Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Gourmet Hamburger Helper


This past weekend we got our vegetable garden up and running.  It took a lot of work but the end result was pretty good.  All of the weeds are gone and the soil was in great condition.  On Monday we planted 3 different types of tomatoes, green peppers, spinach, beans, peas, zucchini and cucumbers.  Wow, it sounds like a lot when I type it out.  Hopefully later in the summer I some delicious meals to make for you with my own freshly grown veggies.
Tonight’s dinner took all of 30 minutes to make from start to finish including all the chopping and prep work and some time to clean up while it finished cooking.  When I took the skillet off the stove the hubby said, this is just what I wanted, with a great big smile on his face.  He never even commented on the ground turkey instead of beef, which he often does.  This is the perfect weeknight dinner and I have a feeling the leftovers will be just as tasty.
Cheesy Chili Mac
·       1 tablespoon vegetable oil
·       1 medium onion, minced
·       1 tablespoon chili powder
·       1 tablespoon ground cumin
·       3 garlic cloves, minced
·       1 tablespoon brown sugar
·       1 pound ground turkey
·       2 cups water
·       1 15-oz can tomato sauce
·       8 oz (about 2 cups) elbow macaroni
·       ½ green pepper, diced
·       ½ cup sliced mushrooms
·       1 ½ -2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

1.   Set a 12-inch non-stick skillet over medium heat and add the oil.  Heat until shimmering.  Add the onion, chilli powder, cumin, and 1/2 teaspoon salt to the pan.  Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion has softened, about 5-7 minutes.  Add the garlic and brown sugar and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Add the ground turkey and cook until it is no longer pink.
2.   Stir the water and tomato sauce into the ground turkey mixture in the pan.  Add the pasta and stir to combine.  Cover the pan and increase the heat to medium-high.  Cook until the pasta is al dente, stirring frequently to prevent the pasta from sticking.  Adjust the heat as necessary to maintain a vigorous simmer.  (My pasta took about 12-13 minutes to cook through.  The sauce will be thick by the time your pasta finishes.)
3.   Turn off the heat under the pan and add 1 cup of the cheese.  Stir to incorporate/melt then season the dish to taste with salt and pepper.  Sprinkle remaining cheese (1/2 - 1 cup depending on how cheesy you want your dish) over the top and cover the pan again.  Let stand for about 2 minutes, or until the cheese melts.

ENJOY!

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Doughnut Factory


There is something about deep frying that I find very therapeutic.  The hubby said it probably has something to do with how delicious the food is when it’s all over.  I don’t think that’s it, because I am usually exhausted by the end.  I think it has to do with childhood memories. 

My Granny made homemade doughnuts for her Grandchildren pretty often.  I’ve talked about the memories I have of her baking when I was little, well a lot of those memories involved her standing at a deep fryer all day long.  Making doughnuts, egg rolls, French Fries or anything else that might taste better deep fried.  I guess I might be channeling her when I stand in front of a scolding hot pot of oil for hours at a time.

I decided to make a few different batches so there are a couple of recipes for you to check out.  Hopefully I can find a few people to unload some of them on, since I’m pretty sure the hubby and I can’t and shouldn’t eat over 2 dozen doughnuts ourselves.  Actually by this morning we’re pretty doughnutted out.  They are so good fresh out of the hot oil, warm and chewy…mmmm!  We definitely ate more than we should have J 

If you decide to make some homemade doughnuts please promise me one thing, BE VERY CAREFUL WITH THE HOT OIL!  Never walk away from the hot oil, keep a big lid close by and have all of your utensils ready to go.  I usually give the hubby a heads up on days when I know I’ll be deep frying.  It usually comes in handy to have an extra set of hands around.  But don’t be afraid to try it out, if you’re extra careful there is nothing to worry about.


Chocolate Glazed Doughnuts

About 1 dozen doughnuts

Ingredients

·       1 (1/4-oz) package active dry yeast (2 1/2 teaspoons)
·       2 tablespoons warm water (105–115°F)
·       3 ¼ cups all-purpose flour plus additional for sprinkling and rolling out dough
·       1 cup whole milk at room temperature
·       1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
·       3 large egg yolks
·       2 tablespoons sugar
·       1 ½ teaspoons salt
·       ½ teaspoon cinnamon
About 10 cups vegetable oil for deep frying

