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Friday, October 31, 2014

Spinach, Feta & Mozzarella Rolls



These are so simple, and so basic - I almost didn't share.

But, since the toddler devoured these and got VERY upset when we told him that they were NOT all for him - I thought other families could use the idea too!

Obviously, you could use homemade dough, but I didn't.  Super quick, super yummy!


SPINACH, FETA & MOZZARELLA ROLLS

INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 can of crescent rolls
  • 2oz mozzarella
  • 2oz crumbled feta
  • Handful of fresh baby spinach, chopped
  • Salt/Pepper
DIRECTIONS:
  1. Combine the cheeses, spinach and seasoning in a bowl.
  2. Spread the mixture over the entire surface of each piece of crescent roll dough (obviously more at the wider end).
  3. Roll up, and bake at 375 for 15 minutes (or until browned)
  4. Cool, and devour. Hide from your kids if you actually want to taste these.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

White Bean & Potato Soup with Lemon and Thyme

Aaah, it's soup season!! To me, there's nothing better than a bowl of warm homemade soup to begin a meal, or even BE the meal. I'm making different batches of soup lately, eating a bowl and freezing the rest in 1 serving sized containers. That way, whenever I need a lunch, or a dinner - I have plenty to choose from and don't get sick of eating an entire batch of one soup.

This soup is warm and comforting, but is really bright too with the addition of the lemon. Using fresh thyme is key (in my opinion), but i'm sure dried would work JUST FINE.

Hope you like it as much as we did!

NOTE: This can be made vegan by using plain almond milk instead of the regular milk, and by using vegetable broth. 


Source: Slightly adapted from theprettybee.com

WHITE BEAN & POTATO SOUP WITH LEMON & THYME
    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • 1 small onion, chopped
    • 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth, heated
    • 3 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
    • 2 garlic cloves, minced
    • 2 t. freshly chopped thyme
    • 1 tsp lemon zest
    • 1 can (15-1/2 ounces) white beans (navy, cannellini), drained and rinsed
    • ¾ cup milk
    • juice of a half of a lemon
    • Salt and pepper to taste
                        DIRECTIONS:
                          1. In a large saucepan, cook onion in olive oil until translucent. 
                          2. Stir in the heated broth, potatoes, garlic and thyme and zest.
                          3. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
                          4. Stir in the beans. Blend soup with hand blender, but not too well, there should still be chunks of potato and a few beans. 
                          5. Add lemon juice and stir, then add milk. 
                          6. Cook over low heat for 5 minutes or until heated thoroughly.

                                    INGREDIENTS



                                    Monday, October 27, 2014

                                    Hot Ham & Cheese Pinwheels


                                    Ohhhh, these are such a breeze to make. Seriously. I knocked these together while the kids napped, and had to restrain the husband from eating more than his share (had to leave some for the toddler, at least!)

                                    Using a really simple bread dough, and using just a stand mixer with a dough hook, this is a great idea to use when you haven't been grocery shopping and are out of bread need a quick and fun lunch.

                                    HOT HAM & CHEESE PINWHEELS

                                    INGREDIENTS:
                                    • 1 1/2 C warm water
                                    • 2 TBS sugar
                                    • 1 TBS yeast
                                    • 1/2 tsp salt
                                    • 4 1/2 C all purpose flour
                                    • 2 Tbs deli mustard
                                    • 15 slices thin sliced ham
                                    • 2 Cups grated cheddar cheese

                                    DIRECTIONS:
                                    1. Pour water into your stand mixer, fitted with the dough hook.
                                    2. Add sugar and yeast and mix around a little. Let it rest for 5 minutes or so, or until the yeast goes bubbly (see above pic)
                                    3. Turn the mixer to medium speed and allow it to mix for 10 minutes, or until the dough is smooth.
                                    4. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured counter, and divide in two equal parts
                                    5. Cover with a damp towel, and rest on the counter for 5 minutes.
                                    6. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
                                    7. After the dough has rested roll one part into a large rectangle.
                                    8. Spread with 1 Tbs of mustard, then cover it with half the ham and half the cheese.
                                    9. Roll the dough up starting with the longer end.
                                    10. Slice into 12 pieces, and put onto a prepared cookie sheet.
                                    11. Do the same with the other half of the dough (or reserve for another use)
                                    12. Put the cookie sheets somewhere warm, and let the pinwheels rise a little (not too much, you don't want them to be huge and puffy)
                                    13. Bake for about 15-20 minutes or until golden brown along the top and bottom.
                                    14. Remove the pan from the oven and let them cool a little before devouring



