Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Eggnog Bread Pudding ....a Festive Quickie

Being that is IS sooooo close to Christmas... being that I looooove EGGNOG, I thought I'd also share another Festive Quickie... Eggnog Bread pudding.   WAIT.... before you go judging "bread pudding", I beg you to give it a try,  I did, and now.. I'm on the bandwagon.  (this says a lot coming from a girl with food "texture issues". Don't even get me started on rice pudding...eeeek) I mean, thousands of people.... thousands of recipes ....can't all be wrong/bad right?!  PLUS.. this one...  has an "adult twist"... the addition of Bailey's. *sigh* Bailey's.

Add a drizzle of Bailey's over the warm pudding just before serving...
On a side note... here on the west coast, Dec. 21st 2011...  it couldn't look farther from Christmas if it tried!  It's BEAUTIFUL out...downtown on Granville Island, people were actually eating their late lunches outside!  Kid's were chasing and feeding the birds, and outdoor Musicians were adding to the already perfect atmosphere.
Yes.. this is in Vancouver, BC, CANADA...Dec. 21st!
new friend....
Blue Sky!
Nope... don't think there's snow in that cloud...  haha ... Gotta love the GREEN West Coast!  There was the "Christmas-y Smells"... Chestnuts Roasting... fresh wreaths on display....  and of course, a stop in to the Granville Island Tea Company for a large Masala Chai Tea to go..makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.... even though there is no sign of any "white stuff". 

Eggnog Bread Pudding & Bailey’s – a festive quickie
8 cups bread cubes (1/2 loaf) – Challah bread is the best
1 cup milk
2 ½ cups eggnog
3 large eggs
¾ cup sugar
¼ tsp nutmeg
1 tbsp vanilla
1-2 tbsp sugar (for topping)
Bailey’s (or other coffee liquor) to drizzle on top
-          Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
-          Whisk milk, eggnog, eggs, sugar, nutmeg, and vanilla in a large bowl
-          Add bread cubes
-          Pour into a baking pan (I used a 9 inch round cake pan) evening out the layer as much as possible.
-          Sprinkle  top with the addition sugar
-          Bake for 50-55 min or until knife in centre comes out clean
-          Let sit for 10 min prior to serving
-          Serve warm - spoon into serving bowls, drizzle Bailey’s on top – YUM YUM
*if serving to kids or non-Bailey’s lovers… whipped cream or ice cream would go great as well!
mmm perfect finishing touch!
For more great bread recipe ideas....check out this site... yeastspotting

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Tis' The Season - Eggnog Shortbread Cookies

Tis’ the Season of over indulgences, rich food, good wine, and baked goods galore!  This year, I promised myself not to indulge toooo much.  Not to stay up till’ the wee hours of the morning baking, (let alone enjoying some of the finer spirits of the season).  I was going to be a good girl!  Stay focused.  Attend Zumba class 2 nights a week… YUP… I was going to sail through the Christmas Season.  Then…there I was… walking through an aisle in the grocery store… and it sat there… calling my name… and on SALE no doubt.   Eggnog.  **sigh** Eggnog.  Some drink it warm on its own… or with coffee…or with RUM… or… like me, all of the above...AND...bake with it!
In between preparing for our trek “up country” for the Christmas Season to be family… I decided what better way to distress then play a little.  After all, indulging in moderation…can’t be all THAT bad now can it?!   OH.. and throw in an impromptu photo session with Duke Dog… hey, may as well keep busy well the dough is chillin’ in the fridge right?! I’ve included some of those pictures below…as, well, you know… just living up to the “dog snob name”….

