Snacks



I am on vacation.  I am on vacation and back downtown looking after the dog while TB is away for work. Because I don’t have my usual well stocked kitchen/pantry at my finger tips, I have been trying to make due with simple meals.  Besides, cooking for one is not as much fun as cooking for at least someone else, or a few someone’s…regardless one must eat!

So after a beautifully sunny Vancouver day and a long walk around the sea wall in the late afternoon with the dog, I was hungry.  In the fridge I had some peperoni and cheese,  some pizza dough from the local bakery and the pièce de résistance: a cold bottle of white wine.  A while ago Annie from one the most tried and true blogs that I read almost daily had posted the idea of pizza bites. Now it wasn’t rocket science.  And truthfully, it probably would have been a little less work making a simple pizza either on the pizza stone or on the BBQ, but regardless I made these.  And they were fabulous.  Imagine the sun setting, sitting on the patio with a plate full of these little nuggets, a big glass of wine and of course a good book.  What a fantastically relaxing way to end a fabulous day.

The picture leaves something to be desired… not enough light, sorry!  These would be great as an appy or if you are like me, a dinner.  Tasty tasty, as always, thanks Annie.

Ingredients:

3/4 lb of pizza dough
24 slices pepperoni
24 small cubes cheese (I used Havarti because it was what I had on hand (yum!))
spray pam
2 Tbsp cornmeal
extra virgin olive oil
grated parmesan cheese
Montreal Steak Seasoning (random I know!)

pizza sauce, or simple marinara for dipping

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 F
  2. Spray a pie plate with pam, then sprinkle the corn meal
  3. Divide dough into 24 equal parts
  4. Flatten into dough discs, about 1 1/2 inches in diameter
  5. Place a cube of cheese and slice of pepperoni onto the disc, wrap dough around and pinch close.  Repeat with all dough pieces.
  6. Place dough balls in the pie plate, brush with olive oil.
  7. Grate parm on top for some crunchy goodness and sprinkle with Montreal steak seasoning, or if you have it Italian seasoning and garlic salt or powder.
  8. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
  9. Serve with marinara/pizza sauce.
  10. Crack open some wine and enjoy.
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Ages ago I had seen recipe after recipe in the blogosphere for kale chips. I was a skeptic. I mean, really?  You take a delicious and relatively sturdy green and it becomes a tasty, crispy savoury snack?  Well finally last weekend, I grabbed a bunch of Kale and decided to try my hand at it.  There were tons of recipes that offered bits of cheese melted onto the kale as it dried, or basic salt/pepper combos etc.  I am on a bit of an Asian fusion kick right now, so I decided to mix rice wine vinegar and sesame oil with a tiny bit of olive oil.  The key to this whole process is moderation – moderation of flavours as they intensify as the leaf dehydrates.

I made the mistake in my first batch to add some salt before they came out of the oven.  They were just a little too salty for me. I waited the second time and found they didn’t need salt at all.  If this intrigues you, try googling a variety of recipes. You can make these in your oven (like me) or if you happen to have one, a dehydrator.

sesame kale chips

Ingredients:

4 cups kale chopped into 2 inch pieces, stem removed from leaf
2-3 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 Tbsp sesame oil
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
salt (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper (if you have it, I found I didn’t need it, but my sheet was in pristine shape)
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together vinegar, oil, and salt, and toss with kale leaves. Place in a single layer on cookie sheet and place into oven.
  3. Bake 10-15 minutes, flipping halfway through until crispy. A hint on a few sites was to not overcook or allow them to become completely brown as they will taste bitter.
  4. Taste one, and lightly salt – I used a seasoned wasabi salt which was a nice touch.  Enjoy!

I’ve been trying to be better about using my leftovers.  I don’t know about you, but I can easily make a meal, have enough leftover for a few meals…but I get bored.  I have a hard time eating oh let’s say turkey three days in a row.  I mean there is only so many turkey sandwiches you can eat right?

Knowing that I should finish up the turkey my mom sent back with me when I last visited her.  I thought I would serve it up in a pretty different way (for me any ways).  I’ve never made taquitos before.  A favourite neighbourhood restaurant here in Vancouver is Las Margaritas. We love their taquitos.  So into the kitchen, rummaging into the cupboards and fridge looking to see what was on hand. It’s getting sparse since I am getting ready to head to Mexico for two weeks, so I wanted to make due with what I had…and I have to say, the result was tasty tasty!  A yummy dinner with a side of guacamole and some salad.

