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 350ยบ 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 



Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Cooking with Kids

Not a recipe related post (well, unless mini chocolate bites made from leftovers counts), but one I wanted to share with you.

One of my (many) wonderful memories as a kid was cooking and baking with my mother and grandmother. It wasn't about the food, necessarily (although getting to lick the beaters and bowl clean was a definite benefit), it was about time spent together. 

Some of the best conversations I can remember with my mother (even the difficult ones) were had in the kitchen. Side by side, working together, I could casually drop a questions/comment/statement in and we'd talk about it.

As a mother of two sons, I want to carry this practice on. Not only will my boys gain valuable skills, but they'll bring a lot to the table (no pun intended) if they can cook their future wives an amazing meal.  I also want them to have similar memories that I had, and look back fondly and remember this time with me. 

I love my sons so much, and as much as this is about them and their memories - it's also about mine!

I had some leftover pie dough, and thought it would be fun for Hayden to use the cookie cutters, and cut out some shapes and bake them. 

I also had enough to make a few mini chocolate bites (chocolate chips wrapped in pie dough, and baked), which went down a treat!




Monday, November 24, 2014

Mini Pumpkin Pies

Another co-worker’s birthday! Happy Birthday Malcolm, hope your birthday was awesome.

At work there’s a “biggest loser” competition going on, that has not yet ended. Our birthday boy is a participant, so I wanted to bring treats – but not sabotage the whole effort. I opted to make bite sized versions of an old favourite, and since his birthday coincides with Thanksgiving week, it’s the perfect treat to bring!

I love pumpkin pie, but really for me - it's about the crust. Making mini pumpkin pies allows a MUCH better filling to crust ratio, so I think I'll make them this way forever and ever. Amen.

This recipe will make 24 minis (I cut a deep dish pie filling recipe in half). You could keep the filling (double this one) and also make a regular sized pie as well as the minis. Or, make 48 minis and scarf a bunch of them when no one is looking.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 pie crusts (store bought if you are lazy like I am)

Filling

  • 6 Tbs white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 15oz can pumpkin (not pie mix)
  • 1/2 12oz can evaporated milk

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Combine all filling ingredients in a large bowl until well mixed.
  3. Using a 3 or 4 inch round cutter, cut circles of dough out and put them in a mini muffin or tart pan. Press lightly to fit the pan.
  4. Pour filling into each cup (leave a bit of space, they will puff up a little).
  5. Bake for 5 minutes at 425, then reduce oven temp to 350, and bake for a further 10 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean.

Cool, and serve. (Whipped cream would be great, but I decorated with a simple dusting of powdered sugar).

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Florentine Lasagne Rollups

Not a new concept, but definitely a yummy one. I made this on a Sunday, and left it in the fridge for baking on Monday night. Monday nights are just hectic for no other reason that it's the first night of the week after a leisurely weekend, so things are just HARDER.  Having this waiting to be baked in the fridge was a huge time saver, and I was able to do other things instead of prepping and cooking dinner. 

Even the almost-3-year-old ate this, happily. Win!

The key here has to be the homemade alfredo sauce. Seriously, don't cheat and use one from a jar. I will be very disappointed in you!  Ha, just kidding. Do what you must, but at the end of the day - the homemade sauce is what sends this dish into the fabulous zone.

Hope you enjoy this as much as we did. 


INGREDIENTS:
Alfredo Sauce:
  • ½ cup butter
  • 2oz cream cheese
  • 2 cups half and half or milk (if you use milk, bump the cream cheese up an ounce.  You could use cream, but hi there, blocked arteries!!)
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp dried oregano, basil, or Italian seasoning
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese (more, to taste)
  • 9 lasagna noodles
  • 2 cups cooked and shredded chicken
  • 1.5 cups baby spinach, chopped finely.
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • Salt, pepper to taste
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1.5 cups shredded Mozzarella, or cheese of your choice


DIRECTIONS:
   
        Make the sauce first:
  1. In a medium saucepan melt the butter over medium heat.  Add garlic and cook for about 1 minute
  2. Add the cream cheese and whisk until smooth.  Whisk in the half & half or milk. 
  3. Season with salt and pepper and oregano, bring to a simmer (don’t boil!)and whisk frequently until the sauce thickens about 15 minutes. 
  4. Add the parmesan and whisk until melted and blended.
  5. Set aside

    Next steps
  6. Cook the lasagna noodles according to package directions.
  7. Drain and rinse the noodles with cold water and dry them a little on a paper towel to make them easier to work with
  8. While the noodles cook, combine the chicken, spinach, and seasonings in a large bowl.

