Monday, December 31, 2012

Rice Pudding

So, after finding the ramekins for the bacon baskets I bailed on, I decided that I should put them to good use (since they were already out) and make some rice pudding.

I LOVE rice pudding, but it's such a pain to make it.  Invariably, I eat some, the kids don't, and then I have a large casserole dish of rice pudding I need to (a) eat, (b) find a home in my fridge for, or (c) toss out.  If you've ever seen the inside of my fridge, you'd know (b) is not an option.  

A while back I took my favourite rice pudding recipe and converted the grams to tablespoons (etc.) and re-wrote the recipe to make in ramekins (for a change, I actually wrote them down so that I don't have to continue to look up the conversions EVERY TIME I make them!!).  Made in ramekins the "leftovers" are easier to find a place for in the fridge, and they're a good individual portion size.  

This recipe is SO fast and easy to prepare, though cooking takes some time.  I prefer mine without nutmeg or raisins, and like to serve it with a dollop of raspberry jam (must be the British in me!).  Feel free to add those if you'd prefer.



Ingredients

4 tbsp short grained rice
2 tbsp white sugar
600 mL milk

Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 325°F.
  2. Spray four (5 oz) ramekins with non-stick spray.  
  3. Into each ramekin, place 1 tablespoon of rice, and 1/2 tablespoon of sugar. 
  4. Pour 150mL milk into each ramekin.  Stir to blend.
  5. Place ramekins on rack in the centre of oven.  Place a cookie sheet on the rack below in case of spillage. 
  6. Bake for 30 minutes.  Stir gently.
  7. Bake for a further one hour.  
  8. Remove from oven. Serve hot or cold. Top with a dollop of red jam to serve.
Makes 4

Woven Bacon and Eggs

I decided today to attempt to make bacon baskets for brunch.  My plan was to make the baskets, fill them with scrambled eggs, and sprinkle them with cheese.  A nice, simple brunch. 

A few recipes I saw suggested putting the weaves over the backs of muffin tins (with a cookie sheet grease-catcher below).  I thought myself smart to use upside down ramekins.  Unfortunately, once I'd measured (OCD much?), and figured out I'd have to use about two pounds of bacon to make four of them, I quickly ditched that idea and chose to make a  woven bacon sheet instead.

I'd seen these made for "The Big Game BBQ'd Sausage and Bacon Coronary Rolls" (or some such similar yet appropriate moniker), but I had other ideas.  Plus, there's too much snow to dig out the bbq, and who bbq's breakfast anyway?

I wove a full pound of bacon on a cutting board and then flipped it onto a foil lined, non-stick sprayed cookie sheet.  

I cooked the bacon until it was crispy (Although the boys all prefer it chewy, I only eat it crispy, and since I didn't want raw bits on the double-thickness woven bits, Mummy got her way).  ;-) 

Once it was cooked I carefully drained it as one piece on paper towels, then placed it on a platter.  I topped it with scrambled eggs and grated cheddar, then put it in the microwave for a minute to melt the cheese.  A pizza cutter worked well to cut this into quarters.  

Unfortunately, I only have a photo of the bacon, woven and raw.  Once it was out of the oven and topped, it went like lightning.  Either my seven year old is again in a growing spurt, or he REALLY liked it, as he was first done (and usually he's the one still eating come next meal time!)


Ingredients

1 lb bacon
9 eggs
1/4 cup milk
cheddar cheese, shredded
salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