Directions

1.   Stir together yeast and warm water in a small bowl until yeast is dissolved. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. (If yeast doesn’t foam, discard and start over with new yeast.)
2.  Mix together flour, milk, butter, yolks, sugar, salt, cinnamon, and yeast mixture in mixer at low speed until a soft dough forms. Increase speed to medium-high and beat 3 minutes more.
3.  Scrape dough down side of bowl (all around) into center, then sprinkle lightly with flour (to keep a crust from forming). Cover bowl with a clean kitchen towel (not terry cloth) and let dough rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled in bulk, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. (Alternatively, let dough rise in bowl in refrigerator 8 to 12 hours.)
4.  Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll out with a lightly floured rolling pin into a 12-inch round (1/2 inch thick). Cut out as many rounds as possible with 3-inch cutter, then cut a hole in center of each round with 1-inch cutter and transfer doughnuts to a lightly floured large baking sheet. Cover doughnuts with a clean kitchen towel and let rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until slightly puffed, about 30 minutes (45 minutes if dough was cold when cutting out doughnuts). Do not reroll scraps.
5.  Heat 2 1/2 inches oil in a deep 4-quart heavy pot until it registers 350°F on thermometer. Fry doughnuts, 2 at a time, turning occasionally with a wire or mesh skimmer or a slotted spoon, until puffed and golden brown, about 2 minutes per batch. Transfer to paper towels to drain. (Return oil to 350°F between batches.)
6.  Fry the doughnut holes for about 1 minute and them tossed them in powdered sugar and cinnamon sugar straight out of the hot grease.


Chocolate Glaze
Ingredients
·       1/2 cup unsalted butter
·       1/4 cup whole milk, warmed
·       1 tablespoon light corn syrup
·       2 teaspoons vanilla extract
·       4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
·       2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

Directions

  1. Combine butter, milk, corn syrup, and vanilla in medium saucepan and heat over medium heat until butter is melted. Decrease the heat to low, add the chocolate, and whisk until melted. Turn off heat, add the powdered sugar, and whisk until smooth. Place the mixture over a bowl of warm water and dip the doughnuts immediately. Allow glaze to set for 30 minutes before serving.


Quick Chocolate Donuts with Strawberry Glaze
About 12-15 donuts
Ingredients
·       2 T white vinegar
·       ½ cup milk
·       2 T shortening
·       1/2 cup sugar
·       1 egg
·       ½ t. vanilla extract
·       1/4 cup cocoa
·       1 ¾ cup AP Flour
·       1/2 t. baking soda
·       1/4 t. salt
·       1 quart oil for frying
·       ½  cup pureed fresh strawberries
·       2 cups confectioner’s sugar

 Directions

1.   Stir the vinegar into the milk and set aside until milk thickens. In a medium bowl, mix together the shortening and sugar until well incorporated.
2.  Beat in the egg and vanilla until all of the lumps are gone and mixture is smooth.
3.  In a small bowl sift together the cocoa, flour, baking soda, and salt. Alternate stirring in flour and milk into the egg mixture until a soft dough forms.
4.  Dust a work surface with flour and briefly knead the dough. Pat out the dough into a disc and roll out to about 1/3-inch thickness.
5.  Using a donut cutter, a biscuit cutter, or a glass, cut out as many donuts as you can. Re-roll out dough scraps to use up all of the dough. If you don’t have a donut cutter, use your fingers to poke a hole in the middle.
6.  Lay out doughnuts on a wax paper lined tray and let stand for 10 minutes. Heat the oil to 375 degrees. While waiting for the oil, make the glaze.
7.  In a bowl , whisk together strawberry puree and confectioners sugar, set aside.
8.  To fry donuts, gently drop 3-4 donuts in the hot oil and cook for 1-2 minutes on each side, flipping once ( the handles of wooden spoons or wooden chopsticks are the best tools here). Remove from the oil and drain on paper towels. Continue with the rest.
9.  To glaze the donuts, dip a slightly cooled donut into the glaze and place back on the wax paper tray .
 ENJOY!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Verdict, Sesame Chicken Edamame Bowl


Drum roll please….the winner is Sesame Chicken Edamame Bowl.  Thanks to Jen for casting the one and only vote that helped me decide what to make for dinner.  If it weren’t for her we might have starved.

I will try running the poll on facebook again.  Usually I give the hubby a chance to choose what I will make.  I give him a couple of options and he will always choose the meatiest veggie free dish.  Usually that’s not the one I would prefer.  This way I get someone elses point of view.  Hopefully from time to time I’ll get my veggie filled dish.

This recipe was supper easy and fast.  I was ready to start stir frying before the rice finished cooking.  The only thing I thought it was lacking was a little spice.  But I don’t mind adding my own sriracha sauce at the table.  It all seems pretty healthy to, with edamame, peppers and brow rice you can’t go wrong.

Sesame Chicken Edamame Bowl

Ingredients
·       2 tsp oil
·       1 tbsp minced peeled fresh ginger
·       2 tsp minced peeled fresh lemongrass
·       2 garlic cloves, minced
·       1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast or thigh, cut into bite-sized pieces
·       2 cups frozen shelled edamame
·       2 cups frozen bell pepper stir-fry mix
·       2 tbsp soy sauce
·       1 tbsp rice wine
·       1 tbsp honey
·       1 tbsp dark sesame oil
·       1 tsp cornstarch
·       ½ cup diagonally cut green onions
·       cooked brown rice
Preparation
1.      Heat canola oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Combine soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, honey, and cornstarch, stirring with a whisk. 
2.     Add ginger, lemongrass, and garlic to skillet; sauté 1 minute or just until mixture begins to brown. Add chicken; sauté 2 minutes. Add edamame and stir-fry mix; sauté 3 minutes.
3.     Add sauce mixture to pan; cook 1 minute. Remove from heat. Stir in onions. Serve over rice.

