Monday, February 16, 2015

Chicken & Wild Rice Strudels


I found a great deal on some packages of phyllo dough, and they've been hanging out in the freezer for a while, waiting for me to figure out what to do with them. I was a little intimidated by phyllo, but turns out - it's actually less delicate than I thought, and it was pretty easy to handle. 

When I saw these, I thought OOOH. So, they went on the menu. Quite a nice change from all the pasta we've been eating lately!

I served these with steamed broccoli and a white sauce, which I also dipped the strudels into. Yum!!


CHICKEN & WILD RICE STRUDELS
  • INGREDIENTS:
  • 8.5oz cooked wild rice
  • 2 cups cooked chicken, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup shredded cheese
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 12 sheets phyllo dough (14x9-inch size)
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted

  1. DIRECTIONS:
  2. Preheat oven to 400°
  3. Place all the ingredients in a bowl (except for butter and phyllo dough) and mix until well combined.
  4. Place one sheet of dough on a work surface; brush lightly with melted butter. Layer with five additional sheets, brushing in between each layer. (Keep remaining dough covered with a damp towel to prevent it from drying out.)
  5. Spoon half of the chicken/rice mixture down the center of the dough, leaving about an inch at the ends.
  6. Fold up short sides to enclose filling. Roll up tightly, starting with a long side.
  7. Transfer to a baking stone, or cookie sheet (lined with parchment paper) seam side down.
  8. Brush with additional butter.
  9. Repeat for your second roll.
    (At his point you can cover with plastic wrap, and bake a little later)
  10. Bake 20-25 minutes or until golden brown and heated through. 
Source: Adapted from Taste of Home


Wednesday, February 11, 2015

DIY: Instant Oatmeal Packages

We go through a LOT of oatmeal in our house. Hayden (age 3) would eat it for every meal if we let him. Sometimes we do.

He really loves the peaches & cream, blueberries & cream and strawberries & cream kinds that we can buy at the store as well as the apple/cinnamon kind and the maple/brown sugar... oh ... fine, he likes them ALL

We run out of those often enough that we make the "normal" kind from scratch - and he likes that TOO.

I figured if I put together a few bags of this, it would be easy to pull out and use as needed. Blending some of the oats before mixing with the unblended oats makes for a smoother, creamier texture when cooked (closely resembling store bought).

Turns out... he likes the "mama made" kind better than the store bought. WIN.

The bags above show Apricots & Cream and Apple & Cinnamon

INGREDIENTS:

  •  cups of quick oats
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (depending on how sweet you like your oatmeal - leave it out entirely if you don't need it)
  • 1/2 cup dry milk powder
OPTIONAL ADD IN IDEAS

  • dried apples, cinnamon
  • raisins, cinnamon
  • dried blueberries
  • dried strawberries
  • dried peaches or apricots
DIRECTIONS:

  1. Put 2 cups of the oats in a blender or food processor and blend until fine. 
  2. Combine with the other 3 cups of oats, the salt, sugar, and milk powder.
  3. At this point, portion out into 1 cup servings in ziploc bags, and add the mix ins if you're using. By mixing the add ins AFTER portioning, you can do more varieties
Note
For smaller portions (ie, like the packets - do 1/2 cup in each bag, and 0.75 to 1 cup water when cooking)

To make the oatmeal
Add the contents of a bag into a bowl, along with 1- 1.5 cups of water (depending on how you like it)

Microwave on high for 90 seconds, or until cooked.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Spiced Red Lentil, Tomato, and Spinach Soup


I'm going to be so sad when soup season is over.  A complete meal in a bowl or cup is my idea of fabulous. 

Gone are the bland, watery vegetable soups of old, and here to stay (at my house) are the bold, bright and richly coloured and flavored (and good for you) soups! 