                                    Step 8

                                    Step 9

                                    Step 10
                                    Step 14


                                    Friday, October 24, 2014

                                    Healthy Breakfast "Cookies"

                                    With two little guys to get fed, dressed, in the car and down the road first thing in the morning, I don't have a lot of time to mess about with getting the toddler to eat something in the mornings.  Enter the "breakfast cookie".

                                    Yup. Looks like a cookie, smells like a cookie... but is it a cookie? No, not really. It has no butter, oil, eggs, flour, or sugar. Which means - I can approve eating cookies for breakfast.

                                    They have great ingredients that would normally be found in a bowl of oatmeal, but they're now portable. 
                                    And are toddler approved. YESSSS!!!

                                    These come together very fast, and stay good in the fridge for a week. 

                                    Source: http://www.familyfreshmeals.com/

                                    INGREDIENTS:
                                    • 2 cups rolled oats (regular or quick, but steelcut don't work)
                                    • 2 ripe bananas
                                    • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
                                    • 1 tsp cinnamon
                                    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
                                    • 1/3 cup of raisins

                                    Optional: 1 Tbs honey or pure maple syrup

                                    DIRECTIONS
                                    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
                                    2. Mix together all ingredients until well combined.
                                    3. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, or use a baking stone
                                    4. Using a cookie scoop, drop dough onto the the cookie sheet, and then flatten into round shapes.  
                                    5. Bake approx. 25 – 30 minutes, or until golden.  
                                    6. Remove from oven & let rest on cookie sheet for 5 minutes and then move to cooling rack.  



                                    Wednesday, October 22, 2014

                                    Basic Biscuits


                                    Since moving to the US, I have developed an appreciation for "biscuits" as a bread side to accompany a yummy dinner. 

                                    Whenever I need a quick bread, and don't have baking mix, buttermilk or shortening hanging about, I make these.  It's a simple and quick recipe that makes just enough for dinner and few leftovers for breakfast (biscuits and gravy, anyone?)

                                    This recipe comes from Paula Deen.... so obviously, it has plenty of butter in it. She uses a cast iron skillet to bake these, but I just used a baking sheet. She also cuts the butter in by hand, but I use a food processor, because a) I'm lazy b) I like appliances

                                    Source: Adapted slightly from Paula Deen

                                    INGREDIENTS:
                                    • 2 cups all-purpose flour
                                    • 1 teaspoons sugar
                                    • 1 tablespoon baking powder
                                    • 1 teaspoon salt
                                    • 8 tablespoons butter, cubed
                                    • 3/4 cup milk
                                    • Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

                                    DIRECTIONS:
                                    1. In a food processor, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt together.
                                    2. Pulse butter into mixture until it begins to look like cornmeal. (You could cut it in the traditional way, but I’m all about fast and easy…erm…)
                                    3. Put mixture into a bowl, and make a well.  Add the milk slowly, and mix until it just comes together as a dough.
                                    4. Knead dough lightly, and add milk when necessary.
                                    5. Roll out dough onto your floured countertop, and hand shape/pat to desired thickness.
                                    6. Cut with small biscuit cutter  (or use a clean empty can)
                                    7. Arrange the biscuits on a parchment lined baking sheet,  bake for 12 minutes or until brown.

                                    Monday, October 20, 2014

                                    Oven Fried Chicken



                                    I do love me some fried chicken.  I regularly try and get others in the family to agree to the chicken place near our house whenever takeout decisions come up.  Crispy, flavorful skinned chicken thighs, with all the sides just screams YUMMY to me, and feels like a real meal, instead of a burger, fries and a drink.

