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Monthly Archives: April 2013

Wine Jellies: Update

It has been a few days now and I am sad to say: the wine jelly (not sure why I keep pluralizing it) did not turn out. It did not really set properly (I blame the fact that I removed it from the stove and then stirred in the pectin- or I did not stir for long enough). In addition it is unbelievably sweet, I made a mistake using a late harvest wine.

There will be a re-do in the coming weeks where:

  1. I will not attempt any math on the recipe, no more halves or thirds
  2. I will use a less sweeter wine
  3. I will actually use a timer!

In the meantime, I have a jar full of super sweet half-set jelly. It’s time to make linzer cookies.

 
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Posted by on April 28, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Super Soft Sugar Cookies Take 2

It’s been weighing on, slowly driving me nuts: those failed sugar cookies. Failed because of my errors, not the recipes. I was finally going to do something about all the frozen strawberries in my freezer: strawberries and cream on rice*. It might sound gross, but it is in fact delicious. I grew up on it and it is easily one of my favourite dishes and I was in need of some comfort.

Project 21- super soft sugar cookies take 2 (3)

And then I put too much sour cream. I was left with extra sour cream that was strawberry flavoured. I could not possibly throw it out, what a waste! I also happened to have one last egg left in my fridge. I was originally going to make Bailey’s french toast on the weekend, I guess it will have to wait.

Project 21- super soft sugar cookies take 2 (5)

Round two was a lot better. I had to add more sour cream, so it toned down the strawberry flavour to just a subtle hint. All was going well until I got to the part about wrapping it in saran wrap and sticking it in the fridge: I have no saran wrap. I bought a rolling pin today, but no saran wrap. I split the dough and put it on plates, sticking it in the fridge and hoping for the best. We’ll see. I have 1-2 hours now while it chills.

Project 21- super soft sugar cookies take 2 (7)

The first attempt at rolling them with a rolling pin was disastrous to say the least. The dough stuck to the parchment paper and was such a mess I had to toss the whole thing (I was rolling it between two pieces of parchment paper). I added more flour and that seemed to do the trick, no more sticking. It was fun cutting out little chickens with my cookie cutter. I over-baked them a tiny bit and so I now have crunchy cookies. That might also be from rolling the dough too thin. I threw on some sprinkles before baking- alas they fell off when I ate the cookie.

Project 21- super soft sugar cookies take 2 (10)

I baked half the dough and left the other half, I had taken this project up a little late in the day. The second batch warranted some experimenting. The first batch was tasty yes, but kind of boring. They needed some jazzing up. The strawberry flavour got lost in the baking, so I added some almond extract (as originally called for in the recipe) knowing I would not end up with some horrible concoction. The second problem was the sprinkles, so I mixed some in for one variation. The second variation was to add some Bailey’s. Third was adding cocoa powder and fourth was cocoa powder and cinnamon (although at first I accidentally sprinkled a tiny bit of allspice).

Project 21- super soft sugar cookies take 2 (13)Project 21- super soft sugar cookies take 2 (12)

While mixing the cocoa in, the side of the bowl popped out. There had been a large crack and it had grown and formed into a circle- that popped right out. I was too tired to roll out the dough, so I just made blobs that I flatten ed as much as I could. Apparently I did not flatten them enough as they grew into little puff cookies. For versions 3 and 4 I rolled them out and brought out the cookie cutter too.

Project 21- super soft sugar cookies take 2 (15)

So how did the cookies fair? They are better when rolled out thinner (and not overbaked). If I had added just a little more Bailey’s it would have been better- and that was the best variation of them all. In the end, the sugar cookie recipe I had posted earlier is still the clear winner, at least in my stomach.

Project 21- super soft sugar cookies take 2 (18)

 
 

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Wine Jellies

I will use just about any excuse to head into the kitchen and whip up something delicious, and Mother’s Day is no exception. I know, I know, Mother’s Day is still a-ways-away. However, one must contend with mistakes. I found a recipe on the Porto Bellas blog for wine jellies and could not resist. Besides, it would make a nice gift- assuming it turned out well.

