Thursday, April 26, 2012

Taco Spring Rolls and a sneak peak to our “yard project”…

I am called many a things… Martha Stewart, Better Crocker, Social Coordinator… Dog Snob.. the list goes on.  I can do many a “things”.  Gardening has not been a forte.  Nope, “green thumbs” do NOT run in the immediate family.   That being said, when we decided to freshen and clean up the front yard, I jumped right in.  Dirty Hands don’t scare me! So far, I think we’ve (haha, okok, so it’s MOSTLY been my honey - BUT, I’ve put in some “time” too) done a bang up job!  I’m absolutely loving seeing all the little buds of who knows what (so maybe the average garden guru would know) poking their heads through the soil.  It’s so satisfying when you clip and clean up old growth, allowing the new buds / new growth to shine on through.  That being said, the last few weekends have been marathon sessions outside. WHICH means dinner’s have to be a bit more creative and quick and easy..and… no.. NOT take out! haha  (last thing I want after being outside ALL day is to go in, clean up, and make a big production of dinner.  Taco Spring Rolls fit perfectly.  You can make ahead and freeze if needed, removing from freezer and baking just the amount you need.  They are a perfect light dinner, or great as an appetizer. Few ingredients, easy baking make this an awesome “late night” snack.
Here’s a sneak peak of all the “new” items in our yard.  The different colors add life to the front, while the unique selection of plants (my honey rocks!) shows a creative side that looks both natural (and hopefully “lower” maintenance) than some popular garden choices. With the weekend just around the corner, maybe this will give you a little more motivation to get outside! haha.. okok, maybe just get outside. period. 
Though I still can’t pronounce their true name… go ahead and laugh, I kept calling these “herbivores” I had to have this one as the name of the plant has the word “wine” in it! Haha ANYWAYS… love the look, and there appears to be all kinds of varieties like the ones below…
This lil’ guy’s green/teal color pop’s perfectly against the fresh top soil....
Then there’s these lil’ guys (well little for now so I’ve been told, as the old spot in the yard where we had them, they were being smothered, can’t wait to see these grow up)….
That’s all you can see for now!  (as to be honest, we’ve reseeded the entire front yard, so it looks more like a dirt pit than the new and improved front yard we're working towards...let they green GRASS grow!) Though I’ve enjoyed the time in the garden… I should probably stick with what I know…  and work on my green thumb slowly.  I will say one thing though, being outside in the fresh air all day…  sure works up the growlies!  SO, back to the recipe at hand…  Taco Spring Rolls.
Taco Spring Rolls
·         1 package egg roll wrappers
·         1 lb ground chicken (turkey works too)
·         1 pkg taco seasoning
·         ½ cup onion dices
·         ½ cup shredded cheese
·         1 egg, beaten with a splash of water
- In a frying pan, over medium heat, cook ground chicken fully
- Add taco seasoning per directions on package
- Remove from stove, and let cool a bit.
- Placing 1 egg roll wrapper on counter, add a spoonful of meat in centre of wrapper

- Place a pinch of the diced onion on top
- Place a pinch of cheese on top of onion
- Fold bottom half of wrapper over top of filling, pressing down sides
- Fold over each side , pressing down lightly
- Now roll wrapper, up onto open half of wrapper, sealing filling in.
- Place each egg roll onto a lightly greased baking sheet
- Once all are made, light brush egg wash over each spring roll
- Preheat oven to 375F, and place in oven, cooking for about 20 mins or until golden brown.  Flip Eggrolls half way to ensure even cooking.
Serve with a dollop of salsa, sour cream, sprinkle of cheese.  Guacamole would be great with this as well!  YUM YUM
Whatever you choose to do this weekend… enjoy!


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Now THAT’s a Cinnamon Bun…err Loaf?!

