August 31, 2007

zucchini loaf

zucchini loaf

We have zucchinis in our garden that are the sizes of daschunds. I'm not kidding. When we pick one of them "bad boys" out of the garden, we always reply with a "look at this puppy". I'm sure a small weiner dog would go running the other way, with it's tail between it's legs, if it was confronted with one of our "puppies".

When you have zucchini, then you must make a chocolate chip zucchini loaf. But unfortunately, I must tell you not to make this particular recipe.

This recipe is described as flavorful and spicy. I guess it depends if your tastebuds are actually working. Flavorful? I really can't say that. Spicy? Maybe but I guess they mean spicy as in cinnamon-y tasting? It felt a bit wrong to have cinnamon tasting zucchini loaf.

I wasn't overly thrilled with this recipe and I will likely not make it again. I thought it was ok but nothing above that. Sorry, I wish I had a great zucchini loaf recipe for you but I don't. I guess I'll have to continue my search because I have some more of them puppies growing in the garden.

...

zucchini loaf
makes a small loaf of 8 slices.

1 large egg
1/3 cup oil
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla

2/3 cup peeled, grated & drained zucchini

1 cup flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (I used chocolate chips)

Beat egg, oil, sugar & vanilla in bowl.

Stir in zucchini.

Stir remaining ingredients together in a small bowl. Add to batter & stir until moistened. Bake at 350F in a greased loaf pan for 1 hour .

Recipe from: Zucchini Loaf, Company's Coming Cooking for Two

August 29, 2007

kale with seasoned crumbs

kale with seasoned crumbs

My hubby, he's the gardener around here. Like the shirtless gardener you will find on Desperate Housewives, except he truly is focused on tending to his vegetable garden, sometimes weeding or pruning but always focused on his little "babies".

Me, I don't like gardening. I like having a garden and a crop of fruits and vegetables but I'm not into bugs, earthworms and dirt under my fingernails. I'm far from high maintenace but I just rather do other things, like cooking and baking! That is why the hubby and I have a good relationship, he grows the food and I prepare it. Like two peas in a pod, yes, we are.

And that is how I introduce to you the kale. From the garden to the plate.

So simple and good.

...

kale with seasoned crumbs

1/2 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves
1/2 cup crumbs (I used cracker crumbs)
2 bunches of kale

Saute onions, garlic in some oil. Add crumbs until browned. Set aside.

Saute kale in frying pan. Add some broth/water to cook until wilted.

Serve crumb mixture atop of the kale and serve.

Adapted Recipe from: Stir fried Kale, Allrecipes website

August 27, 2007

bacon leek frittata

bacon leek frittata

I like omelets but I'm too lazy to flip the darn thing. Plus if you remember, I wrote about how I'm not the greatest flipper a while ago.

And yes, I flip my omelets when I make them. Stop the gasping! I know, you're technically not supposed to flip your omelet before you fold it in half but I just can't have an uncooked side. Yes, call me a nonconformist, a rebel without a cause, if you must, but quite frankly, it's because I'm not into the runny, saucy, gooey egg mixture inside my omelet. I think it's plain wrong.

So, enter the FRITTATA! woo hoo! I think of it as the lazy omelet. No flipping, no accidently breaking the egg mixture in pieces while trying the flip the thing, no gooey snotty inards, none of it!

So simple and easy.

And yummy. Enjoy!

making bacon leek frittata

...

bacon leek frittata

6 bacon strips, diced
2 cups of chopped leek, white and green
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 - 1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
6 eggs, beaten

Dice up the bacon and saute it until almost crispy. (If there is a lot of excess oil, remove some at this point). Add the leek, cloves, salt and pepper and saute until leek is softened.

Set the oven to broil at 400F.

Add the beaten eggs to the pan and mix together to distribute the leek and bacon throughout the egg. Allow to cook for a couple of minutes.

Take the pan* and place it under the broiler and allow it go cook for a several minutes until golden brown on top.

Serve!

