Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Chocolate-Dipped Orange Shortbread Rounds

Ok, I lied. I'm still up and blogging.  I don't have to get up in the morning and I can already hear Chris snoring upstairs, so why not post another recipe or two. :-)
I have a huge weakness for shortbread! YUM!!!!  My mum always made it growing up and I don't think I could get enough!  HHmmm, that must have been why I joined my first gym and started working out like a mad woman!  All for the love of shortbread! :-)  Mental note...must go back to the gym!

Anyhow, I was catching up in my google reader the other day and spotted this delectable looking recipe for chocolate dipped orange shortbread.  It looked awesome and totally worth a try!  (look away now Aggy!!)

The first step was to mix the dough, form it into a log and chill it for about one hour in the fridge.
That done, you cut it into 1/4 inch rounds and place them on baking sheets.  I think I may have cut my rounds too thin and too thick at times.

As I mentioned it's called Chocolate-dipped orange shortbread rounds and can be found on the Culinary Chase blog website. 

The kitchen smelled wonderful as these were baking!  I couldn't wait for them to be finished!  But still more work to do!  I prepared a bowl over a pan of boiling water to melt 2 large bars of Belgian chocolate.
And finally they are ready to dip!
Although, from the feathering around the edges of the appears that I may have added too much butter.  Who would have thought there was such a thing as TOO much butter!!??
As you can imagine...they were OMG delicious!  I was drawn to them every time I walked by the kitchen (this is not a good thing!!)  I kept a few at the house, but thankfully Chris brought the majority of them into work!  Phew!

Vegetarian Pot Stickers & Baked Wontons

Ok, one final post before I head to bed.  Chris has a potluck lunch thing going on at work last week and he mentioned he was down on the list as bringing frozen grocery store quiche.  What??!!!  OMG!!???  You know it didn't take me long to offer to make him something much more presentable to bring in.  As I have the obstacle of few baking pans to deal with (yet I have bought cookie sheets since arriving here), I decided to make items involving wonton skins.  Little did I realize how difficult they would be to buy in small town England.   They don't sell more exotic Asian items in the grocery store here (who knew wonton skins were exotic!!??) so we would have to find a specialty store.  I knew of one shop nearby, so one day when Chris happened to finish early, he offered to drive by there on the way home from work.  They were closed....great.  I scoured the internet when he got home and found another little shop in a town about 10 miles away.  We quickly jumped in the car and raced over to the Happy Gourmet shop in Chelmsford.  I found exactly what I needed and more.  I didn't mention it earlier, but I decided to make several types of wontons. Firstly, I was making Vegetarian Pot Stickers especially for Chris's vegetarian colleague along with two other types of meat filled baked wontons.
The vegetarian ones were delicious and I'm told they were a huge hit at the potluck.  They were super simple as well.  The longest process was just assembling them...and even that didn't take all that long.

Next I made Chicken and Lemongrass wontons.  As you can see the original recipe was for steamed dumplings, but as my bamboo steamer is still in transit, I decided to bake them.  A super simple recipe again and when they were all assembled and ready to bake, I just gave them a light spritz with non-fat cooking spray.

Here's the filling for the chicken lemon grass ones.  Very easy as you can see.
Next I prepared a pork chop filling.  The recipe is called Red-Cooked Pork Chops, but it's not really anything like the red-cooked recipes I've prepared in the past.  That aside, it was delicious!  We had actually prepared porks chops according to this recipe the week before and loved it so much that I decided it would be the perfect filling for the wontons as well.  I cubed the pork and marinated it briefly in the sauce ingredients and then just sauteed the whole lot together in a medium pan.  Once I assembled all the wontons, I believe I baked them for about 12 minutes until brown.
Again, they were so easy!  What a great idea for finger food..great for any buffet, potluck or a wonderful hors d'oeuvre!  I think you could even prepare the filling ingredients days in advance and just assemble them the day of your gathering. These would definitely be an easy last minute appetizer to prepare!

