June 29, 2009

cute food bag clips

food bag clips

Don't tell me you haven't gone through IKEA and picked up a bag of these! (I've seen them at other stores too). I've done so at least twice, by looking through the sheer amount of them in my kitchen drawers. So handy, I love them!

I discovered food bag clips about 5-6 years ago. I was at someone's home and saw a bag clip around an opened bag and was amazed that I had somehow completely missed them in stores. I had been using office fold back clips but these are so much cuter! And they too come in different sizes and colors.

I heart kitchen gadgets.

June 28, 2009

Edmonton Foodie Meetup #2 - black bean crostini's

black bean crostini's with sour cream and salsa

I attended the 2nd Edmonton Foodie Meetup. This time around, it was decided upon a potluck picnic in Dawson Park.

I was running a bit late, making up my crostini's as fast as I can. I was all set to go, did a quick final check of google maps and got myself and my tray of black bean crostini's in the car. I drove about 5 mintues when I heard a horrible sound. Yes, a bunch of my crostini's took a spill. They were apparantly very slippery on the big tray I had put them on. I was pissed.

So, I tried to drive around slowly, going off memory from seeing the map when I realized I was lost. It is not an easy place to find and I spent a lot of time driving around neighborhoods cursing the city, myself and the damn crostini's for taking a spill in the back of my car.

But I finally made it. I was glad to meetup again with my fellow food bloggers from the first Food Meetup and to meet new faces too. The downside, it was FREEZING. It's the end of June and I shivered the entire time. I was too cold to even take out my camera and take photos. But if you want to see pictures, visit some of my fellow bloggers sites here and here.

Everyone's food was wonderful and I think the crostini's went over well too.

People were very kind and we had some good laughs. I too am looking forward to the next meetup. Hopefully somewhere warmer, maybe a restaurant, because I get the smell of garlic and salsa filling my nose everytime I step into my dang car now. Who would have thought little crostini's could be more potent than those little car fresheners you hang onto your rearview mirror!!!

Once again, wonderful meeting all of you!

...

black bean crostini's
makes about 24 pieces.

2 - 14 oz cans black beans, rinsed and drained, divided (OR you can soak overnight and cook 1 cup dry beans, as I did)
3 tbsp mayonaisse
1/3 cup dry bread crumbs (I put some vegetable crackers through a food processor)
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano, crumbled
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro

1 baguette
oil
garlic

sour cream
salsa
fresh cilantro for garnish

Pulse one can of black beans in a food processor with the mayonnaise, bread crumbs, cumin, oregano and cayenne until a coarse puree forms. Transfer to a bowl and add cilantro and remaining beans. Set aside (or refrigerate) and prepare baguette.

Cut the baguette into roughly one inch thick slices. Place them onto baking sheet and brush them with oil. Broil in oven for about one minute or until brown. Take them out, rub the tops with a cut garlic clove. Flip crostini slices over, brush with oil and broil for a minute. Once again, brush with garlic.

For each crostini, spread a layer of black bean dip, spoon a tsp of sour cream and salsa and garnish with a cilantro leaf. Serve.

Recipe adapted from: Black-Bean Burgers, Gourmet Magazine, February 2009 issue.

June 25, 2009

black bean burgers

black bean burgers

Every once in a while, I want a meatless burger. But finding a good one is hard. Vegetarian burgers are not all created equal, that's for sure. Plus, people want different things from their vegie burgers.

So, when I saw this recipe in Gourmet magazine, I was instantly drawn in. I had a huge bag of dry black beans in my cupboard. Cumin... yes, I likey a lot and it used some fresh herbs... score! My herb garden will get used!

I have to say, I loved this recipe. LOVED it. It is in my "list of recipes to make over and over". I have made it again since the first time. I've also made a variation, which I will post next time.