                                    I served these little lovelies with mac & cheese, biscuits, homemade coleslaw, and threw some wedges in the oven too. Because who doesn't need more carbs in their life? Clearly I need to work on the "balance" in a meal... mmhmm.

                                    This recipe isn't the traditional buttermilk brined chicken that we are all well versed in, and instead uses a non fat greek yogurt and spices to marinate the chicken in first, then a whole wheat flour and spices crust. Then baked, not fried.

                                    We loved this, and will absolutely be making it again. And again.  I think next time I need a dish for a potluck, I'll just do a big batch of these, and claim my crown as "Queen of the good dish bringers" There probably isn't a crown for that, but there totally should be.

                                    ONTO THE RECIPE!

                                    Source: Adapted from http://www.chobani.com/

                                    OVEN FRIED CHICKEN

                                    INGREDIENTS:
                                    • 1 Cup non fat plain greek yogurt
                                    • 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
                                    • 2 garlic cloves, minced
                                    • 2.5 tsp kosher salt (divided – 2 tsp for marinade, ½ tsp for flour mix)
                                    • 1 tsp ground black pepper (divided – ½ tsp for marinade, ½ tsp for flour mix)
                                    • 8 chicken thighs
                                    • ½ C whole-wheat flour
                                    • 1 ½ tsp sweet paprika
                                    • 1 tsp dried thyme
                                    • 1 tsp baking powder

                                    DIRECTIONS:
                                    1. Combine yogurt, mustard, garlic, 2 t salt and ½ t black pepper in a bowl, add mixture to a Ziploc bag. Add chicken pieces and turn to coat. Zip the bag closed, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, up to 12 hours.
                                    2. Preheat oven to 425°F
                                    3. Line a rimmed baking/cookie sheet with foil, add a wire rack and spray with olive oil (lightly)
                                    4. Blend together the flour, paprika, thyme, baking powder, remaining ½ tsp salt and remaining ½ tsp pepper in a large Ziploc bag.
                                    5. Take the chicken out of the marinade bag, shake off excess marinade, and add a piece to the flour bag.
                                    6. Shake, the remove and shake off excess coating and place on prepared rack.
                                    7. Repeat with remaining chicken. Throw out the remaining marinade and flour mixture.
                                    8. Lightly spray chicken with olive oil (using a mister) and bake until golden brown and when you get a reading of 160°F on a digital thermometer (test the thickest part of the meat).  Should take around 45-60 minutes.



                                    Friday, October 17, 2014

                                    Lemon "Brownies"

                                    Another coworker's birthday, another attempt at baking. The birthday girl loves lemon, so it was of course to Jaida I turned, since she's a bit of a lemon-aholic herself.... 

                                    I have to give full credit to her, because since I'm not a baker (but I'm trying to branch out!!), I messaged her several times during the process to make sure I hadn't screwed up somewhere along the line. I mean, there's no baking powder in these, which confused me, but my fears were unwarranted. All is well. These turned out amazing!

                                    I used my square brownie pan for this, I just love the little individual cakes it makes, and not having to cut or dig out pieces is a bonus.

                                    Happy birthday, Jeannie!


                                    LEMON "BROWNIES"

                                    INGREDIENTS:
                                    • 1 1/2 cups flour
                                    • 1 1/2 cups sugar
                                    • 1/2 tsp salt
                                    • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
                                    • 4 eggs
                                    • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
                                    • 2 tsp lemon zest
                                    For the glaze
                                    • 1 cup powdered sugar
                                    • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
                                    • 1 tsp lemon zest
                                    DIRECTIONS:
                                    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 
                                    2. Either line a 9x13 baking pan with foil, leaving enough over the edges that you can use to easily remove the brownies from the pan, or use an individual brownie pan, like mine.
                                    3. In a large bowl or stand mixer, stir together the flour, sugar and salt. Slowly mix in the softened butter, using a hand mixer or stand mixer on low speed until just combined.
                                    4. Whisk together the eggs, lemon juice, and zest. Pour the mixture into the flour mixture and mix until well combined.
                                    5. Pour batter into whichever baking pan you choose and bake for 25-30 minutes (9x13 pan) or 18-25mins (brownie pan), until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
                                    6. Remove and let cool before removing and glazing.
                                    7. Prepare the glaze by mixing the ingredients together in a medium bowl. 
                                    8. If using the 9x13 pan, once the brownies are cooled, pour the glaze over the top and spread with a spatula to evenly coat. Allow it to set , then remove the brownies from the pan (using the overhanging foil), and cut into squares.
                                    9. If using a brownie pan, remove after cooling, and glaze individually (I put the glaze in a zip lock bag, snipped a corner and did a crisscross pattern)
                                    

