Honey Oat Bread

I am not one for a big list of New Year’s resolutions. Frankly, the only change I am capable of making after a week and a half of too much food and too much wine is my socks. Assuming I can still see my toes when I bend over, that is.

Instead, I like to reserve a bit of time at the end of the year imagining what a successful new year will look like. My vision of 2014 included, among other things, bread. Made by me. All by myself.

Tah dah!

HoneyOatBread_1

This recipe is a perfect introduction to the world of yeast and flour. It is easy, quick, and delivers ridiculously delicious results.

Honey Oat Bread
Originally published by Bon Apetit

  • 1 3/4 c. water
  • 1 Tbsp active yeast
  • 3/4 c. quick cooking rolled oats
  • 1/3 c. honey
  • 3 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 to 5 c. all purpose flour
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • sprinkle of rolled oats

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That’s what Friends are for – Baked Parmesan Chicken

Let’s talk a bit about friends. There are all kinds of friends; casual, situational, childhood, fair-weather. There are also those rare kindred spirits  you feel as if you’d known forever, even if the calendar says otherwise.

How are these bonds forged? How do you quantify the unquantifiable? Is it the fact that they are always game for that ridiculously early yoga class? Is it because they make a killer latte or that they aren’t stingy with the name of the hairdresser that makes them look so fabulous? Perhaps it’s because they willingly helped you both pack and unpack this summer? Maybe  it’s because their name appears on the donor list of every single fundraising mission you have embarked on?  Or is it because they are both a wine lover and a fearless co-chef? Passionate reader, loving mother, wisdom dispenser, career advisor….You all know who you are :)

It might also be the fact that they share every good recipe they come across. My most recent favourite is this  amazing baked chicken recipe that I am about to share with you, as everybody could use a good friend, right?

Baked Parmesan Chicken

Baked Parmesan Chicken
Original origins unknown – shared with me off a well-used piece of scrap paper

  • 2 lb chicken thighs/drumsticks, skin on
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp dried mustard
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne/chipotle/paprika – favour your preferred flavour profile
  • 2 Tbsp finely chopped parsley/oregano/thyme (see above)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce

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Strawberry Cake – Hold the Cow (aka Dairy Free)

This post has as much to do with my family tree as it does food. You may need a flow chart to follow along…

I have a sister. She is a very, very, very lovely sister. She has a boyfriend. He is also lovely. Recently, he discovered that he is allergic to dairy. Not so lovely :(

Have I mentioned I also have two lovely cousins? It’s true. These two cousins also have lovely parents who were in town to help their children (the cousins) prepare for their upcoming adventure to Thailand. I wanted to make a cake to celebrate their visit but also wanted aforementioned boyfriend to be able to enjoy it. So I fired up the internet to see if there was such a thing as a dairy-free cake (I know, I know…I am new to this whole alternative diet thing).

I came across this recipe on the WholeFoods Market website. You can find the original here. I tweaked it slightly to compensate for the sad state of my pantry. The result; a very moist and flavourful cake. It was also a very pretty shade of pink if that matters.

Dairy Free Strawberry Cake

Dairy-Free Strawberry Cake

  • 2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 c. coconut milk
  • 1/2 c. vegetable oil
  • 1 c. pureed strawberries – can use frozen but at this time of year, why would you?

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Welcome Back (to me)

Hi! After a long hiatus I think I am back in the swing of things…just in time for Hallowe’en.

This started out as a frosted cake with ganache topping but I was overly enthusiastic with my pouring and found my cake entirely covered with chocolate. Terrible, no? The ghosts are simply icing piped in stacked circles (I did pop the cake in the fridge after each round of circles) and the eyes and mouths are chocolate chips.

If you are looking for a quick and fool-proof recipe for ganache – read on:

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Sesame Noodles with Chicken (or not)

I have noticed, after many years of subscribing to (ahem) many cooking magazines that there seems to be recurrent themes that run throughout the year. You can count on the BBQ issues in your mailbox in late June or early July and the Thanksgiving dishes are on display in October (for which we Canadians are truly thankful). April delivers delicate dishes with things like pea tendrils and salmon fillets and November’s issues are guaranteed to include some very impressive holiday desserts. January has a theme too; it’s all about the new. New year, new trends, new ingredients, and so on. There is also a heavy dose of atonement for all of the over-indulging you did over the holidays, but that is sort of a separate post, isn’t it?

Sesame Noodles (with Chicken)

Normally, I don’t pay too much attention to their proclamations (Pie is the new cupcake…pass it on!) but there is one trend that I feel is worth paying attention to; flexitarianism. Wikipedia describes it very succinctly with this definition; “a term used to describe diets that are not vegetarian but include less meat than typical diets”. Many cooking magazines have been exercising this concept by showcasing dishes that are wonderful with/without meat. This is one of those dishes…just as great with or without the chicken. Be on the cutting edge, and try it out both ways.

