Friday, March 31, 2006

Weekend dog blogging....

they want Robin's cookie.

hosted by sweetnicks.

Friday night fun.....

72 triple chocolate cupcakes for tomorrow's job.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

mmmmmmm maple

Robin brought me home 2 liters of cooking grade maple syrup( Canadian grade 3). Anyone have any good maple recipes?

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Catering job......

I had a catering job today, it was supposed to be snack type food for a workshop. I provided too much food as usual. I baked Jason's coconut oatmeal cookies. They are just so freaking good. I also made the perfect brownie's from Nic's blog. Those are yummy too. The rest of the stuff was just storebought except my fig jam.

I have to come up with something new for tomorrow. Halibut is on sale at a grocery store in a neighboring town. I might make a trip out there for some.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Oat and Honey Granola pie.......

All this talk of Anna winning the pillsbury bake-off reminded me of a recipe that won the grand prize in 2004. This recipe makes novel use of granola bars and its very simple to make. The original recipe calls for Oat and Honey bars, but I've used other flavors with success. I had some pecan crunch bars in the closet so that is what I used this time. While I enjoy the flavor of this pie, it is very sweet. Because I'm a diabetic, I can't eat more than one forkful which to me, is plenty. My MIL came over yesterday so I sent home half of it with her. The pie also uses a refridgerated ready made pillsbury crust. I suppose you can make your own, but I whipped this up in about 10 minutes.

If you want a simple, failproof pie, make this one.

1 Pillsbury® refrigerated pie crust (from 15-oz box), softened as directed on box
1/2 cup butter or margarine ( i used butter)
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup corn syrup
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 eggs, lightly beaten
4 Nature Valley® Oats 'n Honey crunchy granola bars (2 pouches from 8.9-oz. box), crushed (3/4 cup)*
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup quick-cooking or old-fashioned oats
1/4 cup chocolate chips
Whipped cream or ice cream, if desired

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Place pie crust in 9-inch glass pie pan as directed on box for One-Crust Filled Pie.
2. In large microwavable bowl, microwave butter on High 50 to 60 seconds or until melted. Stir in brown sugar and corn syrup until blended. Beat in salt, vanilla and eggs. Stir crushed granola bars, walnuts, oats and chocolate chips into brown sugar mixture. Pour into crust-lined pan.
3. Bake 40 to 50 minutes or until filling is set and crust is golden brown. During last 15 to 20 minutes of baking, cover crust edge with strips of foil to prevent excessive browning. Cool at least 30 minutes before serving. Serve warm, at room temperature or chilled with whipped cream or ice cream. Store in refrigerator.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Chicken Milanese

I've been super busy with work this week, so consequently much to Robin's chagrin, I havent cooked much. A couple of those nights I didnt even eat dinner( lack of hunger) because I've had a lot on my mind with work and helping set up the community kitchen.

Today I stayed home( no catering jobs) and deboned many chicken breasts, then I roasted the bones and made a huge pot of stock. I decided to make milanese out of a couple of the breasts. I pounded them super thin, then did the standard breading. I pan fried them and then topped them with a baby arugula salad. I sauteed some button mushrooms and threw those on top. Chopped tomato is the standard topping for milanese but since we both dont like raw tomatoes, I used the mushrooms. I made a vinagarette with evoo, sherry vinegar, mustard and garlic. I threw is some long shards of reggiano and dinner was served. It was nice to cook for us again.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Congrats Anna!!!!!

Can you imagine my surprise this morning when I opened an email from Pillsbury announcing the bake-off contest winner and I see that it's Anna that won? I'm so thrilled for Anna and her family. Anna has been entering recipe contests for a long time and when I asked her about it, she gave me lots of good advice( but I never did enter anything). Anna also gave me( thru egullet) one of Robin's most favorite recipes for a ginger cookie.

I can't wait for Anna to get back from Florida so I can hear all about it.

Congrats again!!

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Blood orange sorbet.....