                                    Wednesday, October 15, 2014

                                    Freezer Friendly: Baked Ziti



                                    A while ago, a great friend of mine brought several pans of baked ziti over to my house while I was unexpectedly away in New Zealand, leaving the husband behind. It was a particularly stressful time for me, being so far away, and worrying about things back home. Even things I shouldn't be worrying about, like "is my husband eating well?"

                                    At the time, the husband was a terrible awful horrible cook and before I married him, he was on first name terms with all the delivery places near our house.

                                    My friend (Hi, Courtney!) really set my mind at ease, and dropped off food to my house in my absence. It was so appreciated by the husband, AND me (do you know how much takeout COSTS?!)  

                                    When I returned home, there was just one pan left - and I was able to try it. You guys... if there was ever a dish that could be described as "comfort in a bowl" it's this. Cheesy, gooey, and absolutely delicious - the husband raved about it so much, that my friend actually made him 5 pans of it one year as a Christmas gift! Now, THAT'S a gift!!!

                                    I have attempted several times to replicate it since, and it's only now that I feel like I got the ratios right.  Leftovers are jealously guarded, and gleefully eaten when the other one of us isn't around (so we don't have to share).

                                    I made 4 pans, 3 for the freezer and one to eat that night - as this freezes amazingly well, and reheats perfectly with no loss of quality.  This is a great meal to have hanging about for when you want to help another family out with a meal (we have given pans to our neighbours when they have babies, surgery or other life events), or to have as backup in the freezer for when you need something delicious for dinner yourself. 

                                    I hope you try this!

                                    This recipe makes 4 x 5lb loaf pans (the really big loaf pans), adjust for your pans.

                                    FREEZER FRIENDLY BAKED ZITI

                                    INGREDIENTS:
                                    For the meat sauce
                                    1 tablespoon olive oil
                                    2 onions, diced fine
                                    8 large garlic cloves, minced
                                    2lb ground beef
                                    4 x 24oz cans of pasta sauce (or make your own)
                                    salt/pepper to taste
                                    italian seasoning to taste

                                    Pasta
                                    2lb dry ziti pasta (I used rigatoni in this case)

                                    For assembly
                                    24 x slices provolone cheese
                                    2lb mozzarella cheese, grated
                                    2 x 16oz containers sour cream (I use reduced fat, because have you seen the other ingredients?!)
                                    1 cup parmesan cheese, grated

                                    DIRECTIONS:
                                    Meat sauce
                                    1. In a dutch oven, heat the oil and cook the onion until translucent.
                                    2. Add the garlic, and cook for 30 seconds.
                                    3. Add the ground beef, and brown.
                                    4. Add the pasta sauce and seasonings - bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer for 20-30 minutes. 
                                    5. Test for seasoning, and adjust as necessary.

                                    Pasta
                                    1. Cook the pasta until al dente, and drain

                                    Assembly

                                    In each pan, layer ingredients in order (see below picture):
                                    1. Pasta
                                    2. Provolone
                                    3. Mozzarella
                                    4. Meat sauce
                                    5. Sour cream

                                      Then repeat:
                                    6. Pasta
                                    7. Provolone
                                    8. Mozzarella
                                    9. Meat sauce

                                      Finish with
                                    10. Parmesan
                                      To eat immediately
                                    11. Bake in a preheated oven (350 degrees) for about 30 minutes, or until it bubbles around the top/sides.
                                      Freezing
                                      Cool completely, and top with foil. Wrap with plastic wrap.
                                      Cooking from frozen: thaw, bake at 350 for 30-45 minutes or until bubbly around the top/sides.


