Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Laugh of the Day

I do these all the time on my other blogs, so I thought I'd post one here, too. Enjoy!

Via LOLdogs.

Donna's Malt Ball Cookies

If you aren't already a reader of Donna - FFW's blog, I highly suggest you become one instantly! She's brilliant! Last week, these malt ball cookies appeared on her site and I thought they were unique and appealing, and since it's PMS time, I decided to make a batch. I didn't use Whoppers as the local overpriced grocery store didn't carry them, so I used Maltesers, which I had a hard time not eating as I was making the cookies.

Malt Ball Cookies (original recipe here)

1 cup salted butter
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup white sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp instant hot chocolate mix (I used my favourite kind, Ghirardelli's Chocolate Mocha)
2 eggs
2 1/4 cups flour
2 cups malted milk balls, chopped

Bake at 375F for 10 - 12 minutes. I scooped using my #70 cookie scoop and got just over three dozen cookies.

These were fan-freakin'-tastic! The dough was nigh on impossible to resist dipping into as I made these, and the coffee flavour from the hot chocolate mix went really well with the malt balls and made for a really tasty cookie.

Thanks Donna-FFW!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Magazine Monday #34: Hush Puppies

When I went to Florida five years ago, my friends and I ate at a gated community. Yes - a gated community. I don't know how we wound up there - we were all tourists - but someone recommended the little village within the gated community for lunch as there were a number of small restaurants there in addition to some shopping.

It was creepy, but perhaps that's another story. We chose a small restaurant and sat out on the immaculate patio as a black person walked by picking up non-existent litter. Really - but like I said, that's another story.

The food was good, but I can't remember what I ordered, though I do remember that it came with these things called Hush Puppies. My friend E, whom we were all in Florida to visit with, is originally from the deep south, and I asked her what a Hush Puppy was and she told me. I was intrigued. And when my meal came, I was totally digging the Hush Puppies. They were great!

Fast forward five years and I am still cringing at my gated community experience, and I still remember those Hush Puppies. And lo and behold, Gourmet's February 2009 issue had a recipe! I made them to go with a spectacular burger that will appear in Wednesday's post.

The recipe is here.

Aaaaaahhhhhh...the results were not good.

First of all, I didn't have stone ground cornmeal as specified in the recipe, so my batter wasn't the right texture. And they fell apart in the frying process. They were a complete and utter disappointment.

Perhaps my expectations were too high. Perhaps I needed finer cornmeal. Perhaps I need a new recipe.

Well, they cannot all be keepers can they? That's the whole point of Magazine Mondays - to sift through all those magazine recipes and see which ones are keepers and which ones to pitch. This one is getting pitched.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Local Weather

For a non-food-related interlude, check out pictures of the lovely weather I'm currently experiencing here.

When, when will it end?

Breakfast at the Sunshine Cafe

This morning I got together with three old friends from high school. T now lives in Vancouver, but she was in town this week to visit family. This morning was the only time the four of us could all get together for some girl time and gabbing. We chose to have breakfast at one of Rossland's well-known eateries, The Sunshine Cafe. I've previously reviewed the Sunshine here and here, and this was the first time I've had breakfast there. I'd heard only good things about it.

The menu is a la carte and each item is individually-priced. I had two eggs ($2), hashbrowns ($2), three bacon ($2), and toast ($2). The hashbrowns had sweet potatoes in them, which I don't like, and next time I wouldn't order them. The scrambled eggs were a little strange-looking but tasted good. For $10 it was a good amount of food and I came away satisfied.

P had two eggs basted, sausage, hash browns and toast.

T had two eggs over easy, bacon, and hashbrowns.

My most excellent friend, Budgirl, who has not blogged in eons, had something a bit different: the Western Denver, also with hashbrowns, and a side of tzadziki (huh???). Budgirl marches to the beat of her own drummer!

A good time was had by all, and once again The Sunshine Cafe delivered!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Blueberry Muffins - Commercial Style

Here is another recipe from work. March is Blueberry Muffin month, and this is the recipe we use. It's not as good as my Ultimate Blueberry Muffin recipe, but it's OK, and apparently the customers like them. This is a variation of the master/basic muffin recipe and we use wild blueberries.