My only meh was that it wasn't very easy to form the burgers or flip them easily in the pan. The puree is very soft. But I will say that I licked my fingers clean after I formed them all, since there were no raw ingredients to get salmonella from. And, I ate more than one burger. Yes, it was that good. It tastes as good as it looks.

black bean burgers

...

black bean burgers
serves 4
2 - 14 oz cans black beans, rinsed and drained, divided (OR you can soak overnight and cook 1 cup dry beans, as I did)
3 tbsp mayonaisse
1/3 cup dry bread crumbs (I put some vegetable crackers through a food processor)
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano, crumbled
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
3 tbsp vegetable oil

Pulse one can of black beans in a food processor with the mayonnaise, bread crumbs, cumin, oregano and cayenne until a coarse puree forms. Transfer to a bowl and add cilantro and remaining beans. Form into 4 patties.

Cook burgers, in oil over medium high heat, until crisp and lightly browned, turning once for 5 mintues total. Serve on buns and top with sour cream and salsa.

Recipe & photo inspired from: Black-Bean Burgers, Gourmet Magazine, February 2009 issue.

June 23, 2009

low carb sesame crackers

low carb sesame crackers

My hubby made these. He's one of those low carb/high protein lovin "freaks". He's often tweaking most of the recipes that he touches. While I don't necessarily hate low carb recipes, I find that a lot of them are misses instead of hits. I think it takes lots of practice to get it right and also, don't take all my carbs away, I like them!

When I was first dating my hubby back in the day, he used to be into weight training and protein shakes. One time, he made me dinner on a date night and he added vanilla protein powder to spaghetti and meatballs. It was the most disgusting thing I have ever tasted. I still bug him to this day, asking him if he wants to sprinkle in some protein powder when I make spaghetti.

Things have changed a lot over the years and he's not as buff as he once used to be (I certainly am not) but he still has the higher protein in foods mentality in him. So, that's why you'll see the protein powder in the list of ingredients.

I have to say, these crackers were pretty good. I think the hubby got a hit this time.

...

low-carb sesame crackers

1/2 c almond flour
1/2 c soy protein
1/4 c wheat bran
2 tbsp super gluten
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp onion powder

1 egg
1.25 cups water

1 tbsp sesame seeds


Mix all the ingredients dry ingredients together well, spread about 3/16" thick on parchment paper (sprayed it with oil), sprinkled with sesame seeds, salt and a hint of fresh
ground pepper.

Put it in the oven at 350 degrees and bake for 20 minutes

Take out and score with pizza cutter. Place it back into the oven for another 20 minutes or until it starts browning.

June 21, 2009

life is like a bowl of cherries...

bowl full of cherries

Sometimes it's the pits and other times it's so sweet.

I've had a busy week around here. Haven't gotten around to much blogging.

single cherryI thought I'd continue on with my cherry cravings and post a pic I took a while ago. These aren't as tasty as the ones you can get in store now.

I bought some really red, ripe cherries yesterday. Oh so delicious! nom, nom, nom.

I find that I usually just eat the cherries that I buy and never bake with them. I think I'm put off of the idea of having to take the pits out of every little cherry. I know there is a little gadget for it but I think it would probably be right up there in "fun" as peeling potatoes. Unless your the person who finds peeling potatoes stress relieving. Uh, yeah, no thanks.

I'll stick with dried cherries and frozen pitted cherries for baking and keep the fresh ones to eating.

Off to prep for another Father's Day Bbq I'm hosting. Except, I'm keeping the cherries to myself.

Mine, all mine.

June 16, 2009

dried cherry chocolate muffins

dried cherry chocolate muffins

It was about a month and a half ago that I made these muffins. Well before you get can get fresh cherries in the store.

I had hankering for cherries and bought some dried cherries at the Italian Store. Then about that time foodie suz bought frozen cherries at costco and my mouth watered reading about it. I bought some cherry jam in bulk too while I went up and down the aisles, dreaming of all the cherries I was going to eat.

I'm glad I hit that craving. As they say, go hard or go home.

...

dried cherry chocolate muffins
makes 12 muffins.

2 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1-3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup dried cherries

Melt chocolate over double boiler. Set aside to cool slightly.

