Tuesday, December 22, 2009

what year were Christmas Cookie magazines $5.99 ??

The year was 1999 ....
I used to love looking at cookie and baking mags.... and if the covers look like this...had to buy them .. immediately. But... there is hardly anything new under the sun now... and the covers are just not that beautiful anymore. Now... I barely give them a second glance.. and I certainly don't feel compelled to buy them these days.

Maybe I have weaned myself because I have plenty; but, I do think the quality or interest is just not there. They really don't "pop" in the racks of mags. So.. I save my great ones in protector sleeves...in a file box. There is an ancient one in there ... 39 cents !! good grief! what year was that? hahahhaa... I forget. Really...
I pore over them for a month for ideas even if I tweak their recipes a bit here and there. They come in handy any time of year actually, and I know exactly where to find them. I even have a special cupboard for the boxes and books of recipes... .. pages tagged.. the bestest of the best (in my mind) ... and this is a keeper.
However, it does require a bit of chopping.... so allow some time. I like to chop the cranberries and nuts earlier and then get around to assembly... food processors are not the answer with nuts either so forget using it. They turn into nut butter much too quickly... I've actually found that a bread or serrated knife works best for me.
Seeing as I had to get these done in one day....I was a chopping blur....

...tried this knife for a while...but resorted to my trusty bread knife....

mmmm.... you can really taste the orange in this bar.. . really adds a special something.
In this batch, I also added about 1/3 cup of crushed Skor bars as I had some left over from Caramel Macchiato Shortbread. Waste not... you now me if you've been around this blog before.. and besides... a bit of chocolate is never a bad thing.

Cranberry Macadamia Bars

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter (no substitutes)
1/2 cup finely chopped macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, or pecans ( I used macadamia)
2 beaten eggs
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 TBSP milk
1 tsp finely shredded orange peel (I used a zester)
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup finely chopped macadamia nuts, hazelnuts or pecans
1 cup finely chopped cranberries (I used frozen)
1/2 cup cocoanut

Stir together flour and the 3/4 cup sugar in mixing bowl. Cut in butter with pastry blender till mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
Stir in 1/2 cup nuts. Press mixture into bottom of ungreased 13 x 9 x 2 inch baking pan.
Bake in 350 F (180 C) oven for 10 to 15 minutes or til the crust is lightly browned around edges.

Meanwhile, combine eggs, the 1 1/4 cups sugar, milk, orange peel, and vanilla in mixing bowl. Beat 'til combined. Pour over the hot crust. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup nuts (here I added some chopped Skor bar bits) the cranberries, and cocoanut.

Bake at 350F for about 30 minutes more or 'til golden. Cool slightly in pan on wire rack. Cut into bars while warm. Be gentle and use sharp knife.. they are still pretty soft, but you should be able to make nice edges.. ... cool completely in pan.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

add some cherries......

Chocolate Chunk Cookies....

I made them earlier this year and we really enjoyed them. At the time I did muse about perhaps adding some cherries for a little extra flair. MMMM.... yep it works!

It is an easy recipe... they look great and taste pretty darn amazing.

Double Chocolate Chunk Cookies with Cherries

1/2 cup butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup sifted cocoa
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 cup white chocolate chips
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
::optional... drained, chopped maraschino cherries

Cream butter, brown sugar and cocoa in large bowl or mixer bowl. Beat in egg and vanilla ..mix til fluffy.
Add remaining 5 ingredients. Mix well. Add some chopped maraschino cherries at this point.

Drop by rounded tablespoons onto greased cookie sheet. (I have enamel sheets and they didn't need greasing..test bake one to check on your sheets.... but, they probably won't need much at any rate...)
Leave as drops or flatten slightly with glass or fingers.... put a bit more cherry on top if you like. Bake at 350 F or 170 C for 10 to 12 minutes. Remember...it's chocolate... keep an eye on them! Mine barely needed 10 minutes.

(I only used about 3/4 cup semi sweet dark and white chocolate squares chopped into chunks..it was plenty...)
 (1/2 cup was enough... I toasted them beforehand... better flavour)...

Monday, November 30, 2009

Chicken Cacciatore

"In the pan in which the chicken was browned" .... for some reason I just love that sentence!

Every time I reach for my Canadian Cook Book to look up my recipe for cacciatore...I say it out loud. Usually to no one but me.. seeing as I am usually the only one home when I begin supper. Silly me...but, I do... every single time....

