Monday, January 17, 2011

To-do list

Today I have 1 million things to do.

I have 5 things on my to bake/cook list (and I have been having huge kitchen failures lately. Please not today)
and shopping to do and sister-in-laws to visit and parents to visit and a house to clean.

I do love feeling busy though. Its exciting to have so much to do. When I get feeling this productive I just feel like adding things like " go to the gym" , "clean the garage" , "reorganize the closet", "mow the lawn" you know all those sorts of things that just feel so good to get done. Only I do not think there is nearly enough time in a day, ( never mind today) to get all those things done.

By the way, gary and I are going on a ski trip on wednesday. Thats why everything is crazy.

I also bought seeds last week to start my garden in the spring. The lady though I was insane. She did. She thought I was going to go home and plant them! There was snow on the ground! Oh my. Maybe I already shared that story. I feel like I did. Im sorry.

Anyways I have to go do my to-do list. I am going to sweep the flour and make naniamo bars at the same time. I think its possible.

Friday, January 14, 2011

African Chow Mien

(PS. Im sorry, this was night time photography)

I have no idea what makes this dish "African" or what African food tastes like or if they even eat chow mien in Africa. But thats what this dish is called so thats just the way it is.
Basically this is stirfry but with hanburger and cans of condensed soup. Its comfort food in its finest. I love love loved it.

Back in...September I think it was, my sisters and cousins and friend ( ie, my wedding party) threw a hugeee and amazing bridal shower for me. It was great. They made SO much it was insane. They decided that the theme would be...Pioneer Woman. Because I read her site everyday. So naturally all of the food was made from pioneer woman recipes. We had pizza, pasta, salad, stuffed potatoes. I don't even remember it all. but it was delicious. AND my dear bridal party also spent hours on the Pioneer woman website finding funny quotes from her blog and copy and pasting them to a word document. Then they made them look pretty and printed them all out and used them as place cards. I wish I had taken pictures but it was such a surprise and I was so overwhelmed so I didn't take a single picture. I don't know it anybody did. Thats a shame. ( I am so so so so so bad at taking picture of momentous events like that. I always forget. Hence my new years resolution to take more pictures.) But it was a great night. Thank-you bridal party :)
Anyways, my whole point of that long story was to tell you how I acquired this recipe. In the invitations my sisters sent for this fabulous party, they included a recipe card for my guests to write a good recipe on that I might want to cook. That was so so so great because I can bake and make desserts till the cows come home, but dinner ideas are generally a little more tricky. It could be because my husband prefers to eat zero veggies and lots of : a) Bacon, b) Steak, c) Potatoes, d) Grilled Cheese sandwiches, e) Mini Pizzas ( like the McCain frozen ones..yucky) . He will eat anything I make though...mostly. Carrots are an absolute no go. He even picks them out of soup!
Anyways, a goood friend of mine, Kristi, wrote this recipe on my card. I think it was her mom's recipe. And then the other night I was so so so so so hungry (because I generally forget to feed myself if Gary isn't home)  and I was grummmpyyy and tired and really wanted some sort of comfort food. I was searching food blogs with no success and we have decided to not eat out for a while or order in. So we were going to starve or Gary was going to whip out the grill to make some gilled cheese sandwiches. I did not want to eat a grilled cheese sandwich. Then I remembered back in the day when I didn't rely on food blogs for recipe ideas and flipped open my recipe box. Tada! Great dinner ideas, that I know I like and that I know how to make. YAY. I found Kristi's recipe card and then jumped in car and went to the store to grab some chicken soup and some chow mien noodles. The evening just went up from there.

This is super easy! and yummy and warm and creamy and the prefect thing when you just want to lay on the couch and watch a movie or veg and read a book. If you keep chow mien noodles on hand, you probably have almost everything to make this for dinner tonight.
I served this with rice and a spinach salad ( with orange pieces, crasins and balsamic dressing) and french bread broiled with butter and some Parmesan cheese. It was delish and fast and yummy.

I say yummy waaayyy too much.

I have lots to say today, I am sorry. I am home alone this morning. I called my husband but he was busy...apparently he had to work or something...
Yesterday I talked so much, my jaw was sore when I went to bed. For real.

