Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Peppermint Fudge

Peppermint Fudge

Peppermint Fudge

Peppermint Fudge
Duncan Hines Creamy Frosting

There's been a recipe that's been floating around the foodbloggerverse for awhile now. It's received some mixed reviews. Some people swear by it while others are less than impressed. The recipe is Two Ingredient Fudge and when I received a free sample of a Duncan Hines product through the Foodbuzz Tastemakers Program, I just had to give this recipe a try.

I was at Albertsons last week to pick up some last minute items for Thanksgiving when I saw that they had peppermint extract for sale at almost 50% off! I picked up two bottles and I might head back and pick up a few more as chocolate and mint is our favourite dessert flavor combination. Naturally with fudge on the brain and the holiday season in full swing I decided to make peppermint fudge.

The recipe is a total breeze. You just heat up the chocolate chips and tub of frosting in the microwave, mix them together and pour the mixture into a pan to set up. This is where the problems pop up for some people. I've read comments that stated the fudge never set, that the fudge turned out too hard, the fudge tasted chalky, or even worse, it tasted grainy!

Mine, much to my pleasure, turned out perfect. The fudge set in a hour and popped right out of the pan. It was firm yet creamy and melt in your mouth delicious. Maybe it was the extra creamy Duncan Hines chocolate icing that I used or the semi sweet chocolate chips with real cocoa butter?

This will now be one of my go to recipes for when I need an easy dessert that will feed a crowd. These are perfect for bringing to a Christmas party or New Years celebration. These are even more perfect if you are the host as they come together in 5 minutes leaving you with plenty of time to focus on other tasks.

I'm going to try a white chocolate version next followed by dark chocolate with peanut butter! Yum! Happy Holidays!

Easy Peppermint Fudge
-I don't know who came up with the chocolate/frosting idea originally!

Ingredients:
  • 1 16oz tub of Duncan Heinz Creamy Homestyle Classic Chocolate Frosting
  • 16 oz of semi sweet chocolate chips (I use Ambrosia All Natural)
  • 1 tsp of peppermint extract
  • 6 candy canes crushed or a large handful of peppermint candies crushed

Directions:
  1. Grease an 8x8 square glass pan and sprinkle the crushed candy canes all over the bottom evenly.
  2. Place the chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl. Heat on high for 30 second intervals mixing in between until smooth and glossy. Mix in the peppermint extract.
  3. Place the frosting in the microwave (foil removed) and heat for 30 second intervals until pourable. Approximately 1 to 1.5 minutes. 
  4. Pour the frosting into the melted chocolate and whisk together until well blended and smooth. It should resemble a thick brownie batter.
  5. Pour into the greased pan over top of the crushed candy canes. Use a spatula to spread it to an even thickness. Pick up the pan and shake it gently to get the fudge mixture to fill in gaps around the crushed candy at the bottom of the pan. Place in refrigerator to set. This takes about an hour.
  6. Once solid remove the pan from the fridge and using a blunt knife, like a butter knife, scrape down one of the edges of the pan, separating the fudge from the side of the pan. Once you do one side, air gets in and should loosen all the other sides. Invert onto a cutting board and slice the fudge into squares
  7. I store mine in the fridge but they do very well at room temperature. They don't get too soft/melty or messy.

Peppermint Fudge

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Dry Brined Turkey

Dry Brined Turkey

Dry Brined Turkey
Happy Thanksgiving everyone! This was my first American Thanksgiving. Being Canadian I celebrate Thanksgiving too, we just happen to do it in October right before my birthday. I always thought that Canadian Thanksgiving made more sense.  Instead of having two huge holidays in the span of 4 weeks Canadians spread their turkey dinners out more. But I now have to admit. Having just celebrated my first American Thanksgiving I think I'm quickly becoming a convert to the 4th Thursday in November. It's just soooo much more festive this time of year. It snowed on Thanksgiving Day here for a few hours, the pretty holiday movie snow. Downtown is all lit up and so gorgeous at night. And you get four days off instead of three and the second of those four days is the biggest shopping day of the year!

