Just a little ole working gal, who loves food

Monday, December 17, 2012

Salted Caramel Sauce - A Holiday Treat!

I am really really horrible about writing out Christmas cards. In fact I am so horrible this year that I didn't do them at all. And by the time I realized I had not done them...it was too late. Christmas is just a week away!

Instead of cards I decided at a recent holiday party I hosted, that I would give a small homemade party favour. SO more my style anyway!

If you recognize this recipe its because I use this sauce in a Caramel Apple Tart that I featured on this blog. Totally delish if you ask me! But this sauce really is good on a lot of other things; Popcorn, Fruit, Ice cream, brownies, cakes, on a spoon. You get the picture.

In a heavy bottomed pot add 2 Cups of Granulated Sugar over Medium heat. Shake the pot to make sure that the sugar is in an even layer. Now leave it alone for a few minutes, keeping an eye on it to make sure it does not burn.

 After about 5 minutes you will notice the sugar starting to melt and caramelize. At this point you can use a wooden spoon to start to stir the sugar around.
 Once the sugar is all melted you need to constantly stir and keep an eye on it. You want it to turn a deep amber colour...but not burn.
 Once you have achieved the colour this step must be done quickly and carefully.
Remove the pot from the heat and slowly add 1 Cup of Heavy Cream (room temp), about 1/4 cup at a time whisking very vigorously. The sugar is very hot and will bubble up violently...you just need to keep on whisking. Your arm will hurt, but it will be worth it!!
Once all the cream is incorporated you can add 2 Tbsp of butter and 1 Tsp of Sea Salt. Whisk to incorporate then set aside to cool.
As the caramel cools it will thicken up nicely!
I find that this sauce keeps in the fridge for a few weeks!
I found these awesome cute jars at our local dollar store. After running them through the dishwasher on Sanitize I ladled in the cooled caramel sauce. A perfect little gift for Christmas.
I prefer it over a card any day!!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Braised Beef Short Ribs

This recipe was created when this conversation with my husband occurred:
Me: What do you want for dinner tonight?
Husband: Meat.
Me: Really. That doesn't help...what kind of meat?
Husband: Just Meat.
What happened was I decided to do just that. Make him some meat. No sides. No Salads. Just Meat. My Plan backfired. He loved it and didn't even miss the side dishes and really did think this meal was complete.
I ended up making a salad for me.
In a large heavy bottomed cast iron dutch oven, add 2 Tbsp of Canola oil and Brown your seasoned (salt & pepper) short ribs (I had about 10 Large pieces) over medium high heat. Make sure you brown on all sides.
Brown the short ribs in batches making sure not to overcrowd the pot. Set these aside in a bowl for now.
In the same pot add 2 Large Chopped Onions, 2 Chopped Carrots, 2 Chopped Celery Stalks. Continue cooking the Vegetables over medium high heat. Adding some seasoning as well.
Once the Onions start to brown add 3 Minced Cloves of Garlic, 3 Tbsp Flour and 1 Tbsp of Tomato Paste. Stir until well combined and heated through (about 3-5 Minutes). Stir Constantly.
Add about 1 Whole 750ml bottle of red wine. I used a Cab. Sauv.
Bring the wine to a boil then lower the heat to medium-low. Add back the short ribs along with any juices in the bowl. Allow this to simmer for about 25 Minutes uncovered until the wine reduces by half.
Add your fresh herbs (Thyme, Parsley, Oregano, Rosemary). I added about 3-4 Sprigs of each plus a handful of the parsley. Add 1 Whole head of garlic, tops sliced off and 4 Cups low sodium chicken stock. Bring to a boil then place whole pot in a 350F oven for about 2 1/2 hours or until ribs are tender and falling off the bone.
There you have it! MEAT!
The sauce is especially good the next day once you spoon off the hardened fat and heat up with some more seasoning. I ate the meat over rice with some sauteed spinach and the sauce drizzled all over. Delish!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Massaged Kale Salad

