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Sunday, 30 October 2011

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread


This recipe has gone through too many stained recipe cards and printer paper from butter and dough batter.  This was given to me from my friend Krista during second year university long ago. I don't know where she got it from, but I like to think that her grandmother passed it onto her.  This is one of those classic family recipes that you use and share repeatedly.  Somehow, as my friends will attest, the chocolate chips seem to keep their gooey-melty goodness even long out of the oven. I'm actually making mine for a potluck party this weekend - I may have to sneak a piece just for me before I go!

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread


Ingredients:

1 cup of mashed banana (about three medium sized VERY rotten black bananas, you can use frozen ones just as easily - just thaw for at least an hour before )
1 tsp baking soda
2 large eggs

1/4 cup butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup of white flour
1/2 cup of whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips


Directions:

Preheat oven 350 degrees.
Mash bananas and stir in 1 tsp baking soda - set aside
In a small bowl, beat 2 large eggs
In a separate bowl, cream 1/4 cup softened butter and 1 cup of packed brown sugar
Add eggs and mix
Stir in mashed banana mixture
Add flour and stir with 1/2 tsp of baking powder and 1/4 tsp of salt
Stir in 1/2 cup of chocolate chips

Pour into a greased bread ban and bake for 1 hour.
Remove from pan and let cool for an hour on a cooling rack before slicing.


Saturday, 29 October 2011

Jerk Chicken Nachos

This dish was first tried at a Pampered Chef party that my friend Melissa and I hosted - which was a huge success! These nachos have been a favorite ever since! Please try these and don't forget to check out the salsa and guacamole recipes on my blog too to go along with this meal if you haven't already :) 




Jerk Chicken Nachos
Modified from The Pampered Chef 

Ingredients:
 6 cups (1.5 L) LIME tortilla chips 
1 TBSP olive oil 
3 cups (750 mL)  diced or shredded cooked chicken 
 8 oz (250 g) shredded marble cheese (2 cups/500 mL) 
 2 tbsp (30 mL) Jamaican Jerk Spice Rub (Pampered Chef), divided 
 1 small yellow or red bell pepper or combination 
1 small tomato  
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
1 lime 
 2 tbsp (30 mL) snipped fresh cilantro 
 1/4 cup (50 mL) sour cream

Directions:

Cook cubed chicken in frying pan with about 1 TBSP  of olive oil. 
Add 1 TBSP jerk chicken spice while cooking.
Lay out lime tortilla chips on a cookie sheet.
Once chicken is cooked, take a slap-chop like device and chop the chicken into small 
pieces.
In a medium sized bowl, mix chicken and cheese together well.


Depending on the size of your cookie sheet - you may want to do one single layer of 
toppings or double it up.


Layering:


Sprinkle chicken/cheese mix over the tortilla chips.  
Next, sprinkle chopped fresh cilantro, red pepper, tomato, and red onion.
Squeeze the juice from a lime over the nachos.


Bake in oven @ 350 for approximately 10 minutes until cheese is melted.


For serving - take 1 cup of sour cream and mix with remaining 1 TSBP of jerk chicken spice.
This is amazing dipping sauce!
If you want, you can also serve with regular sour cream, salsa, and guacamole.



I promise you will not be disappointed! Serve with your favorite beverage :)

Friday, 21 October 2011

Baked Zucchini Sticks & Balsamic Glazed Salmon

Cooking for the weekend! It's Friday and hopefully you have time to kick up your heels and spend a few minutes in the kitchen creating a delicious meal. I have two recipes that I think would make a great combo for just that!  I'm here to reaffirm my conversion to things green.  The baked zucchini sticks are great as a side served with some sour cream.  The balsamic glazed salmon can go with an assortment of sides - I stayed away from my favorite potato dish - but you will see it later on my blog I promise!

One thing I really love about this blog is when you try any of my recipes you tell me how they turned out! I would love to hear from you! Just leave a note :)

Baked Zucchini Sticks
Taken from What’s Cooking Fall 2011 Kraft Magazine.
Makes 8 servings.