In addition to my first American Thanksgiving I also participated in my first Black Friday. I don't think I participated in it in the way it is known for but I did shop for at least an hour. I'm not much of a shopper anyway but had my sisters Christmas gift left on my list so I slept in until 10am (we had a late night! ;-),
made some oatmeal - sugar free in an attempt to detox from dinner and walked to the shops...yep I walked. There was no way I was even going to attempt to drive anywhere that day. Bend doesn't have a mall so retail is very generally divided into downtown (outrageously priced boutiques), Old Mill (Gap, Victoria's Secret, American Eagle, etc.), and the big box stores (Macy's, Target, Khols) located north of town. The big box stores are too far to walk to and it was too cold/icy for my bike so they were out. Downtown is always too expensive and the boutiques never seem to have any amazing sales so I headed to Old Mill. Those are the stores I love to shop at anyway.

Thirty minutes later I was in Old Mill and ready to see what all the fuss is about. Gap was having huge sales and was so busy I literally couldn't get to any clothes let alone try them on and pay for them. It was too much for me so I left. American Eagle had 40% off everything in the store and I got some great deals there. Bath and Body works had their large candles in holiday scents 50% off! I got two candles regular $19.50 each for $20.00 for two! I picked winter wonderland and frosted cupcake...yum! I then headed to Victoria's Secret where I got great deals on cute panties. I finished shopping in about an hour...a little disappointed about missing Gap but happy I have all my family's Christmas gifts purchased.

But getting back to FOOD as this is a FOOD BLOG. I tried out a new brining technique for the turkey. Since it was just the two of us I decided to try out some new recipes and experiment a bit with carving. Everything turned out delicious except for the pictures :( It was one of those days. I had a million things running through my head as I cooked the turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, gravy, grilled asparagus and molten chocolate cake. Picture taking was not a priority. I did attempt to take pictures of the turkey. I took maybe 30 pictures and 28 of them were blurry. I think I was rushed, hungry, and slightly tipsy from the wine. At the time I was all 'whatever' about pictures. But since the turkey turned out so good...the best Shawn has ever had!!!...I wish I was more disciplined. That or I need a camera with a great flash so that I can take decent pictures when I don't have any natural light.

So here is a recipe for Dry Brined Turkey. It's easy, mess free, and makes a moist and flavorful bird. All you need is fresh herbs, salt and some pre planning. This is how I will be doing our turkey for Christmas!

Perfectly Carved Turkey Breast

Dry Brined Turkey
from Russ Parsons

Ingredients:

  • One 11 to 12 pound turkey (Bigger is not better. When feeding a crown opt for two small turkeys instead of one big one. The quality of the meat is better)
  • 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • 2 springs of fresh thyme
  • 2 fresh sage leaves
  • 2 tbsp of kosher salt

Directions:
  1. One week before you want to cook the turkey set it in the fridge to defrost.
  2. Three days before cooking the turkey, rinse and pat completely dry your defrosted turkey removing the neck, liver and giblets. Using the tips of your fingers separate the skin from the flesh starting at the breast and working your way back and down to the legs. Separate skin from legs as well. Place the rosemary, thyme and sage leaves between the flesh and the skin all over the turkey breast and legs. Sprinkle the 2 tbsp of salt all over the outside of the bird and inside the cavity. Massage the salt into the skin with your fingers. Place in a pan and cover tightly with plastic wrap and let sit for 2 days.
  3. On the morning on the third day remove the plastic wrap, flip the bird onto its breast and place back into the fridge covered again with plastic wrap. 
  4. That night (the night before you want to cook it) Flip the bird back over and let it sit in the fridge uncovered overnight. 
  5. The next day removed the bird from the fridge and let it sit at room temperature for at least an hour before cooking it. Stuff it with half a lemon with juices squeezed over top of the turkey, half an onion, a few stalks of celery, and a few cloves of garlic. You can baste with butter if you like. 
  6. Preheat oven to 425F. Place turkey breast side down on a roasting rack in a roasting pan. Cook for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes flip bird over, easily done and mess free with silicone baking mitts, and turn down oven to 325F. Add 1/2 cup of chicken broth to the bottom of the roasting pan. Cook until the internal temperature reaches 165F. My 11.75 pound turkey took another 2 hours and 15 minutes to cook. 
  7. Let rest for 20 to 30 minutes before carving. Do not cover in foil if you wan the skin to stay crispy. We peel the skin off so it doesn't matter to us. 


Monday, November 21, 2011

Healthy Pumpkin Smoothie

Healthy Pumpkin Smoothies

Pumpkin is an incredibly versatile and healthy vegetable. (FYI: pumpkin is a fruit scientifically but considered a vegetable in the culinary world; similar to tomatoes, cucumbers or bell peppers.) They are full of beta carotene (anti-carcinogenic), potassium, zinc (helps immune system and bone density) , vitamin C, vitamin A, calcium, and fiber. In fact, 1 cup of boiled/steamed/microwaved pumpkin flesh contains only 50 calories, less than 1 gram of fat and 28% of your daily recommended fiber!

