Sunday, October 31, 2010

Good Ole Canadian Maple Syrupy Goodness in Cookie Format

The other day my Dad came home from a road trip out East and brought back a lovely bottle of pure maple syrup.  I was so excited to receive this lovely gift as I had been going on about getting back to the farmers' market to buy some before the end of October and the market closes for the winter.  You see, here on the prairies, there really isn't too much produce left at the farmers' markets by the end of October.  At this point market purchases include the last of the honey, maple syrup, preserves and canned/jarred items, baking, some storage (root) veggies, and handicrafts.  Now don't get me wrong, it is still a great place to go and make local purchases but as we await the snowfall, there just isn't too much left in the way of fresh produce.

I was looking for the perfect thing to make with my big ole bottle o maple syrupy goodness and low and behold one of the wonderful bloggers on Foodbuzz made a post about these Maple Cream Cookies she made.  She had gotten the recipe from another blogger who in turn found it in a Bon Appetit magazine from   December 2005.  And now I want to pass it on because this recipe was delectable!!  I give many thanks to her for posting this one as it got rave reviews came from everyone in the Little Kitchen.
I am somewhat ashamed (as a Canadian) to admit I do not have a maple leaf shaped cookie cutter in my kitchen.  I will have to pick one up in the very near future.  I went with the good old circle biscuit cutter as we all wanted to try these cookies so darn badly!

Regular readers are aware of my penchant for doubling recipes...If you're going to mess up the kitchen, make it worth your while. I did double the amounts given here so I could make plenty but I actually only rolled out part of this batch tonight and it yeilded a good 4 dozen sandwich cookies with 2 disks of dough still in the fridge to roll out tomorrow.

Maple Cream Cookies

In a bowl combine:
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
In the bowl of your mixer cream together:

  • 1 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
Add and continue mixing until well mixed:
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons maple extract
Add the flour mixture and mix well.

Form the dough into a couple of disks, wrap in plastice wrap and chill for an hour.

Dust your counter with flour and roll the dough out to desired thickness.  I like crisp cookies so I rolled the dough out fairly thin.
Bake at 375 degrees F for 8 to 10 minutes.  The amount of time baking in the oven can very depending on the oven and on your desired crispiness.  Check after 8 minutes to see how far along they are.

While the cookies are cooling, mix up the wonderful maple filling!
In the bowl of your mixer, cream together:

  • 4 tablespoon butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • 2 tablespoon maple syrup
 Mix until you get a nice spreadable consistency.
Spread a small amount of filling on the back of  a cookie and sandwich another cookie on top!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Crantastically speaking it was an Experiment

Today I was rooting through the fridge looking for what I had (and tossing a couple of items that needed to go) and I found a couple of bags of fresh cranberries.  Thinking back to my plums and peaches recipes I wanted to try doing the same sort of thing with these cranberries.  It took some tweaking to get the sauce tasting right. The first time I asked Hubby to taste it, it was still quite tart.  The amounts I am giving in this recipe are approximate as I did have to constantly taste and add some sweetner and flavourings.  I was quite happy with the end product but then I found myself wondering 'what am I going to do with this cranberry sauce.  I wonder if I can make muffins?'

Before I knew it I was adapting my favourite banana bread substituting the cranberry sauce for the mashed bananas.  Although the muffins did not rise quite a well as I had wanted the results were quite tasty.  The boys both liked them.  I may have to play with the amount of baking soda and perhaps add some baking powder. I think next time I would definitely make the sauce sweeter and add some white chocolate chips and nuts to the muffins.
After the muffins had fully cooled and we tasted them again, they were even better than I had thought.  I also felt like they needed a little something else so I mixed up a glaze to top them with.

Cranberry sauce 
  •   2 pkgs fresh cranberries 
  • ½ cup brown sugar 
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • Juice of one orange
  • Zest of one orange
  • 2 cinnamon sticks or 1 tsp ground cinnamon
Rinse and sort through the cranberries

Place cranberries in a pot on medium heat with the other ingredients

As the cranberries start to pop and the juices bubble, use a masher to crush the cranberries

Taste as you go so you can adjust the seasonings and the sweetness to suit your tastes.

Cranberry muffins

In a bowl, mix together: 
  • 2 cups flour
  •  1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking soda
In the bowl of the stand mixer combine:
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  •  1 ¼ cups sugar
Mix well with the paddle attachment and add:
  •  2 eggs
Continue mixing until well combined and add:
  • 1 ½ cups cranberry sauce
Keep mixing until the cranberry sauce is well incorporated.

Add the flour mixture and mix until just combined.

Stir in with a wooden spoon some nuts of your choice and some white chocolate chips.

Spoon into a lined muffin tin to 2/3 full and bake in a 350 degree F oven for 20 minutes or until fully baked.

To make the glaze mix together:
  • Fresh squeezed orange juice
  • icing sugar
Play with the amounts until you get the consitency you want to spoon on top of the muffins.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

It's a small, small World Series Pretzel Rolls

Things are tense at my house!  With the Mets not even in any of the playoffs, Hubby is now rooting for the Rangers and my son is rooting for the Giants...the cheap shots, slight bickering, and show boating has begun.  I honestly wasn't too happy with the Buh bye Yankees pretzels I had made the other night.  They just didn't have the texture I wanted.  I think I had the water/baking soda bath too hot.  Oh well, live and learn.