Well, our beloved Canucks are DONE for the season *sigh*… Summer can begin!  No more worrying about what to make for dinner, prior to game night.  No more worrying about waking up early and making sure all chores are “done” before the big game.  No more stressful periods of bad calls or missed shots….  Winter is officially OVER.  Hockey Season is done for us Canucks.   Canada (at least the West Coast side) can move into the next season – Summer. 
“Go Big or Go Home” is what they say right?!  Sometimes…bigger IS better.  I loooooove cinnamon buns, and the ooey-ier (yes that’s a word-ish) AND gooey-ier (stay with me) THE BETTER.   Baking Homemade Cinnamon buns fills the entire house with the heavenly smell of fresh bread and cinnamon. YUM.  Being that I already have a favorite Cinnamon Bun recipe (Ooey Gooey Cinnamon Buns), I want to revisit these, but play a little, kick it up a notch…  instead of making the "normal" dozen, ordinary Cinnamon Buns, I went with the Bigger is Better saying making one large Cinnamon Bun – more like a Cinnamon Bun Loaf really.  The results, one huge… ooey-gooey-cinnamony-meltinyourmouth-heavenly cinnamon bun loaf, perfect to serve to weekend guests for a light breakfast or to surprise your special someone (or family) for a sweet treat in the morning. I mean how can you go wrong waking up to the wonderful scent of cinnamon & brown sugar?!  The WOW Factor is definitely present…and in keeping with my original Cinnamon Bun Recipe  , are quick and easy, but ssshh don’t tell your guests that, they’ll think you were up all night making this….

Cinnamon Bun Loaf

Cinnamon Loaf – The Ultimate Cinnamon Bun
  • 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)
For Icing - 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 on a lightly floured surface into a large rectangle
- Spread dough with butter/sugar/cinnamon mixture using the back of a spoon or spatula, to the edges of dough
- using a knife or pizza cutter, carefully cut strips down the length if the dough about  2 – 3 inch thick slices
- Taking the first strip of dough, loosely roll up the piece of dough into the normal cinnamon bun shape, place in center of a light greased baking pan.
- taking the remaining strips and wrapping around the center piece until you have used all the dough up. Warning, this can get messy, licking fingers AFTER is encouraged!
- Cover lightly, and let rest in a draft free area until doubled in size (about 1 hour)
- Preheat oven to 375 F

- Bake in the preheated oven for 20- 25 minutes, or until golden brown
- Carefully remove from pan.  I covered a hot pad w/ a bit of plastic wrap, and flipped the loaf onto my hand (with hot pad), and then placed on a serving plate immediately

-  Mix icing sugar and a couple tablespoons of milk (to desired thickness) to create a light icing, and drizzle over slightly cooled loaf

........Serve warm.   This is also good the day after, just wrap lightly with plastic wrap.  When you are ready for round 2, cut your serving, place on plate and a quick zap in the microwave brings back all that ooey-gooey goodness!  Hmm, now maybe I should go outside and work on the yard.... hockey may be over, but boating season is just around the corner!   **cheers**

Friday, April 20, 2012

Pizza Bread…adding a new dimension

We’re still IN IT!  (Canucks I mean) – WOOOO! It’s “Foodie Friday”, and, since it IS the weekend, and we all have SOOOO much time to spend in the kitchen playing, I thought I’d share a new favorite way to make up Pizza…using the sauce as a dip, instead.. of a…well… topping? base? Layer that you put the toppings on?... what do you call the sauce on a pizza??  ANYWHO!
I present… Pizza Bread.  Not quite a loaf of bread… as I think there’s basically more toppings that “bread”…  Not quite a Pizza… as pizza’s are typically round (or rectangle-ish) and flat.  This is definitely a bread loaf… that is LOADED full of your favorite Pizza Toppings, baked – then you can use your favorite Pizza Sauce (Pasta sauce works too) to dip the warm slices in.  Perfect for a light dinner, a group Appetizer, or even a herd of hungry kids that needs a creative dinner dish to settle em' down around the dinner table..   It’s like pizza in a whole new dimension!  (hmmm, maybe I need some more coffee… or vino… or… )  Of course sending this to yeastspotting, as without sites like that... I wouldn't be able to do half the things with bread / yeasted dough!  love!!
Our household loves meat – just about any kind – on pizza, so I added a little more there, then tossed in some diced fresh peppers, and onions to add some sort of vegetable aspect (and colour!) I will warn ya… this could become the “NEW” pizza style…  so simple! Play with the “toppings”  - add in olives, feta, spinach – make it “greek style”…  or toss in some shredded cooked chicken, carmalized onions, bacon and serve with BBQ Sauce instead of pizza sauce.  Oh the options! Oh I’m starting to get the craving…..
Pizza Bread

