Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Stockyard Oatmeal Stout Review

I'm a little dry on recipes at the moment as we've been busy and I'm still perfecting my healthy-cleaneating-vegan cookie recipe. So I thought that I should fill in the gap with a good ole beer review as we always seem to find time to try a new brew.

We purchased a 6 pack of Josephs Brau Brewing's Stockyard Oatmeal Stout at Trader Joe's for $5.99. It was was an excellent deal and one that we couldn't pass up (along with a case of Blueberry Wheat Ale). According to the label this beer is brewed in the Irish Tradition and accentuated with flavours of chocolate, roasted oats and coffee. Sounds good!

Stockyard Oatmeal Stout - Review
Stockyard Oatmeal Stout - from Josephs Brau Brewing Co.

-Tasting Notes-

Colour: Opaque dark black with a tan head


Aroma: roasted oats/malty


1st Taste: Pretty good oatmeal stout. It's lighter than most but has robust flavor.


Aftertaste: None whatsoever!


General Notes: You can really taste the coffee and roasted oats but the chocolate wasn't present enough for either of us to pick it up. The beer has a slight bitterness that you can feel on the edges of your tongue. It is carbonated enough that you notice it which we do not like - this of course is a personal preference thing. Overall it's a very drinkable oatmeal stout but it doesn't compare to some others we have drank which results in it's low-average score


Score: 3/5

Stockyard Oatmeal Stout from Josephs Brau Brewing Co. - Review

Friday, September 23, 2011

Soft Pretzels - For Oktoberfest!

Soft Pretzels - to celebrate Oktoberfest and the the first day of Fall!
Oktoberfest has arrived! Some towns like Leavenworth, (my most favourite little town ever!) have three weekends of festivities!! Other towns like Bend only have one.

While the Bend Oktoberfest may not be (sorry to say this Bendites!) as cool as Leavenworth's, the organizers did have the foresight to make it 21 and older today and 21 and older tomorrow after 6pm.  Due to this we chose to be frugal and stay at home this year, so we'll be attending the Bend one! Mmmm...I can't wait to eat a pile of German food tonight! I absolutely adore bratwurst with spicy mustard and sauerkraut, and hunter schnitzel with spatzle dumplings, and warm red cabbage, and hot soft pretzels dipped in mustard! Whew!

In honor of Oktoberfest, and my wallet, I made my own delicious, soft, buttery, pretzels and dipped them in an amazingly good dill mustard I bought from no where other than Leavenworth herself. I just had to bring a little bit of  Leavenworth spirit into Bend ;-) They were easy to make, cost pennies and taste just as good as any pretzel you'll get in a beer garden.

So bake up some pretzels and head out on the town, or stay at home and partake in your own Oktoberfest celebrations. Either way make sure you have lots of fun!

Happy First Day of Fall!

Soft Pretzels dipped in Dill Mustard from Leavenworth WA


Soft Pretzels
adapted from Allrecipes

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups of warm water
  • 4 tsp of active dry yeast
  • 1 tsp of brown sugar
  • 1 tsp canola oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup of brown sugar
  • 4 to 5 cups of AP flour
  • 1/2 cup of baking soda
  • 4 cups of boiling water
  • sea salt for sprinkling

Directions:
  1. In a large bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer. Add the warm water, yeast and 1 tsp of brown sugar. Wait 5 to 10 minutes until the mixture is foamy. With the paddle attachment or with a wooden spoon, add the flour cup by cup until you reach 4 cups. Remove the paddle attachment and switch it to the dough hook or dump dough out onto a floured work surface. Knead the dough for 10 minutes adding any additional flour as needed. The dough should be smooth and elastic. Form into a ball and place into a well oiled bowl turning to coat. Cover in plastic wrap and place in your unheated oven with the light on for 1 hour.
  2. Once the dough has doubled in size punch it down and turn it out onto a work surface. 
  3. Preheat oven to 450F
  4. Divide the dough into 10 equally sized pieces. Roll each piece into a long snake and shape into a pretzel. 
  5. Boil your 4 cups of water. Reduce to a simmer and add the baking soda. Dip each pretzel into the baking soda mixture, remove with a slotted spoon, place onto a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet and sprinkle with sea salt. 
  6. Bake for 8 minutes. If you are baking 2 sheets at once then switch the positioning of the of the sheets at the 4 minute mark so each sheet of pretzels gets time on the higher shelf to brown properly. 
  7. Freeze any uneaten pretzels the same day you cooked them as they will dry out. They defrost great in the microwave tasting just as soft and fresh as the day you made them!
Soft Pretzels - my super yummy first bite!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Updated Tuna Casserole Recipe

Quick and Easy Tuna Casserole - a much better picture
Hey everyone!

