Sunday, January 31, 2010

Reverse Chocolate Chippers

Oops... I see now that when I first posted this, I forgot the flour in the recipe :P I hope that there aren't too many people who have tried it since then (as this is a fabulous recipe!!). Here's the real complete recipe (thanks Alanna!!).

This recipe comes from Canadian Living's Best Muffins and More. This book was given to me as a gift and the inscription inside says "To Sleepy Owl, from the 2nd Bradford Brownies". Wow that was a long time ago... I must have been 15....

This is a favourite recipe. My sister Ashley and her friend Stephanie ate about 3 batches of these in a week once upon a time. All by themselves. I love to make it with peanut butter chips, though I'll use dark chocolate chips instead if anyone has an allergy.

1 C butter, softened
2 C granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 C flour
1 C unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking powder
1 salt
2 C white chocolate chunks
3/4 C coarsely chopped toasted hazelnuts

1. In large bowl, beat butter with sugar; beat in eggs and vanilla. Combine flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt; gradually stir into butter mixture. Stir in white chocolate and hazelnuts.

2. Drop by tablespoonfuls of dough, 2 inches apart, onto greased baking sheets. Bake in 350 degree Farenheit oven for 12 minutes or until centres spring back when lightly touched (cookies will be soft but will firm up when cooled).

Makes 3 dozen

Variation: double chocolate mint cookies: substitute peppermint chips for white chocolate chips and 1 C chopped pecans or walnuts for hazelnuts.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Fiber-Full Bran Pancakes

This is yet another recipe from Cook Great Food. This used to be my favourite post-run 'snack' when training for a half or full marathon. Nowadays, it's clearly way too much for a snack, and makes for a very filling breakfast. They're a really healthy fiber-full take on pancakes. And though they certainly aren't quite the same as the buttermilk pancakes you get when you go out for brunch, they're still delicious. I threw about a cup of frozen blueberries into these ones, but have done lots of variations, stirring in mashed banana, chopped apples and cinnamon, chocolate chips, etc. depending on what I'm feeling like. I also love to cover them with a mixture of fresh fruit. I usually cook up the whole batch and freeze the remainder.

3/4 C whole-wheat flour
1/2 C bran cereal flakes, crushed (I use natural wheat bran)
1/4 C wheat germ
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. salt
1 C milk
1 egg
1 egg white
1 tbsp. vegetable oil

1. In a medium bowl, combine flour, bran flakes, wheat germ, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

2. In a small bowl, blend together milk, egg, egg white and oil; stir into bran mixture until combined. Heat nonstick griddle or frying pan over medium heat. For each pancake, pour about 1/4 C batter onto griddle. Cook, turning once, for about 1 to 2 minutes per side or until golden.

Makes 8 pancakes.

Pad Thai

My good friend Teresa gave me this recipe many years ago. I used to make it quite frequently and for whatever reason one day just forgot all about it. I've just started making it again recently and love it just as much as I used to.

2-3 tbsp. vegetable oil
3 large cloves of garlic, minced
2 C rice noodles, soaked
2 tbsp. rice vinegar
2-3 tbsp. unsalted, dry roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1 tbsp. sugar
1 to 1 1/2 tbsp. peanut butter
1 C bean sprouts
2 green onions, cut into 1 inch lengths

For garnish: 
extra bean sprouts, scallions and peanuts
lime wedges to squeeze over each serving

General tips and hints:
- the key to mastering this dish is to cook in small batches. This maintains the proper proportion of flavours and allows you to better manage the noodles as you cook.
- preparation is also very important - have all of your ingredients and utensils set to go before you begin the first batch. The actual cooking time is very small - just a few minutes per batch. Do not overcook - your noodles will break and your sauce will become clumpy and gummy. Just get everything nice and hot and mix well.
- your wok must be super hot. Place wok over high heat for 1-2 minutes before adding sauce or oil.
- keep a glass of water within reach. If noodles start to stick together at any point, lower heat slightly and add a small splash of water to unstick.
- allow wok to cool after cooking a batch, wash clean, reheat and repeat the recipe.
1. Bring a pot of water to a boil, add noodles, cover and remove from heat. Soak approximately 7 minutes and drain.
2. Heat wok over high heat for 1-2 minutes.
3. Add oil and garlic, cook until golden. Watch carefully - do not burn.
4. Lower heat to medium, add noodles and cook, stirring with two spatulas to prevent sticking. Stir fry for 2 minutes. If noodles clump, lower heat and add 1 tbsp. of water.
5. Add vinegar and continue to cook, stirring for 1 minute.
6. Sprinkle peanuts, chili powder and sugar on noodle mixture. Stir and toss to mix. Add 1 to 1 1/2 tbsp. peanut butter; allow to melt and then stir to mix. Quickly mix in sprouts and green onions.
7. Set batch aside in a covered pot and keep warm until all batches are complete.
8. Garnish with additional sprouts, green onions, peanuts and lime.
This sounds complicated to make, but since the cooking time per batch is quite short, it really doesn't take that much time to make. And it's well worth it. I threw in some chicken when I made it, to add in some protein.