I love that it can be made ahead, stored in the fridge, or made from scratch in under 30 minutes. This one is fantastic. Ramp up the heat and add extra cayenne and chili powder if you like things super spicy, but as written - this is fairly mild in heat, but big on taste (should suit the palate of a broader group).

Yum. YUUUUUUUUUUUM.

SPICED RED LENTIL, TOMATO AND SPINACH SOUP

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 tsp coconut oil (or other oil)
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 celery stalks, diced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1.5 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 0.5 tsp ground coriander
  • 0.5 tsp smoked sweet paprika
  • 0.5 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 14oz can diced tomatoes
  • 6 cups vegetable broth (can sub chicken)
  • 1 cup red lentils, rinsed and drained
  •  salt and pepper, to taste
  • 3 handfuls baby spinach leaves (can sub kale)

 DIRECTIONS:
  1. In a large pot, cook the onion and garlic in oil for about 5-6 minutes over medium heat. Add in the celery and cook for a few minutes more (you want the celery to begin to soften)
  2. Stir in the bay leaf and the spices (cumin, chili powder, coriander, paprika, cayenne) and mix with the onion/garlic/celery mix - cook for a minute.
  3. Stir in the can of tomatoes (including juice), broth, and lentils. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and then simmer, uncovered, for about 20-25 minutes, until lentils are tender and fluffy.
  4. Stir in spinach and season to taste. 
  5. When the spinach is wilted, remove the bay leaf, and serve

Source: http://ohsheglows.com


Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Chocolate Cranberry Almond Energy Bites

Having homemade snacks on hand to grab and go when needed are a great way for me to know what we're eating, and to get as much bang for my buck as possible from a nutritional point of view. 

I put these into snack sized bags, and put them in lunch bags, or throw in my bag on the way out the door for an on the go boost.

These are absolutely not a new concept, and there are many variations of this similar theme out there. I've made maybe .... 5? different versions of these balls, and will post a few more here and there as I remake some of my favourite combinations!

I made them here: Peanut Butter Protein Balls and have expanded them since.


This particular recipe was adapted only slightly from http://www.seededatthetable.com - I made them because I already had all the ingredients available, without requiring a trip to the store. 

For this recipe, you might notice that I used a lot of Pampered Chef tools. I used to be an independent consultant for Pampered Chef, and loved all the tools I got to use and play with and show other people.  Although I am not a consultant anymore, I still love and use the tools pretty much every day.  Whenever I want the new items now, I turn to my friend Sarah (Umble) to get my gadget fix.  If you see an item YOU like - she can hook you up! See her here on Facebook (she lets you know when there are good sales on) or just grab what you need directly on her Pampered Chef site. I listed the items used down the bottom of the recipe, to help you out!

CHOCOLATE CRANBERRY ALMOND ENERGY BITES

INGREDIENTS:
  • 1/2 cup almond butter (click for homemade recipe) (can sub peanut butter)
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3/4 cup old-fashioned oats (not the quick cooking kind)
  • 1/4 cup chopped raw almonds
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup flax seed meal
  • 1 Tablespoon chia seeds (optional)
DIRECTIONS:
  1. In a large mixing bowl, mix together the peanut butter, honey, vanilla and salt until well mixed.
  2. Stir in the oats, almonds, cranberries, chocolate chips, flax seed, and chia seeds (if using).
  3. Using a cookie scoop, scoop mounds onto a baking sheet, then form into a balls by rolling between your hands.
  4. Chill for at least 30 minutes before serving, then store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week (if they even last that long).
Items used:



Monday, February 2, 2015

Skillet Lasagna


Yippee! Another weeknight winner!

I love traditional lasagna, but don't always have the kind of time required to make it the traditional way. This is all cooked in one skillet, and you can clean the other couple of bowls used while this cooks. Making the sauce, assembling and throwing in the oven leaves you free to do other things before dinner (like drink wine).

You could sub the cottage cheese for ricotta, and the no boil lasagna sheets for regular, you could use different seasonings... you could change this up a whole bunch based on what you have on hand.