The problem is we tend to mix pumpkin with heavy creams, sugar, butter and bleached flours which all negatively affect the health benefits of pumpkin. There is nothing healthy or nutritious about eating pumpkin pie nor will a pumpkin scone give you part of your daily serving of fruit and veg. Mmmm... but they will taste good!

So this thanksgiving why don't you reserve a cup of pumpkin puree and eat it in its healthy form. Go ahead and still make that pie, it's thanksgiving after all, but try something new for a change with that giant orange vegetable-fruit. 

I recommend trying a pumpkin smoothie for breakfast or a light snack. This smoothie tastes festive with the addition of cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom and gets it's sweetness from super ripe frozen bananas.

Healthy Pumpkin Smoothie

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree (fresh or canned; not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 3/4 to 1 cup of soy milk
  • 1 large frozen ripe banana (I slice my ripe banana into bite sizes and freeze on a wax paper lined baking sheet)
  • 1/4 tsp of cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp of cardamom
  • pinch of nutmeg (you can add more but I'm sensitive to nutmeg so I only add a small amount)

Directions:
  • Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth adding more soy milk if the smoothie is too thick. For extra nutrition add a handful of spinach. 

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Sourdough Starter

Dutch Oven Sourdough Boule I made recently with my Sourdough Starter

As I stated before I am new to sourdough bread baking and consider myself a novice. However I've been at this for almost a year now (my starter turns one on December 8th) and while I'm still working on a dough formula, I'm pretty happy with my starter. I've neglected the poor thing on a couple of occasions yet it consistently bounces back and bakes beautiful bread.

I began my starter at 100% hydration. This means equal parts flour and water. Professional bakers weigh their ingredients so use a kitchen scale if you are lucky enough to have one. I don't, so I simply mixed 1 cup of white AP flour with 1 cup of warm water. Then I waited and fed it, and waited and fed, and waited some more. After 7 days it smelled and tasted sour so I baked with it. The result was a very high quality white french bread. There was no sour taste at all.

I thought the starter needed more time but after a month and another un-sour loaf I decided that I needed to make a change. I did some research and decided to decrease my hydration to 75% so 100g of flour and 75g of water to make the conversion easy. Once I decreased the hydration I found that I didn't have to feed my starter as much. I also found that it responded better to feedings, rose consistently and became active quicker after a stint in the fridge. I also baked my first sour tasting loaf with my lower hydration starter.

Now what I'm finding is that we want even MORE sour flavor. A long rise overnight helps a lot but I'm currently experimenting with adding pineapple juice to my starter. There is a theory that adding an acid to the starter helps the sour producing yeasties to thrive. I have yet to see the results of this but I'll let you know if the pineapple juice method works.

In the meantime here is my basic recipe for Sourdough Starter. I recommend starting with 100% hydration to begin with and then adjusting to a lower hydration if you need to. 100% hydration is very common and used in most recipes.

Sourdough Starter
by Kaitlyn McFadden

* because I don't have a scale these measurements do not officially equal 100% hydration according to the pros. 1/2 cup of water will be heavier than 1/2 cup of flour. I've never had a problem not being precise but if you want to be then the measurements should be 50g of both water and flour. 

Ingredients:
  • Clean container rinsed with boiling water. (I use an empty 48oz plastic cottage cheese container with a few holes punched in the top that allow gases to escape. The container must be larger enough to allow for expansion as once your starter gets active it will double in size after being fed.
  • filtered water
  • white flour
  • rye flour
  • wooden spoon/plastic spatula


Directions:

Day 1: Mix 1/2 cup of water and 1/2 cup of white flour together in your container with a wooden spoon. Loosely cover and place in a warm draft free place. I put mine in the oven (turned off!) with the light turned on. Starters tend to be more active between 20C and 30C so if your home is colder it may take longer (as in a few days) for your starter to become active. Leave alone for 24 hours. 

Day 2: Stir in 1/2 cup of water, 1/4 cup of white flour and 1/4 cup of rye flour. Remember to use your clean wooden spoon. 

Day 3: Repeat Day 2. Nothing should be happening yet.

Day 4: Repeat Day 2. You might start to see some bubbles.

Day 5: Remove half the starter and discard (I know! It hurts, but it's necessary!) Stir in 1 cup of water, 3/4 cup of white flour, and 1/4 cup of rye flour to the remaining starter.