Bran Muffins

This recipe is another of my mom's classics. I remember sneaking into the freezer as a kid to eat these even frozen I like them so much! They're a fantastic recipe to make for big groups, as it makes 60 muffins. I often make this to bring camping for breakfasts for everyone. The uncooked mixed dough can also be kept in the fridge for up to 6 weeks (I know!), which means that you can mix up the whole batch and bake 6 or 12 at a time, depending on how big your family is. I usually tend to just cook up the whole batch and freeze them, though I have kept the dough in the fridge on occasion. The quantities of oil and sugar sound astounding, but keep in mind that it is spread out over 60 muffins.

These aren't typical bran muffins. Many people can't even recognize them as bran. And though I do like traditional bran muffins and also make them at times, this is a recipe that I really love. Perhaps it's quite related to childhood memories, as this is a recipe my mom used to make fairly often for us - it paid off, given that there were 6 in the family, these would actually stick around for awhile, unlike most recipes!

I usually just make my own buttermilk by adding 1 tbsp. of lemon juice per cup of regular milk and letting it stand for a few minutes. However, the recipe is better with buttermilk. I just usually don't have any on hand and can't be bothered going to get any. Today my husband happened to pick up the buttermilk at the grocery store. As they don't have it in France, he was curious as to what 'butter-milk' could possibly be. Which inspired me to whip up a batch of these.

2 1/2 C white sugar (I used 2 C)
1 tbsp. salt
5 1/2 C flour
5 tsp. baking soda
4 eggs
1 quart (1 litre) buttermilk
1 1/2 C cooking oil
1 C raisins
2 C All Bran
3 C Bran Flakes

1. Mix buttermilk and baking soda together, then oil and beaten eggs.

2. Add dry ingredients.

3. Mix together and bake at 400 degrees Farenheit for 15-20 minutes.

Vietnamese Noodle Salad

In keeping with my Thai cravings, I've been digging through my recipes to find any recipes that are almost remotely Thai... and have decided that Vietnamese is close enough to Thai to serve my cravings. So I just whipped up a batch of this to take in our lunches this week.

This recipe was given to my by my Aunt Liz, though it is originally one of Bonnie Stern's recipes. This recipe is great for my family, as everyone can eat it - nut and wheat free. As such, it makes a great addition to family camping trips. When camping, we usually leave out the chicken, so that we don't have to be super concerned about the keeping of it in the cooler. Otherwise, I always add the chicken in for some protein.

1/2 lb. spaghettini or rice vermicelli
1 lb. cooked diced chicken
1 English cucumber, chopped
1 grated carrot
1 sweet red pepper, chopped
3 green onions
1/2 C fresh cilantro (as always, I don't recommend leaving this out)

Lemon Sesame Dressing:
1 garlic clove
1 tsp. minced ginger
3 tbsp. Thai fish sauce
2 tbsp. hoisin sauce
3 tbsp. lemon juice
3 tbsp. water
1 tbsp. hot Thai sauce or 1/2 tsp. hot chili paste
1 tbsp. sesame oil

You can find Thai fish sauce and hoisin sauce in the Asian section of well-stocked grocery stores. Otherwise, you can definitely find both in Asian specialty grocery stores.

If you make this in advance, toss it with dressing at the last minute. Garnish with peanuts and coriander if there are no allergies.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Oatmeal Banana Bars

This recipe also comes from the cookbook 365 Great Cookies & Brownies cookbook that was given to me by Antonia back in first year of undergrad. Let's not do the math... I haven't made it often but wonder why I haven't made it more. It's quite tasty and quick to whip up.

6 tbsp. butter, softened
1/2 C firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 C mashed ripe bananas (about 2 medium)
1 egg
1/4 tsp. salt
2 C quick-cooking rolled oats (don't use old-fashioned)
1/2 C raisins or chocolate chips
1/2 C toasted slivered almonds (I've never made the effort to actually toast them, though I'm sure this would make it better)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit. Grease a 9-inch square pan. In a medium bowl, beat butter and brown sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed until creamy. Add mashed bananas, egg, and salt and beat until well blended.