    To assemble

  9. Spread about half a cup of the alfredo sauce in your baking dish (I used an 8 x 8 one, would use a bigger one next time)
  10. Onto each noodle, spread filling, sauce and some mozzarella, and roll up.
  11. Place each one seam side down into your baking dish.
  12. Top with remaining alfredo sauce, and mozzarella.
  13. Bake at 350 degrees, for around 30 minutes – until heated through and cheese is bubbling.
  14. Serve to your starving and whining family (who will begin their campaign for dinner!! now!! hungry!! as soon as they smell the sauce cooking)


Source: Kylee Cooks


Monday, November 17, 2014

Slow Cooker Red Beans & Rice

If you haven't figured it out yet, I love the set-and-forget style of cooking that a crockpot allows. There are a lot of recipes I'm sure I'd love, but the cooking times are actually too SHORT.

I leave my house with 2 children at around 6:15am. I return around 4:45 - that's roughly 10.5 hours!  A 4 hour (ha!) recipe would be dried out and burned by the time I got home.  A lot of times, I use the crockpot on the weekends, because I'm home - but I'm busy with other things.

THIS recipe uses dried beans that are not pre-soaked or pre-cooked. That's right. DUMP AND RUN. YESSSS!!!!


The smell of this smoky, warm "stew" through the house was definitely a bonus. Everyone came to the table ready to EAT!

SLOW COOKER RED BEANS & RICE

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 pound dried red beans, rinsed and sorted
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4 ribs celery, chopped
  • 7 oz. smoked boneless pork chops, diced into ½-inch cubes (smoked ham steaks would work too)
  • 12 ounces smoked sausage, cut in half lengthwise and sliced into ½” thick slices
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt (plus more to taste)
  • 1 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 2 tsp. creole seasoning (can omit if you like)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
  • 4 cups cooked rice
DIRECTIONS:
  1. Put all ingredients (except rice) in your crockpot. Add (about) 6 cups of water, enough to cover contents with about half an inch of water.
  2. Stir well, cover, and cook on high 8 hours or low 10 hours.
  3. About an hour before serving, use a potato masher to mash some of the beans, stir, and cook an hour longer. 
  4. Before serving, taste beans and add extra seasoning to taste.
  5. Remove bay leaves, and serve beans in bowls over the cooked rice.
Source: Adapted from www.wearychef.com




    Wednesday, November 12, 2014

    Creamy Leek & Potato Soup (with Bacon)

    Every time I make soup, I'm reminded of the show "Seinfeld" . In an episode Seinfeld owes someone dinner, and they order soup - and say they'll keep their owed dinner for another time, because soup isn't a meal.

    YOU GUYS!! Soup is a meal!  I love soup. I love that The Husband loves soup, AND agrees that it can be dinner more regularly than most people I know.

    This soup is one of my favourites to make, because I almost always have the ingredients. Bonus!  Soup is awesome.

    (How many times did I say "soup" in the above paragraphs? 8. Yeah. EIGHT)

    Anyhoo... let's eat...

    LEEK & POTATO SOUP (WITH BACON)

    INGREDIENTS:

    • 4 slices of bacon, diced
    • 1/2  large onion (or 1 medium), thinly sliced
    • 2 leeks, chopped finely
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 4 large potatoes, peeled and sliced thinly 
    • 6 cups chicken broth (enough to cover the potatoes about half an inch)
    • Pepper
    • 1/2 Cup half & half (or milk, or sour cream)

    DIRECTIONS:

    1. In a dutch oven, over medium-high heat, cook the bacon, then add the onion and leeks.
    2. Cook until tender (about 5 minutes).
    3. Add the garlic, cook a further 30 seconds.
    4. Add the potatoes and broth, and bring to a boil.
    5. Reduce the heat to medium, and let simmer until the potatoes are tender (about 10-15 mins).
    6. Either use a masher, an immersion blender, or a blender to roughly blend (you don't want puree it fully, chunks are good!)
    7. Stir in the pepper and the half & half.
    8. Serve!