After looking through some of my old posts I discovered that some of those old posts and recipes desperately needed updating. 

A few weeks ago I updated the picture in my Best Ever Fudge Brownies post to one that was much more appetizing. 

My most recent work however was done to my Quick and Easy Tuna Casserole post. The pictures were hideous and the recipe itself needed to be updated to take into account some recent changes I've made to it...for the better! Yay for blog housekeeping and some improvements in my picture taking!!

So check out my updated post for Quick and Easy Tuna Casserole and stay tuned for tomorrows Oktoberfest Themed post: Soft Buttery German Style Pretzels! Yum! The dough for these is rising as I write this! I absolutely cannot wait to taste them! 

Happy Eating!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Joys of Pizza Night and a Recipe for Mexican Pizza

Pizza night! Pepperoni and Mexican Pizza.
It's been a gorgeous September so far! It got cool for a few days and I was thinking about packing up all my summer clothes but lo and behold the weather warmed up again! We will be having temperature highs in the high eighties by the end of the week! You know what else starts at the end of this week? Oktoberfest! One of my favourite holidays...there is a soft spot in my heart for bratwurst smothered in sauerkraut and hot mustard ;-)

But I'm getting ahead of myself as my Oktoberfest recipe is coming later this week.

Lets shift our focus on pizza and the joys of pizza night. I've witnessed no other food that brings people together like pizza. Everybody loves pizza and I find that the mood gets lighter, people get happier, and that hard day at work or the horrible weather get forgotten instantly when "It's Pizza Night!" gets announced.

We had pizza night last Friday. That morning I pulled  half a batch of Perfect Pizza Dough out of the freezer to thaw on the counter throughout the day. When it was time for dinner I preheated the stove to 500F placed my cast iron skillet inside and pulled out all the left over bits and pieces from my fridge. I had a red bean, black bean, onion, pepper mixture from vegetarian fajita night, a squeeze bottle of enchilada sauce, leftover sliced onion and red pepper, cheddar cheese, and pepperoni. Those ingredients beckoned to be made into 2 different pizzas; Mexican and classic pepperoni.  So I divided the dough, added the toppings and baked them individually for 10 minutes.

We then grabbed a bottle of our favourite brew (mine was the KBC Blueberry Wheat), sliced up some fresh tomatoes (our fav pizza topping), sat down, dug in, and wondered why anyone would ever order take out?!

Pizza night at the McFaddens! (Pepperoni and Mexican Pizza)
Mexican Pizza - Yum!

Mexican Pizza
by Kaitlyn McFadden

Things you need:

  • Perfect Pizza Crust (recipe here)
  • Enchilada Sauce (recipe here)
  • Beans! Black beans, red beans, refried beans, its your choice! (Drained and rinsed)
  • Onion and red pepper; sliced or diced, sauteed or raw
  • 1 tsp of granular garlic
  • 1 tsp of onion powder
  • 1 tsp of cumin
  • 1 tbsp of chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp of red pepper flakes
  • Cheese! Cheddar, mozzarella, pepper jack, its your choice! (shredded)
  • *optional fresh toppings: sliced tomato, shredded lettuce, cilantro, sour cream

Basic Structure:
  1. Preheat oven and pizza stone to 500F
  2. Roll out the pizza dough. Place on parchment paper and then a pizza peel.
  3. Top generously with enchilada sauce.
  4. Mash up your beans, they don't have to been smooth just mash them enough to form a bit of a paste. 
  5. If you are sauteing your veggies then add all the spice and seasonings to them but if you are choosing to add them raw then add the seasonings to the mashed up beans.
  6. Top the enchilada sauce with beans, top the beans with the veggies, top the veggies with the cheese.
  7. Transfer pizza/parchment paper from peel to stone and bake for 10 minutes.
  8. Grabbing a corner of the parchment paper slide the pizza back onto the peel and repeat if making 2 pizzas. Top with desired fresh toppings. Let cool for at least 5 minutes before consuming.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Chocolate Fudge Cake with Tofu!

Chocolate Fudge Cake made with tofu!
Hello chocolate lovers!

Today I bring to you Chocolate Fudge Cake made a tad healthier with the help of Tofu. Yet another attempt by me to make dessert more nutritious yet just as yummy!

What I discovered while finding the best ever recipe for fudge brownies, was that eggs are the trick to a dense, fudgy, rich dessert. So how do you even attempt to make a decadently fudgy dessert without the help of eggs? Well according to food bloggers out there tofu can help with that!

I tried a couple recipes that use tofu as an egg/butter substitute and I was very disappointed. They were bland, not chocolaty enough and tasted of tofu and chalk. Bleh! 

