I am a wife, a mom of three, and the kitchen is my favorite place in the house. I read cookbooks in my spare time and enjoy getting kitchen appliances for presents :) I love preparing delicious and healthy food for my family and here are a some of what graces our table each week.

Email Me for any of the recipes :)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Daring Bakers – January 2010 - Nanaimo Bars

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The January 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Lauren of Celiac Teen. Lauren chose Gluten-Free Graham Wafers and Nanaimo Bars as the challenge for the month. The sources she based her recipe on are 101 Cookbooks and www.nanaimo.ca.
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There is not much to say about this month’s challenge.  Besides baking the graham crackers, everything was pretty simple.  I did use every bowl in the house, but that is nothing new for this kitchen.  I used all the ingredients listed – even the heavy cream! – but replaced the butter with Smart Balance Light.  I think that’s why it didn’t firm up quite as much as the one Lauren had a picture of.  I also chose to make the regular/wheat flour graham crackers, because I knew that the special ingredients would just go to waste in my kitchen.  I only baked half of the dough, so we will have lots more graham crackers to nosh on over the weekend.  I made the crackers last night and assembled everything this afternoon. 
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Graham Cracker recipe came from:
http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/000126.html

Dry ingredients for graham crackers…mostly Whole Wheat Pastry and a little AP flour

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Wet ingredients for graham crackers…

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The dough…

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Into the freezer for a quick chill (who has 2 hours to wait??)…

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Needed lots of flour, but lovely to roll out…

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I kinda sorta measured the crackers, but not exactly…

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They were crispy, but survived…

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For Nanaimo Bars — Bottom Layer
1/2 cup (115 g) (4 ounces) Unsalted Butter
1/4 cup (50 g) (1.8 ounces) Granulated Sugar
5 tablespoons (75 mL) Unsweetened Cocoa
1 Large Egg, Beaten
1 1/4 cups (300 mL) (160 g) (5.6 ounces) Gluten Free Graham Wafer Crumbs (See previous recipe)
1/2 cup (55 g) (1.9 ounces) Almonds (Any type, Finely chopped)
1 cup (130 g) (4.5 ounces) Coconut (Shredded, sweetened or unsweetened)

For Nanaimo Bars — Middle Layer
1/2 cup (115 g) (4 ounces) Unsalted Butter
2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons (40 mL) Heavy Cream
2 tablespoons (30 mL) Vanilla Custard Powder (Such as Bird’s. Vanilla pudding mix may be substituted.)
2 cups (254 g) (8.9 ounces) Icing Sugar

For Nanaimo Bars — Top Layer
4 ounces (115 g) Semi-sweet chocolate
2 tablespoons (28 g) (1 ounce) Unsalted Butter

Directions:
1. For bottom Layer: Melt unsalted butter, sugar and cocoa in top of a double boiler. Add egg and stir to cook and thicken. Remove from heat. Stir in crumbs, nuts and coconut. Press firmly into an ungreased 8 by 8 inch pan.
2. For Middle Layer: Cream butter, cream, custard powder, and icing sugar together well. Beat until light in colour. Spread over bottom layer.
3. For Top Layer: Melt chocolate and unsalted butter over low heat. Cool. Once cool, pour over middle layer and chill.
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The crackers patiently waited all night for some attention…

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I know the kids would have loved to make these crumbs, but noone was home (ahhhhhhhh)…

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I stuck the almonds in the food processor…

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Over the double boiler…

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Melted…

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The egg made it a lot smoother…

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I left out the coconut because no one here likes it…

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The bottom layer…

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I assumed I had vanilla pudding mix, but could only find Oreo Cookie pudding mix.  It worked out just dandy…

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The middle layer…

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I also assumed I had semi-sweet chocolate chips…doh! so I had to swap in caramel swirl chips…it could have been worse!

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The recipe said to wait until it cooled to spread the chocolate and I did, but when I poured it on, it just collected in the middle and wouldn’t budge…

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Even when it seemed like it had chilled enough, it hadn’t, so I put it in to chill even longer…

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We all enjoyed it, but it isn’t something that I would rush to make again.  I am not a big fan of really rich desserts and the middle layer is basically SUGAR and that’s what it tastes like.  At least with butter cream frosting, you have a ton of fat to dilute the richness a bit ;)

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Candy Coated Pretzels

For gifts this year, I made candy coated pretzel rods.  I used the candy melts I had in my stash and they came out really cute.  I gave them to Leo’s Speech and Occupational therapists and the office staff there and everyone loved them.  I tossed the leftover melted candy with mini pretzel sticks and the kids went (too) crazy for them.  I brought them to Danny’s office and the big kids there also went crazy for them.  Yum :)

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Chicken Pot Pie With Whole Wheat Crust

I have never made Chicken Pot Pie before, but have always wanted to.  Not sure why I haven’t, I guess it’s just one of those things…Good thing my friend from college, Whitney, emailed me with a fabulous recipe a few weeks ago! Since Danny was away most of last week, I didn’t do a lot of cooking and was missing the kitchen.  When you are missing your kitchen, Chicken Pot Pie is a good way to get back in.  Homemade chicken stock, poached chicken, homemade pie crust, sautéed diced veggies, a yummy roux and lots of TLC go into this wonderful dinner.  Now that I have delved into this adventure known as pot pie, I can definitely break it up and not spend all day in the kitchen (unless I want to, of course!). 