Well, they say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery right ? So my friend Christine made some of this a couple of weeks ago. So when I saw some blood oranges reduced (6 for 99 cents) I thought I'd make some too. I juiced the oranges, added the juice of one lime, made a simple syrup infused with some zest and then refridgerated it overnight. I whizzed this up in my icecream maker tonight. This was very refreshing. I would have loved to serve this as an intermezzo, but alas I dont have such fancy dinner parties.

I'd like to try a cara cara orange( infused with vanilla) sorbet next. I better hurry because the citrus season is almost over.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Community Kitchen

No Dinner tonight, I wasnt feeling that hungry and we had to be at the community kitchen planning meeting. Check out the blog for our update. connectcommunitykitchen

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Cooking for clients....

Yesterday Christine and I went to Port Huron, MI for the day. I needed stuff for upcoming cooking jobs and I had to mail out some ebay stuff. We had a fun day. We went to Target, Meijer, Kroger, TJ Maxx, Home Depot and Chili's for lunch. Chili's wouldnt be my first choice, but the pickings in PH are slim.

I knew I'd be too tired to cook when I got home, so I picked up a rottisserie chicken and a bag of salad. Robin wasnt thrilled with the chicken( as I predicted) but I like them and I get a bonus pot of really rich chicken stock out of it.

Today I cooked for a client. They requested Saigon meatballs( ground pork) a side dish of brown rice and some stir fry veggies. I actually stir-fried a bag of broccoli slaw. I also made a homeade peanut sauce since my client is allergic to garlic.

I also made a rib rub and prepped 3 racks of ribs. Tomorrow I have coleslaw, and baked beans to make for them. This is what usually happens, I make them something and they love it and then they keep requesting it. On my way home from MI, I stopped at NO Frills and got a big box of figs that were reduced to 2.99. Tomorrow, Im going to make some fig jam.

So, once again, I didnt feel like making dinner tonight, but I had everything for the cheeseburger macaroni so I whipped up a different version of that. This time I used dreamfields elbow macaroni and I threw in some corn. It was just blah.

If that wasnt enough, I made some coconut oatmeal cookies. I like to give the client a little something extra. I took the recipe from FoodNinja's blog and they came out really good. I took the liberty of adding some butterscotch chips to half the batch because I love Oatmeal scotchies. I like Jason's recipe because it only uses 1/2 cup of butter as opposed to 1 cup that the scotchie recipe has.

I's been a long day, the kitchen is closed for the night.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Thai fish sauce and lime chicken( CL)...

Another super easy recipe to make. I think this took about 20 min including the rice and veggies. I was perusing the Cooking Light 2006( really 2005 recipes) cookbook over the weekend and came across an entire section of recipes that use boneless skinless chicken breasts. They all have a pan sauce that comes together rather quickly.

For this particular recipe, breasts are pounded thin and then sauteed in a small amount of oil. The chicken is removed and 1 cup of chicken brother, 2 tsp of fish sauce and 3tbls of sweet chili sauce is added. This is reduced, then lime juice and peanut butter is added. Chopped peanuts provide the garnish. The only thing I changed was upping the peanut butter from 1tsp to 2 tbls. I also added some chopped cilantro. I served this was some jasmine rice and steamed snap peas and broccoli.

The reason I was looking thru the cookbook over the weekend was because Robin's employer has decided they want to start a community kitchen in one of the facilities that Robin manages. This facility has a small galley kitchen, but a large prep space. Robin and I decided to volunteer our time because we feel its a good cause. The function of this Community Kitchen is to reach out to disabled ( either mentally or physically) in the comunity and provide a space where they( along with their support workers) can cook together and take home heart healthy meals. The program received a grant from the county that deals with healthy hearts. I hope to start a blog for the program after the next meeting. Most of the community kitchens strive to provide budget friendly meals. Lots of beans, veggies and some ground beef. Robin and I will help cook those meals, and we'll probably take the meals for our neice, but we wont eat them. I'm hoping to introduce the group to different foods they probably wouldnt try on their own.

