Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Blueberry Muffins

Oh, what a week it has been. It just seems like I can’t remember anything, and nothing is going right! Hopefully, tomorrow will be better. I am trying to be optimistic! And there is a long weekend coming up, something to look forward to!

So I finally got a bit of money (but not a lot) so I managed to go out and get some milk. I have had this recipe for almost a week, I want to use the blue berries I got at Costco a few weeks ago. They have been sitting in the freezer, so lonely. Once again, I forgot to write down where I got this recipe, but I think it was All Recipes. I remember reading the comments and I changed the topping as per some things people had said (I have the original topping posted here).

Blueberry Muffins
1+1/2 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup oil
1 egg
1/3 cup milk
1 cup blueberries
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 + 1/2 tsp cinnamon

In medium bowl, mix flour, salt, baking powder and sugar. In separate bowl, whisk together egg, milk and oil. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients; stir until just moistened. Fold in blueberries. Divide into muffin cups.

In small bowl, stir together topping ingredients. Stir in melted butter. Sprinkle on top of each muffin.  

Bake at 400 F for 15 to 20 minutes, or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

I find most muffin batters are runny, like a cake batter. This one turned out thick, like a sweet bread or biscuit batter. I almost added more milk, but I am glad I didn’t. A lot of the comments said there was way too much topping for the amount of muffins (I got eight). I cut the recipe by just winging it. I stirred together 2 tsp sugar, a very heaping tsp of flour, some cinnamon and some nutmeg. I skipped the butter because last time i put a topping on muffins it came out in blobs.

I really like this recipe, even though it only made a few muffins. I think it would be great with or without the topping, though. I am glad I cut down on the amount, as is I had way too much for my eight little muffins. I think this recipe will go into my ‘make again’ file, they are delicious and moist.

So another week is half over, a long weekend coming. In Canada, Friday is the holiday, but because I work for an American company, I have to work it and instead get Monday the 4th off. Since I am working late shift, and do not have to get up early Friday, I am planning on going to a Canada Day Kickoff concert on the boardwalk after work tomorrow, and then Friday night the fireworks are set to fly 15 minutes after I am off, so I will not miss them! And since I do not have to be at work until two, I can sleep in and then wander the giant yard sale and other events before having to go in. So, I may have to work, but because of my shift, I can still enjoy the day.

I hope everyone is having a good week!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

One Pot Broccoli Chicken Pasta

There is a cruise ship in port today, so of course it has been raining here all day. Since before the sun came 'up'. All afternoon I have been reading statuses on Facebook of friends and family who live outside of Saint John saying it has been thundering and lightening in a way it has not in a long time. No thunder here in the city, or at least not when they were discussing it.

Because it is a miserable indoors day, and I can't do any baking due to lack of ingredients, I decided to make something a little more comforting for dinner. I was planning pasta no matter what, because I have lots of both it and sauce, so i went to the Kraft Canada website and clicked on their one pot pasta recipes. I chose this one because I had a half head of broccoli in the refrigerator that needed using up, and I figured I could easily substitute the one ingredient in it that I did not have nor like.

One Pot Broccoli Chicken Pasta

1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tsp. canola oil
3 cups fusilli pasta, uncooked
1 can (10oz) chicken broth
1 soup (broth) can water
3 cups broccoli florets
3/4 cup Cheez Whiz

Cook chicken in hot oil in large nonstick skillet on medium-high heat 7 to 8 min. or until chicken is cooked through, stirring occasionally.

Stir in pasta, broth and water; bring to boil. Reduce heat to low; cover. Simmer 15 min., stirring occasionally. Add broccoli; simmer an additional 5 min., stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.

Add Cheez Whiz; stir until completely melted and mixture is well blended.

I do not like Cheez Whiz for two reasons, one is that it is 5 dollars a jar. Ouch! The other is that I have to wonder what it is exactly. I really do not think it is real cheese, and just how much processing occurs to make it 'processed' cheese spread. So that was the big change in the recipe.

Originally I had planned on stirring in the grated cheese, but at the last minute I changed my mind and just sprinkled it on top of my serving. The recipe tips stated you can throw any veggie in, so I decided to toss in some matchstick carrots I had in the refrigerator as well. Instead of a full pound of chicken breasts, i used one. That was all i had, so i chopped it small. 