I don't make it often enough to remember the ingredients or the actual doing...but, definitely remember that little line...

As usual.... any recipe is just a guideline... unless of course, it is Julia and a French recipe... then, by all means follow it to the letter if you want perfect results every time!

This one is forgiving.... it doesn't even give amounts really... but, I am usually working with about 8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs... so here is the exact recipe from my lovely, old, Canadian Cook Book.

Chicken Cacciatore

In the pan in which the chicken was browned, cook 1 thinly sliced onion and 1 clove crushed garlic, until golden brown.
Blend in one cup water, one 8 ounce tin tomato paste, a tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. pepper; cover and simmer until the chicken is tender, about 1 hour. Add 1/2 cup sliced mushrooms and 1/2 cup dry red wine (optional) and cook uncovered for 5 minutes more.

That's it... but,...... I like to add some canned tomatoes and I never use any salt for sure because there is plenty in a tin of tomatoes. I have discovered heart healthy canned tomatoes sans salt though... ..so some days I like to mix half and half.. it's perfect then! I don't like the taste of too much salt. Also... I like to brown my mushrooms in a tiny bit of butter before I do the chicken.. take them out while browning chicken and toss them back in. Add some celery along with the onion as well... some extra spices..like oregano, sweet basil or Herbes de Provence spices ..whatever you feel like using on the day or whatever you have handy.

We have it with spaghetti, a bit of Parmesan scraped on and some freshly ground black peppercorns. Yum. Oh...and...it's especially great with a slice of freshly baked Tuscan Peasant Bread toasted .. (that bread makes the absolute best toast !!) with some garlic butter on... just crush some garlic and mix it into a tablespoon of butter... mmmmmmm..........

See why I try to cut back on salts and fats where I can? Because I do like the occasional tsp. of butter.... and I am darn well having real butter on my real breads... beautiful and home made breads! Now that I've learned to bake my own breads... store bought just doesn't cut it...

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Naan Bread

I've been wanting to give some Naan a try for years... since long before I got brave and learned to make breads.... and each time I say that I say a quiet thank you to Lewis... whose blog really inspired me and then he even sent me some bread making books. What a guy! He has not been blogging since moving to Italy... probably because there is too much bread baking happening there.

Next time I make them...I think I'll add the dry ingredients to the wet instead of the way the recipe indicated...that way I will have a better handle on the dryness of things. The first time I make a recipe...I follow it to the letter and make notes... but, next time.... I make my own adjustments....

The flavour and texture turned out wonderful...but, I think it might just work better with a teensy bit less flour than they called for and be a bit easier to make it smoother... a smoother looking chunk of bread is all I want from this recipe......see how it is creased here and there? ...not like the picture in the book...which by the way is BREAD by Christine Ingram and Jennie Shapter ..... could be the weather...the elevation...whatever... but, next time..a bit less flour initially might just do it.

Naan Bread

2 cups unbleached white bread flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 ounce fresh yeast (I used about 1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast)
4 TBSP lukewarm milk
1 TBSP vegetable oil
2 TBSP plain yogurt
1 egg
2 - 3 tablespoons melted ghee or butter; for brushing.

Sift flour and salt together into a large bowl. In smaller bowl, cream the yeast with the milk. Set aside for 15 minutes. (I just sprinkled my yeast on the milk, stirred it in.. ... it foamed up nicely after about 15 )...
Add the yeast mixture, oil, yogurt and egg to the flour and mix to a soft dough.
Turn out onto lightly floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. (My dough initially seemed a bit dry to me, but eventually didn't feel too bad).. Place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with lightly oiled plastic wrap and let rise, in warm place, for 45 minutes, or until double in bulk.

Preheat oven to 450F. Place baking sheet in oven to heat also. Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface .. punch down. Divide into 3 equal pieces and shape into balls. Cover two of the balls with oiled plastic wrap and roll out the third into a teardrop shape about 10 inches long, 5 inches wide and with a thickness of about 1/4 to 1/3 of an inch.

Place Naan on hot baking sheets and bake for 3 - 4 minutes or until puffed up.
Then place under hot broiler for a few seconds or until the top browns slightly.

Wrap Naan in a dish towel to keep warm while rolling out and cooking the remaining naan. Brush with melted ghee or butter and serve warm.