    Makes 6 servings (ish)

    Source: Kylee Cooks original



    Monday, November 10, 2014

    Chunky Chili

    A rich, tasty chili that is easy to prepare and cooked all day. No long list of ingredients, you probably have them all in your pantry already!

    This really NEEDS a good long stay in the crockpot, in order to blend all the flavours properly.

    A note about chili powder. Whenever that appears in a recipe, it refers to a chili powder BLEND, not pure ground chillies.


    Served with some corn bread, or tortillas, this is a hearty dinner ready for when you walk in the door!

    CHUNKY CHILI

    INGREDIENTS:
    • 1lb/500g lean ground beef
    • 1 medium onion, chopped
    • 2 cans of diced tomatoes
    • 1 can of pinto beans, drained and rinsed (or kidney beans)
    • 1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
    • ½ cup of salsa
    • 1 tablespoon of chili powder
    • 1 ½ tablespoons of cumin
    • 1 tsp onion powder
    • 1 tsp garlic powder
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 1/2 tsp pepper
    DIRECTIONS:
    1. Brown the beef and onion in a large pan at a medium high heat until beef is browned, and onion is tender. Drain and discard fat.
    2. Place beef and onions, and all remaining ingredients in the crock pot.
    3. Stir, cover and cook on LOW for 6-8 hours or until flavours are well blended.
    4. Serve with corn bread, in a tortilla, or in a bowl topped with cheese, sour cream.


    Friday, November 7, 2014

    Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake



    I love Fall baking! This cheesecake combines some of my favourite flavours and looks so pretty, it's great to serve when you have guests over.

    With all the pumpkin recipes out there during this season, it would be remiss of me not to share this one, right?

    My photo was super rushed, I was making this to bring to a party and had no time to fuss. Sometimes, life really gets in the way... forgive me?

    Source: Allrecipes

    PUMPKIN SWIRL CHEESECAKE

    INGREDIENTS:
    • 2 cups crushed gingersnap cookies  
    • 1/3 cup butter, melted
    • 2 (8 ounce/225 gram) packages cream cheese, softened
    • 3/4 cup white sugar, divided
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 3 eggs
    • 1 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
    • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

    DIRECTIONS:
    1. Preheat oven to 350.
    2. In a medium bowl, mix together the crushed gingersnap cookies and butter.
    3. Press into the bottom, and about 1 inch up the sides of a 9 inch spring-form pan.
    4. Bake crust 10 minutes, then set aside to cool.
    5. In a medium bowl, mix together the cream cheese, 1/2 cup sugar, and vanilla just until smooth.
    6. Mix in eggs one at a time, blending well after each.
    7. Set aside 1 cup of the mixture.
    8. Blend 1/4 cup sugar, pumpkin, cinnamon, and nutmeg into the remaining mixture.
    9. Spread the pumpkin flavored batter into the crust, and drop the plain batter by spoonfuls onto the top. Swirl with a knife to create a marbled effect.
    10. Bake 55 minutes in the preheated oven, or until filling is set.
    11. Run a knife around the edge of the pan. Allow to cool before removing pan rim.
    12. Chill for at least 4 hours before serving.


    Wednesday, November 5, 2014

    Meet: My boys



    This post is long overdue, and although this is a cooking blog, and involves primarily recipes - in my posts, I sometimes share a little about my life, the weather, my upbringing... etc so it would be REMISS of me not to include a few photos of my little loves.

    I've referred to the toddler and the baby a few times, but I need you to see how gorgeous these two are. They absolutely love each other and have so much fun interacting and laughing together. It's such a pleasure to watch their relationship develop!

    Without further ado - here they are....

    This is Hayden
    He'll be 3 at the end of the month, and is a whirlwind of activity. He is developing a sense of humor, which is funny in itself (any clue what is funny to a 3 year old? butts and poop. Oh dear)




    This is Cameron
    8 months old and so very chilled out, laid back and calm. Except when he's sick. Then all bets are off.  He's a sunny, happy little dude the rest of the time. Just happy to be in sight of the people that love him.


    Here's my boys together. Brothers forever

    I told H "don't give Cams any more!" so, they did an under the table deal.
    Photos taken of both boys around the same ages - uncanny, right?

    Back to regularly scheduled recipe viewing soon!