Day 6: You should see bigger bubbles but no significant rise. Repeat Day 2.

Day 7: Repeat Day 2. More bubbles should be seen, perhaps a rise in volume too?

Day 8: Repeat step 5. Between 2 and 8 hours after this feeding you starter should double. If it doesn't it just needs more time

You need to continue with the discard and feeding everyday for another 6 days. When you see your starter responding better try only discarding 1 cup of starter instead of half of the total amount of starter and see how it responds. Remember an active starter that can be baked with should double in size between 2-8 hours after the discard and feeding. Don't be afraid to taste your starter to check how sour it is. 

After two weeks if your starter is still active then you don't need to feed everyday. Although some sourdough experts say the best starters are fed everyday. I keep mine in the fridge between uses and revive it with 1 or 2 feedings. Just remember to bring it to room temperature before feeding.

You can find my basic recipe for sourdough here when you are ready to try baking with your starter.

If you have any questions please comment on the blog, facebook me, or email me at kaitlynmcfaddencooks@gmail.com and I'll try must best to answer your questions and help you out along the way.

You are only a few weeks away from enjoying your own Sourdough Boule!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Le Creuset Signature Cookware - Thank you!!

Me and my set of Le Creuset Signature Cookware

Friends and Family! I promised I'd let you know what Shawn and I purchased with your generous wedding gifts and here it is.....Le Creuset Signature 11 piece Cookware set!

The colour (ocean), perfectly matches the tile in our kitchen and the 'modern vibe' we've got going on in our apartment. 

I wanted this cookware because Le Creuset is world renown for producing some of the best cast iron enamel coated cookware on the planet. These pots, skillets and fry pans are made for stove top and oven use eliminating a need for two sets of cookware. This was crucial in our decision as we have very limited storage space in our apartment. 

But how do they work?? 

I can honestly say, like a dream come true!

The even heating, solid form, easy cleaning and heat retention is amazing. After cooking with quality cookware like this I don't ever want to go back. When making banana bites my chocolate stayed melted and creamy without any need to reheat. The fry pan works just as well as any nonstick pan for cooking eggs. My 3.5 quart dutch oven perfectly cooked a batch of rice and the heavy lid kept my stove clean from steamy rice water. The skillet perfectly seared steak on a night that it was too chilly to BBQ. And for the first time I was able to make a giant Dutch Baby/German Pancake for breakfast one morning! This is just the tip of the iceberg. I have casseroles, coq au vin, roasts, and sourdough bread to make using my wonderful new cookware. 

Thank you all once again for your generous and unexpected gifts! We can't wait to celebrate with you all back home in Canada sometime in the New Year! 

Le Creuset Signature Collection - 5.5 quart dutch oven
Le Creuset Signature Collection - 12 inch fry pan
Le Creuset Signature Collection - 10 inch grill pan
Le Creuset Signature Collection - 1.5 quart sauce pan
Le Creuset Signature Collection - 6.75 quart dutch oven





Friday, November 11, 2011

Eat more veggies! Tips to get your 5 a day.

Meatless Meal High in Vegetables
Eating my daily requirement of fruit and veggies is so important to me and fresh produce can be quite pricey out here in the high desert where growing food is next to impossible. That's why I was so excited to receive a coupon for a free package of Green Giant vegetables as part of the Foodbuzz Tastemakers program. But utilizing frozen or canned vegetables are just one of my tips to getting your 5 servings a day...

Easy Tips and Tricks to Getting your 5 Servings of Vegetables a Day
Vegetables are a delicious way to boost your meals