Blueberry Muffins

12 cups flour
6 tbsp baking powder
3 tsp salt
12 eggs
5 cups milk
4 cups brown sugar, packed
2 cups vegetable oil
6 tsp vanilla
4 cups blueberries

The usual muffin method applies. Bake at 350F for 25 minutes or so.

You can divide this by four and get an amount of batter suitable for home baking, but you might have to tinker a bit with the milk amount. I know I have to every so often when I make the large batch; I usually have to increase it.

Anyway, there you have it: Blueberry Muffins, commercial style.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

101 Uses for a Roast Chicken #15: Chicken & Olive Ravioli

This is the second dish I made on the weekend with the chicken I wrote about in yesterday's post. It's a variation on Giada de Laurentiis's Ravioli Caprese, which I blogged about here. I like this method of making the ravioli dough: it's easy, quick, and involves two whole ingredients - flour and water. Oh, I have a pasta maker and a ravioli press, but this is just as good. For the dough and for the directions on how to form the ravioli, follow the instructions in the original recipe here.

For the filling, the following is what I used. I put olives in because I had some kicking around from a dish I made a couple of weeks ago and I wanted to use them up.

Chicken & Olive Ravioli Filling

3/4 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
12 - 15 kalamata olives, pitted & finely chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped chicken from a roast chicken
2 tsp dried basil (or fresh)
1 egg
2 cloves of garlic, crushed or grated
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Fill ravioli as directed in the recipe.

I served this with some left over sauce from my Eggs in Purgatory meal. It was really good ravioli, and made enough for three meals. I put the left over ravioli in the freezer for future meals.

Bon appetit!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

101 Uses for a Roast Chicken #14: Mexican Chicken & Potato Salad

I roasted a chicken over the weekend - a chicken I got cross-border shopping the week before that cost me 88 cents/lb. The whole chicken cost about $3.50. This is ridiculous: I get all happy & decadent-feeling when whole chickens go on sale for $1.99/lb at my local overpriced grocery store, but this doesn't happen as often as it used to. In fact, when I see them on sale now, they're more like $2.29/lb. This chicken also tasted better than it's Canadian counterpart, was bigger overall, and roasted to a lovely golden colour.

Can you blame me for going to the States? Really? Can you?

Anyway, this week you're getting two whole 101 Uses for a Roast Chicken posts because I made two things with this chicken. This potato salad is one of them.

I know it's not exactly the season for potato salad, but, honestly, is it ever not the season for potato salad? I say no!

Mexican Chicken & Potato Salad

1 lb nugget potatoes, cut into uniform size for even cooking
2 cups chicken taken from a roast chicken
3 green onions, sliced
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
1/3 cup low-fat mayo
1/3 cup low fat sour cream
1 tbsp (or to taste) taco or fajita seasoning mix

1. Boil the potatoes in some salted water until they are fork-tender. Drain and soak in cold water until cold.

2. Meanwhile, dice up the chicken and put in a large bowl. Add the onions and cilantro. Combine the mayo, sour cream, and seasoning mix in a small bowl.

3. When the potatoes are cold, dice them up into bite-sized cubes. Add to the chicken. Add the dressing and combine all ingredients.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Whole Wheat Oatmeal Pancakes

I often feel guilty about eating pancakes - except on Pancake Tuesday - because they're such a junky meal. I don't eat them that often as a result. But, when I came across this recipe on a new food blog I discovered called Colleen's Recipes, I was wowed. Guilt-free pancakes! Who'd've thunk it?

The recipe can be found here.

The only substitution I made was an equal amount of maple syrup instead of the honey. I am low on honey and am hoarding it because it's expensive. Otherwise, these were great pancakes. Though a bit crumbly, they still managed to be light and cakey despite the whole grains.

Thanks Colleen!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Magazine Monday #33: Monte Cubano

Who doesn't love a humungous freakin' sandwich every now again (or more often than every now and again)? I certainly do! And I love Monte Cristo sandwiches a lot, which is why this Monte Cubano from Gourmet's March 2009 issue caught my eye. The garlicy mayonnaise really made this outstanding, and it smelled wonderful as it cooked!

The recipe is here.

Definitely a winner recipe I'd make again!