2. Stir in oatmeal, raisins/chocolate chips, and almonds. Spread batter evenly in prepared pan.

3. Bake 25 to 30 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in centre comes out clean. Let cool on rack completely before cutting into 12 bars.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Chicken Coconut Curry Soup

Some of you may have noticed on facebook that I have been desperately searching for an authentic Thai restaurant somewhere near our place. It's gotten to the extent that it's perhaps detrimental to my marriage... I convinced my husband over the weekend to drive 45 minutes to try this little Thai restaurant I had found on-line (under the guise of looking at strollers). Sadly, the restaurant isn't open for lunch on the weekend, so my craving once again had to be put on hold.

I realized over the weekend though that I have a couple of excellent Thai recipes. Though they're not quite as good as what I'd get in a true Thai restaurant, it'll help hold me over until I've found what I'm searching for. Or until the next time I'm in Oakville and can go back to the fantastic restaurant we found there (I can't remember the name right now, but am sure I could hunt it down again if it came to it).

This is a great soup recipe and I make it lots during the winter for both lunches and suppers. It's great with a salad and/or homemade biscuit or roll.

1 tbsp. oil
4 tsp. curry paste
1 1/4 lb. chicken, cut
1 onion
1 red pepper, chopped
grated rind of 1 lemon
1 C light coconut milk
2 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
chicken broth (optional)
1/3 C fresh coriander

1. Heat oil. Stir-fry curry paste for 30 seconds. Add chicken and cook for 3 minutes. Add onion and cook for another minute. (I usually use the Shredded Chicken from my post of Dec. 18th. So I typically cook the pepper and onion until cooked and then stir in the curry paste and already cooked Shredded Chicken).

2. Add pepper and lemon rind and stir-fry for 1 minute or until onion is soft. (I typically cheat and use store-bought ground lemon rind, which you can usually find in the spices section of a well-stocked grocery store, such as Loblaws).

3. Stir in coconut milk, soy sauce and lemon juice and bring to a boil. I usually also add in a decent quantity of chicken broth, as I find that otherwise, the soup doesn't have enough broth to my liking.

4. Cook for 2 minutes or until liquid is reduced. Stir in coriander. (I always say this, but don't omit the fresh coriander unless absolutely necessary, as it really does contribute a lot of flavour to the soup.)

Chicken and Rice

This is another of my mom's recipes and is one of my husband's favourites. I'm starting to try to stock the freezer a bit here and there for the baby's arrival and figured it was in my best interests to make a batch of this, in case I'm particularly cranky one day from lack of sleep and need to make it up to my husband with one of his favourite meals ;)

We don't make this often, as it has quite a bit of butter/oil in it, so I don't find it particularly healthy. But I don't dare cut the fat out, as that's part of what makes it so good. So we typically make this maybe once or twice a year (usually when my husband begs for it).



1/4 C flour
1 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. ground thyme
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. turmeric
5-6 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
3 tbsp. butter
3 tbsp. olive oil
1 1/2 C uncooked long grain rice (I use long grain brown rice)
3 C chicken broth

1. Combine flour, paprika, thyme, salt and turmeric. Stir together so that the spices and seasonings are well mixed with the flour. Roll chicken pieces a few at a time in this mixture.

2. Brown a few pieces at a time in butter and olive oil over medium heat. Transfer chicken pieces to large casserole dish.

3. Add rice to the remaining fat in the pan. Stir until lightly browned, then pour over chicken. Pour chicken broth over the whole casserole.

4. Cover and bake at 350 degrees Farenheit for 1 hour.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Steel Cut Oatmeal

You can't even really call this a recipe, but I figured I'd post it anyhow, as I had to search the net for awhile to figure out how to cook steel cut oats when I first started buying them. I usually buy a big batch at the bulk food store. And because it takes so darned long to cook (I certainly don't have the patience to wait 30 minutes for my breakfast to be ready even on a weekend, never mind a work day!), I cook up a big batch from time to time and we then eat it all week. They're super cheap and this keeps you full all morning.

I started buying steel cut oats instead of regular oatmeal, as it's less processed and therefore, better for you than any other kind of oatmeal. They have a lower glycemic index than regular oatmeal as well, meaning that your blood sugar spikes less when you have these oats vs. regular oatmeal. And I kind of like the slightly nutty, just not quite crunchy texture of it more than regular oatmeal as well.