Eggnog Shortbread Cookies
1 cup butter (softened NOT melted)
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup icing sugar
¼ cup eggnog
 ½ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp vanilla
*optional – Eggnog Glaze
(in small bowl, add 1 ½ cup icing sugar, and slowly mix in eggnog to desired consistency)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
- In a large mixing bowl (stand mixers work best as they do the work for you) , Combine butter, flour, icing sugar, eggnog, nutmeg and vanilla.  Start mixer on “STIR” setting to combine ingredients slowly at first (or you’ll be covered in a poof of powder!)
- Gradually increase speed , stopping to scrape down sides of bowl several times.  Trick is to mix, mix, mix!  I had my mixer on for at least a good 5-8 minutes at a moderate speed.
- Place dough in fridge for 15 -30 minutes.
- Spoon a small amount of dough into your hand, and roll into balls. Place on cookie sheet 2 inches apart from each other.
place cookie balls 2 inches apart on cookie sheet
- Bake for 15 to 17 minutes, or until bottoms are lightly browned.  Remove from oven, and let sit on sheet for 5 minutes.
- Place cookies on cooling rack.  (I put a paper towel underneath the rack, so I could drizzle the eggnog glaze right on the cookies cooling for easy clean up)
- (optional ) Drizzle EGGNOG GLAZE* with a fork over cooling cookies.

using a fork makes it easy to mix and drizzle over cookies

- Store cooled cookies in an airtight container.
....and now for some Santa Duke Dog pictures....

Duke Dog & "friend" by our tree

So, I guess this is the final countdown to the day when the big fat man, in a red suit comes a callin’ ... If you’re traveling like us.. please travel safe.  For those (also like me) scrambling to get those last minute things checked off your to-do list.. GOOD LUCK! I’ll probably see you racing’ round’ the mall!

Santa Duke - Christmas 2011

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

mmmmMini Lasagna's

I love CARBS. I love bread.  I love pasta.  I love (who doesn’t) lasagna.  What I don’t like is when the craving hits you in the middle of the week, long day at the office, traffic “sucked” and you’re hungry NOW.   I’m constantly on the prowl for recipes that are “quick and easy week night” meals, have friends, family and marketing mailing lists in general sending me ideas on a regular basis.  This one caught my eye, and of course, I couldn’t just “make it”, I had to adapt, and play… or it just wouldn’t be me.  If you try ANY of the recipes from this site… YOU JUST GOTTA try this one!  YUM YUM!
Here’s my version of Petite Lasagna’s…as adapted from a recipe.

mmmmMini Lasagna’s
(makes 12)
12 oz ground meat ( I used pork this time around)
1 cup finely diced onion
1 can/jar favorite pasta sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 ½ cups part skim ricotta cheese
*optional – herb & garlic seasoning
36 small square wonton wrappers
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
Salt/pepper to taste

- Preheat oven to 375ºF. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the ground meat, onions, salt/pepper. Crumble the meat and make sure it is cooked entirely. Add the garlic, mixing garlic in completely.

-Add pasta sauce. Bring to a gentle boil (watch for splattering). Remove from heat and set aside.

-In a separate bowl, combine the ricotta, a pinch of salt and pepper. *optional, I added teaspoon of  herb& garlic seasoning mix to add more flavor to cheese.  Stir to mix well. Set aside.

-Coat a 12-cup muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray. Place 2 wonton wrappers into each of the 12 cups, pressing firmly in the bottom of the cup and up the sides, make sure the sides of the muffin cup are covered with the wrappers.

-Using half of the ricotta mixture, divide it among the 12 muffin cups. Press with finger to get an even layer
-Next, using half of the meat pasta sauce mixture, spoon it evenly over each of the ricotta filled cups. Sprinkle with pinch of mozzarella.
-Gently press another wonton wrapper on top of the mozzarella layer.

- Repeat the process by distributing the remaining ricotta, then the remaining meat pasta sauce, and finally the rest of the shredded mozzarella
-Bake for 10 minutes, or until the cheese has melted.

-remove from oven, let stand for 5 min. Carefully lifting cups out of muffin tin, (they should pop out easily.) Put on plate to serve!  YUM YUM

they should easily lift right out of muffin tin
There are endless variations with these babies! Try using Spicy Italian Sausage ground meat to kick it up a notch…or for those “veggies” out there… add in wilted/chopped spinach , mushrooms, peppers instead of the meat.    The best part…. Clean-up is a snap, the muffin tin should be relatively clean , as the lasagna's should just pop out, leaving a slight residue from the cooking spray.  OH…and did I mention, any leftovers, are just as good w/ a quick ZAP in the microwave the next day?!    Enjoy!!
mmmmMini Lasagna's --YUM YUM

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

An Artisan Affair with a side of Edamame Hummus

Edamame Hummus

An artisan (from Italian: artigiano) is a skilled manual worker who makes items that may be functional or strictly decorative, including furniture, clothing, jewellery, household items, and tools. As an adjective (spelled "artisanal"), it has been used as a marketing buzz word to describe or imply an association with the crafting of hand made food products, such as bread, tofu, beverages and cheese.

