Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Ginger Cookies

So today after a long day of running around I decided to make some ginger cookies. I found this recipe on allrecipes.com (absolutely love that website) and it was right at the top of the homepage.

I got a tiny bit creative and didn't follow the list of ingredients fully as I didn't have all the things I needed at home and didn't feel the need to add extra sugar to the cookies before putting them in the oven.

Another great thing about all recipes is that you can change the measurements from metric to US measurements and back again. 

All you need is: 
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour (I used spelled flour?)
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves (didn't use these as I didn't have ground cloves)
3/4 cups margarine
1 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon water (I used like four)
1/4 cup molasses (I used simple brown sugar)
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons white sugar (didn't use this either)

First off preheat the oven to 350 degrees (175°Celcius). Then in a bowl you put together the flour, baking soda, ground ginger, cinnamon, salt and normally the ground cloves. This you then leave on the side as you'll need it later.




Third off mix together the margarine and 1 cup sugar, add the egg, brown sugar and water. Gradually mix in the dry ingredients. Once done place on a baking tray with baking paper. Bake for 10 minutes and let cool.



Some steps I missed out are sifting together the dry ingredients all I did was put them together. I also left out the step of rolling the dough in sugar before placing the cookie balls in the oven.

Personally I don't think it makes such a difference and if it helps my dad's already had a cookie and said it was delicious :D

ginger cookies






Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Savory Oat Bread

Savory Oat Bread

Weekend baking!! I love baking on the weekend, it's so much fun. I think i am slowly turning into my friend Kristin from cooking and school work! Shortly after baking this bread, I posted a photo on Instagram and then I saw that Kristin posted a very similar photo of her bread in the oven.  Now if K lived here, I would have skipped the baking and just eaten her bread. She's a great baker. But until she finishes up school, I am stuck making my own bread.. wah wah #firstworldproblems

friends, instagram, bread

So just when I thought I was getting the hang of making bread, this recipe through me for a bit of a loop. It doesn't use the same standard formula of mixing the yeast with warm water and then adding the other ingredients. It is still very easy to follow, and make. Recipe inspired by Kitchen aid recipe for Summer time Savory Oat Bread, from the Kitchen aid cookbook.

I love that it uses carrots and onions. I have a lot of carrots from my veggie share so this was a good chance to use some of them up. I also made carrot soup (recipe to come sometime soon as i have had some requests for it). I had my parents over for lunch and we had the soup and melted cheese breads using this bread. I had to eat a lot of bread to carbo load for my big 5K army run on Sunday. I am mostly kidding, because you really don't need to carb load for such a short race. At the same time, any excuse to eat bread works for me. Also, even though the race is short in distance, it still takes a lot out of you if you are pushing yourself. My run went pretty well, given my training ( or lack there of). I did train, but didn't do enough speed work or intervals leading up to it.  I definitely started out too fast and was dead about 2km in.. and that's when the mental challenge begins to not to give up, stop or slow down (too much!). As Jillian Michaels would say, "Don't phone it in"

anyway back to the bread. For the recipe..

Monday, September 22, 2014

Apple Crisps ... Autumn's coming

Last week when I was in London I discovered these delicious apple crisps.. Now that I've been sick at home and munching on chocolate, cookies and what not I've decided that apple crisps can't be that hard to make and took it upon myself to make some.

There were several different recipes, I honestly think I should've stuck with the first recipe I found as I think the apple slices would've been crispier but I went with another one..

Start off by pre heating the oven to 100°C. Then I took four apples and cut them into super thin slices placing them onto a baking tray one layer on top of another. DON'T do this as they didn't turn out crispy, I wasn't patient enough and wanted more crisps and now I've ended up with a result I could be happier with.

Anyway slice the apple into thin pieces like so:


Then place the sliced pieces on a baking tray and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. Once in the oven it smells so lovely mhmmm.



These are the before and after results. Sadly the photo quality on the last photo is terrible. As one can see half of the apples are crispy the rest more soft and chewy.

