Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Blueberry Streusel Muffin Cake

You know the story...muffin meets cake, cake digs the muffins stusely topping, muffin digs the cake's no nonsense form.  They like, hit it off.  Add to the mix some blueberries, and the rest as they say, is history. 

My hubby never met a blueberry concoction that he didn't love.  This muffin cake, is no exception.  I ended up skipping the glaze, mostly because I forgot all about it, and the result was no less delicious.  There is heaps of streusel, which if you haven't already noticed from past posts, is second in line to blueberries in terms of my husbands affection.
This recipe could easily be made back into plain ol' muffins,  but give the muffin cake a whirl!  It makes Sunday breakfast that much fancier.  Promise.

Blueberry Streusel Muffin Cake
Recipe adapted from: Cookies and Cups

3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons butter, room temperature

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup butter, room temperature
3/4 cup milk
1 egg
2 1/2teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups fresh blueberries

Glaze (optional)
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon milk

Preheat the oven to 375.  Use about a 9 inch Springform pan, and spray or grease, and set aside.
In a medium bowl combine all the Crumb ingredients using a fork until they are blended. Set aside.
In a large bowl or cake stand cream together the butter, & sugar. Whisk the egg into the milk, and then add that into the butter.  Add the Flour salt, and baking powder all at once, and mix all ingredients until just combined.  Lastly, gently fold in the blueberries.
Spread the cake batter into the prepared pan and top evenly with the prepared steusal topping.
Bake for 40-50 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Allow the cake to cool for 10 minutes in the pan, before loosening  the edges from the pan with a knife, then remove the sides of the pan.
For the glaze mix together all the ingredients together until smooth and then drizzle on top of the cake.  Serve warm, and keep any leftovers in a air-tight container.


Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Baked Onion Pakoras

Are you feeling bombarded and mass guilt by all the friggin' cleanses and detoxes being pushed in your face right now?  Ya, me too!  My Instagram feed is basically non-stop smoothies or those Skinny Tea Detox ads, Oi!  I'm not really a big New Years resolution maker, but I do believe in a healthy lifestyle...with treats too!  Balance y'all!  That being said, I am about 3 weeks away from heading out for a wee cruise vacation.  I cannot wait!  I have been working my butt off for months now, and not getting ANYWHERE on the scale, so to say the least, I am feeling a little frustrated.

Have you ever heard the term, "you can't out train a bad diet"?  I have decided it was time to listen to that phrase. I mean, I was working out twice a day, and getting nowhere, so it's time to switch it up.
I got really spoiled this Christmas, and received a Fitbit, which is great for tracking my workouts, heart rate, and steps I take in a day.  I actually had to get a new phone to accommodate the Fitbit (oh darn;)), as my old one couldn't upgrade to OS 8.  But the most valuable thing I've added to my routine, is the My Fitness Pal app, which is available for free, with the option to upgrade.  With the My Fitness Pal app I'm able to input everything I eat in a day, and the app breaks it down into calories, fat, carbs, protein, macros etc.  I always thought I was eating really healthy, and once I log it into the app I can see I really I DO eat healthy, for me the big culprit turns out to be it those little bites in-between meals that's taking me over my daily allotment.  Especially those "healthy" energy balls, which I should just have one of, instead of 3!
Between the Fitbit and My Fitness Pal, I am accountable for all the energy I expend, and all the food I take in, so I'm hoping this is what makes a difference for my 2016.  If I was to make a new year's resolution, it would be to feel more comfortable in my own skin...or at least my skinny jeans!

One treat I have been having mad cravings for is Indian food!  I want all the butter chicken, naan, samosas and pakoras!  Once I thought about it though, pakoras aren't all that bad an option, if you take away the deep frying.  They're filled with yummy spices, and the use of chick pea flour means they're also gluten-free.  I have made these both by oven baking them, and just dolloping the batter onto a pan as you would a pancake, and I really enjoyed them both ways.  While not as crisp as the traditional deep fried Pakoras, they at least have all the flavours I crave, without the guilt...just have like one or two at a time...not the whole plate!