    Monday, November 3, 2014

    Slow Cooker: Chicken Tikka Masala


    This recipe comes from Stephanie, at Sustaining the Powers. She has a really cool "Crocktober" weekly event that highlights 4 new recipes a week. I've gotten some great ideas from there already, including this one. I found her via another blog. We bonded. Life is good.

    I lovvvve Chicken Tikka Masala.  It's usually a bit of a time investment, so I REALLY loved this recipe - because using a crockpot to make it gives me lots of hands off time. This has a beautiful colour, complex and delicious flavour and is now on the permanent "here's the recipe to use for this" list.

    It DOES have a long ingredient list, but it's really not that difficult to pull together. I actually had everything already in the house, so no need for an extra store trip.

    If you're a fan of indian food (and if you're new to it - try this first, it's a great intro to the cuisine!! This is mild, I promise), you'll love how easy this is, and how amazing the flavours are with very minimal effort.

    Get on it!

    CHICKEN TIKKA MASALA

    INGREDIENTS
    • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
    • 1 (or 2) (15oz) can diced new potatoes, drained and rinsed
    • 1/2 large yellow onion, finely diced
    • 1 large (29 oz) can tomato sauce  (Aussies/Kiwis - this is tomato puree, not ketchup)
    • 1 1/2 cups plain Greek yogurt
    • 1 cup coconut milk
    • 4 cloves garlic, minced
    • 2 Tbs freshly, finely grated ginger
    • 2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
    • 2 Tbs Garam Masala  
    • 1 Tbs cumin
    • 1/2 tablespoon smoked paprika
    • 2 tsp salt, or to taste
    • 3/4 tsp cinnamon
    • 3/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
    • 1 tsp cayenne pepper  
    • 1 tsp coriander
    • 2 Tbs cornstarch
    For Serving
    • 4 cups cooked steamed rice
    • Chopped fresh cilantro

    DIRECTIONS:
    1. Chop the chicken breasts into bite sized pieces, then add with the potatoes and onions to the crock-pot.
    2. In a large bowl, whisk together the tomato sauce, yogurt, coconut milk, garlic, ginger, olive oil, spices, and corn starch until smooth.
    3. Pour over chicken and potatoes in the crock-pot and combine.
    4. Cook on low for 6 hours or until chicken is tender and fully cooked. Smash the potatoes against the side of the crock-pot (thickens the sauce)
    5. Serve chicken over prepared rice topped with chopped cilantro.





    Friday, October 31, 2014

    Spinach, Feta & Mozzarella Rolls



    These are so simple, and so basic - I almost didn't share.

    But, since the toddler devoured these and got VERY upset when we told him that they were NOT all for him - I thought other families could use the idea too!

    Obviously, you could use homemade dough, but I didn't.  Super quick, super yummy!


    SPINACH, FETA & MOZZARELLA ROLLS

    INGREDIENTS:
    • 1 can of crescent rolls
    • 2oz mozzarella
    • 2oz crumbled feta
    • Handful of fresh baby spinach, chopped
    • Salt/Pepper
    DIRECTIONS:
    1. Combine the cheeses, spinach and seasoning in a bowl.
    2. Spread the mixture over the entire surface of each piece of crescent roll dough (obviously more at the wider end).
    3. Roll up, and bake at 375 for 15 minutes (or until browned)
    4. Cool, and devour. Hide from your kids if you actually want to taste these.

    Wednesday, October 29, 2014

    White Bean & Potato Soup with Lemon and Thyme

    Aaah, it's soup season!! To me, there's nothing better than a bowl of warm homemade soup to begin a meal, or even BE the meal. I'm making different batches of soup lately, eating a bowl and freezing the rest in 1 serving sized containers. That way, whenever I need a lunch, or a dinner - I have plenty to choose from and don't get sick of eating an entire batch of one soup.

    This soup is warm and comforting, but is really bright too with the addition of the lemon. Using fresh thyme is key (in my opinion), but i'm sure dried would work JUST FINE.

    Hope you like it as much as we did!

    NOTE: This can be made vegan by using plain almond milk instead of the regular milk, and by using vegetable broth. 