Bacon-Weave
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Line a rimmed cookie sheet with foil then spray with non-stick spray.  
  3. Lay seven strips of room temperature bacon horizontally on your cutting board (or directly on your cookie sheet).
  4. Starting from the middle, fold over every second horizontal piece of bacon from the middle, and place a strip vertically across, then fold everything back. 
  5. Again, fold back bacon, but use the opposite pieces that laid flat last time.  Lay another vertical piece, then fold everything back again.  Continue until all bacon has been woven on one side, then repeat on the other side (left/right).
  6. Transfer woven bacon to cookie sheet by gently flipping cutting board over.
  7. Bake for 30 minutes or until desired crispiness is reached.
  8. When bacon is cooked, place bacon-weave on paper towels to drain any fat.
Eggs
  1. While bacon is cooking, pre-heat a large non-stick frying pan to medium. 
  2. In a large metal or glass mixing bowl, whisk the eggs with the milk. Beat vigorously for 2 minutes (or blend in blender for 20-25 seconds).
  3. Pour the egg mixture into the pre-heated frying pan.
  4. Do not stir immediately. Wait until the first hint of setting begins. 
  5. Using a spatula or a flat wooden spoon, push eggs toward center while tilting skillet to distribute runny parts.
  6. Continue this motion as the eggs continue to set. Break apart large pieces as they form with your spoon or spatula. 
  7. You will come to a point where the push-to-center technique is no longer cooking runny parts of the egg. Flip over all the eggs. 
  8. Allow the eggs to cook 15 to 25 seconds longer. 
Assembly
  1. Place bacon-weave on platter.  Top with scrambled eggs and sprinkle with cheese.
  2. Place in microwave for one minute (or if using an oven proof platter, under a broiler) until cheese melts.
Serves 4

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Cornbread Muffins








Here's the recipe for the cornbread muffins I paired with the Chicken Tortilla Soup this evening.  They're not too sweet, and just the way my husband likes them.  

He even likes to snack on these with honey, although with the soup he didn't do that.  

Pair these with the Chicken Tortilla Soup for a quick and delicious Mexican meal. 




Ingredients

1  1/2 cups cornmeal
2  1/2 cups milk
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup white sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup vegetable oil













Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Spray two standard size muffin tins with nonstick spray.
  3. In a small bowl, combine cornmeal and milk.  Let stand for 5 minutes. 
  4. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and sugar.
  5. Mix in the cornmeal mixture, beaten eggs, and oil until smooth.  Do not overmix.
  6. Pour batter into prepared pans.
  7. Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cornbread comes out clean.  
Makes 24 muffins.


    Chicken Tortilla Soup



    We're on vacation from work for a few weeks, so I'm finally able to cook dinner for the family outside of just doing it on weekends.  I had a look through my favourite recipes and realized it had been a while since I'd made this one.  The last time I made this I had company visiting from Oakland, CA, and by the time I sat down to eat mine, it was stone cold (I just hope that my company's wasn't also cold -- if so, they were gracious enough not to complain!).  

    This recipe calls for a short list of ingredients (most or all of which I always have on hand), and it's a delicious way to warm up after being out in  the cold (or watching it from the window, like me!).

    I paired this soup with corn muffins (recipe follows) for a quick and delicious Mexican meal. 



    Ingredients

    2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into cubes
    1/2 tsp olive oil
    3 cloves garlic, minced
    1/2 tsp ground cumin
    2 (900mL) cartons chicken broth
    1 can corn kernels
    1 cup onion, chopped
    1 tbsp lemon juice
    1/2 tbsp chili powder
    1 cup chunky salsa
    tortilla chips
    1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
    1/2 cup sour cream

    Directions
    1. In a large pot over medium heat, cook and stir chicken in the oil for 5 minutes. 
    2. Add the garlic and cumin and mix well.
    3. Add the broth, corn, onion, lemon juice, chili powder, and salsa. 
    4. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 20 minutes.
    5. Pour soup into bowls.  
    6. Top with a handful of crushed tortilla chips, a sprinkling of Monterey Jack cheese and a dollop of sour cream.

    Saturday, December 29, 2012

    Monterey Chicken



    Even my fussy children enjoyed this Monterey Chicken.  It's quick and easy to make, it's bright, it's colourful, and best of all, it's delicious!

    I served this with mashed potatoes and salad, but it could also be served with rice instead. 




    Ingredients

    4-6 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
    1 cup barbecue sauce
    6 pieces bacon, cooked to crispy
    3/4 cup Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
    3/4 cup Cheddar cheese, shredded
    1-2 Roma tomatoes
    2 green onions, diced
    Salt and pepper, to taste

    Directions


    1. Place chicken breasts in a baking dish.  Season with salt and pepper.
    2. Place in preheated 350°F oven and bake for 40 minutes.
    3. While chicken is baking, cook bacon until crispy.  Crumble and set aside.
    4. Combine cheeses in a medium bowl.  Set aside.
    5. Remove chicken from oven and drain off liquid.
    6. Brush each chicken breast with about 2 tablespoons of barbecue sauce.
    7. Top each chicken breast with a handful each of crumbled bacon and cheese.
    8. Place baking dish in an oven broiler until cheese melts (1-2 minutes -- keep watch!)
    9. Remove from oven, and top with tomatoes and green onions to serve.