This is how I made it, and I think it was pretty good!  Since there were no leftovers, I can only assume that others in the family enjoyed it too. Hope you try this and let me know how it goes!

SKILLET LASAGNA

INGREDIENTS:
  • 1/2 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • salt/pepper
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 14.5oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 8oz can tomato sauce (puree for the Aussies/Kiwis)
  • 1 cup cottage cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1.5 cups grated mozzarella
  • 8 no-boil lasagna noodles, each broken into 4 or 5 pieces (you can use regular, but cook it slightly longer)

DIRECTIONS:
  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Heat the oil in a cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, oregano, basil red pepper and salt/pepper and saute 5-6 mins til onion is soft.
  3. Add the ground beef and cook 4-5 mins until no longer pink.
  4. Add the tomatoes and sauce and simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened (around 5-6 mins)
  5. In a small bowl, combine the cottage cheese, parsley, and 3/4 cup mozzarella.
  6. Transfer 2/3 of the sauce to a bowl, leaving 1/3 the sauce in the skillet
  7. Lay half the noodles over the sauce in the skillet, spoon half the cheese mixture over the noodles, then repeat with sauce, noodles, cottage cheese,and last 1/3 of the sauce.
  8. Cover the pan tightly with foil and bake until the noodles are tender, 23 to 25 mins.
  9. Remove the foil.  Sprinkle with the remaining 3/4 cup mozzarella and bake or broil until the top gets brown and delicious.
  10. Remove from the oven, and let it rest a few minutes. Garnish with chopped parsley, and serve.


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Chocolate Salted Caramel Oreo Tarts

What are we... last week in January? Good. So your resolution to give up dessert is probably waning. If not, this recipe will probably nail it for you!

This is really easy, and tastes amazing. Instead of a large deep dish pie, I opted to make these into 4 smaller individual tarts. You could use a regular pie dish with the same amounts of crust, caramel and ganache I used.

Great for making ahead and pulling out of the fridge with a flourish and a "ta-da!"


Chocolate Salted Caramel Oreo Tarts

Ingredients
  • ½ package (about 18) whole Oreos (filling and cookie included)
  • 1 2 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • ¾ cup heavy whipping cream, divided
  • 6  oz dark chocolate chips
  • 1/4 tsp flaky salt (I used kosher)

Directions
Crust
  1. Crush the oreos with a food processor, or put them in a ziplock and smash with a rolling pin until finely crushed.
  2. Place crumbs in a bowl, then stir  in 4 tablespoons melted butter until well combined.
  3. Press firmly into your pie plate or tart pans (bottom and sides). Freeze crust for 10 minutes until set.

 Caramel
  1. Combine 8 tablespoons butter and brown sugar in a small saucepan. 
  2.  Over a medium heat, cook,  whisking constantly, until mixture begins to bubble.
  3. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, for 1 minute.
  4. Remove from heat. Beat in 1/4 cup cream until smooth. Cool about 15 minutes.
  5. Pour the caramel over the Oreo crust, and then return to freezer for about 30  minutes until chilled and set but not frozen.
Ganache
  1. Place chocolate chips in a glass bowl. In a saucepan, bring 1/2 cup cream to a simmer over medium-high heat. 
  2. Pour the cream over the chocolate chips and let sit for 5 minutes, then whisk until completely smooth. 
  3. Pour the chocolate over the caramel and freeze for a final 30 minutes, until just chilled and set or refrigerate, covered, until ready to serve.

 Before serving, sprinkle the top with a flaky sea salt like kosher salt,


Store covered in the refrigerator and serve chilled.

Source: Adapted only slightly from www.kevinandamanda.com

Monday, January 26, 2015

Cauliflower Cheese Soup



Another day, another soup? 

