Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Loyalist Bread

OOOOOoooh, this one was a definite Make Again! It is a beautiful loaf of fruity nutty bread called "Loyalist Bread". It originated in Nova Scotia, where there are lots of blueberries. I followed the recipe from my big book of bread on page 452. It was very easy to make and turned out very pretty. Leave me a comment and I will post the recipe.

I used really big, tame, blueberries for this loaf. There are also walnuts in it. The recipe was sweeter that necessary so I will reduce the sugar next time. I will also give it a try with some whole wheat flour and even more blueberries! Delicious!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Royal Hibernian Brown Loaf

This was another nice, quick bread from the big Bread Bible. It was on page 103, called Royal Hibernian Brown Loaf.
It's hard to tell from the picture (oops, I cut into it before I remembered to photograph it!) but it is a rustic, round loaf with a cross cut into the top of it. It was quite crumbly and had a really crunchy crust straight out of the oven. But it worked up easily and it baked nicely and I enjoyed it very much as a turkey sandwich for lunch. It had a lot of whole wheat flour, so I got full quickly! The crust was too crunchy for my girl wearing braces. 

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Peachy Valentine Cheesecake

Here we are, the day after Valentine's Day. If you still feel like celebrating, why not try a heart shaped cheesecake? Luckily, cream cheese and sour cream were on sale this past week and I smartly picked some up - just in case! My husband saw what I had bought and lovingly made this cake for me. He's great. It was wonderful. He based it off of a recipe from the Cookbook "125 Best Cheesecake Recipes" by George Geary. He tweaked "Blue Ribbon Cheesecake" to fit a heart shaped 8" pan.

Here's what you need to enjoy your own

Peachy Valentine Cheesecake
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8" heart shaped pan with tinfoil, bringing the foil up and over the sides of the pan so it can be lifted out when it is cooled.

1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
2 packages (8 oz/250g) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cups peach slices, either fresh or drained canned slices

1. CRUST: in a medium bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs and butter. Press into bottom of cheesecake pan and freeze.
2. FILLING: In a large mixer bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar on medium-high speed for 3 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Stir in lemon juice and vanilla. Pour over frozen crust. Bake in preheated oven 35-40 minutes or until the top is light brown and the center has a slight jiggle to it. Cool on the counter for 10 minutes (do not turn off the oven.) The cake will sink slightly.
3. TOPPING: In a small bowl, combine sour cream, sugar, lemon juice and vanilla. Pour into center of cooled cake and spread out to edges. Bake for 5 minutes more. Cool on a rack for 2 hours. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 6 hours before decorating. 
4. DECORATION: When completely chilled, lift from the pan using the tinfoil and peel away the tinfoil. Transfer to a serving plate. Top with peach slices. (You could also use blueberries or strawberries.)

Friday, February 13, 2015

Valentine Strawberries

Happy Valentine's Weekend!

Pretty simple, right? Yes, I put an inch of water in a pan on high until it almost boiled, turned it down to "2", put a cup of chocolate chips in a narrow glass, and set the glass in the hot water. I stirred the chips until they melted and then dipped some washed and dried strawberries in it. I set them on wax paper to solidify and that was it! Show your love and enjoy some delicious-ness today! Love Helen

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Masterpiece Sandwiches

It was leftover night again. Nobody likes leftovers unless they look nothing like the original. Today's meal used up the two big pork chops from last night and, with some home made bread and veggies, I made a delicious meal for 5!

Masterpiece Sandwiches for 4 or 5
Leftover meat - either roast beef, chicken, turkey, pork chop or pork tenderloin - 2 - 3 cups, thinly sliced
8 - 10 slices hearty bread
6 white mushrooms, sliced
1/4 green pepper, sliced into strips
2 small onions, any color, sliced
1 tomato, sliced
1 cup shredded lettuce
1 cup grated mozzarella
2 Tbsp. Ranch or Italian dressing
1 tsp. oil
Salt & pepper

