Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Blog or Bust #3: Not-So-Ghoulish Ghoulash!

Hi everyone, and Happy Halloween! What a great excuse for free candy and wearing costumes! I, of course, am in full garb (even though I won't be trick-or-treating) because, well, it's fun!

October 31st is the last day of the Celtic calendar. It was originally a pagan holiday, honoring the dead. Holloween was referred to as All Hallows Eve and dates back to over 2000 years ago. The ancient Celts thought that spirits and ghosts roamed the countryside on Halloween night, so they began wearing masks and costumes to avoid being recognized as human. If you want to know some more trivia, hop over here!

Well, in the food related world, Blog or Bust is back for a third go-around, this time with Fall Dishes as the theme. Now for most of us, Fall means cold, and cold means time for comfort food! Of course, nobody wants to deal with guilt after being comforted, right?

Hence, my different kind of goulash recipe was born. I cut the amount of oil and red meat in half, and boosted the vegetable content with red peppers, onions, butternut squash, tomato paste and pumpkin puree. I also threw in some great beer, and a half head of garlic for kicks.

The result of the toying? A succulent meal for serving over noodles, brown rice or mashed potatoes that has 241 calories, 7g of fat, 3g of fibre and 130% of the daily recommended Vitamin A intake per serving! When you consider the original recipe had 145 more calories, double the fat, 1g less fibre and only 29% of the RDA of Vitamin A, I would say this is a great bargain!

A Different Kind of Goulash
Serves 6
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 lb cubed beef shank or flank steak
1/2 cup Vidalia onions, diced
1 cup red peppers, chopped
1 1/2 cups peeled and diced butternut squash
1/4 teaspoon caraway seeds
2 tablespoons smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons tomato paste
3 tablespoons pumpkin puree
2 cups Pilsner Urquell beer
2 tbsp cornstarch
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon oregano

  1. In large pot, heat oil.
  2. Brown beef cubes slightly, then add onions and cook until golden brown. Stir in peppers and butternut squash.
  3. Add caraway seeds and toast.
  4. Stir in tomato paste, paprika, black pepper, and beer.
  5. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes or until beef is tender.
  6. Add cornstarch, and cook to thicken.
  7. Stir in salt, garlic & oregano, simmer for 5 to 10 more minutes.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

A Mixed Bag...

So, as a baker I should technically say "when life gives you pumpkins, make pumpkin pie", but since our pumpkins were a) not pie pumpkins and b) already occupied with being jack o' lanterns, I'm going to adapt that: When life give you pumpkins, make roasted pumpkin seeds and go from there!

Three sets of goodies are coming your way today, maybe as a sort of bribery for being mostly absent these days? Yeah, the ol' body is still wreaking havoc, but apparently I'm too stubborn for my own good and I cooked a bunch of stuff anyway! So, roasted sweet and salty pumpkin seeds, a seed and nut butter, and everyone's favourite - COOKIES (!) are on today's menu, hopefully you find them a nice home on yours one day!

This is the most recent way I've made roasted pumpkin seeds, with salt and honey, beginning by borrowing a technique I learned off of Elise from Simply Recipes today, and finishing with my own flair. They taste like kettle corn, and formed the basis for the other two recipes! I'm going to be making these again for Andrew, since the stepfather ravaged the supply from my pumpkin's innards last night.

Kettle Seeds
1/4 cup sea salt
Seeds from one pumpkin, "de-gooed"
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp coarse salt

  1. Preheat the oven to 400F.
  2. Fill a large pot with water, add the sea salt and bring to a boil.
  3. Add the pumpkin seeds and boil, stirring occasionally, 12 minutes.
  4. While seeds are boiling, spread olive oil on a cookie sheet.
  5. Drain the seeds and pour onto the oiled sheet, tossing to evenly coat.
  6. Drizzle with honey and sprinkle with salt, stir again to evenly coat.
  7. Bake 10 minutes on the top rack of the oven.
  8. Stir seeds, re-position the rack to the middle of the oven and return the seeds for a further 10 minutes.
  9. Immediately pour onto a separate baking sheet or piece of foil to cool.

I whipped this up as the basis for the cookies that followed, basically just to see what would happen to my tiny food processor. This makes a very firm butter after it's been in the fridge, so you will want to stir it before use.

Mixed Bag Butter
½ cup roasted pumpkin seeds, shells on
½ cup roasted, salted cashews
4 tbsp neutral oil
½ tbsp Nutella (or hazelnut butter for a dairy free, vegan variation)
½ tbsp peanut butter

  1. In a food processor, grind the pumpkin seeds and cashews until powdery.
  2. Add the oil and process until clumpy, then blend in the Nutella and peanut butter until a paste forms.
  3. Store in the fridge and use within 2 weeks.

