Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Chocolate Salted Caramel Oreo Tarts

What are we... last week in January? Good. So your resolution to give up dessert is probably waning. If not, this recipe will probably nail it for you!

This is really easy, and tastes amazing. Instead of a large deep dish pie, I opted to make these into 4 smaller individual tarts. You could use a regular pie dish with the same amounts of crust, caramel and ganache I used.

Great for making ahead and pulling out of the fridge with a flourish and a "ta-da!"

Chocolate Salted Caramel Oreo Tarts

Ingredients
  • ½ package (about 18) whole Oreos (filling and cookie included)
  • 1 2 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • ¾ cup heavy whipping cream, divided
  • 6  oz dark chocolate chips

Directions
Crust
  1. Crush the oreos with a food processor, or put them in a ziplock and smash with a rolling pin until finely crushed.
  2. Place crumbs in a bowl, then stir  in 4 tablespoons melted butter until well combined.
  3. Press firmly into your pie plate or tart pans (bottom and sides). Freeze crust for 10 minutes until set.

 Caramel
  1. Combine 8 tablespoons butter and brown sugar in a small saucepan. 
  2.  Over a medium heat, cook,  whisking constantly, until mixture begins to bubble.
  3. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, for 1 minute.
  4. Remove from heat. Beat in 1/4 cup cream until smooth. Cool about 15 minutes.
  5. Pour the caramel over the Oreo crust, and then return to freezer for about 30  minutes until chilled and set but not frozen.
Ganache
  1. Place chocolate chips in a glass bowl. In a saucepan, bring 1/2 cup cream to a simmer over medium-high heat. 
  2. Pour the cream over the chocolate chips and let sit for 5 minutes, then whisk until completely smooth. 
  3. Pour the chocolate over the caramel and freeze for a final 30 minutes, until just chilled and set or refrigerate, covered, until ready to serve.

 Before serving, sprinkle the top with a flaky sea salt like kosher salt,


Store covered in the refrigerator and serve chilled.

Source: Adapted only slightly from www.kevinandamanda.com

Monday, January 26, 2015

Cauliflower Cheese Soup



Another day, another soup? 

Seriously, I've lost my blogging mojo a bit lately in favour of survival mode. The other night, I "threw frozen things in the oven, and called it dinner". Didn't make me especially happy, but I hadn't prepped ahead - and both boys were in terrible moods when I picked them up, and I needed to get something, ANYTHING on the table fast so I could move quickly towards bathing, jammies, stories and bed for them.


As a working parent, it can sometimes be tough to balance everything.  Sometimes, something just has to give. Eating well is one of the things that can often go by the wayside, but the double whammy for that is, if you don't eat well, you don't feel well.  Getting a dose of vegetables in my belly as often as possible (and in the yummiest way possible) makes me feel better! Adding cheese never hurts, either.


Making things ahead on the weekends (if I can) really does help me out during the week. Having a batch of soup in the fridge for a last minute dinner, or having it all portioned out and ready to go in my lunch bag (especially a healthy one), is awesome!


I particularly enjoy this soup - it is easy, quick and freezes well. 


CAULIFLOWER CHEESE SOUP

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 tsp butter
  • 1 large onion, chopped finely
  • 1 large cauliflower, cut in florets
  • 1 large potato, peeled and diced
  • 3 Cups chicken (or vege) stock
  • 1 2/3 Cups milk (I used 2%)
  • 3.5 oz. cheddar cheese, grated
  • Cracked black pepper and salt to taste
DIRECTIONS:

1.   Melt butter and sauté onion until soft (5 mins).
2.   Add cauliflower, potato, stock, milk and seasoning.  Bring to boil and simmer for 30 minutes.
3.   Using a stick blender, blend until smooth adding a little more milk if it is too thick.
4.   Cool to freeze, or stir in cheese just before serving.


