Sunday, April 27, 2014

Candied Apple Jelly: Toast Topper #45 #SundaySupper

The best things in life are often the simplest. A sunny Summer day out in the backyard, a letter from a penpal and spending time re-living your childhood vicariously through the little ones around you are treasures that don't require fuss and bother to be special, and in fact are cheapened by pomp and circumstance. I am much happier with a good song coming on the radio at the right time than schlepping out to an expensive concert, or watching the kids at school make their crafts rather than staring at canvasses in a gallery. While fancy and complex has it's place in life (I mean, would you really just want a "simple" rocket design or brain surgery?), generally the less stuff you throw in the more honest and familiar it is.

The same thing translates to food. Now, I'm more than guilty of adding 10+ ingredients to a recipe, even if they are only spices, and it's something I do often as a matter of course. I use a multitude of ingredients both for taste and nutrition in my more "decadent" recipes, but I understand at the same time that mom's chocolate chip cookies, a mayo-tomato sandwich or my grandpa's cheesy scrambled eggs are irreplaceable and cannot be gussied up without losing their integrity. For dietary restrictions, sadly, a lot of the simple classics require more items and enhancements to create passable mock-ups, but the goal of a simple, clean flavour never changes.

Candy Apple Jelly

It's simplicity - specifically, 5 ingredients and less - that is behind this week's #SundaySupper roundup. Being one to elaborate on the spartan, this was looking to be a challenge for me until it hit me - look in my mom's recipe box. There are a ton of recipes in that black metal cube that have at least less than 8 ingredients, and considering for today water, salt, pepper, and oil are counted as "freebies" most of her cherished, hand-written cards were fair game.

It so happened that this Sunday corresponded with the end of a jar of homemade jam, which never bodes well with a loaf of fresh bread kicking around the house! Mom's "preserves" section of the box was relatively paltry though, since she was never one to make jam or jelly at home. Of the 4 condiments she had, one caught my eye because it was so unlike my mom yet at the same time totally spoke of her penchant for simple, quick and people-pleasing food. Using candy along with the apple juice, sugar and pectin was a twist I didn't expect (especially since she doesn't like candy at all), but after finding countless versions of this so called "Candy Apple Jelly"online I became convinced that it could work. I have no idea how long the original idea to cook cinnamon hearts in juice before jelling the works has been around, and based on what I had on hand I did have to make some changes (using no-sugar-needed pectin and subsequently less added sugar, not to mention cooking and straining Hot Tamales candy instead of the suspiciously absent-from-the-store cinnamon hearts). Even with my changes, the jelly remained essentially the same flavour-wise - not to mention still under 5 ingredients!

This week's roundup is being hosted by Alice of Hip Foodie Mom. Thanks Alice! Check out what all our other #SundaySupper contributors are sharing below.
Appetizers, Salads and Starters

Side and Accompaniments

Main Dishes

Dessert and Beverages

8387592742_f6164fd5a8_oJoin the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. Check out our #SundaySupper Pinterest board for more fabulous recipes and food photos. Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy! You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Turkey Taco Stew

Spring cleaning in an interesting animal. On one hand, you get that sense of satisfaction out of a job well done and there's a pristine slate for the rest of the year. On the other, there is always a twinge of guilt when you come across those items you bought (either deliberately or on impulse) and then squirreled away for that day that never came around. Cleaning out the pantry every few months is no different. I'm always amazed at the vast quantity of stuff that our deep cabinets can hold, but when I see the small pile of items that have passed their expiry or have absolutely no use to our household I feel awful for wasting food that other deserving people could have eaten instead. Granted, if I do come across cans, boxes or bottles that are still within their dates, they go into a donation box - but still, the spirit of frugality that was drilled into me from day one takes a hit.