Friday, March 20, 2009

A Few Words About Cheap Chocolate

The people who have been doing the grocery shopping where I work recently started buying el cheapo chocolate chips. I realize there is a budget and we must mind our food costs, particularly now that the cost of everything is now rising, but the cheap chocolate sucks big time.

Not a lot of people know this, but lots of times, in order to make a product cheaper and to give it a higher melt-point, companies remove the cocoa butter from chocolate and replace it with palm kernel oil - or another type of oil, but palm kernel is the one I've seen mostly. Your first clue that the chocolate isn't real is the name it's called on the package, like this one:

Notice how it says "chocolate flavoured baking chips" not "chocolate chips". That's because these chips aren't real chocolate, since the cocoa butter has been removed. Here is the list of ingredients:
You can't call something chocolate that isn't chocolate. Note that these chocolate chips are made with cocoa powder (also note, incidentally, that they misspelled vanilla - gr), which chocolate is made from but is not actually chocolate. France has laws about this stuff, you know!

Anyway, here are some of the downsides of using this kind of chocolate, which has a name: compound chocolate.

  • it's grainy on the tongue and lacks chocolate's smooth texture
  • it lacks flavour, or is too sweet
  • it doesn't pipe well at all
  • it actually sticks to pans quite a bit, as seen in this picture I took at work last week:

While this may not look dramatic to you, it actually is a pain in the ass because it makes de-panning muffins and cookies much more difficult. Unfortunately, I lost four muffins last week because the fake chocolate chips stuck to the pans and wouldn't release upon cooling (OK, it wasn't a complete loss; I got to munch on chocolatey muffins during my shift, but still...).

The moral of the story: if you have to pinch pennies when baking, do it with another ingredient, not with the chocolate!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Stock 101

My dear friend S revealed to me in a recent phone conversation that she'd taken it upon herself to roast two chickens. She was very proud of herself, and I was proud of her, too. But, when I asked her what she did with the bones, she said they looked so gross to her that she just chucked them out.

I was shocked!

I told S that bones make great soup, but she said she hasn't the time to make homemade soup. When I told her she could do it in her crock pot (an appliance I know she has because I was at the bridal shower where she received it from our friend J), she was still skeptical that it would be worthwhile. After I continued to razz her about this total waste of a great resource, she said that if I did a blog post spelling out in easy steps how to make chicken soup in one day, she'd give it a try. So, here is that post.

Stock 101

Step One: Put bones in pot and cover with water. Same deal if you're using a slow cooker. Just put the bones in the crockery and cover with water. Turn the crock pot on to high at this point because it needs more time to heat up.

Step two: Add aromatics and flavourings. Aromatics typically mean carrots, celery, and onion. No need to spend a lot of time chopping; large chunks are OK. For additional flavour, I added half a bunch of cilantro (just chuck it in whole), a couple of teaspoons of whole peppercorns, several whole cloves of garlic, and some salt. Adjust the amount of salt to your own tastes. I have often added a lemon, quartered, to my chicken stock, as it makes for a really nice flavour.

Step Three: Simmer the crap out of all this. Bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat to simmer. You basically want to cook this until the veggies have nothing else to give the stock: you are transferring all of their flavour to the stock. The veggies should be beyond tender but not total mush. On the stovetop, this can take 3 -4 hours, depending on the size you cut your veggies and the size of your pot. If using a crock pot, just keep the temperature set to high all day, or about 6 - 8 hours.

Step Four: Strain the stock. Using a colander, pour the stock into either another pot or a bowl. If using a crock pot, strain the stock into a large soup pot. Pick the carcass and its detached parts (this inevitably happens during the simmering; it's annoying, but deal with it). Discard all the veggies and flavouring stuff. Pick the meat off the bones. Discard the bones and add the meat back to the stock.

Step Five: This is the point where I cool my stock and refrigerate it overnight so I can skim the fat off the next day, but this is supposed to be an all-in-one-day lesson, so now you want to add to the stock whatever you want to put in your soup. This time, chop the veggies small but evenly. I used carrots, onion, a can of baby corn chopped up, a large jar of my home-canned tomatoes, and more garlic. If you want to put potatoes in, now's the time. Bring the soup - for it is now soup, not merely a stock! - to a boil, then bring it down to a simmer. Simmer until the veggies are almost tender.

