Wednesday, February 18, 2015

tomorrow is a new year


My brother bought this incredible egg waffle maker from Williams Sonoma, and was eager to test to see if the recipe that came with the product would be similar to the popular Chinese "Eggette" (otherwise known as "egg pops" or  "egg waffles").  With Chinese (Lunar) New Year tomorrow, I thought I'd try this recipe...with a twist.


Using a cake pop maker (a previous Christmas gift he gave to my daughter), I made these little cake "pops" that are reminiscient of the street food, "Hong Kong Egg Waffles" that are sold by street vendors.

Not exactly the same in presentation... these are more round than in the shape of little flat "eggs" of the original version, and the egg waffles in HK are attached to each other to form a waffle.  However, this is the closest that I was able to get without running out to buy yet another kitchen gadget or to the local Chinese market (although I encourage anyone to try these at the market at least once!).  They're soooo good.

Cheers to my family and friends.


Happy Chinese (Lunar) New Year!



Hong Kong Egg Waffle Inspired Cake Bites
(Makes 24 bites)
Adapted from: Ginger & Scotch


Ingredients
  • 1 cup (4 oz or 120 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder 
  • 1 teaspoon corn starch with 1 tsp. vanilla extract (to replicate custard powder)
  • 2 large eggs
  • ⅔ cup of sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • 1 tbsp. almond extract
Directions:
  • Melt the butter in a mixing bowl.
  • Stir in almond extract, condensed milk and eggs.
  • Add the sugar, vanilla extract and cornstarch.
  • Stir until mixed.
  • Stir in the baking powder, then the flour (slowly).
  • Spray the cake pop maker with oil.
  • Pour batter into each of the cake pop holes, only filling half way.
  • Close lid and let it bake for approximately 3-4 minutes.
  • Remove and let cool.
Enjoy!




Wednesday, February 11, 2015

the simple five: slow cooker cheese potato soup


Nothing is better than spending a full day outdoors enjoying winter activities, and then being welcomed to a home filled with comforting aromas indicating that dinner is ready and waiting for you. I love using my slow cooker, and this particular recipe is a nice hearty soup, especially if you're feeding a crowd.  Fun to serve in bread bowls, and perfect to feed a large group or family (maybe for Family Day this weekend?)

This recipe makes a large batch but can be halved if you're not consuming this all in one night. Half can be served right away, and the other half placed in a container (once the soup is cooled) and frozen for up to 3 months. This recipe is quite adaptable, and you can replace the green onions with caramelized onions, roasted garlic, dill or shallots.  I've even used left over Garlic Roasted Cauliflower with good results.

Enjoy!


Slow Cooker Cheese Potato Soup (for a crowd)
(makes approximately12 servings).


Ingredients:
  • 4 cups of stock (chicken, vegetable or beef.... I generally use chicken or vegetable, but have used beef stock when I'm not adding crumbled bacon as a topping).
  • 8-10 russet potatoes, cubed
  • 1 stalk green onion, (thinly sliced green and white parts)
  • 1-2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese (depending on taste).
  • 2+ cups of milk or heavy cream.
Preparation:
  • Place potatoes in an 8 quart crock pot.  Add stock until it just covers the potatoes, approximately 4 cups or so.
  • Add green onion.
  • Cook on low for about 8 hours or high for 4.
  • Turn slow cooker off.
  • Using an immersion blender, puree the contents in the crock pot until it has the consistency of very thick soup (or place contents in batches, in a blender).
  • Add the cheddar cheese and stir until the cheese is melted.  (I used about 1 ½ cups of cheese).
  • Add milk or cream until the soup thickness is to your liking (I use about 2 ½ cups of milk...use more if you want a thinner consistency).
Garnish with sour cream, crumbled bacon, chopped green onions, or dill, if desired.







Wednesday, February 04, 2015

soaking up the sweet


This past week an expected storm resulted in a snow day.  School was closed and the kids were cheerfully home.  We took this extra day as an opportunity to pack, prepare and finalize any school work before our son was going to embark on a snow adventure for an overnight school trip.   

It's amazing what a year of maturity can bring, as he demonstrated by packing his bags wisely, not just according to the weather, but also in an orderly fashion based on his travel habits.  Daily items in an easy access backpack. Extra snow gear at the bottom of the bag.  Everything placed according to how he's accustomed to travelling. After packing, we spent time chatting while shovelling the driveway, then he took a break and basked in the emerging sunshine.  Work is done!



I guess our family trips have surprisingly taught him lessons beyond cultural and geographical ones.  Although I am often frustrated (like any parent has experienced) when he loses or carelessly forgets his belongings, it seems like he has transformed overnight into a young adult....self aware of his own habits and abilities.  

On the morning of his trip, we woke up early to ensure we were prepared. As I anxiously went through his packing list one more time before we left, he smiled his big warm smile and reassured me that everything was "in the bag" (figuratively speaking).  


He was right (and for a brief moment I realized we were having a parent/child role reversal moment). I stopped micromanaging and let him take charge. It's a lesson to remember at times like these, to stop and see his warm smile and like this bread pudding recipe below, soak up as much of his child-like sweetness for as long as I can. For it will not be long before my young boy will be transformed seemingly overnight again, into an amazing, reassuring, sweet young man. 