Chris brought them all into work and he said everyone raved about them and gobbled them up.  *smile*  I gave myself a pat on the back for that.  I just love when my cooking goes over well!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Baking Powder Biscuits

My next baking experience was biscuits.  I'd always wanted to make baking powder now that I had the time, why not?!  I honestly can't remember where I got this recipe from, but it must have been somewhere on the internet.  I just don't appear to have bookmarked the site.

I also ran into some problems when I realized how few kitchen items Chris had.  And of course I should have realized that he would never own a single baking item.  Time to improvise!!!
An empty bottle of champagne makes a fantastic rolling pin!  I was pleased at how well it worked.  Next, time to find an alternative for circular cutters.  Drinking glass...check!

So far so good really.
They looked gorgeous baking in the oven...and unfortunately that's where my photos end.  I'm still getting the hang of food blogging and tend to dive into my dishes before I remember to take any photos at all of what I've prepared!!  LOL!!  You can't blame me though....damn, they're THAT good!

Peanut butter cookies

When you think of classic comfort cookies, peanut butter cookies are ones that often pop up in peoples minds I'm sure.  That's exactly what I needed after moving to the England.  Although I was super thrilled to finally be living with my sweetheart, baking is such a comfort for me and I was eager to bake something in the kitchen shortly after I arrived.  Of course when I arrived it was to a house full of guests...Chris's former police colleaugues from his UN mission in Kosovo and we had a fabulous time with them, but when they left several days later, off to the grocery store we went and then home to bake cookies!

This particular recipe I found from Brown Eyed Baker.  I regularly follow her site and I think I've done several of her recipes already for this blog.  Her recipes are always fantastic and super easy to follow...not to mention always delicious!

This recipe is called Peanut Butter Blossom Cookies and unfortunately I had to make one big change to the recipe..I omitted the Hershey kisses.  Not because I wanted to though, but because Hershey kisses are impossible to find here in England.  I did read an article the other day though that apparently said Hershey kisses may be available at ASDA starting next year.  We shall see.  Honestly, I find the chocolate available here far superior from anything I found in North America..but I still love the shape of kisses!  And they would have been perfect for these cookies!

Of course I mixed up the ingredients first.  I never realized how much I loved having small kitchen appliances such as my hand mixer, until I didn't.  Damn....I already have a tender elbow from pushing myself to hard during my move...but man, I think I made it worse while trying to cream butter and sugar together.  I managed in the end though.
After the batter was mixed, I then had to form it all into little balls and roll them in sugar.

Once they were all rolled and sugared..ready for the oven.
I was quite pleased with this recipe, although mine came out very crispy and flaky.  You would take a nibble and they would almost break apart on you.  That wasn't a problem though because they were still a wicked and treat and absolutely yummy with a cup of tea!
Thanks Brown Eyed Baker once again!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Thai red curry chicken with coconut rice

So I am still catching up on posting the items Chris and I prepared together during his visit.  This particular dish was our most favourite to cook together and we would make it each and every time he was in Montreal.  It really is the best red curry recipe I have ever tried..not that I've tried all that many, but it is super flavourful!   We would also prepare the coconut rice along with it..just another boost of flavour to the dish.
The only bit of the recipe I changed was by adding some bell peppers to the dish, which it didn't call for.  A good addition I think though.  I wish I could post the recipes for these, but all my cook books are packed up in some box at the moment somewhere traversing the Atlantic.  However, here is a photo of the cover, which I remembered to take when we prepared this.  If you ever come across this it!  It's fantastic!!

I can't wait to make this again once my books all arrive!  The trick will be trying to find some of the ingredients here though.  Hhmmm, I see a trip into London in my future!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Cake pops!