I just about posted this recipe without actually including the recipe. Haha.

African Chow Mien

1 lb Ground Beef/Hamburger Meat
1 medium Onion
2-3 Celery stalks
1 cup mushrooms ( or 1 cup or mushrooms)
1 tablespoon oil

1 can Condensed Mushroom Soup (284ml, 10 oz)
1 can Chicken Noodle Soup ( 284ml. 10 oz)
1-2 tablespoons Soya Sauce
1/2 bag Chow Mein Noodles. ( My bag was 397grams and I used about 1/2)
Salt and Pepper to taste

1) Fry up the first 5 ingredients in a large frying pan. Cook until meat is no longer pink and onions and celery are soft and opaque.
2. Add soups, soya sauce and salt and pepper. Mix in Chow Mien noodles. Cook till noodles are soft. ( I put a lid on my fry pan and that helped it cook faster.)
3. Serve over rice. (we did that the first night but the left overs we are without rice and they were just as good!)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Spelt, Carrot Healthy Muffins

Yesterday, I made three recipes that I will share here in the next couple of days. And they all have pictures! I am on the ball!
Todays recipe I made from a cook book I bought just before Christmas! Pioneer Woman had done a cookbook review about this book on another blog a couple of weeks before and I really loved the idea of cooking with a bit less refined ingredients. The book is called Good To The Grain : Baking With Whole Grain Flours by  Kim Boyce. I felt like it might be a good idea with my baking addiction, to at least be making things a little more healthy. So I went out and bought some whole grain flours. I bought spelt, millet, corn, whole wheat and was given some coconut and buckwheat flour. I have used a lot of buckwheat and whole wheat. Todays recipe was my first trial with spelt flour.

These are amazing muffins by the way.
Not amazing like chocolate mud pie cake amazing. Because nothing can really compare to making any chocolate dessert goodness. I made chocolate mud pie too. Gary has been asking for it for ages but I have not been able to find a recipe that is made in a 9x13. Gary says the recipe I made is not at all the same either. I will have to keep searching. Its still really yummy though. Basically fudgy brownie covered with marshmallow cream while it is still hot and then covered with a thick layer of runny icing and swirled together. Then cool and slice. Very Very Very sweet. Almost too sweet. I do not think I have ever said anything was "too sweet" in my entire life.

I am not sure why I capitalized the V in very x3.

I am feeling quite distracted because I am watching Julia and Julie while I am typing this. Julia's relationship with her husband just makes me all teary. And all the excitement and heart break with blogging and cooking and recipes and kitchen just gets me. Maybe I'm just a bit emotional these days.

Here is the recipe! (yay, finally!)

Carrot Spelt Healthy Muffins
- Adapted from Good to the Grain By Kim Boyce 

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons Spelt Flour
2 tablespoons Oat Bran
2 tablespoons Brown Sugar
1 tablespoon Sugar
1/8 teaspoon Kosher Salt
3 tablespoons cold Butter, cut into smallish chunks

1. Put all streusel ingredients into a food processor (or dump them into a bowl and use a pastry blender)
2. Blend until mixture feels course and cornmealy
Kinda Like this. ( I dumped mine into a bowl so I could use my food processor again to grate carrots)


1 cup Spelt Flour
3/4 cup Flour
1/4 cup Oat Bran
1/3 cup Brown Sugar
1/4 cup Sugar
1 teaspoon Allspice
1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon
1 1/2 cups Grated Carrots ( 2 medium carrots was a tiny bit too much, I threw the leftovers into dinner stirfry)
1/4 cup melted and slightly cooled, Butter
1 cup Buttermilk 
1 Egg

*I forgot! Preheat the oven! 350 degrees F!*
1. Sift the dry ingredients into a medium sized bowl. Pour the grainy stuff left in the stifter back into the bowl. We want all those yummy grains. 