Ingredients:

1 pouch Shake’N Bake Extra crispy (or Cajun) original coating mix
1 TBSP minced fresh parsley (I used parsley flakes and it turned out great)
1 egg
1 TBSP water
4 zucchini, cut crosswise in half, then quartered lengthwise (make ‘em look like fries!)
¼ cup ranch dressing or sour cream for dipping

Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. Mix coating mix with parsley in the Shake’N Bake plastic bag
  3. Beat egg and water in a medium bowl.  
  4. Dip zucchini sticks in egg, then in coating mixture, until evenly coated.  Place in a single layer on a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray, or lined with tinfoil.
  5. Bake 20 minutes or until crisp-tender and golden brown. Serve with dressing of choice.
You’re eating green veggies – that taste delicious! Something tells me I may need to put "Deceptively Delicious" by Jessica Seinfeld on my wish list this year. 


Balsamic Glazed Salmon

Taken from America’s Test Kitchen Light & Healthy 2010.
Makes for 2.



Ingredients:
Salmon:
2 skinless center-cut salmon fillets about 1 ½ inches thick
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1 tsp oil

Glaze: 
¼ cup orange juice
3 TBSP balsamic vinegar
2 TBSP honey
1 TBSP white vinegar
1/ tsp red pepper flakes
1 dash of rosemary

Directions:

Salmon:
  1. Pat the salmon fillets dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a 12-inch non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.  Carefully lay salmon, skinned-side up, in the skillet and cook until well browned on the first side, about 5 minutes.  Flip the salmon and continue to cook until the sides are opaque and the thickest part is cooked, 3-5 minutes longer.
  2. Transfer the salmon to a platter, tent loosely with foil, and let rest while making glaze.
Glaze:
  1. Whisk the oj, balsamic vinegar, honey, white vinegar, pepper flakes, and rosemary together in a small bowl.  Wipe out the skillet with a wad of paper towels and return to medium heat.  Add the glaze to the skillet, bring to a simmer, and cook until the glaze is thick and syrupy, and reduced to about ¼ cup – about 5 minutes.
  2. Spoon glaze over salmon and serve.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps


My track record for eating green leafy veggies has been less than stellar. I know I'm not going to get any gold stars any time soon, however, I am making more of an effort to eat a variety of veggies. My trick is usually much like that of a child where the meat-veggie ratio is slightly skewed - or the veggies are in some type of sauce and hidden well. I know - you are allowed to shake your head in shame. I am learning. 

Proof of my expansion of things that are green is this dish.  Think of it like eating a taco - be careful not to fill the lettuce leaves too much or you will be having one very big mess! 


Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps
Taken from America’s Test Kitchen Light & Healthy 2010.
Makes for 4.

Ingredients:
1 ½ cups water
1 cup short-grain rice, such as sushi rice, rinsed
3 TBSP fish sauce
3 TBSP fresh lime juice
2 TBSP grated lime zest
1 ½ TBSP brown sugar
1 tsp. Cornstarch
1 pound of ground chicken
2 tsp. Oil
1 Thai or jalapeno chile, stemmed, seeded, and minced
¼ up fresh basil
3 green onions, sliced
12 Bibb or Boston lettuce leaves (about 1 head)

Directions:
  1. Bring the water and rice to a boil in a medium pot over high heat.  Cover, reduce the heat to low and cook for 10 minutes. Remove the rice from the heat and let sit, covered, until tender, about 15 minutes.
  2. While the rice sits off the heat, whisk the fish sauce, lime juice, brown sugar, and cornstarch together in a small bowl and set aside.
  3. Heat the oil in a frying pan on medium heat. Add the chicken, chile, and lime zest and cook, breaking up the meat into small pieces, until the chicken is no longer pink, about 5 minutes. 
  4. Whisk the fish sauce mixture to recombine, then add it to the skillet and cook, stirring constantly, until the sauce has thickened, about 45 seconds.  Remove from heat, and stir in the basil and green onions. 
  5. In assembling these lettuce wraps:
    1. Use lettuce leaf as a base
    2. Place a few spoonfuls of rice
    3. Cover with chicken mixture
    4. Eat like a taco!