Apple Crumble Raisin Bread Pudding
(makes approximately 12 servings)


This recipe combines the traditional tastes of bread pudding combined with the sweet as pie tastes of apple crumble on top.

Ingredients
  • 8 slices of raisin bread, cubed
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 ½  cup half and half
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 apples, peeled and sliced
For the Crumble topping
  • ½  cup of flour
  • ¼ cup of oats
  • ⅓ cup of brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon or nutmeg (to taste)
  • 6 tbsp. butter, cubed.
  • In a small bowl, mix the flour and oats.  Add the sugar and cinnamon. Add the cubed butter, and mix with a pastry cutter or fork until it resembles crumbles (the size of peas).
Preparation
  • Preheat the oven at 350 degrees.
  • In a large bowl, scramble the eggs
  • Add the vanilla and half and half.  Mix well.
  • Add the cubed bread and mix until bread soaks up the egg mixture.
  • Press bread mixture into an 8x8 square pan
  • Layer the sliced apples on top.
  • Sprinkle the crumble topping (recipe below).
  • Cover with aluminum foil.
  • Bake in the oven for 30 minutes.
  • Remove the aluminum foil and bake for 15 minutes more.
Top with ice cream, caramel syrup or enjoy on it's own.





Friday, January 30, 2015

the simple five: easy guacamole


Since Super Bowl is this weekend, many people are preparing "game day" foods (staples such as nachos, chips, chilli...basically anything comforting).  While some of those foods aren't exactly the most healthy, here's an easy and delicious way to add some nutrients to your game day menu.

Enjoy!


5 Ingredient Easy Guacamole
(Makes about 3 to 4 cups)

While storing in the refrigerator, a trick to prevent the guacamole from turning brown is to place a layer of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the mixture.

Ingredients
  • 5 ripe avocados
  • 2 tbsp. finely chopped red onion
  • 2 tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped.
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Preparation
  • Cut avocados in half, remove seed and and scoop into a bowl.
  • With a fork, mash the avocado, leaving it slightly chunky in texture (if desired).
  • Stir in the juice, garlic, salt and red onion.
  • Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Serve with tortilla chips (or as a condiment for game day foods like chilli, nachos or burgers).






Friday, January 23, 2015

the simple five: roasted garlic cauliflower


I've read somewhere in those food magazines that cauliflower is the "new vegetable of the year".  Not sure why it's considered "new", since it's been available at grocery stores longer than kale has.  No matter the reason, I'm embracing this new "trend", using this wonderfully dense vegetable as a great side dish instead of potatoes.  It's quite filling, very nutritious, and easy to make.

What I also like about this dish, besides that it only uses five ingredients, is the fact that you can use the leftovers for soup. I've added this to potato and cheese, or broccoli and cheese soup with wonderful results (can you tell I like cheese in my soups!).

Enjoy!

Roasted Garlic Cauliflower
(makes approximately 6 servings)

Ingredients
  • 1 large head of cauliflower
  • 3 tsp dried thyme (or about 4 sprigs of thyme, if you're using fresh)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • ¼  cup of Parmesan cheese
Preparation
  • Preheat oven to 425°. 
  • Cut 1 head cauliflower into florets; 
  • Toss on a large rimmed baking sheet (I used my cast iron skillet) with olive oil, thyme, and garlic cloves.
  • Roast, tossing occasionally, until almost tender, about 20 minutes. 
  • Remove from the oven and sprinkle the grated parmesan on top of the cauliflower.  Put back in the oven for an additional 10 minutes.




Friday, January 16, 2015

the simple five: five ingredient breakfast sandwich


In order to regulate the salt, sugar and fat intake in our diets, I try to avoid the temptation of convenient drive through/fast food establishments by cooking ahead of time and making use of our freezer. Although it may be convenient to go through the drive through for quick meals (especially in between commutes to work, school, extracurricular activities and social events), with a little planning, this recipe provides a (relatively) healthy and delicious breakfast, ready in minutes and can be taken to go.

I especially like this recipe for early morning commutes.  Usually a large batch of sausage patties are made on a weekend, serving what is needed for that morning, and freezing the remaining for subsequent breakfasts.  It makes the morning rush so much easier.

Enjoy!

Five Ingredient Breakfast Sandwich
(makes approximately 8-12 sausage patties)

Ingredients
  • 1 teaspoon each of various spices and herbs to personal taste (I used chopped garlic, ground thyme and sage).
  • 2 pounds organic ground turkey or pork
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • Whole wheat english muffins
  • Cheese of choice (Cheddar, Monterey Jack, Swiss are good choices).
Preparation
  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  • In a large bowl, mix the garlic with the pork.  Add the thyme, sage and maple syrup.  Mix well until very well blended.
  • Using a spoon or your hands, form the meat into patties about 4 inches round.
  • Place as many patties that can fit in a cast iron skillet or glass baking dish.  
  • Roast in the oven for 45 minutes to an hour, flipping sides midway, until patties are brown.
  • Toast the english muffins.  
  • Slice the cheese and place with the sausage patties, onto the english muffins (or you can bake eggs in a muffin tin at the same time as the sausage patties).
  • FREEZE FOR LATER:  You can freeze half of the sandwiches that will be consumed at a later date.  Wrap individual sandwiches into paper towels and place in a ziplock bag.  Freeze (good for up to 3 months).  When you want to heat the sandwiches, remove  the number of sandwiches you require and heat in the microwave on high for about 2 minutes, depending on the temperature of your microwave.
Serve.