Turkey Taco StewThe reason I bring this up is not only because we're in the throes of Spring itself, but because I went on a massive pantry-cleaning spree last week and came up with 4 cans of salsa. For a family who doesn't currently thrive on tortilla chips or tacos, it was a revelation as to just what "jags" we go on. Two of the jars were homemade - my Medium-Hot Chunky Salsa in fact - and the other two were an organic black bean variety I bought on sale downtown a few months back during a "salsa on everything" kick. I wasn't about to throw any of those out, but couldn't think of a good use for all of them until I came across a bag of chopped turkey meat and a container of homemade roasted tomatoes in the freezer. I hit the store for a few fresh ingredients, whipped up a batch of salt-free taco seasoning, and tossed everything into a pot. In under an hour, a chunky, thick and filling pot of goodness was ready for the bowl - and no waste!

Shared with Gluten Free Fridays

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Homemade Roasted Peabutter (Toast Topper #44)

My school, like the majority of elementary institutions out there, is a strictly peanut free zone. Nothing that's processed can come into the common areas without a "nut-free" label slapped on the front of it, and even staff are strongly encouraged to avoid bringing nut products in their lunches or purses due to the risk of cross contamination. Not a problem... unless like a significant portion of school age children (and their parents) you love a good ol' PB&J sandwich at your midday meal. I'll admit, if I had to give up peanut butter entirely as a kid, I would not have been a happy camper, but at least I liked enough other brown-baggable foods to get through to highschool. A few of the children under my watch are so fussy, though, that without the invention of peanut-free butters like NoNuts Golden Peabutter and WOWbutter, they'd never eat at all.

If you've never heard of either of these items, rest assured that neither of them is a strange chemical and gum product flavoured to resemble your longtime friend. WOWbutter is a "peanut butter replacement" made from roasted soybeans, while NoNuts is a similarly made item with roasted yellow peas. The major difference between the two is the one allergen they do contain. WOWbutter, obviously, contains a large amount of soy - adding to it's protein content but poses a danger to those with a soy sensitivity (something that can also happen to those with peanut reactions). Peabutter is soy-free, but the commercial variety sweetens it's product with cornstarch-containing icing sugar. Since I know both children and adults with allergies to both peanuts and one (or both) of these other major problem ingredients, I wanted to see if I could make my own. This way, I could not only have something to cook with at school in my classes, but I'd also have a recipe to give to the parents who are shelling out big time for the specialty products.

It's a lot easier (and cheaper) to make peabutter at home than you may think, since all you need is an oven and a food processor or blender to get you going. Once you get the basic recipe down pat, the variations are as endless and delectable as you care to make them. Add a banana or your favourite jam to the mixture as it blends for an all-in-one healthy spread, try a few spoonfuls of Egg White Mallow Fluff for a mock fluffernutter, or pump up the decadence with homemade caramel or chocolate syrup. It's up to you!

Homemade Wowbutter

So, if you (or your kids) want the PB&J sandwiches - without any of the Top 9 allergens - give this recipe a whirl. It has all the delicious roasted flavour of the original, no weird stuff, less cost and even less fat and calories than your standard jarred spread.

Shared with Waste Not Want Not Wednesday

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Multigrain Spelt and Blueberry Sourdough (#RecipeRedux)

If there's one piece of equipment that exemplifies our kitchen, it's our ancient, enameled aluminum bowl. Deemed "the bread bowl" by my mom and I, it's been in the family at least as far back as my grandfather, who would churn out a minimum of 4 loaves a week by hand for their household. The finish is nowhere near as white as it used to be, and even the stamped name of the manufacturer has been worn off with decades of loving use and washing, but it is still sturdy and watertight and the cradle for our yearly batches of pie dough, challah, brioche and chocolate chip cookies. It's funny that I feel so strongly about a bowl, but I've actually asked my mom to will it to me so that I can keep our traditions alive.

One of the uses for the bread bowl that my mom never capitalized on was it's perfect boule-forming capabilities. A sourdough on a floured towel flips out into a perfect round dome, ready for baking, and the lightweight material of the bowl itself makes for easy transfer. To me, it only seemed natural that for this month's "Treasured Cookware" #RecipeRedux I focus on the bowl's old and new uses, and share a recipe I designed for my mom to enjoy after we returned from a trip to the Evergreen Brickworks Farmer's Market last Summer.