·         1 teaspoon yeast
·         3.4 cup warm water
·         1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
·         1 teaspoon salt
·         1 ½ cups TOTAL of favorite toppings, chopped
·         1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
·         1 table spoon olive oil

-          Sprinkle yeast over warm water in mixer bowl.  Let sit for about 3 mins (until foamy)
-          Add in flour, salt, and using dough hook, mix until it just comes together

-          Add in 1 ½ cups favorite toppings and combine well.  Dough should be tacky, but still form a decent dough ball (add more flour or water if needed)

-         Let rise for about 1 hour; then put in the refrigerator for another hour.

-         Take the dough out of the refrigerator and flour counter space. Roll out into a rectangle shape
-          Sprinkle cheese over top. Carefully fold along the long side, like an envelope. Seal sides so cheese is not exposed.
-         Let rest, covered, while Oven is Preheated  to 450F
-         Let oven stay at 450 degrees for  20 minutes.
-         Bake the bread, either on a pizza stone or baking sheet, for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden brown.
-         About 5 minutes before taking it out, lightly brush the top with olive oil and let it finish baking.
-         Let rest on a wire rack to cool slightly before slicing as like “regular” pizza – Toppings are HOT-TA TA!

-         Cut up in slices, and served with warmed up pizza sauce (or pasta sauce), dunking in the slices as you go!
In preparation for Sunday’s game, and in case I’ve started something here….

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

My Secret Slow Cooker Pulled Pork…really…come on CANUCKS!!

What can I say?! Who’d of thought after they pulled it off, won the President’s Cup for a 2nd time in a row, that we’d be here, down 3 games, and now fighting to stay alive in ROUND 1?!?!  DOH!   People are switching it up….  Normal playoff routines changing in efforts to help.   Beards are gone.  Legs are shaven.  Jerseys…GASP…washed.  Me, umm… maybe I’ll stay awake through this game?!  Bad girl I know.
SO, IF you are STILL on that ole’ bandwagon (which I am… heck, why jump now), and are looking for a low maintenance dinner – one that you practically just come home to and it’s made… then my Slow Cooker Pulled Pork is perfect.   I’ve served this on many a game night.  Fed large crowds of hungry cowboys, and it typically is the first to go.  If they ONLY knew my little secret… how simple and easy this is.  There are millions of recipes out there that use all different kind of spices / dry rubs etc… all yummy in their own ways, however, there is just something  good about this recipe that makes it a perfect game night meal, OR even a crowd pleaser for potlucks.   This one is melt in your mouth tender, juicy and lean. Leftovers taste great the next day.  YUP, love me some good pulled pork! 