Anyway the recipe I followed tells one to bake the apple slices for one hour, flip them bake again for another hour on the other side and let them cool off for another hour in the still warm/turned off oven.

Even though they don't look so great they taste delicious and are something healthy to snack on :) 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

FRANCO MANCA // Restaurant Review - London

If you're ever in London you have to stop by Franco Manca on 98 Tottenham Court Rd. basically right in central London :) 

The atmosphere and food was great! I had a plain margarita Pizza, which I gobbled down in about 10 minutes max. if not faster :p

What's special about Franco Manca is that they have sourdough pizza and you can taste every bit of ingredient yum yum yum. After the delicious pizza I ordered something called I don't know what I forgot the name and it's a ball of ice cream with a shot of espresso that one pours over it! The perfect ending to a girls dinner with delicious food.

For more click here











Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Pulo Chicken Naan Wrap

I was recently selected to participate in the Pulo Recipe Challenge. That is, Pulo sent me their collection of sauces and marinades and I was asked to come up with, and share, a recipe using one of the sauces. Although the sauces were provided to me by the company, all opinions are my own. 

Pulo is an authentic collection of sauces and marinades inspired by the 7000 Islands
of the Philippines.  They have no artificial flavours, colours or preservatives. That is very important to me! Although not familiar with Philippine cuisine, I was excited to try it! My very first roommate (at Queen's University) is from the Philippines and she is just AWESOME (Hi Xyza! ) I read up on the culture of Philippine cuisine and learned that what makes it so rich and tasty is its dynamic mixture of different cultures: Malay, Chinese, Spanish and Indian. What a wonderful mix! 

I love Indian food, so I decided to take the fusion aspect one step further and make Pulo chicken Naan wraps, using the mango chili marinade. I have eaten Naan wraps from an Indian restaurant in the market building but have never tried making one myself. What on earth was I waiting for? These were so easy and delicious.  The marinade pairs perfectly with chicken, making it so tender and flavourful. The recipe has less than 5 ingredients and can be whipped up in no time. 

Pulo marinades and sauces
A selection of Pulo sauces and marinades- Coconut Adobo, Pineapple Tamarind, Kare Kare Toasted Peanut
and not pictured here: Mango Chili and Lemon Grass Atsuete

I chose to use the mango chili marinade

yummy chicken marinade
I forgot that marinades not only add flavour, but also make chicken so tender! 

Spread the lettuce and chicken on Naan Bread

So delicious

naan wrap
Ready to eat! 
Ingredients:
- Pulo Mango Chili Marinade
- 6 chicken thighs
- lettuce
- store bought Naan or home made if you are feeling ambitious- I used bought chilli and coriander Naan.

Instructions:
- Pour marinade over chicken thighs in a bowl or ziplock bag.  Let marinade for about 1 hour (longer is fine too)
- Preheat oven to 425 F
- Put chicken into a baking dish and cook for about 45 minutes
- Warm naan in a frying pan
- Cut chicken into bite size pieces
- Place lettuce and chicken on the naan, wrap up and enjoy!

These marinades and sauces also go well with other meats and seafood. So far, I have tried the Lemongrass Atsuete marinade with Tilapia. I look forward to trying out the pineapple marinade as well as the sauces.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Peach Cake




The other day I started to think about my finances and things I want to buy or save for in the near future. Perhaps a new car? I have been saying this for a while but my car is on it's last wheels and I'm not sure it will make it through another ignition test, let alone an Ottawa winter. Plus, with all the 2015 models coming out, there are some good deals on 2014 models.. That being said, how much do I really need a car? I go back and forth between wanting to buy a car right this second and just having no car, saving money on parking, gas, insurance etc.. as usual I am always on the extremes. 

I feel as though September comes with so many expenses! Memberships that need renewing, back to school activities, etc.. I don't spend frivolously but i do know that two areas where I spend more than I should, are fitness and food (mostly groceries as I don't eat out a lot). It makes sense I guess, I eat a lot so I need to workout a lot. Actually it's not the quantity that is a problem, but rather that the quality and the fact that I like variety. 