Alli's Bread was carrying a wild blueberry and walnut loaf that caught our attention - with a thick crust, the promise of sourdough tang and hearty whole grains supporting fresh local blueberries and walnuts, it was definitely a showstopper. We only wound up taking home a demi-boule, though, since mom isn't too fussy about walnuts in general. Sliced and toasted with a smear of honey, the loaf was deemed passable, but mom did mention wanting a different nut of some kind - preferably one that was crunchier. When I suggested the combination of hazelnuts and blueberries, her eyes lit up and I knew we had a jumping off point.
Multigrain Spelt and Blueberry Sourdough
A little Googling later found me on The Fresh Loaf, where I found a perfect looking recipe by txfarmer for Blueberry Sourdough with Hazelnuts. I played around with it slightly, adding allspice, spelt flour and multigrain cereal for extra flavour and texture. Like all good sourdoughs, this one took a while to get to the final baking stage, but it was worth it - and the trusty bread bowl made just as good of a banneton as the traditional wicker baskets. The finished bread was moist, crusty, just dense enough to be substantial, and filled to the brim with fruit and nuts. Slices soon began disappearing, topped with creamy butter, peanut butter, jam and honey, and it was definitely one of my mom's favourites to date!

Also shared with YeastSpotting.

Multigrain Spelt and Blueberry Sourdough

Monday, April 21, 2014

Medium-Hot Chunky Salsa

I've made it my goal to finish all the canned goods I put up last year before I start on this year's preserving. It's not difficult - I was lucky enough to give away a good portion of them at Christmas, and since most of my family are condiment-philes like me they're certainly being enjoyed! Because we grow so many tomatoes in our backyard every year, we have a lot of sauces and salsas to get through (some I haven't even written about yet - bad blogger!), but each taste of the homemade stuff reminds us that Summer is coming, and that for the time being we can at least get a hint of sunshine from the pantry.

Medium-Hot Chunky Salsa
When it comes to salsas, my mom and I are of the mind that the chunkier it is, the better. Ironically, we don't usually eat salsa with tortilla chips - in fact, our favourite dipper is carrot sticks (but fajitas and tacos get a good dollop too!). Like most things, I favour a good dose of spice in my dip, as long as the peppers aren't so overpowering that I can't taste it! This particular batch really played to my personal tastes, blending fresh Summer tomatoes, four types of pepper and a good whack of garlic into a dippable but still chunky mixture. Not only have we been loving it on our Tex-Mex dinners, but I even incorporated some of it into soup - stay tuned for that one!

Shared with Shaina's "Let's Burn This Candle" and Beat Cancer Recipe Roundup

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Whole Wheat Croissants for a #SundaySupper Easter

Sunday mornings, especially Easter Sunday mornings, call for a special treat. Between pancakes, waffles and crepes, our weekend breakfast-brunches always seemed to be carb-heavy, but around Easter (especially if we had a holiday dinner on Good Friday), my Sunday morning treat was a leftover ham sandwich with lots of mustard. Mom (and later, I) would take the cold, sliced ham, cut it into strips and "toast" it in our frying pan - essentially creating bacon but without the grease. Depending on the bread stash we had at home, it would be piled onto crispy-crust kaisers, Texas toast, cinnamon-raisin bread (weird, but it works with the mustard - trust me!) or my favourite, bagel croissants.

What is a bagel croissant? All the good, flaky texture of the croissant, but sturdier and much better for slicing. My personal favourite was poppy-seed, just like the bagel! That said, for straight-up eating, they paled in comparison to the local bakery's homemade croissants that we would get on very special occasions. Those were intensely buttery, flaking at the slightest nudge, and melted in your mouth. Paired with a little bowl of berries and bananas, a cafe au lait (and a cappuccino yoghurt if we had gone to the store recently), it was a very Parisian experience that I just took for granted as a treat!