If freezing
Thaw, then warm on stove or microwave until heated through. Stir cheese in just before
serving.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Peanut Butter Protein Balls


I'm packing lunches these days and since it gets just as boring PACKING the same old stuff as it does EATING it, I thought I'd do something a little different.  Even better - these are no-cook!

Here's a basic recipe for either an addition to breakfast-on-the-go, or in a lunchbox. I like eating them mid morning to hold me over til lunch.

There are a bunch of recipes out there for these kinds of things, so I began throwing things in a bowl and hoped for the best. These were decent! I will try other kinds, maybe switch out the milk powder for protein powder, do different dried fruits like cranberries, apricots or dates, and use almond butter maybe?  The sky's the limit :)

PEANUT BUTTER PROTEIN BALLS

INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 cup peanut butter (creamy or crunchy)
  • 1/2 cup nonfat dry milk powder
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • Graham cracker crumbs (any kind of biscuit/cookie crumbs would work)
DIRECTIONS:
  1. In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients except the graham cracker crumbs.
  2. Shape the mixture into 1-inch balls. Roll in the crumbs and refrigerate. 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Vegetable and Barley Soup


I am still loving soup season! With the weather being a little gloomy (for like, a day) here in Phoenix, soup was back on the menu. This is unbelievably tasty, and filling - and is also vegan/vegetarian for those who are following a specific diet.

Added bonus: very inexpensive to make


This made 4 good sized portions for dinner, and 3 lunches for me.  

INGREDIENTS:
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup pearl barley
  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 2-3 carrots, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 8 cups vegetable broth (can sub chicken broth, but it won't be vegan/vegetarian)
  • 1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2-2 cups baby spinach, torn
  • Salt/pepper to taste


DIRECTIONS:
  1. In a medium saucepan, add the water and barley - and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and keep at a bare simmer for 30 minutes, or until the barley is soft.
  2. Drain and set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat.
  4. Add the onion and 5 minutes. Add the garlic, red bell pepper, carrots and celery and cook until the carrots start to soften, about 10 minutes.
  5. Add the vegetable broth, diced tomatoes and bay leaves.
  6. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer for 10 minutes.
  7. Stir in the cooked barley and spinach, simmer until spinach is wilted (about 5 minutes)
  8. Remove the bay leaves, and season to taste.
Source: Adapted slightly from veganinthefreezer.com

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Bacon, Egg and Cheese Breakfast Ring

I love a good weekend breakfast, that you throw together and bake while you do other things. This is a major cheater breakfast, in that it uses canned crescent rolls (you could use your own dough, if you weren't lazy like me), but it's yummy and was popular at my house.

I was able to set the table, cut up some fruit and make a vat pot of coffee while this baked. All in time to wake up the husband, and get the kids out of bed on a Saturday - ready to go have fun!

This particular day, we went to the Phoenix Children's Museum. Hayden had a LOT of fun exploring the different rooms and exhibits. Cameron enjoyed a nap....


BACON, EGG & CHEESE BREAKFAST RING

INGREDIENTS:
  • 4 slices bacon, cut in half crosswise
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon milk
  • 4 eggs, slightly beaten with salt and pepper, if desired
  • 1 can crescent dinner rolls
  • 1 cup shredded cheese (divided)


DIRECTIONS:
  1. Cook the bacon until cooked, but not crispy. Drain and set aside.
  2. Scramble the eggs (in the same skillet if you want – just drain most of the bacon grease out), until cooked but not dry (they’ll continue to cook in the oven.
  3. Preheat oven to 375F
  4. Crack open the dinner roll can, and arrange the triangles in a circle on a baking sheet, with the short edge in the center. Press to join the center.
  5. Arrange the bacon slices along the thickest part of the rolls.
  6. Sprinkle 1/3 of the cheese on top.
  7. Spoon scrambled eggs over the cheese.
  8. Sprinkle another 1/3 cup of cheese over the eggs
  9. Fold the tips of the crescent rolls into the center, making a ring, and tuck under to secure (filling will be visible)
  10. Brush pastry with milk, and sprinkle with remaining 1/3 cup of cheese.
  11. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the pastry is browned.
  12. Cool for a few minutes, then cut into wedges, and serve.
Source: http://www.pillsbury.com/

Monday, December 29, 2014

Pot Roast

I love this recipe for pot roast. Mainly because the potatoes are not cooked in the pot (I hate mushy falling apart potatoes - just mash them already!)

