Sunday, May 29, 2011

Adventures in Canning - STRAWBERRY JAM - (first and second attempts)

My Actual First Attempt at Canning, resulted in Strawberry sauce rather than jam. It was delicious, but I had a few issues with it:
  1. More Sugar than fruit. I know the pectin needs the sugar to set up, but REALLY... The recipe called for 2 1/2 cups of crushed strawberries, and 3 1/2 cups of Sugar. All you could taste was strawberry flavoured sugar.
  2. That was really my only problem with it. I should have bought more jars than the 4 that came with the caning kit, but that is totally my mistake.
So from my first attempt, I learned a lot, and got a pretty yummy strawberry sauce (that was incredible on ice cream)

While I was home, my mom and I attempted making Strawberry Jam for a 2nd time:

The 2nd Attempt was sooooo much better. We used the no sugar needed Pectin, Which calls for 1 cup of unsweetened Apple Juice. To keep on the home-made theme, We pulled out my mom's pain-in-the-ass-to-clean Juicer and used Fresh Apple juice straight from the source in our jam, as well as one grated apple to up the pectin content in the jam.

This time, it was actually jam!!!! and omg it is delicious. I don't know if I will buy jam at a store ever again.

The Farmers market is about to start up here again, There is finally no snow (although it has rained for a week straight), and the grass seemed to turn green over night, the trees have leaves and I can finally put my tomato plants outside. I planted Zucchini in the ground, and My Rhubarb plant has already taken over the flower bed. The break from Winter is finally here!!!
And the Miracle of No Snow on May Long weekend happened... I can't really remember a May Long where it didn't snow, so it really is a miracle...

Also, I found some Raw cashews, so in the next few days, I'm going to try this recipe from Joy the Baker

Enjoy the sunshine/break in the rain if you can, before we know it, it will be winter again. Soak it up while its here

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Cashew Nut Butter

I Like Cashews. They are pretty much my favourite "nut". I even Wikipedia-searched them, to try and sound like I know a lot about Cashews, But I just sat there amazed at how much I didn't know. You should Wikipedia search them too. They grow on very very pretty trees with cool leaves that grow in a spiral around the branch.

I found this on the Nutritional Value of Cashews. Its a pretty informative page, and if you search around a bit, they do have Cashew Butter analysis too.

Its been a long time without a real recipe on here, and while I think you should make this, because it is preservative-free and SOOOOOOOOOOOOO Yummy (and you know what is in it because you are making it yourself)... Its not that complicated of a recipe, It mostly goes by feel instead of measurements, and it is so very simple, you will wonder why you ever bought the stuff in the first place.

Step 1: Find and Buy Cashew nuts. I used roasted and unsalted ones. You are going to need more than just those little tins of them in the snack section. I found them in a big jar in the International food section at No Frills for around $12.

Step 2: Pull out your food processor (Or in my case: Drive 2 hours to visit your parents and use their food processor, promising to leave them some cashew goodness)

Step 3: Put Cashews in Food Processor (I used about 2 cups), and put the lid on

Step 4: Turn on the Food Processor

Step 5: Add a tiny bit of oil. I used Corn oil, and probably about 1 TBSP. You do have to let the food processor do most of the work. Add a teeny bit of oil at a time so you don't end up with separated Cashew butter. I would've used Peanut Oil or Cashew oil if I could find it, but this was kind of a last minute "I gotta try that" idea and forgot to get the oil too.

Step 6: Keep food-processing until you get the desired texture you want. All together, my Cashew Butter took about 15-20 minutes to make.

Step 7: Scrape into jars, and refrigerate

Step 8: ENJOY!

While at home, I also made more Strawberry Jam, So stay tuned for my first "Adventures in Canning" post. I'm going to post it in the next few days, along with a few other recipes we made while I was visiting the parental units.

(You could enjoy the Cashew Butter with homemade Strawberry Jam and Bananas and Multi grain Bread, on the deck with your pretty puppy who is growing like a weed, while there is a break in the rain)
(ps, that mess on the deck=Mama cat just had kittens... they are ADORABLE)

Friday, May 27, 2011

May 2011 - Daring Baker Challenge - MARQUISE ON MERINGUE

May has been a CRAZY month. CRAZY! It is basically the start of horse shows for the summer. Guess what my job is? Getting everything ready to go to the horse show... And we take everything but the kitchen sink. Once everything is set up, all the curtains are hung and the coffee pot is plugged in and working... It Looks REALLY good - So all my hours of packing and organizing aren't totally wasted. Plus, I get to play real life Tetris - Fitting all the set up stuff into horse trailers - and still having room for the horses.