Baked Onion Pakoras

1 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted
2 medium onions, sliced
1 cup chick pea flour Chana/besan
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 green chili thinly sliced ( or 2, depending on how spicy you like it)
1 teaspoon ginger, minced
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped (or 1/2 for more flavour!)
1/2 - 3/4 water

Preheat oven to 425.  Lightly grease a baking sheet or line with parchment paper, and set aside.
Add to a medium-high heat pan the cumin seeds, sautéing to prevent burning.  Add to the same pan the sliced onions, cooking until just soft.
Removed from heat and allow to cool slightly, 5-10 mins, enough time to prepare the batter. 
Using a Medium sized bowl mix chickpea flour, baking powder, chili, ginger, garlic, salt, and cilantro.  Next add water little by little, until a thick batter is achieved. Add cooled onions and cumin seeds, and stir into batter.
Add pakora batter to prepared baking sheet, in large drops, as you would cookies, and bake 15-20 minutes, flipping halfway.  The batter also works great, pan fried, as you would a pancake!  Serve alongside a yummy chutney, with a cup of slightly sweetened chai yummmm


Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Butterscotch Confetti Squares

The last couple of years I've sold my holiday baking at a few different Christmas Craft markets, which requires a heck of allot of time, and ingredients, and passion!  I think I got a little baked out.  As a result, I didn't sign up for any markets this year, and have done very little baking, even just for personal.  Very little for me anyways!
I actually didn't think that I'd manage to post prior to Christmas.   We've been plagued by one virus after another, and frankly, I'm pooped.  Chatting with some of the girls at work, this is a commonality.  We're all just like, totally tuckered out!  So my Christmas wish for you all is to get time to enjoy the little things, and make time for what gives you joy! 

Do you do a big dessert for your Christmas dinner?  I opt not for cake or pie, but put out a big ol' platter that my fam can nosh on all day and night if they so desire.  One treat that I absolutely must make for my Christmas platter, are these Butterscotch Confetti Squares.  No Christmas grinchy mood could stop me from making these squares,  they are my sister's favourite, and I hope that I bring her tummy joy with each bite, and now yours too!

Butterscotch Confetti Squares

2 cups (1 300g bag) butterscotch chips
1 cup smooth peanut butter (crunchy would work in a pinch)
1/2 cup butter
1 bag (400g) mini multi-coloured marshmallows

Have ready a large baking pan (9 x 9 or 9 x 13), lined with parchment paper or foil.  Using a large, heavy saucpan, heat the first 3 ingredients on lowest heat, stirring often, until chips are almost melted. Remove from heat, and continue to stir until smooth.  Add marshmallows, stirring until just coated. Pour into the prepared pan, and push down gently, use wet fingers if needed.  Chill until firm, and cut into squares.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Pumpkin Streusal Muffins (or Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins)

 Well, the snow has fallen before I managed to share a pumpkin recipe with you...but it's not too late is it?  I personally, enjoy pumpkin spice flavours all year long.  Certainly, more in the winter months though.  On our trip to Las Vegas last month we stopped in at a Trader Joe's, holy moly does that place go crazy on the pumpkin spice theme!  We only got on the plane with carry-on luggage, so I couldn't purchase any pumpkin spice cookie butter, but I did manage to smuggle some yummy chocolate & Cherries trail mix, pumpkin spiced pumpkin seeds, Pumpkin Bars; Oh, and some really beety Root Juice which I enjoyed while Cory had breakfast a Jack in the Box.  Cory's vacation goals include eating at every possible state-side fast food place...he has his goals, I have mine;)

I had an epiphany of a pumpkin breakfast cookie, inspired and filled with the pumpkin spiced pumpkin seeds acquired from Trader Joe's, along with oats, and cranberries; while being both sugar and gluten-free, and vegan to boot.  ...they turned out like hockey pucks!  I still ate them, 'cuz food waste makes me crazy, but the recipe was not at the calibre to share, I'll keep working on it.