And finally, these - the crowning glory of the day's events. Chocolate batter, chocolate chips, the mixed butter and a shot of coffee make these some serious goodies. The batter is very sticky so you may want to wet your hands before dropping the batter. Don't forget to grease the sheets!!

"Mixed Bag" Double Chocolate Cookies
Makes approximately 36
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¾ cup packed brown sugar
½ cup sugar
½ cup cocoa
¼ cup margarine, softened
2/3 cup mixed nut and seed butters (I used my “mixed bag” butter)
1 egg replacer, prepared
1/3 cup water or coffee
1 teaspoon of vanilla
½ cup chocolate chips

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line baking sheets with parchment and grease well.
  2. Mix together the flours, baking powder and salt.
  3. Blend in the sugars and cocoa.
  4. Add margarine, nut butter, egg replacer, water and vanilla. Mix well.
  5. Fold in chocolate chips.
  6. Drop about 2 inches apart on sheets
  7. Bake for 11 minutes.
  8. Cool 5 minutes on pans, then remove to wire racks to cool completely

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Happy Chocolate Day!

Yup, it's true! Today is Chocolate Day! This is awesome news for women everywhere, as well as the rest of you chocoholics out there (but come on, we know where the true love lies...).

No personal recipe today, as the ol' body of mine is NOT cooperating as I would have hoped (sigh...) but if you'd like to join in on the Chocolate Day bonanza the Well Fed Network has a bunch of articles, as does Slashfood. Not to mention the majority of wonderful foodies out there have some wonderful recipes of their own! If you'd like to take a look at my offerings, they're here.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Today's Selfish Wishes, and Some Super Squashcakes!

I found this gem over at The Daily Olive. What a gorgeous item, a double-wall oven is something I've always wanted! Okay... this TurboChef oven is something I would gladly shell out for. It is a great tool, not just a regular oven - the top compartment can cook food up to 15x faster than a regular oven, and the bottom compartment is both a traditional and convection unit! What more could an aspiring pastry chef like me ask for? Well, I think it's a bit too pricey (currently going for $7,495.00; not to mention it's awkward to wrap) to ask for for Christmas though :(. Guess I'll have to wait until I'm a rich and famous pastry chef before I can take this baby home. Then again, by the time that happens, we'll be popping meal pills and living on Mars in bubble homes! Ah well, a girl can dream, right?

Well, the rest of this entry is the result of some more kitchen play by yours truly. You've heard of the Jenni Ferrari-Adler book Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant? Well, I was alone in the kitchen with a pumpkin, an imagination, and entirely too much time on my hands! The excellent result was a batch of light (both in calories and in texture), flavourful mini muffins (with two responsible grown-up muffins, of course) that I am whisking away with me to MLCP this week for their little Hallowe'en party. The buckwheat adds a nice nutty touch as well, and sets off the dark chocolate chips nicely. Dark chocolate chips are important in this recipe because milk chocolate is a bit too, well, milky for these cakes. These are great for freezing too, so you can pop one in your lunch (or your kid's, if you have the itty-bitties!) and it's rarin' to go by noon.

Super Squashcakes
Makes 12
½ cup flour
½ cup whole wheat flour
½ cup buckwheat flour
2/3 cup brown sugar
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground cloves
2 tsp cornstarch
4 tbsp cold water
1 cup mashed pumpkin
½ cup unsweetened applesauce
1/3 cup apple juice (I used cider, because hey, it's fall!)
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ cup mini dark chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 12 cup muffin pan.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and ground cloves.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix the cornstarch and cold water.
  4. Add pumpkin, applesauce, apple juice, and vanilla; blend until smooth.
  5. Add this mixture to the dry ingredients and stir thoroughly to make a smooth batter.
  6. Stir the chips into the batter. Batter will be thick.
  7. Spoon batter into the prepared muffin cups.
  8. Bake for 25 minutes.
Like I said before, these are pretty sound nutritionally as far as muffins go. One regular-sized muffin only sets you back about 145 calories, 2 1/2 grams of fat, and 28 grams of carbs. In return, one of these will give you about 2 1/2 grams of fibre, 8% of your RDA of iron and 64% of your RDA for Vitamin A. Also, five of the ingredients (buckwheat, whole wheat, cloves, apples and winter squash; I'm not counting water though perhaps I should!) are on the World's Healthiest Foods List.

That being said, they taste great, so even if you aren't health-conscious they're a great snacktime addition to the menu. Happy baking!

Friday, October 26, 2007

A Potato Post, and it's Still Seafood Month!

Hi everyone! I came across this interesting factoid over at Haalo's site today: it's the Year of the Potato! It's also Seafood Month, which is excellent news for everyone because we all know that fish and seafood are good for us!! In addition to giving us some heart-healthy fats and Omega-3's, fish can help prevent things like Alzheimer's Disease too! Couple that with the awesome nutrients found in the common potato (vitamin C, vitamin B6, copper, potassium, manganese, and dietary fiber to name a few) and we're all going to be some happy, HEARTy, healthy foodies! Can I get any more "ies" in there? I won't try, I promise!