So I decided to trust my instincts and come up with a recipe on my own. I used ALOT of cocoa powder, added jam instead of sugar (to help mask the tofu), and threw in 2 handfuls of chocolate chips. Below is my end result. 

I dare you to give this recipe a try! ;-)

Chocolate Fudge Cake made with Tofu
by Kaitlyn McFadden


Ingredients:
  • 3/4 cup of cocoa powder
  • 1 cup of AP flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 oz of silken tofu or 1/4 of the package
  • 1 cup of jam (I used maironberry blackberry jam)
  • 2/3 cup of applesauce
  • 1/4 cup of soy milk
  • 2 tbsp of canola oil
  • 1 tbsp of vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup of chocolate chips

Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Mix the cocoa, flour, baking powder and salt together in a large bowl
  3. Add the tofu, jam, applesauce, soy milk, canola and vanilla to your food processor and blend until smooth and creamy.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir together. Fold in chocolate chips. 
  5. Pour into a prepared 9 inch cake pan and bake for 30 to 40 minutes. Cool on a rack and refrigerate. (I like to cook for 30 minutes so the center isn't fully set. Then I refrigerate until firm which takes a few hours or overnight.)
If you slice this into 8 large pieces (and they are big!) then each piece is about 300 calories; about 200 calories less on average per serving than a comparably sized flourless chocolate cake. The jam and the chocolate chips are the highest calorie and most unhealthy ingredients so if your sweet tooth will let you reduce them than your cake will be even healthier!

Chocolate Fudge cake made with tofu.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Blueberry Wheat Ale - Kennebunkport Brewing Co.


KBC Blueberry Wheat Ale
Mmmmm... yes a blueberry wheat ale. This will be one of the last summery beer posts that I do until spring. Yesterday I wrote of still having warm weather and the imminent approach of autumn. Well today it arrived! The weather is cool and it's supposed to FREEZE tonight! Oh the joys of living in a high altitude desert!

In anticipation of smooth dark porters, rich stouts, and pumpkin ales drunk by the fire I'm saying farewell to summer with a review of Kennebunkport's Blueberry Wheat Ale.

Kennebunkport Brewing Company is located in on the east coast in Maine. A 6 pack of this beer costs $5.99 at Trader Joe's.

Blueberry Wheat Ale
from Kennebunkport Brewing Company

-Tasting Notes-


KBC Blueberry Wheat Ale
Aroma: The aroma of this beer is strong. You can smell blueberries as soon as you pry the bottle cap off.


Colour: Bright amber yellow with a white head.

Taste: Crisp, light hops, refreshing. The taste is fresh, slightly sweet blueberries, not sour at all.

Aftertaste: Blueberry muffin! Literally! After a few sips of this beer the barley malts mix with the blueberry and it tastes like you just ate a blueberry muffin!

Notes: This beer is excellent for sipping on its own or paired with dessert or baked goods (like my blueberry muffins). It would also pair nicely with berry or citrus infused seafood. I finished a whole bottle of this and that rarely occurs; I'm more of a half-a-pint girl. However, this beer is more carbonated than I would like. It's really bubbly! Some people like that but I don't.

Score: 4/5 - less carbonation and this would be perfect! (For me)




Thursday, September 15, 2011

Ode to Fall and Blueberry Muffins

Blueberry Muffins - a last farewell to summer
I can feel fall in the air. It's still sunny and warm outside but there is a bit of a nip in the breeze that warns of cooler days to come. The end of summer is always bittersweet to me. I'm sad that the warm, lazy days of summer are gone but I'm also enthusiastic about the beginning of fall, my favourite season. My university years are only 2 years behind me and I still view the approach of autumn as the beginning of a new year. It's a time to set goals for the year, and reevaluate and reorganize your life...and that overflowing closet.

I turn 25 in a month, I'm also now happily married and living in another country. My life has changed considerably and after Labour Day I knew somethings needed a shake up:

  1. The short shorts have seen their last summer; I'll be wearing some an inch or two longer next season.
  2. I may not be able to work yet but I need to get out there and start meeting people so I have more options when I finally can work; I have my first interview for a volunteer position next week! 
  3. Expand my cooking skills; I'm going to buy supplies for cake and candy making and I'm also considering a cake decorating class.
  4. Focus on my blog; I'm aiming for 5 posts a week consistently.
  5. Clean out my tiny closet; I've rid myself of all my pre-weight loss clothes with the exception of 1 pair of black jeans that I only had the chance to wear twice (maybe when I'm 40 I'll be a size 10 again). 

So yes, as you can see, autumn is important to me. It's a time of refection, renewal, cozy sweaters, cute leather boots, birthdays, pumpkins, bonfires, cinnamon, candy, warm muffins for breakfast and delicious turkey dinners.

Fall is awesome!