For cooking, the ratio of liquid to steel oats is 4:1. I generally make about 2 C of steel oats at a time, which fills a decent sized pot and gives us enough for the two of us to eat it for breakfast everyday for maybe 5 or so days. I used to make it with 4 C of water and 4 C of soy milk, but have been making it with a full 8 C of soy milk these days, as I find I'm usually starving again by 11 now that I'm pregnant!

You basically just heat the milk with a pinch of salt, stir in the oats and cook on low to medium heat until pretty much all of the milk has been absorbed. I'm not sure quite how long it takes, though it feels like forever... maybe 30 minutes? Stick around to stir it from time to time, or you'll end up with a burnt mess at the bottom of your pot. You can also stir in some cinnamon and a bit of brown sugar if your heart so desires.

I usually top it with blueberries (you can see from the picture that they're actually still frozen... this was for my husband's breakfast at work the next day). However, my friend Bev was recently mentioning that she puts cranberries on hers, so I tried that this week and it was delicious. Despite my reluctance (as cranberries don't usually rate amongst my preferred fruit) I tried her recipe this week, since I had some leftover from a punch I'd made over the holidays.

She basically cooks a bag of fresh cranberries in a bit of water for 3 minutes in the microwave and then stirs in a bit of sugar and some lemon juice. Though I didn't like these on their own, it was great in the oatmeal, as it counterbalanced the tartness of the cranberries.

Freezer-friendly: you just need to stir in a bit more milk once you re-heat this.

Muffins that Taste Like Donuts

We had a big discussion about the title of this recipe over the holidays as were were discussing potentially making them when all of my siblings were down. We came to the conclusion that it's because these muffins really do taste like donuts - though perhaps not quite as greasy. This is one of my mom's recipes and though it's not one that I remember her making all the time, all of us kids still love it. I don't make it often myself either, as it's not the healthiest of my muffin recipes, but it's a must on any family camping trip we do. I often triple the recipe before going camping, as these disappear in a flash.

1 3/4 C flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/3 C oil
3/4 C sugar (first amount)
1 egg
3/4 C milk
1/2 C melted butter
3/4 C white sugar (second amount)
1 tsp. cinnamon

1. Combine thoroughly oil, sugar, egg and milk. Add in flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon and stir to combine.

2. Bake at 350 degrees Farenheit for 20 to 25 minutes.

3. Shake muffins out immediately and while hot, dip in melted butter, then in sugar and cinnamon mixture (mixed together). (I tend to not take them out immediately, as I find that they fall apart if I do so.)

**For a delicious variation, fill tins 1/2 full of batter, put 1 tsp. jam on top and top with the rest of the batter.

I always put the jam in, as it's part of what makes them so darned good. You can use any kind of jam. Lately I've been using some black currant jam that I made a few years back, as it's way too bitter to actually eat on toast. But it's perfect in these muffins, as their sweetness offsets the bitterness of the jam. Though I tend to put a bit more than a tsp. of jam per muffin, be sure not to put in too much or to get the jam too close to the edge of the batter. Otherwise, the muffins won't hold together when cooked.

This recipe makes approximately 10-12 muffins.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Easy Chicken Tacos

This recipe is also from the 150 Best Slow Cooker Recipes cookbook and is made with the Shredded Chicken post that I did on Dec. 18/09. I often make a batch of the Shredded Chicken and then immediately make this recipe, without freezing the chicken, so that the leftovers can all go into the freezer. Those who know me well know that though we typically eat homemade food, I barely ever cook during the week. I always stock the freezer with recipes such as these and just add veggies and/or rice depending on what is necessary on busy work nights.

2 C refried beans, canned or homemade
4 jalapeno peppers, sliced
2 C Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (I used light old cheddar)
1 Shredded Chicken (since I use bone-in breasts instead of what is usually called for in the recipe for Shredded Chicken, I just throw in a decent amount, enough to make maybe 5 meals total for the two of us.)

1. In slow cooker stoneware, combine beans, peppers, cheese and shredded chicken. Cook on Low for 6 to 8 hours or on High for 3 to 4 hours, until hot and bubbly.

2. To make tacos, spoon filling into soft tortillas (wheat, or corn for gluten-free). Top with lettuce, tomato, onion, salsa, guacamole and sour cream, etc. Roll up and enjoy.

The recipe says serves 4 to 6, but I always put in lots of chicken. Today it made enough for 6 meals for 2 people in all.