Lacking a bottle of wine, I went out in search of one. I found a nice late harvest wine, which is about as close you can get to ice wine without actually buying ice wine, which for a jelly I think would be too sweet anyways. I was at Michaels’, holding a mason jar and contemplating buying it. I remembered Dollarama having such jars, so I put it back. Apparently I was mistaken, Dollarama did not have any. Nor did Wal-Mart. Or Bulk Barn. Or any grocery store I went to. I was starting to panic. I finally found one that was close enough: it did not have the lid with the ring, but it was a jar that would not crack where I to boil it to seal it.

Project 20- wine jelly (4)

The recipe is simple. However there is one part where you may need a second person. Once the wine, sugar and vinegar (small amount) start boiling, you are to whisk in pectin and stir for 60 seconds and remove from heat. I was so concerned with not screwing up the recipe that as soon as it boiled I removed it from heat and then whisked in the pectin. I remembered there was still another step, panicked I call over to Brent to have him check what I had done wrong.

As the jelly sits in its jar cooling, I am wracked with nerves. Did it turn out? Does it taste good? Should I still seal it, given that the dent in the lid goes down?

 
 

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When It’s Cold Out Go To A Hot Table

Nothing sucks more than when it is freezing cold and lightly snowing- despite the fact that it is the end of April! What better way to cheer up (and warm up) than by walking in the frigid cold up to St. Clair West for some delicious Italian food at the city’s best Italian hot table.

Centro Trattoria was packed full of people- and I don’t blame them, it was miserable outside.  I cozied up to a nice warm bowl of noodles and tomato sauce with a nice thick layer of mozzarella cheese and prosciutto slices. I had wanted lasagna but it was sold out, this was better anyways. When I ordered, the woman asked if I wanted sauce and cheese on top. Yes, I said! And then I watched in silent horror as she sprinkled a tonne of Parmesan cheese all over the delicious concoction. Oh God, I thought to myself, how will I ever eat this? I had terrible flashbacks of those green cones filled with Kraft Parmesan cheese and the awful smell.

The first couple of bites I tried to eat around the Parmesan, but there was no way out. I was going to have to eat it. I took a tiny little bite and was pleasantly surprised: it was delicious! I guess that is the difference between good Parmesan cheese and the gross processed kind.

The portions at Centro Trattoria are hefty to say the least, making a good bargain. A lot of food for a cheap price- and actual good food, not something gross you are eating out of necessity.Centro Trattoria (3)

 

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Burritos!

If you know me, you know that I am not a big fan of beans- and that is an understatement. Thus I tend to avoid foods such as chili and burritos, in that beans are a major component. Last time I got lucky when best burritos in the city offered the option of edamame beans. This time I was not so lucky.

Fat Bastard burrito- best late night burrito (1)

Fat Bastard Burrito was voted best late night burrito and in keeping with our late night Friday foodings it was the perfect choice: it was a 15 minute walk away from our current place (we are moving next week). I went there with the mindset that I would just order it without the beans (yes, I can hear you burrito enthusiasts gasping at the horror). The menu was daunting, so many choices! I decided on the baja chipotle chicken, partly because it was fun to say. Brent had the less-fun-to-say buffalo chicken. As i watched them prepare his burrito (he had ordered the works) I noticed that the beans were in a paste form. Somehow this seemed less gross to me and I found myself also getting the works. This included but was not limited to lettuce and chives. I was a little bit worried to say the least.

Fat Bastard burrito- best late night burrito (2)

One bite and I was hooked. The beans and chives were buried deep inside, mixed with all the other toppings in one giant delicious mess. And I mean giant. I ordered the smallest size (tiny) and it was still a behemoth of a burrito. As is the norm, mine was the better choice as it had a spicy kick to it thanks to the chipotle sauce.

You can’t eat a burrito without drinking Jarrito. This time we had lime and it further cemented my new-found love affair with the soda. I have yet to meet a flavour I did not like, partly because I refuse to try the pineapple flavour and as far as I am concerned it does not exist.

 

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Decadent Rice Krispie Squares

There were talks early in the week of having people over for a night of games. It had been a while, Pandemic was collecting dust, Ticket to Ride had not even been opened yet- it was time for a weekend of gaming. And what better to fuel the games than sinfully delicious rice krispie squares? I had found two recipes a while ago on Pinterest but could never justify making them because it is kind of difficult to portion it down for only one or two people. It helps when anticipating having a few people over. Helps, and justifies. The two chosen variations were: Oreo and cake batter. I would make a half batch of each.