Blueberry Muffins
by Kaitlyn McFadden

makes 6 regular sized muffins


Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of AP flour
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp of baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup of milk
  • 2 tbsp of canola oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup of blueberries (thawed if frozen)

Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 400F
  2. Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl; with the exception of the blueberries. Form a well in the center.
  3. In a separate bowl mix the wet ingredients together and pour into the dry ingredients. Mix until just moist; do not over mix!
  4. Fold in the blueberries
  5. Bake for 17-18 minutes.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Bay Bridge Cabernet Sauvignon - Guest Wine Review

Bay Bridge Cabernet Sauvignon - Guest review from my sister!
My sister came down to Bend to visit me a few weeks ago. We had a blast, shopping, biking, cooking, hiking Crater Lake, swimming Crater Lake, and drinking wine of course! Chelsey is not a big beer drinker and I was happy to have someone to share a bottle with. I let her choose from our vast collection of 2.99-6.99 bottles of wine and she chose a bottle of Bay Bridge Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon. Cab Sauv's are her favourite varietal and these grapes were from California (my favourite region for Cabs) so I was happy!

I thought it would be fun for her to do a guest post, giving me a break and letting you the readers hear a different point of view. So without further adieu...and there was a whole lot, sorry Chelly for taking so long to transcribe this...here is Chelsey!

Bay Bridge Cab-Sauv Review
Bay Bridge Cabernet Sauvignon
Tasting Notes by Chelsey Vriezen

My 1st initial thoughts, after I let it breathe of course, was that it smelled fruity. Alas I put on my wine connoisseur hat and took in the oaky-vanilla notes, finally deciphering the 'fruity' notes as a combination of red berries.

The subtle undertones of the tannins arrive first to your taste buds. The tannins are light and delightfully tickle the back of your tongue. They leave your mouth feeling like it was just seduced in a sweet summers affair and dazzled with an oak diamond on the eve of autumn.

This wine is smooth and sultry with an almost crisp, fresh finish. I feel like its so crisp but also richly flavored and very full bodied.

This wine is great for a warm summer evening on the patio or even a cozy movie night by the fire.

Those Californians really know how to pick a grape!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Chicken-Almond Curry with Apricots

Chicken-Almond Curry with Apricots
I'm not much of a cookbook person. I prefer to browse recipes online. But every once and awhile I'll pull out one of Shawn's old cook books and read through it. Some of those cookbooks are pretty laughable. I mean any dessert ingredient list that starts out with "1 box of chocolate cake mix" isn't coming from a what I would consider a real cookbook. 

He does own two pretty good cookbooks; Food and Wine -The Magazines Annual Cookbook (for years 2004 and 2005).  I was leafing through the 2004 version the other day and came across their recipe for Chicken-Almond Curry with Apricots. It looked amazingly delicious and incredibly healthy too! I tend to stray away from Indian Food because of all the milk, cream and calories but this dish had neither!

The only ingredient I was lacking was apricots so I scheduled a trip to Costco, bought a giant bag of dried apricots for cheap and came home and made this dish.

It smelled AMAZING while simmering away on the stove. It was a warm evening and I had all the patio doors open and Shawn said he could smell this cooking at the other end of the complex. I literally called him in for dinner with the aroma of my cooking!

I have absolutely nothing bad to say about this recipe nor would I change it in anyway. Biting into juicy plump apricots simmered in spices was pure bliss! I will be making this dish regularly in the future.

Chicken-Almond Curry with Apricots - Totally delish!

Chicken-Almond Curry with Apricots
from Food and Wine - An Entire Year of Recipes 2004


Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup of whole almonds (ground to a powder in a food processor)
  • 12 dried apricots (choose the juiciest ones in the bag)
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (I used a small bag of chicken tenderloins)
  • ground pepper
  • 2 large garlic cloves minced
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp of powdered ginger
  • 1 1/2 tbsp of curry powder
  • 1/4 tsp of cayenne pepper or red chili flakes (I upped this to 1/2 tsp)
  • 2 cups of organic low sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tbsp of plain non-fat yogurt
  • 2 scallions chopped (*optional-for garnish)

Directions:
  1. Soak the apricots in boiling water for 20 mins. Drain.
  2. In a large skillet heat up oil (medium/high heat) and brown the chicken for 3 mins on each side; seasoning with pepper. Remove chicken from skillet and place on plate.
  3. Add the garlic and onion to the skillet and cook on low until until softened (about 10 minutes - took less for me) Add the ginger, curry, cayenne and stir until fragrant; no more than a few minutes. Add the ground almonds and the stock and bring to a simmer. Add the chicken back to the skillet as well as the apricots and simmer over low heat for 5 minutes.
  4. Increase heat and boil the sauce until thickened. You may remove the chicken during this process but I left it in. Once thickened remove from heat. Stir in yogurt and garnish with scallions.
  5. Serve with naan or brown batsmati rice. 
Chicken-Almond Curry with Apricots - this curry couldn't get healthier if it tried!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Broiled Tofu Sandwiches - My Accidental Vegan Dinner