(pour that stuff back into the bowl and whisk it all together)

2. Stir the grated carrots into that dry mixture. 
3. Mix together butter, milk and egg in a small bowl and gently stir into dry ingredients. Fold together till just combined.
4. Butter  8 muffin tins ( the recipe says 1/3 cup capacity muffin tins..but I have no idea what mine are. I used eight and piled them high with batter)
5. Fill tins till slightly rounded and a bit above the edge.  (this makes for beautiful muffin tops. I have never had such pretty muffins in my life!)
6. Liberally spread streusel over the tops of all the muffins ( I was super generous and still have some left over). Press down lightly so the streusel stick to the batter. 
7. Bake for 30-35 minutes ( yes they really do need that long)
8. Remove from oven and twist out of their cups to cool.
* these are very yummy eaten warm or later the same day (not as good then second day I am finding)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Breaking the Rules

I am breaking my own rules. But thats ok, because I'm the boss around here.

This is not a healthy recipe. At all.

I hope you wont be offended if I wreck your healthy eating plan on January the 10th. I'm sorry.

A while back I found a recipe for Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip on this awesome blog called How Sweet It Is.

Currently it is in my top 5 favourite blogs. (along with Joy The BakerThe Pioneer Woman (obviously), Sugar Plum, and Sugarcafter)

Anyways, a while after the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip was posted, a wonderful list of variations showed up. Variations like Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Snickerdoodle, and Double Chocolate Chip. Naturally, I had to try them all.

Who doesn't love cookie dough? and in dip form? delish!

I made 1 regular batch and divided it into 3 and made the peanut butter vaiation and the double chocolate variation along with the regular chocolate chip. We ate them with Teddy Grahams, Animal Crackers and pretzels, but a spoon would also work perfectly fine. They were all amazing, but the peanut butter one was my favourite.

By the way, my spell check says the favourite is spelled without a "u" but I am Canadian so it is spelled with a "u". I am sorry if its annoying.

I whipped this together on Saturday night and I didn't take a picture. It was really tragic.
The bowls are empty. I am sorry. :(
There are lots of pictures on the How Sweet It Is blog. Please check them out!

Here is the recipe.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip ( and variations)

1/2 cup Butter
1/3 cup Brown Sugar
8 ounces Cream Cheese (1 block)
1/2 cup Icing Sugar
1 teaspoon Vanilla

1. Melt butter in a small pot and stir in brown sugar. Stir till brown sugar is dissolved and mixture starts to bubble, Remove from heat to cool and add vanilla.
2. Cream icing sugar and cream cheese together until blended.
3. Add butter/brownsugar mixture to cream cheese and blend on low speed until combined.
4. If you would like regular chocolate chip cookie dough dip, stir in 3/4 chocolate chips and serve with animal crackers or pretzels or fruit or a spoon :)

If you would like to make 3 different flavors from 1 batch, divide batter into 3 equal portions before adding chocolate chips.

To make 1/3 recipe of 3 flavours:
 Peanut Butter Cookie Dough: add 1/4 cup peanut butter and 1/4 cup chocolate chips
Snickerdoodle Dough Dip: add 1/2 tablespoon Cinnamon
Double Chocolate Dough Dip: add1/4 cup cocoa powder and 1/4 cup chocolate chips

To make a full batch of any of the flavours:
Regular Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough: add 3/4 cup chocolate chips
Peanut Butter Cookie Dough: add 1/2 cups Peanut Butter and 1/2 cup chocolate chips
Snickerdoodle Dip: add 2 tablespoons Cinnamon

Give it a try! and Check out How Sweet It Is Blog! .

I will make this again soon ( and take pictures)
Double Chocolate Dough Dip: add 1/2 cup Cocoa, and 1/2 cup Chocolate Chips.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Granola Bars....Health food....not chocolate

I made granola bars today and in the world of homemade granola bars, I would venture to say that they are quite good.
 They are flavorful and not too hard or too soft or too sticky. But...I still had to FORCE myself to eat them.

 Maybe because the container right beside them was full of Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel Brownies.

But I think it was because I can't eat healthy food. I mean I can eat fruit, I love fruit, and I can eat salad. I quite enjoy salad. But grains...I seriously struggle with grains. I like bread. White bread and "100% whole wheat" bread that can't actally by 100% whole wheat. I think my brain knows I can't eat healthy things.

 I think that is why these granola bars are the healthiest things I have ever baked in my entire life.