So, back to the rain. Just as I threw the chicken into the pan, I heard a low rumble of thunder in the far distance...and the lights flickered. I sent a quick thought into the sky, give me twenty minutes, please!! Thankfully, the lights only flickered once more while i was cooking and not since. As I was eating, the thunder was directly overhead, or at least close by. It just rolled through, and the rain was coming down in buckets! I had to close all the windows because the wind was blowing a bit of rain in. 

After I was finished eating, I grabbed my camera and attempted to take a few pictures out my front window. My camera is not very good at taking pictures through the screen, though, so they are a bit fuzzy. I am to short to take a picture from the top glass portion. 

This one looked better sideways so i left it that way,  you can see the rain bouncing on the street. I was trying to get a picture of the river running down the curbs, since i live at the bottom of a hill.

This was an attempt at the same, but it turned out really fuzzy :-P

It is still thundering; not very loud, but each clap is actually rolling. I love thunder storms and rain storms, especially rainy nights. The sound of rain on the roof puts me to sleep. As for this recipe, I think it is one that I will make again on another stormy night, or maybe a warm night since it really did not heat up the kitchen. It was light and comforting, even without a sauce, the broth and water completely cooked into the pasta. The veggies I found were perfectly steamed. I also think this would make a great pasta salad if you were to make it and let it cool! 

So, until I can find another recipe to make with my miss match of ingredients, or until i can get groceries, have a great week everyone!!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

German Chocolate Surprise Cake .

I forgot to write down where I got this recipe, so if it is yours let me know and I will credit you. If it is out, get the ingredients and make it. Now!

Are you still here?  Well, I guess I should tell you about it, then! This is an amazing cake. That's all I can say! So here is the recipe :-)

German Chocolate Surprise Cake.

1 cup pecans.
1/2 cup brown sugar.
1/2 cup coconut.
1/4 cup butter.

Mix together, spread into greased 9 inch pan.

2 oz chocolate (2 squares).
1/4 cup water.
1 cup sugar.
1/2 cup butter or margarine.
1 tsp vanilla.
2 eggs.
1 + 1/4 cup flour, divided.
1/2 cup milk.

Microwave chocolate and water in safe dish, one minute at a time until chocolate is melted. Stir to combine.
In another bowl, beat sugar and butter until fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla. On low, beat in 3/4 cup flour, then the milk, and finally the remaining flour. Beat well until smooth. Stir in chocolate mixture.

Pour batter over topping in pan. Bake at 350 F for 40 to 45 minutes, until toothpick inserted in centre comes out clean. Upon removal from oven, run a sharp knife around the edges of the pan. Cool on rack for 15 to 20 minutes.

Invert pan onto serving plate. Serve warm or cooled.

German chocolate has long been one of my favorites, right up there with Ice cream cake (preferably DQ). I meant to make this over the weekend, but I ended up being to busy. I would have made it last night, but I had to drive 45 minutes away to drop off some goodies...and when I was ready to come home, my car would not start. Thankfully, my big sister drove all the way out there and gave me a boost. She followed me back into town and we took it to be tested so we knew for sure what was wrong. Unfortunately, it is the more expensive of the two, the alternator needs to be replaced (we were hoping it was just the battery). For now, my car is in a safe place until I can raise the funds to fix it. Good thing I live within walking distance of work!

This dessert was easy to make, and turned out very nice. It is a great recipe to try to impress last minute guests! The topping is super sweet. The brown sugar tastes like caramel, and throw in the pecans and coconut makes it heavenly!

The cake is very dense. I notice the recipe does not call for any baking soda or powder. I am not sure if maybe it was a error on my part from when I wrote it down, or if it is supposed to be that way. Since I can not remember where I picked up the recipe, I could not go back and check. It is like a fudgy brownie. I really had my doubts melting the chocolate in the water, since I know water usually makes chocolate seize, but it worked! Maybe because they were heated together, not added to one another.

I made sure I sprayed the pan very good, no way this puppy was sticking! The cake pulled away from the pan edges, so i barely had to run the knife around it! It cooked in the recommended time and was just starting to darken on the corners, That could be my oven or the dish, though.