Makes 3 Naan.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Parsnip Puffs

I had no idea how these would turn out... but.....they have been declared "a keeper" by Mr. BumbleVee...
Without further ado... may I present these tasty little parsnip puffs from the April issue of Recipes Only Magazine.... oh, and I guess I better admit.... it was April 1988 .... told ya I saved things...especially old recipes and mags with recipes in them. Every so often I drag out a handful and peruse...admire the beautiful food photography...and purge ...or not... this one gets to stay. It's a tiny little thing... 5 X 7.. more like a brochure..won't take up any space at all tucked in with my cookbooks.

This is the recipe straight from the book...but, don't forget... all recipes are meant to be toyed with.... I used Apple Jelly as I had some home made from a friend on hand... and I halved the recipe as I only had a pound of parsnips... ...

Parsnip Currant Puffs

2 lbs. parsnips
2 eggs, separated
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
salt and pepper
3 TBSP red curant jelly

Peel parsnips, cut into about 6 pieces each and cook, covered, in a small amount of boiling salted water for 10 minutes or until soft. Drain well in a sieve. Place in food processor (in batches if necessary) and puree.
Add egg yolks, ginger and salt and pepper to taste. Process until light and fluffy. (Recipe can be prepared ahead to this point, covered and refrigerated up to 1 day. Bring to room temperature before proceeding.)
In medium bowl, whip egg whites until stiff but still moist. Fold into parsnip mixture.
Divide most of the mixture amongst 8 buttered (6oz./175ml) custard cups or individual souffle dishes.
Make well in each, spoon in one eighth of the jelly and cover with remaining parsnip mixture, smoothing the top. Place filled dishes in shallow pan with boiling water halfway up sides of dishes.
Bake in preheated 325 F (160) oven about 20 minutes or until slightly puffed and set on top. Serve immediately.

I didn't bother with a food processor... I cut them in small pieces.. boiled them.. they mashed up nicely ... I even saved the lovely parsnip-y water with all the nutrients in it. I freeze all water I ever boil a veggie in.. and save it for soups.... you can't believe how much flavour it adds..not to mention nutrition.

I just filled each ramekin half full.. placed a big flat dollop of the Apple Jelly .. and then filled the ramekin with more parsnip mixture.

I served the ramekin right on the plate... it was still pretty hot... but, we were careful... peas, couscous and leftover chicken got a new lease on life with this interesting and pretty little side ....

Friday, November 13, 2009

Frozen berries...

I prefer fresh blueberries when making scones... they don't leave streaks of colour ... but, not many fresh berries around now...so ... we'll take 'em how we can... just to get scones at all.

Days go by and by the time I think about putting some wonderful recipe on here... the moment passes... or it is a day when I haven't done any baking or perhaps haven't made a very exciting meal...or.... as in this day... I baked Blueberry muffins...which are already on the blog... somewhere.... and... Artichoke Chicken... which is also on here.
All of a sudden a month passes... yikes! how it flies...the time that is... not the chicken..

Today I found some old Homemaker magazines in my purging and moving of "stuff". Tomorrow, ...I'm trying parsnip puffs. I've got parsnips... let's see what puffs taste like.

Give the Artichoke Chicken a try sometime...it's yummy.....

Friday, October 16, 2009

World bread day......

world bread day 2009 - yes we bake.(last day of sumbission october 17)

Today is a special day.... World Bread Baking Day ..... here is the link to my easy recipe for my first bread.... and also Tuscan Peasant Bread... my second try.... Check out Zorra's .... and read more about the day and her bread and see other wonderful recipes and fun blogs........

If I can do it so can you.... I only began playing with yeast a couple of years ago after being too afraid (which is silly) to give it a try. I love baking ...why wouldn't I have tried bread years ago? Again..... silly me... now I'm even trying Artisan type breads. Find a recipe..give it a try and it turns out yummy....every one. There's nuthin' to this bread baking thing now that I'm onto it ... hahahha.... it's fun! My only regret? Why the heck didn't I start much sooner. There is nothing better than the lovely aroma of freshly baked bread right there in your own kitchen.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

almost feels like Christmas....