Seriously, I've lost my blogging mojo a bit lately in favour of survival mode. The other night, I "threw frozen things in the oven, and called it dinner". Didn't make me especially happy, but I hadn't prepped ahead - and both boys were in terrible moods when I picked them up, and I needed to get something, ANYTHING on the table fast so I could move quickly towards bathing, jammies, stories and bed for them.


As a working parent, it can sometimes be tough to balance everything.  Sometimes, something just has to give. Eating well is one of the things that can often go by the wayside, but the double whammy for that is, if you don't eat well, you don't feel well.  Getting a dose of vegetables in my belly as often as possible (and in the yummiest way possible) makes me feel better! Adding cheese never hurts, either.


Making things ahead on the weekends (if I can) really does help me out during the week. Having a batch of soup in the fridge for a last minute dinner, or having it all portioned out and ready to go in my lunch bag (especially a healthy one), is awesome!


I particularly enjoy this soup - it is easy, quick and freezes well. 


CAULIFLOWER CHEESE SOUP

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 tsp butter
  • 1 large onion, chopped finely
  • 1 large cauliflower, cut in florets
  • 1 large potato, peeled and diced
  • 3 Cups chicken (or vege) stock
  • 1 2/3 Cups milk (I used 2%)
  • 3.5 oz. cheddar cheese, grated
  • Cracked black pepper and salt to taste
DIRECTIONS:

1.   Melt butter and sauté onion until soft (5 mins).
2.   Add cauliflower, potato, stock, milk and seasoning.  Bring to boil and simmer for 30 minutes.
3.   Using a stick blender, blend until smooth adding a little more milk if it is too thick.
4.   Cool to freeze, or stir in cheese just before serving.


If freezing
Thaw, then warm on stove or microwave until heated through. Stir cheese in just before
serving.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Peanut Butter Protein Balls


I'm packing lunches these days and since it gets just as boring PACKING the same old stuff as it does EATING it, I thought I'd do something a little different.  Even better - these are no-cook!

Here's a basic recipe for either an addition to breakfast-on-the-go, or in a lunchbox. I like eating them mid morning to hold me over til lunch.

There are a bunch of recipes out there for these kinds of things, so I began throwing things in a bowl and hoped for the best. These were decent! I will try other kinds, maybe switch out the milk powder for protein powder, do different dried fruits like cranberries, apricots or dates, and use almond butter maybe?  The sky's the limit :)

PEANUT BUTTER PROTEIN BALLS

INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 cup peanut butter (creamy or crunchy)
  • 1/2 cup nonfat dry milk powder
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • Graham cracker crumbs (any kind of biscuit/cookie crumbs would work)
DIRECTIONS:
  1. In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients except the graham cracker crumbs.
  2. Shape the mixture into 1-inch balls. Roll in the crumbs and refrigerate. 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Vegetable and Barley Soup


I am still loving soup season! With the weather being a little gloomy (for like, a day) here in Phoenix, soup was back on the menu. This is unbelievably tasty, and filling - and is also vegan/vegetarian for those who are following a specific diet.

Added bonus: very inexpensive to make


This made 4 good sized portions for dinner, and 3 lunches for me.  

INGREDIENTS:
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup pearl barley
  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 2-3 carrots, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 8 cups vegetable broth (can sub chicken broth, but it won't be vegan/vegetarian)
  • 1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2-2 cups baby spinach, torn
  • Salt/pepper to taste


DIRECTIONS:
  1. In a medium saucepan, add the water and barley - and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and keep at a bare simmer for 30 minutes, or until the barley is soft.
  2. Drain and set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat.
  4. Add the onion and 5 minutes. Add the garlic, red bell pepper, carrots and celery and cook until the carrots start to soften, about 10 minutes.
  5. Add the vegetable broth, diced tomatoes and bay leaves.
  6. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer for 10 minutes.
  7. Stir in the cooked barley and spinach, simmer until spinach is wilted (about 5 minutes)
  8. Remove the bay leaves, and season to taste.
Source: Adapted slightly from veganinthefreezer.com

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Bacon, Egg and Cheese Breakfast Ring

I love a good weekend breakfast, that you throw together and bake while you do other things. This is a major cheater breakfast, in that it uses canned crescent rolls (you could use your own dough, if you weren't lazy like me), but it's yummy and was popular at my house.