I don't believe I've ever shared this Pumpkin Streusal Muffin recipe, and it's one that is a family favourite.  Sunday mornings are for baking muffins while listening to the CBC, it's my happy place.  I also love knowing that of the muffins I bake, whatever is not eaten for breakfast that day, will fill their lunch boxes throughout the week.
So in catering to their specific tastes, I usually make these 2-ways: Large muffins covered with streusal for Cory, and mini-muffins filled with chocolate chips for the kids.  The mini-muffins are easier for the kids to grab and go if they just want to snack on them at home, and they fit perfectly in the little containers I use for their school lunch, making it a litter-less lunch box! Bonus!  One batch can be stretched to accommodate one regular size, and one mini size muffin tray...that's two total.  I've also made it into one large loaf for sharing at a staff meeting, this recipe is just so versatile.  It's also a little lower in fat than traditional muffin recipes, with only one-quarter cup in the mix (minus the streusal). I hope your family enjoys this as much as mine does!

Pumpkin Streusal Muffins (or Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins)

2 cups white whole wheat or all-purpose flour (I use a cup of each)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1 (398ml) can pumpkin puree
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup(ish) chocolate chips - optional

2 Tablespoons butter, room temperature
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare muffin tins or loaf pan by greasing and set aside.
Make the streusal by using a fork to mash together all of the ingredients until they are evenly combined and crumbly.  Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt.
In a large bowl, mix together the pumpkin, butter, eggs, and vanilla, until well combined. Add this dry ingredients to the wet, and stir until just combined.

Fill the prepared muffin tins or loaf pan with the batter until they are each 2/3 full. Top with a tablespoon or so of the crumbled streusel topping.
If making chocolate chip muffins, fill regular size tin first, then add chocolate chips to remaining batter, and fill the mini tins, skipping the struesal step.  Or, skip the streusal all together for pumpkin chocolate chip muffins!
Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of a muffin comes out clean.  Allow to cool slightly before removing muffins from tins, and transferring to wire rack to cool completely.


Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Fudgey layered Cookies n' Cream Ice Cream Cake

At this point I have written and re-written this recipe 4 times!!  Stoopid computer, and kinda stoopid me, for not thinking of Copying the whole text when it wouldn't save!  Ughhhhh.  I started writing this shortly after Sloane's Birthday back in the middle of September.  Since then we have taken a totally spontaneous trip to Las Vegas(!), hung out with artists at the Tattoo convention, and nursed hangovers from the after party!  All this crazy memory making plus all of our normal hectic schedules, hasn't left much time inbetween for being IT professionals, so please for give my tardiness;)
I'm kinda over this cake after writing about it repeatedly, but I also want to get past this recipe and onto pumpkin before I miss fall food altogether, so I'm going to post this fantastic Ice Cream Cake before it snows!

How many of you ask your child, what kind of cake they would like for their birthday, and they respond: "Ice Cream Cake".  For both of my kids, and most of my friend's children as well, this is the response.  I can make any cake they should desire (probably), and they want me to go to DQ, and spend an astronomical amount.  For Sloane's 11th birthday, we created a Build your own Sundae Buffet, kinda thing, in lieu of buying an ice cream cake.  This past September Sloane turned 13!!  still blows my mind that I have a teenager now.  Wild.  Of course, her response for birthday cake ideas, was the same: Ice Cream Cake. Granted DQ does a yummy I copied it.

It cost a fraction of what DQ charges for their cakes, plus I could customize it a bit.  Our favourite part of an ice cream cake is that fudgey layer, so I made 2 fudgey layers!  I still need to save on time, so I didn't make the brownies from scratch, and the cookies that I crumbled were store bought, as was the fudge sauce.  Even still, I think it came together really quick, and would be easily to swap ingredients to play with different flavours. Ummmm peanut butter cups, anyone?! 

I did all my shopping at No Frills, for the most part I always will opt for the no name product, unless the brand names are on sale, luckily for me their were lot's of good deals on ice cream that week! Breyers Ice Cream was on sale, I believe it was $2.96 for the Chocolate, the Oreo Birthday Cake Ice Cream was also on sale, $3.96, the PC old fashioned dark chocolate fudge sauce was about $2.50, cream filled cookies were $2.26, and no name brownies were $2.19, no name frozen dessert topping $2.50.  I already had eggs and oil to make the brownies, and sprinkles in the pantry, but still this fancy schmancy, and delicious ice cream cake, came together for about $20.00! Not too shabby!