    Sunday, December 9, 2012

    Garfield's Spaghetti Cupcakes

    My ten year old son wanted his birthday party to be held at home this year.  More to the point, he wanted a sleepover.  His first.  My first.  I do know my limitations, in some instances, so I did limit him to two boys staying the night, although he did manage to talk me into seven coming for the party.  He decided to have a movie party, and so we scoped out the "on demand" movies available, and settled on something all parents would be okay with,  The Garfield Movie.  

    I had recently seen a recipe for Spaghetti Cupcakes on one of my favourite food blogs.  I showed my son who thought they'd be cool, and appropriate, so I decided to be nuts daring and give them a go.  

    As I've discovered, ten year old boys don't want any sort of "organized" party.  You can't plan for pin the tail on the donkey, or other silly party games.  You can barely plan to even eat, since they don't want to sit for any length of time.  We did put the movie on, and some of them did watch it.  Then my son opened presents.  One of his gifts was a Nerf "bullet" launcher.  All of a sudden, I had nine boys, all somehow armed with Nerf weapons, plastic swords, and throwing stars (thanks to my mini-ninja), racing around my house playing some sort of survival game. 

    When they finally did stop for dessert, they were all (but one) keen on trying these amazing looking cupcakes. 

    After a few false starts with the icing, I can tell you that you need to allow A LOT of time for making the spaghetti.  I never imagined that it would take SOOO long to ice them.  My false starts were (a) using a zipper bag that was not a good quality.  All I had were "No Name" brand in the size I needed, but unfortunately, it sprung a leak before I'd finished icing two cupcakes, (b) moving the icing to a new, proper icing bag, but forgetting to drop in the tip first (!!), and (c) ultimately using too small of an icing tip to ice them (I ended up using a #2 round, but should have used at least a #3, if not a #4). 


    I chose to use Ferrero Rocher chocolates because they look textured like a meatball, and because they are made in the town where I live!

    I used "1/3 less sugar, 1/3 more fruit" E.D. Smith Triple Fruits (strawberry, raspberry & red plum) jam.  I would have preferred an even less sweet jam for this recipe, as I found it a bit too sweet for my taste.  

    Do try them -- they're an awesome fake-out, and great for April Fool's too!


    Ingredients

    1 boxed cake mix (any flavour) (Betty Crocker/Duncan Hines, etc.)
    1 - 450g tub vanilla frosting
    2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
    6 drops yellow food coloring
    1 & 1/2 cups low sugar strawberry jam
    24 Ferrero Rocher chocolates, unwrapped
    3-4 tablespoons grated white chocolate

    Directions
    1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
    2. Line 24 muffin cups with paper liners.
    3. Prepare the cake mix according to package directions.
    4. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans.
    5. Bake until cupcakes are lightly golden and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 20 minutes.
    6. Transfer the cupcakes to a wire rack and cool completely.
    7. Place frosting into large bowl.  Add cocoa powder and food colouring, and mix well with stand mixer or hand mixer to whip and combine.
    8. Spread a thin layer of frosting on top of the cupcakes.
    9. Place the cupcakes on a serving platter with edges touching.
    10. Spoon the remaining tinted frosting into a Ziploc or cake decorating bag.
    11. Snip a small corner from the bag (1/8 inch), or use a #3 or #4 round tip.
    12. Pipe the frosting all over the cupcakes to make the spaghetti.  Pile it high and have some of the frosting hang over the edges of the cupcakes. 
    13. Place chocolates in a bowl, and add the jam.  Stir to coat.
    14. Spoon one teaspoon (or more) of jam on top of each cupcake.
    15. Place a jam-coated chocolate on top of each cupcake.
    16. Top cupcakes with any remaining jam.
    17. Grate white chocolate over each “meatball”.