Broiled Tofu Sandwiches...my accidental Vegan dinner
Every once and awhile, especially on these hot steamy nights we've been having lately, you want something light, fresh and delicious for dinner without having to defrost meat or slave over the stove. I had one of those nights last night. The hubby was away and not due back until late so I had only myself to feed. I wanted something meatless and searching around in my fridge I grabbed some salsa, fresh tomato, onion, baby spinach, tofu and sriracha sauce. Feeling inspired I grabbed a baking sheet, sliced up the silken tofu, rubbed it with some chili powder, and set it in the oven to broil.

Looking at the other ingredients I decided a salad wasn't enough and I grabbed one of my freshly baked buns sliced it in half and piled it high with spinach, salsa, sliced roma tomatoes and onions. I topped all of that with a piece of broiled tofu, mixed some salsa with some leftover red beans and headed out to the patio to enjoy the sunset. 

While I was eating I though about how much I love a good vegetarian meal. We are big meat eaters in this household and my B neg blood type benefits from red gamey meats but it's always good to dedicate at least one night a week to a vegetarian meal. My thoughts then went to those uber vegetarians...the vegans. Those guys and gals are hardcore. No eggs, dairy, honey, meat or anything that includes animal products...that includes most chocolate!! A diet like that seemed impossible to me. 

I then looked down at my meal. The bread contained no milk or honey; I used agave and water, the salsa and sriracha were vegan, so was the tofu, red beans and veggies. I was eating a vegan meal for dinner! And it tasted great and was totally satisfying. 

So maybe I can add some vegan dinners to the roster. What do we have to loose?!

Broiled Tofu Sandwiches

serves 1

Ingredients:
  • 2 slices of your favourite tofu (I like silken, slightly firm)
  • chili powder
  • 4 slices of tomato
  • thinly sliced onion
  • handful of baby spinach
  • 4 tbsp of salsa
  • sriracha sauce or hot sauce
  • 1 bun (recipe here)

Directions:
  1. Place paper towel under and on top of the slices of tofu and press down gently to remove excess water. Place on a baking sheet, sprinkle with chili powder and broil on high for 6 minutes on each side.
  2. Slice bun in half and top each half with spinach, 2 tbsp of salsa, onion and tomato slices. Top with a slice of broiled tofu and a squirt of sriracha sauce.
  3. Serve with your favourite type of cooked beans mixed with salsa. 

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Big, soft, chewy, bakery-style Chocolate Chip Cookies

My favourite bakery-style Chocolate Chip Cookies
Everybody loves the quintessential classic Chocolate Chip Cookie. There is something so comforting about this homey dessert. Chocolate Chip Cookies are also pretty basic to make. They involve simple ingredients found in most pantries and kitchens and the batter can be whipped up in a matter of minutes.  Chocolate Chip Cookies are my go-to dessert when I'm strapped for time.

The key to a delicious bakery-style Chocolate Chip Cookie isn't some magic ingredient. In fact, the secret is MELTED butter. Most recipes call for softened butter but melted butter makes these cookies super moist!

The other trick to perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies is chilling the dough. If you don't chill the dough the cookies spread out. Chill the dough for at least an hour, even overnight if you want to. I usually chill my dough for an hour or two with great success. For those like me who live at high altitude these cookies work great with just a few alterations - I've included the conversions in the recipe below.

This recipe uses real butter, sugar, and flour (the building blocks for a perfect cookie) so don't eat the entire batch, instead make them for friends/family and share the love. :)

Chocolate Chip Cookies
Bakery Style Chocolate Chip Cookies
from allrecipes

*Makes 18 large cookies
*Altitude conversions for those between 3000 and 4000 feet included

Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour (Plus 1 tbsp for elevations between 3000 and 4000 feet)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 egg yolk (Make this a whole egg for elevations above 3000 feet)
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 325F (340F for elevations between 3000 and 4000 feet)  
  2. Beat together (using an egg beater or stand mixer) the melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar until well blended. Beat in the vanilla, egg, and egg yolk until light and creamy. 
  3. Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt and add to the creamed sugar. Stir until flour is absorbed into the batter. Fold in the chocolate chips. Cover and chill for at least an hour.
  4. Drop batter on to cookie sheets 1/4 cup at a time. I used a large cookie scoop and fit 6 cookies per tray for a total of 3 trays.
  5. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until the edges are lightly toasted. I cooked mine for 17 minutes. Cool on baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely. 
Big Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies






Thursday, September 8, 2011

Peppermint Candy Ice Cream

Luscious Peppermint Candy Ice Cream
It was Shawn's birthday over Labour Day weekend. We are not big on gifts or holidays in general. We don't do Christmas, valentines, or anniversary gifts but for some reason birthdays are the exception. We do birthday gifts. I even get my birthday gift three months early in late July...it's a weird tradition Shawn started last year and faithfully carried on this year. While we may celebrate birthdays, that doesn't mean that he wants to celebrate HIS birthday. Shawn doesn't like gifts, parties, the birthday song or basically anything that singles him out or gives him special treatment. He just wants his birthday to be a normal non-eventful day.