Step Six:
Add pasta. Fresh is best - less starchy and it takes less time to cook. I like using fresh tortellini or even smaller ravioli. In the case of this soup, I used a porcini mushroom and ricotta tortelloni. It was fab. Cook until desired doneness.

Step Seven:
Serve & eat. This is the best step of all, of course!

All right - how was that? Let me know if you have any questions or if I wasn't clear about something.

So, S, are you going to try it now?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Firefighter's Chicken Mutz

Donna - FFW of Tasty Treasures, a blog I love, posted this recipe for Chicken Mutz on Sunday. It looked so good and simple to make that I was immediately inspired to make it, and I did so tonight. (I also had some left over mozza to use up, though I had to scrape the mold off...) I cut the recipe down to a single serving, and as I had no bread crumbs, Italian or otherwise, I used a few crushed triscuits - a tip I picked up from my roommate. The result: excellent!

Chicken Mutz (a la Coyote)

1 chicken breast
2 - 3 strips of mozzarella cheese
3 Triscuits, crushed
1 tbsp low fat mayo
1/8 tsp each paprika, basil, and garlic powder
salt & pepper

Season chicken with salt & pepper. Cut a pocket in the chicken breast and insert the mozza strips. Place chicken in a baking dish and close the pocket as best you can. Spread mayo all over the chicken and then sprinkle the crushed Triscuits over the top. Sprinkle with spices. Bake at 400F for 20 25 minutes or until done.

I served mine with some roasted nugget potatoes and some stirfried bok choy that my roommate had offered me. It was a great dinner. Thanks Donna - FFW!

I encourage you all to check out the original post for the mouthwatering photos!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

King Size Corn Muffins

My love affair with my king size muffin pan continues! I made these cornmeal muffins the other day and they were perfect! The recipe comes from Little Cakes from the Whimsical Bakehouse, where I've gotten some seriously wonderful muffin recipes, like these blueberry muffins and my all-time favourite, Coffee Chocolate Chip muffins. This cornmeal muffin recipe is extremely simple to put together and provided a quick fix for my muffin craving.

Corn Muffins (adapted by me)

Blend together:
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup milk

Sift in:
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Add: 1 1/2 cups cornmeal

Once all ingredients are combined, scoop & bake @ 350F until a tester inserted in the centre comes out clean - 20 - 25 minutes for regular sized muffins (you'll get 12 of these) or 30 - 35 minutes for king size muffins (of which you'll get 6).


Monday, March 16, 2009

Magazine Monday #32: Fish & Rice

Today's MM recipe comes from the March/April issue of Clean Eating Magazine, where there is a segment on fast, five-ingredient meals. This simple fish and rice dish caught my fancy because of its simplicity, and though the original recipe calls for tilapia, I can't seem to find any around here these days, so I substituted basa. I am liking basa; it was on sale at the local overpriced grocery store last week, and it really has great flavour. I also didn't use brown rice, but the last bit of basmati I had on hand.

Tilapia with Soy Sauce & Pineapple Scallion Rice

1 cup brown rice
4 x 6oz tilapia fillets - or basa fillets
2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
1 8oz can pineapple chunks, reserve juice
6 scallions/green onions, sliced
salt & pepper to taste

1. Cook rice.

2. Meanwhile, place fish in a baking dish either lined with foil or sprayed with cooking spray. In a small bowl, combine soy sauce with 3 tbsp of pineapple juice, then pour over the fish. Season with salt & pepper if desired (I did not so desire). Bake at 450F for 15 - 20 minutes.

3. In a skillet with a tad bit of oil or some cooking spray, saute the scallions/green onions for about 2 minutes. Add the pineapple chunks and cook for a minute. Fold into cooked rice.

4. Serve fish with rice, pouring any remaning pan juices over the top.

I really enjoyed this dish and would definitely make it again!


Saturday, March 14, 2009

Foodie Parcel & Award Time!

I have been very lucky to "meet" some very generous folks through my blogs. One of them is Jodi, who's been a reader of ReTorte and Wandering Coyote almost since I started them. Amongst other things, like the very and literally cool bed fan (yes Donna - FFW, I do sleep with machinery, thank you very much!) that has greatly improved the quality of my sleep this week, Jodi sent me a huge parcel filled with all kinds of goodies.