Sesame Noodles (with Chicken)
adapted from Gourmet Magazine

  • 2 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs (optional)
  • 1 bell pepper (pick your favourite colour)
  • 1 bunch of scallions, green and white parts chopped and separated
  • 2 Tbsp sesame oil

Sesame Sauce (can also be used for sate….omit the water)

  • 1/2 c smooth peanut butter (or you can try tahini, if you would like)
  • 1/4 c soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp cooking sherry (or you can use red wine vinegar)
  • 1 Tbsp grated ginger
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/8 c brown sugar
  • 1 Tbps sesame oil
  • 1/3 c water
  • 1 package of spaghetti
  • handful of toasted sesame seeds

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Brown Sugar Banana Bread

One of my least favourite smells is that of over-ripe bananas. I suspect that I am not the only person that has a deep aversion to it, as someone, long ago, caught a whiff of their the fruit bowl and decided that instead of throwing out the offending fruit, they would beat it to a pulp and turn it into a delicious treat (and thanks be to them).

I found myself with a few stinkers last night and decided to use them up. When I went to my pantry to gather the ingredients to make my Aunt Dee’s famous recipe, I discovered that the holiday baking season had left it in a state that Old Mother Hubbard could relate to. No white sugar, no butter and barely enough all purpose flour (did I mention that Aunt Dee was not the most health conscious baker I’ve ever met). It was time to improvise. I substituted whole wheat flour for some of the all purpose and turned to brown sugar instead of white. Vegetable oil replaced the melted butter. I also fiddled a bit with the baking powder/soda ratios to see if I could get a lighter loaf. I also added cinnamon, just because I like it.

Overall, very pleasing results. The bread had the perfect consistency and texture. Moist and a bit crumby and the brown sugar on the top was the perfect finishing touch. I would also recommend popping a slice in the toaster for a few minutes for a breakfast treat.

Brown Sugar Banana Bread

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

  • 1 1/4 c. flour
  • 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 4 over ripe bananas, mashed up beyond recognition
  • 2 eggs, room temp
  • 1/3 c canola oil
  • 1/2 c brown sugar + some for sprinkling on top of loaf
  • 2 tsp vanilla

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Maple Vanilla Granola

I am sort of a one-trick pony when it comes to breakfast…oatmeal with vanilla yogurt pretty much every morning. Lately, however, I have been looking for a healthy/tasty alternative to my usual fare. I remember loving Quaker’s Harvest Crunch as a kid so I set about trying to recreate it, albeit it with a bit less sugar, sodium and fat (jury’s still out on whether or not that aspect of the experiment was a success). My mom and I made a few batches from a Jamie Olive cookbook in the summer which were very good. After trying out a few more recipes, I have come to realize that it isn’t really the ingredients that are so different – oats, nuts, fruit- but the technique that seems to vary from cook to cook.

This is the method that I found gives me the results I like; lots of toasty flavour, not too sweet, and those little crunchy nuggets that make my yogurt so delicious!

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Killer Kebabs – Sirloin with Mustard Soy Glaze

When I sit down to write a post, I usually figure out the recipe first, upload the photo and then turn my mind to writing the preamble. There is something funny about WordPress (or something funny about my limited skills with WordPress, I should say) that won’t allow you to insert text above a photo that is already loaded. I usually plug in some silly and random words before adding the photo so I don’t run into this problem. When I opened up this post to finish it off, I realize that my placeholder text read “yum, yum, yum, meat on a stick, yum, yum, yum”. Really, I don’t think I have much more to add.

Sirloin Kebabs with Mustard Soy Glaze
adapted from a recipe by Lucy Waverman

  • 2 lb sirloin steak
  • 20 or so button mushrooms
  • 1 red onion, cut into wedges
  • olive oil

Mustard Soy Glaze

  • 1/4 c dijon mustard
  • 2 Tbsp finely chopped garlic
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 c olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • toasted sesame seeds (optional)

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Sticky Lemon Buns with Lemon Cream Cheese Icing

After 15 or so years of living in different cities, my sister made the jump to Vancouver…much to my delight and surprise (but that’s another story). We are having an excellent time getting to know each other as adults and enjoying all of those time-honored sisterly traditions like lunch dates, movies and the occasional shopping trip. To our mutual surprise, we have also found ourselves sharing a lot of time in my kitchen…baking. I am not a big baker; that title goes to my mother. However, with the company of my sister, I am starting to appreciate the art of bringing four, butter and sugar together in all manner of ways. These gems were our Easter brunch experiment and they turned out beautifully, if I do say so myself.

Sticky Lemon Rolls with Lemon Cream Cheese Glaze
Adapted from The Kitchn

Lemon Roll Dough

  • 1 envelope (0.25 ounces, or 2 1/2 teaspoons) yeast
  • 3/4 cup milk, heated so it is warm but not hot on your wrist
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, very soft
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 lemons, zested
  • 2 eggs

Sticky Lemon Filling

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly-ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger
  • 2 lemons, zested
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, very soft

Lemon Cream Cheese Glaze

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup powdered sugar

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Cheap and Cheerful – Sticky Lemon Chicken

I generally don’t advocate the preparation of anything with the word “sticky” in its description when feeding my children, but I will make an exception for this dish. It is so simple to prepare, taking about 25 minutes in total, leaving you plenty of time to wash off all of the sticky fingerprints left behind.

Sticky Lemon Chicken
I believe this dish originated with Gordon Ramsay

  • 8 chicken thighs (or whatever pieces your family prefers)
  • coarse salt and pepper
  • glug of olive oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme (or 1/2 tsp of dried)
  • 1 Tbsp of cooking sherry or red wine vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp of soy sauce
  • 3 Tbsp honey
  • 1 lemon washed and cut into thin slices (remove the pits if you can)

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