This has amazing flavours, particularly for being so simple.

Prep is fast, cooking is slow. Tummies are full and happy. House smells amazing!

I do this in a dutch oven, but you could absolutely adjust the recipe to use your crockpot. After the searing of the meat, just add to the crockpot, and cook on low for 8 ish hours.

If there are any leftovers, this freezes beautifully!

INGREDIENTS
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 2 large onions, cut in half (either direction is ok)
  • 4-6 carrots, chopped into 2 inch chunks (don’t go too small, they’ll fall apart)
  • Salt and Pepper To Taste
  • 4- 5lb chuck roast
  • 1 cup Red Wine (you can use beef stock/broth if you need to)
  • 2-3 Cups beef stock
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme, or 2 tsp dried
  • 3 sprigs fresh rosemary, or 2 tsp dried

DIRECTIONS:
  1. Heat oil in a large pot or dutch oven over medium-high heat.   
  2. Cut the onions in half, and add them to the dutch oven when the oil is very hot. Brown them on one side, then the other. Remove the onions to a plate.
  3. Throw the carrots into the same very hot pan and toss them around a bit until slightly browned, a few minutes or so. Remove the carrots to a plate
  4. Season the meat on all sides with salt and pepper, then sear it for about a minute on all sides until it is nice and brown all over. Remove the roast to a plate.
  5. With the burner still on high, use either red wine or beef broth (about 1 cup) to deglaze the pan, scraping the bottom with a whisk.
  6. Put the meat back into the pan and add enough beef stock to cover the meat halfway (about 2 to 3 cups). Add in the onion, carrots, rosemary and thyme.
  7. Put the lid on, then roast in a 275F oven for 4-5 hours (I do one hour per pound of meat)
  8. Remove from the oven break up the meat with a fork, and serve (with the gravy) over mashed potatoes.


 

Monday, December 22, 2014

Creamy Tomato Soup

With the holidays well and truly upon us (3 MORE SLEEPS!!), and with lots of things to do, places to go, and people to see - getting dinner on the table sometimes falls by the wayside.

The weather in Phoenix has been a little bit rainy the last few days, and we're arriving home cold and ready to be warmed up a little. I know that in other parts of the US it's snowing and people are WAY colder than us, so hopefully - this easy and tasty recipe made from things you already have in the pantry and fridge will give you a good idea for dinner one night!

I was able to make this while balancing a 9 month old on my hip, and supervising the 3 year old (okay, so I needed wine after they were in bed), and dinner was served 30 minutes after arriving home. I call that a win.  This can also be made ahead - making it even faster when you arrive home!

I made a pile of grilled cheese sandwiches to go with it - and everyone loved it. Even Hayden enjoyed dipping his sandwiches in the soup and scarfing it down.

Soup, it's what's for dinner!

CREAMY TOMATO SOUP

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced finely
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 Tablespoons flour
  • 3 cans of crushed or diced tomatoes (14.5oz)
  • 1 Tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • Salt/Pepper
  • 1/2 cup cream or half n half (or yogurt, or sour cream - you choose)


DIRECTIONS:
  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan or dutch oven over medium heat.
  2. Cook the onions until they're soft (about 5 minutes), then add the garlic and cook for a further minute or so.
  3. Add the flour, and mix well - cook for 30 seconds.
  4. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, and stock, whisking to blend and thicken.
  5. Season with salt and pepper.
  6. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
  7. Using an immersion blender - blend until smooth.
  8. Remove from heat, then add the cream (I warm mine to make it less likely to curdle), mixing thoroughly.
  9. Test for seasoning - add more if needed, then serve.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

DIY: Sweetened Condensed Milk


Another blog post born of my need to not go to the store and spend eleventy billion dollars when I only went in for one thing. Don't tell me you don't know what I mean! I can go in for bread and milk, and come out with whatever-meat-is-on-sale-and-ooh-look-at-the-deal-on-cereal-and-canned-tomatoes-and-oh-wow-I-forgot-we-needed-cheese-and beer-and chips.... and a depleted bank account.