Top row, L - R: Williams Sonoma Hot Chocolate, Red Sour Cherry Preserve & Topping, Raspberry & Cherry Preserve & Topping, Cream Nut Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Clusters, Billington's Sugar Crystals.

Bottom row, L- R: Jodi's homemade scotcheroos (yum!), a selection of Dove chocolate bars, Ghirardelli Milk Chocolate.

Um, I'm already half way through the peanut butter clusters - they are insanely fantastic. I have also eaten about half of the scotcheroos - they are delish! I'm so looking foward to trying everything else!

This box (and the remainder of what was in it can be seen here, along with my cat making herself comfy in some of the contents) totally made my day - my month, in fact - and I am very grateful that I have such thoughtful people in my life!

And speaking of thoughtful people, I received and award from the aforementioned and absolutely hilarious Donna - FFW.

Along with this award comes this message:

"These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated."It also says : "Please give more attention to these writers. Deliver this award to eight bloggers who must choose eight more and include this cleverly-written text into the body of their award."

So, I am going to pass this award along to:

Thank you, Donna-FFW - you honour me. And thanks to everyone out there who makes my life richer each day just by blogging your heart out!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Herbed Turkey Breast & Dining with Dad

My dad has become a pretty good cook. When he and my mom were married, he was pretty much a kitchen luddite and could only make eggs and toast and beans on toast. Since my parents' divorce, Dad has become kitchen savvy and enjoys trying new foods, new spices, and new recipes. He makes a great, hearty meal, and recently he purchased himself a new slow cooker. Last week, my brother and I dined at Dad's and enjoyed a Herbed Turkey Breast and all the fixings.

Herbed Turkey Breast (from the Rival cookbook that came with the crock pot)

1 turkey breast roast (4- 5lbs)
2 tbsp butter
1/4 cup garden vegetable-flavoured whipped cream cheese (Dad made his own fat free version)
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbps fresh minced parsley
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp rubbed sage
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 garlic powder

Place turkey in the crock pot. Combine remaining ingredients and brush over the turkey. Cover and cook on LOW for 10 - 12 hours or on HIGH for 5 - 6 hours.

After the turkey was done, my dad added stock, onions, and mushrooms to the crock pot and made a tasty gravy.

Dad always serves a ton of steamed veggies with his meals, and he also does a great nugget potato. Wiht this meal, we had asparagus, snow peas, cauliflower, green beans, and regular peas (of which I did not partake; peas make me gag!). With this meal, he also made some Stove Top stuffing - which, although it's not homemade, I really love.

For dessert, I made apple & blueberry crumble. Excellent meal, Dad! Thanks!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Tyler Florence's Big Fat Chocolate Chip Cookies

I recently discovered Donna - FFW's Tasty Treasures blog, and I am so glad I did. She is hilarious, and doesn't bother to hide her...um...enthusiasm for various hot celebrity chefs at all. One of her crushes is Tyler Florence, who, I have to admit, is one of the hotter chefs on the Food Network that I wouldn't mind having a nice intimate cooking date with (I also kind of like Ned Bell, who is a Canadian chef in Calgary whom I really enjoyed watching prepare various fish dishes on a recent episode of Cook Like a Chef, a show I just love).

Anyway, Donna posted about Tyler's My Big Fat Chocolate Chip Cookies, and, with a name like that, how could I resist? I printed out the recipe and made it the other day. Perfect PMS and time-of-the-month food, I must say. I made the cookies quite large, and it felt so decadent to bite into a cookie that had more than two bites to it! Normally, I scoop my cookies with my #70 cookie scoop, which is about a TBSP. For these, I used my #12 scoop, which is almost 1/2 a cup, and then divided each scoop in half to get about 1/4 cup's worth of cookie dough per cookie. I think I need to do this more often! Down with piddly-sized cookies, man!

The recipe is here.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Cream of Potato Soup with Roasted Garlic & Dill

Last week I wrote a post about a lunch I had at the Hume Hotel in Nelson. I had a really great soup that I thought would be really easy to replicate at home. This, folks, is that soup - as close as I could figure.

Cream of Potato Soup with Roasted Garlic & Dill

4 medium baking potatoes
1L chicken stock
3 whole heads garlic
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp dried dill
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
1 1/4 cups cream
salt to taste

1. Trim the tops of the garlic heads off, smear with some olive oil, place in some foil, and bake in a 400F oven for about 25 minutes or so, or until nice and golden brown. Take out and let cool slightly so you can handle them without burning yourself.