Now that I've finally done the big move to England (from Canada) and can decompress and relax, it's time to catch up on my blog!  I've had many opportunities to cook and bake and now to share these wonderful treats with you!
Before I left Montreal I planned a final party at the house for some of my friends. What a perfect opportunity to get creative in the kitchen! :-)  I'd seen the Bakerella webpage many times and was in awe of this woman's creativity!  And then I saw her Smiley Face Cake Pops and I knew I had to attempt making them!  I started these with Chris when he was still in town visiting.  We prepared the cake mix, crumbled it and rolled about 50 little cake balls.  We then had trouble with the candy coating I'd bought.  The food colouring didn't seem to mix well with the vanilla wafers and it dried very lumpy...not to mention I think I cooked it in the microwave while trying to melt more.  We only did about a half dozen to test them out..and ate them all!  They didn't look pretty, but still tasted great.  I kept the remaining chocolate balls in the freezer until my mum arrived the following week because she was bringing me large bags of proper yellow candy coating! Thanks Mum!  We busied ourselves melting the wafers and dipping all the remaining balls.

I don't know how Bakerella got her coating to be so smooth!?  This recipe was much more challening than I thought it would be.  Also, the edible markers I bought to draw my smiley faces with didn't seem to write well.  We managed a couple and then just gave up.  Then I couldn't find a piece of styrofoam to display the pops, so we found a vase to display them perfectly.  In the end they were a huge hit at the party and I got rave reviews from everyone who tried them!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Chocolate & Pumpkin Pie Shortbread Squares

So more on what Chris and I baked last week.  We made these totally delicious Chocolate and Pumpkin Pie Shortbread Squares that I found on the Picky Palate blog.  I had planned on doing this particular recipe several weeks ago to bring to a friend's place at Thanksgiving, but with the house being on the market I was so busy preparing for all the visits, that I just didn't have a chance.  I was then eager to make it while Chris was here! 
Here's the finished product....Charlie is pouting in the background because of all the wonderful smells in the kitchen and not being given any!  My leaf sprinkles look kind of cheesy.  I just thought they were fitting for the time of year.

Here's what it looked like on the inside..minus the two pieces Chris and I had to sample.  It was wonderful.  It doesn't look near as good as Jenny's though from Picky Palate.  I just couldn't get my chocolate to smooth out as well on the top and as a result it was a bit too thick in spots.  I didn't think this would matter, but I then had trouble slicing through those spots and instead the chocolate would press down and the pumpkin pie filling would squish out the sides....this also happened a bit when biting into the square.  Not that that would stop me....still yummy!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Curry Phyllo Triangles!

YUM, YUM, YUM!  These were so absolutely yummy and ten times easier than I had expected.  I think I'd always been totally weary of using phyllo dough as it looks so delicate and I thought it would be difficult to work with.  Boy was I wrong!  These little triangles whipped up in a flash!  I found this particular recipe in a Holiday Appetizers magazine from the Better Homes and Gardens Special Interest Publications (year 2000).  They put out a new magazine every year around the holiday season and I think I've collected at least 10 of their appetizer ones now.  Another good magazine to look out for is their annual Christmas cookies one.

So this particular recipe began with the ground meat filling.  The recipe originally called for ground lamb, but seeing as Chris doesn't particularly care for lamb and it can be fattier, I decided to use extra-lean ground turkey instead...good choice.  I didn't have time to work with it right away, so I just popped it into a container and refrigerated it for a couple of days.  When I was ready to assemble these, I swear it didn't take me longer than a half hour or so.  This was so easy!!!  I think I'm going to make these again and again and again!

Curry Phyllo Triangles

1 Tbsp oil
8 oz ground turkey
1 medium potato, peeled and chopped (1 cup)
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
4 to 5 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups chopped tomato
1/2 cup snipped parsley
1/4 cup oil
1/4 tsp dried thyme
10 sheets frozen phyllo dough thawed

Heat the Tbsp oil in a large skillet.  Add the turkey, potato and onion; cook till turkey is no longer pink.  Drain off fat if any.  Stir in 2 to 3 tsp of the curry powder (I used 2 heaping tsp), 1/2 tsp thyme and 1/2 tsp salt.  Cook for 1 to 2 minutes.  Add tomato, reduce heat and cook covered for 5 minutes.  Remove from heat, stir in parsley and set aside.

