February 25, 2010

Beautiful Bosc

beautiful bosc

I've got a cold. Again.

Forgive me, but, I haven't been in the mood for much. I'm not baking or cooking. nuh-uh.

So instead I offer you some food p0rn. A photo of a beautiful bosc pear I took some months ago. It's one of my faves. I have this one printed out on my "gallery wall" of photos in my dining room.

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Anyone else watch the show Pitchin' In with Chef Lynn Crawford?

I personally love the show and think she is HILARIOUS. I have found people are really split down the middle about her. Some of my friends really dislike her and some love her.

I know she's a bit over the top but I think she makes for good tv. She's pretty entertaining to watch and I love every time she is gagging doing the farm work... I feel for her, it does stink.

My personal favorite part, I laugh every time I see the commercial of that sheep jumping at her. (It's around the 29 second mark of the video I've attached above). It's too funny. The first time I saw it, I snorted like a pig. I found it that funny. Yes, I'm easily amused.

Have a super weekend!!!

February 23, 2010

Parsnip Chips

Parsnip Chips

I remember years ago, we had watched an Alton Brown episode on the Food Network, where he made some parsnip chips.

Fast forward, we finally got around to it :)

Except for the small size of the chips, I couldn't tell if they were parsnips or potatoes, in regards to taste. I suppose that because they are so thinly-sliced, and deep-fried, it all mellows out.

One thing for sure, I had no problem telling my children to eat their parsnips. hehe.

I can't blame them. Salty, fried goodness... Could you resist?

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As an aside, I'm pretty happy with this shot. I did it with my flash, as there was no sunlight around. Big step for me and I think it turned out well!

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Parsnip Chips

Parnips
Salt of your choice
Vegetable Oil for frying

Wash parsnips and dry them. You may peel them if you prefer.

Slice the parnsips, using a mandolin or food processor, as thin as you can. Place them on a paper towel to wick up any moisture.

Heat the oil, around 375F, in a deep pan or deep fryer. Fry the parnsip slices until golden brown, about 1-2 minutes. Remove onto a cooling rack or paper towel.

Lightly season with salt. Serve.

February 22, 2010

Weekly Photos: Edmonton River Valley

Edmonton River Valley & Trail

I'm not much of an outdoor person, especially in the winter. I like my home, where it is warm and without snow. But, I decided to challenge myself and get outdoors. So I drove down to my city's river valley to snap a couple of pictures.

Of course, I picked a colder day to get myself outside. It was foggy for part of the walk but cleared up some near the end. I have a thing for bridges. I think they are beautiful pieces of architecture. Of course, some are more beautiful than others.

Groat Bridge in Edmonton, Alberta

I was all alone along the trail path. Not a soul in sight. It was very quiet and serene (except for the cars driving down river valley road).

Edmonton River Valley
The trees were all frosted and white. It was a lovely walk. However, next time, I really should bring a scarf and wear 2 pairs of pants because both sets of cheeks were frozen.

Frosted Trees

Edmonton is really a lovely little city. I should really make my way out more.

February 18, 2010

Pork Tenderloin stuffed with Spinach, Bacon and Goat Cheese

Pork Tenderloin stuffed with Spinach, Bacon & Goat Cheese

When me and the hubby got married a long while ago, there must have been an unspoken vow that he take on most of the cooking of meat in our home. It's not that I don't pitch in and make chicken, roasts, ground beef and such but I would say that he does much more of it. Especially when summer season rolls around and the trusty BBQ is back in business.

Or it could be that I'm a bit squeamish about raw meat. My mom had to do everything in her power to get me to eat it as a child/teenager. Then, it took me YEARS to be able to touch raw ground beef (hubby was in charge of forming hamburgers) and don't get me started with chicken breasts. I've used plastic wrap, wax paper, tongs and other utensils to prevent myself from coming in contact with it. I know, pathetic, huh? And it's not even a "bacteria" or "germ" thing. But, rest assured, I have come a long way. Really.

But, that all being said, I didn't make this beautiful tenderloin. Yes, the hubby did. Because, as I said, he's in charge of most of the meat cooking in the house.

This was delicious. Bites of pork mixed with spinach, bacon and a hit of goat cheese. Oh, it was so very good.

Just one word of advice, if you are using loose spinach, make sure you wash it very thoroughly. Our spinach wasn't rinsed enough and it was gritty (it's grown in sandy soils).

At least it tasted great!


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Pork Tenderloin stuffed with Spinach, Bacon and Goat Cheese
serves 4

1 large pork tenderloin

5 strips of bacon, chopped
6 ounces of spinach (about 5 cups), washed thoroughly
1/2 cup goat cheese

Place the bacon in a pan over medium heat. Cook until crispy. Stir in spinach and mix for a couple of minutes until wilted. Set aside.