Now that I'm making my own coffee creamer, (and the chocolate syrup that goes in that too), I wondered if I could make the sweetened condensed milk used in it too.  Since condensed milk can sell for $3 ish, I think this is probably cheaper as well. 

This took me maybe 5 minutes, and most of that was finding the ingredients in the cupboard.  There IS another way - but it takes whole milk, and about 2 hours to reduce down to the level you need. I like this way JUST FINE.

So... how's it taste?  UM. YUM!!!! I refrigerated it right after I made it, and when I pulled it out to use, it had thickened into a lovely consistency, and was SO GOOD. 

If you have a blender - give this a go!

INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 cup dry milk powder
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup water 
DIRECTIONS:
  1. In a blender, combine sugar and dry milk powder. Pulse briefly to mix.
  2. In a microwave safe jug, combine the vanilla, butter and water and heat until til it boils (you can use a saucepan if you must).
  3. Pour into the blender and blast it for a few minutes, until thickened
  4. Store in the fridge and use as regular condensed milk.


 

Monday, December 15, 2014

Aussie Bites

For those of you with access to a Costco here in the US, they have in the bakery section, a box of treats called "Aussie Bites". You can probably find them in other stores, but that's where I have seen them. 

I find the name amusing - because for the life of me I couldn't figure out what made them Australian at all. I suppose they could be based on ANZAC biscuits, but it's a bit of a stretch. New Zealanders, these are reminiscent of the Tasti brand "Snak Logs", although not as smooth. And not dipped in chocolate.

They are healthy, gluten free (if you use GF oats), dairy free and vegan.

And delicious. 

I might have undersold that part. They're really really good. Even Hayden agrees. He happily snarfed 3, and asked for more. They're a great on the road breakfast (I handed him a bag with some grapes and 3 of these bites for the trip to daycare). Win!

AUSSIE BITES
Yield: 24 bites

INGREDIENTS
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup (or honey – but this won’t be vegan if you use honey)
  • 3/4 cup oat flour (throw some oats in a blender and pulverize until they hit flour consistency)
  • 3/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup unsalted roasted sunflower seeds (divided – add half in the beginning, and half at the end)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut (divided – add half in the beginning, and half at the end)
  • 1/4 cup flaxseed meal
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup dried apricots

DIRECTIONS:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  2. Grease the wells of a mini muffin pan using coconut oil, or if you’re not vegan – you could use butter
  3. Combine the coconut oil and maple syrup (or honey) in a microwave safe bowl or jug, and heat (about 30 seconds), then whisk until combined. Set aside.
  4. Add oat flour, oats, and half the sunflower seeds to a food processor and pulse a couple of times until the seeds and oats begin to break up (don’t overdo this)
  5. Add half the coconut, flaxseed meal, baking powder, and salt. Pulse to mix.
  6. Add the raisins and dried apricots and pulse until the fruit is JUST broken up. (You still want good sized bits of fruit in there.)
  7. Transfer the mix to a large bowl, and add the remaining coconut and sunflower seeds.
  8. Pour the melted coconut oil and maple syrup over the mixture and stir until well combined.
  9. Fill the cups of the mini muffin pan all the way to the top, then press down to pack the mixture in densely.
  10. Bake for about 10-12 minutes until set and edges are golden.
  11. Remove from oven, cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, then gently remove from tin and cool on a wire rack.
Keep at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 3-4 days, or freeze in a ziplock bag (just take them out a few minutes before you need them – they thaw fast)

Source: Adapted from http://ohmyveggies.com/


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

DIY: Coffee Creamer


I love coffee, and often pick up a bottle of "creamer" from the grocery store. But, we ran out, and since I'm not a huge fan of the ingredients in those bottles, I decided to make my own.  It's pretty easy, and there are SO many possibilities for flavours!