Around Easter I start thinking of those mornings again, and while croissants are obviously still available, the bakery has shut down and the storebought ones just aren't the same. I knew that there were infinite recipes out there to make your own, but I kept putting it off - they just seemed too finicky! Finally, though, with our turn to host Easter coming around, I bit the bullet and started seriously looking at recipes.

I wanted to make the classic, but with a little bit of a healthier (and more flavourful) twist of whole wheat. Thanks to David Lebovitz, I knew it was possible - but the problem came down to quantity. I wound up combining his fantastic method (step-by-step pictures really helped!) with this one from Zester Daily and a few of my own additions - namely the use of buttermilk and a small portion of shortening mixed with the roll-in butter to minimize oozing. Luckily I chose a fairly cold stretch of the week to get my hands dirty, so the butter stayed (mostly) contained. In any event, they puffed into wonderfully flaky layers with a unique tang, perfect for brunch!

Whole Wheat Croissants

This week's #SundaySupper is celebrating Easter and Passover with a host of treats - all the meals are on the table, including appetizers, desserts and wine too! is our host this week - thanks!



Savory and Sweet Breads:

Sides and Salads:

Main Dishes:

Sunday Supper Movement
Join the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter each Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. Check out our #SundaySupper Pinterest board for more fabulous recipes and food photos.

Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Chocolate Chip Hazelnut Cookies

Barring allergies, I have yet to find a person who loathes the combination of chocolate and hazelnuts. You may not love Nutella as much as my sister, my stepbrother or I do (we used to eat it from the jar with a spoon, and both my sister and my stepbrother smear thick layers onto their bread in the morning), but you have to admit the rounder, more "earthy" flavour of toasted nuts adds to the richness of chocolate. In particular, I loved the perfect combination of dark chocolate and hazelnuts - each ingredient buffered the other, keeping the mixture in perfect harmony. A jar of dark chocolate hazelnut spread in the house with two dark chocolate fiends (myself and my mom) was definitely a dangerous prospect!

Ironically, the only variation on the chocolate-hazelnut theme I didn't like (and still don't) was actual chunks of nuts in my chocolate. The texture was just too "out there" for me. That said, ground and pasted nuts in my brownies and cookies were A-OK with me. When I got the urge to bake recently, I decided I'd take that theme and run with it, using a vegan chocolate chip cookie recipe and adding the nutty trifecta of toasted hazelnut oil, ground hazelnuts and Frangelico for a wallop of flavour. I cut down on the sugar a tad and used whole grain flours to let the nut flavour shine, adding miniature dark chocolate chips for a grownup sweet treat. The resultant cookie is tender with just a slight chewiness to the edge, peppered with chocolate and rippled with elements of hazelnut in every bite. Whether you've been a fan of the chocolate-hazelnut combination for decades or are a recent convert, you'll be sure to find something to love with these - even more so if you dunk them in chocolate hazelnut milk... yup, I went there!

Chocolate Chip Hazelnut Cookie

Friday, April 18, 2014

Samosa Bowl

I love a good samosa. Growing up, one of the teachers in my school (which is still, ironically, my school now that I work there!) would make hundreds of her signature fried parcels for almost every after-school event. On International Day, when each teacher (and a good amount of parents) would bring a dish to share as a fundraiser for the school, you can bet that my tickets (and my samosa-loving dad's too) would be almost entirely dedicated to her all-vegetarian stall.

I've never dared make "proper" samosas before - the pastry seemed too finicky for me to handle properly and then there was the whole "deep fry" thing that I'm scared of. But those cravings can be strong suckers and I found myself jonesing for the richly spiced filling of the snacks I loved years ago. Then it hit me - why not make a "samosa bowl"? Going with the same vein of "burrito bowls" and deconstructed sushi, I could just make the filling, sans frying, and have all the goodness I wanted for myself! I did some Googling and cobbled together a few filling recipes to find one that suited my tastes - lots of roasted cauliflower, the requisite potatoes and peas, garlic and a vast masala of spices made their way into batch number 1, which I gobbled down for dinner. To round out the bowl a bit more, I started adding other diced veggies (like the carrots you can see in the photo below) and crumbled tofu. Once everything cooked together into a lovely golden hue I knew I had my answer - crispy bits of vegetable with sweet peas and a touch of lemony zip. A single serving of crave-busting flavour!