.....except for the unseasonably warm and beautiful blue sky days we are having in the foothills of the Rockies. Well, they say that is where we are...but, they are a bit further away than our doorstep ... at least an hour and a half..or so......
but, be that as it may, what great days!! I burned a lovely scented candle earlier in the day to get rid of the popcorn smell.... I tried out a new popcorn maker...and a few kernels got caught under the little sweeps... back to the shopit goes. Sigh ... some year I will find the perfect popcorn maker.

'tis the season for those great little Italian plums again too... remember those from last year? You don't ... shame on you for not seeing my plum loaf then...hahaha..... or not... never mind.... it's not that important. But...it is that tasty and if you haven't tried some of these little guys... maybe now is the time. They are the backyard variety.. found in any of the older neighbourhoods.

You only need 8 or so to make a cup... which will make one loaf.

Do you ever crack an egg into the mixture only to realize you also got a bit of shell in there as well? ...then you have to spend time digging it out? I began breaking my eggs into a separate bowl years ago.... saves time and frustration.

oooooh....a lovely soft mixture.... dollops of yogurt in there....

I love the tart hits of some of the plums.... maybe they are not quite as ripe as the rest.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

I'm a delinquent...

...but, I have excuses..... oh, yeh...I remember now...nobody wants to hear them.

Well, in honour of me finding half an hour while my slave driver is having a bath....I'm doing a post about something beginning with a big D.... maybe he won't notice that I'm not painting doorframes......

Dark and delicious.... chocolate!!

here's the picture...and mine.....

They are from the Company's Coming Chocolate Everything book by Jean Pare. Somebody named them white chip cookies...huh? ...terrible...I call them Double Chocolate Chunk cookies. .. cuz I used chunks of white chocolate instead of chips.

Here they are. You'll notice I always throw in my own twobits as I tell you the recipe... sometimes I think they put in too much of this or that ... suit yourself....but, here it is straight from the book.......

Double Chocolate Chunk Cookies

1/2 cup butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup sifted cocoa
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 cup white chocolate chips (I only used about 3/4 cup semi sweet dark and white chocolate chopped into chunks..it was plenty...)
3/4 cup chopped walnuts (1/2 cup was enough... I toasted them beforehand... better flavour)...

Cream butter, brown sugar and cocoa in large bowl or mixer bowl. Beat in egg and vanilla ..mix til fluffy.
Add remaining 5 ingredients. Mix well. Drop by rounded tablespoons onto greased cookie sheet. (I have enamel sheets and they didn't need greasing..test bake one to check on your sheets.... but, they probably won't need much at any rate...)
Leave as drops or flatten slightly with glass or fingers.... Bake at 350F or 170C for 10 to 12 minutes. Remember...it's chocolate... keep an eye on it! Mine barely needed 10 minutes.

Says it makes 3 dozen.... only made 23 of my tablespoon size...... hmmmmm.... my tablespoons must be bigger... *grin*** .......

Ohhhhh.....are they delish!! I just made them last night and already only 5 left... but, I did take a few for the old guys at the golf course today...and gave a few to my neighbour..... .........

Monday, June 8, 2009

Strawberry Scones

Strawberries were on special... and they were so sweet and juicy...

One day it was strawberry shortcake and a day later, not wanting to waste a single berry..I made some scones.

Here is the basic sweet tea biscuit recipe I use. Instead of rolling or cutting ..I just drop it in huge dollops onto a baking sheet. It makes lovely rustic looking scones.

2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
4 tsps. baking powder (I usually reduce this amount)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup firm shortening (I always use butter)
1 egg

Mix dry ingredients in bowl. Cut in fat with pastry blender 'til mixture has the appearance of fine crumbs.

Beat the egg with a fork in measuring cup and add milk to make one cup. Add milk and mix gently. If it seems a bit dry I add a couple of tablespoons of plain yogurt. Perhaps if you prefer to roll it or make cut outs.. you won't need the extra moisture..., but I like mine nice and moist.

Drop large rounds onto a baking sheet..leaving a bit of room to spread.

Bake at 400 F for 10 - 20 minutes. depending upon the size.

It says it makes 12-18 biscuits 3/4 inch thick. I usually make 9 large mounded scones....or 6 giant ones.

For a creamy lemony/strawberry scone... substitute buttermilk or sour cream for the milk, add juice of 1/2 to 1 whole lemon and some lemon zest; reduce baking powder to 2 teaspoons, add 1/2 teaspoon baking soda and a handful of cut up strawberries. I usually make some smaller chunks and some a bit larger .... Sprinkle sugar on the top if you like.