Ingredients:

2 -3 cups turkey shredded, obviously you could substitute with chicken
3 Tbsp water
3 Tbsp grated cheddar cheese
2-3 pinches Mexican chili powder
1 pinch cumin
salt and pepper
6 medium sized corn tortillas

vegetable or canola oil for frying (!)
6 toothpicks or small skewers.

Directions:

  1. Mix turkey, water, cheese, cumin, chili powder, salt, pepper together.
  2. Take 6 corn tortillas and wrap them in a tea towel, place in microwave for 45 seconds to soften them for rolling.  (NB if you don’t do this step, like I forgot to do the first time, you crack your tortillas and they don’t stay rolled up.)
  3. Place2-3 tablespoons of the mixture and place about an inch or two from the edge in a straight line.
  4. Roll into the shape of a cigar, secure into place with a tooth pick.
  5. In a large dutch oven, cover the bottom of the pot with about 1/2 inch canola oil – I couldn’t find my thermometer, so I heated for about 5 minutes on medium-high/high and then put a little piece of tortilla in the hot oil to see at what point it would be ready. To know, it will have browned.
  6. With metal tongs, place 3 tortillas across the bottom of the pan, rotate/roll them over, allowing 2 minutes per side.  Watch it carefully you don’t want the oil to smoke and burn it.
  7. Remove taquitos after 4-6 minutes to a plate covered with a paper towel or two.
  8. Season taquito with a little chili powder and salt (optional, but if you choose to do this be sure to do it when fresh out of the oil)
  9. Allow oil to return to temperature, and repeat process with remaining 3 taquitos.
  10. Serve with fresh guacamole.

Serves 2-3.


I’m back!  It’s been almost six weeks of no posting.  Life has thrown some curve balls at me this past month, but here we emerge, at the end of January, ready to move forward.

I’ve been away for the last ten days in Maui for a good friend’s wedding.  It was stunning.  I’ve never been to Hawaii before, and after this trip, know I will have to go back.  There is something to be said to escape reality. To leave the grey and the rain. To relax in the sun, lie on a beach and have a good time with friends. It was hard to come home, but if nothing else, it reminded me of the importance of holding onto the zen that is vacation. To not get hung up on the little things. To look for that which you are appreciative of and express gratitude for it.

A group of six of stayed together for the first week on the island.  It was tight quarters, but still an excellent time with friends.  We opted to not eat out for every meal.  We all enjoy the same sort of fresh and delicious foods and thought that we might as well cook together and enjoy the stunning view from our lanai.

My friend T has been making this super fresh avocado and tomato salsa for a long time now. I believe her mom made it for her (hope she doesn’t mind that I post it).  As it rained outside this afternoon I thought I would make a little bowl of fresh goodness to chow down on.  The key to this is the creamy avocado, fresh lime and seasoned with salt. Don’t leave out the salt – you can be tempted to, but instead start slowly, it will not only pull out the moisture from the tomatoes but also intensifies all the flavours.  Oh, and this salsa, best served with a big lime margarita…


Ingredients:

5 Roma Tomatoes, chopped
salt to taste
1/2 sweet yellow onion, minced
2 perfectly ripe avocados
2 Tbsp chopped cilantro
1/2 jalapeno finely minced
juice from 2 limes

Directions:

  1. Combine tomatoes and salt, set aside as you chop the rest of your veggies.
  2. Once everything is chopped, mix and then squeeze lime juice over top.
  3. Mix and taste, does it need a little more salt?  Enjoy with tortilla chips.


Wow!  I loved making this!  So many of my preferences for food are centred around my memories as a kid.  My grandma used to look after my brother and I when we were little – a few days a week after school when mom was at work.  Our standard after school snacks were chocolate chip cookies she made, or raisin bread from the local bakery (slathered in butter – I know, how bad for you!).  I loved, loved, loved the raisin bread.  It was so soft, light and sweet!

Yesterday, I was looking through cookbooks at our local bookstore, and came across a “hurt” version of Baking from My Home to Yours – by Dorrie Greenspan (yes, the Dorrie of the Tuesdays with Dorrie baking group).  I have been waiting to pick this up for a while now, and just felt too guilty dropping $50 on a cookbook when I had so many already – but at over 50% off for a book that had a little hole in the jacket, I couldn’t not pick it up! As I mentioned in my Whole Wheat Bread post, I am trying to learn and appreciate working with yeast.   So the first recipe I tried from Dorrie’s book was Raisin Swirl Bread.