I started my new job yesterday, and so far so good. Since I was in a similar role at the same company only 9 months ago, a lot of it is just recap. Tomorrow, we will start into the new stuff. My new team gave me a huge welcome, and when they heard I can bake, tried to recruit me to bake some sweets for their treat cart. I told them it will have to be in a couple weeks, but since I love baking and sharing, I will for sure. First requests are  banana bread, chocolate chip cookies and fudge!

 I may not be around as much in the next couple weeks, I just used the last of my butter, milk and brown sugar. I am out of shortening and running low on eggs, which means no more baking. I do no get paid from my new job until the first (or actually, 30th, as the 1st is a holiday), and they are still processing my unemployment claim (even though they were supposed to have it done last Friday, since their deadline is four weeks). I was told to call back tomorrow if I do not hear anything, and it will be escalated. Fingers crossed.

So until I get some cash for ingredients, I can not do any baking. I have plenty of food, don't worry about me starving, but I just can not try out any new recipes since most call for at least one of the ingredients I am out of.

So, until next time, enjoy German chocolate cake!


Friday, June 17, 2011

Homemade Pasta Sauce.

This afternoon, I planned on making a German Chocolate Cake. Oh, bliss! My Favorite! I changed my mind when I saw the weather forecast, they were calling for sunny and hot today, but miserable tomorrow. So, I slid today's idea through to tomorrow, and dug out my trusty crock-pot for cooler cooking.

My cooking path did not go directly to Pasta sauce, it actually started out with roasted garlic. I had one and a half heads in the fridge, and roasted garlic was something I had always wanted to try. I did a quick search, and the general consensus was to peel most of the outside, cut off a bit of the top, drizzle with oil, cover with foil, and bake at 350 F for at least 30 minutes. So this is what I did.

One site suggested using a muffin tin to stand them in. The half head kept tipping, so I decided to use this tip. The above is before baking for about 45 minutes and below is after, when my house smelled divine!

So now that it is roasted, what to do with it? I decided I wanted to make pasta sauce. I was going to cook it on the stove-top, but I had been invited out to the Fair and had to leave in an hour, that was kind of pushing it. Into the crock-pot went a can of crushed tomatoes, one of chopped tomatoes, a small can of tomato paste and some spices. I used about 1/2 tsp of Italian spice and 1 tsp of each Parsley and Oregano.

I had a hard time getting the garlic out of its paper, maybe I should have baked it a bit longer. According to all the Food Network stars that I have seen making roasted garlic, all you should have to do is squeeze it out. I used a butter knife to slip each clove out of its wrapper and just dropped them into the vat of tomatoes.

After six hours out, I came home to a house smelling even more delicious than it had when I left! The sauce was still a bit lumpy from the tomatoes and garlic, so I threw it into the blender fro a moment. I was left with a large tub of garlicky yumminess!

In the morning when it cools down completely I will put it into some jars for safekeeping. I can't wait to try it with a plate of pasta tomorrow for dinner!

When I got home from the fair, I also discovered I had an email for a very large order of meals from my Kijiji ad. Since I am going home Sunday for Father's Day and my Mom's Birthday, and the customer wants the order Monday, I may not have time to make my German chocolate cake tomorrow. :-(  There is always next week, though. I start my new job Monday, i work nine to five the first week for training, so I will still have five evenings to bake!

Have a good weekend, everyone!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Bubble Bread

Yesterday was another cold, overcast day. Since I had nothing to do, around lunchtime I decided to make bread. I was searching recipes when I found this one for Bubble bread in a book called Basic Baking. The recipe reminds me a lot of ones I have seen here in the blog world for something called Monkey bread. It is something I have wanted to try since I first read about it, so as women are prone to do, I changed my mind and decided to make Bubble Bread instead.

Bubble Bread. 
(dough makes enough for two)
4 + 1/2 cups all purpose flour, divided use.
1/3 cup sugar.
4 + 1/2 tsp (2 pkgs) instant yeast.
1 tsp salt.
1/4 cup milk.
1/2 cup water.
1/3 cup butter.
2 eggs.
(for one)
3/4 cup sugar.
1 + 1/2 tsp cinnamon.
1/2 cup melted butter.
1/2 cup raisins.
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans.