So with that preamble, no one should be surprised at the goodies coming your way today. What I propose is a simple, wholesome weeknight meal - in - a - crust that can be thrown together simply with a salad on the side, with all the rich goodness of salmon and potatoes and less money out of your pocket. Yes, people, I'm talking canned salmon. It's easy, cheap, and just as healthy, and it's an excellent staple pantry item. Mash the bones in too for the extra calcium! The buttermilk (which everyone knows by now is actually low-fat) gives the filling a creamy texture and a tang that blends perfectly with the herbs.

Coast to Coast Canada Pie
Serves 8
6 red potatoes, unpeeled, chopped
1 small onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 (6 oz) can salmon, undrained
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried dill
½ cup buttermilk
Pastry for a 9" two-crust pie, divided
1 tsp each salt and pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a pie plate with one of the crusts.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add potatoes and cook until tender but still firm, about 15 minutes.
  3. In a medium saucepan, cook onions and garlic in olive oil over medium heat until vegetables become transparent in color.
  4. Add onion/garlic mixture, salmon, thyme and dill to cooked potatoes. Mash all together with the buttermilk bringing about a mashed potato consistency.
  5. Spread evenly into pie shell.
  6. Place second pie shell over top of salmon mixture and cinch. Prick top shell with a fork.
  7. Bake on lower rack of oven for 45 minutes

I also wanted to take a moment and thank Valerie over at More Than Burnt Toast for her kind comments yesterday regarding my health. I am feeling better today, and hope to keep it going!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Back, and Bringing Stew to ARF!

Okay, so I know I said that I would have Andrew's stew recipe posted yesterday, but since I'm in the throes of a "down" period physically I could barely sit up and figured that trying to write coherently would not be a good thing. I'm feeling marginally better today, but still ridiculously exhausted. Basically, if you've ever had mono, you'll know what I mean. Just stretch it out for over a year, add a mass of food intolerances / allergies, unexplained weight loss and constant pain under my right-hand ribs, and you have me!

But enough unpleasantries, onto the cooking!

Basically, this recipe was a case of "wow I have a lot of crap in the fridge that's going bad" plus "wow there's a lot of random stuff in our pantry we don't use" plus a stockpot! Throw in some spices and the secret ingredient - plain yellow mustard - and you have a sweet, tangy stew filled with chunks of goodness and health in every bite! With a great lean protein (ham), wild rice, and chunky sweet potatoes, it doesn't lack for flavour in any realm! I will be sending this into Sweetnicks for the weekly ARF / 5-A-Day round up (check out last week's entries here). Let's take a look at the goodies, shall we?

Olive Oil: A concentrated source of monounsaturated fats and vitamin E. Extra-virgin olive oil also contains polyphenolic phytonutrients that have antioxidant activity.

Onions: A very good source of vitamin C, chromium and dietary fiber. They are also a good source of manganese, molybdenum, vitamin B6, folate, potassium, phosphorous and copper.

Red Peppers: One cup provides over 100% of the DV for vitamin C and vitamin A. Red peppers are also an excellent source of vitamin B6. Green peppers are a very good source of fiber, folate, and vitamin K as well as the minerals molybdenum and manganese. In addition to beta-carotene, red peppers contain the beneficial phytonutrients lycopene, lutein and zeaxanthin.

Carrots (mine were purple!): An excellent source of vitamin A. In addition, they are a very good source of vitamin C, vitamin K, dietary fiber and potassium.

Tomatoes: An excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin A, and vitamin K. They are also a very good source of molybdenum, potassium, manganese, dietary fiber, chromium, and vitamin B1. In addition, tomatoes are a good source of vitamin B6, folate, copper, niacin, vitamin B2, magnesium, iron, pantothenic acid, phosphorous, vitamin E and protein.

Mustard Seed: A very good source of selenium and omega-3 fatty acids. They are also a good source of phosphorous, magnesium, manganese, dietary fiber, iron, calcium, protein, niacin and zinc.

Sweet Potatoes: An excellent source of vitamin A. They are also a very good source of vitamin C and manganese. In addition, sweet potatoes are a good source of copper, dietary fiber, vitamin B6, potassium and iron.