This particular time, it was a chocolate creamer - making the coffee a lovely mocha flavour.

The possibilities are endless though, I'm going to experiment with these:
  • Pumpkin spice: pumpkin pie spice and 1/3 cup of pureed pumpkin, add some maple syrup and some vanilla extract maybe?
  • Add vanilla instead of chocolate syrup
  • Creme Brulee: caramel sauce instead of chocolate syrup
  • Chocolate Raspberry: 1 Tablespoon of chocolate syrup + 2 tablespoons raspberry syrup


INGREDIENTS:


DIRECTIONS:
  1. Whisk together all ingredients in a large bowl.
  2. Pour into a container of your choice (we use glass bottles, or old creamer bottles with the labels torn off)


Monday, December 8, 2014

Honey & Lime Glazed Chicken


A quick marinade to share - this is a really simple one that is good for "crap, I forgot to do something about dinner". With the holidays being upon us - and lots of things to do, quick dinners are essential.  I looked in the fridge and pantry for likely candidates to use, and found honey and limes.  Because honey/sugar can sometimes cause chicken to burn before it was cooked through,I added the marinade with the the chicken to the skillet - resulting in really tender and juicy chicken, no drying out, and no burning - and it reduced into a lovely glaze.

Next time I buy chicken breasts in bulk, I'll probably add this to a bag before freezing - and take the work out of it for when I thaw to use.

I'd probably add garlic next time, because, like adding bacon to everything - there really isn't much that can't be improved by adding garlic!

This made GREAT and flavorful leftovers, too

INGREDIENTS:
  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 3-4 Tablespoons honey
  • 3 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • (consider adding garlic or garlic powder to this)
DIRECTIONS:
  1. Add all ingredients to a zip lock back and ensure the chicken is covered with the marinade.
  2. Leave for at least 30 minutes (or overnight)
  3. Heat a skillet to medium high, and add the chicken WITH the marinade to it.
  4. Cook until chicken reaches 165F, and the marinade reduces to a thick glaze.



Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Mini Pecan Pies


I'd never had a pecan pie before making them myself, so wasn't sure how they're supposed to taste. I knew, looking at the ingredients, that it would likely be super sweet - so I decided to do them in miniature. Much like the pumpkin pies, I thought these were the perfect crust to filling ratio - and soooo addictive!! 

They were great to have hanging about over the Thanksgiving weekend. People dropped by, I made coffee and had these little yummies to serve alongside. I looked like the hostess with the mostest. And I like that.

INGREDIENTS
  • ¾ cup white sugar
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar
  • 1 cup corn syrup
  • ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ⅓ cup melted butter
  • 3 eggs beaten
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 2 pie crusts (you can make your own. I didn’t. Again)


INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease your muffin tin. 
  2. Roll out the pie crusts and cut with a circle cookie cutter,  about 3 inches in diameter.
  3. Gently press the pie crust circles into the tin.

Pie Filling
  1. Add all ingredients except for the pecans into a medium size mixing bowl and stir until combined.  
  2. Add about a teaspoon of chopped pecans to each pie circle. Pour pie filling on top of pecans into each pie, but don’t fill all the way – as the filling expands! The pecans will float to the top.
  3. Bake for 15-20 minutes - cooking time can vary based on your oven.
  4. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin for a few minutes, then pop out onto a wire cooling rack.



Source: http://houseofyumm.com/

Monday, December 1, 2014

Chocolate Cake (and a Happy 3rd Birthday to my son!)

My son, Hayden turned 3 yesterday! He had an absolute blast, and honestly - that made it fun for us too. Now that he understands a little more what's going on, the excitement on his face is addictive. I can't WAIT for next year. 