The other night I joined foodbuzz and have been making new food blogging friends, pouring over countless recipes and ideas, and basically marvelling at the wonderous photos other foodies have posted.  I am in awe!!  I found a recipe that I just had to try for Pretzel Rolls.   They were a hit!  Easy to put together and baked up nice and pretzel brown!  I doubled the recipe and made them in 3 ounce portions instead of 2 ounce portions but they are amazing! 

Pretzel Rolls
For the rolls:
  •    3 cups warm water 
  •   4 ½ tsp dry active yeast
  • 4 tsp sugar 
  • 9 cups all purpose flour 
  • 4 tsp salt, kosher 
  • ½ cup melted coconut oil (or melted butter)
For the poaching:
  • 1 large pot boiling water
  • ¼ cup baking soda
For brushing the tops:
  • 1 egg, beaten 
  • 1 tsp water
For sprinkling:
  • Coarse salt
In the bowl of your stand mixer, or in a large bowl, mix
  •  3 cups warm water 
  • 4 ½ tsp yeast 
  • 4 tsp sugar
 Let this get all foamy and fun loving.

  • ½ cup melted coconut oil (or melted butter) 
  • 4 tsp salt 
  • 9 cups flour
Mix with the dough hook (or a wooden spoon) until a nice elastic dough forms.  This might take about 5 minutes.  The dough comes together so nicely to form a soft, slightly sticky dough.

Cover with a tea towel and set in a warm spot to rise for an hour.

Meanwhile back in the Little Kitchen:

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment or with silicone liners.

Put a large pot of water on the stove, but don’t turn it on yet...just getting ready.

When the timer beeps, or when the dough has doubled its size, punch it down and turn it out onto the counter, which you have sprinkled with flour.

Measure out even pieces of dough.  I like to measure out 3 oz portions with my scale and get 22 rolls from this recipe.

Form each piece into a ball and place on the baking sheet leaving some room between each roll.

Cover with a tea towel and let rise for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 425 F and turn your pot of water on to boil.

When the water is boiling, slowly add the ¼ cup baking soda to the will bubble, foam, and spill over if you dump it all in at once.  Lower the heat to a simmer.

Poach the rolls a couple at a time for 30seconds, gently turn them over and continue poaching for another 30 seconds.

Remove from the pot, drain, and transfer back to the baking sheets.

Brush the tops with the egg wash and sprinkle with the coarse salt.

Using a sharp knife, cut an x (or a t) into the top of each roll.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until a nice dark golden brown.

As a side note, today was an accident free day!! Yesterday's wake up call has been answered.



Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Friendly Neighbourhood Reminder: Be Careful Out There....More Confessions From a Little Kitchen

Those of us who spend a lot of time in the kitchen sometimes get a little careless.  It is so easy for us to think that just because we have done something a million times it will all work out.  We seem to test fate too often then get burned....literally!!  Tonight while making sweet potatoe fries, I burned three fingers on one hand in the oil in the pan then proceeded to burn the back of my other hand while attempting to turn the fries over!!!  The term dumbass comes to mind.  What was I thinking?  To be quite frank, I wasn't.  I became too careless and nonchalant and bad things happened.  To make things worse, Hubby was standing right there telling me to be careful and ask me what the hell I was thinking.....I was such a dumbass tonight!  Hubby sweetly pointed out that I do seem to hurt myself quite a bit in the kitchen....and he is only referring to the injuries he actually knows about!
One memory that pops into mind is when I purchased my first real professional knife!!  I cut myself just in front of the sales clerk right after she took it out of the display case!  If I recall I had three cuts by the time I made the purchase....I still use and love that knife.  We now know how to respect each other!
Tonight's post is dedicated to safety....just a friendly neighbourhood reminder to look after ourselves and our loved ones in the kitchen.
  • When adding items to a preheated, oil filled pan OR needing to flip the contents of a pan in the oven: Remove the pan from the oven and place on a safe place on the counter, then do your work.  Tonight I burned my hand on the top of a 400degree oven trying to flip the sweet potatoe fries over while the pan was still in the oven!!!!
  • Turn the handles of your pans towards the middle of the stove so they are not hanging over the edge.  This way no one will knock the handles and the hot pot off the stove or onto themselves.
  • Keep a box of baking soda on hand to douse flames.  (an extinguisher for the kitchen is also recomended)
  • Keep your counter clear of clutter and put things in their storage spots as soon as they are cleaned and you aren't using them.  In my little kitchen I have a bad habit of stacking things on the side to 'put away later'....the other day I killed my glass blender jar when my elbow knocked it off the counter.  It crashed to floor and exloded into a million pieces....of course I was in my bare feet.  My son kindly brought me a pair of shoes so I could get on with the clean blood shed that day but now I need a new blender!
  • Blendy the blender is sadly missed...because I am a dumb ass

  • Tie long hair back....not only for the sake of cleanliness but when I was in middle school and in woodshop, they showed a safety video of a girl with long hair using a lathe.....enough said.
  • Always use the safety grip when using your mandoline....Yes I am guilty of using the mandoline 'just to get the vegetable to the a certain point, then I will use the safety'....Yes there was blood and yes, it was mine and yes, it was the tip of my finger....yes, I am a dumbass... 
So tonight I have established that I have dumbass tendencies in the kitchen...I have learned from my mistakes tonight but I am sure I will get careless again.  Thanks for reading and be careful out there!