I was able to set the table, cut up some fruit and make a vat pot of coffee while this baked. All in time to wake up the husband, and get the kids out of bed on a Saturday - ready to go have fun!

This particular day, we went to the Phoenix Children's Museum. Hayden had a LOT of fun exploring the different rooms and exhibits. Cameron enjoyed a nap....


BACON, EGG & CHEESE BREAKFAST RING

INGREDIENTS:
  • 4 slices bacon, cut in half crosswise
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon milk
  • 4 eggs, slightly beaten with salt and pepper, if desired
  • 1 can crescent dinner rolls
  • 1 cup shredded cheese (divided)


DIRECTIONS:
  1. Cook the bacon until cooked, but not crispy. Drain and set aside.
  2. Scramble the eggs (in the same skillet if you want – just drain most of the bacon grease out), until cooked but not dry (they’ll continue to cook in the oven.
  3. Preheat oven to 375F
  4. Crack open the dinner roll can, and arrange the triangles in a circle on a baking sheet, with the short edge in the center. Press to join the center.
  5. Arrange the bacon slices along the thickest part of the rolls.
  6. Sprinkle 1/3 of the cheese on top.
  7. Spoon scrambled eggs over the cheese.
  8. Sprinkle another 1/3 cup of cheese over the eggs
  9. Fold the tips of the crescent rolls into the center, making a ring, and tuck under to secure (filling will be visible)
  10. Brush pastry with milk, and sprinkle with remaining 1/3 cup of cheese.
  11. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the pastry is browned.
  12. Cool for a few minutes, then cut into wedges, and serve.
Source: http://www.pillsbury.com/

Monday, December 29, 2014

Pot Roast

I love this recipe for pot roast. Mainly because the potatoes are not cooked in the pot (I hate mushy falling apart potatoes - just mash them already!)

This has amazing flavours, particularly for being so simple.

Prep is fast, cooking is slow. Tummies are full and happy. House smells amazing!

I do this in a dutch oven, but you could absolutely adjust the recipe to use your crockpot. After the searing of the meat, just add to the crockpot, and cook on low for 8 ish hours.

If there are any leftovers, this freezes beautifully!

INGREDIENTS
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 2 large onions, cut in half (either direction is ok)
  • 4-6 carrots, chopped into 2 inch chunks (don’t go too small, they’ll fall apart)
  • Salt and Pepper To Taste
  • 4- 5lb chuck roast
  • 1 cup Red Wine (you can use beef stock/broth if you need to)
  • 2-3 Cups beef stock
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme, or 2 tsp dried
  • 3 sprigs fresh rosemary, or 2 tsp dried

DIRECTIONS:
  1. Heat oil in a large pot or dutch oven over medium-high heat.   
  2. Cut the onions in half, and add them to the dutch oven when the oil is very hot. Brown them on one side, then the other. Remove the onions to a plate.
  3. Throw the carrots into the same very hot pan and toss them around a bit until slightly browned, a few minutes or so. Remove the carrots to a plate
  4. Season the meat on all sides with salt and pepper, then sear it for about a minute on all sides until it is nice and brown all over. Remove the roast to a plate.
  5. With the burner still on high, use either red wine or beef broth (about 1 cup) to deglaze the pan, scraping the bottom with a whisk.
  6. Put the meat back into the pan and add enough beef stock to cover the meat halfway (about 2 to 3 cups). Add in the onion, carrots, rosemary and thyme.
  7. Put the lid on, then roast in a 275F oven for 4-5 hours (I do one hour per pound of meat)
  8. Remove from the oven break up the meat with a fork, and serve (with the gravy) over mashed potatoes.