In large bowl, mix together 2 cups flour, sugar, salt and yeast. In another bowl or large measuring cup, mix water, milk and butter. Microwave until just uncomfortable warm and butter is melted.

Add to flour mixture and beat until well blended and gloppy. Stir in eggs, then add remaining flour by half cupfuls until it is to difficult to stir.

Dump onto floured board, knead 6 to 8 minutes adding flour as necessary. Form into a ball and put in oiled bowl, turn dough in bowl until completely oiled. Cover at let rise in warm place until doubled, about 30 to 40 minutes.

Punch dough to deflate, knead a few times and form into two balls. Wrap and refrigerate or freeze one. From the other, make the bubble bread by pinching off small bits of dough, rolling into balls, dipping them in the melted butter and then cinnamon sugar mixture. Set the sugared balls into a greased 9 inch bundt pan. After a layer of dough balls, sprinkle in a few raisins and nuts. Continue in this manner until the dough ball is used up. Cover and let rise for another 30 minutes or until doubled.

Bake at 375 F for 30 to 35 minutes. Invert pan onto rack to cool. When cooled, drizzle with glaze if desired.

I skipped the nuts and raisins, I am out, and the glaze, just because I thought they were sweet enough. Since I do not have a bundt pan, I decided to use my Dutch oven. It burned a bit on the top and the middle would not cook, so I ended up using a fork to pull the two centre balls out, and within a few minutes it was done.

I had plenty of cinnamon sugar left over, so I gave it a sprinkle on top. I only made two layers, I considered a third, but glad I decided against it because once it had risen it was huge!

I had a bit of leftover dough, so I made a few cinnamon rolls out of it. I also used the mixer to do all the kneading for me, my mixer almost rocked of the counter! I am glad I caught it, that would have been a disaster!

It was a simple recipe and delicious! I will be making it again, but i think I will turn the oven down a bit. Now I just have to stop myself from plucking a piece each time I walk past!

Yummy! Have a good day everyone!!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Homemade Tortilla & Raspberry Salad Dressing.

What a homemade day! I made three things to go towards dinner today, tortillas, raspberry salad dressing, and croutons! I woke up this morning only planning on making tortilla, I found the recipe over on Clockwork Lemon a couple weeks ago. I really wanted to make them, but it kept getting put on the back burner. Last night, I had a dinner that was not so healthy, so I wanted today to be the opposite and decided on chicken wraps. This recipe was so easy, I think I may start making them all the time!! I have a lot of pictures for this one, so be patient if you have a slow connection :-)

Homemade Tortilla.

2 + 3/4 cups all purpose flour (plus a bit extra for rolling).
5 Tbsp vegetable shortening.
3/4 tsp salt.
3/4 tsp very warm water.

Dissolve salt in water. In large bowl, cut shortening into flour until it resembles course oatmeal. Combine water mixture with flour mixture until dough forms. Turn onto lightly floured surface and knead until smooth.
Roll dough into log and cut into 12 equal pieces. Roll each of these pieces into a ball, cover with plastic and let sit for at least 20 minutes.

Heat pan on medium. Roll each ball into 7 inch tortilla. One at a time, fry tortilla for 30 seconds, flip tortilla and cook other side for another 30 seconds.

To keep them warm, tent with a clean cloth or tinfoil while cooking. Fresh tortillas will be a bit stiff, tent with tinfoil for a few minutes to soften (while they are still hot).

Store in a plastic bag in the fridge for 2 - 3 days.

As I said before, these turned out very well. I burned a few in a couple places, and the above one was probably the most circular out of the dozen. Mostly, they look like this.

Meh, adds character :-) While i fried one, I rolled the next one, so I had one on the go at all times, it took probably about 15 minutes to do them all. The dough was dry, I ended up using a smidgen more water; maybe about a Tablespoon, but I did not need any more flour to knead it.

I am not very good at cutting things evenly, so some are a bit bigger than others. Again, adds character. Here are my dough balls. They sat for closer to 25 minutes, maybe even 30, because I was trying to do to much at once.

My only real problem was that they kept bouncing back when I rolled them. I had to leave it stuck to the rolling pin once I had it stretched. That was fine though, because of the greasy shortening they peeled right off. I also found them a bit small for what I use, but that is another easy fix; the next time I may only cut the dough into 8 pieces.