Project 18+19- Oreo + cake batter rice krispie squares  (3)

The Oreo version called for 10 Oreos. I knew that temptation would get the better of me, so I portioned them out in a plastic bag, so they would not get eaten- as the rest of the bag did within two days. While smashing the Oreos (great fun, great stress relief) I was tempted and thus found myself eating the last of the Oreos. The smashing was really fun, I would throw it in the air and watch it land with a soft thud. I did have to crush them up into smaller bits by hand though when mixing them in with the cereal.

Project 18+19- Oreo + cake batter rice krispie squares  (2)

Project 18+19- Oreo + cake batter rice krispie squares  (5)

The second half called for using 1/6th of a cup of dry yellow cake mix. Which barely makes a dent in the amount that comes in a packaged box. I now have a box of yellow cake mix with a tiny amount missing and not enough eggs to actually make the damn stuff. Maybe I will make Malibu rum cupcakes in the coming week. This recipe proves to be just as fun, but less labour intensive. Instead of pounding Oreos you get to throw in rainbow coloured sprinkles- but beware! I mixed the sprinkles with the cereal and added them together to prevent the sprinkles from colouring the melted marshmallows. I did not anticipate them colouring my brand new wooden spoon, however, as I mixed it all together.

Project 18+19- Oreo + cake batter rice krispie squares  (11)

 
 

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Baked Apple

baked apple (1)

baked apple (2)

baked apple (3)

 
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Posted by on April 18, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Baked Chicken Fingers

While at No Frills today I found some chicken that was on sale. A good deal is always welcome, I figured I could easily find a recipe for a pack of chicken breast fillets. Oh, I don’t know, how about baked chicken fingers?!

Project 17- baked chicken fingers old bay seasoned (1)

I had found the recipe a long time ago on Shape.com, back when I first started my Pinterest board yet I somehow never got around to making them- until today. Trouble is, I chanced on the idea in the grocery store and could not remember for the life of me what was needed. Turns out I had none of the ingredients, so I instead adapted the idea and made it my own.

Project 17- baked chicken fingers old bay seasoned (4)

Project 17- baked chicken fingers old bay seasoned (5)

Instead of panko breading I just used bread crumbs, simple enough. The only marinade I had in the fridge was Diana barbeque sauce but I had just cooked up a bunch of chicken breast marinaded in it, so that was out. I opted out of marinade, and just seasoned the bread crumbs with Old Bay seasoning (a God-send in the kitchen). Cook them for 10-15 minutes, flip, repeat. And ta-da! I have a couple days worth of dinners ready to go. I am so not munching on one right now. There is no breading all over my keyboard. Another delicious recipe for my notebook.

Project 17- baked chicken fingers old bay seasoned (7)

Up next: double dessert, I will (hopefully) be making Oreo rice krispie squares and cake batter rice krispie squares- if we have people over.

 
 

Gingerbread Cupcakes with Coffee Glaze

I’d had my eye on a mixer at Wal-Mart for a while, it was more expensive than a hand-held mixer but that was fine by me. I’ve never been good with a hand-mixer, I always get tired and bored, when I was younger I was always so desperate to help out in the kitchen and that was always the first task given to me. Before long I would give up, claiming my arm was tired from holding it and that the batter was mixed well enough (it never was). Enter the standing mixer: throw in the ingredients and walk away for a bit. Or at least just stand there, not having to hold anything.

I finally caved and decided I would buy the $40 mixer. I was a tad concerned about the brand, I had a blender by the same company and it was not the greatest. The mixer was gone, it was no longer on the website. I found it on amazon.ca- along with the horrid reviews. I no longer wanted it. At all. Well, not that particular one anyways. I found a better one from a better brand (Sunbeam). Although it was more expensive, it seemed better than a mixer that would break as soon as it was out of the box.

I found it in-store at Wal-Mart, which at first seemed like a great thing! I did not have to order it online and wait patiently by the door! No, instead I got to lug the giant thing home. My arms still hurt 2 days later.

Project 16- gingerbread latte cupcakes (2)

I was ready to bake! But what to bake? I had bought some Greek yogurt- in my ongoing quest to find a better substitute for butter- so I was set on making a cake/cupcakes instead of cookies. A quick glance over my Pinterest board and I decided on a gingerbread bundt cake with a coffee glaze. Only problem was I did not have enough eggs (I was fine with the lack of a bundt pan). On to plan b: I was now set on something gingerbread-y as I scoured my board. My eyes landed on gingerbread latte cupcakes. Bingo! Only I did not have the ingredients for the icing. Plan c: make the cupcakes and use the glaze from the first recipe, compromise. Plus I could finally use some of the molasses I still had sitting in my drawer since the last time I made gingerbread cookies- three months ago.