Since I happen to really appreciate and loooove all my blog followers.. I decided, why not, share.. spread the simple joy of this recipe…however, there IS a catch.   The main flavoring ingredient for this simple dish, is one that you just can’t walk into any Canadian Grocery store and pick up. Darn.  Jack Daniel’s BBQ Sauce.  YUP that’s it.  (that alone is worth a trek cross the border to our American neighbors- just sayin’)  Forget all the different spices concoctions, all the dry rubs, all the overnight marinating etc.  Do those versions taste great?!  Heck yeah.  Do I always think ahead, plan… or even really have TIME for all that?!... I’m not known to be a patient woman.  NOPE… take after my Baba.   ANYWAYS, even if you don’t have your mitts on this awesome Jack Daniel’s BBQ Sauce, any of your typical favorite bottled BBQ Sauce will do.  Pair the pulled pork with some toasted garlic bread, and simple coleslaw mix – POOF Game night dinnerpotluck pleaserquick & easy weeknight meal.   Did I mention it ONLY has 3 ingredients?!
Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork
·         2.5 lbs pork tenderloin
·         1 ½ cup favorite BBQ Sauce (I swear by Jack Daniels BBQ Sauce…any flavor!)
·         ½ cup water
-          Spray inside of slow cooker pot with a bit of cooking spray, which I find makes clean up so much easier.
-          Place Pork tenderloin inside, I was able to lay mine side by side, however, it doesn’t matter.
-     Pour in BBQ Sauce, water, flip the tenderloin over a couple times to ensure top they are fully covered.
-      Set timer – 8-9 hours on LOW  :)
-     When ready to go – take 2 forks, and pull meat, shredding it completely.  If you would like, you can add more sauce, or even remove pork from pot and shred on cutting board to cut the amount of sauce. (this is your own taste preference, I leave it all in the pot, and mix well)
Serve with Garlic bread, salad and ENJOY!

Change up the flavor profile by using different types of BBQ Sauce.  Hickory Smoked BBQ adds a nice Smokey BBQ flavor to the meat…. Or maybe try a BOLD BBQ Sauce to kick it up a notch!  Choice is yours.
AND – I’ll say it again, hopefully NOT for the last time this play-off season…. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Risotto Balls bouncing onto the good ole' bandwagon

Well Hello out there, We're on the air, it’s hockey night tonight…. Seems like just a short time ago hearts were broken, tempers flared and our gorgeous city-Vancouver-was trashed, and golfing season began for a certain hockey team.  Let's hope there's not a repeat, after all.. it is JUST a game right?!   

Here we are again gearing up for another round of playoffs.  As one of my good friends recently stated… "he’s dusting off the ole’ bandwagon, preparing for whomever to join" – well move over, I’m jumping in. Why not right?! Aside from the fact it’s hockey (a Canadian staple) – playoff season – home team in it (so far)-there’s the whole social aspect.  Game night is something to look forward to whether it’s mid-week, or a weekend.  Whether  your team is #winning, or whether you’re going to end the night drowning a loss.  Social gatherings over a few beers (wines), whatever floats your boat.  The actual game time consists hopefully of cheers, some swearing, and of course…. Food, I mean what else is going to help with the consumption of all the beer?! O can't be the only one who gets game-time munchies!   Now, if you don’t plan on spending your hard earned cash in a pub for every game, why not stay in, invite a few over….and serve up some good easy grub!   I’ve got a few recipes in my back pocket for great pub-style appetizers / self serve meals.  As the play-off's proceed... My goal is to keep bringing you some fun, creative just plain ole' good eats! Who says game night food can't be more than ordering pizza in?!   Risotto Balls are perfect when you have the gang over and want to serve up something more than chips and dip. (though there is something about chips and dip..mmmmdip..) ANYWAYS.....

Risotto Balls
 Now, with a little bit of thinking ahead, the Risotto Balls are easy!  The night before the game, whip together some “Skinny Chicken Carbonara Risotto” make a little more than you typically would…  and volia – you’re half way to a wicked appy.   It’s always good to be able to use up leftovers in a creative way.  With the first game, of the first round of play off's for the Vancouver Canuck's tomorrow...tonight's a perfect night to think about making these...