When I first got this months challenge, I was a little intimidated... It called for 11 egg yolks and 2 whole eggs... And we are only 2 people! But It also gave me a change to go and buy some rum, which I would usually be too cheap to buy and go for the wine that is on sale for $5.99... Major Dilemma... Although, Obviously since I'm writing this post, the Alcoholic in my won out, and I bought a bottle of rum AND the wine that was on sale...

I'll let you get the recipe from the Daring Kitchen site, you can check everyone's amazing ideas out there too. Mine did not go so smoothly, But I got some OK pictures. (My camera seems to be back on board with focusing again!)

Blog-checking lines: The May 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Emma of CookCraftGrow and Jenny of Purple House Dirt. They chose to challenge everyone to make a Chocolate Marquise. The inspiration for this recipe comes from a dessert they prepared at a restaurant in Seattle.

Things I changed:
  • I used Rum instead of Tequila (I bought the mickey instead of the expensive big bottle)
  • I made hazelnuts with tails instead of spiced nuts (inspired by Bourbonnatrix)
  • I burnt my caramel sauce, so just subbed in Chocolate sauce I had in the cupboard... Although, I also burnt my sugar syrup for the hazelnuts with tails too
  • I didn't search the city for Dutch Processed Cocoa Powder, so I just didn't dust my Marquise with it. I'm a rebel like that.
I'm not in love with this dessert, just because of the huge egg content and It was really complicated to make and get it right (which i didn't really do anyway). But It was yummy and I'm glad I tried it. I can definitely see it as a restaurant dessert instead of a homemade one. The boyfriend doesn't like meringue so I got to finish his (since it is one of my favourite childhood treats) and He finished my Marquise. It was a little too rich for me.

I am going to hold onto the caramel and spiced nut recipes, because I do want to attempt them again sometime in the future. After seeing Bourbonnatrix's plated dessert in the Forums, I HAD to try to make her tailed hazelnuts instead of the spiced nuts. It is something I have NEVER done, and have never seen before, So I wanted to challenge myself with that.
I only made 2 big meringues for our dessert. With the rest I made myself some meringue cookies like I always harass my mom to make for me. I don't have a blow torch like the recipe said to use, So I used the Broiler. I would've used Boyfriend's blow torch out of the garage, but he took it with him to work, So I didn't get to play with fire.

Here are my hazelnuts growing tails. To make these, make a sugar syrup (don't ask me, I burnt mine, so google it, You'll probably find someone who didn't burn their sugar syrup). Stick a toothpick or a skewer into the nut, swirl it around in the syrup and then stick the end of the skewer under something heavy and let gravity get to work. Make sure you cover under where you are hanging your nuts to dry (hehehehe) Because you get this: (ignore the mess on my counter, I didn't have time/energy to clean up)

This challenge isn't so much a "Baking" challenge. Apart from my meringue I didn't use the oven. I (well, my stand mixer) whisked egg Yolks into submission (and egg whites and whipped cream)

I put it all together, and my Freezer Froze it... see:
Also, I may have whipped my cream (that sounds dirty somehow) too much, So it was kind of lumpy in my Marquise, which was kind of a happy accident. We actually ate it while it was still frozen- instead of thawing it like instructed, and it tasted a lot like Ice Cream.

I tried cutting a pretty square cube out of my frozen Marquise, but it just wasn't happening. I kind of salvaged it into an Octagon thing (see above). So for the 2nd plate I grabbed my large biscuit cutter and made a circle one (much easier!)
Since I burnt my caramel sauce, I just subbed in the chocolate fudge sauce. On the blue plate, I attempted to draw hearts, but they just ran together and made a big chocolate puddle. So with the white plate, I just dropped the sauce randomly over the whole thing.

I definitely learned a lot of new skills with this challenge, Thanks Emma and Jenny, and all the other Daring Bakers for the inspiration. Can't wait for the June Challenge.