I think he's special and deserves a special day without feeling uncomfortable so I settled for a small gift (photobook!) and making his favourite dessert and dinner of choice.

This year, like last year, he wanted ice cream cake. Peppermint ice cream cake. An ice cream flavor not available this time of year, so I had to make it.

I got this recipe from a gorgeous book we own called Sorbets and Ice Creams and Other Frozen Confections by Lou Pappas. The recipe resulted in a luscious, creamy, incredibly pink peppermint ice cream! I baked up half a batch of Best Ever Fudge Brownies. Topped them with the peppermint ice cream and served it to Shawn on his birthday...no candles of course!

The rest we froze in a Tupperware for him to enjoy later.

What did I, the lactose sensitive one, eat... you ask?

A giant bowl of Healthy Chocolate Ice Cream with a few drops of peppermint extract ;-)


Peppermint Candy Ice Cream

Peppermint Candy Ice Cream
from Sorbets and Ice Creams and Other Frozen Confections by Lou Pappas (1997)

Ingredients:
  • 1 3/4 cups crushed peppermint candies (7 oz)
  • 2 cups half and half
  • 3 egg yolks beaten (I used three whole eggs)
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
Directions:
  1. In a double boiler add 1 1/4 cup of crushed peppermint candies and half and half. Heat over simmering water until scalded (half and half is foamy with bubbles). Remove from heat and wait until all the candies are melted completely and the mixture is bright pink.
  2. Ladle some of the hot half and half mixture into the egg yolks and whisk vigorously. Add the egg mixture to the rest of the half and half mixture and return the pan to heat source over barely simmering water. Stir constantly until the custard coats the back of a metal spoon. Immediately place the the pan in a pan of cold water and stir to cool the custard to room temperature. 
  3. Stir cream and vanilla into the custard until just combined. Do not over stir! Overstirring at this stage can cause flecks of butter to be created in your finished ice cream.
  4. Cover and place in the refrigerator to cool completely.
  5. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufactures instructions. When almost frozen completely, add the remaining crushed candy.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Calzones - Bringing leftovers together and out of your fridge!

Calzone - a delicious pouch containing most of the contents of my fridge
I think I've said this before but in this household, throwing out food is a capital offense. Leftover scraps from dinner are saved, little bits of vegetables are saved in Ziplocs and fruit about to spoil is frozen or consumed in smoothies. I normally serve leftovers for lunch or dinner the next day and use scraps of veggies in my next meal, but sometimes I cook 3 distinct dinners in a row. This leads to my fridge becoming overwhelmed with Tupperware and tiny plastic bags. A cluttered fridge is a huge pet peeve of mine so dinner last night had to be something that could combine strongly seasoned Moroccan Kefta, Mongolian marinaded pulled beef, and some left over salami into a delicious meal. No easy task as those 3 leftovers are as different flavour-wise as possible!

But after thinking long and hard I came up with the, I think brilliant, idea to make calzones. Some strongly seasoned Italian marinara sauce should be able to bring all those distinct flavours together. 

And it worked like a charm! These calzones did double duty: they were a delicious dinner and they cleaned out my fridge! 

Calzones - warm from the oven and ready to be devoured! 

Calzones

makes 2 calzones and serves 4

Ingredients:
  • One batch of perfect pizza crust halved (put one half in the freezer after 1st rise) and split into 2 pieces (split the remaining half of the dough into 2 pieces). (Recipe here)
  • Jar of your favourite marinara sauce. -I use Newman's Own
  • 2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese/mozzarella cheese/both!
  • about 4 cups of leftovers! - I chopped up leftover kefta, pulled beef, salami, onion and red bell pepper and heated it all up in a skillet until the veggies softened. I also seasoned the meat mixture with garlic, onion, basil and oregano to bring more flavor cohesion to the different meats. 
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 500F if using a pizza stone or parchment paper on a baking sheet. Preheat oven to 480F if using a baking sheet topped with a silpat.
  2. Roll out the 2 pieces of dough into a circle the size of  a small pizza. 
  3. Spoon marinara sauce onto one half of the circle leaving an inch of space along the edge. Top with left overs, then cheese and fold the topping-free side over top of the toppings (Like when making apple turn-overs or perogies). Repeat with 2nd portion of dough
  4. Pinch the edges together to seal and fold up to make a pretty edge. Place on parchment paper or silpat. Using a sharp knife stab a few holes into the top of the calzone to let steam escape.
  5. Bake for 10-12 minutes.  Cool for 5 mins and then slice and serve with warmed remaining marinara sauce.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Eggless Snickerdoodle Pancakes