                                    Monday, October 13, 2014

                                    Crockpot: Cheesy Chicken Tater Tot Casserole


                                    I'm a little ashamed that I like tater tots. I'm a little more ashamed that I used them in a "recipe"

                                    But only a little bit. And only because I think I'm supposed to not enjoy those kind of things.  But - at the end of the day, deliciousness wins. 

                                    Chicken - yum. Bacon - yum. Cheese - yum. Potatoes - yum.
                                    The End.

                                    So, here's what I did!

                                    INGREDIENTS:
                                    • 32oz bag frozen tater tots
                                    • 6 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled
                                    • 1.5lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, chopped into bite sized pieces
                                    • 1 medium onion, sliced
                                    • 2 cups of cheddar cheese, grated
                                    • 3/4 tsp garlic powder
                                    • seasoned salt (to taste)
                                    • pepper
                                    • 3/4 half & half (you could use milk)

                                    DIRECTIONS:
                                    1. Layer the crockpot with 1/3 each of tots, bacon, chicken, seasonings, onion and cheese and repeat until you use all your ingredients.
                                    2. Pour the half & half or milk over the top.
                                    3. Cover, and cook on low for 4-6 hours (depends on your crockpot - mine runs hot, and the chicken was 165 degrees at the 4 hour mark).



                                    Friday, October 10, 2014

                                    Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip

                                    Okay people, GET EXCITED. This is the way to eat cookie dough, without actually having to bake cookies or anything crazy like that. AND if you are all knocked up, you can eat this without worrying about consuming raw eggs, as NO EGGS were HARMED during this recipe process!

                                    Takes just a few minutes to mix, and served with graham crackers (Kiwis - use a plain Super/Vanilla/Round wine biscuit, Aussies - try Milk Arrowroot or Marie - or both of you could use tiny teddies and be done).

                                    A yummy dessert, great to bring to parties or pot lucks or beloved co-worker's birthdays. You WANT to share this, and not eat it all yourself, because... butter, cream cheese...yikes YUM.

                                    INGREDIENTS:
                                    • 8oz cream cheese (low fat is fine) - softened
                                    • 1/2 Cup (1 stick) of butter - softened
                                    • 3/4 Cup powdered sugar
                                    • 1/3 Cup dark brown sugar
                                    • 1 tsp vanilla
                                    • pinch of salt
                                    • 1 1/4 Cups mini chocolate chips
                                    DIRECTIONS:
                                    1. Beat the cream cheese and butter until fluffy.
                                    2. Add the sugars, vanilla and salt, and beat until well combined.
                                    3. Fold in the chocolate chips.
                                    4. Refrigerate, and serve.

                                    Wednesday, October 8, 2014

                                    One Skillet: Vegetables, Black Beans & Rice


                                    I've been making a concerted effort to meal plan, and to not visit the grocery store more than once every two weeks. Nearing grocery shop day, I just want to use up what I have, and start fresh again the next week.

                                    A quick inventory of the fridge and pantry for a quick dinner, and this dish was born. It pulls together super fast if you use rice that you have leftover, or have in your freezer waiting to be used in just this way.

                                    Even the husband liked this, and didn't comment on the lack of meat. WIN.

                                    INGREDIENTS:
                                    • 1 tablespoon oil
                                    • 3 medium zucchini, sliced, or cubed
                                    • 1/2 medium onion, sliced
                                    • 1/2 red pepper, diced
                                    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
                                    • 1-2 tsp italian seasoning (to taste)
                                    • 1 can  black beans, drained, rinsed 
                                    • 1 can fire roasted tomatoes, undrained
                                    • 1/2 cup water
                                    • 2 cups white or brown rice, cooked
                                    • salt/pepper
                                    DIRECTIONS:
                                    1. Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. 
                                    2. Add zucchini, red pepper and onion, cook 5 minutes, or until browned/charred nicely.
                                    3. Sprinkle the italian seasoning over the vegetables, then add garlic, cook for 30 seconds.
                                    4. Add beans, tomatoes and water.  
                                    5. Add rice and combine together. 
                                    6. Simmer for a few minutes, taste, season with salt/pepper (to taste)
                                    7. Serve

                                    Monday, October 6, 2014

                                    Pasta with Pumpkin & Bacon


                                    It's officially pumpkin season, and with all the baking with pumpkin, pumpkin spiced everything, I thought I'd throw in a recipe that might use up some of the extra canned pumpkin you're sure to have hanging about.