(these are the meringue kisses I made with the left-over meringue I had... SOOOOOO yummy!)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Drunk Pancakes

What do you do when you are hungry, and both you and your boyfriend and too "inebriated" to drive? AND you have a pancake craving?

APPARENTLY you pull out the camera and make drunk pancakes... More specifically, Pancakes, while drunk.

I'm pretty impressed these turned out... AND that I got my favourite bottle of wine into the picture too.... AND hardly any of the mess in my kitchen in the shot. Maybe I should take my food pictures while I'm drinking.

I don't really have a recipe for you. Well, not my own. I just mixed it all together and poured it in the pan and took pictures... and ate it. And they were the best pancakes I've had in a long time!

Okay, in all honesty, There is no recipe. Just go buy a box of Aunt Jememiah Buttermilk "Just add water" pancake mix and follow the directions... And enjoy

Also... go buy some Sonora Ranch Chardonnay, Its my favourite wine right now, and It has been on sale a lot lately (YAY!) Its delish! They have a website, but they have no info about their wines on it (weird ya?) I think they should work on it, because I really like their wines, and would be interested to know more about them... From them, not some other site.
In case they actually change that fact, here is the link for you. But I still recommend their Chardonnay.

Also I would just like to add, that I am not an alcoholic, and I don't have a drinking problem. And I have no problem with getting drunk with my boyfriend in the comfort of our own home.. AND I will try and give you a REAL recipe soon... If all else fails, My post for the Daring Baker challenge is done and will posted on Friday, May 27th, so you will get a real post then... We'll see if life slows down enough to let me spend time with my kitchen again soon.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Coconut Chicken

When I went shopping on 10% off day a couple weeks ago, Boxes of frozen chicken breast were on sale, So I snatched some up... And then went on the hunt for new recipes to try with Chicken. That is where this ones comes in. I didn`t follow the recipe exactly, I just kind of measured everything by eye, and by how much coating I wanted, But I am going to share the recipe measurements with you, so you can mix up however YOU like it. I don`t remember where I found it online, so if this is your recipe, Tell me so I can credit you. I found it when my printer was broken, so I only scribbled the directions down on a post it.

Coconut Chicken

6 chicken tenderloins (?)
6 TBSP shredded coconut (unsweetened)
1|4 cup Panko crumbs (Use Panko bread crumbs, they are soooooo much better)
2 TBSP cornflake crumbs (you can buy cornflake crumbs already crumbed, or you can just use a rolling pin and crush your own)
1 egg slightly beaten
Parchment paper lined baking sheet

Preheat the Oven to 375 F
Combine Coconut Flakes, Panko, Cornflake crumbs in a bowl
Put your slightly beaten egg in another bowl
Season your chicken lightly with salt if desired
Dip the Chicken in the egg, and then in the crumb mixture -Making sure all of the chicken gets coated in the crumbs
Place chicken on the baking sheet
Bake for about 30 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.

I promise to try and get some better pictures next time I make this, but until then, you are stuck with these ones. Try the recipe... My pictures definitely do not do this justice. We LOVED this, and I plan on making it again VERY soon

I completed my May challenge for Daring Bakers on the weekend... Can`t wait to share it with you on the 27th

And, I spent a lot of time Cuddling with my puppies this weekend and catching up on sleep lost while working at the horse show... How could you NOT cuddle with this face though??? She is so adorable sometimes it isn't even funny. ;)

Monday, May 16, 2011

pinky swears

I promise that I was in the kitchen this weekend


I just can't tell you about it until the 27th because I pretty much JUST worked on my Daring Baker Challenge

And I found steak for $5... so we had that... and I didn't take any pictures, because steak just isn't that exciting
Honestly, it is exciting though... So exciting that I couldn't be bothered to take any pictures because it would interrupt the pure deliciousness of the steak/grilled bell peppers... Cauliflower with Cheese and breadcrumb topping, and Salad...


But I'll try and put a recipe up here again soon... I have a few in the works, but they aren't ready just yet...
I'll be back up and running again here, i Pinky swear!
Also have some new super-cute pictures of the doggies to share too

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

I got my first sun-burn of the year today...

I just finished off a whole medium pizza and an order of bread sticks...