Eggless Snickerdoodle Pancakes - excuse my bad photo
We love pancakes and therefore I make them all the time. But they have yet to appear on this blog. Why is that? Well, I take really bad pancake photos. I see foodgawker and tastespotting photographs of pancakes all the time. The photos are perfectly lit and the pancakes are perfectly shaped and stacked while a single stream of unidentified syrup drizzles down overtop of them from an unknown source. Those pictures are great, cook book quality even but they are totally unrealistic in my opinion.

I make pancakes a lot and I think they are pretty good. But they never all leave my skillet perfectly shaped, I rarely top them with syrup - lemon juice is my fav, I never eat 6 of them in one sitting - all perfectly stacked like that, and I'm always super hungry therefore lighting and composition are the least of my worries at 8 am in the morning. Because of this I take bad pancake photos and bad crepe photos for that matter too. 

I hope you don't mind. 

Cause this recipe is delicious. Don't let my bad photo deceive you ;-)

Eggless Snickerdoodle Pancakes

Makes 6 pancakes that are seriously good; so good I eat them plain!

Dry Ingredients:
  • 1 cup of AP flour, whole wheat is great!
  • 2 tsp of baking powder
  • 1 tsp of cinnamon
  • 1 tsp of sugar
Wet Ingredients:
  • 1 cup of plain soy milk
  • 2 tbsp of canola oil
  • 2 tbsp of water
  • 1 tsp of vanilla extract
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 200F
  2. Whisk the dry ingredients together in a large bowl and make a well. Whisk the wet ingredients together in a small bowl. 
  3. Pour the wet into the well in the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Don't over stir.
  4. Heat skillet to medium and add a little oil or butter. Pour batter onto the skillet - approximately 1/4 cup of batter per pancake.
  5. Cook until edges are firm and there are bubbles on top. Flip and cook for another minute. Remove from skillet, place in oven safe dish and store in the heated oven. Repeat until you are done cooking the pancakes and you are ready to serve. 

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Kefta, Kofta, Kafta?! A recipe for Moroccan Kefta

Moroccan Kefta Kebabs
I normally plan our dinners ahead of time by at least a day or two. It saves me the last minute scramble of figuring out what to make or trying to defrost and marinade meat in the span of an hour...that never turns out well ;-)

Last Friday I failed to plan ahead properly and I woke to the realization that our refrigerator was finally bare of leftovers and I had no dinner planned for the evening. I then proceeded to ignore the situation by getting out of bed, making breakfast, writing a blog post, and going to the gym - my usual routine. After I finished at the gym I knew that I couldn't put off dinner any longer and it was decision time.  So I went downstairs to peak in my deep freeze and ended up with a 1.5 pound tube of ground beef. "Anything can be made from ground beef", I said to myself. A quick search online, a memory from a scene in a past episode of The Real Housewives of New Jersey, and a desire to try something new and exotic, led me to Moroccan Kefta or ground beef kebabs.

If you watch the Real Housewives you'll recall a scene from a few weeks ago where Cathy hosts a goddess party to show off her Moroccan cuisine. She served Kefta and as I watched them eat I wanted some!

Kefta is ground beef mixed with spices and fresh herbs, shaped into balls or cylinders, skewered and grilled. It's called Kefta, Kofta, Kafta and tons of other different ways depending on the middle eastern/Mediterranean language you speak or country you are from.  I told Shawn I was making Moroccan food for dinner so it was Kefta on the menu!

I did some research online and came up with this recipe. It was a refreshingly different way to prepare and cook ground beef. I served my Kefta with a loaf of rustic, chewy bread and non-fat tzatziki. This is also a really healthy meal if you watch the fat content of the beef or use lamb, and use non-fat yogurt for the tzatziki like I did.