  1. Swap out lettuce for spinach. Spinach has a lot more going for it in the nutritional department than lettuce does and it is a lot more versatile. It can be consumed raw, sauteed, steamed, and baked. It's high in protein, vitamin A, vitamin K, folic acid and fiber, just to name a few. You can use it anywhere you'd use lettuce (say on a sandwich). Also, add a few cups of spinach to your pasta sauce or smoothie, mix it into any casserole or add a layer of spinach to your lasagna. It has a mild taste that works with anything, it cooks down so you barely notice it and you still get all the nutritional benefits. Use baby spinach as a base for your side salad. Add some grated carrot, green beans, broccoli and red pepper, top with a low fat vinaigrette or cottage cheese and you have a nutritious salad bursting with veggies. 
  2. Replace regular potatoes with sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes are jam packed with vitamins, minerals and fiber and they help you loose weight by curbing your appetite and keeping your blood sugars level. Sweet potatoes are also full of antioxidants and have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties. I never feel carb guilt after eating a sweet potato!
  3. Buy carrots. A ten pound bag costs 5 dollars and carrots keep well in your refrigerator. They are even more versatile than spinach, just as nutritious and you can bake with them too! I add grated carrots to all my pasta sauces, curries, stir fry, meatloaf, meatballs, salads and some of my cakes too
  4. Use canned or frozen vegetables when good quality budget friendly fresh produce is hard to find.  I add a can of diced organic tomatoes to just about everything. Depending on the time of year canned tomatoes can be cheaper to buy than fresh. You still get vitamin C and all those anti-carcinogens but remember to watch the sodium. Canned tomatoes can be high in sodium that's why I choose organic tomatoes canned in water. Frozen broccoli is another great way to go. I freeze fresh broccoli that's just about to spoil. Then I steam it for use in stir fry or blend it with garlic, lemon and oil to make broccoli pesto.
  5. Buy pre-washed ready to eat bags of veggies. These have really come down in price over the past few years. I buy a large box of pre-washed spinach along with pre-washed french green beans, bell peppers, broccoli and asparagus. I find that having bags of ready-to-eat veggies makes me more likely to snack on them or use them in my meals. Making a vegetarian pizza is easy when all I need to do is open a bag up and toss on some spinach, broccoli and bell pepper.
  6. Buy and enjoy what is seasonal. Those are the vegetables that will taste the best because they are at their peak. They will also be cheap because they will be plentiful. Squash is in season right now and is oh so delicious. Sub spaghetti squash for regular pasta, or make some fabulous stews and soups with acorn or butternut squash. 
  7. Double the veggies. This is a simple rule that can be used for almost every recipe (with the exception of baking). In any soup, curry, stew, casserole you can double or triple the veggies without affecting flavour. This is a trick I use often.
  8. Choose one day a week to go meatless. Cooking vegan or vegetarian makes you more aware of how delicious and filling vegetables can be. It will help your food budget and overall health too. Many people choose Mondays to go meatless.
Last night we had a meatless Thursday. I cooked my bag of Green Giant steamed vegetables and tossed the hot steamed veggies with 2 cups of spinach and a handful of green beans cut into thirds. I served that delicious warm salad with 2 slices of firm tofu that I sauteed with a pomegranate vinaigrette. Yum!

What are some of your tips and tricks to getting more vegetables into your diet?

The Makings of a Healthy Meal - Green Giant Steamers


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Sweet Potato Curry

Sweet Potato Curry 
It's sweet potato season and I just can't seem to get enough of them! I adore sweet potatoes because they are so healthy and yummy and therefore I'm always looking for new ways to cook with them. I was in the mood for curry a few evenings ago and wanted to do vegetarian. I've seen potato curries before so I thought I'd give sweet potato curry a try. The end result was delish! I hogged all the left overs and ate it for three days straight!

I made naan to serve with it but I'm not quite happy with my naan recipe yet so you'll have to wait on that. Shawn also enjoyed this curry with a spoonful or two of my Curried Apple Chutney on the side. I passed, finding the curry sweet and flavourful enough for my taste.

Sweet Potato Curry
by Kaitlyn McFadden

Serves 4 

Ingredients:
  • 1 tsp canola oil
  • 1 onion diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic minced
  • 2 tbsp of ginger
  • 3 tbsp of yellow curry powder
  • 1  14oz can light coconut milk (I use Trader Joes)
  • 2 tablespoons of red curry paste (I used Thai because that's what I always have on hand)
  • 1 tsp of sriracha sauce (optional)
  • 1 large sweet potato cubed
  • 1 cup cashews or peanuts
  • 1 14oz can of chickpeas

Directions:
  1. In a large deep skillet heat up the oil and saute the onion for 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger and curry powder and continue to cook for a few minutes until fragrant.
  2. Add the coconut milk, curry paste and sriracha and mix until well combined and the paste is no longer lumpy. Bring to a boil. Add the cubed sweet potato and reduce to a simmer. Cover with a lid. Cook until potato is tender, about 15-20 minutes.
  3. When the sweet potato is tender stir in the nuts and chickpeas. Simmer for 5 minutes longer with the lid on. Garnish with scallions, parsley or cilantro and serve with brown rice or/and naan. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Black Toad - Beer of the Month

Black Toad - Distinctive Dark Ale
On a recent trip to Trader Joes we ended up coming back with a 6 pack of Black Toad Beer. It's another brew from Joseph Brau Brewing in San Jose California; my review of their Stockyard Oatmeal Stout can be found here.