I was skeptical about this actually turning out – but it did and is even excellent leftover. Enjoy!


Monday, 17 October 2011

Giant Chocolate Oat Cookie Wedges


A couple of years ago I stumbled across this recipe and it's become a staple of my hiking trip treats ever since.  It's a hearty snack and is compact enough to take a few wedges in your backpack without worrying about it getting smooshed to bits! It's also versatile so you can serve it warm, crumble it and have just a touch of ice cream or cream. Whichever way you let this GIANT cookie crumble, I promise you you'll be eating every last crumb! 

Giant Chocolate Oat Cookie Wedges
Taken from www.robinhood.ca website.

Makes 12 (if you want your wedges smaller you will get more out of it - but remember - it's called Giant Chocolate Oat Cookie Wedges for a reason!)


Ingredients:

3 cups quick oats
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 egg
1/4 milk or water
1 tsp vanilla
1 pkg (about 350g) of chocolate chips (it calls for semi-sweet but I used milk chocolate)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine oats, flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.

Cream butter, sugars, egg, milk, and vanilla in large mixer bowl on a medium speed until light and creamy.  

Gradually add flour mixture on low speed, mixing until blended.

Stir in chocolate chips.

Press dough frimly into a greased springform pan.

Bake for 35-40 minutes until light and golden.

Cool in pan on wire rack ( I have trouble with this waiting idea so you can take it out and cut it but remember - you run the risk of having the whole thing crumble)

Once cooled - cut into wedges to serve

Yum! You can also substitute chips to peanut butter, butterscotch, etc.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Fresh Salsa & Guacamole


I know I've bottled salsa - but when you have the time and fresh ingredients it's hard to resist.  As it is, I'm convincing myself to look at ingredients I have in the house so I don't make another trip back to one of my favorite places. . . the farm! I can't promise I won't go there again this weekend :)

Fresh Tomato Salsa

Taken from www.epicurious.com/

Makes about 2 cups.

Ingredients:
 ¾ pound tomatoes (about 2 medium), seeded, and finely diced (1 ½ cups)
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
¼ cup finely chopped white onion
1 small fresh jalapeno or Serrano chile, finely chopped, included seeds (the more seeds the more heat!) It's helpful to wear gloves here remember.
1 TBSP freshly squeezed lime juice
½ tsp fine salt, or 1 tsp kosher salt

Directions:
Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl. Season to taste with additional chile, lime juice, and salt. 
This salsa keeps in the fridge for just a day or two.  Before you serve it, stir it well drained of any excess liquid that has accumulated in the bowl.


Guacamole

Taken from America’s Test Kitchen 2001-2010. 

Makes 2 ½ to 3 cups.

 
Ingredients:
 3 medium ripe avocadoes
¼ cup minced fresh cilantro leaves
2 TBSP minced onion
1 small jalapeno chile, stemmed seeded, and minced
1 medium garlic clove, minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 1 tsp)
½ tsp ground cumin (optional)
dash of salt
2 TBSP juice from freshly squeezed lime

Directions:
  1. Halve 1 avocado, remove the pit, and scoop out the flesh in a medium bowl. Mash the flesh lightly with the cilantro, onion, jalapeno, garlic, cumin, and ¼ tsp of salt with the tines of a fork until just combined. (see picture for dicing avocado for cubes)
  2. Halve, pit, and cube the remaining 2 avocados.  Add the cubes to the bowl with the mashed avocado mixture. 
  3. Sprinkle the lime juice over the diced avocado and mix the entire contents of the bowl lightly with a fork until combined but still chunky.  Season with salt, if necessary, and serve
  4. This guacamole can be kept in the fridge a couple of days.


Enjoy with some nachos! 

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Thanksgiving

Megs has found one!
Megs and I went pumpkin hunting. Thanksgiving is enjoying the crisp fall air and picking out the perfect pumpkin while you dodge the running kids at the farm.  

After being overwhelmed with drool-inducing smells wafting from the farm bakery, we headed home and began the festivities of spending hours in the kitchen getting ready for our big meal.  Of course, you need some tasty appetizers and some wine do to this so you don’t pine away before supper is actually ready!  Today’s fall favorites are brought to you from Megs.