Moroccan Kefta calling my name :)


Moroccan Kefta
by Kaitlyn McFadden

Serves 5

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 to 2 pounds of ground beef or lamb (I used beef)
  • 1 onion
  • 5 cloves of garlic 
  • 3 tbsp of finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tbsp of finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tbsp of ground coriander
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp of cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp of cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 tsp of granular garlic
  • 1/2 tsp of soy sauce (I hate adding salt to ground meats as it dries them out)
  • 1/4 tsp of ginger
  • 1/4 tsp of red pepper flakes or sriracha sauce (we like spicy so I increased this quite a bit)
  • Skewers - soaked in water if wooden

Directions:
  1. Pulse onion and garlic in a food processor until finely chopped. Drain and squeeze out any excess liquid with paper towels. 
  2. Place the ground meat into a large bowl and mix all ingredients into the meat using your hands. Mix until just combined and the spices and herbs are evenly distributed, don't over handle the meat or it will become dense.
  3. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for at least an hour or more; preferably 6 to 8 hours.
  4. When ready to cook grab a handful of meat mixture with clean hands and form into a cylinder. Slide a skewer through the meat lengthwise. Continue until meat mixture is gone; I managed 5 skewers.
  5. Grill until meat is cooked thoroughly or to your preferred doneness. (I like my hamburger cooked thoroughly but my lamb cooked to medium)
  6. Serve with a garlicky sauce like tzatziki and fresh bread. 
Shawn digs into his Moroccan Kefta






Saturday, September 3, 2011

Beer of the Month - Lost Coast Tangerine Wheat

Lost Coast Tangerine Wheat
September has arrived and with it has come cool evenings, thoughts of fall and an urge to bake all things pumpkin. Not so fast! It's Labour Day Weekend! North America's one last huzzah for summer! And who says September means fall anyways? Technically the first day of fall is September 23rd...that's practically a whole month away!

I intend on making the most of my remaining summer so my pick for the September Beer of the Month (as I sit outside on my patio in the glorious sun) is a crisp, refreshing, oh-so-summery tangerine flavored wheat beer.

I initially tried this Eureka, CA brewed beer at the 2011 Bend Brewfest. I loved it and wanted a full bottle to feature on my blog. Well finding this stuff was harder than you would think. Our friend searched all over Central Oregon for it and it was out of stock everywhere. I looked online and yet again, out of stock. Hubby finally came through and found it at The Brew Shop here in Bend Oregon. The elusiveness and popularity of this beer confirmed my desire to feature it.

Lost Coast Tangerine Wheat 
Tasting Notes:

Colour: Beautiful orangey-yellow with a white head.

Aroma: Really ripe tangerine.

1st sip: Crisp carbonation and prominent tangerine flavor

Comments: This brew has the lightness and crispness of a wheat beer with the lovely summery sweetness of tangerine. The hops are very low as this beer barely tastes bitter at all. The bottle says that you may taste a hint of tangerine but I tasted full-on tangerine flavor...nothing that would classify as just a 'hint'.  I think that people who aren't big beer drinkers would really enjoy this beer!

Score: 4.5/5 - this is one of the best wheat/fruit beer's Shawn and I have had! (I scored it 5/5 at the Brewfest...a perfect example of how the same beer can taste different given the environment you are drinking in, your mood, what you've drank before hand, etc)

Friday, September 2, 2011

Cookie Dough Balls

Cookie Dough Balls
My sister was over to visit for the last few days of August. She was here for 3.5 days so I was going to make the most of it. Canadians love to shop here in Oregon because there is no sales tax. So we basically dedicated 1.5 days to shopping. That's a whole lot of shopping for a gal like me that prefers to spend about an hour a month max shopping for clothes.

So we shopped, rode bikes, hiked and swam Crater Lake, and shopped and rode bikes some more. To be honest it was great just spending time with her; it didn't matter what we did.

Our evenings were spent making yummy dinners and catching up on our favourite shows but on one particular evening we also wanted dessert. Chelsey wanted cookie dough but not cookies so we searched around for a raw cookie dough recipe that is safe to eat (ie. no raw eggs). To my slight dismay the recipe couldn't be healthy. So no ground up nuts or dates...Chelsey wanted a real cookie dough taste with real butter and sugar. We found the perfect recipe at Joy the Baker. Chelsey gave me a break from the kitchen and whipped them up herself.

This recipe is so delicious we ate three in a row.

I don't even want to think about all the empty calories in just one of those little balls let alone three! But if a long over due visit with a sister isn't an event worthy of real butter and sugar...then what is?

My sister shows off her Cookie Dough Balls


Cookie Dough Balls
from Joy the Baker

makes about 12 two-bite balls

Ingredients:
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup Greek yogurt or applesauce or peanut butter (we did peanut butter)
  • 1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
Directions:
  1. Cream together the butter, sugars, and vanilla until light and fluffy.
  2. Beat in the yogurt/applesauce/peanut butter
  3. Mix the flour and baking soda together and stir into the butter mixture.
  4. Fold in the chocolate chips. 
  5. Use your hands to form into balls. Eat three immediately and store the rest in the freezer. :)