Samosa Bowl

Shared with Gluten Free Fridays

Monday, April 14, 2014

Superpower Granola Bars #EatAtoZChallenge

I proudly admit that I'm a Zumba-holic. The three days of the week that I have free, you can be sure to find me bright and early dancing away to the music and grinning like a fool the whole way through. Seeing how tired we get after just one class a day, I can't imagine how the instructors must feel after several! 

One of my weekly instructors moved on to another venture a few weeks ago, and as a farewell gift and thank-you for all her hard work I made her something she normally bought tons of - granola-esque power bars. I basically cleaned out the health food store - turned - pantry making these, making sure that each one would be chock full of fibre, protein and complex carbs (essentials for every athelete!). Psyllium husks (a great binder for all sorts of baking!), thick cut oats, leftover cold cereal, wheat bran, cooked quinoa, maple syrup, almonds, two types of seeds, dried fruit, protein powder and peanut butter all found a home, none of them competing with any other. I also just baked them, so that they would stay moist and chewy, not to mention freeze well.  

Superpower Granola Bars

I wrapped each cooled bar individually, just like the store-bought ones, so that grab-and-go would be simple and mess-free. I froze some for my mom to take to the gym with her too (hey, I come by the gym-rat thing honestly), which came as a pleasant surprise when the inevitable post-exercise munchies it. Being just slightly sweet from the dried fruit and maple syrup, the bars won't make you want to chug a bottle of water after having one for breakfast either (although we should be drinking more of that anyways!). Rather, the nutty, toasty flavour of the grains, seeds and nuts shines through and makes you feel good about your treat, not like you've swallowed a candy bar. 

This month's Eat A to Z Challenge hosted by  Meal Planning Magic, Sparkles and a Stove and Alida’s Kitchen is all about the foods beginning with "E" and "F". There are no eggs in these vegan bars, but a good number of figs found their way into the mix, making them a great addition to the roundup!

Eat A to Z Healthy Recipe Challenge

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Lemon Poppyseed Swirl Cookies (#SundaySupper)

I always think of lemons when I think of springtime. It's kind of ironic, actually, since we can buy the best specimens (not to mention the "gourmet" ones like Meyers) in the dead of Winter, but there's something about the freshness and tang of the citrus that seems to hearken the "newness" of the year. I've even been trying (for years...) to grow my own Meyer lemon tree, but no luck yet :-(. Regardless of the season or the type, lemons remain one of my favourite fruits - both for cooking and baking and raw in dressings, drinks and pastas. I've been known to eat them straight too... but then again I'm not normal!

Growing up one of my major lemon-craving quenchers were the lemon poppyseed muffins the doughnut shop by our house sold. They were a bit smaller than the behemoth Costco ones we could get at the recreation centre, but they tasted miles better and really solidified my taste for lemon-poppyseed treats. Since those early days, I've done a fair number of recipes with the combination - Gluten Free Lemon Poppy - Seed Cookies, a Sticky Lemon-Poppy Loaf and Poppyseed - Layered Lemon Loaves, a (to-die for!) Strawberry Laced Lemon - Poppyseed Cake and even cupcakes. But I wanted to try something different with the combination this time around, since I was making them as a housewarming gift for a co-worker who is as unique as the day is long (and is awesome for it!). I love cinnamon-swirl bread and pinwheel cookies, so I got the bug in my head to try a swirled lemon-poppyseed cookie - the key was finding a decent base recipe for rolling out (and up), not to mention one that used stuff I had on hand since I was not about to go to the store at 8PM on a Sunday night.

