Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Pretzel S'Mores

I am going camping this weekend! I have not gone camping in about ten years, so I am super excited. I went out and bought all my groceries yesterday, I borrowed a cooler to put it all in and am half packed, i can't wait for the weekend!

I am shamed to say that I have never had s'mores while camping. We always roasted marshmallows as kids, but my mom never brought the crackers and chocolate needed. The weather man is calling for a chance of rain Saturday night, and that means I may not get my bonfire; so as a backup, I stole this recipe from Love from the Oven. I figured I would make them up and stick them in the cooler, just in case we are stuck huddling in a tent all evening.

This is a very basic recipe. All you do is slap a marshmallow and chocolate onto a pretzel, microwave it to melt, and throw another pretzel on there. Let it set, and dip into heavenly chocolate.

I got some mini pretzels at the Bulk Barn yesterday while i was out getting groceries, so instead of using a whole marshmallow i cut them into thirds. The little rounds fit perfectly.

 Because chocolate bars are not cheap (it cost me 5 dollars to pick up two for this weekend), I used some melts that I had leftover.

I found the chocolate did not melt very well. I microwaved them for 30 seconds, let the marshmallows deflate, and then microwaved them for another 15. I put the tops on and then heated them for another 15 seconds. I froze them for about 5 minutes to set up while i melted the chocolate.

I think my chocolate was just to old. I find sometimes if they are old, they will not melt smoothly. When i melted the rest for dipping, it was lumpy. It was kind of seized, so maybe there had been a bit of water in the bowl that I had not noticed. Finally, i froze them for another hour to make sure the chocolate was set.

The verdict?  Yummy! I love the salty sweet taste. They may not even make it to the campground :-)

So, I am still counting down the minutes until the weekend. It is pouring rain here today, and supposed to be sunny with a chance of showers on the weekend. Usually the forecast changed 10 times a day, so i am keeping my fingers crossed for s'mores!!

Have a good week, everyone!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Strawberry Banana Yogurt Popsicles

I can't believe it has been another week since I posted last! Last weekend was insane, I went to the drive-in Saturday night and spent Sunday at my parents' house in Wirral. I have been running like mad all week. But, while I was running, i managed to get some strawberries! They were on for 2.50 a quart, so I got two. One I put in the freezer, and the other I am using for strawberry shortcake tonight. I took a bit from tonight's berries when I found this recipe yesterday on The Farm Girl I have never made homemade popsicles before, but these looked so good I ran out after work last night and got the yogurt and molds. The pictures looked like it made a lot, since I only had 6 molds, I halved the recipe. This is the whole recipe.

Strawberry Banana Yogurt Popsicles.

3 very ripe bananas
2 cups strawberries, hulled
1 Tbsp honey
1 + 1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup milk.

Combine all ingredients in blender, blend until smooth. Pour into molds, freeze until solid (best overnight). To un-mold, run under hot water.

I got five and a half out of the halved recipe, so mot likely out of the full you would get a dozen; depending on the size of your molds of course. I threw them in the freezer at about 9:30 this morning, and they were ready by 2:30 this afternoon.

K and i went to the Buskers festival this afternoon, these were supposed to be a treat for when we got home (since it is a super hot day). He took a little bite and said he did not like it. I ate one and a half. The strawberry is quite strong, but they are not sour. K is just used to the ice water version of Popsicles, I guess. I will definitely be making these again, and I may have to try experimenting with the fruit combinations, since strawberries are so expensive! These are just like a smoothie on a stick and were very refreshing after being out in the sun.

Hope everyone is having a good weekend!!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Overnight Oatmeal

Last night I wanted to do something different for breakfast, so I decided I was going to make overnight crock pot oatmeal. I did an internet search and found many different recipes, but I finally decided to go with one from the Food Network site, posted by Alton Brown. I noticed there were about 200 comments by people like me who had made the recipe. A lot of them were not good! But, a lot of the others had suggestions to fix the concerns. I took note of the ideas and ran to the store after work to get a package of steel cut oats.

I have never used steal cut oats before, and so I found myself perusing the Quaker Oats display last night reading packages, instant, quick, rolled...but no steal cut. I almost gave up when I saw this little box labeled Irish Oats, huh, never heard of that before. I looked closer and saw 'steal cut' above the main label...and then the price, almost 6 dollars for the little box! I knew the box would be enough to make the recipe about 2 and a half times, so I went for it.

I can't post the exact recipe, because I did not write it down. I basically squiggled the parts I needed onto a scrap of paper. It called for 1 cup of the oats, 4 cups of water and half a cup of half&half. Mix all these together in the crock pot with some dried figs and dried cranberries. Cook overnight on low, and voila! Breakfast.