Andrew's Ham n’ Tater Stew
Serves 10
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
½ cup roasted red pepper strips, chopped
4 large carrots, chopped
4 cloves garlic, diced
1 tbsp paprika
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp salt
½ tbsp pepper
½ tbsp dried basil
2 tsp dried oregano
8 plum tomatoes, chopped
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup white wine
2 cups water
1 bay leaf
½ can tomato paste
1 tbsp yellow prepared mustard
2 cups frozen vegetable blend (I used this one from Europe's Best, it's great!)
2 large sweet potatoes, chopped
½ cup wild rice
½ pound cooked lean ham, cubed

  1. Heat oil in a large pot. Add onion, peppers, carrots and garlic.
  2. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion softens, about 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in paprika, cayenne, cumin, cinnamon, salt, pepper, basil and oregano.
  4. Add chopped tomatoes, stock, wine, water and bay leaf. Stir in tomato paste
  5. Adjust heat to maintain a simmer. Cook one hour, uncovered.
  6. Stir vegetable blend, potatoes, rice and ham into pot.
  7. Cover and simmer 40 minutes. Remove bay leaf and serve, or reduce to taste by boiling rapidly, uncovered.
  8. Can be frozen for later

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 163.0
Total Fat: 4.4 g
Cholesterol: 12.9 mg
Sodium: 579.0 mg
Total Carbs: 20.3 g
Dietary Fiber: 4.0 g
Protein: 7.7 g

So there you have it! Some healthy, hearty comfort food that's waiting for my man's arrival! Enjoy your weeks, everyone!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Uh-Oh, She's Creating Again!

Yup, I've been cookin' in the kitchen again! Today I bring you one of my two recent culinary experiments, one of which is a sweet and healthy Christmas gift for the wonderful Exxon ladies, the other a savoury use of leftovers that is now sitting comfortably in the deep freezer for Andrew to enjoy when he comes home in December, with a serving set aside for Daddio!

I apologize for not being as long-winded today but I am battling a bit of a chest cold (that was kindly donated by the SF) and I'm a little zonked from the meds. Enjoy the bits of comfort coming your way, in whatever form they may be: food, friends, family, or a warm blankie fresh out of the dryer. We can all be so fortunate!

What I loved most about making these breads was the smell of them as they baked up. If you like molasses, these are definitely the tea-time treats for you. They are dark, rich, and full of blueberries, oranges and seeds as well as added moistness from pumpkin, though you would never be able to tell that was an ingredient just by looking at them. They have some great health benefits too, with manganese and iron from the molasses, Vitamin C from the oranges, and a host of antioxidants from the blueberries I threw in. If that wasn't enough, the breads also have whole-wheat flour, pumpkin seed and millet in them, which are all health-boosters on their own! Nothin' like a little Christmas body lovin' from the oven!

Seeded Pumpkin-Fruit Quickbread
Serves 12
½ cup whole wheat four
½ cup flour
½ cup hempseed, shelled pumpkin seed or millet
¼ cup packed light-brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cornstarch
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
½ cup dried blueberries
½ tsp salt
1 egg
1 cup canned pure pumpkin
¼ cup canola oil
Juice and zest of one orange
¼ cup molasses

  1. In large bowl, stir together two flours, seed, sugar, baking soda, cornstarch, cinnamon, ginger, blueberries and salt.
  2. In medium bowl, lightly whisk egg until frothy. Whisk in pumpkin, oil, juice, zest and molasses.
  3. Add to flour mixture; mix well with wooden spoon. Don't beat or over-mix.
  4. Pour batter into lightly greased or oiled 8-inch by 4-inch loaf pan.
  5. Bake in preheated 350F oven 70 minutes or until toothpick inserted in centre comes out clean.
  6. Cool in pan on wire rack 15 minutes.
  7. Remove bread from pan to cool completely on rack before slicing.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 177.7
Total Fat: 5.9 g
Cholesterol: 17.7 mg
Sodium: 26.6 mg
Total Carbs: 31.4 g
Dietary Fiber: 2.4 g
Protein: 2.9 g
Check back tomorrow for some spice from the stove!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Tropical Treasure Meets Austrian Pleasure

Yes, I know the title of this post sounds like the synopsis of a porn movie. Maybe I'll get more readers lol! Anyways...

Awesome news from the grocery store front today! Cruising the aisles, I saw one of my all-time favourite fruits (yeah, I have a few: Honeycrisp and Jonagold apples, blood oranges and in-season peaches, for example)! Anyways, I saw one of the first signs of Winter's coming for us Canucks, Asian Pears! These are crazy-crisp pears that are shaped like and have a crunch similar to apples. The flavour, though, is all pear, like an Anjou probably in terms of closest comparison. I love them because they're crispy, portable, don't bruise very easily and they're a nice change of pace after all the peaches of summer and apples of fall.

Oddly enough I have a baked recipe featuring these crisp delights, as well as another tropical gem in the form of lychees, since neither of them tend to factor in baked desserts (though there is a lychee wine! Didn't know that!). They are paired with candied ginger and coconut and wrapped in flaky phyllo layers to form a tropical version of Austrian strudel. I haven't made this but I plan to do so soon, maybe for a certain lychee lover who's coming home in December! Meanwhile, enjoy the recipe, and if you want more information on Asian pears, Perdue University's horticulture department has a very thorough study here. Lychees can be tricky things to peel, but lucky for us has help for us in that area too! If you still can't get the hang of it, you can get them canned in grocery stores.

