Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Cookie Dough Dip

Cookie Dough Dip

When your dip is this good, you don't have to put it in a fancy bowl. NO ONE IS LOOKING AT THE BOWL!

To be honest, this tasted more like chocolate chip cheesecake, which makes it more awesome.

1/2 cup butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 8oz block cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 mini chocolate chips

In a small saucepan, melt butter and add brown sugar. Stir until sugar dissolves and remove from heat. Stir in vanilla.

While that is cooling, cream together cream cheese and powdered sugar until smooth and light and fluffy. Mix in the slightly cooled butter/sugar mixture, bit by bit, until combined. Toss in chocolate chips and mix until evenly distributed.

Serve at room temperature with whatever you think would be good. I served mine up with Nilla wafers and graham crackers.

Key Lime Pie

Key limes. They rock. If you find these tiny gems in your supermarket, buy them. And make this.


The hardest part of this recipe is squeezing the limes. There are lots of tutorials and hints online. Some suggest microwaving for a few seconds, some suggest using a citrus reamer, some say the trick is a garlic press...I used our potato ricer (until I broke it) and then used the top of our plastic potato peeler and the raw power in my hands to get all the juice out.

These guys have seeds, so I juiced into a bowl and then strained into the measuring cup. I bought 2 - 1lb bags "just in case", and ended up using maybe 1 or 2 out of the second bag. I don't know that the juice from those extra couple of limes really made a difference, but whatever.

If you don't have key limes, you can use regular limes I'm sure...just don't use bottled lime juice. If you're going to do that, you might as well go ahead and buy yourself a frozen key lime pie. Just sayin'.

Key Lime Pie

1 ready made graham cracker crust (or make your own)
1 14oz can sweetened condensed milk
4 large egg yolks
150 mL freshly squeezed lime juice (around 1/2 cup + 2 Tblsp)

Preheat oven to 350.

With a mixer, mix the sweetened condensed milk and egg yolks until light and creamy looking. Add lime juice and mix for about 3 minutes.

Carefully pour into crust and bake for about 15 mins. Chill for at least 8 hours. Filling will set as it cools.

Serve with fresh whipped cream.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Mixed Veggies

Mixed Spring Vegetables

Handful carrots, cut into 1" pieces
Handful of sugar snap peas
Handful of thin asparagus, cut into 2" pieces
1 yellow pepper, cut into 2" pieces
2 Tblsp butter
2 shallots, chopped finely
Salt and pepper

Put a saucepan with salted water on to boil. While that's heating up, fill a bowl with ice water.

Blanch carrots for 1 minute, add peas and asparagus for an additional minute. Toss peppers in for about 30 seconds.

Using a slotted spoon, remove veggies and plunge into the ice water. This will halt the cooking process and keep the veggies nice and brightly coloured.

In a frying pan, melt butter and toss in shallots. Cook until softened and add veggies. Cook until warmed through, test for seasoning and adjust salt and pepper to taste.

Mac and Cheese

There are a trillion and one recipes for mac and cheese online. My sister, Willow, wanted to learn how to make mac and cheese from scratch so we took the opportunity to make it together for Easter dinner.

It turned out awesome!

Macaroni and Cheese

1 box whole wheat pasta (something with ridges to hold onto the sauce)
3 Tblsp butter
3 Tblsp all purpose flour
3 cups cold milk
3 oz shredded cheese (sharp cheddar works awesome)
1/2 tsp or so of dry mustard
Salt and pepper to taste

If you like a crusty top, you can sprinkle on a mixture of breadcrumbs (we used Panko) and Parmesan.

Put a large pot of water on to boil, salt the water, and cook the pasta until just shy of done (if you're going to be baking it to crust up the top, the pasta will continue to cook...if you're just going to mix and serve, cook the pasta to the point you like it).

Meanwhile, in a medium sauce pot, melt butter over medium heat. Once melted, add flour and whisk. Cook, whisking, until roux takes on a light golden colour.

Add milk, a bit at a time, whisking after every addition, to make sure you don't end up with big lumpy clumps. Once you get your first cup of milk in, it should be smooth enough to just dump the other 2 cups in.

Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until sauce is thickened (it will coat the back of a spoon and when you swipe your finger across the back of the spoon, it will leave a clean line). Remove from heat, and add the cheese by the handful, stirring to melt. Season with mustard powder, salt and pepper and taste.

If it's not cheesy enough, add more cheese!

Drain pasta when it's done (don't rinse!) and mix in cheese sauce.

