Saturday, July 30, 2011

summer bounty

Look at what I discovered today!  To my delight, Michael and I headed to Heeman's to pick up some blueberries after breakfast and the best espresso at  Nova Era this morning   Well, not only did I scoop up pints of blueberries, I found these tasty delights!   Everbearing strawberries. 

Who would have thought?  Strawberries in Ontario at the end of July.  Strawberries are by far one of my favourite fruits and their season here is far too short.  So when I discovered these Everbearing strawberries, I swooned and scooped up a couple baskets.  Apparently these berries will be blooming  for the rest of summer and into early fall.   I see some tasty strawberry desserts reappearing in my kitchen real soon. 

Friday, July 29, 2011

cinnamon sugar pull-apart bread

It’s a rainy, hot, humid, muggy kind of day.  It’s the kind of day where I just want to stay indoors. Preferably in the kitchen, where I can mix together some delicious dessert or scrumptious dinner to share with those I love.

But this isn’t the case, I work a 9-5 job and don't get to spend nearly as much time as I would like baking sweet delicious treats. But while on vacation a couple weeks ago, I finally had the chance to make a couple of recipes that were on my list (aka in the basket). 
I don't quite know what to say about this bread.  It was everything I had hoped it would be.  It is heavenly.  It is soft and warm oozing with sweet cinnamon sugar and brown butter.   I have this love affair with anything cinnamon and when I saw this recipe, I knew the right opportunity would come for me to have dessert for breakfast and this was just the case on my vacation. 

I need to bake this bread again soon.  Very soon. 

Cinnamon Sugar Pull-Apart Bread
Makes: one 9x5x3-inch loaf
Recipe source:  Joy the Baker

For the Dough:
2 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons (1 envelope) active dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 ounces unsalted butter
1/3 cup whole milk
1/4 cup water
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the Filling:
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
2 ounces unsalted butter, melted until browned
In a large mixing bowl whisk together 2 cups flour, sugar, yeast, and salt.  Set aside.
Whisk together eggs and set aside.

In a small saucepan, melt together milk and butter until butter has just melted.  Remove from the heat and add water and vanilla extract.  Let mixture stand for a minute or two, or until the mixture registers 115 to 125 degrees F. (I didn't measure temp and mine turned out just fine).

Pour the milk mixture into the dry ingredients and mix with a spatula.  Add the eggs and stir the mixture until the eggs are incorporated into the batter.  Continue stirring.  Add the remaining 3/4 cup of flour and stir with the spatula for about 2 minutes.  The mixture will be sticky. .

Place the dough is a large,  greased bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap and a clean kitchen towel.  Place in a warm space and allow to rest until doubled in size, about 1 hour.  *The dough can be risen until doubled in size, then refrigerated overnight for use in the morning.  If you’re using this method, just let the dough rest on the counter for 30 minutes before following the roll-out directions below.

While the dough rises, whisk together the sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg for the filling.  Set aside.  Melt 2 ounces of butter until browned.  Set aside.  Grease and flour a 9x5x3-inch  loaf pan.  Set that aside too.
Deflate the risen dough and knead about 2 tablespoons of flour into the dough.  Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rest for 5 minutes.  On a lightly floured work surface, use a rolling pin to roll the dough out. 

The dough should be 12-inches tall and about 20-inches long, or as big as you can get it.  
Use a pastry brush to spread melted butter across all of the dough.  Sprinkle with all of the sugar and cinnamon mixture.  

Slice the dough vertically, into six equal-sized strips.  Stack the strips on top of one another and slice the stack into six equal slices once again.  You’ll have six stacks of six squares.  Layer the dough squares in the loaf pan like a flip-book.  Place a kitchen towel over the loaf pan and allow in a warm place for 30 to 45 minutes or until almost doubled in size.

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.  Place loaf in the oven and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the top is very golden brown.  A nice, dark, golden brown will ensure that the center is cooked as well.

Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 20 to 30 minutes.   Run a butter knife around the edges of the pan to loosen the bread and invert onto  a clean board.  Place a cake stand or cake plate on top of the upside down loaf, and carefully invert so it’s right side up.  

This bread is best served the day it’s made, but it can also we wrapped and kept at room temperature for up to 2 days, if it lasts that long.  :) 

Friday, July 22, 2011

slow cooker baked beans

Legally Blonde is one of my favourite movies.  Yes, I know it’s not an Oscar winning piece of work, but some of the lines in it are just too funny.  One in particular is where Paulette says to Elle, "You look like the fourth of July.  Makes me want a hot dog real bad."  

And that was me.  Wanting a hot dog.  Real bad.  Yes, you heard me right.  I wanted a hot dog.  I know, what you’re thinking.  I don’t eat hot dogs.  You are right.  Most often, I don’t.  But I had a craving.  And it's summer.

Last week on the family vacation, someone brought up a hot dogs to the rented cottage and these same hot dogs went home, unopened.  No lie.  So I needed to take matters into my own hands and buy some Schneiders Country Naturals® hot dogs.   
The package says it contains no preservatives, no artificial ingredients, colours or flavours, no additives and no MSG or by-products. 

But I couldn’t just have a hot dog all by itself.  Slow Cooker baked beans with their meaty texture and just the right amount of sweetness from the brown sugar and molasses were a perfect side. 

Need I say more?