Megs’ Recipe Corner

Salmon Dip

Makes approximately 1 ½ cups.

Ingredients:

1 block of cream cheese
1-2 TBSP of horseradish
1 tsp of dill
1 cup of smoked salmon

Directions:


Place all ingredients in a bowl and mash/stir with a fork until combined. Serve with your favorite crackers or Paris Toasts. Highly addictive!



Whole Berry Cranberry Sauce


Recipe taken from Ocean Spray.
Makes approximately 2 ¼ cups.

 
Ingredients:

1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 package (340g) fresh or frozen cranberries (we used fresh!)

Directions:
Mix water and sugar in a medium saucepan; stir to dissolve sugar.  Bring to a boil; add cranberries, return to boil. You will hear them popping and this is normal :) Reduce heat, boil gently for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Cool completely at room temperature and refrigerate. 



















Cranberry Surprise Cake
Handed down from Megs' Mom.


Ingredients:

3 cups cranberries
½ cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup flour
¾ cup melted butter

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325.

Grease a 10” pie plate. Spread cranberries over bottom of pie plate. Sprinkle with the ½ cup sugar.

Beat the eggs, add the brown sugar gradually. Beat until blended.

Stir the flour and butter into the egg / sugar mix.

Pour the batter over the cranberries.

Bake  45 – 60 minutes.  It takes closer to 60 minutes if you are using frozen cranberries, rather than fresh.



More from our festivities...




Sweet Potato Casserole, Cranberry Sauce, Mashed Potatoes, Turnip, Carrot, & Cranberry Dressing

Turkey

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Apple Cinnamon Butterscotch Muffins


Company is coming for Thanksgiving weekend. I’m so excited that my friend Meagan is visiting! Beside the classic Thanksgiving dinner that will be served – I want to make sure that there are ample delicacies for other meals and snacks.  I’ve decided that Apple Cinnamon Butterscotch Muffins are just the thing to kick off the weekend of fun.
However, despite my good intentions, I baked a beautiful batch that also include pecans that she cannot eat :( I will have them all to myself! Looks like this year’s sweet potato casserole will not have pecans on top either! This muffin recipe is adapted from the blog http://annies-eats.net/.
I’m off to cook the turkey and will post pics of the delicious food and a spotlight on some of Meagan’s great recipes too!
Apple Cinnamon Butterscotch Muffins
Makes about 16 muffins.
Ingredients:
2½ cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

½ tsp. salt

1¼ tsp. ground cinnamon

¾ cup old-fashioned oats

8 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature

½ cup packed brown sugar

2/3 cup applesauce

2 large eggs
1½ tsp. vanilla extract

1 cup milk

¾ cup butterscotch chips

¾ cup chopped apples
1/3 cup toasted pecans, chopped
Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Line the wells of two muffin pans with paper liners (about 16 liners total).  Set aside.
In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.  Mix lightly with a fork to blend.  Stir in the oats.  In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until light and smooth, 1-2 minutes.  Beat in the applesauce, eggs and vanilla extract until incorporated.  With the mixer on low speed, mix in the dry ingredients in three additions alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients and beating just until incorporated.  Fold in the butterscotch chips, apples, and toasted pecans with a rubber spatula.
Butterscotch Chips
Divide the batter evenly between the prepared muffin cups.  If desired, press a dried apple slice into the top of the batter in each cup.  Drizzle lightly with maple syrup and sprinkle with sugar.  Bake about 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.



Delicious!