Asian Fruit Pastry
8 Servings
2 cups lychees, peeled, seeded and halved
¼ cup raisins, soaked in grape juice overnight
3 tbsp candied ginger
2 cups peeled, diced Asian pears
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp lime juice
1 tsp five spice powder
1 tbsp grape juice
3 phyllo dough sheets
¼ cup butter, melted
1/3 cup coconut, toasted, shredded
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  2. Combine all ingredients but phyllo sheets, butter and coconut, set aside.
  3. Spread sheets of phyllo dough out on your work surface, one on top of the other.
  4. Brush top layer of dough with some melted better.
  5. Spread a thin layer of coconut over the entire pastry.
  6. Spoon filling along the long edge of the phyllo dough, and roll the dough up as tightly as possible.
  7. Remember to fold in the ends as you roll so the ends are "sealed"!
  8. Place on a non-stick baking sheet.
  9. Paint the top of the roll with melted butter and bake until the dough is golden brown, about 20 minutes.
  10. Let cool completely on a rack.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Oooh... Who Said Pizza?

A blast from the past today! I developed this recipe when I was about 15 and doing the Weight Watchers POINTS plan. I made them to incorporate two of my favourite dishes - cheesy broccoli and pizza - into something "POINT friendly". These are a great vegetarian lunch-on-the-go that’s big on taste but light on calories and fat. Each crispy pocket gives way to a gooey, spicy and garlicky cheese-covered broccoli filling which is awesome fresh out of the oven or after a brief reheating. They're also really good on the BBQ (memories of the good ol' Coleman stove days). These are 5 POINTS each for Weight Watchers.

Broccoli-Cheese Calzones
Serves 6
10oz refrigerated whole-wheat pizza dough, brought to room temperature
1 cup broccoli, diced and steamed until bright green and slightly tender
1 cup fat-free cottage or ricotta cheese
1/3 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

  1. Preheat oven to 425F.
  2. Roll out dough to a large, thin rectangle.
  3. Cut into 6 five-inch squares.
  4. Mix broccoli florets, cheeses, garlic and pepper flakes.
  5. Spoon filling equally amongst the squares of dough.
  6. Bring edges of dough together and pinch tightly to seal. Prick tops with a fork.
  7. Place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, brush lightly with water.
  8. Bake 15 minutes, flipping ½ way through.
  9. Serve hot or freeze for future use.

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 173.7
Total Fat: 6.0 g
Cholesterol: 17.9 mg
Sodium: 476.1 mg
Total Carbs: 17.5 g
Dietary Fiber: 1.8 g
Protein: 12.6 g

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Just CLICK It!

Another new blogging event has appeared on the scene, and it's all about food photography! Jai at Jugalbandi has created CLICK, which is dedicated to theme-based food photography without requiring a recipe or a blog. Each month, entries are invited based on a culinary ingredient or concept. Find the current theme HERE. After the deadline (entries are due at midnight Pacific Standard Time on the 20th of each month), a panel of judges will score the entries and give out 5 different awards. I know I'm totally pushing it with this entry (seeing as it's already the 20th!) but I hope they will still accept my attempt at photography.

Living Orbs

The photo was taken on a Kodak EasyShare C613 Digital Camera, using the "Sepia" tone setting. I loved how this turned out, the reflection of the daylight off the egg, goblet and globe worked better in the tone rather than in colour. Interestingly enough, it only look me about 3 minutes to set it up - no special lighting, backgrounds, etc were needed, and as most of you know I normally cant take photos for beans, so this was even more of an achievement for me!

If you haven't already, go check out the event (all the entries are here so far). The photographers in us all will be pleased by the results, I'm sure!

I leave you with two more, slightly less professional but still cute photos I took yesterday of a squirrel that had latched onto the side of our house. After I took those pictures, the poor thing fell on my head and scrambled out of the garden and over the fence. Isn't nature wonderful?!

Friday, October 19, 2007

ARF / 5-A-Day: A Tribute to Deborah Kerr

Yesterday, one of my movie and theatre idols died. Deborah Kerr was known to the world as Anna Leonowens, the tutor of the Siamese royal family in 1956's The King and I, or as the Bond Girl in the original Casino Royale. Either way, she was gorgeous, talented, and a great actress that I attempted to emulate when I performed in our elementary school's version of The King and I. Although I knew she wasn't well, suffering from Parkinson's Disease, for some reason I couldn't actually realize that she had passed on. I didn't know her or anyone around her, but something made me feel connected to her. It was probably my sad, 12-year-old dreams of being an actress dancing across a ballroom with a beautiful satin ballgown on. She was never really sucked in to the world of scandals and psychosis that enveloped so many other actors of her time. One of my favourite quotes from her is "All the most successful people these seem to be neurotic. Perhaps we should stop being sorry for them and start being sorry for me - for being so confounded normal". So, to the woman known as "The English Rose", I say goodbye, and thank you.