I can't believe its December already...where has this year gone? In a month where it seems all you are eating is chocolate, cookies and other tasty but not so healthy things for you, a recipe for a yummy salad is totally called for!
Now massaging kale might sound a little strange...but it really does bring out the mellow flavour of this very good for you green! For this salad I used a mix of green and red leaf kale. Cut the stem and ribbing out only leaving behind the lush green outer leaves. I like to slice the leaves pretty small and place them in a bowl. Drizzle a tiny bit of olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt and start massaging. You want to rub and massage the leaves until they become a dark green/red and almost take on the consistency of wilted spinach.
This salad can really take on anything...I added some red crispy cabbage and 1 Avocado.
Top with some seeds such as Black sesame, Hemp hearts and even some flax. Top with Goji berries and a Honey Mustard Vinaigrette and you are good to go! I have put the dressed salad in the fridge overnight and found that it kept really well.
Honey Mustard Vinaigrette:
1 Tbsp Good Quality Honey
1 Tsp Grain Mustard
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Tbsp Cider Vinagar
1/2 Lemon Squeezed
1 Clove of Garlic Minced
Salt and Pepper
Whisk together ingredients and add more or less of any ingredients until you achieve a flavour to your liking!

Monday, November 19, 2012

The BEST Chocolate Chip Cookies!

I have been making these chocolate chip cookies forever...they are sooo good straight out of the oven, then they get super crispy and are divine when cooled, THEN they are super good if you freeze them as well! So diverse these cookies are!
In a mixer add 1 Cup Packed Brown Sugar, 1/2 Cup White Sugar, 1 While Egg plus 1 egg yolk, 1 Tsp Pure Vanilla Extract and 3/4 Cup Melted Butter. The melted butter part is why I love this recipe...no waiting for softened butter.

 Turn your mixer on high and combine until it starts to slightly lighten in colour..about 2 minutes.
Add your Dry Ingredients. 2 Cups Unbleached Flour, 1 Tsp Baking Soda and a 1/2 Tsp Salt. Turn your mixer on low to JUST combine the dry ingredients into the wet. Do not over mix.

 With a spatula add your Chocolate Chips (1 Cup) and any other nuts or dried fruits. I added 1/4 cup of chopped pecans to this batch!
 Spoon out balls of the cookie dough onto a non-greased baking sheet. These cookies do spread quite a bit so make sure to leave a couple of inches between each dollop. Bake for 15-17 Minutes at 325F or until the cookies start to slightly brown around the edges.
Allow to slightly cool on the baking sheet before transferring to a cooling rack. Or just eat them warm out of the oven with a big glass of milk!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Sweet Potato and Quinoa Tacos

This meal is brought to you by forgetting to defrost meat for supper! This meal was made up on the spot with whatever was not frozen in the fridge. It turns out that it was pretty darn delicious, super healthy...and pretty easy to put together!

 Cube 1 sweet potato and toss in olive oil, salt, pepper and cumin. Roast in a 375F oven until cooked through (about 30 Mins)
 Meanwhile take your wraps (I used Sun Dried Tomato Vegan Wraps) and top with whatever Burrito/Taco topping you like or have on hand. I used Sour Cream, Guacamole, Corn and Green Peppers.
 Top your Taco with your Quinoa and Sweet Potato's.
Garnish with Cilantro and voila! Super easy tacos when your in a pinch!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Spaghetti Squash au Gratin

I discovered a version of this on Pinterest the other day. And since Spaghetti Squash has become a staple in my diet..I decided to treat myself by making it in a more unhealthier version. And boy was I ever happy I did. Spaghetti squash can be on the bland side so this recipe was awesome for adding in all that cheesy yummy flavour to it!
Make this tonight...you will not be disappointed!
Take your squash and pierce it all over with your fork.  Place on a pan in the oven at 350F until the squash is soft to the touch. This was a small squash and I roasted it for about 40 Minutes. Set this aside to cool a bit.

 I a saucepan add 1 Thinly sliced onion to 2 Tbsp of butter. Season with Salt, Pepper a pinch of Hot Red Pepper Flakes and 1/2 Tsp dried Thyme. Saute on Medium for a few minutes.
 Once the onions become translucent add about 2 minced cloves of garlic. Lower the heat and continue cooking until the onions are cooked through.
 Now back to the squash. It should have cooled enough so that you can handle it. Slice it in half and scoop out the seeds in the middle. With a fork start scraping all the flesh out.
 Remove your onion mixture from the heat and add all the scraped out squash plus 1/2 Cup Sour Cream and 1/2 Cup grated cheddar Cheese.Mix thoroughly to combine.
 Pour the mixture out into an ovenproof dish and top the mixture with more cheddar cheese. Bake in a 350F oven for about 20 Minutes.
A lovely accompaniment to my dinner!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Weeknight Chicken Couscous bowl!