If you're going to finish it off in the oven, preheat to 350, and dump into casserole. Sprinkle on the breadcrumb and Parmesan mixture and bake until top is golden brown and crispy.

Chickie Cheeseball

Chicky Cheeseball

1 8 oz pkg cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cup cheese, shredded (I use cheddar)
1 garlic clove
Salt and pepper
Seasonings (I usually match to what we're eating, but this time I used a garlic and herb type seasoning...a couple of shakes, to taste)
Decorations (this time, I used carrot slices to make the feet and beak, and 2 green peppercorns for the eyes)

Using a mixer, blend cream cheese and 1 cup of the shredded cheese. I usually grate in 1/2 a clove of garlic (I like garlic like crazy, but realize that not everyone loves it as much as I do). Season with salt, pepper and whatever seasonings you wish. Keep in mind that it's going to get stronger as it sits in the fridge.

Plop it onto a piece of plastic wrap and, using the wrap (keeps your hands cleaner), mold into a roundish shape (though, for the chick, I made the top and bottom a little flatter), and place in fridge to set. I usually leave it overnight.

I used a pre shredded white cheese, and the shreds were long. That's fine for the inside, because the cheese will soften inside the cheeseball, but would be too long for the outside. I grabbed my little mini chopper food processor and pulsed the remaining shredded cheese to make the shreds smaller. I dumped the cheese "crumbs" into a bowl and rolled the cheeseball in it to coat.

I did this about an hour before everyone was to arrive, so the outside didn't get soggy.

Using the carrots and peppercorns, I decorated my chick. Serve with an assortment of crackers.

Multigrain Rolls

From Annie's Eats

Multigrain Rolls

Made 16 rolls.

1/2 cup oat bran
1/4 cup flax seeds
1/2 cup boiling water
1 cup warm milk (105-110˚ F)
2 1/4 tsp. rapid rise yeast
1/4 cup honey
2 large eggs
2/3 cup old-fashioned oats
1 1/4 whole wheat flour
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp. salt
Around 3 cups all-purpose flour (I ended up using 3 1/2 cups this time)
Oil, for greasing the bowl

For the topping:
1 large egg yolk
1 tbsp. water
2 tbsp. mixed seeds (I used a blend of sesame and poppy seeds)
Coarse salt, for sprinkling

In a small bowl, mix oat bran and flax seeds, and pour over boiling water. Let sit for about 5 minutes (until water is absorbed).

Meanwhile, in the bowl of a mixer (with dough hook attachment), combine milk, yeast, and honey and run the mixer a tad, to blend. With the mixer set to low, mix in eggs, oats, wheat flour, pepper, salt and oat bran mixture until combined. Add all purpose flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until dough pulls away from sides of bowl and begins to come together. The dough will be soft and slightly sticky. Allow mixer to knead the dough at medium low speed for approximately 3 minutes.

Form dough into a ball and place in a lightly oiled boil, covered with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel. Leave to rise in a warm place until doubled, around 1 1/2 hours.

The Annie Eats recipe used a 10" round baking dish, but I ended up using a lightly oiled cookie sheet. The round dish created a really neat visual effect.

On a lightly floured surface, turn dough out and pull off pieces about 2 1/2 ounces each (or 16 evenly sized dough balls). Place dough balls on the pan/dish you're going to be baking them in, cover with the plastic wrap and kitchen towel again, and let rise an additional 30 minutes, until nearly doubled.

Preheat oven to 375. Whisk together egg yolk and water, and brush this wash on the tops of the risen rolls. Sprinkle with seeds and course salt and bake around 25 minutes, until the tops are golden.

Cool about 10 minutes and remove to a rack to complete cooling.

I really enjoyed these with unsalted butter, but the Annie's Eats site suggested eating them smeared with honey butter. Honey butter is goooooood.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Peek into Our Easter Dinner

So, we're hosting Easter Dinner this year. It's something we've always wanted to do, but our house is so small...and my immediate family is SO BIG. There are three of us in this house, my Dad, three sisters and one brother, my Father (yup, I'm lucky enough to have two!), and my Father in Law.

We have a table that seats six, very tightly.

Normally when we have get togethers, I just lay out snacks and nibbles and people stand around, sit on the floor, sit on the stairs...but we can't do that for Easter!

I'm excited to see how this is going to turn out! I love cooking for my family, it's one of my favourite things to do. We'll borrow a plastic table, and maybe a plate or two, and we'll be fine :)

So....what's on the menu?