Slow Cooker Baked Beans

2 cups Great Northern Beans (or any other type would do)
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
6-8 slices bacon, uncooked
3/4 cup molasses
3/4 cup ketchup
1 can tomato paste
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
Sort through beans, discarding any that are discoloured or damaged.  Rinse well.  Place beans in a large pot, cover with water and bring to a boil.  Simmer for 10 minutes.
While beans are simmering, mix garlic, molasses, brown sugar, tomato paste, ketchup, mustard in a small mixing bowl.  Cut bacon into strips. 
Drain and rinse beans.  Transfer to a slow cooker and add chopped onion and bacon.  Reserve 3 slices for top of beans. 

Add 1.5 cups of water and other wet liquid to crock pot ensuring beans are completely immersed. 
Cover and bake on low for 8-10 hours. 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

spicy black bean burgers

It's officially a heat wave here, as it is in much of the country, well North America.  And I'm probably in the minority of those who love this weather!  As far as I'm concerned, I could live with one season.  Summer.  As much as I love summer, I love spicy food.  The spicier the better! So when I happened upon these burgers, I had to put add them in my basket collection of recipes and make them stat! 

Generally, I go back and forth between veggie burgers and turkey burgers when making a homemade burger.  You need to make this burger.  Warm spicy black beans topped with a few slices of avocado, this is a burger that won't disappoint.

Spicy Black Bean Burgers

 2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 T ground flax + 3 T water (egg substitute)
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 T tomato sauce
1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs
2 tsp cumin
1 1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup corn (fresh or frozen and defrosted)
avocado for topping
olive oil (or canola oil)  for frying burgers

Seed and chop jalapeno.  Mince garlic cloves.  Add to jalapeno.  
Add one can of beans to the jalapeno/garlic mixture and mash with potato masher.   Add cumin and salt and mash until mixture is combined, but still chunky. 
In a small bowl, mix together the ground flax and water. Let sit for five minutes.
Transfer the black bean mixture to a large bowl and stir in the bread crumbs, tomato sauce, flax and corn. Stir well until everything is combined. Add remaining black beans.
Heat a little olive oil in a skillet on medium high heat. Form black bean mixture into patties and fry for about 4 minutes per side, until golden and crusty brown.

Serve burgers with your favourite burger toppings.  


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

strawberry crumb bars

I need to make these stat.  If you need me.  You can find me in the kitchen...baking bliss. 

report to follow...

Monday, July 18, 2011


One week of summer vacation is gone...sigh.   Back to work today.  boo:( 
here's how I spent my one week away from the daily grind...


and this

and lots of this...
I love summer.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

I'll admit, I’m terrible at organizing my growing collection of recipes.  They are either in a pile on the kitchen table/counter or in this basket on top of the fridge.

Michael often teases me that I’m great at finding recipes of food I want to make, but I never make him anything.  Mmmhmm…he truly is  a starving boy. 
So when the moment came when I needed to make that soft, chewy oatmeal raisin cookie I made a while back, do you think I could find that recipe again?  Of course not.  So, back to the drawing board (searching the internet) and search for yet another recipe to add to my ever growing collection.  

While the I’m mixing all the ingredients together and the kitchenaid is working it’s magic, I say a little prayer that these cookies will not fail me and scold myself for not being more organized in the kitchen. 

So how did these cookies turn out?  No complaints from the pups or the guy.  The recipe delivered as the reviews promised and I had moist, chewy oatmeal cookies to take along for the family vacation.  
I suppose, one can never have too many oatmeal raisin cookies in her collection, now can she? 

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt

1 cup unsalted butter, softened (room temp)
1 cup sugar
1 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon

3 cups oats (not instant)
1.5 cups raisins

Preheat oven to 350° 
Whisk flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt together.  Set aside.  
Combine butter, brown sugar and white sugar together at low speed with mixer.  Add eggs, one at a time. 
Cream ingredients together by beating at high speed until fluffy and the colour lightens.
Stir flour mixture into the creamed mixture.  Becareful to not over mix, as this develops gluten, making a tough cookie.
Add oats and raisins, stirring to incorporate.
Drop 2 tbsps of dough per cookie onto bakign sheet lined with parchment or silpat. 
Bake 11-13 minutes or until golden. 
Remove from oven and let sit on baking sheet for a couple of minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool.  

Recipe source:   Food.Com

Monday, July 4, 2011

my latest read

This book was such an incredible read, drawing you in from the first page.   The Help, by Kathryn Stockett is a story set in Jackson, Mississippi in 1962.  The novel is narrated by three extraordinary women, each telling their own story of heartbreak, struggles and sorrow.   Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan, a white upper-class woman, who has just returned home from school and has a very rocky relationship with her mother whose determined to see her daughter married.   Aibileen, a fifty-something black woman and maid is devoted to the little girl she looks after in between keeping house.   Aibileen nurtures sweet little Mae Mobley, giving her the love and attention she is starving for from her mother.   The last narrator is Minny, a short, plump and sassy woman and dear friend to Aibileen.  Minny lives in a abusive marriage, cooks like no other, yet can’t keep her mouth shut and has lost many jobs due to speaking what’s on her mind. 

The Help is a novel that so eloquently paints a picture of a time in history where civil rights and change were very controversial.  Jackson was not forward thinking was not about to embrace the civil rights movement.  The stories these three women tell are poignant and heartbreaking yet filled with humour and hope.  The Help is a read that will draw you in until you reach it’s last page.  It’s a read that I highly recommend throwing into your beach bag this summer!