Monthly Archives: January 2013

potato, bacon and egg scramble


I decided to skip meal planning this week. A few of nights, I realized just how reliant I am on my scheduled meals. I got home from work on Monday and simply stood in front of the open fridge for about 10 minutes, staring blankly. I hadn’t thawed any meat and I didn’t really have that many fresh veggies available either. I was stumped.

I spotted some bacon in the drawer and a bunch of red peppers about to go bad. I grabbed those, a red onion, some cheddar cheese and a carton of egg, intending on whipping up a quick frittata. Instead, I spotted some boiled potatoes in the fridge and decided to improvise a hash.

As I was cooking up the ingredients, I realized the boys, the smalls and the big one, would probably not enjoy a hash with a fried egg on top as much as I would. I came up with a compromise and scrambled the egg and poured it on top of the mixture, stirring it up as I went. This is how my potato, bacon and egg scramble was born. Both littles ate two bowlfuls; I’ll be making this one again!

Potato, Bacon and Egg Scramble

2 to 3 cups of cooked potatoes
1/2 large red onion, diced
2 small (1 large) bell pepper, roughly chopped
6 slices bacon, chopped
6 eggs
1/2 cup sharp cheddar, grated
Salt & pepper to taste

Fry the bacon over medium-high heat until cooked but not crispy. Lower heat to medium; add onion and bell pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent. Add potatoes and cook until potatoes start browning. I love my potatoes slightly crispy and brown. (yum!)

While the potatoes cook, crack the 6 eggs into a bowl and scramble. Add cheese to the egg mixture and pour over potato mixture in pan. Stir around until all the egg is cooked. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve and enjoy!

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cream cheese apple dip


I whipped up this delicious concoction for the birthday party yesterday. Only 4 ingredients, quick to put together and simply delicious. It was perfect for a kids & grown up party and I loved that it literally took 5 minutes to assemble. I’d promised myself to KISS and this recipe fit the bill.

Cream Cheese Apple Dip
1 8 oz package of cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
Small handful of mini chocolate chips

Stir the cream cheese, brown sugar and vanilla together until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is smooth. Toss in a handful of mini chocolate chips, stir and serve with apple wedges.

Tip: If you don’t want your apples browning during the party, toss them in some lemon juice.

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Next time, when I’m aware of peanut allergies or not, I’ll be trying out this peanut butter cream cheese dip http://www.rachelcooks.com/2012/10/29/peanut-butter-cream-cheese-apple-dip/ , and I’ll be adding chocolate chips to this one, too, you can be sure of it!

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start your engines!


My baby turned three yesterday…not so much of a baby anymore. Where does time fly? We’re having his party today and it’s Cars themed, as per his request. When I asked him what kind of cake he wanted, he promptly declared he wanted a “Mack & Lightning Cake”… Guess what, kid? Mack is an 18-wheeler truck. Sadly, that ain’t happening.

I did, however, decide I would attempt to make a Lightning McQueen cake. I figure I’d made a Mater cake a few years ago.
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How hard could a race car be? The answer? Pretty hard. But I’m absolutely amazed by the results. Rather proud, actually. I’ve patted myself on the shoulder quite a few times, I’ll admit!
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A few friends have asked me how I built the cake, so I figured I’d share it here.

First, I baked two 9 x 13 cakes. This makes a lot of cake. I cheated, and used boxed cake to which I added 1 pack of instant chocolate pudding and 1 extra egg. This apparently creates a firmer cake, closer to a pound cake, that holds its shape and carves more easily. I do usually try and bake my cakes from scratch but all three boys got the flu over the past 10 days and I was a bit too busy to worry about from-scratch cakes.

I froze the cakes so that they would be easier to carve. You’d probably want to freeze them overnight, mine were in the freezer for almost a week.

I removed the cakes from the freezer, put a layer of vanilla buttercream and stacked other cake on top.

Then, I borrowed one of my kid’s die-cast Lightning McQueen’s and went to work.

I carved the outline of the cake (think aerial view) of the car. Then, I used a picture of the character’s profile I grabbed in on of the kids’ books and did my best to match it.

I used the scraps I had just trimmed off to build the top of the car as well as the spoiler. I used a boatload of buttercream to hold everything in place. I used two toothpicks to hold the spoiler up as it kept toppling over.

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I gave the whole cake a thick crumb coat…
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I ran out of icing and some sections are thinner than I would have liked.

Then I covered it all with red marshmallow fondant. I hate fondant. Hate, hate, hate it. I can never seem to make it right. But, I like how it looks, so I put up with it. My best friend assures me I’ll get the hang of it soon. I’m not sure I believe her. ;)

I then cut out all the decorations using this template I found online. I did have to make some adjustments and make some of the pieces smaller, but it was very, very helpful.   I did just trace and carve out the letters and numbers myself though. This would explain why they are a little sloppy.

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It was fun but a lot of work. Including making the cake, buttercream, fondant and decorating it all, it probably took me about 4 and a half hours. I enjoyed doing it, but probably wouldn’t undertake the task for someone who isn’t related to me. ;)

 

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penne alla vodka


Food + Booze. How can you go wrong?!

I made a delicious batch of penne alla vodka tonight from scratch tonight; I even went so far as making my own tomato sauce from a package of cherry tomatoes I had in the fridge. I was feeling rather inspired and fluttered about the kitchen as, I would imagine, a seasoned chef would do! I didn’t follow a specific recipe but instead added a little bit of this and a little of that, and the results were absolutely divine!

I paired my meal with a lovely Pinot Grigio and am now patting my belly in satisfaction. This recipe won’t be exact but is pretty close to what I made!