Just like their Oatmeal Stout we picked up a pack because they were such a great deal. $5.99 for 6 ends up being a dollar a beer! Great for people on a budget like us who also love to try new things in the beer/wine department.

So what did we think?

Black Toad - Distinctive Dark Ale 
from Joseph Brau Brewing Company

-Tasting Notes-


Colour: A mahogany/chestnut brown. Translucent - some light gets through, not quite opaque.

Taste: Roasted malt - kind of like baked bread, nutty flavour, hoppy, caramel notes. Could taste a hint of either chocolate or perhaps coffee.

Overall: For a dark beer, this one is not very heavy. It has moderate to low carbonation which we like. This beer is great value for the money. It's a good dark/brown ale with an English influence but it's not the best we've tasted. We enjoyed drinking it by the fire while snacking on some fresh baked bread.

Score: 3.6/5

Monday, November 7, 2011

900 Wall Happy Hour Review

For my birthday my husband wanted to take me out and I wanted to try somewhere new. I decided on 900 Wall as it wasn't a brewery and I had heard good things about their happy hour from some of our neighbors. I checked out the menu on their website before hand and I was pleasantly surprised by their drink prices. $4.00 for house reds and whites, $5.00 lemon drops/cosmo's, and between $2-4.00 for assorted beer. Those are awesome prices considering I paid $8.00 for a glass of wine at M-Bar! Ouch!

We wanted to beat the dinner rush and have some quiet romantic time so we arrived at 4:00pm on a Sunday and had our pick of the tables.

The restaurant really is very pretty inside. It's urban with stainless steel and exposed brick but they had some beautiful candle sconces on the brick wall that softened it up and made it quite cozy. We spread out on raised bar table for 4 on the south side of the restaurant, near the entrance wedged in between two windows looking out on Wall Street and Minnesota.

Shawn ordered the Monkey Face Porter for $3.00 and I had the house white for $4.50, not the $4.00 they stated on the online menu.

The wine was good. I'm a little rusty in the wine department but I'd say it was a Sauv-Blanc. Shawn has had Monkey Face Porter before and said it was good as usual.

We then went on to order way too much food! Their serving sizes are huge and their burgers and sandwiches actually come with sides, which adds value to their happy hour in my opinion. We ordered the stuffed piquillo peppers, the pepperoni pizza and the prime rib sandwich with fries.

900 Wall Stuffed Piquillo Peppers
The stuffed peppers were served in a tiny cast iron skillet so the presentation was cute. They tasted good but   were a little too soft from being cooked and served in a watery broth. An order came with three stuffed peppers and cost $3.00.

900 Wall Pepperoni Pizza
The pepperoni pizza was large and had good quality pepperoni on it as well as fresh basil. It had a delicious thin crust and altogether was a quality product for the great price of $6.00. I would get it again and again considering the bad pizza you get at a particular unnamed pizza chain for $5.00.

900 Wall Prime Rib Sandwich
900 Wall Prime Rib Sandwich
The star of the night however was the prime rib sandwich. I have a very soft spot in my heart for prime rib sandwiches as they were my favourite thing to order as a little girl dining at Elizabeth's Chalet in Cloverdale B.C. with my grandparents, George and Audree Amundson. I adored the soft, thinly sliced prime rib heavily layered on a fresh bun and topped with caramelized onions and Swiss cheese. This prime rib sandwich was a little more grown up. It was comprised of layers upon layers of thin, high quality prime rib on a fresh baked brioche bun topped with Gruyere and horseradish creme fraiche. It was the most amazingly delicious thing I've eaten in months! That sandwich was the type of sandwich I dream about. I HIGHLY recommend it!

Overall we had an amazing time at 900 Wall. We will be back for happy hour to try some new things on the menu and to have another go at their prime rib sandwich. Next time however, I'm not sharing, I'm eating that whole thing myself! ;-)


900 Wall
900 NW Wall Street Bend, OR 97701
(541) 323-6295
Happy Hour: 3-6pm nightly




Sunday, November 6, 2011

The BEST Cinnamon Rolls...I swear it's true!