I was looking for something easy but still cool to make for his birthday - and found this after a quick browse. Perfect for my truck, car, digger and train loving little boy. He loved this, and couldn't wait to dig in.

As always, I'm not a baker - but this recipe was pretty easy. I had the support of some friends (Hi Leigh, Amanda and Jess!) while I went through the process.  There really needs to be an Idiot's Guide to Cake Baking. I'd buy it.  Instead, I relied upon the indulgent guidance of friends. Thanks, ladies!

To make this particular cake, you just have to make a two-layered chocolate cake (see below). Once it is cooled completely and frosted - go ahead and destroy it. Haha.

Cut out a small slice of cake, half way down, lifting, and flipping it over on top of the cake so it looks like an excavator dug a hole. Smush it up a little.. Sprinkle crushed Oreos over the hole and over the mound of cake you flipped onto the cake to make it look like a pile of dirt. Add a small digger toy, and you will have the delight of any little boy. 

Here's some pics from Hayden's day


CHOCOLATE CAKE

INGREDIENTS
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1½ teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder
  • 1 cup milk
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • Chocolate frosting (make your own, or use storebought – I’m not judging)
  • Optional for construction cake: 10-12 crushed oreo cookies

DIRECTIONS:
  1. Preheat oven to 350º F.
  2. Grease with butter and dust with flour, two 9-inch cake pans.
  3. Combine flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt and espresso powder to a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix on low to until combined well.
  4. Add milk, vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla to the dry ingredients and mix on medium speed until well combined.
  5. Carefully add boiling water to the cake batter. Beat on medium-high speed for about 1 minute.
  6. Pour the cake batter in to the two cake pans (as evenly as possible).
  7. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
  8. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes, remove from the pan and cool completely.
  9. Frost with chocolate frosting, and decorate.
Sources
Cake           http://addapinch.com

Decoration: http://bakerette.com 



Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Cooking with Kids

Not a recipe related post (well, unless mini chocolate bites made from leftovers counts), but one I wanted to share with you.

One of my (many) wonderful memories as a kid was cooking and baking with my mother and grandmother. It wasn't about the food, necessarily (although getting to lick the beaters and bowl clean was a definite benefit), it was about time spent together. 

Some of the best conversations I can remember with my mother (even the difficult ones) were had in the kitchen. Side by side, working together, I could casually drop a questions/comment/statement in and we'd talk about it.

As a mother of two sons, I want to carry this practice on. Not only will my boys gain valuable skills, but they'll bring a lot to the table (no pun intended) if they can cook their future wives an amazing meal.  I also want them to have similar memories that I had, and look back fondly and remember this time with me. 

I love my sons so much, and as much as this is about them and their memories - it's also about mine!

I had some leftover pie dough, and thought it would be fun for Hayden to use the cookie cutters, and cut out some shapes and bake them. 

I also had enough to make a few mini chocolate bites (chocolate chips wrapped in pie dough, and baked), which went down a treat!




Monday, November 24, 2014

Mini Pumpkin Pies

Another co-worker’s birthday! Happy Birthday Malcolm, hope your birthday was awesome.

At work there’s a “biggest loser” competition going on, that has not yet ended. Our birthday boy is a participant, so I wanted to bring treats – but not sabotage the whole effort. I opted to make bite sized versions of an old favourite, and since his birthday coincides with Thanksgiving week, it’s the perfect treat to bring!

I love pumpkin pie, but really for me - it's about the crust. Making mini pumpkin pies allows a MUCH better filling to crust ratio, so I think I'll make them this way forever and ever. Amen.

This recipe will make 24 minis (I cut a deep dish pie filling recipe in half). You could keep the filling (double this one) and also make a regular sized pie as well as the minis. Or, make 48 minis and scarf a bunch of them when no one is looking.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 pie crusts (store bought if you are lazy like I am)

Filling

  • 6 Tbs white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 15oz can pumpkin (not pie mix)
  • 1/2 12oz can evaporated milk

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Combine all filling ingredients in a large bowl until well mixed.
  3. Using a 3 or 4 inch round cutter, cut circles of dough out and put them in a mini muffin or tart pan. Press lightly to fit the pan.
  4. Pour filling into each cup (leave a bit of space, they will puff up a little).
  5. Bake for 5 minutes at 425, then reduce oven temp to 350, and bake for a further 10 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean.