    Tuesday, November 27, 2012

    Dark Chocolate Raspberry Banana Bread

    So, I'm planning a play date with a new commuter friend and two of her children.  We have decided that we Mommies are going to bake some Christmas cookies while my boys have fun destroying the house playing nicely with their new friends.  

    In hunting down some tasty recipes that will hopefully not disappoint, I tripped across this delightful little banana bread recipe and bookmarked it for a rainy day.  To be honest, I really didn't think I'd ever end up making it since I already have a couple of favorite banana bread/muffin recipes that I'm very happy with, and really, who needs another banana bread recipe, even if it does contain something as delicious as raspberries?  Well, I'll tell you who does, YOU DO!  This banana bread is heavenly!  

    It is super easy to make, and keeps wonderfully -- even three days after making it it was still very fresh and moist.  Three days?  I'm not sure how there was anything more than crumbs left after three days in this house (other than the fact I *HID* it -- the things one has to do with a household full of boys!)

    So, this morning I shared some with two co-workers (who always seem to love my baking creations), as well as with my new commuter friend and her husband.  She said it put her banana bread to shame (I doubt it!), and her husband said that now he's confident he won't be disappointed with the Christmas cookies we're making (apparently for him!).  So, do try it... it's delicious!



    Ingredients

    2 cups all-purpose flour
    3/4 tsp baking soda
    1/2 tsp salt
    3/4 cup sugar
    1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
    2 large eggs
    1  &  1/2 cups mashed very ripe banana (about 3 medium or 5 small bananas)
    1/3 cup vanilla yogurt
    1 tbsp vanilla extract
    3/4 cup dark chocolate chips (or semi-sweet)
    1 cup halved raspberries, tossed in 1 tbsp all-purpose flour

    Directions
    1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan with cooking spray.
    2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside
    3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter until fluffy.  
    4. Add the sugar and continue to beat on medium speed until well blended (about 3 minutes). 
    5. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. 
    6. Add the mashed banana, yogurt, and vanilla. Continue beating until blended.
    7. Gradually stir in the flour mixture by hand, until just combined (do not over mix). 
    8. Fold in the chocolate chips and then gently stir in the raspberries (you do not want the raspberries to bleed their color).
    9. Sprinkle a few extra raspberries and chocolate chips on top if desired.
    10. Spoon the batter into the prepared loaf pan (it will be very thick).
    11. Bake for 60-70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
    12. Cool 15 minutes in the pan on a wire rack. 
    13. Remove from pan and cool completely on a wire rack.
    Recipe adapted from RecipeBoy

    Thursday, August 30, 2012

    THE BEST EVER chocolate chip cookies!

                        HELLO, AND WELCOME TO MY BLOG!






    I've posted my ultimate go-to recipe as my first blog post. When my co-workers see me coming in to work with my big Tupperware® storage container (see picture), I immediately have people hovering over me searching out these amazing cookies!  I tend to bring these as treats to work most often as they travel quite well during my two hour commute in to work – they don’t need refrigeration on the way like, say, ├ęclairs would.  Darn it, now I’m craving ├ęclairs...  :o)













    BEST EVER CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES


    Yield:     6 dozen
    Prep Time:    15 Min
    Cook Time:    13 Min

    Ingredients
    4-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    2 teaspoons baking powder
    2 teaspoons baking soda
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    2 cups butter, softened
    1/2 cup white sugar
    1-1/4 cup packed brown sugar
    2 (3.4 ounce) packages instant vanilla pudding mix
    4 eggs
    2 tablespoons vanilla extract
    2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
    2 cups milk chocolate chips






    Directions
    1. Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C).
    2. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.
    3.  In a large bowl, cream together the butter, white sugar, and brown sugar.
    4.  Beat in the instant pudding mix until blended.
    5. Add the eggs and vanilla and blend until smooth.
    6. Gradually blend in the flour mixture.
    7. Stir in the chocolate chips.
    8. Form the dough into balls using about 1 1/2 tbsp of dough for each cookie (or use an OXO Good Scoops Medium Cookie scoop).
    9. Place about 2" apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.
    10. Bake for 13 minutes or until edges are golden brown.
    adapted from Debbi Borsick