Penne Alla Vodka
1 lb penne rigate
1 tbsp olive oil
3 medium-sized shallots, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
6 slices bacon, chopped
1 can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup vodka (or white wine)
Splash of chicken stock
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
salt and pepper
3/4 cups freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil. Add bacon and cook until the edges begin to crisp. Add the shallots and the garlic. Cook until tender.

Add the tomatoes, salt and pepper. Simmer for about 4-5 minutes.

Add the cream, vodka and chicken stock. Cook for about 15 minutes, letting the sauce reduce by almost half. Add salt & pepper to taste

While the sauce simmers, cook the pasta al dente. Drain the pasta and toss with the sauce with the fresh basil and parmigiano. Serve immediately and indulge.

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french onion chicken stew


I’m about to admit something incredibly weird. I really like onions. I may even love them. I remember frying them up in butter and eating them on toast for a cheap snack in college. One of my favourite kitchen smell to this day is the smell of onions frying. It’s not a stretch to admit, then, that I absolutely adore French onion soup. Sure, it’s melted cheesy goodness, and its delightful doughy croutons are fabulous, but I truly love that stuff for the onions. So, when I was home with the kiddos last Thursday, and saw Chef Michael Smith whipping this recipe up on the Food Network, I just know I had to try it.

I wasn’t disappointed with the final result. I took some liberties with the recipe and took the time to carmelize the onions. This really intensified the flavour and the richness of the stew.

French Onion Chicken Stew
8 chicken thighs
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
4 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons butter
2-3 bay leaves
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
10-12 small onions, sliced
4 cups real chicken broth
1/2 cup sherry
1 bay leaf
1 16-oz bag baby spinach

In a large skillet over medium high heat, splash in a pool of olive oil then add the butter to the center of the oil. Use half the oil and butter in this step. This will help add the flavour of butter without burning the butter. Dredge the chicken pieces in the flour, dust off any excess, carefully position in to the skillet and brown on all sides, doing so in batches if necessary. Reserve the chicken pieces on a plate.

Pour in the other half of oil and butter into the pan. Add the onions and a splash of water, salt and pepper. Stir well, then cover with a tight-fitting lid. This will capture steam and help the onions release all their moisture. Cook, stirring now and then, until the onions soften and become quite wet, about 10 minutes. Remove the lid and continue cooking over medium-high heat, stirring frequently until all the water has evaporated. Lower the heat a bit and slowly begin to caramelize the onions, stirring them frequently. This will take about 45 minutes.

After the onions have caramelized, add half the onion mixture to your slow cooker. Arrange the chicken pieces over the onion and arrange the remaining onion mixture on top. Pour on the broth and the sherry. Toss in the bay leaf and thyme. Cover, and cook on high for about 4 hours.

Before serving, pull the bones from the chicken, stir in the spinach. Stir to wilt the spinach and serve.

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asian beef noodle soup


I had been eyeing this soup recipe in the Looneyspoons cookbook for a while now, but never had the opportune time to make it. G isn’t a fan of soup. He also isn’t a fan of spinach or broccoli so a soup, combining the two ingredients probably wouldn’t go over well! That being said, he was out last night and I decided to subject the two boys to my culinary experiments, instead. I loved it! They, however, weren’t a fan of the “salad” in their soup but devoured the noodles, broccoli and beef. Not a total failure!  I’ll definitely be making this again as I really enjoyed it!

4 oz uncooked soba noodles (I used Udon noodles)
6 cups sodium reduced beef broth
3 tbsp hoisin sauce
1 tbsp each soy sauce, grated ginger root, toasted sesame oil, and feshly squeezed lime juice
12 ounces (340 g) beef tenderloin, thinly sliced (I’m too cheap for beef tenderloin and just used a NY strip I found on sale which I also sliced very thinly)
1 cup broccoli florets, cut into bite-sized pieces
3 cups fresh baby spinach
1/3 cup chopped green onions
1/4 each of chopped fresh mint leaves, and chopped fresh basil leaves (I omitted the mint as we aren’t fans)
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup bean sprouts

Cook noodles according to package directions. Drain well, rinse with cold water and drain again. Set aside until soup is ready to serve.

In a large soup pot, combine beef broth, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, ginger root, sesame oil, and lime juice. Bring to a boil. reduce heat to low and simmer for 3 minutes.

Add beef, spinach, broccoli, green onions, mint and basil. Simmer for 5 more minutes, just until beef is cooked through. Taste soup and add salt and pepper if desired.

To serve soup, place some cooked noodles in the bottom of a soup bowl, top with bean sprouts and ladle soup over top. Serve hot.

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crispy yogurt chicken


I know… the name of this recipe doesn’t make it very appetizing. But it really is! The yogurt is reminiscent of soaking your chicken in buttermilk when preparing it for fried chicken. Sortof. I improvised this recipe, basing it on how I would usually make my breaded chicken and it turned out great! Very crispy, moist and tasty! It will definitely make its way into our regular rotation.

Crispy Yogurt Chicken
1 cup corn flake crumbs (or panko would work!)
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp thyme and salt
1/4 tsp garlic powder, onion powder and freshly ground pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1 cup fat-free plain greek yogurt
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
Chicken (i used breasts as it’s what I had on hand) legs or thighs or drumsticks would be great, too!

Preheat oven to 400F.

Coat a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray.

Mix together the yogurt, garlic and lemon.

Rinse chicken and pat dry. Place the chicken in the yogurt mixture and allow to sit a few minutes while you prep the coating mixture.

In a shallow bowl or pie plate, mix the corn flake crumbs, parmesan, paprika, salt, thyme, garlic powder, onion power and pepper.

Here comes the messy part. Remove the chicken one piece at a time and place in the crumb mixture. Coat the chicken in the mixture, making sure every surface is coated. Place on baking sheet and bake for 30-40 minutes until the chicken is crispy and golden and cooked through.

 

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