As I go along, I will post more safety tips...Please feel free to add any confessions of you own or safety tips.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Buh Bye Yankees Pretzels

In honour of the Yankees being knocked out of the World Series I decided to make ball park style pretzels!  They are fairly simply to make but there are a couple of steps that can get a bit tricky.  First with the rolling and shaping of the dough and then with the boiling of the pretzels.  Why is it necessary to boil the pretzels before you bake them?  It is all explained here by one of my favourite people, Alton Brown.  Of course this video clip also explains the birth of pretzels also gives a great recipe for them as well.  But you can still read the rest of this entry, watch the clip, then get baking!! The clip explaining the reasons behind the boiling is further down the page. It really is one of those things that gets easier after you do it once.

Soft pretzels

In a bowl mix together and allow to get it's foam on:
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 4 1/2 tsp yeast (or 2 packets)
  • 2 tbsps sugar 
  • 1/4 cup melted butter, cooled
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, uh....I mean in a large bowl or bowl of the stand mixer:
  • 5 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp salt
Add the foamy yeast mixture to the flour/salt mixture and beat with the dough hook of your mixer or with a wooden spoon.  Add more flour if needed to make the dough less sticky. Continue kneading the dough until it is nice and elastic like (about 5 to 10 minutes).  It should be slightly tacky but not messy.
Place in a slightly oil bowl and cover with a tea towel to rise until double in size (about 45 minutes)

Once the dough is doubled, punch it down, just like the Rangers did to the Yankees.  Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces.  (Being the nerd that I am I measured out 100gram pieces, but that is just me).  You could make smaller pretzels if you like but just make sure you adjust the baking time!

Roll the dough pieces into a long 18 to 24 inch rope.

Make a U shape with the dough rope and curl the ends in to overlap making a loop.

Repeat on the other end.

Place the pretzels on a parchment or silicone baking sheet lined pan.  Cover with a tea towel and allow to rise for about 30 to 45 minutes.

During the last 15 minutes of rising, pre heat the oven to 500 degrees F and place a large pot on the stove and fill it with:
  • 10 cups of water
  • 1/3 cup baking soda
Bring this to a boil.  Carefully place 1 or 2 pretzels in the water and boil for about 30 seconds each.  Lift out with tongs or a slotted spoon, being careful to keep the pretzel in one piece.  Place the pretzel back on the sheet.

Brush each preztel with an egg wash made from:
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tbsp water
Sprinkle each egg washed pretzel with coarse salt and bake for 10 to 12 minutes.   Pretzels should be a deep brown.  Let them cool a bit before serving them with mustard!

***If you are planning on storing the pretzels do not put the salt on them.  Salt will just melt into the top of the preztels while in storage.***
Okay, let's face it, Alton Brown does a way better job than me explaining how to make pretzels and he does it with tons of geeky science and video.  His budget is also way larger than mine!  Please watch the Alton Brown episode.  It is just so darn good and is one of  my favourite shows.

Slowin' it down with the slow cooker

Slow cooker pulled pork
Click here for a printable version

 First we need to make the dry rub.  This dry rub is very versatile as you can change up the mixture of seasonings to suit your taste.  This rub is adapted slightly from Alton Brown's version which can be found in his book "Good Eats the early Years".  He changed it somewhat from the show he originally aired.  As a ratio, the rub is basically 6:1:1:1. (All in tbsp)
  • 6 tbsp light brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp chilli powder (sometimes I use paprika instead)
  • 1 tbsp of any mixture of spices (this is where you can really alter the mixture to suit your taste):
    • for example: 
    • ½ tsp cayenne
    • ½ tsp old bay
    • ½ tsp garlic powder
    • ½ tsp onion powder
    • ½ tsp ground black pepper
    • ½ tsp dried thyme      
    • (as long as you combine 3 tsp of spices, you will get the last 1 in your ratio)
Mix until everything is well blended and rub all over:
  • 1 pork shoulder roast.  (I will buy whichever pork shoulder or blade roast is on sale, sometimes the one with the bone in and the nice layer of fat still wrapped around and sometimes the boneless one.)
Place in the slow cooker

Turn cooker on to low for 6-8 hours or on high for 4 -6 hours.  Times vary greatly and depend on the size of the roast and the size of the slow cooker. (Make sure slow cooker is also plugged in!!!)
  • Shred the pork.  You will know the pork is ready because it will fall apart completely when you try to take it out of the slow cooker. 
  • Sort through the pork with some tongs or forks, shred it and take out any fat or gristle, or bone left behind.   
  • There will be some yummy juices in the slow cooker. Strain out any sediments a nd return the juice to the slow cooker.  (I like to use a large pot as the handles on the side make it easy to pour the liquid back into the slow cooker.)
  • Add the pork back to the slow cooker so it can bath in the yummy, liquidy goodness. 
  • I like to shred the pork in the pot I just had the juices in because then I am re using a pot.  Remember to add the pulled pork back to the pot to soak up those juices! 
  • Mix pork with a bar b q sauce of your choice.
  • Serve on a bun.  (tonight I used the honey seed buns from an earlier post)
Pulled pork goes well with coleslaw.  In fact the boys like to put coleslaw on the sandwiches with the pulled pork!

As a bonus, here is the coleslaw recipe:

In a large bowl put:
  • 2/3 cup mayo (use your favourite)
  • 1 tbsp sugar (or honey)
  • 2 tbsp vinegar (I used white rice vinegar as it was the first bottle I found in the cupboard)
  • salt and pepper to taste
Mix the dressing and taste.  Adjust seasonings as needed then add to the bowl:
  • a 1 pound bag of  your favourite ready to use coleslaw mix
Mix well and put in the fridge until ready to use.