These are some of the dried oats. As for the changes, a lot of the people said the recipe dried out, burned, stuck, etc. The biggest suggestion was to put it on low for an hour, and then on warm the rest of the night. A few people suggested turning it back on low for another hour in the morning. Most suggested using regular or skim milk instead of half & half. I don't think I have ever seen it sold in any store I have ever been in, so I just used the milk in the refrigerator.

I took the suggestion of putting it on low for an hour then warm the rest of the night. At about 8:30 this morning, I found this in my crock pot. The only way I can describe it is puddle of goo. It smelled funny, it looked funny and honestly, it tasted funny. Not one for soggy oatmeal, I used a small strainer to drain off about a cup and added some frozen blueberries. I gave a 30 seconds in the microwave to warm the berries up.

The blueberries off set the funny taste a bit, but not much, I think it needs some nutmeg or cinnamon. The rest of the oatmeal I left in the crock pot on low for another hour. It was still quite soggy, so I took the cover off and let it go for half an hour. Still soggy, so finally I put it on High for half an hour, I checked it after 15 minutes and called it complete.

So, I am calling it a semi success. Some of the comments stated it is a recipe you have to play around with, so I think since I spent 6 bucks on the box, I might try it at least once more. Along with the bowl above, I got 4 more small containers. I think I will be adding something to them before eating, though. The little bit I did eat did not fill me, I ended up having a home made granola bar to fill it out.

So, another week almost to an end. Hope it has been good for everyone. I have lots to do this weekend, I am babysitting Saturday and also have some cooking and baking to do.

Happy end of the work week!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Chicken Lemon Stir-Fry

I had a lemon sitting on the table that I had zested last week and did not need the juice. The poor little lemon was shriveling up, so I had to use it. I did an internet search for blueberry lemon dishes, since I have lots of the berries to, but I really did not find anything that I wanted and did not already have sitting, like cake, cookies, etc. So I did another search for just Lemon, and I found this one on Canadian Living Magazine's website. This is a very bad picture, I had a hard time focusing my camera on it.

Chicken Lemon Stir-fry.

1+ 1/2 cup rice, prepared as per package instructions.
1 Tbsp butter.
1 Tbsp oil.
1 onion, chopped.
2 carrots, sliced on an angle.
2 cloves garlic, diced.
1/2 lb snow peas
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 lb boneless chicken breasts, cubed.
3 Tbsp cornstarch
1+1/2 cups milk
3 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp honey
1 can mini corn, drained
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1-2 tsp lemon zest.

In large pan, heat oil and butter. Stir-fry in onion, cook until tender. Add carrots, garlic, snow-peas salt and pepper. Stir fry for 2 minutes. Add chicken, cook until juices run clear. In small bowl, whisk together cornstarch and milk. Slowly add to chicken and vegetables, stir and cook until thick. Add soy sauce, honey, mini corn, juice and zest. Stir until combined. Serve over rice.

It looks very messy, but it was not bad. I substituted broccoli for the baby corn, I am not wild about corn and therefore did not have any. I had a hard time zesting the remaining part of the lemon (and now have a small cut on the palm of my had to show for it). so it was not very lemony. I may make this again if I have a fresher lemon on hand.

It is extremely hot here today, to make up for the last two days of rain and fog. I took the recycling down tot the depot this morning, and just being out of the car for the 5 minutes it took, I felt like i was suffocating. We had a small thunder shower pass us by last night, I heard 2 booms and it rained for a good ten minutes, apparently outside the city it was much worse. I am hoping for another one tonight to clear the air.

Hope everyone is having a good week, it is almost half over!!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Chocolate chip Zucchini cake

This is a recipe that I have wanted to make for a quite awhile. I had bought the zucchini a couple months ago, but ended up tossing them because I did not have time to make it and they went bad. Last week, I decided to try again, I picked up two small zucchini from the City Market, and again I almost had to toss them! But finally yesterday morning, I had the time and ingredients, so I dove in. I got this recipe from a cookbook called Basic Baking. This is probably the fourth recipe I have made from this book, and except for yields, I have yet to have a recipe not turn out.

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Cake.

1 cup sugar.
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla.
1+1/4 cups all purpose flour.
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup shredded zucchini
1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips.

In mixer, cream sugar and oil. Add eggs and vanilla, mix until well blended. In another bowl, stir together flour, baking powder and cinnamon. Add this and shredded zucchini to egg mixture. Blend until well combined. Mixture will be dry at first, but will thin as the liquid comes out of the zucchini. Pour into prepared 9 inch baking dish. Sprinkle with chocolate chips. Bake in 375 F oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until toothpick inserted in centre comes out clean.

This cake turned out very moist, I had hoped the chips would have sunk into the batter, though. If I make this again, I will mix the chips into the cake.