 

Monday, December 22, 2014

Creamy Tomato Soup

With the holidays well and truly upon us (3 MORE SLEEPS!!), and with lots of things to do, places to go, and people to see - getting dinner on the table sometimes falls by the wayside.

The weather in Phoenix has been a little bit rainy the last few days, and we're arriving home cold and ready to be warmed up a little. I know that in other parts of the US it's snowing and people are WAY colder than us, so hopefully - this easy and tasty recipe made from things you already have in the pantry and fridge will give you a good idea for dinner one night!

I was able to make this while balancing a 9 month old on my hip, and supervising the 3 year old (okay, so I needed wine after they were in bed), and dinner was served 30 minutes after arriving home. I call that a win.  This can also be made ahead - making it even faster when you arrive home!

I made a pile of grilled cheese sandwiches to go with it - and everyone loved it. Even Hayden enjoyed dipping his sandwiches in the soup and scarfing it down.

Soup, it's what's for dinner!

CREAMY TOMATO SOUP

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced finely
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 Tablespoons flour
  • 3 cans of crushed or diced tomatoes (14.5oz)
  • 1 Tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • Salt/Pepper
  • 1/2 cup cream or half n half (or yogurt, or sour cream - you choose)


DIRECTIONS:
  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan or dutch oven over medium heat.
  2. Cook the onions until they're soft (about 5 minutes), then add the garlic and cook for a further minute or so.
  3. Add the flour, and mix well - cook for 30 seconds.
  4. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, and stock, whisking to blend and thicken.
  5. Season with salt and pepper.
  6. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
  7. Using an immersion blender - blend until smooth.
  8. Remove from heat, then add the cream (I warm mine to make it less likely to curdle), mixing thoroughly.
  9. Test for seasoning - add more if needed, then serve.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

DIY: Sweetened Condensed Milk


Another blog post born of my need to not go to the store and spend eleventy billion dollars when I only went in for one thing. Don't tell me you don't know what I mean! I can go in for bread and milk, and come out with whatever-meat-is-on-sale-and-ooh-look-at-the-deal-on-cereal-and-canned-tomatoes-and-oh-wow-I-forgot-we-needed-cheese-and beer-and chips.... and a depleted bank account.

Now that I'm making my own coffee creamer, (and the chocolate syrup that goes in that too), I wondered if I could make the sweetened condensed milk used in it too.  Since condensed milk can sell for $3 ish, I think this is probably cheaper as well. 

This took me maybe 5 minutes, and most of that was finding the ingredients in the cupboard.  There IS another way - but it takes whole milk, and about 2 hours to reduce down to the level you need. I like this way JUST FINE.

So... how's it taste?  UM. YUM!!!! I refrigerated it right after I made it, and when I pulled it out to use, it had thickened into a lovely consistency, and was SO GOOD. 

If you have a blender - give this a go!

INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 cup dry milk powder
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup water 
DIRECTIONS:
  1. In a blender, combine sugar and dry milk powder. Pulse briefly to mix.
  2. In a microwave safe jug, combine the vanilla, butter and water and heat until til it boils (you can use a saucepan if you must).
  3. Pour into the blender and blast it for a few minutes, until thickened
  4. Store in the fridge and use as regular condensed milk.


 

Monday, December 15, 2014

Aussie Bites

For those of you with access to a Costco here in the US, they have in the bakery section, a box of treats called "Aussie Bites". You can probably find them in other stores, but that's where I have seen them. 

I find the name amusing - because for the life of me I couldn't figure out what made them Australian at all. I suppose they could be based on ANZAC biscuits, but it's a bit of a stretch. New Zealanders, these are reminiscent of the Tasti brand "Snak Logs", although not as smooth. And not dipped in chocolate.

They are healthy, gluten free (if you use GF oats), dairy free and vegan.