As I am just newly jumping into the “Foodie World”  (though I must admit, I’ve been a closet “Foodie” for quite some time) I am looking at things a different way.  Loving the trends that are starting to show themselves.. willing myself to try new things (even if it has texture “issues”…GULP) and what I’m enjoying more, is trying these new trends out for myself!
Recently, I was lucky enough to be able to “plan” a work function at one of my all time favorite “Happy Places” – Granville Island Market .  It is an Artisan’s Haven,  a Foodie’s Mecca… and best of all.. it’s located in the heart of one of the most beautiful cities I know of, Vancouver, BC. 
Of course, what’s a trip to the Island without visiting Granville Island Brewery (YUM YUM WINTER ALE!!) Their tasting room is fun – and informative.  This season, Chocolate Stout is the *new* one to try!  My opinion… definitely a dessert beer.  Winter Ale on the other hand… heaven!!
I also worked with Edible Canada  and had our group go on a “Market Tour”, as well as a 3-course-wine paired meal in their new restaurant directly after.  WOW, was I impressed.  During our tour through the market my group tasted its way through the different Artisan vendors.  I have to admit, even I, who is down in the Market quite frequently, learned a few things.
We had a stop at Oyama Sausage Company  , incredible!  Their prosciutto just seemed to melt in my mouth.  Also tasted some Chorizo and a type of fennel salami…  mmmmgood.   I can’t wait to go back and do more of a shop there. 

A visit to the Benton Brothers  had us sampling some fine cheese. How does that saying go?!  Everything’s better with Cheese?!?!
Terra Breads had me in carb heaven!!  Did you also know, they donate their leftovers to local community kitchens  as well as pride themselves on giving back to our community by donating items to different charitable events??
Of course I can’t forget Petit Ami and their sampling of their Holiday Blend coffee…  Starbuck’s, you’ve got competition on this blend!  YUM.    My also new favorite vendor in the Public Market …The Stock Market … HOLY… mmmmmmm!!.  Fresh Sauces, Stocks, Soups…  all in the latest flavor trends! (of course the basics as well).  I picked up the “Italian Dream, Creamy Pasta Sauce” – made with Prosciutto-Mushroom-Parmesan…  LOVE IT!  Add it to some fresh homemade pasta…  (find a basic pasta dough recipe here …and you’ve got yourself a pretty darn fantastic dinner!!
A stop to the Granville Island Tea Company proved informative and tasty! Thank you Mark for taking time out and talking with us!   Masala Chai Tea… with a smooth buttery finish…  heaven.  Pretty sure I'm headed down to the Market this weekend for more!

Of course then, there was the dinner at Edible Canada.  Their restaurant is lovely, and offers true West Coast Fare.  I had the Pemberton Steak and Frites , not surprisingly, it was awesome.
They have their small store front full of Artisan goodies, I’m pretty sure almost everyone in our group walked out with something from the Store.  I'd tell you what I bought... BUUUUT  Christmas is coming....
Over all – there is nothing bad I can say about the Public Market, and I’ve only captured a teenie-tiny portion of what Granville Island offers… there’s still the dozens of fresh fruit and vegetable vendors… the freshest Seafood & Butchers…. The local Artisan’s selling all kinds of unique-one-of-a-kind items….  *sigh*  truly a happy place!!  Of course, after I’ve spent time in that kind of atmosphere, I’m inclined to play a bit myself…. 
In keeping up with my promise to try out some of the several recipes I learned up at the Whistler Cornucopia Event last month… I just had to try and recreate one of CRU’s Executive Chef Alana Peckham recipes she showed us… Edamame Hummus… picture of her version is here… (Tiny Bubbles) 
Here’s my adapted recipe  (from CRU’s Executive Chef Alana Peckham)

Edamame Hummus
 2 cups Edamame Beans  (I used 1 package of frozen beans…and just shelled them myself)
½ cup diced shallots
3 garlic cloves – minced
½ cup olive oil
Salt to taste
-          Saute Edamame beans, Shallots, garlic in pan (use a drizzle of oil)

-          Remove from heat, and working in batches, puree mixture and oil  in a blender until desired texture.   (I added oil until the mixture was relatively smooth, but would still “scoop up and hold easily” to the pita chip.