2. Meanwhile, peel and chop the potatoes into 1" cubes. Place in a large pot and pour in the stock. If necessary, add enough water just to cover the potatoes. Add the pepper and dried dill. Boil until the potatoes are tender.

3. Mash the potatoes with a masher. Squeeze out the roasted garlic from it's shell directly into the potatoes. Blend the soup until smooth either with an immersion blender or in a regular blender. Add the cream and fresh dill. Adjust seasonings to taste. Serve.

Very simple, and my soup was, I can honestly tell you, just as good as the Hume's. Perhaps even better. The flavour was delicate and the soup was satisfying. I just wish I hadn't burned myself while whizzing the soup with my hand blender - I hate it when that happens!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Curling Wind-up Dinner

Last night was our ladies' curling club's year-end dinner. This was catered by John Cochrane (not sure of the spelling) who is a local chef. This is my third time attending the dinner and he's cooked for us each time. Each time it's been spectacular. John made the dessert this year, too. Our bonspiel back at the beginning of last month was a financial success (I didn't attend) and because of that, all members got their meals for $5! Amazing value and an amazing meal, and it's always nice to go and hang out with the girls and do something social with them. So, here is the rundown of the food we ate.

We had two appies, a baked brie in phyllo with a grainy mustard sauce. I didn't get a picture of it, unfortunately, but I did get a picture of this spicey shrimp dish, made with tomato sauce and cayenne pepper. The shrimp are dipped in cornstarch and deep fried. This was delish!

We had three salads, and this spinach one is my favourite. Normally, I don't like fruit in an otherwise savoury salad, but this is great: strawberries, candied almonds, and a balsamic dressing.

Greek salad.

This is a ramen & cabbage salad with a rice vinegar dressing.

This salmon was the star of the evening. It's roasted with sundried tomatoes, and herbs...maybe even a pesto-like mixture. It was to die for.

These green beans were really good, too. They were cooked with sesame seeds and fresh ginger.

This was my plate of food. I enjoyed every morsel. We also had bread and basmati rice with our dinner.

Dessert, which John made, too: banana, peanut butter, and chocolate frozen cheesecake. This was good, but not my favourite flavour combination. I tend not to like things flavoured with bananas, though I do like actual bananas.

That's it for this year! Curling starts up again in November - can't wait!

Monday, March 09, 2009

Magazine Monday #31: Toasted Oat Granola Bars

A while back, I posted about the granola bars from Whitewater Cooks. These bars are totally awesome! When I got my latest issue of Canadian Living, there was a homemade granola bar recipe in there, too, and it looked very good. So, I decided to make them the other day.

The recipe for Toasted Oat Granola Bars is here.

Well, you'll definitely work off some of the calories in these bars just by chewing - because they're very chewy. They turned out OK, but they're definitely not as good as the Whitewater Recipe. I might make these again if I varied the ingredients somewhat. As it was, I didn't have any dates so I just added more cranberries, and I didn't have any sunflower seeds, so I added some sliced almonds instead. I think the whole oats made these bars way more chewier than they needed to be, so maybe quick oats might be a bit better. I don't know.

Anyway, not a failure per se, just not my favourite recipe for granola bars. If you make these, let me know what your experience of the recipe is!

Friday, March 06, 2009

Eggs in Purgatory

Who could resist a dish with that title?

Last week, I treated myself to the latest issue of the Food Network Magazine. I'd never seen it before on my local magazine shelves, and I was intrigued. Overall, it was OK but not something I'd go out of my way to purchase again. It did have an interesting section called "50 Things to Make With a Jar of Pasta Sauce" and this dish with the cool title caught my eye - purely because of the title. So, I made it for dinner the other night.

And it was good! It was strange, but it worked!

Eggs in Purgatory

1 cup pasta sauce
2 eggs

Really, this is ridiculously easy: simmer the sauce in a frying pan until bubbly, then add eggs and cook to desired doneness. (I like a runny yolk.) Sprinkle with a bit of cheese. I covered the eggs with a lid to keep the heat it because this actually took longer to cook than I was expecting. I served it over penne, but you don't have to; you can have it on its own or with some crusty bread, or whatever.