*If you used a pan that doesn't have a heat proof handle, you can wrap the handle twice with tinfoil before putting the pan under the oven broiler to prevent it from melting.

August 24, 2007

rockin' moroccan stew

rockin' moroccan stew

If we ever go out to eat (so very rare, sniff sniff), we usually prefer thai and indian cuisines. The exotic tastes and ingredients are so flavorable and I find it so very hard to find easy authentic recipes to make at home. Either I am missing some of the ingredients or I've never heard of some of them or the recipe is just so labor intensive that it usually puts me off.

This recipe is awesome. It reminds me of an indian dish and I have made this often. Everytime I have made it, people have asked me for the recipe. Hats off the the Crazy plates ladies, where the recipe comes from. It's creamy with a great spicy peanut butter taste.

I have substituted different things in this recipe and it turns out everytime. Regular potatoes instead of sweet potatoes. I either use fresh tomatoes or salsa because sometimes I don't have a can of tomatoes kicking around. Though I thoroughly enjoyed it with the cilantro, I usually don't have that kicking around either. Time to expand and maintain my pantry better, huh?

It goes great atop a bed of rice or couscous. I've eaten it solely with naan bread or pita bread too. It's definitely made my "recipes I make often" list. Try it out, I'm sure you will make it more than once too.

...

rockin' moroccan stew
serves 6.

2 tsp olive oil
1 cup chopped onions
1/2 cup diced celery
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
1 garlic clove, minced

3 cups vegetable broth
3 cups peeled, cubed sweet potato
1 can (19 oz) tomatoes, drained & cut up
1 can (19 oz) chickpeas, drained & rinsed
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp grated gingerroot
1 tsp groung cumin
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

1/4 cup raisins
2 tbsp peanut butter
2 tbsp chopped cilantro

Over medium high heat, saute onions, celery, green pepper & garlic in olive oil, about 3 minutes.

Add remaining ingredients, except for raisins, peanut butter & cilantro. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered for 20 minutes.

Stir in raisins, peanut butter & cilantro. Mix well. Simmer for 5 minutes. Serve hot.

Recipe from: Rockin' Moroccan Stew, Crazy Plates Cookbook.

August 22, 2007

countertop steamers

cooktop steamer

Oh that naughty rice, steaming up the windows again ;-)

"What?", you say, "rice in a countertop steamer?" YES! It's not just for vegies... really!

Several years ago, I received this countertop steamer as a gift. I thought to myself that I would never use it because I'm not a big fan of steamed vegetables. (And it sat for a while, upset, I'm sure, that the other appliances were getting more attention). But I was wrong! (Not wrong about not being a fan of steamed vegies but more that it's only use was for steaming asparagus). I wasn't thinking outside the box.

For years, I would cook my rice on the stove top. I would constantly go look to make sure that there was enough water and that it didn't boil off, that the temperature wasn't too high nor too low, made sure to stir it to prevent it burning to the bottom of my pot or bubbling over onto my clean stove tops. So much work for some wee little grains, I really dreaded babysitting my rice.

Until the one day I came upon a site on using your cooktop steamer for rice and various grains. Why hadn't I thought of that? Seriously, I spent years cursing burned rice and boiled over water that I had to clean up.

Now, life is so simple. Fill the bottom of the steamer with water, fill up the tray with rice and water, turn it on, and WALK AWAY. Tears of joy, people, tears of joy! Those little puffs of steam make me sooo happy! (sidenote: you do have to experiment around with the times for your specific cooktop but once you figure it out, it's cake).

mixture of white, brown & wild rice

I have also experimented with various grains such as barley, quinoa and buckwheat groats and I tell you I will never go back to the stovetop again. never. So, dust off that cooktop steamer and put it to use!

If you really want to get more uses out of it, really think out of the box... like steaming your face while cooking rice. Or breathing in steamed air when you are all clogged up with a cold and steam your vegies at the same time. Is your home dry in the wintertime? Turn it on and add moisture to the air while making some quinoa for a side dish.

I love multipurpose appliances!