It quickly baked up in the time allotted, and i think it could have easily gone into a larger rectangle dish so it could be cut into more squares.

This is not to sweet, i have to admit I kind if had my doubts about zucchini cake, after all I am not crazy about zucchini, but I decided it was something different and I wanted to try it. Yummy hidden veggies!

So far the week is off to a good start, I made another new recipe today for dinner; i will post it tomorrow after I try it tonight. Hope everyone is having a great week!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Homemade Chewy Granola Bars

Sorry I've been away so long, it has been a hectic week. I have been baking and cooking, just recipes I already have posted here. Today I am making Brown Sugar Fudge as I type, and a few days ago I made some lemon squares for a pot luck at work. I spent yesterday making some cookies, that did not turn out. I don't know if it was the weather (it poured all day yesterday) but nothing I did yesterday worked. Well, these granola bars sort of turned out, but still I don't think they are as they ought to be. I stole this recipe from The Tiny Skillet, she had a few ways that they could be changed up a bit, but I am just going to post the recipe as I made it.

Chewy Granola Bars.

2 cups oatmeal
3/4 cup fine coconut.
3/4 cup sunflower seeds,
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1 cup rice krispies
2/3 cup brown sugar
4 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp sea salt
3 oz dried cranberries
1 oz golden raisins.

Toast almonds and sunflower seeds. In a large bowl, mix together almonds, seeds, coconut, cereal and oatmeal. In saucepan over medium heat, stir together brown sugar, honey, butter, vanilla and salt. Bring to simmer, stirring constantly, until sugar is dissolved. Mix wet into dry, add cranberries and raisins. Mix well to combine. Press into a wax paper lined 9 X 9 pan, put more waxed paper on top and press until well packed. Cool in pan until hardened and able to be cut. 

I had substituted coconut for wheat germ in the original recipe, and 1 oz of raisins because i only had 3 oz of cranberries. I have them wrapped because they were quite crumbly even after sitting for almost 12 hours. After wrapping, I left them in the fridge over night and they seem to be better this morning. 

I think I am going to leave them in the refrigerator for storage. I found them a little sweet, but otherwise delicious. The last time I made granola bars, they were as hard as rocks, I prefer the softer ones so I had never made them again. 

The mixture came together very well, the brown sugar was supposed to be packed, but i didn't bother. The recipe stated it was very sweet, and so I decided to cut the sweetness a bit by not packing in the sugar.

After yesterday's rain, it is a beautiful sunny day today. I am hoping to get out this afternoon to the park or something, to enjoy the sun! I have a couple new recipes up my sleeve, and the ingredients to make them, now I just have to find the time. Last summer I only made 2 posts in 2 months, so I am hoping that this summer won't be the same. 

Hope everyone is having a good week!! 

Monday, July 4, 2011

Homemade Ketchup

Homemade ketchup! I know you can pretty much make anything they sell in stores at home, but I really did not think you could make ketchup! I found this recipe in Chef Michael Smith's The Best of Chef at Home. I love this book, it is a library loan, but I can't wait for it to go on sale so I can get my own copy!

Homemade Ketchup

28 oz can chopped tomatoes (796mL)
5.5 oz can tomato paste (156 mL)
1 large onion, chopped
1 cup red wine vinegar.
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup olive oil.
2 Tbsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground allspice
2 or 3 bay leaves
sprinkle of salt & pepper.

Put everything into a large pot. Put over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Continue simmering, stirring occasionally, until reduced by half, about 30 minutes. Cool to room temperature, puree in blender, or with immersion blender,  until smooth.

I managed to get plenty, I think this is a 1 L mason jar. It definitely does not taste like Heinz, but I love the flavor!

The oil made it a bit difficult to stir together at first, but once it started to warm up the spices blended in. That is the allspice sitting on top. Oh, i skipped the onion, I forgot about it until it was to late. Oops, again.

Even though it did not say to, I fished out the bay leaves. I wasn't sure about leaving them in, since I know you are supposed to remove them from soups and stews. This is before I put it in the blender. The colour lightened up a bit after blending it.

So what is for dinner tonight? I decided to get in touch with my inner child and cooked up some frozen chicken nuggets and sweet potato fries to go with my ketchup : -)

Yummy! I love the taste of this ketchup, it has a little kick! It did cost a bit more to make it than a bottle of store bought, though; as it was about 3 dollars for the can of tomatoes, 1.50 for the paste, plus the oil and vinegar, even though I did not use the entire bottle, were about 5 dollars each. A 2 L container of Heinz is about 5 dollars around here. But, i think this may be worth the price just in taste alone, and no preservatives!!