                                    This is super simple and makes a quick weeknight meal that will serve two adults, and one toddler. OR two adults, with leftovers for lunch.

                                    PASTA WITH PUMPKIN & BACON

                                    INGREDIENTS:
                                    • 4 slices bacon
                                    • 1/2 medium onion, diced
                                    • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
                                    • 8 oz pasta of your choice
                                    • 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
                                    • 2 ounces cream cheese
                                    • 1/2 cup evaporated milk
                                    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
                                    • freshly ground pepper, to taste
                                    DIRECTIONS:
                                    Cook bacon and onion together until onion is transparent. Add garlic and cook for a further minute. Set aside.

                                    Cook pasta according to directions. Drain and return to pan. Reduce heat to low.

                                    Add pumpkin, cream cheese, evaporated milk, salt and pepper and stir until cream cheese is melted and mixture is warmed through.

                                    Fold in the bacon, onion and garlic mixture.

                                    Taste for seasoning (important - this can be bland if you don't season right!) and serve.

                                    Friday, October 3, 2014

                                    Cream Cheese Stuffed Banana Bundt Cake


                                    It was a coworker's birthday, and I had recently stumbled across this recipe via Pinterest, and put it in the "must make sometime". Browsing through my pins looking for something to bring to share, that I already had the ingredients for (stopping at the store with a toddler and baby isn't my idea of a good time), I came across this little gem and knew it would be perfect.

                                    It's a few more steps than your basic banana bread, but so worth it!

                                    I DID miss the part where it said to pile the cream cheese towards the center and just spread it over the whole surface. I think next time I should probably follow the instructions!

                                    As an aside: Hi there, coworkers who did not know I had a cooking blog...nice to see you. 
                                    Source: Baking Bites

                                    CREAM CHEESE STUFFED BANANA BUNDT CAKE

                                    INGREDIENTS:

                                    Filling

                                    • 8-oz cream cheese
                                    • 1/4 cup sugar
                                    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
                                    • 1 large egg
                                    Cake
                                    • 3 cups all purpose flour
                                    • 2 tsp baking powder
                                    • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
                                    • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
                                    • 1/2 tsp salt
                                    • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
                                    • 1 cup sugar
                                    • 1/2 cup brown sugar
                                    • 3 large eggs
                                    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
                                    • 1 cup mashed banana (approx 2 medium)
                                    • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
                                    • 1/2 cup milk

                                    DIRECTIONS:
                                    Preheat oven to 350F and grease a 10-inch bundt pan.


                                    Filling: 
                                    1. In a small bowl, beat together all filling ingredients until well blended and smooth. Set aside.
                                    Cake: 
                                    1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.
                                    2. In the bowl of your mixer, cream together butter and sugars until light and fluffy.
                                    3. Add the eggs one by one, incorporating each before adding the next. Add the vanilla, bananas and oil.
                                    4. Stir half of the flour mixture into the banana mixture, followed by the milk. Stir in remaining flour mixture, mixing briefly until JUST mixed (don't over mix)
                                    5. Pour half of the batter into bundt pan, then spoon the cream cheese filling into a ring in the center of the batter.   
                                    6. Pour remaining batter on top.
                                    7. Bake for 50-55 minutes, or until the cake springs back when lightly pressed.
                                    8. Allow cake to cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then turn cake out and cool completely before serving.   

                                    Wednesday, October 1, 2014

                                    Bread: Whole Wheat Rolls


                                    Now, before anyone gets all anxious and panties-in-a-bunch about where I find time to do this stuff, here's the thing: I used a bread-maker. And I did this on a weekend. I am not a super hero, nor will I be creating pinterest worthy birthday parties for my children anytime soon. Just wanted to throw that out there.