Bon appetit!

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Fracking Economy!

My wedding cake gig this summer has been cancelled. The groom just called me to say he's been laid off and his fiancee's hours at her job have be halved. They have had to cancel both my dessert and cake contribution and the actual caterer as well. Instead, they are going uber-cheap, and as he's related to the owners of the LOGS (local overpriced grocery store), he's going to get a deal on food through them.

I am super bummed about this. I'm super bummed for my friend who's having to revamp his special day, too.

This economic meltdown thingy is suddenly hitting very close to home.

Repost: Chocolate Fudge Pudding

I seem to be on a bit of a pudding kick this week, but I'm not complaining. I could eat pudding until I look like it (some might argue that I already do). I actually made this recipe last weekend because I'm submitting it as part of my latest Bread 'n Molasses column, and I didn't have any pictures of it on file. Shame! I had to make chocolate pudding just to take a picture!

The original post is here.

So here is the recipe.

The Amazing Self-saucing Chocolate Fudge Pudding!

1 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup cocoa powder, divided
1/2 cup chopped nuts
3/4 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup milk
2 tbsp veg oil or melted butter
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups hot (not boiling) water

1. Preheat the oven to 350F. In an ungreased 8" square pan or 2.5 quart casserole, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and 2 tbsp of the cocoa.
2. In a separate bowl, stir together the remaining cocoa powder, nuts, and brown sugar; set aside.
3. Stir milk, oil, and vanilla into the flour mixture in the pan and blend well. Spread out evenly. The batter will be thick.
4. Sprinkle nut mixture evenly over the batter and carefully pour the hot water over everything. DO NOT STIR!
5. Bake until tester inserted comes out clean - 40 - 50 minutes depending on pan size. Serve warm. Makes about 6 small servings, but four larger ones is preferable. Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Lunch at Nelson's Historic Hume Hotel

Last week, Dad and I ventured out to Nelson, which is just over an hour away, to do some shopping, and we decided on going to the Hume Hotel's General Store Restaurant for lunch. We went a few months ago, but they were in the midst of renovating their kitchen and all that was on offer was a buffet, which was OK (did make a curry pasta dish based on something I had there, posted about here), but I wanted to try out their regular menu.

The Hume Hotel is a very old building with a lot of history. As you can see from the picture, the building has gone through a lot of change when you look at its current form pictured on the web site. My family has been eating hear for many a year, and when I was very young we took relatives visiting from the UK there for dinner. I distinctly remember having the French onion soup - and thinking it was the most glorious thing that had ever passed over my five-year-old tongue. It was so rich, and I found out later that it was made with beer. On one sad occasion, I sat with my family during the lunch break of my parents' divorce trial that was going on in the courthouse across the street. I have no recollection of what I ate at that time.

On our most recent visit to The General Store Restaurant, located on the main floor of the hotel, upon being seated, my dad said to the waitress, "Is the French onion soup as good as the one you served 20 years ago?" The waitress was probably 20-ish, and said she couldn't really compare the soups, but said that the current incarnation was very good, and the menu said that it was made with sherry. Dad was delighted to see that they had a nice salad bar, so he didn't even really look at the menu. I had a tougher choice because the menu, though not overly imaginative, looked really good: burgers, sandwiches, pastas, fish & chips, etc. In the end, I opted for my old standby: the Clubhouse. The soup of the day was roasted garlic, potato and dill, which really appealed to me, so I had that.

My Club was excellent, and I was surprised to see it served the old-fashioned way, cut up into quarters; no one does that anymore - at least where I've had Club's recently. I guess it's not in vogue anymore. My Club also had real roast turkey on it, which was another pleasant surprise. The soup was excellent, and I may try to emulate it here at home. When Dad's soup came, it smelled so good, and he said it tasted really good, too. It wasn't quite the French onion of old, but it was still excellent.

They have a wonderful dessert menu, and the pie special for the day was huckleberry, but both Dad and I were full so we left it at that. My meal was $9.99. Dad's salad bar was $8.99 and normally comes with the soup of the day, but they substituted the French onion soup for $3.00. I thought it was a great lunch, and I'd definitely like to make this a regular haunt for future Nelson trips.


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