Best Ever Cinnamon Rolls
My husband loves cinnamon rolls. They are his absolute favourite treat. I'd even go as far as to say that he loves them even more than my Best Ever Fudge Brownies. Choosing a snack in a bakery is always super easy for him, if they have cinnamon rolls then that's what he's getting. Lately though he hasn't been very happy with the store bought/bakery versions he's been getting. Why is that? Well I'm shamelessly admitting that he prefers my cinnamon rolls more.

And he's right . This recipe is AMAZING. I've tried many different recipes for cinnamon rolls and I've come to the conclusion that a fantastic cinnamon roll needs to be yeasted, proofed overnight and smothered in cream cheese glaze. These cinnamon rolls are rich, soft, slightly gooey/raw (but not uncooked) on the inside, have the right balance of sweet and cinnamon, and have the most amazing hint of yeast flavor.

The cream cheese glaze is my recipe but the recipe I use for the dough is from allrecipes.com. Normally I only use that website for inspiration or research as I always find their recipes to be lacking a certain polish. This recipe is perfect as is. The only problem is that it was written for a bread machine! Who uses those anymore?

So I've rewritten the recipe for all you bakers who don't use bread machines because you know how important it is to proof the yeast, mix in the flour cup by cup, and knead, pinch, poke, and stretch the dough by hand to really feel when the gluten is elastic and ready to left alone to rise.

Best Ever Cinnamon Rolls
from allrecipes.com

Dough Ingredients:
  • 1 cup warm soy milk
  • 2 1/2 tsp of active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup of white sugar
  • 2 room temperature eggs (they can't be cold, let them sit in warm water for a few minutes)
  • 1/3 cup margarine, melted 
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 1/2 cups AP flour (bread flour will also work)


Filling Ingredients:
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup butter, softened

Cream Cheese Glaze:
  • 4 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-2 tbsp of soy milk

Directions:
  1. Add the warm milk to the bowl of a stand mixer and stir in the sugar, sprinkle with the yeast. Wait until the yeast is activated and frothy. About 5-10 minutes.
  2. Add the melted butter, eggs and salt and mix together using the paddle attachment.
  3. Mix in the flour cup by cup switching over to the dough hook when the dough forms a ball.
  4. Knead in the stand mixer for 8 minutes adding a little more flour if the dough is too sticky. Remove dough from the mixer and place on a work surface and knead by hand for a couple of minutes. The dough should be smooth, elastic when you stretch it out with your fingers for the window pane test.
  5. Form dough into a ball and place in a large oiled bowl. Let rest until doubled in size. 1-1.5 hours.
  6. When the dough has doubled punch down and place on a floured or non-stick work mat. Cover with a towel and let rest for 10 minutes.
  7. Roll dough into a 16x21 inch rectangle. Spread dough with 1/3 cup butter and sprinkle evenly with sugar/cinnamon mixture. Roll up dough lengthwise and cut into 12 rolls. Place rolls in a lightly greased 9x13 inch glass baking pan. Glass works best. I've used metal but glass pans tend to make a better looking roll.
  8. At this point you have two options: 
  • Recommended: Cover with plastic wrap and let rest overnight in the refrigerator. Take them out the next morning and let them hang out on your counter top while you preheat the oven to 400F. Bake for 20 minutes or until they are puffed out and the tops are golden brown.
  • Same day option: Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until nearly doubled, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 F.  Bake rolls for 15 minutes or until golden brown.
While the cinnamon rolls are baking. Add the cream cheese, powdered sugar and vanilla to your stand mixer bowl and beat with the whisk attachment until smooth, remembering to scrape down the sides and bottom. Add the milk tbsp by tbsp to thin out the glaze. Top hot rolls, fresh out of the oven, with a spoonful of glaze. Use the backside of the spoon to spread it. Enjoy these little guys warm. 

Nutritional Info: These cinnamon rolls are criminal nutritionally. I recommend only enjoying one as they are 440 calories each (367 without the glaze)! Ouch! But everyone should enjoy a treat every once and awhile and on holidays calories don't exist right?

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Garlic Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Garlic Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
This recipe is super easy and the end result is a delicious and healthy snack. You can use any type of squash seeds not just pumpkin. I usually use spaghetti squash seeds as I cook with spaghetti squash a lot.

My favourite way to eat these is by the handful but they are also great as a salad topping. Enjoy!

Garlic Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
by Kaitlyn McFadden

Ingredients:

  • raw pumpkin/squash seeds, separated from pulp and rinsed
  • 1 tsp of butter, melted
  • sea salt
  • garlic powder

Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 300F
  2. Place seeds in a small bowl and blot the seeds with a paper towel to get rid of excess water. Add the melted butter to the bowl and toss the seeds to coat.
  3. Spread out the seeds on a baking sheet lined with a silpat or parchment paper. Sprinkle evenly with sea salt and a few pinches of garlic powder.
  4. Roast in oven for 45 minutes. 