As the dough was rising, the sweet aroma wafted through the house.  As it baked I took the dog for a super quick pee break and came back into the house welcomed by that fresh bread waft…so lovely.  And isn’t it so pretty?!  So this is dedicated to my grandma – whom I don’t see very often, but love a lot.


raisin-swirl-bread

Ingredients

For the bread
1 packet active dry yeast
1/4 cup sugar, plus a pinch
1 1/4 cups just warm to the touch whole milk
1/2 stick (or 4 Tbsp) unsalted butter – room temp
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp clear vanilla extract
Pinch of freshly ground nutmeg (I cheated and used pre-ground)
3 3/4 to 4 cups AP flour

For the swirl
1 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder (this was optional, but we did it)
1 cup moist – plump raisins (dark or golden)
3 Tbsp unsalted butter – softened

Directions:

  1. Put the yeast in a small bowl, toss in the pinch of sugar and stir in 1/4 cup warm milk.  Let rest 3 minutes, then sitr – the yeast may not have dissolved completely, and it may not be bubbling, but it should be soft.From here, Dorrie uses an electric stand mixer- in the world’s smallest kitchen, we don’t have space for that… so out comes the wooden spoon!
  2. Combine the remaining milk, butter and 1/4 cup sugar and mix with a hand held mixer for 1-2 minutes.
  3. Add the salt, egg, vanilla and nutmeg and mix for one minute – at this point the mixture can look pretty “curdy”
  4. Ass the yeast mixture and beat on medium low for 1 more minute.
  5. Add 2 3/4 cups flour and on low speed mix until it just comes together – this is now when I switched to the wooden spoon. (or you could switch to a dough hook)
  6. Add another 1 cup of flour – beat it with the wooden spoon until it comes together and is almost clean of the sides of the bowl.  (Ass up to 1/4 cup more AP flour, 1 Tbsp at a time)
  7. Dorrie says the dough can’t really be kneaded by hand – it would be too soft… I didn’t find this. Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface and knead 5 minutes or until is smooth and has a lovely buttery sheen.
  8. Boil a kettle of water – create a water bath in the oven.
  9. Butter a large bowl – turn the dough into the bowl and cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap.  Place the dough in the oven (turned off) with the water bath below.  Let dough rise until is about double in size 1 1/2 hours approx.
  10. Scrape the dough onto a large piece of plastic wrap, and wrap tightly.  Place in freezer for 30 minutes – or long enough to firm up to be rolled easily.  (At this point you can instead refrigerate the dough overnight if that is more convenient (I wish I had done this – in all this is a long process, and to eat it fresh in the morning, this would have aided the process!)
  11. Make the swirl: combine sugar, cinnamon and cocoa in a small bowl.
  12. Butter a 9×5 loaf pan.Dorrie suggests checking to make sure your raisins are nice and plump/moist – I had never really thought about this before…she suggested that if they are a little hard, to steam them.  I did this in our steamer, and then patted them dry – the result was what tasted like fresh (if you can have fresh) raisins – brilliant!
  13. Place dough on a large, lightly floured work surface and roll into a rectangle about 12×18.
  14. Gently smear 2 Tbsp of the butter on the rectangle – use your fingers!
  15. Sprinkle sugar over the mixture and scatter the raisins.
  16. Starting at the short side of the dough, roll it up jelly-roll fashion – make sure to roll it snugly.
  17. Fit the dough int the buttered pan, seam side down and with the ends tucked under the loaf.
  18. Cover the pan loosely with wax paper and set in warm place.  Let the dough rise until it comes just a little above the edge of the pan – about 45 minutes. I placed back in the oven until I was ready to preheat and then I moved it to the microwave – no drafts that way!
  19. When the dough has almost fully risen, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F – place rack at centre in oven.
  20. Melt remaining butter, brush exterior of loaf with it.
  21. Put the bread on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a sil-pad.  Bake for 20 minutes, then cover loosely with a foil tent and bake for another 25 minutes, or so.  The bread should be a lovely golden colour and sound hollow when you knock on the bottom of the loaf.
  22. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for 5 minutes – then unmold.  Allow to cool to room temperature – and then ENJOY!