Friday, October 22, 2010

Sweet! Another post!

I didn't want to make my earlier post too long.  I think I have a penchant for going on too long when it comes to talking about food.  I hope no one minds but since I haven't heard any compaints as of yet, I will stop worrying!  Another item I made for treats for yesterday was the brownies.  Yummy, chocolately goodness!  To go with my theme of pink for "Cook for the Cure", I opted to make the brownies with pink icing in lieu of the usual chocolate overload icing.  No worries faithful readers.  I will post both icing recipes today!

For the brownies:

Pre heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Butter a 9inch square baking pan.  Line with parchment.  (The parchment helps for easy removal to cut the brownies later.)

In a pot (or in a bowl in the microwave) melt:
  • 1/2 cup butter and stir until smooth with;
  • 1/4 cup of your very best cocoa powder
Put this mixture aside to cool slightly

In a bowl beat:
  • 2 eggs until frothy
Add to the bowl, but do not mix yet:
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 2/4 cup flour
  • a pinch of salt
 Sometimes I like to add one of the following to the batter to mix things up a bit:
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup nuts
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp cayenne (or to taste, depends on how hot you like it)
  • mini marshmallows and crumbled graham crackers.....This leads me to the ultimate brownie on until the end of this post for the ultimate brownie treat!
Pour the butter/cocoa mixture into the bowl and mix until all the ingredients are well combined.
Pour the batter, scraping out the bowl into the prepared pan.
Shake the pan or use a knife to even the batter out in the pan.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.  A toothpick should come out clean and the edges will start to pull away from the edges of the pan.

Chocolately brownie icing:
Beat together:
  • 1 1/3 cups icing sugar
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 3 tbsp softened butter
  • 1 to 3 tbsp hot water
Beat the ingredients together until smooth.  Adjust the water as needed to make the icing a nice spreadable consistency.
Pour the icing over the HOT brownies right when they come out of the oven.  The icing will melt and then set up to a nice firm consistency that cuts nicely!

If you want a coloured icing, replace the cocoa with 1/3 cup of more icicng sugar and add the colouring of your choice.  Mix and proceed as per instructions

Ultimate S'more brownies

  • Line your prepared pan with whole graham crackers, breaking them into pieces if needed to fit the bottom of the entire pan.
  • Pour the batter over the graham crackers
  • Bake the brownies as per usual
  • Top the baked brownies with halved large marshmallows (or whole miniatures) and a chopped up milk chocolate bar.
  • Place under the broiler until the marshmallows are golden brown
  • This tasty treat cuts best when it is completely know what they say, the waiting is the hardest part!

Good Food for a Great Cause!

Many apologies for the lack of postings this week.  I have actually been busy baking and running around like a lunatic.  Hubby was away with work, meetings or baseball practice every night and I was on treat duty at work...Treat duty you ask?  Each week at work, someone is assigned to keep the place neat, run the dishwasher, and toe bring in treats for Friday.  As there is no school today, treat day was yesterday.  It is no lie that I like to bake but if I am going to bake for people at work, I will do it for a great cause.  I registered my treat day as a 'Cook for the cure' party.  Cook for the cure is a great program to raise funds for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.  Basically you ask people to make donations to the CBCF while you provide the treats.
The array of goodies on cook for the cure treat day!

This is the second time I have used my treat day to raise funds and both times have been fairly well received.  CBCF are great supporters when you register online to host a party.  They will send you items to use as prizes, giveaways, donation cards with envelopes, and pink ribbons for people to pin on their shirts. 

What type of yummy treats did I make?  Well I am glad you asked.  I did make the pumpkin spice cupcakes from one of my earlier posts, brownies with pink icing, Star Wars cookies, and caramel popcorn.  I also put out some salty treats such as multi grain tortilla chips with salsa, pretzels, and a few veggies...just to sastify everyone!
One of the top things people enjoyed seemed to be the caramel corn.  This is such a tasty treat that I don't  make as often as I should.  It is suprisingly easy to make.  I will have to make some more so I can take pictures.

To make caramel popcorn:
  • Pre heat oven to 300 degrees F. 
  • Butter a rimmed baking sheet or roasting pan.
  • Measure out 10 cups of hot air popped corn into a large bowl.  (I like to measure the popcorn directly into my butered roasting pan.)
In a pot on medium heat mix:
  • 1/2 cup butter (butter makes the flavour here, I do not reccomend using margarine)
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • Bring this mixture to a boil (keep an eye on it! It will start to get foamy and will rise up in the pot.  If this happens, pull the pot off the heat and stir the bubbles down.) 
Boil for about 2 minutes.

Allow this mixture to cool for about 5 minutes, then pour over the popcorn.
While pouring the mixture, gently stir the popcorn.   Continue stirring the popcorn until it is thouroughly coated in yummy caramel goodness.

Place the roasting pan in the oven.  It will take about 40 minutes for the caramel to turn into a nice glossy finish.

***You will need to stir the popcorn every 10 to 15 minutes while it is cooking.  Simply set your timer and every time it beeps, take the pan out of the oven, give it a good stir and return to the oven....remember to re set the timer.

