Sunday, September 11, 2011

Monkey Bread

I was just going through some of the foodie pics I'd taken for this blog and I can't believe I never posted this recipe!  It was soooooo good!  I must admit, it was a heck of alot of least more than I'd ever been used to when baking goodies for myself before, but it's so worth it!

I made this a few months ago back when I was baking several times a week and sending most (or half) of what I baked off to work with Chris.  Hahaha, that was before I realized my clothes were miraculously shrinking from this British climate.  It's the climate I tell you!  Don't argue with me, let me dream.

So this Monkey Bread recipe is from the Brown Eyed Baker blog.  I think her recipes are just fantastic and I do them so frequently that I've given her her own label on this blog. 

I must apologize for the photos coming up.  I have a big sweet tooth and I'm still relatively new at this blogging thing that I often start eating my goodies before realizing I hadn't taken a photo yet!  Ha Ha!  So you'll probably notice photos of many half eaten treats on this site!  Chris got into devouring this as well before we took photos!

They are so gooey and delicious!  I think I'll be making these again very soon!  I've been told tonight that Chris's colleagues are literally begging for another batch of these!!  Thank you, Michelle for this heavenly recipe!!!
Monkey Bread
from the Brown Eyed Baker blog

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided, 2 tablespoons softened and 2 tablespoons melted
1 cup milk, warm (about 110 degrees F)
1/3 cup water, warm (about 110 degrees F)
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 package instant yeast
3¼ cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for work surface
2 teaspoons salt

Brown Sugar Coating:
1 cup light brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), melted

1 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons milk

1. Butter Bundt pan with 2 tablespoons softened butter. Set aside.

2. In a large measuring cup, mix together milk, water, melted butter, sugar and yeast. Mix flour and salt in standing mixer fitted with dough hook. Turn machine to low and slowly add milk mixture. After dough comes together, increase speed to medium and mix until dough is shiny and smooth, 6 to 7 minutes. Turn dough onto lightly floured counter and knead briefly to form smooth, round ball. Coat large bowl with nonstick cooking spray. Place dough in bowl and coat surface of dough with cooking spray. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and place in a draft-free area until dough doubles in size, 50 to 60 minutes.

3. For the sugar coating: While the dough is rising, mix brown sugar and cinnamon together in a bowl. Place melted butter in second bowl. Set aside.

4. To form the bread: Gently remove the dough from the bowl, and pat into a rough 8-inch square. Using a bench scraper or knife, cut dough into 64 pieces.

5. Roll each dough piece into a ball. Working one at a time, dip the balls into the melted butter, allowing excess butter to drip back into the bowl. Roll in the brown sugar mixture, then layer balls in the Bundt pan, staggering seams where dough balls meet as you build layers.

6. Cover the Bundt pan tightly with plastic wrap and place in draft-free area until dough balls are puffy and have risen 1 to 2 inches from top of pan, 50 to 70 minutes.

7. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Unwrap the pan and bake until the top is deep brown and caramel begins to bubble around the edges, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a platter and allow to cool slightly, about 10 minutes.

8. For the glaze: While the bread cools, whisk the confectioners’ sugar and milk in a small bowl until the lumps are gone. Using a whisk, drizzle the glaze over the monkey bread, letting it run over top and down the sides of the bread. Serve warm.

*Note: (This is the method I used) To make without a stand mixer: In step 2, mix the flour and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the flour, then add the milk mixture to the well. Using a wooden spoon, stir until the dough becomes shaggy and is difficult to stir. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and begin to knead, incorporating the shaggy scraps back into the dough. Knead until dough is smooth and satiny, about 10 minutes. Shape into a taut ball and proceed as directed.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

I am a HUGE lover of food blogs!  It seems I am often glued to the computer putting stars next to special recipes and bookmarking others.  I would print out all my faves, but I would then definitely need a new full-sized bookcase!!  It's bad enough I already have one giant bookcase overflowing with cookbooks!  I tell you, I love recipes so much that if I don't keep up with the blogs for a few days...I suddenly have like 200 posts to catch up on!  What was I thinking subscribing to sooo many??!!  I love them all though and constantly drool over each new recipe!  Keep them coming!