August 20, 2007

panna cotta with raspberry sauce

panna cotta with raspberry sauce

I had never tasted panna cotta before my sister served it during one of her recent dinner parties. I said no thanks when she offered because milk and cream in a gelatin state just doesn't sound appetizing to me (plus, I don't drink milk) .

I had a flashback to Home Economics class when I was in junior high and the teacher forced me to try some dessert that was milk based. I must be scarred from it because I still can't remember what that dessert was but I do remember the scalded milk taste and I wish I could have spit it out on that horrid teacher for making a spectacle out of the whole situation.

But, my curiousity was peaked when I saw the bright strawberry sauce she had with it. So I tried some off my hubby's plate and I have to admit, it was pretty tasty. Creamy and sweet, not scalded milk tasting and it didn't have a gelatin texture like Jello as I thought it would have.

When I looked up the recipe I was amazed at how easy it is to prepare too which is perfect when you want to wow folks at a dinner party, because this is quite the nice looking dessert. You can make it up to two days before and serve with any type of fruit sauce. I've added the original strawberry/raspberry recipe but since I had no strawberries, I omitted them and just added more raspberries.

...

panna cotta with raspberry sauce
yields 4 servings

1 cup milk
1 pkg (7 g) unflavored gelatin
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup whipping cream (35% fat)
1/3 cup granulated sugar

raspberry/strawberry sauce:


1 pkg (300 g) frozen or fresh raspberries
1/2 cup sliced strawberries
2 tbsp granulated sugar

Pour milk into saucepan and mix in gelatin. Let stand for 5 minutes. Warm over very low heat until gelatin dissolves. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla.

In separate saucepan, stir in cream with sugar over medium heat until dissolved and small bubbles form around edges. Remove from heat. Stir in gelatin mixture.

Pour into 4 greased 1/2 cup moulds. Refrigerate for 4 hours or until set. Can be made ahead and refrigerated, covered, for 2 days.

Recipe from: Panna Cotta with Raspberry Strawberry Sauce, The Complete Canadian Living Cookbook.

August 17, 2007

mushroom chicken tortellini

mushroom chicken tortellini

I really like tortellini and ravioli's but I usually don't like the price tag associated with the fresh pastas at the market. Compared to dry pasta, it hurts the pocket book. You pay more and get so little! But every once in a while, I do splurge and get them. It is such a nice change.

But now, I found a better alternative... dried tortellini. The ones pictured above are cheese filled tortellini and they come dried, just like other pastas and you just have to boil them up. What a novel idea! Also, the price range for them are somewhere between dry and fresh pasta. Double bonus!

I tend to like very easy meal recipes. Also, whenever I make chicken, I make extra (remember my bacon stuffed chicken breast from monday?) and then use it up in a different recipe so to cut down preparation time. Just had to dice it up this time. Smart idea huh?

And the taste, very yummy. I couldn't stop myself from coming back for more. You've been warned :)

...

mushroom chicken tortellini
yields 4 servings

1/4 cup butter or margarine
1 onion chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups of mushrooms, sliced
1 cup of milk or cream
1 cup of parmeson cheese
1 tsp salt
1 tsp white pepper

2 cooked and diced chicken breast
240 g (or 4 servings worth) of cooked tortellini

Saute the onions and garlic in the butter for a few minutes. Add mushrooms for a few more minutes.

Add the milk, parmeson, salt and pepper and warm up. Add the diced chicken.

Toss with cooked tortellini and serve.

August 15, 2007

raspberry chocolate chip bundt cake

raspberry chocolate chip bundt cake-fd0000

A few weeks back, we celebrated my mom's birthday and I said I would bring the cake.

I don't like store bought cake.

Let me correct that, I don't like that usual cheap grocery store "cake" that people buy for birthdays or some other celebration, with the inch of white icing (can you really call that stuff icing?) and the no taste fluffy white sponge that is supposedly the "cake" part. I have spent my entire childhood and adulthood eating that cake at celebrations, I'm tired of it.