Let the corn cool before eating!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Honey Cinnamon Peaches

Not too long ago, I made an oh so yummy batch of honey vanilla plums and it did not last very long (I do have some everyday with my vanilla yogurt)! Yesterday while Hubby and I were grocery shopping, we happened past some peaches.  The lovely, sweet, peachy smell was intoxicating!  I just had to buy some.  Today I decided to savour that peachy goodness by revamping the honey vanilla plums into honey cinnamon peaches!!!

Honey Cinnamon Peaches

Wash and chop:
  • 4 large, sweet smelling peaches
Place the chopped peaches into a pot on medium heat.

Let the peaches cook down for a few minutes allowing the juices to start flowing.
Add to the pot:
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup of honey
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
Continue to cook the peaches until they are soft.
Mash the peaches slightly, leaving some luscious lumps of peachy goodness.

From here you can either spoon into hot sterilized jars as per canning guide lines or allow the sauce to cool and store in the fridge.  As with the honey vanilla plums this goes great with:

  • vanilla ice cream
  • vanilla yogurt
  • with granola
  • on pancakes or waffles
  • in a peanut butter sandwich
  • by the spoonful

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Winna Winna Chicken Wing Dinna!!

After a busy last half of the week, we are spending a Saturday evening at home watching a movie (and the baseball game).  It is nice to slow things down for the weekend.  I still have to finish my yard work before the snow flies but tonight I am cooking a few tasy favourites and relaxing with the boys!

Now over the past year or two I have been testing different mixtures of coatings to make oven  roasted chicken wings crispy. Wheat flour, corn starch, mixtures of the both, different seasonings...the list goes on! I like using a corn flour and corn starch mixture as it not only makes for a really crispy coating but it is also safe for my gluten free friends!

Tonight however, I tested out the corn starch/corn flour mix and was told they were the best wings I had ever made!  Winner, winner, chicken dinner!!

To make the tastiest oven roasted hot wings ever:
  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Prepare a baking sheet with either a silicone baking sheet liner or some parchment paper.
 In an extra large zip top freezer bag mix together:
  • 1/2 cup corn starch
  • 1/2 cup corn flour (you can use regular flour or all corn starch but the all the corn products make for a nice crispy coating)
  • Note: You can use 1 cup of four if you wish, the wings will still turn out fabulous! 
  • 1 tbsp paprika (smoked if you have)
  • 1tsp onion powder
  • 1tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp mustard powder
  • pinch each of salt and pepper
  • any other seasonings you feel might be tasty (tonight I added some old bay seasoning)

Once these ingredients are all mixed up place in the bag:
  • 1 pkg of chicken wings and drumettes rinsed in cold water and patted dry (tonight I used a 1.5 kg package)
Seal the zip top bag and shake things up a bit until all the wings are coated.
Take the wings out of the bag and shake off the excess coating.
Arrange in a single layer on the baking sheet
Bake for 20 minutes and then turn the wings over.
Bake for another 20 minutes.
Turn the broiler on if needed to brown the wings and give them an extra crispy coating.

Just before serving, transfer some wings to a large bowl and douse and toss them with the sauce of your choice.  Anything you have on hand is a viable option such as:
  • Frank's redhot sauce (a house favourite)
  • BBQ sauce of choice
  • Honey garlic sauce
  • Teriyaki sauce
  • Lemon pepper seasoning

Some things in our house are sacred.  Homemade mac and cheese is one of them.  I don't make it very often but when I do, it is sooooo good.  The start of any home made mac and cheese is the bechemel sauce which gets the addition of cheese.  Making the bechemel sauce is one the first jobs my Mom let me do in the kitchen.  I think she was suprised that I had the patience to stay in the kitchen and keep my eye on the sauce.  I might be weird but I do find something relaxing about watching the sauce thicken as I stir it.

To make mac and cheese:

Put a large pot of water on to boil and boil according to the package instructions for firm pasta:
  • 1 lb pkg of elbow macaroni (or any other shaped pasta you have on hand)
In a medium size pot:
  • Melt 4 tbsp butter
  • Stir in 4 tbsp flour
  • Pinch of salt and pepper
  • Continue to stir this mixture for 1 or two minutes to cook out any raw flour taste
Add to this mixture (called a roux)
  • a couple dashes of hot sauce
  • 2 cups of half and half cream (you can use milk but then you risk the milk curdling as it cooks and curdled milk does not make a nice textured sauce!)
Stir/whisk quikly as you add the half and half to keep lumps from forming
Keep the heat on medium and continue to stir fairly often whild it thickens.
You will soon notice the mixture is thick enough to coat a wooden spoon and some thick but slow ripples appear in the pot as you stir.
At this point add and stir at the same time:
  • 1 can of evaporated milk
This won't water down the sauce too much and it will thicken again quickly.  I find waiting to add the evaporated milk helps to prevent it from curdling.

You have now made a bechemel sauce!!
To your wonderfull bechemel sauce, add:
  • 4 cups of shredded cheese
This is one of those time where you can really play with the recipe!  This can be all chedder, just make sure you use a sharp or old cheddar.  Or you can use any mixture of cheeses you like.  Be creative.  Tonight I used sharp cheddar but that was what I had on hand.  Some cheesy ideas"
  • provolone
  • mozzarella
  • monteray jack
  • colby
  • havarti
  • gouda
  • asiago
  • parmesan

 Mix the cooked pasta with the cheese sauce and pour into a baking pan.  Make the crumb topping to put on top before you bake:
  • Melt 2 tbsp butter and add:
  • 3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
Mix together until the crumbs are all coated in melted butter (add a little olive oil if the crumbs look dry)

Sprinkle the crumbs evenly on the top of the macaroni and cheese.