Substitutions, etc.: I used Whole Wheat Pastry flour throughout the recipe, non-fat soy milk, and Smart Balance Light.  I didn’t use sherry or peas.

With this recipe, I made a double crust 9 inch pie and a single crust 8 inch pie (in the freezer for next week…). 

1 Recipe Savory Pie dough
1.5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts and/or thighs
2 cups chicken broth
1.5 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium-large onion, chopped fine
3 medium carrots, peeled and cut crosswise 1/4 inch thick
2 small celery ribs, cut crosswise 1/4 inch thick
salt & ground pepper
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1.5 cups milk (whole is best)
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
3 tablespoons dry sherry
3/4 cup frozen peas, thawed
3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves

1) Make the pie dough and refrigerate until ready to use.  When ready, roll out half and lay in a 9" deep dish pie plate.
2) Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and head the oven to 400 degrees.  Put the chicken and broth in a small Dutch oven or stockpot over medium heat.  Cover, bring to a simmer and simmer until the chicken is just done, 8-10 minutes.  Transfer the chicken to a large bowl, reserving the broth in a measuring cup
3) Increase the heat to medium high and heat the oil in the now-empty pan.  Add the onion, carrots and celery and saute until just tender, about 5 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  While the vegetables are sautéing, shred the meat into bite-size pieces.  Transfer the cooked vegetables to a bowl with the chicken.  Set aside.
4) Heat the butter over medium heat in the again-empty pan.  When the foaming subsides, add the flour; cook about 1 minute  Whisk in the reserved chicken broth, the milk, and accumulated chicken juices and the thyme.  Bring to a simmer, then continue to simmer until the sauce fully thickens, about 1 minute.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and stir in the sherry.
5) Pour the sauce over the chicken mixture and stir to combine.  Stir in the peas and parsley.  Adjust the seasonings to taste.  Pour the mixture into a deep dish 9" pie plate with half of the pastry dough already laid in.  Top with the other half of the rolled out pastry dough.  Bake until the pastry is golden brown and the filling is bubbling, about 30 minutes.

Savory Pie Dough (made 1 double crust and 1 single)
2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon table salt
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
11 tablespoons unsalted butter , cold, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
7 tablespoons vegetable shortening , chilled
4 - 5 tablespoons ice water

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Mix flour, salt and sugar in food processor fitted with steel blade. Scatter butter pieces over flour mixture, tossing to coat
butter with some flour. cut butter into flour with five 1-second pulses. Add shortening and continue cutting in until flour is pale
yellow and resembles coarse cornmeal with butter bits no larger than small peas, about four more 1-second pulses. Turn mixture into medium bowl.
2. Sprinkle 4 tablespoons of ice water over mixture. With blade of
rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix. Press down on dough with broad side of spatula until dough sticks together, adding up to 1 tablespoon more ice water if dough will not come together. Shape dough into two balls with your hands, one slightly larger than the other.  Flatten into 4-inch-wide disks. Dust lightly with flour, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for 30 minutes before rolling.
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I made a very simple chicken stock: a couple of carrots, celery, onions, garlic, parsley, salt and pepper and some odd chicken parts I had frozen…

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Chicken breasts simmering in the strained stock…

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Veggies in…

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Shredded chicken…

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Veggies + chicken…

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The roux…

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Everything mixed together, plus some fresh parsley…

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I made the dough entirely in the food processor…so easy

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Gorgeous!

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Ready for the oven…

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Delicious!

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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Pretzel Rolls

Being that I am not originally from Chicago, I had never heard of Pretzel Rolls before…have you?? Someone mentioned them on FaceBook (thanks, Naomi!) and once I saw a picture of them, I knew I had to make them.  Danny was out of town and I needed a good after dinner snack and these were *perfect* because they only took 25 minutes or so for each rise.  I only used 1/4 tsp of the celery seed and it was just the right amount.  You didn’t really know it was there, but it had something in the background that made it different than plain pretzels.  The recipe calls for 8, but I made 12 so I could eat some and give some to my dad.  They are best straight from the oven, but really good if you reheat them in the toaster.

The recipe is from Epicurious:

http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Pretzel-Rolls-1107

The dough:

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after the first rise:

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the 12 little guys, cutting them was hard, but they looked fine in the end:

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after the second rise:

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after being boiled for 1 minute and brushed with egg white and lots of salt:

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after 20 minutes in the oven…yum!

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