Trim the pork to remove any fat and silverskin. Butterfly the tenderloin open lengthwise. Pound the pork to about 1/4 inch thickness.

Spread the bacon and spinach mixture on top of the pork. Sprinkle with goat cheese. Roll up the tenderloin, giving a long jellyroll shape. Use kitchen string or toothpicks to keep it closed.

Set the oven to 450F.

Sear the pork tenderloin in an large oiled skillet over medium heat. Rotate the tenderloin on all sides to brown. Make sure the seam side is down and pop it into the oven. Cook for about 15 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 140F.

Remove from oven onto a cutting board to rest for about 10 minutes before serving.

Recipe adapted from: Spinach & Mushroom-Stuffed Pork Tenderloin with Sherry Cream Sauce.

February 16, 2010

Broccoli Cream Soup

broccoli cream soup

I'm not one who makes soup often. Correction, I make soup, but usually from a can or a package. I suppose this is kinda humorous considering I'm into "from scratch" recipes.

But, why spend all that time making soup when you can get really great-tasting soups from packages and cans? I also consider soup to be a prelude to the entree, so I rather spend my time making the main meal. I know... poor soup, it's like a second class citizen in my home.

So, I compromised here. I "made" this soup but I used a store bought broth :) ALMOST entirely homemade.

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Broccoli Cream Soup
makes 8 one cup servings

2 medium sized carrots, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
3 tbsp oil

1 carton (900ml) vegetable broth
1/2 cup brown rice
5 cups of fresh broccoli, chopped

2 cups milk
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated

In a large pot, cook carrots, onions and celery in hot oil for a few minutes. Add broth and bring to a boil.

Stir in rice and cook for 30 minutes, until rice is almost cooked. Add broccoli and reduce heat to simmer for another 10 minutes. Or until broccoli is softened.

Puree soup with a hand blender (food processor or blender).

Add milk and cheese and until heated throughout. Serve.

Recipe adapted from: No Cream Creamy Broccoli Soup, Kraft what's cooking Winter 2006 magazine.

February 11, 2010

Valentine Chocolate Lollipops

Valentine Chocolate Lollipops

I made heart shaped chocolate lollipops to go along with my son's Valentine's cards. If you've been reading my blog for a while, then you might remember I made some chocolate lollipops before for my daughter's birthday but in pink colored white chocolate.

This time around, I melted milk chocolate chips in a double boiler (you can use the microwave if you prefer) and filled the cute heart-shaped chocolate/candy molds. I then placed the filled molds in the refrigerator until it was set and then popped the chocolates out of the mold. Easy peasy.

It really is simple and for those of you who seem intimidated by chocolate molds, don't be. I remember being apprehensive about trying it out. It's a lot of fun. You can make it more difficult by painting different colors of chocolate but I'm just as happy with one solid color.

Hope you all have a delicious Valentine's Day.

February 9, 2010

Valentine Spritz Cookies

Valentine Spritz Cookies

Break out your cookie presses!

The easiest way I know to make a lot of cookies in a short amout of time is with the good ole' cookie press.

I'm not one to really celebrate this holiday much but this year, I thought I'd make little heart cookies to go along with the Valentine cards my kids are writing up for their classmates. They seem a bit more excited about it this year versus last year.

Nice and simple. Each valentine will have a little bag containing 3 little heart cookies, 2 with different shades of pink and one with a shade of purple.

I'm sure it will be a hit.

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Valentine Spritz Cookies
makes 7-8 dozen

1-1/2 cups butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar

1 egg, room temperature
2 tbsp milk
1-1/2 tsp vanilla extract

3-1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder

Cream the butter and sugar together until thoroughly whipped. Add the egg, milk, vanilla and mix well, scraping sides of the bowl down with a spatula.

Stir together the flour and baking powder. Gradually add it to the above mixture, until it is smooth. If you would like to tint your cookies, add colored dye at this point and mix well to incorporate.

Place the dough into a cookie press and press the cookies onto a prepared cookie sheet.

Bake at 375F for 10-12 minutes.

Remove from pans onto wire racks.

Recipe adapted from: Classic Spritz Cookies, Wilton Cookie Pro Instruction & Recipes phamplet.

February 7, 2010

Weekly Photos: Sick Kids

sick at home

This week has been a tough week for this stay-home mommy. I've had zero alone time.

You get used to having even just a few hours, a couple times a week, free of kids but when that gets taken away... you miss it.

You miss it a lot.

My kids have been ill. And whiny. And cranky. And... well, you get the picture.

It's been a long week of tv watching, coloring, playing cards and of course, fort building.

