Monday, 23 May 2011

Jalapeno Popper Grilled Cheese Sandwich


Do I have your attention? Are you salivating yet?
I think I could stop this post right here. There is no need for me to continue, the title speaks for itself. Honestly, pairing a classic sandwich w/ great pub food is a deadly combination. Why didn't I think of this before? Having kids and a husband that are die hard sandwich fans, requires me sometimes change things up. Grilled cheese is a staple in our house and it recently dawned on me since starting this blog, there are numerous 'grilled cheeses' that I have yet to try. This recipe is courtesy of Closet Cooking, although I've adapted it to suit my individual preference and love affair with goat cheese and texas toast. Go ahead give this sandwich a try, I promise you will not be disappointed.
Deliciousness. Period.



Jalapeno Popper Grilled Cheese


Ingredients:
2 slices texas toast
1 1/2 Tbsp goat cheese
2 jalapenos seeded, sliced in half
1/4 cup cheddar cheese
1/4 cup monterey jack
butter

Method:
Place peppers on baking sheet cut side down and broil 8-10 minutes until blackened. Remove from oven, and place in zip lock bag to cool for 20 minutes. Remove from bag and pinch off skins.
Assemble sandwich and grill till golden in color and cheese is melted.
LOVE, JS

Friday, 13 May 2011

Whole Wheat & Oat Waffles w/ Blueberries

Waffles mark the presence of weekends in our house. They are a guilty pleasure of mine and can usually be found swimming in maple syrup...the real kind (after all, it would be un-Canadian of me not to). So when I received an email recipe, with what I would classify a 'healthy' waffle, I thought I would give it a shot...GASP, mid-week!

The waffle maker is a relatively new kitchen appliance in our home. Up until then I relied on restaurants like Cora's, to supply me with my weekly waffle fix. This new addition is an absolute gem. It is my second favourite in the kitchen, right behind my Artisan mixer, which has made my life infinitely easier. Gone are the days of the handheld mixer with only one speed. But that's another story...back to the waffles!

These waffles are delicious, and higher in fiber thanks to the whole wheat flour and oats. They are also low in fat, given the butter to applesauce substitution. It makes eating more than one of these a little easier on my conscious. Thursdays, have now been renamed to Waffle Day! I know my little boy shares my enthusiasm in this. (As for the husband, well, he gets the leftovers, which freeze well and can be reheated)

Happy Waffling!



WHOLE WHEAT & OAT WAFFLES W/ BLUEBERRIES

INGREDIENTS:
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/3 cup rolled oats
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups milk
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 cups of blueberries

maple syrup for serving

METHOD:
Preheat waffle maker and spray with non-stick spray.

In large mixing bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients and mix until blended. In separate bowl, combine all wet ingredients. Stir wet ingredients into dry, mixing until combined and smooth. Fold in 1 cup of blueberries. Make waffles per manufacturers directions.

Top with additional blueberries and maple syrup


adapted from 'How Sweet It Is'

Friday, 6 May 2011

Homemade Pop Tarts


Certain things have a tendency to remind me of my youth and make me feel like a kid all over again. Freezies, jumping rope, ice cream cones on a hot day, and Pop Tarts are just a few of the things that have this effect on me.
POP TARTS, these delicious store bought pastries were a rare occurrence in the "M"-Household, generally reserved for sleepovers with friends or camping trips. I think that's why they resonate with me so well, great memories had. I always ate them cold, never warmed up, and usually ate the edges of the crust first, reserving in my opinion, the best part last - the fruit filling.

On a recent trip to the grocery store, I found myself down the same aisle as these treats and somehow they ended up in my cart. I'd like to blame someone else, like maybe one of the kids or my husband, but well you know.... Anyways, after getting them home and ripping open the package, I was happy to see that I still enjoyed them as much as ever. But it got me thinking that in growing up, so to have my tastes. Why not put an adult spin on a childhood favourite and make them fancier? Here's how it goes...

There are 3 major components that make a good 'tart'
1. Pastry
This is essential. You can use your favourite recipe or if you want to simplify things go with the store bought variety. I'm lucky enough to have been brought in on my GM's secret recipe (which is locked away in the vault), so this is how I choose to make them. Thanks GM!
2. The filling
Here is where the possibilities are endless: fruit, cinnamon-sugar, smores, peanut butter & jam (I'm trying this one next), pumpkin....let your imagination run wild. For this go round, I've opted for a blueberry, raspberry, pomegranate filling in one, and a brown sugar-cinnamon in the 2nd.
3. Glaze
Simple to make, yet huge impact all around. Oh, and what Pop Tart isn't complete without sprinkles (there is the kid in me again!)

Enjoy these little wonders of indulgence and get creative. Also, don't be afraid to stuff them full of the filling of your choice. I was a little shy on the filling in this attempt, mostly out of fear that the filling would escape and run a mess. Not the case.





Homemade Pop Tarts


INGREDIENTS

Pastry - courtesy Martha Stewart

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
8 ounces (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water

Fruit Filling

3/4 cup jam (any flavour)
1tbsp cornstarch
1tbsp water

Brown Sugar-Cinnamon Filling

1/2cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
4 tsp flour

Glaze

1/2 cup icing sugar
4tsp milk
1/2 tsp cinnamon (optional; but delicious on the brown sugar Pop Tarts)

sprinkles


METHOD
To make dough:
1.Pulse flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor until combined. Add butter, and process until mixture resembles coarse meal, about 10 seconds. With the machine running, add water in a slow, steady stream until mixture just begins to hold together.
2.Shape dough into 2 disks. Wrap each in plastic, and refrigerate 1 hour to 2 days (or freeze for up to 1 month; thaw in refrigerator before using).