Combine the remaining curry powder, the 1/4 cup oil and the 1/4 tsp thyme.  Brush one sheet of phyllo with some of the oil mixture.  Place a second phyllo sheet on top, lightly press sheets together.  (Cover remaining phyllo with a damp towel or plastic wrap to prevent drying out.)  Cut layered phyllo lenghwise into five equal strips.

Spoon a rounded 1 Tbsp of the meat mixture 1 inch from the end of each strip.  Fold a bottom corner of each strip over the filling so the short edge lines up with the side edge to make a triangle.  Fold the triangle shapes along the strips....also known as flag fold.

Arrange filled triangles on a lightly greased baking sheet.  Brush the tops lightly with the remaining oil mixture.  Bake in a 375 degree oven for 12 minutes or till golden brown.  The recipe says it makes about 25.  I don't think I had quite that many, but it was my first attempt and I think I may have filled a few too much (not to mention all the different sizes of triangles I had!)

Friday, November 5, 2010

Bacon, chile and cheddar quiche with a shredded potatoe crust.

As I mentioned I've been doing lots of cooking and baking while Chris has been in town this week and this particular recipe I found at the For the Love of Cooking blog.  She posted a recipe last month for the Canadian bacon, green chile and cheddar quiche with a shredded potato crust that looked totally delicious!  I was a bit reluctant at first because it looked a bit time consuming to make (I love the easier the better), but it didn't take me as long as I thought and was it ever worth it!!

Here's my prepared crust.  I think I could have squished a little bit more water out of it..and perhaps baked it just slightly longer, but it was still delicious! It was also extremely garlicky before I added the filling..but once it was all put together it was great.

Here is pre-baking *smile*  It looked so good going into the oven!

And here is post-baking.  YUM!  It was so good and Chris raved about it like mad!  Good thing, because he's getting leftovers for lunch tomorrow!

I can't wait to show you the curry phyllo triangles I made...more on that tomorrow!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

I love baking!

So as you guys know, my fiancé is visiting me from England at the moment...and he has a huge sweet tooth! I absolutely love baking, but living on my own right now I don't dare bake as I would want to eat it all up!  How wonderful then to have Chris here (I think I had recipe books open for days before he arrived!!)
The first thing I decided to make was pumpkin scones.  I follow many different cooking blogs and all of them seem to have pumpkin recipes galore these of course I was totally craving pumpkin!
I've been wanting to make scones in general for years (just like my mum!) and found a few great recipes, but just never got around to making any.  OMG! They are soooooo easy!  I will totally be making them again soon..not too soon though Agnieszka! ;-)  These pumpkin scones were so easy and absolutely delicious!  I found this recipe at browneyedbaker.  I've only had a chance to do one of her recipes before (bacon onion cheddar biscuits), but her recipes are always well written and always appear completely delicious...drool!!!
I enjoyed every last bite!!  Luckily I've got a few left...guess what I'm having for breakfast in the morning!!?? *smile*

Friday, September 24, 2010

The most delicious waffles ever!!

I haven't actually tried this recipe.  I've just been catching up on the blogs in my Google Reader and I was looking at the Joy the Baker site and found a link to a posting from last year for Brown Sugar Bacon Waffles.  Don't they look like the most delicious waffles ever!!!!  I've just been practically drooling over the photograph!   I tell you, as soon as I finish this diet, this will be one of the first things I treat myself to with some Quebec maple syrup!!!!  YUM!!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Another leaf Tshirt

I've finally finished my latest leaf T shirt!!!

I have to say, I really do enjoy knitting when I finish a project and I LOVE the finished object!!!  Isn't the colour beautiful??!!