-          Let sit at room temperature (covered) for at least 15 min to ensure flavors develop nicely.
-          Serve with pita crackers!  YUM YUM 
Edamame Hummus

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Ooey Gooey EASY Cinnamon Buns

The Holiday Season appears to have just snuck up on me.  Everywhere you turn its the countdown to "that day" , coloured lights are twinkling, mall parking lots are overflowing, and everyone seems to be in a choatic state of mind.  Personally, I feel like I have the song "Where are you Christmas" replying over and over in my head. 

When I think of the holiday's, I don't think of gifts, office parties, or Santa Claus.  I think of family, traditions, comfort foods, and just enjoying those around you.  I think of music playing Christmas tunes in the background, as big meals are prepped.  Christmas Spirits being poured as laugher and good times fills the room around.   In my opinion, some forget that this time of year is the perfect time to reflect on all the blessings that surround us.   On a rare frosty Saturday morning, when there was no where I "had" to be, the house was quiet (expect for the rhythmic snoring in the bedroom)... even Duke was passed out on the couch.... I decided  to fire up the oven, and play alittle.  So, with the music channel on quietly... I began to create sweet cinnamon smells in hope of waking up Mr. Sleepy Head....

Ooey Gooey Cinnamon Buns
The first thing I looked for when I was browsing through my millions (ok, maybe not MILLIONS...but definitely hundreds) of recipes was that I didn't have all day to make these.  I needed something to just whip up, so that they would be done, or in the final stages, before Mr. Sleepy Head woke up.  adapting from a couple recipes, I came up with these.  I promise you...  in an hour and half... with next to no kneading, you too could be biting into these sweet ooey gooey cinnamon buns...

Ooey Gooey Cinnamon Buns

  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 3 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 package instant yeast
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened (but not melted)
Optional: mix icing sugar and a couple tablespoons of milk (to desired thickness) to create a light and sweet icing

- Heat milk in sauces pan until it bubbles (stirring gently to ensure it doesn't scold on the bottom)
- Remove from heat, and stir in the 1/4 cup butter, keep stirring until it melts.  let cool until lukewarm
- Using a stand mixer, combine 2 1/4 cup flour, yeast, sugar and salt; mix well.

- Add water, egg and the milk mixture; mix well. Add the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, mix well after each addition.
-When the dough has just pulled together,  use your dough hook to knead it until a dough ball forms on the hook, and the sides of the bowl are clean. 
- Turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth, about 2 minutes. (if dough is still really sticky, add about a 1/4 cup flour and knead in - your hands should be "clean of dough")
- Cover the dough with lightly oiled (I used cooking spray) plastic wrap, and let rest 10 minutes.

- Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix together brown sugar, cinnamon, softened margarine.
- Roll out rested dough into a 12x9 inch - "ish" rectangle.

- Spread dough with butter/sugar mixture using the back of a spoon or spatula, to about 1/2 inch from edges of dough
mmmm brown sugar, butter,cinnamon...
- Roll up dough and pinch seam to seal. Cut into 12 equal size rolls and place cut side up in 12 lightly greased muffin cups.

- Cover lightly and let rise until doubled in a draft free place, about 30 minutes.

- Preheat oven to 375 F
- Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until browned. (place a foil covered baking sheet under pan to catch any drips. 
- Remove from muffin cups to cool.
- Optional:  mix icing sugar and a couple tablespoons of milk (to desired thickness) to create a light icing, and drizzle over slightly cooled cinnamon buns....
........Serve warm

Enjoy!!  These are good for a few days(if they last that long), make sure to keep em' covered, and a quick zap in the microwave will have them back to ooey and gooey in seconds!