                                    The entire extent of my involvement in this was putting the ingredients in the bread-maker at appropriate temperatures, shaping into rolls after the cycle finished, waiting for a bit for them to rise again - and then throwing them into a hot oven.

                                    And then eating them.  I've actually mastered that part.

                                    I love fresh bread. They make the house smell good, they taste amazing and there is a certain sense of accomplishment when working with yeast and it actually turning out. I also like that I know what's in them.

                                    Unlike a lot of the recipes I've made - these rolls are still good the next day, and in fact 3 days later the rolls were still fresh and soft. I have no data past 3 days though because I ate them all. They made delicious lunches for me, filled with ham and cheese, or spread with butter and snarfed.

                                    This recipe is a keeper! You can OF COURSE do this the hard way and knead by hand. But, if you have a stand mixer with a dough hook, or a bread machine -that is just way easier.

                                    Source: www.thereciperebel.com

                                    WHOLE WHEAT ROLLS

                                    INGREDIENTS:

                                    • 1 cup warm milk (I put mine in the microwave for about 30-45 seconds)
                                    • ½ cup butter, room temperature
                                    • ¼ cup granulated sugar
                                    • 2 eggs
                                    • ¾ teaspoon salt
                                    • 3 cups whole wheat flour
                                    • 1 cup all purpose flour
                                    • 3 teaspoons instant yeast
                                    • 1/4-1/2 cup additional milk or water

                                    DIRECTIONS:

                                    1. Add all ingredients in (in order given), in your bread machine. Start the Dough setting. Check after a few minutes to see if it needs more liquid or flour. 
                                    2. When cycle has finished, remove from the pan, and turn out onto a lightly floured counter.
                                    3. Shape pieces of dough into balls and place on a baking sheet, or a greased pan.
                                    4. Let rolls rise until doubled (about half an hour)
                                    5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bake for around 20 minutes or until they are a light golden brown.  

                                    Monday, September 29, 2014

                                    Thai Style Sweet Potato Soup


                                    Now that cooler weather is on its way for MOST people (I live in AZ, this won't happen for awhile), I wanted soup. But not just ANY soup, one that I've made for years, and has a spicy and interesting kick to it.

                                    Growing up in New Zealand, in particular Auckland, I was exposed to many cultures and cuisines. It's kind of a melting pot, and I love the diversity of food available there. Thai food is a particular favourite of mine. The flavours are vibrant and amazing.

                                    Red curry paste can be found in the international aisle of most grocery stores in the US - and it really is essential to this dish.

                                    We eat this with some fresh bread and call it dinner. 

                                    THAI SWEET POTATO SOUP

                                    INGREDIENTS:
                                    • 2 large sweet potatoes
                                    • 2 large onions
                                    • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
                                    • 4 tablespoons peanut oil
                                    • 2 tablespoons Thai red curry paste
                                    • 3 tablespoons ginger, finely grated
                                    • 2 quarts (8 Cups) chicken stock
                                    • 1/2 regular sized can coconut milk
                                    • 2 cups fresh greens, chopped e.g. cilantro, green onions or a mix
                                    • Juice of 2 limes
                                    DIRECTIONS:
                                    1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
                                    2. Place sweet potato and onion on a large baking tray.
                                    3. Scatter the brown sugar and half the peanut oil over the top and shake the tray to coat the vegetables.
                                    4. Bake the vegetables for 45 minutes, turning a few times during cooking.
                                    5. Once cooked, the potatoes and onions should be honey brown and caramelized, not black.
                                    6. Into a large, deep pot add the remaining oil, curry paste and ginger.
                                    7. Cook over a medium heat for about 3 minutes to release the flavours.
                                    8. Add cooked vegetables and combine.
                                    9. Pour in the stock and simmer for about 15 minutes.
                                    10. Blend the mixture until smooth.
                                    11. Add the coconut milk, stir through and simmer for 3-5 minutes.
                                    12. Add the fresh greens, stir in well and add the lime juice to taste.
                                    13. Stir well and serve.