I'd made this particular pattern once before and really liked the results, so when I was in England in May and desperately wanting to give a task to my idle hands, I logged into Ravelry and downloaded this awesome (and easy) pattern, found some great bamboo yarn at a local shop and away I went!  It was amazing how much I managed to complete in the 3 hour drive up to Lincoln..and returning a few days later!  If you're a member of Ravelry, you can find the pattern here.  The yarn I used is super soft and I will definitely be looking for this brand again.  It is Sirdar Snuggly Baby Bamboo and is 80% bamboo and 20% wool.  It's a very nice blend and feels very silky.

Monday, September 20, 2010

End of summer bbq

So, I got invited over to a friend's place on Saturday for an end of season bbq and I'd offered to bring a few things.  What a perfect opportunity to do some cooking and baking again! Yippee!  I decided bring along three things.

First I made Spicy Chipotle Grilled Chicken from the Bon Appetit site.  This is definitely a recipe I would try again!  I thought it was delicious!  YUM!  The only change I made to the recipe was I used boneless, skinless chicken breasts instead and cubed them for kabobs, adding a few veggies on the skewers too.  The kabobs were very flavourful.  Actually, they turned out slightly spicier than I expected, but I didn't hear anyone complaining.

Next I made Bacon Onion Cheddar Biscuits from the browneyedbaker blog. Oh boy, were these ever tasty too!  I had a little issue though, but it turned out alright in the end.  I cooked the bacon in the microwave, browned my red onion in the pan, assembled the biscuits in the muffin tin..and then realized I'd forgotten to add the onions into the mix.  Oopsie!!  So I just sprinkled them on the top of each biscuit.  They still turned out delicious!

And finally I made Black & White Cupcakes with chocolate butter cream from Ryan's baking blog.  Delicious!!  The cupcakes were very light and moist and the icing was great!  I've never been the best at making icing, but this butter cream was easy, delicious and not too sweet.  A great combination!
Actually, I'm glad they turned out so well in the end!  I was multitasking in the kitchen and it wasn't a pretty sight that day!  Preparing cupcakes, laptop on kitchen counter skyping fiancé overseas, running around like a mad woman that next thing I knew a plastic container went flying and there was about a cup of cornstarch all over the kitchen floor!  Ugh, just what you need when you`re in a hurry!

Everything turned out great in the end.  My friend had a successful bbq and we enjoyed fabulous food all around in the company of great friends! :-)

Friday, September 17, 2010

I'm addicted!!

I'm thinking I need help!  I have determined today that I am absolutely addicted to reading food blogs!!  I just can't seem to get enough.  I cannot even begin to count how many I have looked at today!!  I think I really miss cooking and checking out these wonderful blogs is really inspiring me to get my ass back in the kitchen and create some fabulous dishes.

Today I also discovered that foodbuzz is having a food blog competition and there are 1866 food blogging contestants!  Wow!  I can't wait to see how well they do in the coming weeks!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Cowl neck sweater

Well, I haven't been very good at this blogging thing so far!  I was so excited when I first started and then discovered I lead a pretty quite life and had nothing to write about! LOL!  One past time I do enjoy though is my knitting.  Sometimes you'll see me at work knitting with Deniz at lunch time, or otherwise I enjoy knitting while watching tv.  I've finished some very nice objects for myself and others over the years and my latest project is the Lace Cowl Neck Pullover by Amanda Reed of Delicious Stitches.  I love it and have worn it to the office twice now have received so many wonderful comments!!

Other than it being a horrible hair day, I felt fabulous in my new top!!  Thanks Amanda for a great design! :-)

Friday, September 3, 2010

Furry Family

Since I mentioned my "Furry Family"  in my "About Me", I thought I would show you my two main men (at least here in North America).

Here is my handsome Charlie.
 And here is the debonair Colby.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

My blog begins!

Well, where do I begin?! After being a fan of so many awesome blogs, I’ve decided to start one myself! I’m not sure if I’ll be any good at it, but let’s see where this takes me. As I have so many varied interests, this blog will be more general and touch on many parts of my life. Just excuse me if I tend to ramble on at times. :-)