Wednesday, February 27, 2013

cinnamon maple granola

homemade granola beats the grocery store's everytime
sprinkled on top of greek yogurt...mmm...
This is so easy you'll never need to buy store-bought granola again.  You can pretty much add any dried fruit or nuts you fancy.  Enjoy it with yogurt, ice cream, milk, or even on top of salad to add a crunchy texture.  

what you need: 
*makes about 1 large mason jar
  • 2 cups rolled oats (NOT the quick cooking kind)
  • 1/2 cup pitted prunes
  • 1/3 cup dried cherries
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup whole almonds
what to do:
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Roughly chop almonds and prunes.
  3. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and stir to coat all with maple syrup.
  4. Spread mixture onto baking sheet evenly and bake for 15 minutes.  Stir to evenly brown, then bake another 10-15 minutes.  
  5. Once granola cools, transfer to mason jar to store for several days (the easiest way is to gently lift two sides of the paper together, and let the granola slide into the jar).  Enjoy!
makes a great gift!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

savoury french toast

use a good crusty savoury day old bread
crunchy outside with a soft and chewy inside
I bought this day old "three cheese" loaf of bread (50% off!) from the grocery store and thought it would be awesome for making a breakfast bake (which is a savoury bread pudding) - but then I thought why not try savoury french toast?  I've always thought of french toast as sweet, cinnamon-y and topped with fruit...but last weekend I made french toast for visiting friends and one girl put salt and pepper on hers instead of syrup!  That's how she grew up eating french toast I guess!  That inspired me to create a savoury french toast recipe.  The oats & bacon give it a tasty crunchy outside, while the middle is soft and chewy from the bread and eggs.  

Hills, this one's for you;)

what you need:
*serves 2-3, depending on hunger level 
  • 6 thick slices of day old bread (preferable not pre-sliced, and something savoury like a garlic or three cheese country loaf)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • 1 tbsp srirracha
  • 3 strips of bacon (I like the taste and consistency of schneiders naturals) *omit bacon for vegetarian option*
  • 1 green onion
  • 1/3 cup coarse grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup rolled oats (not the quick cooking kind)
  • salt and pepper
  • butter for frying
what to do:
  1. Cook bacon until crispy and pat dry on a paper towel.
  2. Thinly slice green onion (if you just washed it, make sure you dry it first with a paper towel).  Crumble bacon into a shallow dish and add sliced onions, rolled oats, grated cheese.  Toss to mix evenly.
  3. Crack eggs into a shallow dish that will fit your pieces of bread.  Whisk in milk, srirracha, and add freshly ground pepper and a pinch or two of salt.
  4. Place slices of bread in the egg mixture and allow it to sit for about 1 minute on both sides to soak up egg mix.  Next, place it into the oat mixture and press gently to make sure it sticks to the bread.
  5. In a non-stick pan on medium heat, melt 1 tsp of butter.  Fry up french toast until golden brown on both sides, and then cover with a lid for 1-2 minutes to make sure the middle is cooked through.
  6. Serve hot and enjoy!  I actually liked it with a little bit of maple syrup (sweet & savoury combo) - Ryan ate it with more srirracha!
dinner tonight!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

triple b - bran banana bread

super moist
I love banana bread and I make it probably once every 2-3 weeks.  I've tried many recipes, some that are obviously not the healthiest (but taste so good it's like cake!) - and some so healthy that it is dry and not very fun to eat (so then, why bother right??).  Today I decided to try out my own combination of ingredients;  I was worried the bran would make it mealy or dry but it actually just adds a nice texture and the loaf is still really tender and moist.  If you're a fan of banana bread, you'll want to try this one out.  Get even healthier by using toasted walnuts (or any other  nuts) instead of the chocolate chips. 

what you need:
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup non-fat greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 large bananas
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup 100% natural wheat bran
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 egg
what to do:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.  Lightly butter a standard sized loaf pan.
  2. In a large bowl, mash bananas with a fork then beat well with sugar until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes).
  3. Combine flour, bran, salt and baking soda in a small separate bowl.
  4. Add butter, vanilla and egg to banana mixture and beat to mix well.
  5. Add flour mixture to wet mixture and using a spatula, fold/stir to mix evenly.  Try not to overwork the mixture.
  6. Add greek yogurt and fold with spatula, just until incorporated.
  7. Pour half the batter into the loaf pan, then sprinkle chocolate chips evenly on top. Top with the rest of the batter, then bake for 40 minutes, until top is golden brown and a toothpick in the centre of the loaf comes out clean.  Remove and as soon as it is cool enough to handle, transfer loaf onto a cooling rack.  Slice and enjoy!
slice it up warm, delicious!
just a little bit of chocolate
in the centre satisfies a chocolate craving