These are lovely ... with a great crumb.... and even two days later (if any survive that long ) .. are not dry or tasteless. If you want to reheat ...place in a paper towel...and heat for a few minutes in the microwave. Just like fresh out of the oven. Quick and easy... give them a try..you'll be glad you did!

Friday, June 5, 2009

the "slipper" tastes pretty good...

Ciabatta ... apparently the name means "carpet slipper"... is a no-knead bread anyway, so I'm not sure what the big deal is in the video ...but, it seemed so simple compared to other recipes in my bread books... (which call for a few more steps and a few more ingredients) ... so, I gave it a try. It was simple...pretty tasty and I'll definitely make it again. I was surprised that the crust did not get as dark as the Tuscan Peasant Bread... but, perhaps the oil and cornmeal on the baking sheet is the way to go versus the parchment .... ?? or, perhaps the water in the oven for extra moisture is the answer.. or, perhaps the honey in the mix ... ?? who knows, but I was pleasantly surprised to see the bottom more golden than dark brown. Not that I mind a well cooked crust. I also love a chewy crust...which this has. Yum... I only had one small piece today...but, can't wait for toast in the morning.... I love artisan type breads toasted!

The crumb of mine is not as airy as the master's... but, it still has a few good sized holes. My bread book says to handle it very gently to preserve the air bubbles for those lovely large voids. .. not that extra large holes would enhance the flavour. Perhaps I'll wear kid gloves next time.... just so I can have a holey loaf for my photo shoot.

Oh, yes....the guy doesn't mention it in his video..but..on his blog...he says he always bakes bread with a pan of water on the bottom of his oven. It would probably be a good idea to revise your video mister...

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

No knead ciabatta

No-Knead Ciabatta Bread from Foodwishes on Vimeo.

Had to post this one.... Susan sent me a no knead video... the one that calls for heating your lovely Le Creuset dutch oven in blistering heat before you toss in the dough... and I just couldn't get my head around doing that. Not that I own one but, you know..say if I did....some day.....

Plus..it sounds a bit dangerous...so hot and all...

So...I while I was checking out the video..I saw this one. Ahhh...much better idea. Hey Susan...it is the Tuscan all over again... your recipe is still the best. Although, with this one ... they just mix and leave it for 18 hours..then bake it. I'm definitely giving this one a go... I'll let you know what happens.

UPDATE:: I knew it!! found this post on a foodie site talking about no-knead breads.....

Don't use your enamel Le Creuset for this procedure! Massive, permanent, discoloration and funky spots and stripes to your pot. Did this about a year ago and my beautiful pot, although functional, is now ugly.

Friday, May 8, 2009

French Dimpled Rolls

In my search for Kaiser buns, I thought this might fill the bill...but, still not a Kaiser. However, they ARE very tasty buns...or rolls as they are called in my Bread book. The description says:
"A French and Belgian specialty, these attractive rolls are distinguished by the split down the center. They have a crusty finish while remaining soft and light inside -- they taste great, too."
If you know Kaiser buns you can see why I thought this might be the same type of crust and flavour.

3 1/2 cups white bread flour (I used all purpose flour)
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 ounce fresh yeast (I used 1 and 1 1/2 tsp. Traditional Active yeast granules )
1/2 cup lukewarm milk
3/4 cup lukewarm water

Lightly grease 2 baking sheets. Sift flour and salt into large bowl. Stir in sugar and make a well in center.

Mix yeast with the milk until dissolved, then pour into the center of the flour mixture. Sprinkle on a little of the flour from around the edge. Let sit at room temperature for 15 - 20 minutes or til the mixture starts to bubble.

Add the water and gradually mix in the flour to form a fairly moist, soft dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 8 - 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with tea towel and let rise at room temperature, for about 1 1/2 hours or until doubled in bulk.

Turn out onto lightly floured surface and punch down. re-cover and let rest for 5 minutes. Divide dough into 10 pieces. Shape into balls by rolling the dough under a cupped hand, then roll until oval. Lightly flour the tops. Space apart on baking sheets, cover with tea towel and let rise, at room temperature, for about 30 minutes or til almost doubled in size.