To make cinnamon-sugar filling: Whisk all ingredients together in a small mixing bowl. Set aside

To make fruit filling: Mix cornstarch with cold water. In a small saucepan combine cornstarch/water mixture with jam. Bring to a boil, simmer for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly until mixture begins to thicken. Allow to cool completely.

To assemble/bake: Remove dough from fridge. On lightly floured surface roll out first dough to 9 x 12 rectangle. Cut into thirds. Repeat with 2nd dough.
In the middle of each rectangle, place a heaping spoonful of either filling, be sure to leave a clean 1/2" border. Place 2nd dough on top. Using the prongs of a fork press edges to seal and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Pierce the top of each pop tart with fork to allow for the steam to escape. Repeat with remaining rectangles. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
preheat oven to 350F. bake for 20-25 minutes until golden in color. Remove and cool on rack.

To glaze: In small mixing bowl stir icing sugar with milk (and cinnamon if desired). Spread over cooled pastries, add sprinkles if desired.

EAT!!

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Banana Bread w/ Cinnamon Crumb Strudel

you say rotten bananas, i say banana bread....

I have a confession, sometimes I purposely buy too many bananas, just to watch them go bad. Why? Two words...Banana Bread!
I thought I would jazz up my stand-by recipe with the addition of a crumb topping. Butter, sugar, cinnamon....ahhh, delicious! And it was...I'm quoting my husband when he says "this bread is money" I love that he enjoys my baking, I love it even more that he cleans up after me ;)
This recipe is both tasty and healthy. The addition of ground flax seed and whole wheat flour, boosts the fiber content and helps keep you satisfied. I also use applesauce in place of oil or butter, without sacrificing/compromising any moisture or flavour. This bread is perfect as a snack, or breakfast when paired with fresh fruit and yogurt.
Hopefully your taste buds are as satisfied as Mr. Handsome's, mine were.




Banana Bread w/ Cinnamon Crumb Strudel

Ingredients:
3-4 ripe bananas, mashed
1/3 cup applesauce, unsweetened
1 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
3 tbsp ground flax


Crumb Topping:
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp all-purpose flour

2 tbsp butter, room temperature
1/2 tsp cinnamon


Method:
preheat oven to 350F
with a wooden spoon, add applesauce into mashed bananas in a large mixing bowl. mix in sugar, eggs and vanilla. sprinkle in baking soda, salt and ground flax and mix. add flour last, mixing until just incorporated. pour into a buttered 8 X 4 loaf pan.
to make crumb topping, combine brown sugar, flour and cinnamon. cut in butter and blend with fork until crumbly. pour mixture over batter (using as much or as little as desired).
bake for 1 hour. cool on rack. remove from pan and slice to serve.

Monday, 2 May 2011

Pesto Gnocchi w/ Shrimp & Green Beans

I love Sundays!

To me they are synonymous with great breakfasts (today with M, accompanied by cheesecake...enough said), lazy afternoons, a glass of wine and dinners that are worth the week wait! 
Today's dinner of choice...Pesto Gnocchi w/ Shrimp & Green Beans. Potato dumplings married with fresh basil, olive oil and pine nuts, Mmmm
I can't take credit for the creation of this recipe, I owe that to Vegas. 
During a trip last fall with my mom and sister, we dined at Sirio, an Italian restaurant in the Aria. Nothing like a good carb-fest with two of my favourite girls, before heading off to see Cher in concert.  This dish made going to Vegas worth while.  I love coming home with new recipe inspirations.  Guess not everything that happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. 
ENJOY.
Happy Sunday!

Pesto Gnocchi w/ Shrimp & Green Beans

Gnocchi
Ingredients:
6 large russet potatoes
1 cup of flour, plus more for dusting
1 egg yolk
1/8 tsp salt


Method:
1. Preheat oven to 350F. Pierce potatoes with fork and bake for 1-1.5 hours until tender. 2. Allow potatoes to cool for 10 minutes until safe enough to handle. Cut in half and scoop out filling, discard the skins. Place in large bowl.
3. While potatoes are still warm, put through a potato ricer. Let cool.
4. Add egg and salt and mix with a wooden spoon. Once incorporated, add flour a little at a time, continue to mix.
5. On floured work surface, turn out dough and knead for 5 minutes. Divide dough into 4 balls and roll out each ball into a skinny rope (1/2 inch in diameter), cut into 1 inch pieces 
6. Using the tines of a fork, make indents on each piece.
7. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add half of gnocchi and cook until dumplings start to float, continue to cook for 1 minute longer. Remove from water with slotted spoon and transfer to a bowl. Repeat with remaining gnocchi.



Basil Pesto
Ingredients:
2 cups packed fresh basil
1/2 cup olive oil

3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup of pine nuts
salt & pepper to taste


Method:
Place all ingredients except olive oil in food processor. Pulse a few times. Slowly stream in olive oil while appliance is running. Add salt and pepper to taste.


To Assemble
In large bowl place cooked gnocchi.
Add 6-10 cooked shrimp per person
Add 1/2 cup cooked green beans per person
Serve pesto over gnocchi and toss to coat.  Garnish dish with additional pine nuts and Parmesan cheese. This dish is best accompanied by a crusty french loaf (great for cleaning up any leftover pesto in your bowl!)

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