Cool, and serve. (Whipped cream would be great, but I decorated with a simple dusting of powdered sugar).

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Florentine Lasagne Rollups

Not a new concept, but definitely a yummy one. I made this on a Sunday, and left it in the fridge for baking on Monday night. Monday nights are just hectic for no other reason that it's the first night of the week after a leisurely weekend, so things are just HARDER.  Having this waiting to be baked in the fridge was a huge time saver, and I was able to do other things instead of prepping and cooking dinner. 

Even the almost-3-year-old ate this, happily. Win!

The key here has to be the homemade alfredo sauce. Seriously, don't cheat and use one from a jar. I will be very disappointed in you!  Ha, just kidding. Do what you must, but at the end of the day - the homemade sauce is what sends this dish into the fabulous zone.

Hope you enjoy this as much as we did. 


INGREDIENTS:
Alfredo Sauce:
  • ½ cup butter
  • 2oz cream cheese
  • 2 cups half and half or milk (if you use milk, bump the cream cheese up an ounce.  You could use cream, but hi there, blocked arteries!!)
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp dried oregano, basil, or Italian seasoning
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese (more, to taste)
  • 9 lasagna noodles
  • 2 cups cooked and shredded chicken
  • 1.5 cups baby spinach, chopped finely.
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • Salt, pepper to taste
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1.5 cups shredded Mozzarella, or cheese of your choice


DIRECTIONS:
   
        Make the sauce first:
  1. In a medium saucepan melt the butter over medium heat.  Add garlic and cook for about 1 minute
  2. Add the cream cheese and whisk until smooth.  Whisk in the half & half or milk. 
  3. Season with salt and pepper and oregano, bring to a simmer (don’t boil!)and whisk frequently until the sauce thickens about 15 minutes. 
  4. Add the parmesan and whisk until melted and blended.
  5. Set aside

    Next steps
  6. Cook the lasagna noodles according to package directions.
  7. Drain and rinse the noodles with cold water and dry them a little on a paper towel to make them easier to work with
  8. While the noodles cook, combine the chicken, spinach, and seasonings in a large bowl.

    To assemble

  9. Spread about half a cup of the alfredo sauce in your baking dish (I used an 8 x 8 one, would use a bigger one next time)
  10. Onto each noodle, spread filling, sauce and some mozzarella, and roll up.
  11. Place each one seam side down into your baking dish.
  12. Top with remaining alfredo sauce, and mozzarella.
  13. Bake at 350 degrees, for around 30 minutes – until heated through and cheese is bubbling.
  14. Serve to your starving and whining family (who will begin their campaign for dinner!! now!! hungry!! as soon as they smell the sauce cooking)


Source: Kylee Cooks


Monday, November 17, 2014

Slow Cooker Red Beans & Rice

If you haven't figured it out yet, I love the set-and-forget style of cooking that a crockpot allows. There are a lot of recipes I'm sure I'd love, but the cooking times are actually too SHORT.

I leave my house with 2 children at around 6:15am. I return around 4:45 - that's roughly 10.5 hours!  A 4 hour (ha!) recipe would be dried out and burned by the time I got home.  A lot of times, I use the crockpot on the weekends, because I'm home - but I'm busy with other things.

THIS recipe uses dried beans that are not pre-soaked or pre-cooked. That's right. DUMP AND RUN. YESSSS!!!!


The smell of this smoky, warm "stew" through the house was definitely a bonus. Everyone came to the table ready to EAT!