Lightly oil the side of your hand and press the center of each roll to make a deep split. Re-cover and let rest for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, place a baking pan in bottom of the oven and preheat oven to 450 F. Pour 1 cup of boiling water into the pan and bake the rolls for 15 minutes or until golden. Transfer to wire rack to cool.

What are they talking about? I slathered on some butter and had mine steaming hot!! Ohhhhhhh.... YUM !!


WARNING! If you have not poured hot water into a very hot baking or roasting pan before...please be careful ! It still sizzles and splashes a lot. Make sure you hold it at a distance and wear a glove.... it still is pretty wild. The second batch I made..I poured some in before it got up to temperature...and added some more as I put the buns into the oven. This particular book doesn't even say use boiling water... and it definitely should. For safety.

I found my hand didn't make any type of split at all in the dough..., so, ... I used my bread scraper to make a deep groove and could have gone deeper or sharper to make them look more like the picture in the book.

I also mixed mine in my mixer and used the regular way of mixing things. Began with yeast sprinkled on water, etc... then add flour later...after the poolish bubbled.......

These are yummy buns indeed...just not quite what I wanted ... I was still on the hunt for the elusive Kaiser buns...or as I found out later.... Kaiser rolls. I found some!! ... they will be next..

Who cares if they are not quite the picture in the Bread book. They sure did taste wonderful.....

Friday, February 27, 2009


This week's ingredient.... Cinnamon! I love cinnamon. Of course, I also like a bit of sweetness with it. Even in my Peanut Chicken recipe, I like to add some honey or brown sugar to mellow the taste of this lovely spice.
Cinnamon buns would be the perfect choice...but, as some of you may know I am on a workout and strengthening kick right now...so.... can't make those sinful treat...only because I just know I would absolutely feel compelled to eat more than one...okay...probably several....so...I chose this recipe instead. I can hold back with just a loaf...although this loaf is very tasty too!!
Guess who sent me this recipe? My financial advisor. What do you suppose that means?

The recipe says it is Cranberry Pumpkin Bread.... but, as usual, ...... to me it is not bread without yeast. Yeh, yeah..I know... many loaves are referred to as breads....but, not by me. Using frozen cranberries adds a little zing of tartness to the light sweetness of the loaf... I liked it. My brother baked it as well..(said it was too cold outside to do much else and the stove was helping keep the house warm).. .but he used Craisins...he figured they were cheaper, but I can't vouch for that and did enjoy the little tart surprises of non sweetened frozen berries. I never use the full amount of berries in any recipe either..... usually overkill in my guess-timation. I just toss in a handful that looks good to my eye. Remember my usual admonition.... a recipe is just a guideline... add or subtract as you like. Maybe you like more cinnamon...less clovers (yeah, right clovers...ahahha... as if... but, you know I meant cloves didn't ya?) anyway... always your own personal preference. I usually make a recipe to the letter the fist time...then, if it's what I call a "keeper", I tweak it in subsequent attempts... to perfect it for the enjoyment of my very own gustatory receptors....(my taste buds).... .

so...here is my nod to cinnamon for Diana's challenge this week....and I'm darn well referring to mine as a loaf ... so there.

Cranberry Pumpkin "Loaf"

2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/2 cup butter (room temperature)
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup canned pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie mix)
1 cup orange juice
zest from an orange
1 1/2 tsps. vanilla
1 1/4 cups fresh or frozen cranberries

Stir together flour, baking powder and soda, cinnamon, cloves and ginger in large bowl.

In another bowl, (or mixer bowl) cream together butter and sugar til light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time. Mix well. Add pumpkin puree, orange juice, orange zest and vanilla. Add dry ingredients and mix just until moist. Fold in cranberries.
Pour batter into a large greased loaf pan and bake on centre reack for 60 to 80 minutes or til a toothpick comes out clean. (mine took almost the full 80 mins)
Cool completely before slicing and serving. (the loaf is sort of soft feeling..and you will make a mess if you slice early..... .... yep..I had to taste it as soon as I could without burning my tongue...and crushed one end of it..... )

This definitely needs a large loaf pan or go for two smaller ones... perhaps check the times after 60 if you use smaller pans. I used my biggest loaf tin which is 9 X 5... and it was full. I do have to say it is a rather dense crumb to this loaf... it is not light and fluffy and really doesn't rise too much, As a matter of fact... the first one I made almost looked like it was not fully cooked ..but around the bottom and outside to halfway up the side...not in the middle where it would normally be if it was undercooked..... .weird... but, it definitely was baked right through. Maybe because it is so huge... it just weighed the lower part of the loaf down ... I'm not sure. Second batch (because I bought a large tin of pumpkin and had enough for seconds) I used two smaller loaf tins...and still there was a slight recurrence of that... but not as bad....don't know what it is.
However, this is still a very tasty loaf.... I'll make this one again sometime down the road....