The next meeting is on Monday for menu planning and Wednesday for cooking. I can't wait to see Robin cooking away. I volunteered to take the only male member( so far) to the grocery store for all the shopping. Should be interesting.

I had a taste testing this morning with someone who wants a cupcake tree for a 40th bday party. I made a triple chocolate cupcake with an Italian buttercream and a chocolate ganache. She liked both frostings( which I was afraid of) but I wasnt happy with the buttercream. I really screwed it up( I cut it in half), I must post on egullet to find out what I did wrong. It broke today and looks really unappealing. I really shouldnt try out a new recipe on the morning of a meeting.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

I dont know what to call this....

Before I knew Robin, she used to eat Hamburger Helper( shhhhh, dont tell her I told you). I quickly nipped that habit in the bud, but not before I tried it myself ( made with ground turkey, but still I'm embarrased to admit it and I made Robin swear she would never tell anyone). I thought it was vile, but I could see the appeal of a one pot dish. Ground meat, noodles, sauce, easy to make, relativly inexpensive and easy to clean up. Plus, kids usually like it.

When I saw this dish titled Cheeseburger Macaroni from cookbookjunkiee I knew Robin would really like it. I didnt know I'd like it too. I used ground turkey breast, hunts organic tomatoes with basil, garlic and oregano. I also used a crushed garlic clove and a salt-free spice blend. I also probably threw in more cheese than necessary( it was pretty cheesy) Like Paula, I too used Dreamfields Penne. I also threw in a a handful of whole wheat farfalle, because I didnt have enough penne. Next time, I'll add some more veggies to stretch it even farther.

I made this around 11am because I have to work tonight. It came together in about 20 mintues. I'm going to freeze some for Chelsea because I know she'd really like it.

Thanks Paula!!

Thursday, March 09, 2006

SHF # 16 Coconut Cream Pie( CI)

This month's edition is hosted by Spittoon and the theme is dairy. If you're been reading for a while, you'll know that Robin loves peanut butter. Well, I love coconut as much as she loves peanut butter. This is my favorite coconut cream pie and of course, its from Cook's Illustrated. This pie never fails me and its super easy to make.

The crust consists of animal crackers, unsweeted coconut and butter. The filling is whole MILK, unsweetened coconut, coconut MILK, sugar and corn starch. First you make a classic custard that you finish with a bit of butter and some vanilla extract. I always add a smidge of coconut extract to boost the coconut flavor.

The crust is baked for 15 min, then cooled, then the filling is spooned in. Once that is nicely chilled, you top with freshly whipped CREAM.

Pure coconutty heaven.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

A Taste of California.........

First things first, please say a prayer for my baby Harley. He went to the vet on Thursday because he woke up shaking like a leaf and he wouldnt eat. Turns out he is having some back issues( dachsunds are notorious for having bad backs). We tried some over the counter medication the vet reccomended, but that didnt work and now he is on prednisone. We have to carry him up and down the stairs when he goes outside or when he wants to get up on the sofa so its been quite a workout. He is a heavy guy( 30lbs). I've been worried about him all weekend and when I worry, I cook!!!

So, most of the weekend was spent at home, keeping him company. Chelsea came to stay with us too and she is always eager to help me in the kitchen.

Her parent came to pick her up tonight and they stayed for dinner. My BIL is a big eater so I had to make something that made a lot. Robin suggested wings since we had 2 huge bags of frozen wings in our downstairs freezer. I baked them in the oven and then brushed them with Ina Garten's BBQ sauce that I made last week. I also made a whole whack of onion rings in our deep fryer. I soaked sliced onions in a mixture of buttermilk and hot sauce. I then dipped them in a mix of flour, salt and pepper, dried parsely and cornmeal. They reminded me of the onion loaf's we'd get as kids at Tony Roma's.