(PS. healthy food to me is defined as; contains less sugar then cookies or cake, contains oatmeal, seeds, fruit, whole grain flours or veggies, doesn't have very much butter/fat/lard, isn't store bought or pre-packaged excessively.)

I am currently resisting the urge to melt some chocolate to dip the granola bars in.

I ate my last piece with a big mug of hot chocolate. Perfect combination.

If anyone has any healthy recipes that taste and look like junk.... I will need them to get me through January.

By the way, this recipe is from my friend Taryn who just started her own blog a day or two ago! (Yay go Taryn!) She is a healthy conscious and eco-friendly mama with a super sweet baby girl. Check her out! (thanks for making me healthier Taryn!)

On another note, today was a terrible day to take pictures of food. So was yesterday. It was dark and gloomy all day. I feel like I live in the arctic where it stays mostly dark for months at a time. I need to go to a tanning place and get some vitamin D and maybe the gym for some exercise. The glommyness forced me to take a 3 hour nap this afternoon. I am so well rested now and feeling very lazy.

Anyways, for the Granola Bar recipe, please visit Taryns site! Click HERE
Eat healthy food. Yum.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Happy New Year!! ( and peanut butter cupcakes)

Husband and I have been in Vancouver for New Years eve and New Years Day! It has been tons of fun! We have been eating lots of yummy food and buying fun dresses ( me not Gary :P) and doing a lot of fun stuff!

On New Years eve, we went shopping and I bought 2 cute dresses ( because I totally could not decide) then we went over to my uncles' house for supper and then to a comedy thing which was really not that funny and we left half way through and went back to our hotel and watched tv haha. ( oh was not quite worth how much we paid! Our lights didn't even turn on!)

New Years day, we went for breakfast at a very cool restaurant on Dunbar street called Jethro's Fine Grub. SO YUMMY! My sisters and cousins took me there for brunch on my bachlorette and it was so good that we just had to go again! After we went roller-blading through Stanley Park, which was gorgeous!

All-in-all we had a fantastic get-away! (Probably my favorite holiday as a married woman so far!)

So I know I promised healthy recipes this month, but I have just one last unhealthy recipe that I really wanted to post on new years eve but I ran out of time! So I promise after recipes till the end of January! yay!

These beautiful babies are Peanut Butter Cupcakes with Dark Chocolate Ganache. YUM!
I have a thing with peanut butter cupcakes. Or really just cupcakes in general. I think it may have something to do with the fact that they look like muffins. And muffins are healthy.

 These are so dense and peanut buttery and moist. Just talking about them makes me want more right now. So you should make them. Right now. Please.

Here is the recipe. I bet you have everything in your make these right now.

Peanut Butter Cupcakes with Dark Chocolate Ganache

1 cup Flour
1 tsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp Salt
6 tbsp Butter (softened)
3/4 cup Peanut Butter ( I use smooth, but chunky would probably add something yummy too)
1 cup Brown Sugar
1 Egg
1tsp Vanilla Extract
1/2 cup Milk

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Mix ( or sift if you're into that sorta thing) flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Set aside.
3. Beat butter, peanut butter and brown sugar until light and smooth. (1 min ish)
4. Add egg and vanilla. Beat till smooth.
5. Add flour mixture alternating with milk. Starting and finishing with flour mixture.
6. Fill muffin liners ( and do use liners, I think they are pretty necessary in this recipe)
7. Bake about 20-25 minutes. Until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Usually there will be cracks in the top.
9. Cool in the pan for a few minutes and then remove to finish cooling on a wire rack.
* Personally I think these cupcakes are the best cool*

Chocolate Ganache

1/4 cup Whipping Cream
1 tbsp Butter
1 cup Chocolate chips (I like dark, but you could really use semi-sweet or milk)
1/2 tsp Vanilla ( if you want... I dont)

1. Warm whipping cream and butter in a pot on the stove until hot and butter is melted, but not scalding or boiling. Remove from heat.
2. Sprinkle chocolate chips over the top of the warm butter/whipped cream mixture. Let sit for a few minutes. Stir together till smooth.
3. Dip cupcakes tops into the chocolate to cover the tops. Let sit until chocolate is set. Eat one with a big glass or milk. Yum.
Then force your husband to eat one even though he says its not good for him.