ENJOY!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Co-Worker Chocolate Coconut Cake


I finally have my hearing back!  Thanks GOD!  I woke up early this morning and got a workout in, made the hubby some eggs for breakfast, went to work and when I got home dinner was on the table.  I figured since I didn’t have make dinner I should get in the kitchen and BAKEJ

Lately I have been neglecting my co-workers and I haven’t brought any baked goods in to the office.   I think it would be safe to say that there have been times when I baked something weekly at the most maybe every other week.  To be honest I can’t even remember the last time I brought anything in for them. 

I went with something a little different than the norm, Chocolate Coconut Cake with Coconut Drizzle from Bon Appetit.  What drew me to this recipe was the use of coconut milk in the cake and the drizzle.  I’ve never used coconut milk to bake, mostly just for cooking curry dishes. 

The only change I made was using less grated orange peel.  There are two reasons for this, first I only had 1 orange to zest so I had only 1 tsp of peel and second the hubby hates the flavour of orange and chocolate together.  I compromised and only used half the amount.

The cake is still cooling on the so I haven’t had a chance to taste it yet plus, I’ll wait to cut into it until I get to work tomorrow.  It does smell and look fantastic though.  I thought it would be great to have with a cup of coffee or tea for an afternoon or mid-morning snack.

Chocolate Coconut Cake with Coconut Drizzle

Ingredients

Cake
·       1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
·       2 teaspoons baking powder
·       1 teaspoon fine sea salt
·       1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
·       ¾ cup sugar
·       ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
·       2 teaspoons (packed) finely grated orange peel
·       2 large eggs
·       1 teaspoon vanilla extract
·       1 cup canned unsweetened coconut milk
·       6 ounces bittersweet chocolate bars, broken into 1/2-inch irregular pieces, divided
·       1/2 cup sweetened flaked coconut

Coconut Drizzle
·       ¾ cup powdered sugar
·       2 tablespoons (or more) canned unsweetened coconut milk
·       1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

1.  Preheat oven to 350°F. Generously butter 9-inch-diameter cake pan with 2-inch-high sides; dust pan with flour, shaking out excess.
2. Sift 1 ¾ cups flour, baking powder, and sea salt into medium bowl. Stir in unsweetened shredded coconut and set aside.
3. Using electric mixer, beat sugar, butter, and orange peel in large bowl until light and fluffy. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla.
4. Add flour mixture in 3 additions alternately with coconut milk in 2 additions, beating just until blended after each addition.
5. Fold in half of bittersweet chocolate pieces. Spread batter evenly in prepared cake pan. Sprinkle remaining chocolate pieces over batter, then sprinkle with sweetened flaked coconut.
6. Bake cake until golden and tester inserted into center comes out clean, tenting with sheet of foil if coconut atop cake is browning too quickly, 60 to 70 minutes. Transfer cake to rack and cool in pan 45 minutes.
7. Whisk powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons unsweetened coconut milk, and vanilla in small bowl to blend well, adding more coconut milk by 1/2 teaspoonfuls until mixture is thin enough to drizzle over cake.
8. Carefully run small knife around sides of cake to loosen. Invert cake onto platter, then carefully invert again onto another platter, coconut side up. Using small spoon, drizzle powdered sugar mixture decoratively over cake. Cool cake completely on platter. DO AHEAD Cake can be made up to 1 day ahead. Cover cake and let stand at room temperature.

ENJOY!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Great Cake Adventure


Today was my cousin's baby shower and I offered to make the cake.  Here it is :) I was pretty happy with the end result especially since I have had a terrible ear ache for the past 3 days.  I've been in a lot of pain so I was worried that I wouldn't be able to get through it all.  I figure it took a total of about 20 hours to put together, 3 9x13 sheet cakes, 12 cups of buttercream icing and 5 different colours.  

The pink coloured blocks had white cake with strawberry filling and the yellow and purple blocks have chocolate cake with chocolate icing.




All of the recipes came from with wilton website.  Except the strawberry filling was my own concoction.  I used two cups of strawberry freezer jam that I made last summer and thickened it up with some cornstarch and water slurry.  

While I'm showing off my cake making skills I'll turn back time to pretty much exactly one year ago.  My Mom married for the first time. As a gift I decided to secretly make my Mom a wedding cake.  We're talking 3 tier, double layered, red velvet with cream cheese icing.  It was quite the endeavour and I was pretty surprised in the end that I pulled it off.  This cake took me about 35-40 hours to make and transporting it from my house in the country to my Mom's house in Quebec was the most stressful drive of my life.

Mom and her husband were very surprised and loved it!  They even have a piece still sitting in their freezer so that they can have a bit this year for their anniversary. 

Both cake designs come from the Martha Stewart website. 

Thanks for reading:)

ENJOY!