1. Prepare all the vegetables and slice the meat.
2. Heat a medium fry pan. Pour oil in.
3. Fry the onions until they begin to soften.
4. Add the mushrooms and peppers to the onion and if there is room, add the meat too. Otherwise, heat another fry pan and reheat those leftovers!
5. Toast the bread, if desired.
6. When the veggies are limp, and the toast is ready, assemble your masterpiece sandwich!
7. Layer each sandwich according to people's preferences, omitting anything they find "yucky". My sandwich is built as follows:
Plate, bread, meat, onions, peppers, mushrooms, cheese, lettuce, dressing, tomato, salt & pepper, bread.
Slice and devour!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

No Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars

I saw these and I knew right away I needed to make them. They came to me via a facebook post from a friend. She shared them from "High Protein Foods" on facebook. Don't your friends always know just what you need?

I must apologize to "High Protein Foods" because I am totally swiping their image but this is the most direct way to show you these wonderful, delectable, totally easy treat. Seriously. I had them made and my kitchen cleaned up in about 15 minutes. I swapped vegetable oil for the coconut oil because I had to have them NOW and I don't have coconut oil. I waited about 20 minutes for them to solidify enough to cut and had one. Amazing! I cut and pasted this from here. Go there. Tell them how wonderful their bars are. Enjoy!

The Best No-Bake Bars You'll Ever Eat! Clean and healthy as always.

It's still a dessert so eat in moderation!

1 cup natural peanut butter
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup unrefined coconut oil (be sure to use unrefined for the coconut flavor)
2 cups dry oats (not instant)
1 C shredded coconut
1/2 C chopped walnuts (optional)
1 1/4 cups dark chocolate chips
1 t vanilla extract

Melt peanut butter, honey and coconut oil over medium-low heat. Once melted, remove from heat and add oats, shredded coconut, chocolate chips and vanilla. Stir until chocolate is entirely melted. Pour into a 9x13 pan and cool in the fridge. When it's set, cut into bars and enjoy. Store in the fridge. If they last that long!!!!!

Baking Adventures

Wow, two days go by quickly when there is snow to play in with the children outside! On Friday, we had a snowday. My oldest did not want to play outside, so I set her to the task of making cookies. I gave her our "usual" cookie recipe and went to do something else.  (Note - this recipe card only lists the ingredients and the oven temp and time).

When I returned, 10 minutes later, she was visibly annoyed. "Mom", she said, "I need you to refill the four. I already put in the eggs and the other stuff, and had to refill the chocolate chips and I can't lift the bag of flour!"

She was ready to abandon me. This was the first time I ever left her alone to start the cookies. Now it was my turn to feel annoyed without frustrating her into leaving. It was a delicate situation. I did not want her to quit, but she had just put in all the cookie ingredients without ANY stirring! It looked like a big mess to me. To top that off, she started with the eggs and then the dry ingredients and the butter was on the counter because she did not know how to exactly measure two cups of it.

It was a scary looking bowl. I could not get to the eggs, but there were some visible hunks of brown sugar on top. I scooped out the loose sugar so I could blend it with the butter and I blended them together. Then I threw that on top of the "mess" and stirred, hoping for the best!

It all worked out and the cookies came together. The only evidence of our experiment was flecks of bright yellow egg yolk here and there. They still baked up fine and tasted fine too. Now I have learned that having a method on a recipe card is necessary for a beginner baker! We sat down together and added the method - for next time!

I was able to make my daughter feel better by telling her my own "baking blunder" story: when I was a child, mom always made pancakes for breakfast on Saturdays. When I was 10  or so, I decided to be helpful one Saturday and make the pancakes. I found mom's recipe and put in the ingredients. A lot of mom's recipes used ditto marks to mean "repeat what was written above". I helped mom enough that I knew how to measure things and I had seen these ditto marks a lot. They usually meant "cup" so when I put in the salt, it was written: 1/2 " salt. So I put in 1/2 cup salt. Sadly, this time, the ditto marks were below the word 'tsp'. Oops! Nobody would eat the pancakes! I had worked so hard and had cooked them all up before anyone tasted one. Even the dog wouldn't eat them! That is why, to this day, when I write out a recipe, I never use ditto marks!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Wheat and Oat Bread

Today was baking day! I tried another new recipe from the big bread baking book and it turned out great! I could not believe that something with oatmeal and bran could be so soft and delicious! It was called Wheat and Oat Bread on page 201.