And delicious. 

I might have undersold that part. They're really really good. Even Hayden agrees. He happily snarfed 3, and asked for more. They're a great on the road breakfast (I handed him a bag with some grapes and 3 of these bites for the trip to daycare). Win!

AUSSIE BITES
Yield: 24 bites

INGREDIENTS
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup (or honey – but this won’t be vegan if you use honey)
  • 3/4 cup oat flour (throw some oats in a blender and pulverize until they hit flour consistency)
  • 3/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup unsalted roasted sunflower seeds (divided – add half in the beginning, and half at the end)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut (divided – add half in the beginning, and half at the end)
  • 1/4 cup flaxseed meal
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup dried apricots

DIRECTIONS:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  2. Grease the wells of a mini muffin pan using coconut oil, or if you’re not vegan – you could use butter
  3. Combine the coconut oil and maple syrup (or honey) in a microwave safe bowl or jug, and heat (about 30 seconds), then whisk until combined. Set aside.
  4. Add oat flour, oats, and half the sunflower seeds to a food processor and pulse a couple of times until the seeds and oats begin to break up (don’t overdo this)
  5. Add half the coconut, flaxseed meal, baking powder, and salt. Pulse to mix.
  6. Add the raisins and dried apricots and pulse until the fruit is JUST broken up. (You still want good sized bits of fruit in there.)
  7. Transfer the mix to a large bowl, and add the remaining coconut and sunflower seeds.
  8. Pour the melted coconut oil and maple syrup over the mixture and stir until well combined.
  9. Fill the cups of the mini muffin pan all the way to the top, then press down to pack the mixture in densely.
  10. Bake for about 10-12 minutes until set and edges are golden.
  11. Remove from oven, cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, then gently remove from tin and cool on a wire rack.
Keep at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 3-4 days, or freeze in a ziplock bag (just take them out a few minutes before you need them – they thaw fast)

Source: Adapted from http://ohmyveggies.com/


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

DIY: Coffee Creamer


I love coffee, and often pick up a bottle of "creamer" from the grocery store. But, we ran out, and since I'm not a huge fan of the ingredients in those bottles, I decided to make my own.  It's pretty easy, and there are SO many possibilities for flavours!

This particular time, it was a chocolate creamer - making the coffee a lovely mocha flavour.

The possibilities are endless though, I'm going to experiment with these:
  • Pumpkin spice: pumpkin pie spice and 1/3 cup of pureed pumpkin, add some maple syrup and some vanilla extract maybe?
  • Add vanilla instead of chocolate syrup
  • Creme Brulee: caramel sauce instead of chocolate syrup
  • Chocolate Raspberry: 1 Tablespoon of chocolate syrup + 2 tablespoons raspberry syrup


INGREDIENTS:


DIRECTIONS:
  1. Whisk together all ingredients in a large bowl.
  2. Pour into a container of your choice (we use glass bottles, or old creamer bottles with the labels torn off)


Monday, December 8, 2014

Honey & Lime Glazed Chicken


A quick marinade to share - this is a really simple one that is good for "crap, I forgot to do something about dinner". With the holidays being upon us - and lots of things to do, quick dinners are essential.  I looked in the fridge and pantry for likely candidates to use, and found honey and limes.  Because honey/sugar can sometimes cause chicken to burn before it was cooked through,I added the marinade with the the chicken to the skillet - resulting in really tender and juicy chicken, no drying out, and no burning - and it reduced into a lovely glaze.

Next time I buy chicken breasts in bulk, I'll probably add this to a bag before freezing - and take the work out of it for when I thaw to use.

I'd probably add garlic next time, because, like adding bacon to everything - there really isn't much that can't be improved by adding garlic!