Bake in a 350 degree F oven until the topping is golden brown (about 30 minutes).

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

That's just souper!

Today is a good soup day! Nice outside but slight chill in the wind.  Since I made tons of tasty turkey stock yesterday, making turkey noodle soup was a breeze.  Especially since I was outside watching my son's baseball practice until about 9:00 tonight!  Brrrr.

Souper Turkey Soup

First I sauted in a little bit of olive oil:
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled, halved lengthwise and sliced
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced
  • 2 small potatoes, scrubbed and cubed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • poultry seasoning to taste
(Realistically, you can use any veggies you have on hand to create different tastes and textures in your soup.  This is the basic leftover turkey soup that my Mom used to make.  Don't be afraid to change the recipe to suit your need/tastes)
    Let the veggies cook for a few minutes.  The onions should be translucent.  Then add:
    • 6 to 7 cups of that tasty turkey stock
    Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to finish cooking the veggies.  Just before the veggies are fully cooked add:
    •  a handful or two of uncooked noodles (tonight I had soba noodles on hand so I used those.  You can use rice or which ever noodles you have)
    • leftover turkey, chopped
    Let the soup simmer until the noodles (or rice) are cooked and turkey is heated through.
    Taste the soup and adjust the seasonings to taste.

    Things to do with your souper creation:
    • Enjoy a bowl with a nice piece of crusty bread
    • Pack some for lunch tomorrow
    • Take some to a friend who isn't feeling well (or has just had their wisdom teeth pulled)
    • Enjoy another bowl with another piece of crusty bead
    I froze the rest of the turkey stock in 2 to 3 cup portions for future use.  I still have lots of leftover turkey to work through though....what to make next?
    Any suggestions?

    Tuesday, October 12, 2010

    Gobble, Gobble, again? Confessions from my freezer.

    How many days in a row can we eat Thanksgiving leftovers before we shove them in the freezer and forget about them?   I am ashamed to say that my son just pulled out of the chest freezer in the basement a container of leftover looking at the freeze driedness of the meat, I really can't say just how long that has been in there.  That is the problem with keeping things in the basement; you forget about them!
    Thank goodness we only had our turkey dinner yesterday so there is fresh turkey to work with!    I have invited my sister, her husband, and my dear sweet four year old nephew over to help out! I am still anticipating leftover turkey.  The side dishes, I am not too worried about.

    What to do with all of that turkey?  Sandwiches get boring pretty darn quick.  So do plates of turkey and left over sides.  Not everyone I know likes to make gigantic turkey and sides sandwiches like my fourteen year old does. 

    When I got home from work today, I brought out the good old stock pot.

    Into this beloved giant pot I put:
    • 1 large onion, quartered
    • 3 stalks celery, washed and cut in half 
    • the leaves from the heart of the celery, washed
    • 2 carrots, peeled and cut in half
    • 2 potatoes, scrubbed and quartered
    • 1 small turnip, peeled and quartered
    • 1 tsp black peppercorns
    • a decent sized pinch of salt
    • 2 bay leaves
    • the turkey carcass, meat removed (yes, this means just the bones!)
    Cover all this flavour goodness with cold water.

    Bring to a boil, reduce heat and let it simmer for the evening.  (You may have to check on the pot every now and then to skim off the foamy stuff.)

    What to do with the goodness of turkey stock you ask?
    • make turkey soup (saute onion, carrots, celery, potato cubes; add stock to cover and simmer until veggies are cooked.  Add noodles or rice and seasonings such as salt, pepper, poultry seasoning)
    • use it to make the sauce or gravy for a turkey pot pie
    • use that turkey pot pie filling to make 'hand pies' using the dough from the 'Mo pizza' post.
    • freeze it use to make soup later (but don't forget about it!)
    • add flavour to stews
    • freeze in ice cube trays to add fat free flavour to stir fry, to saute veggies in, or to thin other thick soups
    What ever you do with that leftover turkey, don't forget about it like I did.  It just doesn't look pretty when you find things like that in your freezer. I couldn't even bring myself to take a picture of it!!

    Monday, October 11, 2010

    Gobble, Gobble: Turkey day Tips

    I think this year may truly have been a relatively stress free Turkey day. We enjoyed a nice lunch out at a restaurant yesterday with Hubby's parents and today it is just the three of us.  Being a teensy bit nostalgic, I still wanted turkey with all the trimmings.  I even ordered a fresh turkey from same place Mom used to (I am sure she would be proud!).  We will have some fantastic leftovers this week, some to freeze for later and I will even make some turkey stock!

    Today's menu included turkey, mashed potatoes, bread stuffing, bacony brussels sprouts, buns, scurly, and gravy.  We haven't had dessert yet as we are waiting for our tummies to recover. For those who don't know, scurly is sort of a 'poor  man's haggis'.  It is a classic Scottish style oatmeal based stuffing that family members crave around this time of year.  It is probably the most unhealthy stuffing in the world which is why we only have it once a year! When we are ready it will be the pumpkin spice cupcakes and the pumpkin tarts I made yesterday!

    Turkey with all the trimmings is a big order no matter how many people you cook for when you have a tiny kitchen.  One of my favourite tricks (tips) for making more stove top space is to use crock pots.  I make a bread dressing in one of the crockpots and mashed potatoes in the other!  There have been years where I have had everyone bring their crock pot over early and made good use of them.