Pre Dinner Snacks
Cheese and olives (brought by my Father from the deli by his place)
Hummus and toasted pita
A cheeseball, fashioned like a chick

The Meal
A delicious Honey-Bee ham
Parsley mustard sauce
Mac and Cheese (one of my sisters wanted to learn how to make it from scratch, what a great opportunity!)
Baby vegetable medley
Mashed potatoes
Green salad
Multigrain rolls

Key Lime Pie
Chocolate pudding pie
Fresh strawberries and blueberries (I think)
Fresh whipped cream

My mouth is watering just thinking about all of this amazing food! The awesome thing is, I can make much of it beforehand, and thankfully the ham is done (it will just need to be warmed up).

If I can hold off on eating everything, I'll take photos. If not, you'll just have to imagine it :)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Sweet and Sour Chicken

I really enjoyed this. The recipe comes from Food Network Kitchens. I doubled the sauce in their recipe. Measurements have been adjusted below (along with my modifications).

Sweet and Sour Chicken

4 tblsp honey
2 tsp chili sauce
4 tblsp rice wine vinegar
2 tblsp reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 tsp finely grated fresh ginger
1/2 cup orange juice
3 teaspoons cornstarch

4 tsp vegetable oil
2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into 1" pcs
Salt and pepper
2 coloured sweet peppers (I used red and orange)
5 green onions, cut into 1" pcs
Good handful of sugar snap peas, ends trimmed and cut into 1" pcs
Chopped peanuts, toasted

Put on some rice or noodles.

In a small bowl, whisk together the honey, chili sauce, vinegar, soy sauce, orange juice and cornstarch. Set aside.

Heat large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and add 2 tsp oil. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and cook, turning occasionally with a wooden spoon. Transfer to a plate and return pan to the stove.

Heat the remaining 2 tsp oil in the pan. Add peppers, green onion (the whites), and sugar snap peas. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Stir in the reserved chicken, give the sauce a final whisk and pour into the pan. Simmer, stirring occasionally until sauce is thickened (about 2 minutes).

Serve over noodles or rice and sprinkle with chopped peanuts if you wish.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Delicious Noodle Bake

This was so good! It's a recipe from The Pioneer Woman (her version looks a lot neater than mine). It was the perfect warm casserole to end a chilly, wet day.

It made a lot, and I wish we'd have frozen the leftovers, because I'll bet they are just as good, or better, later.

Noodle Bake

1 lb extra lean ground beef
1 jar pasta sauce (I used fire roasted tomato)
Salt and pepper
8 oz Eggless egg noodles
1/2 cup sour cream
1 1/4 cup cottage cheese (small curd)
1/2 cup green onion, sliced
1 cup grated cheddar

Preheat oven to 350.

In a skillet, brown beef and drain if necessary. Add tomato sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Simmer.

Cook egg noodles until al dente.

I let Quinn do this part. In a large bowl, mix sour cream and cottage cheese. Add a bunch of black pepper. Stir in well drained noodles and add green onions. Season to taste with salt.

In a casserole dish, toss in noodles. Top with half of the ground beef mixture, sprinkle on half the cheese, finish with the remaining ground beef mixture, and the last 1/2 cup of grated cheese.

Bake 20 minutes, until cheese is melted.

Lemon Caper Tilapia

This was the first meal in a very long time that Quinn ate completely...and wanted seconds. I'm sure it was just a fluke, as he's nearly 2 1/2 and all about controlling his own deal, but I was happy.

I served this tilapia with some orzo (8oz cooked in 2 cups stock + 1 cup water with 2 cloves of garlic and finished with a bit of olive oil and some lemon zest) and sweet potatoes (microwaved 2 sweet potatoes, scooped out the flesh, and served with a bit of cinnamon sugar on top - that was at Quinn's request).

Lemon Caper Tilapia

3 tblsp butter
1 tblsp vegetable oil
3 tilapia fillets
Salt & pepper
3/4 cup chicken stock
Juice of 3 lemons (just over 1/4 cup?)
1 tsp capers

Heat saucepan on med-high heat and melt 1 tblsp of the butter and vegetable oil. Meanwhile, season tilapia with salt and pepper and dredge lightly in flour. Cook fish, flipping once, until fish is flaky and done.

While fish is cooking, in a small bowl, whisk chicken stock, lemon juice, and capers.

Remove fish carefully to a plate and add lemon chicken stock to hot pan, scraping up the bits, and reduce for about 5 minutes. Add remaining 2 tblsp cold butter, bit by bit, whisking to emulsify. This will create a creamy sauce.

Plate fish and pour sauce overtop.