Stir together flour, soda and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat butter until creamy on low speed. Beat in brown sugar until dissolved. Beat in egg, vanilla and chocolate. Alternate in 3 batches, the dry ingredients and buttermilk.

Fold in cherries. Spoon into prepared muffin tins. Bake at 375F for 20-25 mintues until toothpick comes clean. Cool on rack for a few minutes and then turn out. Ser warm.

Recipe adapted from: Dried Cherry-Chocolate Muffins. Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Baking.

June 12, 2009

Culinary Q & A

Hey folks!

Fellow food blogger, Sharon, over at Only Here For the Food, has posted a Culinary Q & A with, yes, you guessed it, ME!

So, go Check it Out.

Also, if you are a foodie and are interested in meeting other food bloggers and food lovers, come joing us at the Edmonton Foodie Meetup 2, organized by Sharon. I'll be there and I'm looking forward to seeing the faces behind the blogs :)

Have a happy, happy weekend!

June 11, 2009

strawberry banana flan cake with vanilla pudding

Strawberry Banana Flan Cake with Vanilla pudding filling

You can buy premade flan cakes and top it with all your own fruits and fillings. I often see them at grocery stores, sometimes right in the produce section with all the fruits! They have a nice soft almost spongy-like feel to them.

But this one is homemade. I picked up a flan cake pan for a cheap price and was all excited because there was a recipe printed right onto the underside of the pan! suh-weet! No digging around through recipe books!

The cake was really tasty and it has a fine texture to it. I believe it was due to the cake flour, as it makes everything more light because it has less percentage of gluten compared to all purpose flour. If you don't have cake flour, I'm sure you can substitute all purpose flour, but it won't be as light, though I haven't tried it out yet for this recipe.

Strawberry Banana Flan Cake with Vanilla pudding filling diptych

I did cheat with the filling. I just used a prepackaged vanilla pudding mix instead of making some creamy filling. Nothing wrong with shortcuts :) And arranged fruits always make people oooh and aaah. So colorful and tasty.

...

strawberry banana flan cake with vanilla pudding
makes one cake

3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter
3 egg yolks
1-1/4 cups cake flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp lemon extract

1 pkg vanilla pudding, prepared as per package.

strawberries
banana
lemon juice

Beat butter, sugar and yolks until fluffy. Sift dry ingredients and add alternately with flavoring and milk. blending well. Pour into greased and floured flan pan.

Bake at 350F for 25 minutes. Cool on rack for 10 minutes and invert cake onto plate.

Prepare vanilla pudding and spoon onto flan cake. Arrange cut strawberries and bananas on top. Brush lemon juice atop the banana and strawberries to prevent browning. Serve.

June 9, 2009

shepherd's pie with chicken and mushrooms

shephard's pie

You know, I would have never EVER thought that my furnace would turn on in JUNE. Yeah, JUNE! It's been a chillier week here so it's a perfect time for something like a shephard's pie.

I tend to make shepherd's pie when I have leftover mashed potatoes. What I like about it is that you can make up any mixture you choose for the filling. I often use a bunch of vegetables I want to use up from my fridge or in this case, some leftover chicken breast and mushrooms that were nearing their end.

shephard's pie diptych

I'd say that Shephard's pie is definitely one of those comfort foods, especially for those cold June spring days :)

shepherd's pie with chicken and mushrooms
makes 4 servings
1 onion, diced into small pieces
5-6 medium size white mushrooms, diced into small pieces
1 cooked chicken breast, diced into small pieces
1/4 cup to 1/2 cup chicken broth

2 cups of mashed potatoes

Place some oil in a pan and saute the onions and mushrooms. Add chicken and blend together for a minute or two.

Add chicken broth and warm mixture up. Add more if needed or cook off if too much broth was used.

Distribute the mixture into 4 ramekins equally. Top with mashed potatoes.

Heat the oven to 375F. Place the ramekins onto a cookie sheet and put into the middle rack of the oven. Cook for about 20-30 mintues.