Fudgey layered Cookies n' Cream Ice Cream Cake

1 box brownie mix (plus ingredients required)
1 container chocolate ice cream
1 container Cookies n' cream ice cream
1 jar fudge sauce
1 sleeve(ish) cream filled cookies, smashed
1 container Frozen whipped topping (Cool Whip)
canned whipped Cream, optional garnish
sprinkles, optional garnish
extra smashes cookies, optional garnish

I used a 6-inch round springform pan, greased and lined it with parchment, and baked the brownies the day prior - leave at least enough time for the brownies to cool completely.  When I was ready to assemble, I removed the ice cream(s) from the freezer so they could soften slightly, then removed the brownie from the pan, and cut it through the middle horizontally.  I placed one half back in the bottom of the same springform pan (no need to wash!), then covered it with a layer of the fudge sauce, spreading it as evenly as possible, followed by a generous amount of smashed cookies.  Next I emptied the container of chocolate ice cream, and pushed/spread it out to the edges, careful not to disturb the brownie-cookie layer.  Add another brownie-fudge-cookie layer, followed by the cookies n' cream ice cream, and then place the whole thing in the freezer to harden for at least 4 hours, if not overnight. 

Remove from the freezer, and release the tension ring from the springform pan, I left my cake right on the bottom of the pan, but you could also transfer it to the serving plate/platter of your choosing.

Cover the whole top and bottom of cake with a layer of the whipped topping (Cool Whip), I happened to also have a can of Whipped cream in the fridge, so I added a decorative ring around the top, and filled the middle-top with more crushed cookies and sprinkles.  **My fancy addition of whipped cream melted/slid off in the freezer, so this step could always wait until ready to serve.**
Place the cake in in the freezer until ready to serve.  **this would be a good time to make it fancier with canned whipped cream!**

Fancy trick for ease of slicing - Place a knife in a pint glass filled with hot water, or run it under the tap to heat the knife up to make your slicing smoother.


Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Chinese 5-Spice Pork with Nectarines

Happy Autumnal Equinox, Pals!  Today I wore a scarf and tall boots, even though the sun was shining, and there is a definite nip in the air.  Bring on cozy meals, and night time cuddles under quilts.  I'm ready!
This Chinese 5-Spice Pork with Nectarines recipe is from a recently published cookbook I came across at the library, titled: Sheet Pan Suppers.  This cookbook has a great collection of  120 quick and easy week night meals, and also includes brunches, lunches and snacks!  Most of the recipes are fast enough to throw together on the fly, say... if it's gymnastics night?  Aaaand I think a sheet pan meal, counts almost as a one dish meal? Right?!  Gotta love a one dish meal!

I was immediately drawn this this recipe in particular, as I still have an abundance of late summer stone fruit, and pork in the freezer.  Plus, Chinese 5-Spice is Cory's fave!
I have also made this dish with apples, which was delish, so when nectarines disappear from the markets you have an alternate fruit.

Chinese 5-Spice Pork with Nectarines
Recipe adapted from: Sheet Pan Suppers Cookbook; By Molly Gilbert, pg 123

1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 Tablespoons rice vinegar
1 piece (2 inches) fresh ginger,finely grated
1 teaspoon Chinese five spice powder
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 large Pork tenderloin, chopped into chunks or approx 6 Pork Chops (preferably boneless)

3-5 nectarines pitted and sliced (wait until ready to cook) apples, peaches, or pears would also work in a pinch
1/4 cup chopped green onion (just the white & light green part of the bulb)

Whisk together the oil, sugar, soy sauce, vinegar, ginger, five spice powder, and sesame oil in a medium-size bowl until combined. Place the pork in a large zip-top bag or good sealing container, add the marinade. Turn the pork chops over in the marinade to coat fully. Place the bag or container in the refrigerator and let the chops marinate. In a pinch I've put this straight in the oven and it's still yummy, ideally you should marinate for at least 4 hours, and up to overnight.

Preheat the oven to 425°F.  Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper.
Transfer the marinated pork to the prepared sheet pan, spacing them evenly apart. Using the leftover marinade, place the nectarine slices into the marinade and toss to coat. Arrange the nectarines around and in between the pork.
Bake until the pork is cooked through and the nectarines have softened and browned, 20 to 30 minutes, flipping pieces at the half mark.


Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Dairy-Free Thai Corn Chowder & Fried Coconut Chicken

For as long as we've been living together (like, 14 years or something crazy?!), Cory has been asking to get a deep fryer.  I'm not even joking.  As much as I post recipes for cookies and bars and sweet treats, I am truly a naturalist at heart.  I am on the ever-quest for a lean body and good health.  I may not have a lean body, but I would consider my health pretty good.  So that being said, the idea of purchasing a deep fryer was not going to happen, ever. ever. ever...not by me any ways.
Cory decided to skip over my vote, and go out and buy one! GAH!!!
The hard part for me is that I LOVE to experiment with new foods, and recipies, and equipemnt.  Soooo the menu over the last couple weeks has been  mid-way esque!  Deep fried oreos, pop tarts, mushrooms, vegetables, pickles, etc etc.  we even have chcolate bars in the freezer waiting for their turn.  Le sigh - I admit itIt's been kinda fun!  And of Course Cory and the kids have been over the moon!

Stay tuned, maybe I'll share some more of our sweet experiments.  Here's one of the savoury ones:
Thai Corn Chowder with Deep Fried Coconut Chicken!  Because corn is in season in Alberta, and why the heck not take a Corn Chowder to the Thai side?!  It's deeeelsih, super satisfying while being light with just a little bit of heat to it.  And for the man in my life, DEEEEP-Fried!

Inspired by these two amazing recipes for corn chowder: one from Half Baked Harvest, and the other from Shutterbean.  If you need a tutorial on how to shi=uck your corn like a pro, The Kitchn has you covered!

Dairy-Free Thai Corn Chowder

2 Tablespoons olive or coconut oil
1 medium onion chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
1 Tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
1 lemongrass stalk, chopped
1 Tablespoon red Thai curry paste
1 jalepeno or red thai chile, seeds removed + chopped
4 cups chicken broth
1 potato, peeled + cubed into small pieces
4 cups fresh or frozen corn, I used 3 Cobbs from Taber, Alberta
1 can full fat coconut milk
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper... or S&P to taste

fresh chopped cilantro, basil, lime, fish sauce, sweet Thai chili sauce, for serving

Fried Coconut Chicken
1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt + pepper
2 eggs
3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
1 1/3 cups shredded coconut, unsweetened or sweetened
3 or 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, sliced into strips
coconut or canola oil, for frying

Shuck your corn, and run a sharp knife down the cobb, to release the kernels, set aside the kernels, and reserve a cobb or two.
Heat a large soup pot over medium heat and add the olive oil. Once hot, add the onion, garlic, ginger, lemongrass and chile or jalepeno, and thai chili paste. Cook for 1-2 minutes or until fragrant and soft. Slowly pour in the chicken broth and add the potato. Simmer, uncovered for about 15 minutes or until the potato is fork tender (this is when I start making the chicken), and my special trick is to leave one or two of the stripped corn cobbs in the broth to add flavour.
Add the corn kernels, coconut milk, and salt & pepper, cooking until the corn kernels are tender and bright yellow, about 5 minutes.  If you don't dig a "chunky" soup, use a hand held blender and puree away!
Remove the soup from the heat and top with your fave garnishes: basil, cilantro, fish sauce, lime, and/or sweet thai chili sauce, and of course your Fried Coconut Chicken!  Divide the soup among bowls and serve immediately. Recipe below!

Coconut chicken:  Use boneless, skinless chicken breasts sliced into strips.  Get ready your dredging stations - Add the flour, salt + pepper to a shallow bowl. Add the eggs to another bowl and gently beat together. Add the Panko and coconut to a third bowl, mixing them to combine.  Working in an assembly line, first dip the chicken through the flour, then take it for a dip in the egg and then dredge it through the coconut crumbs. Place on a plate and repeat with the remaining chicken.  Heat a heavy bottomed, high-sided skillet over medium heat and add enough oil to cover the bottom and 1-2 inches up the sides. Once the oil is hot (BUT NOT SMOKING), add the chicken in batches, frying each about 2-3 minutes per side or until the chicken are light golden. Place the fried coconut chicken pieces on a plate lined witha papertowel and until all chcien is fried up. Serve the fried coconut chicken warm atop the soup along with your fave garnishes.