The last item I made was a Mexican ceasar salad. I'm not such a big fan of ceasar salad, its way too ubiquitious around these parts. It's very hard to get a really great one too. What makes my Mexican Ceasar salad diffent is the dressing. About a month ago, Nic and I did a private swap. She sent me this Cilantro Pepita dressing that I used to buy when I lived in California and I sent her Food and Drink magazine. Food and drink is put out my the LCBO( liquor control board of Ontario). Its big, glossy and delicious and best of all, its free. Of course, its a big marketing tool because you look at all the pictures and recipe's and just want to buy the liquor required to make some of the recipes( case in point, the kirch I bought for the black forest cake I have yet to make).

Mexican Ceasar salad

2 hearts of romaine, chopped
1 package filled ravioli or tortellini( I used chicken rosemary)
pepita's( roasted pumpkin seeds)
El Torito's Cilantro pepita dressing .

Cook ravioli, drain. Toss with lettuce and remaining ingredients.

And, if you can't get to California, here is a copycat recipe for the dressing.

Yield: Makes 1 quart

2 medium Anaheim chiles, roasted, peeled
and seeded (See How to roast chile peppers)
1/3 cup roasted pepitas
2 large garlic cloves, peeled
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups salad oil (or mild avocado oil)
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
5 tablespoons grated cotija cheese
2 small bunches cilantro, stemmed
1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
1/4 cup water

Place all ingredients except cilantro, mayonnaise and water in a blender or food processor. Blend about 10 seconds, then add cilantro little by little until blended smooth. Depending on the size of the blender/processor, it may be necessary to do in batches.

Place mayonnaise and water in a large stainless steel bowl and mix with a wire whip until smooth. Add the blended ingredients and mix thoroughly.

Place in an airtight container and refrigerate.

Cupboard chowder.....

I had a couple cans of clams lanquising in the cupboard for a couple of years so I thought I'd whip together some quick clam chowder. I cooked up 4 strips of bacon and then sauteed half a chopped onion, and a shallot in the bacon fat. I threw in some frozen celery and after that browned slightly I added about 1/3 cup of flour. I then added 2 bottles of clam juice and thicked that slightly. I added the clams and some cubed baking potatoes. I threw in some thyme and herbs de provence as well.

Chelsea told me she wouldnt eat any, but she ended up finishing her bowl. I heated up some frozen sourdough rolls and put out some light smoked gouda. Robin loved the soup too.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Three-cheese chicken penne florentine( CL)

Last night I sat down with the latest issue of Cooking Light and this casserole caught my eye. Ironically when Robin asked me today if we could have pasta for dinner, I thought of this casserole. I actually had everything to make it so I didnt need to go to the store. I took a picture of the pan because I wanted Cyndi to see that my mushrooms defrosted perfectly. Two weeks ago, I bought 2lbs of shiitaki mushrooms for 1.99(reduced). I decided to freeze them and was pleasantly surprised that they didnt turn black as Cyndi's had. Maybe because these were shiitake and they arent that watery. I used low-carb penne for this too.

The recipe calls for Rotissiere chicken but I had some bone-in breasts that I just bought for 99 cents a lb( Meijer in MI). I roasted 4 of them( I'll make chicken salad with the other 2). The recipe calls for cottage cheese too. I just picked up a large container of MI brand cottage cheese and was bummed that I had to use it. When I make casseroles/lasagna's, I prefer to use a store brand cottage cheese. Consequently, I used about 1/2 cup less than the 2 cups called for.

I sauteed onion, peppers( I used orange peppers I had frozen), and spinach. That gets mixed in with the pureed cottage cheese, 1/2 cup milk, shreeded cheese's and a can of soup( groan). The recipe called for reduced fat cream of chicken, I used reduced fat cream of celery( thats what I had at home).

It all gets thrown in a casserole dish and topped with more cheese. It was quite watery when I came out of the oven, but I let it sit for about 10 min and it firmed up.

Verdict: I thought it was rather bland, I did add some pepper to the recipe, even though it didnt call for it. It definatly needs some more herbs and spices. Robin liked it( I knew she would, she is a casserole kinda girl). It was light though, I didnt feel heavy and gross after eating it. I really love that dreamfields pasta. Its a great thing for diabetics.