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

meatballs with an asian kick

perfectly delicious on their own
I know what you're thinking - where's the sauce?  But trust me these meatballs are so flavourful and bursting with juices, you don't need to make a sauce for them.  The idea came from the Korean Meatballs from the show Recipes to Riches - a mommy friend has brought them twice to our lunch playdates and they are super tasty and easy to eat.  

These are best served as soon as they are done baking in the oven (we ate a few last night for dinner!) - but still great heated up in the microwave the next day (just made Ryan a wrap for lunch with them).  I am bringing them to our weekly potluck lunch playdate today - I really should be leaving now but Madi is sleep napping away. So I thought I'd blog while I wait!

what you need:
*makes about 40 meatballs
  • 1 kg lean ground beef
  • 1 large carrot
  • 2 sticks of celery
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp sriracha
  • 1 tbsp chili soy paste *optional
  • 1 1/2 tbsp naturally brewed soy sauce
  • 1 tsp worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • cooking oil (canola)
what to do:
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.  Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  2. Prepare vegetables by cleaning and peeling, then dice finely.  Put diced veggies (onion, celery, carrot) in a large bowl, and grate garlic into the bowl.  
  3. Add the ground beef into the bowl.
  4. In a separate smaller bowl, whisk egg with the rest of the ingredients (except the cooking oil) - pour into the large bowl and using your hands, work the ground beef, veggies, and egg mixture until evenly incorporated (don't overwork the mixture, it will make the meatballs tough). 
  5. Form meatballs with your hands (just bigger than a golf ball) and place them on the lined baking sheet.
  6. In a nonstick pan on medium heat, drizzle a little cooking oil (about 2 tsp) - and lightly brown the meatballs in batches (don't overcrowd the pan!).  Once they are lightly browned on all sides, transfer gently back onto the lined baking sheet (they can be side by side for this part, so they should all fit on one sheet).
  7. Bake in oven for 10 minutes to finish cooking the middle - cut one at 10 minutes to be sure the middle is cooked.  Remove from oven, and immediately transfer to serving dish.  Enjoy!
ready for a quick pan-fry for browning 
stick a toothpick in them for a party appetizer

Sunday, February 10, 2013

crisp & chewy chow mein

a tasty bowl
My in-laws were visiting this weekend and they brought a giant turkey breast which needed to be cooked on saturday (expiry date!) - I had planned on making a roast with potatoes because they are a meat and potatoes kind of family.  I guess I could have done turkey and potatoes...but I decided that since it was Taiwanese New Year I'd make them something asian-y and hope for the best:)  They enjoyed it (my father in law picked out the green parts of the boy choy but ate up the rest, that's pretty good for him...I mean this is the guy who ordered a coke at a tea house on top of a famous taiwanese mountain) - so I thought for sure this one is blog worthy.