SLOW COOKER RED BEANS & RICE

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 pound dried red beans, rinsed and sorted
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4 ribs celery, chopped
  • 7 oz. smoked boneless pork chops, diced into ½-inch cubes (smoked ham steaks would work too)
  • 12 ounces smoked sausage, cut in half lengthwise and sliced into ½” thick slices
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt (plus more to taste)
  • 1 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 2 tsp. creole seasoning (can omit if you like)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
  • 4 cups cooked rice
DIRECTIONS:
  1. Put all ingredients (except rice) in your crockpot. Add (about) 6 cups of water, enough to cover contents with about half an inch of water.
  2. Stir well, cover, and cook on high 8 hours or low 10 hours.
  3. About an hour before serving, use a potato masher to mash some of the beans, stir, and cook an hour longer. 
  4. Before serving, taste beans and add extra seasoning to taste.
  5. Remove bay leaves, and serve beans in bowls over the cooked rice.
Source: Adapted from www.wearychef.com




    Wednesday, November 12, 2014

    Creamy Leek & Potato Soup (with Bacon)

    Every time I make soup, I'm reminded of the show "Seinfeld" . In an episode Seinfeld owes someone dinner, and they order soup - and say they'll keep their owed dinner for another time, because soup isn't a meal.

    YOU GUYS!! Soup is a meal!  I love soup. I love that The Husband loves soup, AND agrees that it can be dinner more regularly than most people I know.

    This soup is one of my favourites to make, because I almost always have the ingredients. Bonus!  Soup is awesome.

    (How many times did I say "soup" in the above paragraphs? 8. Yeah. EIGHT)

    Anyhoo... let's eat...

    LEEK & POTATO SOUP (WITH BACON)

    INGREDIENTS:

    • 4 slices of bacon, diced
    • 1/2  large onion (or 1 medium), thinly sliced
    • 2 leeks, chopped finely
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 4 large potatoes, peeled and sliced thinly 
    • 6 cups chicken broth (enough to cover the potatoes about half an inch)
    • Pepper
    • 1/2 Cup half & half (or milk, or sour cream)

    DIRECTIONS:

    1. In a dutch oven, over medium-high heat, cook the bacon, then add the onion and leeks.
    2. Cook until tender (about 5 minutes).
    3. Add the garlic, cook a further 30 seconds.
    4. Add the potatoes and broth, and bring to a boil.
    5. Reduce the heat to medium, and let simmer until the potatoes are tender (about 10-15 mins).
    6. Either use a masher, an immersion blender, or a blender to roughly blend (you don't want puree it fully, chunks are good!)
    7. Stir in the pepper and the half & half.
    8. Serve!


    Makes 6 servings (ish)

    Source: Kylee Cooks original



    Monday, November 10, 2014

    Chunky Chili

    A rich, tasty chili that is easy to prepare and cooked all day. No long list of ingredients, you probably have them all in your pantry already!

    This really NEEDS a good long stay in the crockpot, in order to blend all the flavours properly.

    A note about chili powder. Whenever that appears in a recipe, it refers to a chili powder BLEND, not pure ground chillies.


    Served with some corn bread, or tortillas, this is a hearty dinner ready for when you walk in the door!

    CHUNKY CHILI

    INGREDIENTS:
    • 1lb/500g lean ground beef
    • 1 medium onion, chopped
    • 2 cans of diced tomatoes
    • 1 can of pinto beans, drained and rinsed (or kidney beans)
    • 1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
    • ½ cup of salsa
    • 1 tablespoon of chili powder
    • 1 ½ tablespoons of cumin
    • 1 tsp onion powder
    • 1 tsp garlic powder
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 1/2 tsp pepper
    DIRECTIONS:
    1. Brown the beef and onion in a large pan at a medium high heat until beef is browned, and onion is tender. Drain and discard fat.
    2. Place beef and onions, and all remaining ingredients in the crock pot.
    3. Stir, cover and cook on LOW for 6-8 hours or until flavours are well blended.
    4. Serve with corn bread, in a tortilla, or in a bowl topped with cheese, sour cream.


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