Delicious plain and simple, or toasted with a little butter – OR as Dorrie suggests make french toast – how wonderfully decadant!


This winter has felt like it has lasted forever.  I know we have not had nearly as much rain as we have had in the past, but the cold, cold weather, and the snow has been enough in my humble opinion.

They were calling for snow for last night and this morning/afternoon.  Knowing that we had a staff meeting first thing, I thought I would bring a little taste of summer to the 9am meeting.  I had no idea what that would be, but looked in the fridge and cupboard for inspiration.  This is what jumped out at me: lime, vanilla, coconut, mango and blackberries…doesn’t that sound like a tropical scone to you?

These scones were great.  Super simple to make.  And at the same time full of little bits and bites of summer…I would make them again certainly.  I am sure you could mix and match any of your favourite fruits to it.   Serving fresh from the oven is the way to do it too.  They smell wonderful!

tropicle-scone*brutal picture, but I was rushing out the door…*

Ingredients:

1+ 1/2 cups AP flour
3/4 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup white sugar
1/3 cup shredded coconut
1 + 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
4 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tsp pure vanilla, I used white vanilla
3/4 cup + 2 tbsp buttermilk
1 egg, lightly whisked
lime zest and juice from one lime (I’m sure orange would be great too)
1 cup blackberries
1 small mango, cubed

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Whisk together: flours, sugar, baking powder, coconut, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl.
  2. Cut cold butter into the flour mixture until the butter is coarsely incorporated.
  3. In a second small/medium bowl whisk together the vanilla, 1/4 cup buttermilk, egg, lime juice, and zest.
  4. Gently fold blackberries and mango into the flour mixture.
  5. Combine the wet mix into the dry, with a wooden spoon gently mix – careful not to crush the blackberries too much.
  6. Combine as much as you can in the bowl, then turn out onto a floured work surface.  You will probably need to gently kneed the mixture once or twice until it comes together.
  7. The dough will be somewhat sticky (or mine was), pat hands with flour and then pat dough into a round disc about 10 inches in diameter.
  8. Cut dough into 12 wedges (like a pizza!)
  9. Place wedges on cookie sheet and brush with remaining 2 Tbsp of buttermilk.
  10. Optional: sprinkle a little sugar on top.
  11. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown and if you insert a toothpick in the centre it comes out clean.

Yield 12
WW4


For a United Way fundraising auction at work, I put up four Fridays worth of baking for the winner to share with their office-mates.  This week I tried a recipe that Annie at Annie’s Eats had made a few weeks ago…

They turned out great!  I haven’t made filled cupcakes in forever, apparently this recipe said you could just pipe the filling in, however as Annie commented on her blog, they were just too dense.  I used the cone method instead.  I went with mini’s when I found mini-Oreo cookies at the store.  I really like one or two bite desserts, you get the flavour and treat factor without eating a gigantic cupcake high in all the stuff you’re not supposed to eat too much of!

So thank you to Annie and to Dinner with Danielle (whom Annie got the idea from).  I will definately be making these again…perhaps with a drizzling of caramel – would add a little complementary salty flavour to the equation.

oreo-mini-cupcakes

Ingredients:
For the cake:
2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup unsweetend cocoa powder, sifted
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
12 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups buttermilk, at room temperature

For the “frosting”:

2 cups plus 2 tbsp. whipping cream
6 tbsp. powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup Oreo cookie crumbs

For garnish:
56 mini-Oreo cookies

Directions:

  1. To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Line two cupcake pans with paper liners.
  3. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt; set aside.
  4. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth.
  5. Gradually add the brown sugar and continue beating until fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.  Beat in the vanilla.
  6. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  7. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.
  8. Mix just until all the dry ingredients have been incorporated, being careful not to overmix.
  9. Divide the batter between the prepared cupcake liners.  Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 0-12 minutes.  Transfer the cupcakes to a wire rack and let cool to room temperature.
  10. To prepare the frosting, in the clean bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the whipping cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract.  Beat on medium-high speed until the whipped cream holds stiff peaks.  Gently fold in the cookie crumbs with a spatula.
  11. Cut the tops of cupcakes off in a cone shape, reserve tops.
  12. Scoop the mixture into a pastry bag and fill cupcakes – top with set aside tops.
  13. Pipe frosting decoratively on top of the cupcakes.  Garnish with Oreo cookie.

Yields 56 mini cupcakes

WW2

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