My ARF / 5-A-Day entry for Sweetnicks' event is actually from an opposing country featured in The King and I. The Burmese style of curry features onions, garlic, ginger, and pumpkin meat cooked in a flavourful coconut broth. The majority of the ingredients are on the WHFoods list, including the spices (and we all know how I love my spices!).

Siamese Enemy Curry
Serves 6
2 large onions, chopped
5 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tbsp fresh grated ginger
2 tbsp sesame oil
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cayenne powder
1 ½ lbs cubed beef
½ cup water
½ cup coconut milk
1 tsp salt
1 tsp fresh black pepper
1 lb peeled pumpkin or butternut squash, cut into 2” cubes

  1. Puree onion, garlic and ginger.
  2. Heat oil in a large deep pan until almost smoking.
  3. Add puree, turmeric and chili powder.
  4. Reduce heat to low, stirring well.
  5. Cover pan and simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.
  6. If mixture begins to burn, add 1 tbsp of water.
  7. Raise heat to medium and add meat cubes.
  8. Brown on all sides, then add water and coconut milk.
  9. Cover and cook 15 minutes.
  10. Add salt and pepper with pumpkin.
  11. Re-cover and cook over medium heat a further 15-20 minutes.
  12. Serve over hot brown or purple Thai rice

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 280.7
Total Fat: 13.1 g
Cholesterol: 64.6 mg
Sodium: 245.1 mg
Total Carbs: 13.8 g
Dietary Fiber: 1.0 g
Protein: 27.7 g

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

WTSIM: Layer Cake (for Ultimate Cravings, no less!)

Ooh, another food blogging event to add to my repetoire! I've seen the different editions of "Waiter, there's something in my..." throughout the blogosphere since I started reading blogs, and was intrigued, but too nervous (or unable, in the past few cases, due to lack of ingredients and time) to take the plunge. Well, that's all over now, since this edition is being hosted by Andrew of SpittoonExtra and he was extra-nice, choosing layer cakes as the theme! But, since we had just celebrated my grandfather's birthday with both a box cake mix (for Teaghan) and an apple butter pumpkin pie (made by yours truly, and documented at the link), I couldn't afford to burden the family with yet another full-sized goody in the fridge (especially since I'm planning on enrolling in George Brown's Continuing Education Pastry Arts program soon, and because I can't eat the treats myself, I'll have to pawn them off on the poor family). Yes, pity them, folks!

I still wanted to take part, though, so the thoughts of a mini-cake jumped to mind. But how, what kind, and for whom? What kind was easy for me: I had been toying with the idea of a peanut butter cake for a while, and I wanted an unusual filling and topper for it. For whom was not that hard either, my dad was a willing volunteer (thanks again, old man!). Now for the how... I didn't have any miniature cake tins (or jumbo muffin pans, even, what kind of baker am I?), so I racked my brain for innovation inspiration. What came to me should have been the world's biggest duh moment ever: breads are baked in coffee cans, why can't a cake be done the same way? No (small) coffee cans were available to lend a hand, but I did score a 28oz can that had been used for diced tomatoes. I thoroughly cleaned out the can, de-labelled it and wrapped it in foil, and voila - mini cake tin!

The result of my kitchen playtime was a light peanut butter sponge cake that was the perfect foil for a raspberry and chocolate filling that I made in the microwave. I used my fellow Canadian Bernard Callebaut’s bittersweet couverture chocolate as that’s all I had on hand, and I like to support my Canadian companies when I can (including Kraft as the source for the peanut butter). Any good chocolate would work nicely, and I plan to do a rendition with Nutella as well. All I can say is make sure to let the melted chocolate / jam mixture cool adequately before spreading it, since it is fluid at the best of times. It looks pretty with the rewarmed filling drizzled on top, though! It's up to you, really, take it and play! My dad eagerly took it this afternoon, can't wait to hear what he thinks of it! This really is the summation of every craving I was having at the time yesterday, so if it seems a bit odd, well, you know me!