Recently I had my extra special friend, Deniz, visit me for a couple of days en route to Turkey.  Knowing that Deniz has a massive sweet tooth as well, I welcomed the opportunity to get baking in the kitchen!  (Yes, yes...I know! More cheating on pre-wedding diet!!) 

This time I made some fabulous Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars from the Brown Eyed Baker blog.  I wish I could say I had a better photo than this, but I took a couple of shots while the pan was cooling and then well...completely forgot!  I cut them into pieces, shoved several into my mouth and put the rest in a container and quickly left the room before I ate any more!  They were that good!!  Make these if you know what is good for you!!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars
from the Brown Eyed Baker blog

1½ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ cup light brown sugar
¾ cup creamy peanut butter
½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup peanut butter chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9×13-inch baking pan; set aside.

2. In a small bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.

3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the brown sugar, peanut butter, butter and granulated sugar on medium speed until creamy and light. Add the egg and vanilla extract and mix until combined. Reduce speed to low and add the dry ingredients, mixing only until the flour is just incorporated. Using a rubber spatula, mix in the chocolate chips and peanut butter chips.

4. Turn out the mixture into the prepared pan and press into an even layer. Bake for 16 to 20 minutes, or until the center is set. Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. Cut into bars and store at room temperature in an airtight container.

Cream Cheese, Caramelized Onion and Bacon Quiche

With my wedding coming up in less than two months I am trying to be so good in what I make for supper, but some days you just crave something a little bit moreish!  I recently starred another such recipe in my Google reader - The Cream Cheese, Caramelized Onion and Bacon Quiche from the Picky Palate blog.  I remember years ago I used to regularly enjoy making quiche lorraine, but having misplaced my recipe at one point I just forgot about it and now it's been over 10 years since I have made a quiche.  So I was having a weak day and needed something other than boring diet food.....quiche was just the ticket.  I really hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we did!  Please go and check out Jenny's blog! She really has some fantastic recipes!
Cream Cheese, Caramelized Onion and Bacon Quiche
from the Picky Palate food blog

1 refrigerated 9-inch pie crust
1/2 pound bacon
1 large sliced white onion
8 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
5 ounces softened Philadelphia Cream Cheese
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and spray a 9-inch pie plate with non-stick cooking spray.

2. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and cook bacon, stirring until browned, about 10 minutes. Transfer bacon to a paper towel lined plate and discard drippings. Add onions and cook, stirring until onions are golden and caramelized, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat.

3. Unroll pie crust and lay inside and up edges of prepared pie plate. With fork, poke holes in bottom and partially bake crust for 10 minutes, then remove from oven.

4. Add eggs, milk, salt and pepper to a large bowl, whisking to combine. Layer cooked onions over bottom of partially baked crust and top with bacon pieces and cream cheese pieces. Pour eggs over bacon and top with cheese and parsley. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until eggs are set and edges are browned. Remove and let cool for 5 minutes before cutting into wedges.

Makes 8 servings

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Snuggly all in one

Boy has it been a long time since my last post!  I really enjoyed posting about all the food I'd been cooking, but with my weight creeping up and with getting married in less than three months, I decided it was time to majorly stick to my diet!!  I've been doing pretty good the past couple of weeks (I received my dress and reality hit!) and one great thing I've found is a great distraction from eating is picking up knitting again.  Early this year I'd started making a baby sleeper outfit for my future sister-in-law who was due in April.  I eagerly started, lost interest quickly and then it felt like a chore when I did pick it up once a month or so.  Meanwhile, the baby was born, she is beautiful and I wasn't any closer to finishing the darn thing!  I'd always enjoyed knitting before..what was the matter with me?  Why wasn't I enjoying it?  New environment?  Missing my bestest knitting buddy?  (I miss you D)  So finally I said to myself..enough is enough!  I picked it up again, got on a role, finished it off in just a few days and voila!  It is super cute and adorable!!
Luckily I thought ahead though and made the 6 - 12 month size, so when I mail it off next week it should fit her well, or at least it will in a couple of months and keep her warm on a chilly English evening.
I really hope she likes it and I can't wait to see a photo of her in it!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Macaroni & Cheese

As I often do, I don't post for ages....and then I get gung-ho and post three items in one day!  I do actually cook at most other times, but I guess they haven't been internet worthy, so I haven't written about them (or most likely I've just gotten lazy).