I dug through my mom's recipe box and found a clipping from (as far as I can tell) Good Housekeeping, which I used as my base. With a few modifications (namely making it eggless, less sugary and of course lemon flavoured!) I knew I had what I was looking for - and after a short rest on the countertop (basically the length of time it took to pout away the ingredients and do the dishes) it rolled out perfectly smooth, allowing me to sprinkle it with the poppyseeds and give it the "jelly-roll" treatment. Since I was slicing it instead of using cookie cutters, I stuck my log in the freezer to firm up before taking my sharpest serrated knife to it. They baked up bright, lemony and perfectly sweet-tart - definitely not like any storebought cookies and perfect for their intended recipient!

Lemon Poppyseed Swirl Cookies

This week our #SundaySupper group is featuring recipes that are "stuffed, rolled, and wrapped". There are a ton of divine treats being shared, so check them out and say hi! Amy from Kimchi Mom is our hostess this week, thanks Amy!

Starters and Snacks
Endive Stuffed with Blue Cheese, Walnuts and Honey by Shockingly Delicious
Filipino Turon (Banana Lumpia) by Killer Bunnies, Inc
Arepas de Queso by A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventures
Chicken Tinga Taquitos with Avocado Cream by Savvy Eats
Eggy Rice Wraps by Jane’s Adventures in Dinner
Puff Pastry and Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus by The Girl In The Little Red Kitchen
Onigiri by Brunch With Joy
Stuffed Pierogie Shells by Seduction in The Kitchen
Scotch Eggs with Sriracha Dipping Sauce by Run DMT
Celery Root Lettuce Wraps with Beluga Lentils by The Wimpy Vegetarian

Entrees and Mains
Rouladen by The Not So Cheesy Kitchen
Stracci di Antrodoco by Manu’s Menu
Eggplant Rollatini by MealDiva
Chicken Cordon Blue by The Foodie Army Wife
Stuffed Whole Baby Savoy Cabbages by Food Lust People Love
Chicken Taco Egg Rolls by Table for Seven
Shrimp Tempura Roll by Small Wallet, Big Appetite
Lemon and Herb Stuffed Salmon by Nosh My Way
Tamales de Rajas y Requeson (Roasted Poblano Tamales) by La Cocina de Leslie
Bademjan Shekam-por by Culinary Adventures with Camilla
Mascarpone Blueberry Stuffed French Toast by gotta get baked
Korean-style Meaty Stuffed Potatoes by kimchi MOM
Strawberries and Cream Pancake Roll by Curious Cuisiniere
Creamy Goat Cheese Quinoa Stuffed Tomatoes by Take A Bite Out of Boca
Greek Rolled Meatloaf by Kudos Kitchen By Renee
Shrimp Burritos Con Queso by Cooking On The Ranch
Bee-Bim Bop Sushi Rolls by
Angel Hair Shrimp Lettuce Wraps by Family Foodie
Genoa Salami and Kalamata Olive Calzones by The Texan New Yorker
Zucchini Boats by Confessions of a Culinary Diva
Girl’s Camp Breakfast Burritos by Hot Momma’s Kitchen Chaos
Crab Louie Stuffed Chicken by Cindy’s Recipes and Writings
Rustic “Wrapped” Tart with Ramps by Delaware Girl Eats
Potato Roll Stuffed with Ham and Cheese in Red Sause by Basic N Delicious
Ham, Turkey and Cheddar Turnovers by Magnolia Days
Crispy Chipotle Shrimp Burritos by Bobbi’s Kozy Kitchen
Caprese Stuffed Chicken Breasts by Peanut Butter and Peppers
Pizza Pockets by girlichef
Ham and Cheese Crescent “Roll” Stromboli by Rants From My Crazy Kitchen
Beef Wellington Braciole by Cupcakes & Kale Chips
Greek Salad Wrap by The Messy Baker
Cabbage Venison Lettuce Wraps With Fresh Herbs by Sue’s Nutrition Buzz