    Source: Slightly adapted from theprettybee.com

    WHITE BEAN & POTATO SOUP WITH LEMON & THYME
      • 1 tablespoon olive oil
      • 1 small onion, chopped
      • 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth, heated
      • 3 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
      • 2 garlic cloves, minced
      • 2 t. freshly chopped thyme
      • 1 tsp lemon zest
      • 1 can (15-1/2 ounces) white beans (navy, cannellini), drained and rinsed
      • ¾ cup milk
      • juice of a half of a lemon
      • Salt and pepper to taste
                          DIRECTIONS:
                            1. In a large saucepan, cook onion in olive oil until translucent. 
                            2. Stir in the heated broth, potatoes, garlic and thyme and zest.
                            3. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
                            4. Stir in the beans. Blend soup with hand blender, but not too well, there should still be chunks of potato and a few beans. 
                            5. Add lemon juice and stir, then add milk. 
                            6. Cook over low heat for 5 minutes or until heated thoroughly.

                                      INGREDIENTS



                                      Monday, October 27, 2014

                                      Hot Ham & Cheese Pinwheels


                                      Ohhhh, these are such a breeze to make. Seriously. I knocked these together while the kids napped, and had to restrain the husband from eating more than his share (had to leave some for the toddler, at least!)

                                      Using a really simple bread dough, and using just a stand mixer with a dough hook, this is a great idea to use when you haven't been grocery shopping and are out of bread need a quick and fun lunch.

                                      HOT HAM & CHEESE PINWHEELS

                                      INGREDIENTS:
                                      • 1 1/2 C warm water
                                      • 2 TBS sugar
                                      • 1 TBS yeast
                                      • 1/2 tsp salt
                                      • 4 1/2 C all purpose flour
                                      • 2 Tbs deli mustard
                                      • 15 slices thin sliced ham
                                      • 2 Cups grated cheddar cheese

                                      DIRECTIONS:
                                      1. Pour water into your stand mixer, fitted with the dough hook.
                                      2. Add sugar and yeast and mix around a little. Let it rest for 5 minutes or so, or until the yeast goes bubbly (see above pic)
                                      3. Turn the mixer to medium speed and allow it to mix for 10 minutes, or until the dough is smooth.
                                      4. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured counter, and divide in two equal parts
                                      5. Cover with a damp towel, and rest on the counter for 5 minutes.
                                      6. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
                                      7. After the dough has rested roll one part into a large rectangle.
                                      8. Spread with 1 Tbs of mustard, then cover it with half the ham and half the cheese.
                                      9. Roll the dough up starting with the longer end.
                                      10. Slice into 12 pieces, and put onto a prepared cookie sheet.
                                      11. Do the same with the other half of the dough (or reserve for another use)
                                      12. Put the cookie sheets somewhere warm, and let the pinwheels rise a little (not too much, you don't want them to be huge and puffy)
                                      13. Bake for about 15-20 minutes or until golden brown along the top and bottom.
                                      14. Remove the pan from the oven and let them cool a little before devouring



                                      Step 8

                                      Step 9

                                      Step 10
                                      Step 14


                                      Friday, October 24, 2014

                                      Healthy Breakfast "Cookies"

                                      With two little guys to get fed, dressed, in the car and down the road first thing in the morning, I don't have a lot of time to mess about with getting the toddler to eat something in the mornings.  Enter the "breakfast cookie".

                                      Yup. Looks like a cookie, smells like a cookie... but is it a cookie? No, not really. It has no butter, oil, eggs, flour, or sugar. Which means - I can approve eating cookies for breakfast.

                                      They have great ingredients that would normally be found in a bowl of oatmeal, but they're now portable. 
                                      And are toddler approved. YESSSS!!!

                                      These come together very fast, and stay good in the fridge for a week. 

                                      Source: http://www.familyfreshmeals.com/

                                      INGREDIENTS:
                                      • 2 cups rolled oats (regular or quick, but steelcut don't work)
                                      • 2 ripe bananas
                                      • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
                                      • 1 tsp cinnamon
                                      • 1 tsp vanilla extract
                                      • 1/3 cup of raisins

                                      Optional: 1 Tbs honey or pure maple syrup

                                      DIRECTIONS
                                      1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
                                      2. Mix together all ingredients until well combined.
                                      3. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, or use a baking stone
                                      4. Using a cookie scoop, drop dough onto the the cookie sheet, and then flatten into round shapes.  
                                      5. Bake approx. 25 – 30 minutes, or until golden.  
                                      6. Remove from oven & let rest on cookie sheet for 5 minutes and then move to cooling rack.  



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