    Tasty stress free turkey day helpers starring:   CROCKPOTS!!!!!!

    Crockpots are useful and lend to a stress free holiday meal because:
    • Crockpots won't boil over
    • There is no need to keep a close watch on the stove
    • It frees up some time for visiting or relaxing
    • It is just plain easy!

    To make mashed potatoes a la crock pot:
    •  Put a kettle of water on to boil
    • Scrub potatoes
    • Cut into 1 inch cubes (smaller cubes will cook quicker)
    • Leave the skin is tasty, healthier, and easier than peeling!
    • Place potatoes in crock pot
    • Add boiling water to cover the potatoes - using the hot water from the kettle helps save the time it would take for the crock pot to heat that much water.
    • Turn crock pot on to high
    Potatoes should cook in about 4 hours
    • Drain potaoes and mash with butter and cream (or whatever other things you like to add!) 

    Bread stuffing in the crockpot:
    • I like to buy a loaf or two of french bread or multigrain from the local bakery.
    • cube or tear the bread into large bite size pieces
    • place on a baking sheet and toast in the oven at 350 degrees F until toasty (about 10 minutes)
    • place toasty bread cubes in crock pot
    Saute in a pan until translucent:
    • 1 onion, chopped
    • 2 stalks celery, chopped
    • 1/4 to 1/2 cup butter (this depends on your personal tastes)
    • 2 tsps poultry seasoning (or to taste)
    • pinch salt and pepper
    (if you use 2 loaves of bread, double the amounts for the other ingredients as well!)
      Once translucent and bubbly add:
      • 2 cups turkey or chicken stock (if you have already boiled the neck and pieces to make a broth, use it)
      Carefully pour this mixture over the toasted bread pieces and mix thouroghly.  You may want to adjust the amount of liquid, depending on how wet or dry you like your stuffing.  Today when I checked the crockpot, it was dry so I added some more hot turkey stock.

       Brussels Sprouts really are better with bacon (Even my 14 year old son eats brussels sprouts!)
      • Wash, trim, and cut in half fresh brussels sprouts
      • Chop 5 slices of bacon
      • slice 1/2 onion
      • Toss together on a baking sheet with 1 or 2 tbsp oil
      • Separate bacon pieces and onions while mixing with your hand to coat the brussels sprouts
      • Bake in 350 degree F oven for about 20 minutes, or until bacon is cooked and brussels sprouts are golden and carmelized.

      I hope everyone has had a wonderful Thanksgiving and have been able to spend it with loved ones and remembering those who can't be with us. Enjoy your turkey comas!

      Sunday, October 10, 2010

      Pumpkin, spice, and everything nice

      There are times when we have a very tough time being 'traditional'.  I like the idea of traditions and try to keep in touch with some of the traditions we had as kids but most of the time honoured family traditions tend to be food related.  Pumpkin pie is one of the most tasty traditions I know.  Every Thanksgiving my Mom would look after the meal and my Aunt would look after the pumpkin pies!  It always proved to be a tasty combination. I remember the excitement of the Turkey in the oven, Mom's special Scottish stuffing known simply as "Scurly", helping to mash the potatoes, and just hanging around the kitchen all day.  I wonder if I was actually helpful or just being a pest.  Dinner always seemed to turn out great!  The next big excitement of the day came as we eagerly watched our Aunt walk up the front walk with pumpki pie in hand!  I think having something like pumpkin pie saved for this time of year makes it all the better as it becomes such a treat!!

      Somehow I managed to marry one of the few people I have ever met who does not like pumpkin pie. (Strangeness abound!)  My Aunt would still make her delectable pumpkin pies but she would also make brownies for my dear Hubby.  I found (and of course adapted somewhat) a recipe for a pumpkin spice cake that I bake in cupcake form.  These cupcakes are a hit with everyone (Hubby included) and have become a tradition in our house.  These are so popular that I was even asked to make them for Darryl and Mandy's Wedding!  This weekend, I have made the pumpkin spice cupcakes but to also apease the pie lovers, I have down sized the pie into tarts.  I hope they taste as good as they look.  I may have to ask my Aunt for her recipe though.  For now we will try out these.  All they need is a dallop of whipped cream!

       So many smells, tastes, and textures to remember and savour.  My only wish is be able to once again have Mom at the table with us for our delectable meal.  She is terribly missed but fondly remembered as I cook up some of the family's favourite dishes that she would only make for Thanksgiving.

      Today I share with you my beloved Pumpkin spice cupcake recipe. I originally found this cake recipe from Martha Stewart.  It was an instant favourite.  I haven't made it as a cake for quite some time.  Instead I have been making cupcakes! Some of Mom's recipes may have to wait to be shared.

      Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes
      Printable recipe
      Pre heat oven to 350degrees F.

      In the bowl of your mixer combine:
      • 1/3 cup canola oil
      • 1 1/2 cups sugar
      • 2 large eggs
      Mix well until it takes on a lightened colour and is nice and smooth.

      Add to the bowl and mix well:
      • 1 cup pumpkin puree
      • 1/2 cup warm milk
      In a bowl, combine the dry ingredients:
      • 1 2/3 cup flour
      • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
      • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
      • 1/4 tsp ground allspice
      • 1/2 tsp salt
      • 1/2 tsp baking powder
      • 1/2 tsp baking soda
      Add the dry ingredients to the mixing bowl and mix with the paddle attachment until well blended.  The batter should be smooth but not overmixed...I know that doesn't make sense but bear with me!