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Cabbage Challenge

This week's ingredient for Chic Life's challenge is cabbage. Sky's the limit on dishes for that simple ingredient.... and so many of them are soooo tasty. I decided to do a soup, because when I looked in my 'fridge I spied some perfect little leftovers. Soups are such a great way to use them up and at the same time get plenty of nutrition.

A handful of parsley, a small half head of cabbage, one silly sausage .... .. some sprout water that I saved just for this...I added it to the chicken stock because I only had about two cups of stock ...all needed to be used ..... and soon. A big part of being frugal with food is never wasting it. Never leaving things in your fridge 'til they resemble school science experiments...

don't forget.... a recipe is not a code... "it's more like yer guidelines" .....
where have we heard that one? oh, yeh.... Pirates.... the code.... one of my fav lines.. soooo,,, along those lines....this is my soup adapted from Cabbage Soup in the Encyclopedia of Creative Cooking. I call it....

(More than) Cabbage Soup

1/2 to 1 cup cabbage (I shred and dice mine into about 1/2 to 3/4 inch pieces)
2 slices bacon (chopped) or a large spicy sausage (or two) diced
1 small onion (or to taste)
1 or 2 carrots
1 stick celery
1 medium potato
1 tablespoon flour
4 cups stock ( I used chicken)
1 or 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper or (I used a small red pepper instead of black)
pinch of nutmeg
can of creamed corn (optional)
cup of milk (optional)

Heat bacon for some fat or use 2 tablespoons of butter, or..... a tablespoon of each of butter and vegetable oil (I prefer this as the veggies are less inclined to brown too quickly and I'm always trying for less butter anyway because of cholesterol) Add onion, celery, carrot and potato..... ... cook gently. Add cabbage and continue to cook gently. Don't let cabbage get brown. After about 10 minutes, sprinkle on a big tablespoon flour and mix well. Pour in about 4 cups stock. Mix well, add diced sausage, bay leaf, parsley, (salt if using) pepper, any other spices of your choosing and bring to boil. Reduce heat; simmer 20 minutes or so til veggies are tender but not mushy. Adjust seasoning; add nutmeg and tin of creamed corn. Simmer for about half an hour. Add a cup of milk and continue to heat, but be careful not to let come to boil after adding milk. ( It may separate if boiled ..and even if it tastes okay..it does not look as nice.)

If it has to sit longer than the times stated ...not to worry... .mine was ready and re-heated several times.... it just gets better..... though some of the potatoes get a bit less firm. We had it with some fresh home made bread, toasted.....oh, YUM! .... And, today....leftover soup for lunch.... mmmmmm......

Saturday, February 7, 2009


The special ingredient for the weekly fun food thing at Chick Life.. whoops.... Chic Life.... lol.... I call you "the chick" behind your back all the time Diana.

We call this recipe Peanutty Chicken... and I usually use a dollop of hot curry paste as my seasoning ingredient... which makes it a bit less fiddly. However, this is similar... and to get some heat I used dried red peppers from my friend Stan's garden. These little things are pretty potent...

...as a matter of fact, may I remind you that after cutting peppers, please remember to wash your hands several times before licking your fingers when cleaning honey off the knife with them.... whoa! that gave whole new meaning to hot lips!!

Peanutty Chicken

Portions are entirely up to you...this is just a guideline ... rely upon your own preferences for taste and amounts.

Brown some chicken in large skillet. I like thighs... Use a small amount of oil if it is not a stick free pan.