Sadly, our crock pot has seen its last days and we will have to race out and get a new one, as I love using it throughout the winter. It's such a simple way to have a yummy home cooked meal ready at the end of the day with little effort. While making the Shredded Chicken, the broth that had formed leaked through the bottom of the crock pot (even though it's only 2 years old!) and all over our counters, ruining our kitchen counter for good. I guess that's just another excuse to get rid of that ugly white counter that stains so easily!!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Blue Ribbon Cheesecake

This recipe also comes from the cookbook 125 Best Cheesecake Recipes. I made it for the first time for our New Years party, but any of the recipes I've made from this cookbook have all been delicious.

1 1/4 C graham cracker crumbs
1/4 C unsalted butter, melted

4 packages (each 8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
1 1/4 C granulated sugar
4 eggs
3 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. vanilla

1/2 C sour cream
1/4 C granulated sugar
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp. vanilla

2 cups fresh strawberries, sliced

I don't recommend using light cream cheese for this recipe, unless perhaps you're just making it for yourself at home. And even then, I'd recommend just freezing it and eating it less often rather than using light cream cheese.

Crust: In a medium bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs and butter. Press into bottom of cheesecake pan and freeze (for a gluten-free version, just omit the crust altogether).

Filling: In a large mixer bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar on medium-high speed for 3 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Stir in lemon juice and vanilla. Pour over frozen crust. Bake in preheated oven for 45 to 55 minutes or until the top is light brown and the centre has a slight jiggle to it. Cool on the counter for 10 minutes (do not turn the oven off). The cake will sink slightly.

Topping: In a small bowl, combine sour cream, sugar, lemon juice and vanilla. Pour into centre or cooled cake and spread out to edges. Bake for 5 minutes more. Cool on a rack for 2 hours. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 6 hours before decorating.

Decoration: Top with sliced strawberries when completely chilled.

As strawberries were no longer in season, I defrosted some that we had picked over the summer, crushed them and added them to the top of the cheesecake (without adding any more sugar).

Some tips that I've just learned to avoid having your cheesecake crack:

- allow all ingredients to come to room temperature before using
- incorporate one egg at a time
- make sure oven is preheated
- remove the cheesecake from the oven while the centre still jiggles

Good luck! Though this is super easy to make and also freezes well.

Chickpeas in Curried Coconut Broth

This recipes comes from the cookbook Cooking Light Slow Cooker Cookbook, which I can't find anywhere on Chapters to put a link to. It may be one of those special editions that comes out on the magazine from time to time. In any case, I love this recipe and we almost always have some of this in our freezer for a meal in a pinch.


2 tsp. vegetable oil
1 1/2 C chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 (19 oz.) cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 (14 1/2 oz.) cans diced tomatoes, undrained
1 (14 oz.) can coconut milk (I use light)
1 tbsp. curry powder
2 tbsp. chopped pickled jalapeno pepper
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 C chopped fresh cilantro


1. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic; sauté 5 minutes or until onion is tender. Place onion mixture, chickpeas and next 5 ingredients (through salt) in a 3 1/2 quart electric slow cooker; stir well. Cover with lid; cook on low heat setting for 6 to 8 hours. Stir in cilantro. Serve over brown rice.

Makes 8 servings.

I typically leave the jalapeno peppers out of this, only because I don't usually have any on hand. I put them in last night, without really measuring out the 2 tbsp. and it was much too hot for even my husband, who loves spicy food. I left the fresh cilantro out yesterday, as I forgot to pick it up at the grocery story, but it really does add a lot of flavour to the recipe and I almost never leave it out (and don't recommend doing so).

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Brandi's Avocado Cranberry Salad

I have this recipe filed in my recipe book as 'Brandi's Salad', since it was given to me by my friend Brandi. She has a great collection of different excellent salad recipes that she's passed along to me over the years from a cookbook that she got a few Christmases back. The recipe is a bit different and the dressing is homemade, so it's nice to serve when having guests. It also takes only seconds to prepare. I just whipped up a batch for dinner a few seconds ago, since we had some avocados about to go bad in the fridge.

Brandi's Avocado Cranberry Salad

romaine lettuce
pumpkin seeds
dried cranberries

1/4 C seasoned rice vinegar
1/2 C olive oil
2 tbsp. mayonnaise
2 tsp. maple syrup

Using a good quality olive oil will make a big difference in this dressing. Costco has random companies in from time to time doing samples of their olive oils. Though they tend to cost at least double the price of the generic huge olive oil sold at Costco, it's well worth the investment. I always keep on hand both a good quality olive oil and the generic stuff and choose depending on the recipe I'm making (and whether or not there are guests over the show off to!).