This recipe for Buffalo Chicken Mac 'N' Cheese Casserole, I only happened to find online like two days ago on the Savour the Senses blog.  Since I'm going away next week (back home to Montreal for a 10 day visit), I've been looking for particular recipes that Chris would like and ones that would stretch for freezer meals for lunch and stuff.

I suddenly realized this afternoon that I reminded myself of my mother!  She used to make my father big pots of chicken curry only when she'd be planning a visit overseas to see my grandmother because she couldn't stand the smell otherwise.  Luckily the smell of this Mac & Cheese was wonderful and I thoroughly enjoyed my plate as well!  But sad!
Here's my dish pre-bake.  You wouldn't think it looking at this photo, but I totally screwed up on the recipe.  Firstly, I think I may have cooked too much pasta and then when I was assembling the casserole I ended up discarding a little bit of the pasta and cheese sauce.  What a shame since the sauce was to die for!  Either that or the dish I used was slightly too small.  I may consider using my 9x13 dish next time.  I also ended up having just a little bit extra sharp cheese available that I sprinkled on the bread cubes at the end.
Here's my dish post cooking.  Doesn't it look fabulous!!???  Let me tell tasted SOOOOOO much better than it looked!  It was awesome!
And even better....after mine and Chris's portion for supper (he piled a ton on his plate though), I was able to fill four other containers to pop in the freezer when I go.  No one can say he's not well cared for while I'm away!!

And the next time I make this dish, I shall use a bigger dish!

Buffalo Chicken Mac ‘N’ Cheese Casserole

From the site Savour the Senses
Serves 6-8
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 8 slices white bread (cubed into small pieces)
  • 5 cups low-fat milk
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 3 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 5 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2 cups grated jack cheese
  • 1 pound cooked pasta (al dente)
  • 1 lb cooked shredded chicken
  • 1/2 yellow onion (chopped)
  • 3/4 cup Frank’s Red Hot buffalo wing sauce
  1. Preheat the oven to 375F and grease a 3 quart casserole dish.
  2. In a large saucepan, melt 6 tbsp of the butter then whisk in the flour. Continue to whisk the mixture until golden brown (about 3 minutes).
  3. Slowly add the milk to the mixture, continuing to whisk to break up clumps. Continue to whisk the mixture until it thickens (about 10 minutes).
  4. Add the seasoning, 4 cups of the cheddar cheese and 2 cups of the jack cheese to the mixture, continuing to stir until all of the cheese is melted.
  5. In a medium bowl, combine the chicken, buffalo sauce and onions and toss until well mixed.
  6. To build the casserole, place a layer of noodles over the bottom of the dish, then layer with the cheese sauce, shredded cheddar cheese and buffalo chicken, repeating until all of the food is layered.
  7. Melt 2 tbsp butter and toss with the bread cubes, then spread across the top of the casserole.
  8. Bake at 375F until top is golden brown and cheese is bubbling (about 30 minutes).
This was wonderful!  I suggest you all make it today!!


Here's another recipe that I made ages ago and just never got around to posting about.  I had always thought that Baklava was so difficult as I'd heard it involved layer after layer after layer of phyllo.  And then the idea of phyllo put me off as well because I'd heard it was so delicate to work with...but since I tackled my fear of phyllo a few months ago with baked phyllo triangles and I realized how incredibly easy phyllo actually was.....bring on the phyllo recipes!

As often happens when surfing the web looking at blogs, you're looking at one blog and then it leads you to another and then another.  I found myself on the Closet Cooking, the blog of Kevin from Toronto, Canada and his wonderful recipe for Baklava!

His recipe was very straight forward and well written and reassuring as even he'd been intimidated by making baklava, but then realized it was so much easier than he'd thought.  All the more reason to give it a try.

I halved his recipe when I made it as the only baking dish I had handy was about half the size (I'd still been waiting for my container of goods to arrive from Canada and hadn't wanted to buy a new dish).  Please excuse the horrible dish in the photos!  I think Chris bought it at IKEA and I have scrubbed it a million times and it never comes clean! Ugh.

I am including Kevin's original recipe for a large pan of baklava, but as I mentioned I only made half because of my dish.  I am sooooo making a large pan next time though!