Ultimate Cravings Mini – Cake
Serves 2
1 cup flour
¼ cups whole wheat flour
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 ½ tbsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
½ cup buttermilk
1 tbsp Godiva chocolate liqueur
2 tbsp vanilla syrup
1/3 cup smooth peanut butter
1/4 cup raspberry jam
3 tbsp melted semisweet chocolate or Nutella
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour a clean and de-labelled 28oz can.
  2. Mix together flours, sugar, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.
  3. Separately blend buttermilk, liqueur and vanilla syrup.
  4. Add to the dry mixture.
  5. Blend in peanut butter.
  6. Pour into prepared can.
  7. Bake 35 minutes, let cool completely.
  8. In a small bowl mix together jam and chocolate until well blended. Chill to firm slightly.
  9. Slice cake into three layers.
  10. With the back of a spoon, spread chocolate / raspberry filling between each layer.
  11. Spoon remaining filling over top of cake. Chill until ready to serve, or serve immediately.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Path Less Travelled By: Mornings With the Muffin

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference

~ Robert Frost (The Road Not Taken)

I took Shaggy (aka the Muffin) out for his walk this morning. Only when we hit the conservation area behind our property did I realize that yes, it was truly Fall. I also began to reflect on the beauty of the season. It is my favourite time of year, picking apples, changing leaves, cozying up in the evenings and just letting the calm pace of life envelop me before jumping into the next frenzy of Halloween and Christmas. Luckily I brought my camera along for the walk, for this time we took a seperate trail, one I hadn't seen before, and I was richly rewarded. I hope you enjoy these photos as much as I do, and the accompanying, seasonal recipe that I am submitting for Sugar High Friday (Drunken Apples), this time being hosted at SpittoonExtra (as well as this go-round of WTSIM (Layered Cake), good luck!).

Have a great Fall day, everyone, and embrace the changes we are constantly experiencing!
This is a cross between sautéed apples and the popular dessert Crepes Suzette, and is sure to please at a Fall feast (or in crepes, or waffles, or this awesome ice cream!).

Apples Suzette
1/2 stick unsalted butter (do not substitute)
4 large tart apples - peeled, cored and sliced 1/4 inch thick
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 orange, juice and grated rind
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/3 cup orange liqueur
  1. In large, wide skillet, melt the butter.
  2. When foamy, add apples and sugar and stir until dissolved.
  3. Whisk together orange juice and cornstarch, add with rind to pan.
  4. Bring to a simmer and cook 10 minutes, stirring, until apples are tender. Turn heat to lowest settings.
  5. Pour liqueur over everything in the pan.
  6. Using a long match, ignite the sauce.
  7. Remove pan from heat and allow the flames to subside.
  8. Serve immediately.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Brownies Fit for Manic Monday

Ever notice how Mondays never seem to have enough hours? Between work, school, housework and homework, not to mention all the stuff we put off during the weekend, who has time to think about dessert? My mom always seems to have a box of the low-fat brownie mix hanging around, so if you're like me you'll take whatever you find in the cupboard with that mix and go hog-wild. If you've had a long day of following the rules, these are definitely the ones for you. Play and have fun!
Sweet, chewy, crunchy and full of nutty flavours, these are also great for taking to school or work because they have built-in portion control! Though I won't say these are GOOD for you, one of these cups of chocolate bliss will certainly not do you any harm! Come to think of it, they're saying that chocolate's good for you now, and nuts are a good source of nutrients as well, so that's a plus! Now I'm waiting for them to say that butterscotch and marshmallows will unlock the key to everlasting life!

An added plus to this recipe is that you can throw in pretty much anything. Got Halloween leftovers kicking around after the trick or treaters have gone their way? Throw 'em in! Have a great Monday, everyone!
Schizophrenic Brownie Cups
24 servings
1 box Betty Crocker low-fat brownie mix
½ cup water
½ cup crushed peanut butter cups
¼ cup chopped salted peanuts
½ cup butterscotch chips or toffee bits
½ cup miniature marshmallows
½ cup finely crushed chocolate cookies, divided

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Fold all ingredients together, setting aside ½ of the cookie crumbs.
Grease bottoms of 24 regular (not jumbo) muffin cups with cooking spray.
Pour about one tablespoon of mix into each hole.
Sprinkle with remaining cookie crumbs.
Bake for 20 minutes.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Anger, Confusion, Depression, I'm Onto Bargaining...

Well, they say life never ever goes as planned, and you would think I'd know that by now!! However, I wasn't totally prepared for the letdown I got from George Brown College stating that they had cancelled my Pastry Arts program for the January start date. Sigh. When I first got the letter I was so angry, and I couldn't understand why the world was against me. I spent most of yesterday moping around the house because I felt like the world had ended.

Then today, thanks to my endless browsing through the archives of Eric's blog, I had a slow, struggling flicker of genius. Who said I needed to be in the full-time program? Eric has documented how the Continuing Education was a successful alternative, and with my health issues this seems to be the better way regardless.

I'm considering this my bargaining alternative. This route would allow me to continue with the bakery and go back to school, two things that I love doing. Before the recipe today I just wanted to take a moment and thank Eric, whom I've never met but whose writing I've thoroughly enjoyed and been inspired by, for silently opening up a window for me when I thought my last door had closed. I'd also like to thank my dad, Andrew, Martha, my mom, and Teaghan for supporting me and my dreams no matter how many times they seem to falter or how scatterbrained my wishes may be. I will strive my hardest to make you all proud of me, you have shown me how wonderful life can be if you take faith in who you are.
This recipe is one that I can attribute the inspiration for to Andrew. He and I were watching Giada's Weekend Getaways one evening and he mentioned the soup she was eating in one segment looked incredibly tasty. So, looking at a few black bean tortilla soup recipes I had on hand, I came up with this one. It's a roasted tomato, pepper and garlic black bean soup that is thickened with tortilla chips. It will definitely be on my list to make and freeze for him when he comes home from college!! I'm so proud of you honey, keep kicking that police-foundationing butt!