This made GREAT and flavorful leftovers, too

INGREDIENTS:
  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 3-4 Tablespoons honey
  • 3 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • (consider adding garlic or garlic powder to this)
DIRECTIONS:
  1. Add all ingredients to a zip lock back and ensure the chicken is covered with the marinade.
  2. Leave for at least 30 minutes (or overnight)
  3. Heat a skillet to medium high, and add the chicken WITH the marinade to it.
  4. Cook until chicken reaches 165F, and the marinade reduces to a thick glaze.



Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Mini Pecan Pies


I'd never had a pecan pie before making them myself, so wasn't sure how they're supposed to taste. I knew, looking at the ingredients, that it would likely be super sweet - so I decided to do them in miniature. Much like the pumpkin pies, I thought these were the perfect crust to filling ratio - and soooo addictive!! 

They were great to have hanging about over the Thanksgiving weekend. People dropped by, I made coffee and had these little yummies to serve alongside. I looked like the hostess with the mostest. And I like that.

INGREDIENTS
  • ¾ cup white sugar
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar
  • 1 cup corn syrup
  • ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ⅓ cup melted butter
  • 3 eggs beaten
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 2 pie crusts (you can make your own. I didn’t. Again)


INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease your muffin tin. 
  2. Roll out the pie crusts and cut with a circle cookie cutter,  about 3 inches in diameter.
  3. Gently press the pie crust circles into the tin.

Pie Filling
  1. Add all ingredients except for the pecans into a medium size mixing bowl and stir until combined.  
  2. Add about a teaspoon of chopped pecans to each pie circle. Pour pie filling on top of pecans into each pie, but don’t fill all the way – as the filling expands! The pecans will float to the top.
  3. Bake for 15-20 minutes - cooking time can vary based on your oven.
  4. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin for a few minutes, then pop out onto a wire cooling rack.



Source: http://houseofyumm.com/

Monday, December 1, 2014

Chocolate Cake (and a Happy 3rd Birthday to my son!)

My son, Hayden turned 3 yesterday! He had an absolute blast, and honestly - that made it fun for us too. Now that he understands a little more what's going on, the excitement on his face is addictive. I can't WAIT for next year. 

I was looking for something easy but still cool to make for his birthday - and found this after a quick browse. Perfect for my truck, car, digger and train loving little boy. He loved this, and couldn't wait to dig in.

As always, I'm not a baker - but this recipe was pretty easy. I had the support of some friends (Hi Leigh, Amanda and Jess!) while I went through the process.  There really needs to be an Idiot's Guide to Cake Baking. I'd buy it.  Instead, I relied upon the indulgent guidance of friends. Thanks, ladies!

To make this particular cake, you just have to make a two-layered chocolate cake (see below). Once it is cooled completely and frosted - go ahead and destroy it. Haha.

Cut out a small slice of cake, half way down, lifting, and flipping it over on top of the cake so it looks like an excavator dug a hole. Smush it up a little.. Sprinkle crushed Oreos over the hole and over the mound of cake you flipped onto the cake to make it look like a pile of dirt. Add a small digger toy, and you will have the delight of any little boy. 

Here's some pics from Hayden's day


CHOCOLATE CAKE

INGREDIENTS
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1½ teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder
  • 1 cup milk
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • Chocolate frosting (make your own, or use storebought – I’m not judging)
  • Optional for construction cake: 10-12 crushed oreo cookies

DIRECTIONS:
  1. Preheat oven to 350º F.
  2. Grease with butter and dust with flour, two 9-inch cake pans.
  3. Combine flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt and espresso powder to a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix on low to until combined well.
  4. Add milk, vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla to the dry ingredients and mix on medium speed until well combined.
  5. Carefully add boiling water to the cake batter. Beat on medium-high speed for about 1 minute.
  6. Pour the cake batter in to the two cake pans (as evenly as possible).
  7. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
  8. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes, remove from the pan and cool completely.
  9. Frost with chocolate frosting, and decorate.
Sources
Cake           http://addapinch.com

Decoration: http://bakerette.com 



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