I did manage to package some in some fun Halloween bags for some friends.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Sweet Potato Casserole


The winner is in! Sweet potato casserole is a favorite side for “cooked dinner” more commonly known as turkey dinner.  Please don’t forget to cook your potatoes and other veggies for Thanksgiving too!  I never grew up on this dish, but have recently added it to my Thanksgiving and Christmas repertoire simply because it is so delicious. The first time I made it, I didn’t add pecans and regretted it.  The pictures I have posted are without pecans – so this year I am definitely adding them! I will add those pics once I have made the dish this weekend!  
Also, remember this is a sweet dish so don’t add too much sugar because it can be ruined if you’re not taking in to account the natural sweetness of the potatoes.  Taste along the way to make sure it’s to your liking. Adapted from “America’s Test Kitchen 2007”. 
Sweet Potato Casserole
Ingredients:
7 pounds (6-8 medium sized sweet potatoes, of equal size)
Streusel:
5 TBSP unsalted butter, cut into 5 pieces and softened, plus more for the pan
½ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
Imagine with crunchy pecans!
This year's photos will be posted after Sunday!
½ cup packed dark brown sugar
¼ tsp salt
1 cup pecans 
Filling:
5 TBSP unsalted butter, melted
2 tsp salt
½ tsp ground nutmeg
½ tsp pepper
1 TBSP vanilla extract
4 tsps fresh lemon juice
4 large egg yolks
1 ½ cups half-and-half cream
Directions:
1. Sweet Potatoes:
Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat the oven to 400 degrees. Poke the sweet potatoes several times with a fork and space evenly across the rack.  Bake the potatoes, turning them once, until they are very tender and be squeezed easily with tongs – 1-1 ½ hours.

Remove the potatoes from the oven and cut in half lengthwise to let the steam escape; cool at least 10 minutes.  Scoop out flesh into bowl – there should be 8 cups.   Reduce the oven temperature to 375. 

** This step can be done 2 days ahead.  Simply scrape the flesh from the skins and refrigerate in an airtight container**

2.  For the Streusel:

While the potatoes are baking, butter a 13 x 9-inch baking dish. Mix the flour, brown sugar, and salt in a bowl, until well blended.  Sprinkle the butter pieces over the flour mixture and pulse until a crumbly mass forms. Use a slap-chop like device (or simply cut) the nuts coarsely.  Sprinkle the nuts over the mixture and pulse until combined but some large nut pieces remain. 

3. For the Filling:

Add the melted butter, salt, nutmeg, pepper, vanilla, and lemon juice to the potatoes and mix until smooth.  Taste for sweetness – it’s going to be pretty sweet so I wouldn’t add any sugar. However if you think it needs some add up to 4 TBSP of granulated sugar if necessary (be careful you don’t make it too sweet! Remember the streusel topping is quite sweet enough! ); add yolks.  With the mixer running add the half-and-half cream until blended and transfer to the bowl with the potato pieces and stir gently to combine. 
4.  To Assemble & Bake:
Pour the filling into the prepared baking dish and spread into an even layer with a spatula.  Sprinkle with the streusel, breaking up any large pieces with your fingers.  Bake until the topping is well browened and the filling is slightly puffy around the edges, 40-45 minutes.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Cheese & Chicken Enchiladas


This has been a favorite dish since since second year university when my friend Melanie introduced it to me.  She used to always serve them as bite-sized appetizers at parties by slicing the enchiladas and having them secured with a toothpick. Now that undergrad days are far away, I serve it as a supper-time meal. It tastes even better if you're feeling festive and are drinking a margarita!

Makes 6.

These enchiladas are quick and easy after a long day at work.  If you like it on the spicy side - substitute the medium salsa to hot and throw in 1/4 cup of chopped jalapeƱos.

Cheese & Chicken Enchiladas

Ingredients:
1 medium chopped onion
2 TBSP olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped chicken
1/2 cup medium salsa
125g light cream cheese (about half the size of a normal package)
1 tsp ground cumin ( 1 1/2 if you like a stronger flavor)
1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese
White flour tortillas (can substitute for other flavors)

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Heat oil and onions on medium heat in pan until onions are translucent (about 2 minutes)
3. Add chicken and cook until done; add 1/2 tsp cumin
4. Stir in cream cheese and 1 cup of cheddar cheese until melted
5. Stir in 1/4 cup of salsa (save what's left for topping)
6. Once it is mixed into a cream-like sauce, turn off burner and place chicken mixture into the centre of each tortilla and roll up. Place seam side down in a 12 x 18 baking dish.  
7. Top with remaining salsa and cheddar cheese.
8. Bake for 15 minutes.

Serve with sour cream for dipping!