While my dough balls sat, I made the rest of dinner. I had chicken wraps and a salad. The chicken was just a boneless breast, i cut it and fried it and then poured some szchewan sauce over it while I made everything else. In the wraps went a bit of lettuce, some shredded cheese and the chicken.

I made the salad to go with it, I chopped some broccoli, tomato, onion, English cucumber and green pepper. The croutons I made by spreading some garlic butter onto a heel slice of bread, then i cubed it and baked it for 10 minutes at about 350 F.

As for the dressing, this is another recipe from Chef Michael Smith's cookbook The Best of Chef at Home, which I got at the library last week. There is a page of different types of salad dressings you can make, and this one was one that I had almost everything for. I only had to go out and purchase the vinegar, but I had done that a few days ago in anticipation.

Generic Salad Dressing.

1 cup extra virgin olive oil.
1/2 cup of any vinegar, lemon or lime juice.
1/2 cup honey, maple syrup or jelly.
1 heaping Tbsp Dijon Mustard.
1 heaping Tbsp any fresh herb or spice (optional).
a sprinkle of salt and pepper, as per taste.

Raspberry Dressing: Use red wine vinegar and raspberry jelly as the sweetener.

Pour ingredients into a clean mason jar, cover and shake until combined. Keeps in jar in the refrigerator for several weeks. Makes 2 cups.

It is hard to distinguish here, but I used a soup spoon to drizzle it over my salad. I found straight from the jar, it was a bit strong, especially the vinegar. I added a sprinkle of salt and pepper and it seemed to help a bit. The veggies cut the vinegary taste as well, and it seemed best after sitting.

I only made a quarter of the recipe, so I used 1/4 cup oil, and 1/8 cup of the jam and vinegar. I do not use a lot of salad dressing, so I thought that would be enough. Also, the oil was not cheap and only comes in a small bottle. No way am I using it all on one recipe!

For the jam, I used my Mom's homemade stuff. I usually get a few jars each year. I am not crazy about the seeds, but i did not even notice them in my salad.

So I managed to have a delicious, healthy dinner, and there is still plenty of leftovers of everything! I can't wait to try another one of the salad dressings from my library book, and I think I may be making tortillas again soon!

Hope everyone had a great Monday, have a good week!!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Reverse Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Sundays usually find me bored out of my mind, especially rainy ones (like today) or ones where I can't go out to the stores in the afternoon. I am spent until I get my first paycheck from my new job, hopefully on July 1st; which is actually a holiday, so more likely June 30th. So anyway, another boring Sunday afternoon...but wait! The cookie jar is empty! I gave away all my Candy Bar cookies, or at least the ones I did not eat. Gotta make sure they are good enough to give away :-). So, i did an internet search. I went through my list of followed Blogs and searched for cookie recipes on each one. I found this one on a blog called The Hazel Bloom. Just search for cookies on the right side, it was about the 10th result (or use CTRL + F on the result page and search 'reverse' it will come right up). 

Reverse Chocolate Chip Cookies. 

1 cup butter, softened.
1 cup sugar.
3/4 cup brown sugar.
2 eggs.
1 tsp vanilla extract.
1 + 3/4 cups flour.
1 + 1/4 cups unsweetened cocoa powder.
1 tsp baking soda.
1 tsp baking powder.
2 cups white chocolate chips.

In mixer, cream butter and sugars until fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla and blend well. In another bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, soda and powder. Slowly add to wet mixture while mixer is running, being sure to incorporate fully. Fold in chocolate chips.

Drop on prepared pans by teaspoonful, bake at 350 F for 8 to 10 minutes. Cool on pans for 5 minutes before removing to racks to cook completely. 

I don't like to complain or put down other people's recipes, but I have to say right off that it is unlikely I am going to try this one again. Now, it may be my own fault that it did not turn out; but whether it was caused by my mistakes or not, I really did not like the results. I say it may be my own fault because I rushed to copy it and misread it. I wrote down the flour measure as the cocoa measure and missed the cocoa measure altogether. It was after I had the cocoa in that I realized my recipe had no flour, so i ran back to the computer and found my mistake. Because if this, I added my soda and powder directly to the mix and started piling flour in 1/4 cup at a time. It only took a half cup, and even then I had to add about a Tbsp of milk and knead the last bit of the flour in. 