      Scoop into lined muffin tins.  Fill to about 2/3 full.  I like to use a scoop to ensure same size cupcakes.
      Bake for about 20 minutes.  Test for doneness by inserting a toothpick in the centre of a cupcake.  If it comes out clean, they are done.  Cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, then remove from the muffin pan and cool on a rack.

      Once these are is time to make the icing!!!

      Brown Butter icing.
      Printable recipe
      In a small saucepan, melt:

      1/2 cup butter
      Let the butter get all foamy and cook it until golden brown sediments form on the bottom of the butter.

      While the butter is melting, place in a bowl:
      • 2 cups icing sugar
      • 2 tsps vanilla
      Once the butter is a nutty brown colour, gently pour it into the bowl with the icing sugar. Make sure to leave the browned sediment in the sauce pan!!
      Start mixing the icing and add:
      • milk, 1 tbsp at a time until the icing is the consitency you want.  Add more milk if you want a glaze like icing.  
      This icing has a nice consistency for spreading but sets quickly so it is important to use the icing right after you make it.

      Saturday, October 9, 2010

      Mo Power To You!!

      This morning while I was 'slaving' away to make those tasty buns (which by the way went to my lovely neighbours for not only lending us their lawn mower when ours stopped working but will also fix our lawn mower for us...we also bought them beer!), my dear sweet hubby went to the store.  When he returned from running his errands (aka buying beer for the neighbours) he also brought in a brand new KitchenAid professional series 5 stand mixer!!!!!!!  I couldn't believe it!  I showed him a flyer the other day which had the stand mixer on sale and joked about upsizing.  Now don't get me wrong, I was rocking the red Hamiton Beach model just fine but with my penchant for doubling recipes, this one is SWEET!!!  I always wished for an extra bowl for the old model but now perhaps I can just work with 2 mixers??? I am giddy with kitchen power!  I made another batch of the honey seeded buns, a batch of pumpkin spice cupcakes (which will need icing), and a pie crust dough (which will need a pumpkin pie filling).  That is what it means when I say giddy, nay drunk with kitchen power!!
      This new member of my kitchen famliy needs a name, any suggestions?

      How to fill your house with the aroma of fresh baked bread

      I doubt there is anyone around who doesn't LOVE the smell of fresh baked bread wafting through the air!  I absolutely LOVE the smell of baked bread so this morning I baked some fresh buns.  I have made this dough a few times over the past month.  Buns go into a zip top bag in the freezer and get used with supper or to make sandwiches for lunches.  If I decide to make loaves they get sliced (after they have cooled) and put into a freezer bag.  The slices are great for toast or sandwiches.  Homemade bread has no preservatives so it can go mouldy if you don't eat it or freeze it fairly soon after you make it.  This particular recipe I have adapted from Gordon Ramsay's 'Healthy Appetite' book.  !  People who know me know that I have trouble following instructions so many recipes I use are generally altered to suit my failure to follow along.  
      As usual, I have doubled the original recipe.  If you are going to mess up the kitchen, you may as well make it worth your while!

      Seeded Honey Loaf or Buns
      In a bowl combine,
      • 4 1/2 tsps yeast
      • 2 1/2 cups warm water 
      • 1/4 cup honey
      • 6 tbsp olive oil
      While this mixture is working to get a foamy, in the bowl of a stand mixer combine:
      • 2/3 cup whole wheat flour
      • 3 1/2 cups white flour                 
      • 2 tsps kosher salt

      You can play around with the ratio of whole wheat flour to white flour.  You can replace up to 1/2 of the white flour with whole wheat without sacrificing the texture too much.

      Add aproximately 4 tsps of each of the following:
      • poppy seeds
      • sesame seeds
      • pumpkin seeds
      • flaxseed
      • sunflower seeds
      • milled flaxseed
      • handful of wheat bran
      This is the part where you can alter what you add.  If you don't like one of the items, swap it out for another item!

      Mix the flours and seeds to combine.
      Add the foamy yeast mixture and keep mixing with the dough hook.
      As the dough comes together, you may need to add more flour. Depending on many different reasons, you may have to add up to 1 more cup of flour.  This is fine and will not alter the dough.  The dough will be soft but shouldn't be sticky.  Knead for about 5 to 10 minutes.
      Knead the dough around with your hands for a couple of minutes and form it into a ball.  
      Place the dough ball into an oiled bowl, cover with a tea towel and allow to rise to double. This will take about an hour.

      Punch the dough down!  Get those frustrations out!

      To form into 4 small loaves, divide the dough into 4 equal portions and shape into oval shaped loaves.  Place loaves on a parchment lined baking sheets.  Cover with a clean tea towel and allow to rise until double, about an hour.  Bake at 400 degrees F for about 20 minutes.  Fully baked loaves will be a dark golden brown and sound hollow on the bottom when tapped.

      To form buns, measure out pieces of dough into approximately 100g portions.  I generally go for between 98 and 102g portions.

       Shape these portions of dough into balls and place on a parchment lined baking sheet.
      Cover the buns with a clean tea towel and allow to rise until double, about another hour.

      Preheat the oven to 400degrees F during the last 15 minutes of the second rise.

      Bake for 17 to 18 minutes until a nice golden brown on top.