Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Cake Batter Rice Krispies Treats!

Can you believe it's back to school next week?!  Next Tuesday will be the end of our late nights, and lazy mornings, and the start of being back on our crazy schedule.  This year our wee family has two milestones occurring at once: Our son, Presley, is starting Kindergarten!!  He is absolutely excited, seemingly fearless about this monumental life event, and mostly excited to get to see his friends from preschool again. 
Our Daughter, Sloane, is staring Jr. High - Grade 7!!  She is totally obsessed with which locker she will be assigned, and who she might share that locker with, and how she should decorate her know, all the important stuff;)

I want to mark these important milestones with something special, and delicious...but a cake & cupcakes are too messy to pack in a lunch box, and cookies are too ordinary for this house.  These Cake Batter Rice Krispies Treats, however, are the perfect solution.
They taste like cake, and are COVERED IN SPRINKLES, people!  Kids go crazy for them, and I pretend they're practically a healthy treat 'cuz I use brown rice Rice Krispies, and marshmallows are fat-free!
If you're one of those mom's that give beginning of the year teacher presents - these would win you super brownie points...errr, rice krispies treats points?

Cake Batter Rice Krispies Treats
Recipe Adapted From Cereal Sweets Treats Cookbook, page 12

5 Tablespoons butter
1 bag (400 g) of mini marshmallows
1/3 cup cake mix (Dry!  Don't follow box directions!!  I used Betty's Rainbow Chip Cake Mix)
5 cups Brown Rice Krispies cereal
6 Tablespoons sprinkles, divided

Grease or line an 8x8 inch(ish) pan with parchment, and set aside.  Using medium-high heat, melt butter in a large pot.  Add in marshmallows and stir until they begin to melt, then add in cake mix and stir so it's incorporated into the marshmallows.  Remove pot from heat, add in the cereal, and 4 Tablespoons sprinkles, stirring until completely coated with marshmallow mixture.  Press mixture into the prepared dish, as evenly as you're able, and top with remaining 2 Tablespoons of sprinkles.   Allow to cool and firm for about 30 minutes before cutting.  Store leftovers individually wrapped and ready for the lunch box, or in air-tight container.


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Mast Brothers Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

Okay this one's a keeper!  I found this recipe by way of the infamous Mast Brothers.  My mom, who is in town visiting & giving me an extra set of hands at this busy time, doesn't know who the Mast Brothers are (??!!).  The explanation I gave her, is that they are bearded hipster brothers from NYC who are reinventing the craft of chocolate production and distribution.  They make their chocolate in small artisanal batches, and sell them in unique packages, with original flavour combinations.  They're like celebrities of fashionable chocolate trade that is booming, and how can you not have heard of them, right?!
The chocolate inspired recipes that they've created are featured in their recently published: Mast Brothers Chocolate: A Family Cookbook and are beautifully represented, and absolutely drool-worthy.  I'm totally trying out their recipe for Chocolate Gingersnaps at Christmastime, and they have a recipe for Chocolate Blueberry Pie, that would be a perfect vehicle for the blueberry's that are currently in season!

I made these Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies to bring along on a recent camping trip with my folks, and my dad has been relentlessly harassing me for this recipe ever since.  I refused to give him the recipe outright, and told him he'd have to wait for me to have time to make another batch, and have time to take pictures, before I would post it, or he could have it.  Hahaha, I'm SO mean, I made him wait like 4 weeks!!

These cookies have the perfect marriage of chocolate and peanut butter that are everyone's favourite, in a creation that is not overly sweet,  full of dark chocolate chunks and salty chopped peanuts.  Yum-O!  Now that I've shared the recipe with you lucky bums, and finally with my dad, you can go get your bake on!