what you need:
serves 4-6
  • 2 turkey breasts
  • marinade:
    • 2 tbsp chili soy paste (if you don't have this, just use soy sauce and some hot sauce)
    • 2 tbsp dark soy sauce (again, if you don't have this, sub with soy sauce)
    • 1/2 red onion, diced
    • 2 large garlic cloves, roughly chopped
    • freshly ground black pepper
    • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
    • 2 tsp brown sugar
    • 1 tsp sesame oil
    • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • ~250 g of dried chow mein noodles (found in the international aisle)
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1/2 cucumber
  • two big handfuls of bean sprouts
  • 4 stalks of large bok choy
  • canola oil for cooking
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • red chilies *optional - I didn't use any this time! but if you like a spicy kick go ahead and use them when you are sautéing the veggies
  • 3 green onions
  • 1 large handful of cilantro
what to do:
  1.  Rinse turkey breasts and pat dry with paper towel.  Place in a large bowl.  Combine marinade ingredients and pour over turkey.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, up to 12 hours.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 F.  Place turkey breast on baking dish (with all the marinade as well) and cover with aluminum foil.  Bake for 30-40 minutes, depending on how thick the meat is (you know it's done when you cut the thickest part and juices run clear) - if there is skin on it, broil on high for the last 1-2 minutes to crisp it up.  Remove and allow turkey to rest under aluminum foil for 20 minutes.
  3. While the turkey is baking, prepare carrots, bok choy, and cucumber by thoroughly washing and cutting into match stick size pieces.  Rinse bean sprouts.  Chop up green onions and cilantro for garnish.  Continue with step 4 when the turkey is done and out of the oven.
  4. Bring a large pot of water to boil to cook the noodles.  Cook noodles according to it's package, usually 3 minutes or so in salted boiling water.  Drain, do not rinse.
  5. In a large nonstick pan, heat up 1 tbsp cooking oil on medium.  Put noodles onto hot pan and allow it to crisp up on one side, toss/flip with tongs, and allow it to crisp up a bit more (about 5-10 minutes).  
    noodles crisping up
    Use a spoon to scoop up juices from the turkey pan and drizzle over noodles.
  6. Transfer crisped noodles onto a serving platter and in the same nonstick pan, heat up 1 tsp each cooking oil and sesame oil and pour the rest of the turkey pan drippings into the pan.  Sauté carrots and white parts of the bok choy until tender, then add the green bok choy parts and bean sprouts.  Sauté for another minute then turn off the heat.  Add cucumbers and toss all veggies with a little more soy sauce if needed.  Season with freshly ground pepper, and place on top of noodles.
  7. Thinly slice turkey (about 1/4") on an angle and lay on top of vegetables.  Garnish with cilantro and onions.  Serve hot and enjoy!
a healthy platter of turkey over veggies over noodles

Monday, February 4, 2013

sticky sweet & spicy ribs

yummy yummy
These ribs are simply addictive.  I've taken a recipe that my mom uses and tweaked it a little. Originally, this recipe is called "12345 ribs" (translated from Mandarin) and has been a family favourite for as long as I can remember - whenever my mom makes this there are no left over ribs but the sauce is so good we keep it and pour it over rice or noodles at our next meal.  The 12345 indicates the ratio of ingredients in the recipe - 1 part sherry, 2 part vinegar, 3 part sugar, 4 part soy sauce, and 5 part water.  In this version I've added chillies, shallots and garlic for an extra spicy kick and flavour.  You really want to try this recipe, I promise you'll love it!

what you need:

for every 1 lb of ribs 
  • 1 lb pork side ribs (we've always used side ribs, but you could use any cut you like)
  • 1 tbsp sherry
  • 2 tbsp vinegar
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 4 tbsp naturally brewed soy sauce
  • 5 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 large shallot
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 red thai chilli
  • 1 green onion
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 tbsp cooking oil
what to do:
  1. Rinse ribs with cold water then pat dry.  Cut so that the ribs are individualized, or in two's.
  2. Toss ribs in a bowl with cornstarch.
  3. Smash garlic and roughly chop.  Cut shallot into quarters.  Finely chop red thai chilli.
  4. Measure out the 12345 ingredients and whisk together in a bowl.
  5. Heat oil in a pot on medium.  Put ribs in one layer at a time, and allow to brown on both sides.  You may need to do this in batches if you're cooking more than 1 lb of ribs.  Remove ribs from heat and set aside - they don't need to be cooked through at this point, just lightly browned.
  6. Pour 12345 ingredients into pot slowly to deglaze (lifting the browned meat flavour) - and bring to a gentle boil, add in the garlic, shallot, and return the ribs back to the pot.  Turn it down to a simmer and cover with a lid.  Continue to cook for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  7. Thinly slice green onion and get sesame seeds ready for garnish.
  8. Uncover and allow to simmer for another few minutes, until the sauce thickens slightly and is sticky.  Taste, and at this point you can add salt and pepper, or more sugar, if desired.
  9. Remove from heat and plate ribs garnished with green onions and sesame seeds sprinkled on top.  Serve it on top of rice or noodles to absorb the tasty sauce - enjoy!
this was about 3 lbs of side ribs
so I adjusted the recipe accordingly