No matter what I did, I could not get a clear picture today; this is the best of the blurry ones. Instead of vanilla, I used mint, because I love the whole chocolate mint taste. Unfortunately it did not really come through in the taste. Also, because I could not find white chips at the store and I did not want to run across town, I used butterscotch. The cookies are very chocolatey, though (maybe because i used a half cup extra), and so taste great. 

The cookies baked as hard as rocks, they may have been over baked, though. I find it is hard to judge chocolate cookies for doneness just by looking, because the dark chocolate disguises the browning of the cookie. But I didn't burn them! I am going to throw a piece of bread in the cookie jar in hopes that they soften up.

I hope everyone had a good weekend, I had a great day yesterday! And got a horrible sunburn (again, my own fault); I put some cream on it this morning, but with my itchy bug bites from yesterday I have scratched my sunburn by accident a couple times today, ouch! Only one more week to go before going back to work, yay! This unscheduled vacation has been much to long!! 

Have a good week, everyone! 

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Butter Tart Squares.

I am told Butter Tarts are something truly Canadian. I have never made them before but I found this in a church cook book. Because Pastry is my nemesis, and therefore I can not make proper tarts, I decided this was worth a try!  I planned on making these for my Dad as a Father's Day gift, i took them this weekend because I was not sure if i would get to see him next weekend as he lives an hour away and I am low on funds for gas. We were supposed to go out tonight so he and K could go fishing in the morning, but last night we looked at the weather forecast and made a quick change in plans and went then instead. K caught 3 fish and had a great time! He wants to go again soon, but it may be to late in the season for it.

Because we rushed out last night, I literally whipped this together. It was still very hot, I only had time to cool it in the pan about 7 minutes, so I capped it and wrapped it in a dishtowel and away we went!

Butter Tart Squares.


1/2 cup butter.
2 Tbsp icing sugar.
1 + 1/2 cups flour.

Combine and press into a 9 X 9 inch pan. Bake at 350 F for 5 minutes.


1 + 1/2 cups brown sugar.
1/2 cup melted butter.
2 eggs.
1 tsp vinegar.
1 tsp vanilla.
1 cup raisins.

In mixer, blend butter and sugar well. Add eggs, vinegar and vanilla. Blend until smooth. Fold in raisins. Pour onto crust. Bake at 350 F for 30 to 35 minutes.

When we got to the country, I let them sit for a couple hours uncovered to cool properly, then I recapped them so the cats would not get into it, and left it until this morning to cut. It was a bit sticky, but otherwise fine.

I used up half of the remaining homemade butter  on the bottom and half of it in the top. I filled out both with a bit of Becel. I found the bottom to be a bit crumbly, but otherwise fine. Also, the top seemed to brown fast, but took about 35 minutes to set in the centre.

The filling was very sweet, and everyone liked them a lot. Dad said it could have used a bit more filling, so the next time I may make one and a half of it.

I had a wonderful day in the country, I came back smelling of bug spray and sunscreen, and with a sunburn and a few bug bites. But, it was a nice, sunny day and we had Bar B Que'd Trout for lunch and helped Nanny make homemade pizza for dinner. What a delicious day!

Hope everyone is having as good a weekend as I am!!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Pizza Soup

I went to the library to return some books a couple days ago, since I had all day, i poked around and found a few more to adopt for a few weeks. I got excited when I found this one The Best of Chef at Home. It is written by my favorite Chef from Food Network Canada Chef Michael Smith. It has recipes in it from my favorite of his shows, Chef at Home.  I have wanted this book since I first saw it on the shelves, but unfortunately it has been outside my budget thus far; so for now I will have to do with borrowing it.  

I have tried a few of Chef Michael Smith's recipes before, namely Dulce du Leche and Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies.  All of his recipes that I have tried have turned out, so I want to pick at least three out of this book to make. I spent yesterday afternoon perusing the pages, and found two so far, and others that I remember being made on the television. I planned on making the Pizza Soup yesterday, since i had all but one of the ingredients, but it was extremely hot yesterday afternoon (finally!) and after a run to the hospital to visit a friend, and battling traffic both in and out of the stores, I got home and decided I was not cooking; I ordered a pizza. Don't look at me that way, we all break down sometimes :-)

The reason why I like Chef Michael Smith's recipes so much is because he encourages you to change them. Each recipe in this book has a 'freestyle variation' that tells a way you can switch it up. I changed the recipe a bit, the parts that I changed are in italics below, with an explanation further down.