All Things Sweet
Easy Apple Dumplings by Hezzi-D’s Books and Cooks
Carrot Cake Cinnamon Rolls by Chocolate Moosey
Chocolate Hazelnut Rugelach by Desserts Required
Chocolate Cake Roll by That Skinny Chick Can Bake
Cannoli Stuffed French Toast by Momma’s Meals
Lemon Poppyseed Swirl Cookies by What Smells So Good
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Egg Rolls by Melanie Makes
Raspberry and Lemon-Curd Mascarpone Stuffed French Toast by La Bella Vita Cucina
Chocolate Chip Banana Sweet Rolls by Big Bear’s Wife
Orange Chocolate Swiss Roll by Noshing With The Nolands
Salted Caramel Chocolate Cookies by Alida’s Kitchen
Flourless Peanut Butter and Jelly Cookies by Pies and Plots

Join the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter each Sunday. We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET and you do not want to miss out on the fun. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. Check out our #SundaySupper Pinterest board for more fabulous recipes and food photos.

Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? Click here: Sunday Supper Movement

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Szechuan Stir Fry

We are a family of stir-fry lovers. Pretty much, if you can toss it in a saute pan with a ton of veggies, a little sauce of some kind and pair it with a carb, it's fair game at our table. Since my mom is now retired, there's a wedding coming up in the near future and meat is ever-more expensive these days, meatless meals have become routine - like it or not. Although my stepdad is a little resistant to the shift, my mom and stepbrother are gladly embracing it... especially since my stepbrother would rather eat tofu than chicken or turkey!

The key to any good stir-fry, regardless of whether it's meat, seafood or tofu, is to season well, and often. Yes, the pan's heat adds an element of "browned" taste to the food, but without those key basic spices, herbs and sauces you might as well just steam the food. I was lucky enough to still have some  Szechuan sauce from San-J in my fridge (we love that stuff), and I used it as a jumping-off point for our dinner - marinating extra-firm tofu in it overnight, before using a mix of tamari, apple juice, ginger, garlic and even more Szechuan sauce as a finishing flavour punch for a pan full of caramelized tofu, tons of veggies and brown Basmati rice. Not only did the combination taste fantastic - a blend of tangy, sweet and spicy - but it used up all sorts of leftovers (which for the uninitiated is really the purpose behind stir-frying anything!). We even had enough left over for my mom to take for lunch when she volunteered at my school - a meal that garnered very interested looks from everyone in the lunch room!

Szechuan Stir Fry

Shared with Waste Not Want Not Wednesday

Monday, April 7, 2014

Cracker Jack Bread

Have you ever had (or do you even remember) Cracker Jack? It's still around, but what was once a must-have at every baseball game has fallen by the wayside popularity-wise. I'll always remember my dad using their catchphrase "peanuts, popcorn and a prize" to refer to an olio of items or situations. 

The Boy Scouts near me were selling packages of their signature Kettle Corn (which is to die for, albeit not great nutritionally) at the mall the other day, and I grabbed a pack out of nostalgia than anything else. When I got home, I was stuck with the question as to what to do with my impulse buy - eating it was out thanks to my food intolerances, and it was a little early to start Christmas garlands. A little Googling led me to a recipe that sounded absolutely perfect for my haul - Popcorn Bread.

You can thank Marcy Goldman for the original inspiration, since she wrote about her Hot & Buttery Popcorn Bread in A Passion for Baking, but of course I needed to make it my own. With the sweet, sticky Kettle Corn at my disposal, I started thinking about Cracker Jack and how I could incorporate all those elements into a loaf. I bumped up the sweetness with some honey and stevia, cracked in an egg and finished it all off with a handful of chopped, toasted peanuts. The loaf crowned beautifully over the pan, baking up golden and smelling of everything good about the snack food.

Cracker Jack BreadAs I was taking my prize out of the oven, my mom walked in and asked what type of bread I had created this time. When I said "popcorn bread", though, the look on my mom's face (and her subsequent doubts as to the taste it would have) had me second guessing - had I really wasted the time and energy on something she would hate? Bless her, though, she had a piece the next morning with breakfast... and another two with lunch. In fact, half the loaf disappeared before she admitted that she had prejudged the recipe and in fact was really enjoying it!