Everyone ate and enjoyed this new raisin bread. I did as the author suggested and used less molasses than the recipe called for. I used 1/3 of a cup. It was so awesome warm and fresh from the oven and spread with butter! I will definitely make it again. Next time I will add even more raisins.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Chicken Pot Pie

Last night was cold and miserable out so I decided that the chicken breast in my fridge would be good in a nice, hot, chicken pot pie. I found a recipe in my Company's Coming Chicken cookbook, but I changed it a little to my likings. If you want the original recipe it is called "Meal Under Cover". I still call it Chicken Pot Pie. Husband and I loved it. Boys liked it. Older girl gave it a 4/10. Little girl ate the meat and the crust and would not touch the veggies with gravy on them. It looked lovely in the casserole:

Here's what I used:

Chicken Pot Pie
1 9” pastry crust, unbaked
2 Tbsp. butter
1 ½ cups chopped onion
2 Tbsp. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
1 ½ cups water
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 cups cubed cooked chicken
1 cup cubed cooked potato
1 cup sliced cooked carrots
1 cup cooked peas
½ cup cooked corn

Melt butter in a large fry pan. Add onion. Sauté until soft and browned.
Mix in flour, salt and pepper. Stir in water until it boils and thickens. Add Worcestershire sauce.
Put chicken and cooked vegetables into the sauce. Pour all into a 2 quart (2 L) casserole. Smooth top.
Roll out pastry a little larger than casserole. Place over top and 1 inch up around sides. Slit. I even brushed the top with milk to give it a golden glow.

Bake at 400°F for 30 minutes. Serves 6.

And if you don't have COOKED chicken, potatoes, carrots, corn and peas? Do what I did: cook them! I peeled some carrots and potatoes and chopped them small. I boiled the potato cubes for 10 minutes and then added the carrots for 3 minutes and then added the frozen corn and peas for the last 2 minutes. 

While the vegetables cooked, I cut raw chicken into 3/4 inch cubes, put 1 Tbsp. butter in a hot pan and fried it. When the vegetables were done, I drained them and set them aside until the onion gravy was ready. It all worked out nicely. I even found time to make an old favorite in there somewhere. It was just like the apple pie I've made before!

It sure was delicious on a cold winter night!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Snow Day Smoothie

Welcome to another winter storm day here on the East Coast! Hope you stayed warm and safe! Guess what my children wanted for a snack on this snowy afternoon? That's right, a smoothie! I guess I keep it too warm in the house! No matter, I made them a smoothie. They declared it was the best one ever.

So, what went into it to make it the best ever? I'll tell you.

Snow Day Smoothie (Blueberry Banana Smoothie) 
3/4 cup milk
2 x 100g blueberry flavored yogurt, frozen (the children give higher ratings with IOGO yogurt)
1 banana with brown spots, frozen or fresh (it must be riper than the ones in photo)
1/4 cup of frozen blueberries (wild or tame)

Put all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Serves 4 children nicely!

After their smoothies, the children and I went out to try to scrape our driveway. It was very frozen out there and rather impossible to move anything. When we came in, I made them all some hot chocolate with marshmallows. That seemed a little more expected. Hopefully the snow will let up soon and maybe they'll even get to school tomorrow.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Soft Tortilla Shells from Scratch

The other day, I decided would be a good day for turkey tacos. We almost always stock soft tortilla shells in the freezer but that day, it was not the case! Well, I didn't let that stop me. I was reminded by my ever helpful husband, that I should check the internet and maybe I could make some from scratch. How right he was! I simply followed the recipe at Best Ever Homemade Flour Tortillas, but I replaced one cup of the white flour with whole wheat flour. I was so proud to make them myself. They certainly have less sodium that way and they were delicious.

My tortilla shells turned out nicely. They are more filling than store bought ones but also tastier!  Enjoy.