                                    Friday, September 26, 2014

                                    Blueberry Pancake Muffins



                                    No recipe, just an idea. If you have leftover pancake batter after making a batch for breakfast, grease a muffin pan, add some fruit, chocolate or whatever strikes you as good, and bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes.

                                    Makes a great portable breakfast for the kids (and everyone else too!)

                                    As seen on Pinterest, source: Once a Month Meals

                                    Wednesday, September 24, 2014

                                    Bell Pepper Chicken with Feta Orzo


                                    We loved this dish, but have to be honest - it was allll about the yummy feta-y orzo. 
                                    I often make other dishes, and use this simple orzo as a side - however, when paired with the oregano and lemon in the vegetables, it really is the perfect accompaniment.

                                    Source: Adapted from Cooking Light - Weeknight

                                    BELL PEPPER CHICKEN WITH FETA ORZO

                                    INGREDIENTS:
                                    • 4oz/115 grams of uncooked orzo (rice shaped pasta – about ½ a cup or 4 oz)  
                                    • 4 tsp olive oil, divided
                                    • 4 x 170g (6oz) chicken breasts
                                    • ½ tsp salt
                                    • ¼ tsp black pepper
                                    • 1/8th tsp ground red pepper
                                    • 1 cup red bell pepper strips
                                    • 1 cup green bell pepper strips 
                                    • 1 cup yellow bell pepper strips
                                    • 1 cup broccoli (optional)
                                    • 1 tsp dried oregano
                                    • 2 garlic cloves (minced)
                                    • 1 ½ Tbs fresh lemon juice
                                    • • ¾ Cup (3 oz, 85grams) crumbled feta cheese
                                    INSTRUCTIONS:
                                    1. Cook orzo according to package directions, omitting any salt and fat
                                    2. While orzo cooks, heat 2 tsp olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.
                                    3. Sprinkle chicken with salt, pepper and red pepper, and add chicken to pan
                                    4. Cook for 4 minutes on each side or until done. Remove chicken from pan, and keep warm.
                                    5. Add remaining 2 tsp olive oil and bell peppers to pan, sauté for 2 minutes.
                                    6. Add oregano and garlic and sauté for another minute. Remove from heat, stir in lemon juice.
                                    7. Combine orzo and feta, serve with chicken and bell pepper mixture.
                                    Nutritional Info - on My Fitness Pal

                                    Monday, September 22, 2014

                                    Coffee & Molasses Marinated Pork Chops


                                    Although we eat a lot of chicken (as evidenced by my chicken heavy blog posts), I do love a good pork chop. When cooked well, they are moist, juicy and can be flavoured in so many different was. They are great when brined, marinated or even coated in parmesan, egg and breadcrumbs.

                                    I'd never thought of coffee as something I'd ever use to marinate meat in, but for a different spin on a marinade, this one was worth a shot...of coffee.. Har har har.

                                    I threw these in the marinade the night before, and let them do their thing while I was at work.

                                    Something to note: watch them closely as the molasses content makes them excellent candidates for burning.

                                    These are great on the grill, but can be done just as well inside in a pan.

                                    Source: Originally Alton Brown, but as seen on Cheese Curd in Paradise

                                    INGREDIENTS:
                                    • 1 cup cool strong coffee
                                    • 6 ounces molasses, by weight
                                    • 2 Tbl apple cider vinegar
                                    • 1 Tbl Dijon mustard
                                    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
                                    • 1 tsp salt
                                    • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
                                    • 6 to 8 sprigs fresh thyme (or 1 tsp dried)
                                    • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
                                    • 4 boneless pork chops, 1-inch thick 

                                    DIRECTIONS: 
                                    1. Whisk together all ingredients (besides the pork chops) in a bowl, then add to a large zip lock bag.
                                    2. Add the pork chops and marinate overnight, or for at least 8 hours.
                                    3. Preheat grill to medium, then grill pork chops 3 to 4 minutes per side.  (You want the center to be 140).
                                    4. Allow the pork chops to rest 2-3 minutes before serving
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