Happy 4th of July to all my American followers! I have had a busy day off, between a bank snafu and getting groceries, I was running the roads half the day. The rest of the day I was catching up on my housecleaning because I did absolutely nothing the last two days. Glad I got an extra day off :-)

Have a good week, everyone!!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Chocolate Caramel Squares

It is another cool and cloudy day, I hear it is nice outside the city, but with the alternator going in my car, I do not trust it to go further than getting groceries. I have already been stranded once half an hour away from home, and I do not want it to happen again! I have spent most of the day doing nothing more than chatting with people online, and searching through recipes for something that take one or fewer eggs. That is all I have left and I do not want to go to the store until tomorrow, because Sundays are usually quite busy and traffic stresses me out.

I found this recipe in a Company's Coming book, Gifts from the Kitchen. I got it from the library a few weeks ago and was in the process of writing out a few recipes before it is due back, when I came upon this one. No eggs! And I have everything else! I was able to use up the rest of the  dulce de leche   that has been sitting in my freezer for the last few months.

Chocolate Caramel Squares

Bottom layer

1 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4  cup brown sugar
1/2 cup margarine

Combine first 3 ingredients in medium bowl, cut in margarine until crumbly. Press firmly into greased 9 inch pan. Bake in 350 F oven for 15 minutes.


1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
1/3 cup caramel sauce.

Sprinkle bottom layer with both chocolate chips. Drizzle caramel sauce over chips.


2/3 cup flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup margarine
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans

Stir flour and brown sugar in medium bowl. Cut in margarine until crumbly. Add pecans, stir. Sprinkle over caramel sauce. Bake in 350 F oven for about 20 minutes until browned. 

These turned out very sweet, but delicious!They were kind of difficult to get out of the pan, but are still quite warm. I got a better picture of the layers from the ones still in the pan. I also skipped the pecans, they were the only ingredient I did not have. 

It was a little messy spreading the caramel over the chocolate, because it was thick it did not really pour well. But, it turned out alright in the end. 

These ones were quick and easy, but look like they are going to take some time to cool. They might be good for a summer shower, but I think maybe better at a guy's party, I ate one little piece and have a sweet headache, all that chocolate and caramel men would clean up, YUM!

Hope everyone is having a great long weekend, even though I am Canadian, I have tomorrow off for the American Forth of July. I have no plans for tomorrow so far, but get get groceries and house clean. Hope everyone is having a great long weekend!!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Potato Cakes

A few months ago, I decided I wanted to take a trip to Ireland next Summer. I almost put it off until 2013, but a few recent events put it back onto next Summer's calendar. When I was first thinking about it, I found a cookbook called Irish Pub Cooking on the sale rack at the local bookstore, so I picked it up. In finally got around to making a recipe today, apparently it is a recipe made to use up all those leftover mashed potatoes. Here is a picture of the book photograph.

Potato Cakes.

1 Lb 4 oz (550 g) starchy potatoes, cut into chunks.
2 Tbsp butter, plus extra to serve.
1 egg (optional)
generous 3/4 cup flour, plus extra for dusting.
oil, for brushing.
salt & pepper.

Cook the potatoes in a large pan of boiling salted water for 15 to 20 minutes. Drain well and mash until smooth. Season to taste and add butter. Mix in egg, if using.

Turn out into a large mixing bowl, add enough flour to make a light dough. work quickly, you do not want the potatoes to cool too much.

Place the dough onto a lightly floured surface, roll out carefully to a thickness of 1/4 inch. Using a 2.5 inch cookie cutter, cut into circles.

Brush flat grill pan with oil and heat. Cook the potato cakes in batches in the grill for 4 to 5 minutes on each side, until golden brown. Serve immediately with butter.

Like a good little Canadian, I ate them with a splash of ketchup. I also baked a piece of salmon in my crock pot and made a salad because I wanted to try out a new Mango & Chipotle dressing i had got this afternoon. It was not bad, good kick but needs more mango.

I found the potato cakes a bit bland, thus the ketchup, next time I may add some parsley or something. I skipped the egg, but doubled the recipe. After weighing the potatoes, I discovered 1 Lb is only 2 potatoes, I figured not enough to do anything with, so I doubled it and got 24 cakes. That is a lot for one person, so let's hope they freeze well.

You could probably just mash them into patties like fish cakes, but I used a large biscuit cutter as per the recipe. I made them early this afternoon and fried them up for dinner, I recommend making and frying right away, though. They sweated and stuck to the plastic wrap.

So, I hope everyone is having a great long weekend. I got to take in quite a bit of Canada Day events yesterday before going to work, but I have Monday off because I work for an American company. I have oodles of recipes I found while I was taking my unwanted vacation, but now I am back at it and should have plenty of new recipes to share soon!