Building Forts

Did I mention fort building? I now know why my mom hated us children playing with her sofa cushions.

There seems to be trails of discarded tissues where ever the children were and a clutter of toys.

But tomorrow is Monday and they are back to school for a few hours. I will have some quiet time for myself, to recharge my patience levels and get my pillow cushions back in order.

Here's hoping I dodged the sick germs.

February 4, 2010

Seed Bread

seed bread

I don't really consider myself to be a "granola". You know, a "hippy", "tree-hugger", "flower-child", type of person but when I saw this recipe, I was pretty excited to try it out.

Chockfull of seeds, oats, bran, whole wheat flour... basically it is an "everything in your pantry but the canned sardines" type of recipe. Plus, there is no kneading for this bread, it's basically a batter-type recipe.

I'm not a big bread eater but if I do have a slice, I would prefer it being full of nutrients and fiber. I would say that this seed bread fits the bill. (Though I love my less-nutrient white breads on occasion too).

I remember a camping trip I took, many, many years ago, where I had brought a store-bought sprouted grain bread, full of seeds, along. My brother looked at the sandwich and responded with "what the heck is THAT? Where's the normal bread?". He jokingly threw some of the bread pieces and claimed that the squirrels were not even eating it and continued to make jokes the rest of the day about it. Quite frankly, I think the squirrels were probably full after one piece and that's why they didn't come back for more.

Hmmm... wait a minute. Seed bread, pantry full of oats, nuts and seeds and camping?

Ok, maybe I have an "inner-hippy". But you won't see me in Birkenstocks, a tye-died long skirt with a flower garland around my head.

Enjoy the bread. I did.

:)

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Seed Bread
makes one large loaf or two smaller loaves

1 tbsp sugar
2.5 cups warm water, divided
1 tbsp dry yeast

1/3 cup molasses
1 tbsp vegetable oil

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup rye flour
1/2 cup wheat bran
1/4 cup wheat germ
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup poppy seeds
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/4 cup flax seeds (I used pumpkin seeds since I was out of flax)
4 tsp salt *(I found it to be a tad salty - try trimming back a tsp maybe)

mixture of seeds for topping

Combine sugar and 1/2 cup of warm water. Add the yeast and allow to bubble for about 10 minutes.

In another bowl, mix together the remaining water, molasses and oil. Mix it to the above mixture. Set aside.

In a large bowl, add the flours, oats, bran, germ, all seeds and salt. Stir in the wet ingredients and mix together.

Place the mixture into one 10"x16" loaf pan or two 8"x4" loaf pans, that are prepared with oil and parchment paper. Add a mixture of seeds on top. Press gently.

Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for at least one hour.

Bake at 350F for about 45 minutes for the smaller loaves or about 60 minutes for the large size loaf.

Remove from heat, onto wire rack and allow to cool for 5-8 minutes. Remove from pans and allow to cool completely.

Recipe from: Amazing South African Seed Bread, Friday Night Dinners, Bonnie Stern.

February 2, 2010

Zucchini & Chocolate Chip Mini-Loaves

mini zuchinni loaves

Well, just like most people, I have broken my New Year's Resolutions. I was hoping that I could post Weekly Photos, every week, but this last week has been so very busy that I didn't even pick up my camera. But, on a good note, the fundraiser I was organizing went really well. The food was good, people bid on a lot of great silent auction items and there were no big problems. Things went really smoothly. Hallelujah!

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If you tried out the Applesauce-Raisin Muffins that I blogged about before, then you will surely love these Zucchini & Chocolate Chip mini-loaves. It's the same base recipe but adapted for zucchini instead. They are moist and healthy.

From what I learned from the Banana Bread blogpost, if you prefer to put in nuts instead of chocolate chips, you are more than welcome! I was surprised that so many of you did not like chocolate chips in your loaves! Like I said in that post, I love my chocolate chips.

Enjoy!

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Zucchini & Chocolate Chip Mini-Loaves
makes 16-18 mini-muffins or 12 regular muffins or 9-10 mini-loaves

3/4 cup natural bran
3/4 cup whole wheat
1/2 cup sugar or splenda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda

1 cup grated, unpeeled zucchini
1 egg, beat
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup chocolate chips

Combine all dry ingredients (first 6) into a bowl. Set aside.

Combine zucchini, egg, buttermilk and vegetable oil together. Add dry ingredients to the zucchini mixture until just moistened. Fold in chocolate chips.

Spoon into prepared muffin tins. Bake at 400F for 15 minutes for muffins (about 3-5 minutes longer for mini-loaves) or until toothpick comes out clean from center of muffin. Let cool on rack for about 5 mintues and take them out of the muffin tins.

Recipe adapted from: Zucchini muffins, The Lighthearted Cookbook
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