And I don't feel bad about it

a) because I have had 1 zero calorie Monster energy drink and a muffin alllllll day.... oh and a double double this morning
b)because I left for work at 5:30 this morning, and I just got home and it is 7:30... PM (which holds nothing no yesterday, I worked from 7am-10:30pm... with the same amount of food)

so.... Go eat a whole pizza too.... as long as you balance it out with massive amounts of time in the sun working your ass off???

I dunno, maybe don't follow my example... or do, whatever...

I'll try and spend some quality time in my kitchen this weekend, since it is severely neglected right now (i think we have one clean fork left), but the more likely answer is that I will either be working another crazy hour day OR I will be spending quality time with my bed catching up on sleep

Saturday, May 7, 2011

My Birthday Dinner... SALMON!!

This is from back in April, but I'm finally getting around to posting it now...

Doesn't that look delicious???

It was... So good in fact, that I didn't even remember to take a picture of the whole dinner on a plate (he made Salad and rice too)

I don't have an actual recipe for you, since I didn't make it, But he came home with a Salmon... Not the whole fish luckily... but with skin still on one side
A bag of lemons (whatever he left, i used up making Lemon curd last weekend)
fresh mushrooms, onion and bell peppers

Sorry for the lack of info/recipe/photos.... But I wanted to post this and maybe provide some Salmon inspiration to anyone reading this...

And brag about my boyfriend, Because he has been saying he would cook me some Salmon for a year, and look at what Patience (combined with some gentle nagging) got me:

YUM! Happy Birthday to me!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Cornish Pasties

In 2007, I went a little crazy, and made a decision to find a job in England and go see a different part of the world before I had a real life and people to try and make me stay.
So In 2008, I was in England. More specifically, In Cornwall... Which is very beautiful and I definitely recommend going and checking it out if you ever get a chance.

I lived in the little village of Lerryn... actually outside of it, and I worked part time at the village pub where I met some AMAZING people, and truly witnessed the kindness of strangers... And drank a lot of Rattler (and you should to if you go there... just avoid unstable picnic tables after a few pints)

This is the part where I show you a bunch of beautiful pictures from my trip and tell you about the seagull that harassed me for my fish and chips in Looe, or the most amazing Cornish Pasty I had in Fowey (go there too! Very cool village)... But I updated my computer, and I still haven't put my pictures back on it, so they are on my external hard drive, which I forgot at my parents house last time I was there... So you'll have to google these places, or just harass me enough to put pictures up here.

Anyway... I've been a little nostalgic about England lately... My cousin is on a trip to Ireland, and a few days in London as well), and I am just a teeny bit jealous (however, she is a photographer, so you can check out her blog, She's put up some images already, and I'm sure there will be a ton more once she gets back)...
Where was I going with this???
whatever... CORNISH PASTIES!!!

I made them
They are delicious
They are as close as I have tasted to the best one ever that I had in Fowey
So I'm pretty proud

REALLY proud actually
Not enough to work on my Cornish (pirate) accent... But pretty damn proud
So you should make them too
No idea what a Cornish Pasty is? Watch this video on Youtube

(I don't want the Cornish Pasty society to get mad at me, so I guess these are Alberta Pasties)

Ingredients you will need:
Steak meat, cut into small cubes (whatever cut you want, just make your pieces kind of small)
Egg (lightly beaten)
Salt and Pepper (to season)

Make a shortcrust pastry... There is a video of Gordon Ramsey showing you how on youtube too... Here
I used the recipe Here on my first attempt, and then Ramsey's recipe in the video on my 2nd attempt
Note: I think my pastry could use a little work to get closer to the real thing. Will need to play with it a little more

So if you follow the directions in the video(s), while your pastry dough is in the Fridge resting, use that time to cut up all your meat and vegetables and get ready to roll out the dough

Roll out to about a 6-8" circle

load the meat and veggies in the middle, season with salt and pepper ( you can mix all the veg and meat together and season in a bowl if you want, but I think its easier and makes less dishes if you just load and season on the pastry circle)

add a small slice of butter on top

brush egg wash all around the outside of the circle

fold the edges together to make a semi circle (watch some videos on youtube for technique)

Make sure they are sealed and then crimp the edge

Put your pasties on a parchment lined baking sheet

brush with the egg wash

Put in a 400F oven for about 45 minutes... cut into one to make sure your meat is all cooked.

Let them cool for 10-15 minutes and then enjoy every delicious bite!