From Closet Cooking
4 cups walnuts (chopped)
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 cup butter (melted)
1 pound phyllo pastry (thawed)
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1 stick cinnamon
2 inch slice lemon peel
2 inch slice orange peel
3/4 cup honey

1. Mix the walnuts, sugar and cinnamon in a bowl.
2. Brush the bottom of a 9X13 inch pan with butter.
3. Brush butter onto the top of a sheet of the phyllo dough and place the sheet into the pan. Repeat until there are 8 sheets in the pan.
4. Sprinkle 1/3 of the walnut mixture onto the phyllo in the pan.
5. Brush butter onto the top of a sheet of the phyllo dough and place the sheet into the pan. Repeat until there are 2 sheets on top of the nut mixture.
6. Sprinkle 1/3 of the walnut mixture onto the phyllo in the pan.
7. Brush butter onto the top of a sheet of the phyllo dough and place the sheet into the pan. Repeat until there are 2 sheets on top of the nut mixture.
8. Sprinkle 1/3 of the walnut mixture onto the phyllo in the pan.
9. Brush butter onto the top of a sheet of the phyllo dough and place the sheet into the pan. Repeat until there are 8 sheets on top of the nut mixture.
10. Slice the baklava with a sharp knife.
11. Bake in a preheated 350F oven until golden brown on top, about 25-35 minutes.
12. Bring the water, sugar, cinnamon, lemon and orange to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
13. Add the honey and simmer for 2 minutes.
14. Remove the cinnamon, and peals from the syrup.
15. Pour the syrup over the baklava when it comes out of the oven.
16. Let the baklava cool for a few hours.

I recommend this recipe to everyone!  It is really easy to make and quite tasty!

Catching up with two pizzas!

I have totally been delinquent on this blog much so that my mum even commented the other day that I'd been slacking!!!  So I am catching up today by adding two pizza recipes that I found and made ages ago, but just hadn't gotten around to posting about.

Pizza Number One!
I think it was back in January that I had a desperate craving for pizza and something spicy!  Anyone that knows me knows that I just love Asian food of any kind and the spicier the better!  So, when I had some chicken in the fridge needing using up, I went in search of a Thai chicken pizza recipe.  I found a great recipe at the blog In Praise of Leftovers!  She posted a recipe for Thai Chicken Pizza that she apparently found through Rachael Ray and tweaked slightly...and then I just made a minor change myself.  Wow, was it every yummy!
 just loved how fresh and crispy the vegetables still were on top of the pizza!
 First I combined the sauce ingredients and coated the chicken pieces well before popping them in the over at 350F for about 20 minutes.  Don't  be fooled by the slightly unappealing photos...the smell in the kitchen was phenomenal!

Next I prepared my seasoned carrot and cucumber mixture.  Such a fresh smell!

Here is the prepared pizza all ready to go into the oven!

And here is the finished pizza.  I think I may have baked the pizza slightly longer than called for as it looks a bit too brown, but it was still wonderful.  The only thing I didn't care for as much was the recipe that Sarah included as her pizza crust.  I've included a link for it anyhow, but  I found it a bit too think and hard.  Perhaps that was my over baking it, but I don't think so.

Thai Chicken Pizza

Pizza dough - Here is Sarah's recipe for a thin crust
1/2 c. hoisin sauce
2 c. shredded mozzarella
1/2 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 red jalapeño, sliced into thin rings
1 Tb. vegetable oil
2 Tb. soy sauce
1 Tb. peanut butter
2 tsp. Asian hot sauce
1/2 lb chicken breasts
2 Tb. honey
2 Tb. rice wine vinegar
1/4 seedless cucumber, cut into matchsticks
4 scallions, julienned
1 medium carrot, peeled and julienned
couple handfuls beansprouts
handful chopped cilantro

Preheat oven to 500 degrees.

Combine vegetable oil, soy sauce and peanut butter with hot sauce . Add chicken and coat evenly with mixture. Bake chicken in over at 350F until cooked through.  About 20 minutes or so.  Slice chicken into very thin strips.

While chicken cooks, mix honey and vinegar and add the cucumber and carrots. Turn to coat evenly.

Form pizza crust on pizza pan or cookie sheet. Top with hoisin sauce - spread it around like pizza sauce. Top crust with cheese, peppers, and chicken. Bake until golden and bubbly, about 15 minutes.