Thus, I've vowed never to buy those cakes for birthdays anymore. But then, that's not a hard decision, I really like to bake and it's usually very simple cakes.

My part time job, during my university years, was scooping ice cream and decorating cakes. Boy, oh boy, did I love the decorating cakes part. Mind you, it was so much easier there versus at home because we had amples of great quality buttercream made with every color available made to man and every professional tool to make it look great. Making icing rose buds at home is never quite the same, you know?

But then, I guess if I didn't like baking and decorating, I'd likely buy the fluff at the grocery store too. Ahem...

Moving along, great cake, easy to make and used up my ample raspberries reserves. Plus, I was too lazy to make the chocolate sauce for drizzling (actually, I had no cream to do it) so I used my noggin and warmed up some nutella. It was "berry" good.

And it looks very good. Here we have Miss August striking a pose. woo hoo!

raspberry chocolate chip bundt cake

...

raspberry chocolate chip bundt cake

2 pkg (300g each) frozen or fresh raspberries
3 tbsp icing sugar

3/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla

2-1/4 cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
1.5 tsp baking soda
0.5 tsp salt

1.5 cups sour cream

1 cup chocolate chips

Blend the raspberries (except for one cup reserved for later) in processor or blender, sieve if you choose and add icing sugar to make sauce. Set aside for later.

Beat butter & sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time. Beat in vanilla.

In separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda & salt. Stir half into butter mixture. Stir in sour cream. Stir in remainder of flour mixture. Stir in chocolate chips.

Spread half of the batter into the prepared 10 inch bundt cake pan. Sprinkle in the 1 cup of berries and then spread the remaining batter on top.

Bake at 350F for 40 minutes. Let cool on frack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and let completely cool.

Drizzle cake top with warmed nutella (as I did) or make a warm chocolate sauce of 1/2 cup chocolate chips in 1/4 cup light cream (as the original recipe calls for).

Serve with the raspberry sauce.

Recipe from "Raspberry Chocolate Chip Bundt Cake", The Complete Canadian Living Cookbook.

August 13, 2007

bacon stuffed chicken breast

bacon stuffed chicken breast

I don't eat a lot of "exotic" variety of meat (ie: lamb, goat, rabbit, moose, bison, duck, etc). I'm kinda weird with meat that way and can't pinpoint one definite reason of why but I sort of feel like I'm on fear factor when I have to try new meat. I know people who hunt and they tell me that I must try their deer meat since it's devine, and I'm sure it is, but I'm just can not do it. I sorta feel like I'm on survivor, faced with eating roasted rat. It's a weird mental block, I know.

But, I have come a long way. Back when I was a teenager, I would only eat ground beef and chicken breast and that was only in small quantities. It was a fight with my mom every meal time since I usually ate like a bird but she did used to lie to me saying it was beef when it was really lamb or pork. I could taste the difference every time, couldn't fool me! But now I have expanded my meat palate to pork and various cuts of beef and chicken. Progress, albeit small, it is still progress.

This recipe is super easy and it turns out looking very good. It is also tasty but I admit that I prefer my bacon crispy. The bacon that wasn't sandwiched between the chicken breast was nice and crispy but the bulk of it was soft. I likely won't prepare this again but instead I'll just fry up some bacon on the side and top my chicken breast with it.

...

bacon stuffed chicken breast

Chicken breast
Bacon
Mixture of crushed saltine crackers, salt, pepper and garlic powder (to your preferred taste) or other spices that you like instead.

Cut the chicken breast in half lengthwise. Put 1-2 slices of raw bacon in center.

Top the breast with the cracker mixture. Bake, uncovered, in the oven at 425F for 20 minutes.

August 12, 2007

chicken noodle soup

chicken noodle soup

I've been sick. The kind where you can't sleep at night because you can't breath through your nose and you think you might die from suffocation from lying down because your sinuses are so full. Yeaaaah, not fun.

The thing that sucks about being sick, other than the obvious miserable symptoms, is that you can't taste food. Everything is bland. Plus, you are usually trying to eat and breath through your mouth, at the same time, which I think it's an amazing feat. Major strategic analysis involved.