June 7, 2009

avocado and radish crostini

avocado radish crostini


When we go grocery shopping, it seems like we buy the same staple vegetables every time we go. But then, the grocery store usually only carries what it seems like the same staple vegies. I wanted to pick up something I haven't eaten in a while.

That's when I spotted a pretty bunch of radishes at the grocery store and brought them home. I had intended to just use them to brighten up my salad but came across this recipe and thought I'd give them a try. It was fresh tasting and I really liked the lime kick with the radishes and avocado. Pretty looking appetizer for sure.

avocado radish diptych


...

avocado and radish crostini
serves 6

8 radishes, very finely diced
2 tbsp finely chopped chives
3/4 tsp salt
pepper to taste
zest & juice of 1 lime
2 large firm avocado, diced
12 slices of toasted baguettes or other bread

Combine radishes with chives, salt, lime zest, juice and pepper. Add avocado and stir gently.

Scoop onto toasted slices of bread. Garnish with chives or diced radish. Serve.

Recipe from: Avocado and Radish Crostini, Canadian House & Home May 2009 Magazine.

June 4, 2009

Fuzzy, wuzzy apricots

stop and grab a pretty apricot

I remember as a child, looking at the fruit bowl and slowly touching each fruit before I chose one. I'm sure my mom told me, as I tell my own children, not to touch all the fruit but to just pick one. But there was a reason other than I was just a tactile kind of kid.

I was picky about the firmness of the fruit. I know that riper fruit are sweeter and tastier but I preferred a harder fruit, no bruises or soft spots. I liked crunch and I know some fruit aren't supposed to be crunchy, such as peaches or apricots, but that's what I liked. And, I got accustomed to eating very tart or sour fruits because they are still green and unripe when they are very firm.

And now, I admit, I still handle my fruit :) I don't need them as firm as I once did but I haven't changed that much since being a child. My hubby was schooled very early on in our marriage he must bring home firm fruit for me or I won't eat it. He, on the other hand, likes riper, softer fruit. So, when I pulled out each apricot from the bag to put in the bowl, I noticed the variety of firmness. And that is how this blogpost came to be written, as it jogged my memory.

Fuzzy, wuzzy apricot anyone?

June 3, 2009

chicken and mushroom pasta in a brandy cream sauce

chicken and mushroom pasta in a brandy cream sauce

I hate when life gets in the way of my blogging ;) And now that the weather is nicer, my kids don't let me sit at my computer very much throughout the day. We'll see how much I am blogging during the summer months! But I must, especially with all the tasty produce coming to fruition in the coming months.

...

We're not big pasta eaters around here. I remember when I used to have pasta crashes after eating a big bowl of pasta. I'd be so sleepy, to the point that I would go take a nap, that I realized that I needed to cut back on it some. I'm usually ok if I eat small amounts and make sure I eat it mixed with some protein and vegetables but I definitely avoid pasta straight up. Though it's so hard because pasta is so yummy!

Another thing I changed years ago is that I buy whole wheat pasta. It's very rare I buy the white stuff anymore though I agree the texture is not the same. I like that there is a big difference in fiber content and I'm sure there is a lot more nutrients in the whole wheat version too.

We all really enjoyed this. I was inspired from a creamy vodka sauce recipe from the Kitchenaid book. However, I didn't have vodka on hand so I tried brandy and added chicken and mushrooms. It's a definite make again and again.

...


chicken and mushrooms pasta in a brandy cream sauce
serves 4

6 ounces of uncooked bowtie pasta
2 tbsp butter
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups mushrooms, sliced
2 chicken breasts, cooked and diced
6 tbsp brandy
1 cup whipping cream
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup parmeson cheese
2 tbsp chives

Cook pasta according to package directions.

Melt butter over medium heat and add garlic and mushrooms. Saute for several minutes until mushrooms are cooked. Add diced chicken and mix.

Add brandy and simmer for several minutes. Stir in cream and salt. Simmer for several minutes until it starts to thicken. Remove from heat and stir in cheese.

Add sauce and chives to pasta and toss. Serve.
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