sublime - bacon. And of course tons of real maple syrup never hurt either.

As for the rest of the loaf, I think I'll freeze it and turn it into a bread pudding another time.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


On Sunday night, I decided to make lasagne, even though I was sick and didn't feel like it. I'd gotten some Ragu on sale for 99 cents for 750mL at my local overpriced grocery store, and some less expensive low fat ricotta at a cheaper grocery store. Mushrooms were also on sale, and so the idea for a vegetarian lasagne was born.

As stated previously in this post, where more detailed instructions for lasagne-making can be found, the cardinal rule for lasagne made with oven-ready noodles is sauce (about 3/4 cup) noodles sauce. After that this is the order I used for the layering: mushrooms & onions, cheese (mixed with 1 egg, a few cloves of garlic, some grated Parmesan, and 1 tsp dried basil), noodles, sauce, 1 bunch spinach, noodles, sauce, cheese.

I usually have to bake this longer than the noodle package suggests - around an hour at about 375- 400F, covered with foil, and then about half an hour longer to get the top nice and brown. Then, I highly recommend leaving the lasagne to sit for at least 15 minutes after taking it out of the oven so that all the cooking liquids can get absorbed. Your lasagne will serve much easier and be way less soupy.

This veggie version was is and light and tasty, and should give me meals enough for this week, so it is also very economical. In every way totally excellent!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Magazine Monday #15: More Cookies!

This week's contribution to Ivonne's Magazine Mondays movement is a recipe for chocolate chip cookies that comes from Canadian Living's October 2008 issue - the one in which they plug their rather disappointing cookbook that came out this fall. Surprisingly, this recipe is available on the CL web site even though it appears in the cookbook (unlike some others I could mention), only under a different name and with the slight variation of 1/2 cup butter and 1/2 cup shortening instead of a full cup of butter.

I used one of the variations, namely the reverse chocolate chip one, and I used a package of pink M&Ms I scored on discount at the grocery store last week (yes, I realize I'm a month late with the breast cancer awareness thing, but never late than never, right?).

So, the original recipe can be found here.

These were a pretty good cookie, actually. A little more crisp than I normally like them, but that's a small thing. They could have used a few more M&Ms in them, but that is also a small thing.

Into the freezer they go!

Friday, November 07, 2008

Lunch at the Sunshine Cafe

Today my SIL and I had lunch at the new local hot spot, the Sunshine Cafe, which I reviewed originally here.

Today's special was a curried chicken ciabatta, and both of us had that, me with salad (the salad special on the board said "Greek pasta" but when my meal came, my salad was sans pasta. When I asked the server, she admitted she'd written the wrong thing on the board, and that the salad special was a plain Greek salad. I hate Greek salad, so the owner said she'd replace my side for me and I had a nice tossed salad instead) and Shan with fries. The Sunshine does great fries.

The curried chicken ciabattas were very tasty! Not spicy at all, but nice and creamy with a good curry flavour. Served with sprouts and some veggies on really nice ciabatta buns, they were a great lunch item that has given me some inspiration for another installment of my 101 Uses for a Roasted Chicken series.

Once again, the Sunshine delivers!

More Larabars

Last month, I did a review of some Larabars I found after an exhaustive search of stores in my area. I first found them at Save-On Foods in Nelson, and during a shopping trip there yesterday, I picked myself up a few more. They don't have much of a selection at this particular store, but as I was killing time in uptown Nelson as my dad yakked with a travel agent, I stopped by the Kootenay Co-op and found that they have quite a few more types of Larabars than Save-On. They were more expensive - $2.19 as opposed to $1.99 at Save-On, but I decided to treat myself.

So, I got the Cocoa Coconut bar and the Pecan Pie bar. I had the cocoa one for a bedtime snack last night and the pecan one for breakfast this morning.

My verdict: both were great, but my preference was the cocoa one (surprise, surprise). It was chocolatey and coconutty, and I thought it was excellent. The pecan one was softer and oily for some reason, and although it tasted great, I wasn't keen on the texture.

Once again, thanks to Megan of Megan's Munchies for getting me on to Larabars!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Posting Despite Failure!