When I'm down and out, soup is a great comfort food. It's warm, easy to eat and really easy to prepare. None of this make your own soup base when you're sick, instant chicken noodle soup from a package. Works for me!

I tend to also beef up our chicken soups by adding vegies and more noodles. Feels more heartier and nutritious.

Sigh, I'm off to go blow my nose for the umpteenth time. boo hoo.

August 8, 2007

raspberry chocolate chip cookies

raspberry chocolate chip cookies-fd0000

Ok, I lied. I got tired of just eating the raspberries right off the branches. The problem is that within a week, we had so many raspberries that I couldn't keep up with them. The novelty wore off after chewing the 100th berry and 1000th time of picking seeds out of my teeth.

I had to do something with all these berries (I froze 4 bags of fresh berries already) and cookies seemed like a good alternative. You can freeze them too and eat them over time. But, when I scoured cookbooks or hit google search, I only found recipes that would use raspberry jams on top of cookies or raspberries in or atop of cakes. So I thought, I'd wing it and try my hand in making a cookie with fresh raspberries as part of the ingredients.

This is a chocolate chip cookie recipe that I modified to add raspberries to and the only real modification is that I added extra flour so that the dough wasn't too wet before baking. Refrigerating is also very important before baking so to firm up the dough.

I also do not sieve the raspberries to remove the seeds. I prefer to call it rustic cooking/baking versus the alternative, that being "lazy".

This experiment gave a definite raspberry tasting chocolate cookie. I made sure not to overbake to prevent dryness and the cookies came out decently moist. It's just a nice way to incorporate my abundance of raspberries.

I actually made a double batch and have 1/2 of them sitting in my freezer. I have also tried the defrosted ones and they are just as moist and delicious.

Wanna come over for coffee and cookies???

raspberry chocolate chip cookies

...

raspberry chocolate chip cookies
yield about 48 cookies.

1 cup margarine or butter
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla
1 cup fresh raspberries

2-1/4 to 2-1/2 cups flour
2/3 cups cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder

2 cups mini chocolate chips

Beat butter with sugars until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Add fresh raspberries and mix.

In separate bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, salt. Stir into buttered mixture. Stir in chocolate chips.

Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Drop by rounded teaspoon, about 2 inches apart onto prepared cookie sheets. Bake 375F for 10 minutes. They are still very soft when you take them out of the oven but it will continue to cook on the baking sheet. DO NOT OVERBAKE. Let cool on pans on racks for 5 minutes and tranfer to racks to cool completely.

modified from : Best-Ever Chocolate Chip Cookies: Reverse Chocolate Chip Cookie Variation, The Complete Canadian Living Cookbook

August 6, 2007

simple salads

simple salad

There is a lot of salad eating in the summer with the abundance available to me. My parents have a large garden in their yard and they are like pushers, always begging me to take some since they have so much(they actually pared down the size of their garden this year but they are still relentless! When will they learn to plant less!!) And now my hubby has been getting his thumbs green with his own vegetable garden this year. I'm quite surprised that I haven't turned green myself yet.

Though I like salad, I admit, I really hate washing it and chopping it up. And when you are getting it from your own yard, you have to be thorough in the cleaning because I have had one too many bugs, spiders and caterpillar/sluggy type things staring at me atop my lettuce leaf as I'm about to deliver it to my mouth via my fork. This is probably why the bagged salad industry has been doing well because you, like me, don't like to do the dirty work. Come on, 'fess up, your not alone!

When it's hot, I'm not very eager to be creative. So the bulk of our salad eating is done very simply with a easy oil, vinegar and salt dressing. You can use any variety of oil or vinegar, there are so many to choose from thus making it fun to try the different combos out.

I chop up some salad, and green onions and toss it together with the wet ingredients until I find a palatable taste. Not too vinegary, not too much oil but I do prefer it saltier than others around me do. I like the salt and vinegar combo and with a kick of green onion, my simple salad is an easy hit with the folks everytime.