On the fitness side I have a gym membership, yoga classes, barre classes, athletic conditioning classes, not to mention drop in swimming and the occasional running races.  I tried to go without a gym membership for September but have already cracked and re-joined for October. As long as I use it, I feel this is money well spent.  My goal is to not let anything go to waste.. for example, I purchased 20 yoga classes last year and have 12 left that will expire on October 24 if I don't go. Therefore I will try my very best to be a model Yogini and go as much as I can before that. 

On the food side I shop at Costco, Loblaws, Hartman's, Bulk Barn, Farm Boy, Food Basics, Farmers' Market, Byward Market, Nicastros.. you get the idea! And all these on top of my veggie share. I recently read that although you may think you are saving money by going to different stores, each store presents a new temptation and opportunity to spend and you end up spending MORE money. Hmm..something to think about. How do you budget for food? Do you plan your meals in advance? Shop with a grocery list and stick to it?  Please share your tactics with me! 

All this got me thinking, and I opened up my e-copy of Leanne Brown's cookbooks Good and Cheap. Have you heard about this project? It is a cookbook that was on Kickstarter with cheap recipes and you can download it now for free! The premise is that everyone should be able to eat healthy meals on as low as $4 a day. Even if you aren't on a tight budget, it has a lot of great looking recipes. 

When I came across a recipe for peach cake, I knew right away I wanted to make it. I see so many people posting apple recipes, but before I can get on that bandwagon I need to use up my delicious peaches.  Even though I was eating a them as often as I could, time was winning the battle and I knew they would soon start to go bad.  If you are in the same boat, and have lots of peaches in the house, I highly recommend this easy recipe. 

Ingredients: 
6 peaches, pitted and sliced
1 tsp cinnamon
½ lemon, juiced
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ lb unsalted butter (2 sticks), at room temperature
11/3 cups brown sugar
1/8 tsp salt
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla

Instructions
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- Lightly butter an 8” x 11” glass baking dish or 9” springformpan. 
- In a large bowl, mix the peach slices, lemon juice, and cinnamon together with your hands, making sure the peaches are well coated in cinnamon.
- In a medium bowl, sift the flour with the baking powder
- In another large bowl, beat the butter, brown sugar, and salt, either with a wooden spoon or an electric mixer. 
- Add the vanilla, then the eggs one at a time, fully mixing in the first before adding the second.
- If using an electric mixer, switch to a wooden spoon and add the flour mixture into the butter mixture, gently incorporating it until it’s smooth. The batter will be quite thick.
-Spread half the batter over the bottom of the buttered pan. Evenly distribute half the peach slices.
- Spread the other half of the batter over the peaches, then top with the remaining peaches. Sprinkle with a tablespoon or so of sugar and place the cake in the oven.
- Bake for 1 hour or until cake tester comes out clean 

Eat as is, or topped with ice cream. 

Enjoy! 







Topped with delicious home made maple ice cream 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Tomatillo Salsa






Well it is tomato season! Anyone who has a CSA veggie share, or has been to a market lately will experience or see, what my sister calls the invasion of tomatoes. Her CSA share is crazy and she posted a photo of her whole counter covered in tomatoes. I got some tomatoes too, and also got these green tomato-like things, called tomatillos. When I picked up my veggies, Kristian at Rochons Gardens told me that these tomatillos are a bit bitter if you eat them on their own so it would be better to use them in salsas or for cooking.  I was intrigued and started looking up recipes. The recipes I found either said to cook the tomatillos or to use them raw. I couldn't decide what to do. Cooking them would be extra work, but might taste better? Instead of deciding, I did nothing.

Then, on the weekend I went to the farmer's market at Brewer.  I love the atmosphere there. It is filled with people strolling around in the sunshine, tasting, sampling and buying and just enjoying their Sunday morning.  They were also hosting a salsa competition. The competition was also divided into raw tomato salsa and cooked tomato salsas.  My favourite salsa, was the defending champion, Hoople Creek farms. The salsa was flavourful, a lot of lime and just the right amount of spice. The salsa was in the raw category, and they had a sign " recipe available upon request". How, perfect!! So I modified it a bit and it turned out great!! I highly recommend making it.