Tonight I made something for dinner that was a bust. I mean it was edible, but it was mediocre. I don't want to go to the trouble of typing up the recipe. I was really looking forward to this meal, too, and bought special ingredients for it and everything. After getting half way through the preparation, I realized the recipe wasn't going to work as it was written, so I had to change things up and in the end I wound up with something completely different than what I was expecting.

I'm not a waster of food at all, so I'll push through and eat my leftovers, but I'm a little ticked right now, not to mention disappointed.

Nonetheless, here I present to you some kind of Thai beef and snow pea dish that was supposed to be a nice Thai curry.

Yeah, it looks pretty, but it was just...blah.

Ah well; onwards and upwards.

Morning Glories

I started a new position a couple of weeks ago. It's at a senior facility that not only provides one square a day for the residents, but also produces all the baking for the coffee bar at the hospital. Yesterday during my shift I made Morning Glory muffins in quite a large quantity. We served them at the coffee shop I just stopped working at, and after a brief look on the net today, there seems to be many different version of this treat. Yesterday's baking inspired me to get a recipe for a smaller quantity and make some for myself.

I found a great recipe on the Canadian Living web site, which you can see here.

They turned out great, though I found the recipe didn't have enough liquid in it to incorporate all the dry ingredients. So, I added a full cup of the yogurt and enough milk to make a decent batter. I got 12 medium sized muffins. They're fairly low in fat and don't have tons of sugar in them. I wasn't keen on the pepitas (hulled pumpkin seeds), though; they weren't as crunchy as a nice nut would have been. But, that's a minor adjustment.

Definitely a keeper recipe.

One day, I'll take some pictures of my work stuff, but since I'm so new there I don't want anyone to think I'm weird or anything!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Sunday didn't start off well. I forgot to change my clocks and woke up in a panic because I needed to be at a curling clinic by 10:00. Finally realizing that I had over an hour to get ready rather than a few minutes, I settled down a bit, got ready and went, threw some rocks, and then came come with a strong urge to bake. I have no idea where this urge came from, and it was quite opposite from the urge I had yesterday, which was so sit around in my PJs watching YouTube videos. Anyway, after going through numerous cookbooks and recipes, I settled on this cookie recipe from Anna Olson's Sugar. I added the chocolate chips because I'm just so darned imaginative.

The Ultimate Peanut Butter Cookie, by Anna Olson

1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup peanut butter (smooth or crunchy)
1 1/2 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350F. Cream butter and sugars until pale and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Add peanut butter. Combine dry ingredients add to peanut mixture and blend in. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto cookie sheet, make a criss-cross mark with a fork (if you want to). Bake 9 - 11 minutes, or until just starting to brown around the edges.

All I can say is...these just totally hit the spot!

Monday, November 03, 2008

Magazine Monday #14: Cornmeal & Cheddar Buttermilk Biscuits

I made these to go with the ham & pea soup I posted about last Wednesday. This recipe comes from Canadian Living's May 2003 issue.

Cornmeal Cheddar Buttermilk Biscuits

1 1/2 cups flour
1 tbsp sugar
1 cup cornmeal
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp each salt & baking soda
1 tbsp dried sage, crumbled
pinch cayenne pepper
1/2 cup cold butter
1 cup buttermilk
1 egg
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese + 1/4 cup shredded cheese for the top

1. Preheat oven to 400F.
2. In a large bowl, sift together the dry ingredients. Cut in the butter until mealy. In a small bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and the egg, and stir into the flour mixture. Stir in the cheese.
3. On a floured surface, press the dough into a ball and knead gently about 10 times. Pat into a 10x7" rectangle and cut into 12 squares. Place on parchment-lined or well-greased baking sheet. Brush a beaten egg and sprinkle with the 1/4 cup cheese.
4. Bake until golden, about 12 - 15 minutes.

OK, as you can tell from the pictures I didn't follow the instructions for shaping the biscuits. That's because I used my #12 cookie scoop to scoop them instead, a trick I learned when I worked at that sh*thole bakery in Victoria (I will say this for them, they made great scones). It's quicker, easier, and cleaner. I also didn't egg wash or top mine when I made them; what can I say, I was in a hurry!


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