August 3, 2007

herb garlic bread with sundried tomatoes & calamata olives

herb garlic bread with sundried tomatoes & calamata olives-fd0000

I started experimenting with breadmaking when I lived in another city. I didn't have too many new friends thus had time on my hands so I tried breadmaking for the first time. In this last year though, I haven't made any bread so I felt it was time that I did. And am I really glad I did. I love this bread. Not just loved it, but couldn't-stop-slicing-more-and-eating-it-nonstop loved it.

This recipe was from my KitchenAid mixer instruction book. It was originally Herb Garlic Baguettes but I modified it to make a loaf full of sundried tomatoes and calamata olives. (I recently bought a big bag of olives and was getting tired of stuffing myself with olives thus I came up with adding it to this bread).

The sundried tomato was a perfect blend to the herbs and garlic in this bread. The calamata olives added a bit of saltiness but I found that it didn't give as much of an olive taste as I expected. But, the color and texture it adds, alongside the tasty sundried tomato, is a wonderful medley in my mouth. I highly recommend adding sundried tomato to any bread, it's so good.

herb garlic bread with sundried tomatoes & calamata olives

Best part about making your own bread? Smothering it with butter when it's warm, right out of the oven and savoring every last bite. hmmm...

...

herb garlic bread with sundried tomatoes & calamata olives
yield 36 servings (18 slices/loaf)

1 pkg active dry yeast
1 tsp sugar
1/4 cup warm water

3-1/4 to 3-1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tbsp fresh chopped basil or 1 tsp dry basil
2 tsps fresh chopped oregano or 1/2 tsp dry oregano
2 tsp fresh chopped thyme or 1/2 tsp dry thyme
1 tsp fresh minced garlic
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup chopped sundried tomatos
1/2 cup chopped calamata olives

3/4 cup cold water

Dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water.

Place 3-1/4 cups flour, basil, oregano, thyme, garlic, salt, sundried tomatos & calamata olives in bowl. Attach spiral dough hook and mix 30 seconds on speed 2. Stop & scrape bowl.

Continue on speed 2 and slowly add yest mixture & cold water, mixing for 30 seconds. If dough is still sticky, add remaining 1/4 cup flour. Knead on speed 2 for 3 minutes.

Place dough in greased bowl, cover and let rise in warm place for 1.5 to 2 hours (or until doubled in size).

Punch down dough to remove all air bubbles. Shape dough into long loaf and place onto greased baking sheet or loaf pan. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for 1 to 1.5 hours.

Bake at 450F for 15 to 18 minutes or until deep golden brown. Remove from pans and cool on wire racks.

adapted recipe: Herb Garlic Baguettes, KitchenAid Instruction & Recipe book

August 1, 2007

welcome to my kitchen.

my kitchen

The header to this blog is indeed my kitchen. I thought that since this is a food blog, you can have a glimpse at where all my food prep happens. The "magic" so to speak.

I love my kitchen. It has come a LONG way from it's original form.

It was renovated by me and the hubby many years ago. It was our first major reno and we didn't have a lot of bucks to spend toward it but we did splurge on the stove. The dishwasher was covered with a stainless steel cover and spray painted black near the top. The fridge (not pictured) is still a glaring white but on the other side of room and I wishfully countdown for the day that it dies so that I can buy myself a nice stainless steel one.

IKEA is where the beautiful cabinets came from, people never believe me when I tell them that. My hubby made the countertops out of concrete and all the plumbing and electrical was moved so that we can change the layout completely. The worst part of the job had to be the removal of 5 layers of lino and subfloors.

But, it was all completely worth it.

Feast your eyes on a BEFORE picture below, wasn't it a beauty?

Before Renovation

Yeahhhhhh, hope you aren't choking on your carrot stick looking at the ugly before picture.

This is the most favorite part of my house and really, I live here. Breakfast, lunch and dinner, you can find me here. Chopping, slicing, frying, baking or cleaning up. Is it any wonder why I wouldn't have started a food blog?
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