Top the hot, cooked pizza with scallions, sprouts and cilantro. Drain cucumber mixture and scatter over the pizza. Serve with crushed red pepper flakes on the side.


Pizza Number Two!
Since I had pizza on the brain that week and I just loved making it all from scratch, a few days later I went in search of another pizza recipe....enter Pioneer Woman.  Anyone who follows cooking/food blogs has definitely heard of the infamous Pioneer Woman, Ree.  She regularly cooks wholesome, down to earth meals that are always hearty and even more tasty!  It was in my search for to die for pizza tastiness that I found her post for CPK's (California Pizza Kitchen) BBQ Chicken Pizza.  I cannot tell you how much I loved this pizza!  OMG, it was so delicious!  Just as delicious as the Thai pizza above, but just completely different.
CPK's BBQ Chicken Pizza
Courtesy of The Pioneer Woman
  • 1 whole Recipe For Pizza Crust (mine Makes Two Crusts)
  • 2 whole Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
  • ½ cups Barbecue Sauce
  • Olive Oil, For Drizzling
  • Salt For Sprinkling
  • 16 ounces, weight Fresh Mozzarella Cheese, Sliced Thinly
  • ½ whole Red Onion, Cut In Half And Sliced Very Thin
  • Chopped Cilantro, to taste
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Salt chicken breasts on both sides, then place in an ovenproof dish. Pour BBQ sauce over the breasts and turn them over to coat. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until chicken is done. Remove from oven and cut into a fine dice. Set aside.

Increase oven temperature to 500 degrees.

Roll/stretch out one pizza crust. Lay it on a sheet pan drizzled with olive oil. Drizzle a little olive oil on the crust, then sprinkle on a little salt.

Spoon a couple of tablespoons of extra BBQ sauce on the crust and spread it evenly. Top sauce with half the sliced mozzarella. Sprinkle on half the diced chicken and thinly sliced red onion.

Sprinkle again with a little salt, then bake for 15 to 17 minutes, or until crust is golden brown and toppings are bubbly.

Remove from the oven and sprinkle on plenty of chopped cilantro. Cut into squares and serve immediately. Repeat with other crust and other ingredients, or save for another time.

The Pioneer Woman's Awesome Basic Pizza Crust

  • 1 teaspoon Instant Or Active Dry Yeast
  • 1-½ cup Warm Water
  • 4 cups All-purpose Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • ⅓ cups Olive Oil
Sprinkle yeast over 1 1/2 cups warm (not lukewarm) water. Let stand for a few minutes.

In a mixer, combine flour and salt. With the mixer running on low speed (with paddle attachment), drizzle in olive oil until combined with flour. Next, pour in yeast/water mixture and mix until just combined, and the dough comes together in a sticky mass. (I did this all by hand and it still turned out wonderful!)

Coat a separate mixing bowl with a light drizzle of olive oil, and form the dough into a ball. Toss to coat dough in olive oil, then cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and set it aside for 1 to 2 hours, or store in the fridge until you need it.

Note: it’s best to make the dough at least 24 hours in advance, and 3 or 4 days is even better.

When you are ready to make the pizza, grab HALF the pizza dough (recipe makes 2 crusts) and squeeze the dough toward the bottom to form a nice, tight, pulled ball. You can roll out the pizza with a rolling pin if you’d like, but sometimes it’s just as easy to throw it around and pull and stretch till it feels right. And when the crust is nice and thin, lay it on an oiled baking sheet or pizza pan. Drizzle a little olive oil on the dough and spread it with your fingers. Very lightly sprinkle some salt on the crust.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Top your crust with your toppings of choice. Then bake for 15 to 17 minutes, or until crust is golden brown and toppings are bubbly.
 My photos really don't do this pizza justice because it was really DELICIOUS!!  I LOVED THIS PIZZA!  I think one thing that I really loved about this pizza was the crust as well.  Really, I just loved everything about this pizza, the crust was just how I liked it and the flavours were perfect. 

Don't let me put you off the Thai one though because that was really yummy too!

Out of the two, this was my favourite, but Chris loved the Thai one to each his own.  The neighbours are coming for supper with their young son this coming Saturday and I think BBQ chicken pizza would be perfect for him!