This past week has been crazy busy...and the weather has been less than inspiring to do anything but lounge around in pj's and catch up on some bad reality TV. When these slumps come around we make what we like to call "Chicken Bowls". We tend to always have some cooked chicken breasts hanging around for salads and sandwiches...and also for this dinner too!
Fill your bowl with some leftover grain...in my case we had leftover Israeli couscous. I have also used Rice, Brown Rice, regular couscous and quinoa. All are delish!

 Take some of your cooked chicken and roughly chop it up. Throw a bunch in the bowl.
 Add some Black Beans and Corn
 Top with Sliced Avocado, Chopped Green Onion and some shredded Old White Cheddar Cheese.
 Then I douse the whole bowl in my favourite Mexican hot sauce! You don't need it...but I like it!
Garnish with fresh lime wedges to squeeze over the whole bowl just before serving. Voila! Chicken Bowls! Perfect for those I don't wanna cook Thursdays!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Stuffing! Why do we only make this during the holidays?

I swear...Stuffing is delicious...why only make it once or twice a year?
This stuffing recipe has a few non traditional elements to it...which ends up making it super decadent!!

I start off with 2 links of Spanish Choritzo, chopped! Throw this into a heavy bottomed pot and start rendering the fat. (Medium Heat)
 After about 5 minutes of cooking the choritzo I add 1 Cup each of Chopped Onion and Celery. Stir this up and let the onions start to brown.
 Next add 1 1/2 Cups sliced mushrooms.
 Once the mushrooms are cooked through I add 3 Cloves Minced Garlic and about 3 Tbsp of butter.
 Last step, add about 5 Cups of chopped stuffing bread, 1 Cup chopped pecans, 3 Tsp minced fresh sage, 1 Tsp Savory and 1 Tsp chopped thyme. Cover this mixture in about 1 cup of turkey broth (just boil the giblets and neck that come with the turkey in water for about 25 minutes...voila...turkey broth) and stir to combine...add salt and pepper at this point to your liking. The mixture should be wet but not soupy. Depending on the bread you use you may want to only add small amounts of the broth at a time and mix until you get your desired texture for stuffing.
 Stuff your turkey! If you are not stuffing the turkey and cooking the stuffing on the side...add about 1/2 cup more broth to moisten it a tad more.
Realllllly bad picture of the stuffing when it came out of the bird. Sorry...there were about 6 people in my tiny kitchen at this time!

Yeah this is late....but just in time for my American Readers!

I know I promised my recipes for my thanksgiving dinner...and they are coming...today actually. So Canadian readers, save this for Christmas...US readers...I got you just in time! This first post is really 2 recipes in one. First is my recipe for homemade veggie stock and second is the brine for my Turkey. I make the veggie stock from scratch for my brine because A) I have lots of veggie scraps when I am prepping for a large dinner and B) cause its excellent to have in the fridge!
In a giant dutch oven add all your veggie scraps (Carrot shavings and some carrots, celery leaves and celery stalks, Onions sliced in half with skins and all, 5 Cloves of garlic smashed, skins too, 5 Tomato's whole, a couple tbsp of Black Pepper whole, 3 Bay Leaves, a huge handful of fresh parsley, some fresh rosemary and some fresh thyme) Then fill up the dutch oven with water until all the vegetables are covered and add a generous dose of sea salt. There is no measuring with this...just dump handfuls of everything until the pot is full!

 Let this simmer on low for about 4 hours....letting all the flavours of the vegetables get acquainted and yummy. Once cooked let this come to room temperature and strain through a colander.
 In a large food grade container (I used my cooler!) add all of the cooled veggie stock, 2 Cups Sea Salt, a handful of each Fresh Sage and Thyme. Mix until all combined.
 Add the Turkey to the container and cover it in Ice. Close and keep in a cool place overnight (in our case we kept it outside...it was freeeeeezing up here!
 When you are ready to cook the turkey the next day, remove it from the cooler and pat it dry. Rub the skin with softened butter and season with salt and pepper.
 Stuff your turkey!!! (Stuffing recipe to come next!) Your Turkey is ready to bake!!
At about the half way point I usually cover the bird in strips of bacon for even extra flavour...Keeps the breast moist and gives the stuffing that little extra salty bacony goodness that it needs!!
Next up...Stuffing!!!