Mexican Villager’s Soup
10 Servings
9 large, ripe tomatoes
7 fresh jalapenos
2 large heads garlic, peeled and separated
4 medium sized onions, quartered
6 fresh Hungarian wax peppers

2 fresh cubanelle peppers
Olive oil
8 cups vegetable stock
6 cups crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 1/4 pounds salt-free corn tortilla chips
2 cups cooked, drained black beans

  1. Preheat an oven to 350 F.
  2. Place the tomatoes, jalapenos, garlic, onions, and peppers onto a sheet pan or cookie sheet and then drizzle with olive oil.
  3. Place the sheet tray into the preheated oven and roast until 15 to 20 minutes.
  4. Remove from the oven and set aside.
  5. Into a large stockpot add the stock, crushed tomatoes, and roasted veggies and cook two minutes.
  6. Add cumin, paprika, garlic, tortilla chips and ½ the beans, simmer for 15 minutes.
  7. Puree the mixture until well combined.
  8. Add the remaining beans.
  9. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  10. Simmer to keep warm until you're ready to serve.

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 441.9
Total Fat: 13.4 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 1,716.5 mg
Total Carbs: 41.8 g
Dietary Fiber: 9.9 g
Protein: 12.3 g

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Sure... it's Just for the Wings, Right?

I've been feeling way too sick to cook anything lately, so a quick quip comes your way about the chicken wings from a well known establishment!

Okay, I don't get the obsession with Hooters. What's so great about being served so-so food by some barely clothed women? My dad says it's the wings. Suuuurrrreeee. Okay all the women reading this, roll your eyes with me. Then take a look at this recipe... and all his excuses will be blown to bits.

Excuseless Wings
Serves 4
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup corn flour
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp. black pepper
20 chicken wing segments
1/3 cup butter
1/2 cup Frank's Hot Sauce
  1. In a shallow dish, combine flours, salt, paprika, garlic powder, and peppers.
  2. Coat chicken entirely in the flour mixture; refrigerate coated wings for 1 hour; coat chicken again with remaining flour mixture.
  3. Melt butter and hot sauce together, keep warm.
  4. In a 2-quart saucepan, heat corn or peanut oil to 375F.
  5. Deep-fry chicken, 8 - 10 pieces at a time for 13 minutes, turning once or twice.
  6. Drain chicken on a wire cooling rack for 30 seconds, then immediately toss fried chicken in buffalo sauce mixture and remove with a slotted spoon.
  7. Repeat with remaining chicken.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Happy Anniversary, WHB!

For this edition of Weekend Herb Blogging (a very special one too, being it's second anniversary!) we have a hearty vegan sauce that came purely out of the fact that I had been out gardening (again) and wound up with way too many peppers and tomatoes to handle. Since I'm on my own until mom and the SF get home from Italy, there was NO WAY I would be able to eat them all, so most of them went into the pot, with a good glug of wine, some herbs, some more of the awesome seasonings from the Spice Depot, and some water. As it was simmering away, I thought "hmm, what else can I toss in there?" which caused a pantry raid. The yield? Nutritional yeast (yay!) and green lentils (double yay!). So in sum, this is my entry for the super-special Two Year Anniversary Edition of Weekend Herb Blogging from Kalyn's Kitchen! Healthy Winer’s Sauce
Makes 7.5 cups, 30 servings
1 tbsp olive oil
7 red peppers, diced
2 jalapeno peppers, diced
20 plum tomatoes, chopped
¼ tsp salt
2 tbsp thyme
3 tbsp oregano
40 grinds SpiceDepot Garlic Pepper Seasoning
4 tbsp nutritional yeast
½ cup white wine
½ cup dry green lentils
1/3 cup boiling water
  1. Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.
  2. Tip in peppers and stir well. Cover and cook about 10 minutes.
  3. Reduce heat to low.
  4. Add tomatoes and seasonings, stir.
  5. Cover and cook 1 hour.
  6. Add nutritional yeast and wine, stir, re-cover and cook 30 minutes.
  7. Add lentils and boiling water, stir well.
  8. Re-cover and simmer 45 minutes.
  9. Uncover, increase heat to high and cook 10 minutes, stirring.
  10. This freezes well.

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 30.9
Total Fat: 0.7 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 4.9 mg
Total Carbs: 4.9 g
Dietary Fiber: 1.6 g
Protein: 1.5 g