Risotto Balls
  • 2 cups of Risotto (cold)
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 2 cups bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 eggs – whisked, splash of water
  • Oil for frying
  • Favorite Pasta sauce for dipping
- Mixe cold Risotto with shredded mozzarella cheese in medium sized bowl
- Taking a couple tablespoons at a time, using your hands, form into round balls.  Place on plate, and refrigerated for 30 minutes in fridge.
- Place in breadcrumbs and Italian Seasoning in a small, shallow bowl to prepare for dipping
- Place all purpose flour in another shallow bowl
- Place egg wash in a 3rd shallow bowl
- Remove risotto balls from fridge, and working in a “production line”, dip risotto ball into the flour – then egg wash – then breadcrumbs.
- Deep fry until golden brown, remove and place on a paper towel covered plate to drain. 
- Repeat with remaining balls!
I like serving them with warmed up pasta sauce, just about any kind will do!  Just about any Risotto Recipe leftovers will do, play with it a little if you like.  Instead of shredded mozaralla, you could tuck in small boccocini cheese balls into the middle of the risotto.  Or how about making a seafood version, and mixing up cooked crab meat into the middle.   Just a fair warning, these puppies are addictive!
If you are following the stats, there is a good chance the Canuck's (statisically) can go all the way (2nd year in a row winning the President's Cup)... BUT... **sigh** we'll see!  Whatever you do for the games... whereever you watch... and whomever you cheer for.  Be careful jumping on/off that good ole' bandwagon...  we wouldn't want to you to break a leg or anything.  

Now....  GO CANUCKS GO!!


Thursday, April 5, 2012

Chocolate Sourdough Bread...nuff' said.

Easter Weekend is fast approaching.  I will have a house full of guests… (though really.. are family still considered “guests” in your home?!)…ANYWAYS…  what I should have been doing is making the filling for perogies.  What I should have been doing is dusting.  What I should have been doing is…...... BUT then I came home and saw Uncle Fester’s work…and well… the rest…  is History.  You see, the day before, I was thinking about ways to use my Sourdough Starter aka "Uncle Fester".  Though I loooove me a good chunk of sourdough bread, sometimes you just gotta change it up a bit!  I’ve done pizza dough.  I’ve done Cinnamon Buns. I’m working on mixing up flavors and adding to the sourdough bread (mmmm garlic and asiago)… but then I came across CHOCOLATE.  WHOA… Chocolate and Sourdough…really?! I mean Chocolate (like bacon) goes with just about anything.. but sourdough…. Hmmm.  SOOOOO, after feeding Uncle Fester a few times…  I decided to play.  The reward…. Chocolate Sourdough Bread.
I used Lindt Dark Chocolate, and a good quality cocoa, mixed it up with regular all-purpose flour and tossed in some very active Uncle Fester, and what came out was a nice crumb, not sweet – more on the savory side loaf of bread that is delicious lightly toasted…. Mmmmm I can only imagine how decadent French toast could become when using this….maybe sprinkled with powder sugar.... *sigh*
SO, before you sit there reading this…turning up your nose at the thought of Sourdough & Chocolate…. Next time you are wondering what to do with the portion of starter you need to “discard” before the next feeding…  just try it!  What could go wrong?! Did I mention as this is baking, your house smells like chocolate cookies?? 
Chocolate Sourdough Bread
  • 3 Cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 cup dark quality cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup sourdough starter
  • 1/4 tsp yeast
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoon oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped quality chocolate (I used Lindt Dark Chocolate)
- Combine flour, cocoa powder, salt in your mixer until well mixed
- Mix sourdough starter, water, oil and yeast into a measuring cup, stir well, add to dry ingredients
- Knead using the dough hook on your mixer at speed 2 to 3 until a supple dough ball forms.  (you may need to finish it for a minute or 2 by hand.)  Form into a ball and put in a lightly oiled bowl, cover and set aside to rise.
- I left it for about 18 hours on the counter.(made it at night, went to bed, went to work, and then came home to a ready to use dough)
- Gently knead the chopped chocolate into the dough
- Form into a loaf and place on a baking stone (if you have, or baking pan/cookie sheet, whatever works)  Cover, and let rise for an additional 3 hours, or until doubled in size.
- Lightly dust with flour, and using a sharp knife, score top of loaf. (about ¼ inch deep)
- Fill a pan half way with water, and place on bottom rack of oven.  Preheat oven (with water pan in it) to 400F
- Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the bread sounds hollow when tapped.
- Remove from oven let cool completely on a cooling rack
Cut and enjoy lightly toasted…maybe with some strawberry preserves? Nutella? Butter?... how about just by itself… don’t mind if I do!  Absolutely submitting this to yeastspotting, as without sites like that, I would not of known of all the fun possibilities of the wonderful world of bread making!