Turn chicken to brown other side and add some onions.... sprinkle all with liberal amount of turmeric and whatever other spices you like. I used Herbes de Provence and some fresh basil (which I added much later) Turmeric imparts a lovely colour right away... today it gave me an idea to make it an orange-y chicken and that was what I decided to add once the onions were slightly cooked.. orange juice.
Don't let the onions get brown...just nice and soft..... Simmer with lid on for 20 minutes or til chicken is nicely cooked. During the cooking I also added some celery.
Add some diced tomatoes.. I used a whole large tin. When tomatoes have simmered with turmeric and chicken for a bit..taste and add more spice if necessary. At this point, I also add a small red pepper, a few dollops of honey, a small handful of dried cranberries and several large spoonfuls of chunky peanut butter. Mix well.
Simmer for at least an hour... stirring every so often....

I decided to continue the orange theme and used chicken broth and orange juice for the liquid in a panful of couscous. Chopped up fresh parsley and tossed it with the couscous after it had been sitting for about 5 minutes.

I had a spaghetti squash already baked, so, we used that for a veg and served the chicken in sauce over that ...very tasty..

A few green peas for some colour... a salad on the side...et voila..... YUM! Peanutty Turmeric Chicken.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

More blueberries!

This one is a keeper.... not too sweet, but it has a lovely, sweet, crispy topping that gives it that little something extra. Definitely the perfect afternoon snack with coffee or tea.....

....or, for later with a sip of wine.......

perhaps a dollop of ice cream or frozen yogurt if you are eating healthy. I ain't sayin' that other word..you know the one that starts with die?....

This recipe is from Company's Coming Muffins and More. I used butter instead of the cooking oil... just can't seem to bring myself to use oil for baking...... and so I changed the mixing method a bit to the old standby...beat butter, sugar, eggs, etc.. for my method... however, here I give you the original and you can give it a try as is.. or change things as you please. Remember what Michael Smith always says about recipes being more or less a guideline....and every single time I hear him say it I laugh... thinking of Johnny Depp and the pirates... .. arrrhhhh, matey.... "it's not really a code.. it's more like yer guidelines" ... ..... lol...

Blueberry Coffee Cake

2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
3 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1/4 cup cooking oil
3/4 cup milk
1 cup blueberries fresh or frozen

1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup butter
1 tsp. Cinnamon

Mix flour, sugar, baking powder and salt together in mixing bowl. (I don't bother with salt as I use salted butter)

In another bowl beat eggs until frothy. Mix in oil and milk. Pour into dry ingredients. Mix together. Fold in blueberries. Scrape into greased 9 inch tube pan. I used a shallow 9 inch cake pan and panicked a bit when it rose almost over the top... but, it was fine.

Topping: Mix flour, brown sugar, butter and cinnamon together. Sprinkle over top of batter. Bake in 350F (180C) for 50-60 minutes or til it begins to shrink away from sides of pan. Cool about 30 minutes before removing from pan. Turn right side up.

(when I turned it out of the pan..I used a cookie sheet instead of cake rack over pan so I wouldn't have a million crumbs all over the place. Then..put cake plate on bottom of cake... turn right side up and take off the cookie sheet.) whew...but, it worked...hardly any crumb-y mess!

You could use cranberries, raspberries or even a bumbleberry mix instead of blueberries....

okay...there you have it...now, I'm off for tea and blueberries....oh, and cake....

Thursday, January 29, 2009


I'm doing Chic Life's blueberry challenge..... ..

This is a recipe I have had for eons. Okay..maybe just decades. It's one of the many recipes in my stash that I just saved and saved... somehow remembering which little booklet of recipes it was in. A prize winning recipes booklet from 1983 if you can believe it. Anyway... finally I got some pumpkin (because it calls for a cup of that) and actually mixed and baked it. Sigh.......................... it was quite bland even though I added some spices and extra moisture because I didn't like the proportions of wet to dry ingredients. What a disappointment... I don't think I will even bother printing out the recipe... but, here is a pic of the winner...and a pic of mine. How can something look so good and taste so....... .. average.........??

My sweetie seems to think it's okay....he is eating it and even seems to enjoy a slice. I can't bother putting calories into "the temple" that aren't amazing to taste. It's just too much work trying to stay trim and keep off unwanted pounds.

......instead of this Indian Cornbread recipe ....

may I offer instead, my own version of Lemon Blueberry Muffins. I played with this recipe one winter and got it to where we loved it. Now, these are worth every minute of my workout.... I make them at least once a month, but, after I eat the one (or sometimes even two) that I allow myself.... ... they get bagged and frozen for Mr. BumbleVee's lunches...

Hopefully I'll get around to trying one more this week..... Blueberry Coffee Cake......