Friday, January 09, 2015

The Simple Five: Panna Cotta

Panna Cotta is an Italian dessert traditionally made with cream, egg white and honey, which is then baked in the oven. This version is a simpler, non-bake version than the traditional panna cotta, and is served chilled (similar to a custard or pudding).

I love how flexible this dessert is considering there the basic recipe has only five ingredients. You can add any kind of flavourings to it (vanilla, chocolate, maple syrup) according to taste, and it can be served anytime of the year.  It's a fresh dessert alternative, particularly after heavier meals (or if you want something light after the indulgent holidays). It's easy to make ahead of time and kept in the fridge until it's ready to serve (perfect for dinner parties).




Enjoy!!!


Simple Panna Cotta
(Makes approximately 6 servings)


Ingredients
  • 4 teaspoons powdered gelatin
  • ⅓  cup sugar
  • 4 cups of half and half cream
  • 1 ¼  teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch salt (optional)
Directions
  • Pour 2 cups of the cream into the saucepan and sprinkle the powdered gelatin evenly over top. 
  • Let soften for 5 minutes or until the surface of the milk is wrinkled and the gelatin grains look wet (this is called "blooming the gelatin").
  • Warm gently over low heat, whisking frequently for approximately 2 minutes or until the gelatin is dissolved (the cream should not be boiled...remove if you see steam and let it cool down).  
  • Add the sugar into the cream stir until dissolved.
  • Remove the saucepan from the heat. 
  • Whisk in the remainder 2 cups of cream, vanilla, and a pinch of salt.
  • Pour into small bowls or ramekins and chill for approximately 2 hours. (If you want to un-mold the panna cotta, chill overnight in greased bowls/ramekins).
Serve as is...or topped with any fruit, sauce or or chocolate shavings.  




Wednesday, December 31, 2014

climbing mountains


Usually at this time of the year, I try to clean up old files and sort through our photographs.  It's actually quite fun to go down memory lane to see what we've experienced, accomplished and enjoyed in the past 365 days.  I've seen so much growth in both of our children, and in ourselves, "the adults".

I remember taking the above picture last winter.  We spent a few days up north over the New Year holiday, and this was a particularly beautiful winter day with lots of sunshine, crisp cool air and fresh snow. We filled our days with skiing, tobogganing, trekking on snow trails and laughter.  So much laughter.


In the evenings, we headed back to the cottage cabin for some hot chocolate and warm comfort food. The kids were still full of energy and it seemed that our full days of activities didn't tire them at all (unlike their old mum!).  I remember asking them if they were tired from climbing "the mountain" (some of the hills felt as tall as a mountain).  They shook their heads and said "the higher the hill, the better the ride!"

As we approach 2015, this photo reminds me of that New Year's Day.  The moment when I realized our kids understood that hard work pays off.  Although I don't usually make resolutions, I begin this new year reminding ourselves that in order to enjoy the ride, you must climb the mountain first.


Wishing everyone all the best for 2015.

Happy New Year !!!


Make Ahead Banana Almond Bread Pudding 
with Chocolate Hazelnut Drizzle.
Recipe adapted & combined from
Chocolate Banana Bread Pudding and Baked French Toast


This bread pudding is a cross between baked french toast and traditional bread pudding.  It's worth the effort to make ahead of time...it's a wonderfully sweet morning treat and works well for a laid back New Year's Day morning, since can be easily placed in the oven while none of the creatures in the house are stirring.

INGREDIENTS:
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 ½ cups milk
  • ⅓ cup heavy cream (or ½ cup of milk of you don't have cream)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. ground cloves
  • 6 cups cubed French bread (or about 15- one inch slices)
  • 2 bananas, sliced
  • Almond slices (to top with)
  • Brown sugar (to top)
  • Chocolate Hazelnut spread (like Nutella)...to drizzle on top.
DIRECTIONS:
  • In a large mixing bowl, mix eggs, milk, sugar, and vanilla and spices until smooth. Stir in bread, bananas (you can also stir in 1 cup of chocolate chips to make this extra sweet).
  • Pour into 9x13 greased glass baking dish and cover with tin foil.
  • Let the bread soak in the fridge for at least 1 hour or overnight.
  • When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  
  • Top with almonds and sprinkle brown sugar on top.
  • Bake for 25 minutes covered with foil.
  • Bake another 25 minutes without foil, or until the knife inserted in the centre comes out clean.
  • If desired, slightly warm the chocolate hazelenut spread in the microwave for about 30 seconds. Drizzle.
Serve with syrup.  Enjoy.







Wednesday, December 24, 2014

merry christmas








From our family to yours, we wish you a very

Merry Christmas