Project 16- gingerbread latte cupcakes (3)

The mixer was great. While it combined the yogurt and sugar, I could measure out the dry ingredients- saving myself some time, fives minutes is five minutes. The mixer came with various attachments, one of which was whisks- the recipe called for a lightly beaten egg, a great excuse to use the whisk attachment, albeit as a w whisk, not as a mixer attachment. Because I was using Greek yogurt instead of butter the batter was runnier than usual and it worried me. I added a little bit more flour, but that barely made a difference. I decided not to mess with it anymore and just bake it.

Project 16- gingerbread latte cupcakes (5)

Soon the house was filled with the smell of gingerbread. As soon as they were out of the oven I was tempted to eat one. I withheld and waited until they cooled to pour the glaze on them. The glaze was easy to make: just add powdered sugar to a couple tablespoons of hot, strong coffee and mix. The glaze just poured down the cupcake and pooled around the edge where the cupcake met the liner. Some of it stayed on top though. I figured if the cupcakes were cool enough to glaze I could eat one. The problem was that the wrapper stuck to the cupcake. I blamed this on the lack of butter. I was wrong. It was that they were still too warm. When I had one the next day the wrapper came right off. Two days later they are still so soft and delicious, a bit chewy (I blame the yogurt) but damn good. This recipe is a keeper. I am not 100% sure about using Greek yogurt as a butter substitute however. I might just make tzatziki sauce with the rest.

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on April 18, 2013 in I Will One Day Attempt To Make This

 

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Slow Cooker Maple Mustard Chicken

A week ago I had yet another failed attempt in the kitchen and went on a hiatus. However when I was leaving my dad’s house he gave me food, including a giant frozen chicken breast. I threw it in the freezer and figured I would cook it sometime during the week, after my current supply of chicken* ran low.

As it turns out, taking a hiatus from the kitchen is no easy task. I quickly found myself back in the kitchen, bringing out the slow cooker for a second attempt, after the first turned out less than stellar. I had everything set up, recipe loaded: I was ready to cook! Problem was, the chicken breast was not. It was frozen solid. When you suddenly decide to cook on a whim, it’s not that easy. Enter the microwave. I was worried that I would get chicken-salmonella juice all over the microwave or maybe even something worse. Thankfully it all went well (maybe one day I will actually use the microwave to cook, not just reheat stuff).

Project 15- maple mustard slow cooker chicken (6)

The next step involved math. The recipe I had found for slow-cooker maple mustard chicken called for 4-6 chicken breasts. I had what appeared to be one giant piece of chicken breast, but that was probably two stuck together. The recipe was downright simple: mustard powder and maple syrup. Finally I had a use for the bottle of Mrs.Butterworths I bought just because it was on sale. The recipe also called for a teeny tiny amount of quick tapioca- no way. There was no way I was going to have an opened box of tapioca kicking around my already full baking drawer for one recipe. I took the risk and went without.

That was all the recipe called for: dry mustard and maple syrup. It did not smell good when I mixed the two together. I had a sinking feeling that this would be yet another dud. I tossed it the chicken and the sauce in the slow-cooker, crossed my fingers and walked away. After about an hour I got a little curious and opened it up to peek in on it. It made my eyes water- I blame the mustard. But it did smell good. After a couple of hours the smell overwhelmed the house, it was delicious and making me hungry. And it made me keep peeking and more tears came rolling- you would think I had learned after the first or second time.

When I took it out of the slow-cooker, the chicken was the most unappetizing-looking thing ever. It was a very light brown slick hunk of meat- that smelled more delicious than it looked. What is most important here is taste. And what the chicken lacked in aesthetic appeal, it more than made up for in taste.

Project 15- maple mustard slow cooker chicken (8)

This recipe is a keeper. It is simple and easy and cheap and delicious.

 

*I cook up a club pack of chicken breast and throw it in the freezer for easy dinners. Just makes sense.

 
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Posted by on April 17, 2013 in I Will One Day Attempt To Make This

 

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