Friday, November 4, 2011

Pumpkin Scones

Pumpkin Scone - a Starbucks Clone!
So I've heard a lot of the bakeries are saying goodbye to pumpkin baked goods and ushering in all things cinnamon, spice and peppermint for the holidays. If you are like me and finally got around to cooking your Halloween pumpkin then you don't care because you now have your own supply of pumpkin puree to bake with. If you don't then head out to your fav grocery store and pick up some canned pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie filling), you might even be able to find some real pumpkins left over from Halloween! Either way you shouldn't let the bakeries decide when you get to consume pumpkin flavoured products!

A few years ago I purchased a pumpkin scone from Starbucks. It was soooooo delicious. I'm not really a scone person but I find pumpkin scones so yummy I can eat them plain. 

In honor of those delicious Starbucks scones I decided that I would make scones out of part of my pumpkin puree. The problem was I've never made scones before and had no idea where to start. So I searched on google and discovered tons of recipes. I picked the one that looked good to me and got baking. 

These scones turned out wonderful. Crisp and golden brown on the outside and soft and warm on the inside. They had just the right amount of spice and the cardamom I added made them devine! I warmed up some cream cheese and mixed in some vanilla and a dash of sugar to serve with them but once again I found I preferred them plain.

Pumpkins Scones
slightly adapted from Sweet Peas Kitchen

Ingredients:
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup and 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
  • 6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
  • 3 tablespoons low fat sour cream/yogurt
  • 1 large egg

Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with fit the paddle attachment, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom and ginger. Add the butter. Mix on medium speed until the texture resembles coarse cornmeal, there shouldn't be large pieces of butter
  3. In a medium bowl whisk together the pumpkin, sour cream and egg. 
  4. Stir the wet ingredients by hand  into the dry ingredients, and form the dough into a ball. Pat out dough onto a lightly floured surface and form into a 1-inch thick circle. Cut into 10 triangle shaped pieces.
  5. Bake for 14-16 minutes and let cool on a rack. Top with spiced cream cheese, butter, a simple powdered sugar glaze, or eat them plain!
  6. Freeze any uneaten scones and simply defrost in the microwave to enjoy them just as fresh as the day you made them!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Stuffed Sweet Potatoes with Spinach and Chickpeas
Sweet potatoes are super healthy. In fact they are labeled a super food because they are so healthy for you!

They are jam packed with vitamins, minerals and fiber and they help you loose weight by curbing your appetite and keeping your blood sugars level. Sweet potatoes are also full of antioxidants and have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties. We no longer purchase regular potatoes, replacing regular potatoes with sweet potatoes in our diet.

The best part about sweet potatoes is that not only are they healthy but they are also super delicious!

Especially when stuffed with yummy low-fat cheeses, spinach and beans.

I made these the other day to serve as a side for steak but we quickly discovered that we preferred the stuffed sweet potatoes over our organic beef! Next time I make these they will be the main, served with a side salad.

Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
from A Pinch of Yum

Ingredients:
  • 2 medium or large sweet potatoes
  • 1 tsp canola oil
  • 1 shallot, minced (or 1/4 onion finely diced)
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 2 cups of packed fresh baby spinach
  • 1/4 cup light sour cream
  • 2 ounces light cream cheese
  • 1 cup chickpeas
  • 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese or cheddar or another blend

Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 400F
  2. Pierce sweet potatoes a couple times and cook in microwave on potato setting. Once cooked cut the potatoes in half and let cool for 5 minutes.
  3. While sweet potatoes are cooling, saute the shallots/onion with the canola oil over medium heat until translucent. Add fresh spinach and garlic and heat for 2-3 minutes, until spinach has wilted. Set aside.
  4. Scrape the sweet potato out of the peel, leaving a thin layer inside with the peel so that it can stand up on its own. Coat potato skins with a drizzle of oil and bake for about 5 minutes to get a crispier outside. 
  5. Mash the scooped out sweet potato with the cream cheese and sour cream. Stir in chickpeas and the spinach mixture. Remove skins from oven after 5 minutes and fill each skin with the sweet potato mixture. Sprinkle grated cheese on top. Place skins back into the oven and bake again for 10-15 minutes, or until cheese is melted and filling is heated through.