D& I ate it on shrimp tacos, and we both liked it. Since then I have been eating it with tortilla chips. It is also GREAT for making nachos. Man once those lime tortilla chips are out of the house (aka once I inevitably eat them all), I AM NOT BUYING ANY MORE!! They are too addictive and not so healthy. There- I am held accountable. The salsa on the other hand is super healthy, filled with vitamins and delicious and just tastes fresh.

Ingredients:
-6 or 7 green tomatillos (that may be redundant, as I think tomatillos are by nature green)
- 1/2 white onion
- 1-2 cloves garlic, depending on personal preference
- 1/2 cup cilantro (or more if you have the patience to pick off the leaves from the stems for longer)
- 1 jalapeno (or other hot pepper)
-  juice of 2 limes ( i often opt for using "pure lime" juice for the convenience it offers, but here I used real limes)
- 1 tablespoon red pepper jelly
- 2 tablespoons honey
- salt and pepper to taste

Instructions
- remove papery husks from tomatillos and rinse well, as they will be a bit sticky
- cut in quarters and chop in food processor. Transfer to a sieve and drain.  If you want, retain liquid and use in a soup or salad dressing.
- pureee onion, garlic, cilantro leaves and hot pepper in food processor
- return strained tomato to food processor and add remaining ingredients. At this point i chose to strain the whole thing once more to remove some more liquid. However you might lose some of your lime juice. If you prefer a more liquid salsa do not drain again.
- refrigerate to cool, and serve.

Enjoy!

If you don't have a food processor, you can still make this recipe, using a good old fashioned-knife. It will just means a lot of chopping.

These flowers are also from the farmer's market- I love how they brighten up the kitchen! 



Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Rosemary Bread



Since I got the Kitchen-aid stand mixer, I knew I wanted to make rosemary bread. I really like rosemary- mmm. Since i was house-sitting and my parents rosemary plant looked so good, I decided to give it a go!







So fresh and plentiful!

I took inspiration from the food network's recipe and adapted it to take into account some of the comments it received on how to improve it. The bread is so light and airy! It feels almost hollow. I cut the bread into slices at first and then realized I could easily just rip off pieces and dunk them into oil and vinegar. A nice little appetizer or after-work snack to hold you over until dinner.  Like the other breads I have made so far, this one was easy, but you do need some time. For these loaves you don't need  bread pans, just a baking sheet. It makes 2 decent/small sized loaves.

Ingredients
1  packet active dry yeast
2 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing and serving
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2 tablespoons dried rosemary
1 teaspoon fine salt
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper

Instructions

  1. Stir the yeast, sugar and 1/4 cup warm water in the bowl of a stand mixer. Let sit until foamy, about 5 minutes. << I realized that last time i didn't let it sit long enough. This time it really foamed, so now I know what to look for. 
  2. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil, the flour, 1 1/2 tablespoons rosemary, the fine salt and 3/4 cup warm water; stir with the dough hook  until a dough forms. Continue kneading with hook on medium until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes.
  3. Brush a large bowl with olive oil. Add the dough, cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature until more than doubled, about 2 hours.
  4. Brush a baking sheets with olive oil. Generously flour a work surface. Punch down dough and divde into 2 pieces. Working with one piece at a time, sprinkle some flour on the dough, then fold the top and bottom portions into the middle. Fold in the sides to make a free-form square. Use a spatula to turn the dough over, then tuck the corners under to form a ball. Place seam-side down on the prepared baking sheet. Let stand, uncovered, until more than doubled, about 2 hours.
  5. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Bake the loaves 10 minutes; brush with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and sprinkle with the kosher salt and the remaining 1/2 tablespoon rosemary. Continue baking until golden brown, about 10 more minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool. Serve with olive oil and vinegar or whatever you choose. 





Enjoy!

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