Pizza Soup.

2 Tbsp olive oil.
2 onions, peeled and chopped (half an onion)
1/2 a green pepper, chopped.
4 cloves garlic, minced (3 large cloves)
1-28 ounce (796 mL) can of whole, crushed, or chopped tomatoes.
2 cups chicken broth.
2 carrots, peeled and grated (6 baby carrots, grated).
8 oz pepperoni, thinly sliced.
2 slices turkey bacon, cooked & sliced.
1 Tbsp dried Oregano.
1/2 Tbsp dried Parsley.
a sprinkle of sea salt and freshly ground pepper (oops)
4 slices whole grain bread (omitted)
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (Parmesan & mozza-cheddar mix)

Saute olive oil,  onions and garlic (& green peppers) in large stock pot until onions are slightly browned.

Add canned tomatoes (if whole, crush with back of spoon), chicken broth, carrots, and oregano (& parsley).

Simmer for 15 minutes, or until carrots are tender. Add pepperoni (& bacon) and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Ladle hot soup into 4 oven proof (onion) soup dishes. Cut the bread into circular pieces to fit; cover the top of each soup bowl with bread, and sprinkle each with 1/2 cup cheese.

Place under preheated broiler and heat 2 or 3 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly and golden.

Yummy! I am not crazy about bread in the soup (soggy bread, yuck) so I omitted that step and just sprinkled a mixture of mozza-cheddar and  parmesan directly on the soup, then cooked up some frozen garlic bread to go with it.

This is the first time I have ever cooked with Olive Oil. The bottle has been sitting on my counter for over a month, and I finally had a reason to crack into it. I made sure I had all my ingredients ready. I sometimes find myself forgetting something and then having to rush. Where this is a new recipe, I did not want that, so i made sure I had everything chopped and ready.

My only large pot is not very thick bottomed, and I checked my dutch oven, it does not appear to be for stove top use; so I started the onions, garlic and green peppers in a pan.

While they were doing their thing, I mixed all the other ingredients in my pot. I don't know if it was because my stove was to hot, but I found the garlic browned before my onions. I have never really used real garlic before, I usually use jarred or dried, but it was on sale last week so I picked up a couple bulbs. Roasted garlic is in my future!

But once the veggies were browned sufficiently, I dumped them into the broth and tomato mixture and let it simmer from there.  I added turkey bacon as another meat because I love bacon on my pizza. I buy turkey bacon  though, because I find regular bacon to be to greasy (and expensive). As for the rest of my changes; I added parsley because it is one of my favorites, I cut back on the onions because I am not crazy about them either, the baby carrots and the different cheeses, that was all I had, so I improvised! I forgot the salt and pepper, again. Oops. It seems to be a recurring theme in my kitchen.

That's all my pictures, so I am going to re-post my finished soup one :-)

I kind of had my doubts, since I am not wild about the taste of tomatoes and there are a lot in it, but this does not taste like tomatoes! This turned out very, very good, and I can't wait to have some more tomorrow. I'm sure the spices will make the flavours stronger after having time to sit! I got three hearty servings, i am going to throw one in the freezer for when I go back to work, I will have a lunch. I will be making this again, but I think next time I might add some noodles to, just for a twist.

I can't wait for the 20th to start my new job, I am going stir crazy here at home (proof, this post is going on and on, i need someone to talk to!!). My mom took me out to Costco this morning just for something to do (and I got a BIG bag of blueberries). I am going to have to spend some more time in the library next week, it gets me out of the house for free. If not, by Wednesday you might see me down on the boardwalk spinning in circles, scaring the cruise ship passengers! The first one arrived this week, and there are plenty more to follow!

But, it's almost the weekend, and I might be going home for a couple days. Since K was sick last weekend and didn't get to go fishing with Grampie, we are going to try to see if he can go this weekend instead.

Have a good Friday, everyone!