Even if you've never dug into a bag of peanuts, popcorn and a prize, I challenge you to give this bread a shot. Who knows, it might become your new breakfast staple - and how often can you claim popcorn as part of a nutritious breakfast?

Shared with YeastSpotting.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Duff Goldman's Zebra Cake Mix (#ProductReview)

My mom's birthday party a few weeks ago meant I finally had an excuse to try out the other cake mix by Duff Goldman that I was graciously sent to review - Duff™ Zebra Cake Mix. When it comes to making zebra cake from scratch (like I've seen on so many gorgeous blogs), my results have been less than spectacular - the batter is the wrong consistency, or the oven time / temperature was off, or some other issue befell my would-be creation. Since I had found success with the Red Velvet Cake Mix, I had high hopes for this one - after all, how hard is mixing powder, oil, water and eggs?

Mom's Birthday Cake

Like the last mix, Duff's version of Zebra Cake batter is priced higher than it's other "marble cake" competitors - $3.49 on the official website (where you can also use the code NUMMYCAKE20 for a 20% discount) and more at places like Michael's. That said, the ingredients are more suited for cake 
While the cake eventually turned out beautifully, it wasn't without some problems along the way. The back of the box indicates the mix will make one 9" cake, while the website states "one package makes one 9"x13” cake or two double-layer 8" or one 9" round cakes". If I'm to believe the box, a single 9" layer seems like a bit of a rip-off for the cost. If I gauge portions by the website, that means needing four 8" or 9" pans when normally a mix for a 9x13" only requires two. That's a huge disparity in approximate yield. In addition, the box also states to bake the mix for 55 minutes. I have never baked a layer cake for longer than 30 or 35 minutes, regardless of how much sour cream, butter and milk is in there. 55 minutes is a recipe for a charcoal brick. I would strongly suggest the producers take a look at their packaging vs. their website and decide on some clear directions in order to avoid turning off potential repeat buyers.

Mom's Birthday CakeAfter making the batter, it's clear that a 9" springform pan is the best (and really, only) way to go about making the cake. I don't completely understand why they would suggest a 9x13", since it lacks the necessary depth to form proper rings of batter, but if you're not fussy about design you can technically fit most of the batter into one (with a cupcake or two left over). Using a springform pan is also more in line with the box's bake time of 55 minutes, although I still needed to pull ours out with about 5 minutes to go since it was beginning to bake a little too far. Like the last mix I made, the low protein, low gluten flour in the Zebra mix helped create and keep the tender,  fluffy texture of the finished cake - making it a delight to eat. Surprisingly, the crumb was also strong enough to sustain torting with a sharp serrated knife, although it did break apart when I tried to move it to the cake platter (nothing frosting can't fix!). After the party, leftovers only lasted about 3 days in the fridge before being demolished, but they were nowhere near dry or stale at that point.

Mom's Birthday Cake
I was also given a can of  Duff™ Chocolate Frosting to use with this cake. While it tasted fine, it was really nothing special to write home about, and given the price I'd rather buy a store-brand can that tastes exactly the same. Compared to my homemade Rich Chocolate Yoghurt Frosting mixed with Nutella that I used as a filling, the canned stuff was just boring.

Mom's Birthday Cake
All that said, is the mix worth it? For me, this one isn't - if I have to go the "box" route in the future, I'd rather buy two separate mixes (with clear directions and smaller price tags) and make my own "marbled" effect, not to mention buying a cheaper frosting to doctor up with liqueur, peanut butter, extracts or cocoa powder. For those looking for a more "gourmet" shortcut cake, I would definitely suggest a Duff™ Red Velvet Cake Mix and Duff™ White Mocha Cake Mix though - you won't be disappointed!

Mom's Birthday Cake

See all the products on, and don't forget to use the promo code NUMMYCAKE20 for a 20% discount on all products!

*Disclaimer: I received the cake mixes and frostings free of charge from Gartner Studios, but was not compensated for any review whatsoever. All opinions and photos are my own.