Mast Brothers Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies
Recipe Adapted From: Mast Brothers Chocolate:A Family Cookbook; Page 69

3/4 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup peanut butter
1 egg
3/4 cup flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup dark chocolate (or chips), finely chopped
1 cup peanuts, chopped

(Recipe halved from the original, 'cuz that's too many cookies for one fam to eat.  Double if making to share!).
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Using a large bowl, or stand mixer, cream the butter, & peanut butter, together with the brown sugar, and eggs.  Meanwhile in a small bowl measure out the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and add all at once to the butter mixture.  Mix until just combined.  Finally add in the chopped chocolate, and peanuts, and stir or mix, until combined.
Bake for 10-12 minutes or until bottom is browned, but centre remains soft.  Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool. Store in air-tight container.


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Black Forest Smoothie

This is my go-to smoothie of the moment, it's a fast, easy, and deeelicious solution to the morning rush, especially on gym days!   I love that it fuels my body for a sustained amount of time, and helps me to get the most out of my workout, yet tastes like a dessert!!

I recently read an article about Banana's via Facebook,  that I cannot remember the source of, humph.  Basically it gave a whole whack of reasons why banana's are a virtual powerhouse: full of potassium  & carbs, vitamin C & fiber.  Already knew all that, duh.  But did you know that they are also aid in anemia, kidney function, stomach ulcers, indigestion, emotional state, blood circulation & pressure, hangovers, muscle aches and pains, & even morning sickness!  Or, that you can use the inside of a banana peel to help reduce itching and swelling from insect bites? How about, that you can rub the peel on your teeth to whiten your smile?  Whaaaa?!  I can get behind all that.

But in this here killer Black Forest Smoothie, you also have the added health benefits of Cherries!  Cherries help battle belly fat!  Did you know that?!  Just learned that one.  Plus, cherries help regulate blood sugar, lowers bad cholesterol, can help you sleep, and will reduce post-workout muscle soreness!  

Two healthy heavy-hitters in one shake, which means I can workout longer-harder-stronger!  Bring it!

Black Forest Smoothie

1 banana, frozen
1 cup cherries, pitted, fresh or frozen
3/4 - 1 cup almond milk (or your fave plant-based or dairy milk)
1 - 2 Tablespoons cocoa powder
1 - 2 Tablespoon protein powder (Optional)
(I used Manitoba Harvest Vanilla Hemp Protein )

Using a blender or food processor, add the almond milk, protein powder, & cocoa powder, and blend to combine.  Next peel the frozen banana (I use a knife for this step), and break or cut into smaller pieces, and add to the blender along with the frozen cherries.  Blend until completely smooth.  Pour into a glass or to-go-cup, and drank!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Buttermilk Ranch Popcorn!

Remember (or as my 5 year old Presley says: "Nanember") a couple days back when I shared that recipe for a Home made Buttermilk Ranch Mix with you?  Well, not totally shocking, but I put it on my popcorn, and....BLAM!  Best ever!  Go Try it, and report back to me;)

Buttermilk Ranch Popcorn

1/2 cup popcorn kernels
2-4 Tablespoons Butter, melted (or EVOO, canola, or coconut oil)
2-4 Tablespoons Buttermilk Ranch Mix

Pop your popcorn using your preferred method, I used my air popper, and used a large bowl to pop it into.  Melt the butter or coconut oil, or have ready whichever oil you choose.  Drizzle about 1 Tablespoon butter, and then shake 1 Tablespoon of the Ranch Mix over the popcorn.  Toss to coat and distribute.  Repeat with remaining Butter (or oil!), and ranch mix until it's flavour coated to your liking. Nosh!


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Home made Buttermilk Ranch Mix

"How are you?" has become a rather loaded question, as of late.  Do you really want to know?!  As you can see from my absence from this blog, and if you know me personally, there is so, so, so much going on.

Over the course of a couple months we've had multiple losses to both sides of our families.
Another big adjustment is that we are transitioning from being the children, to becoming the caregivers, which is almost harder to deal with than a loss.
I don't want to air too much drama, or make my blog a downer; people certainly have much more traumatic circumstances and loss to deal with in this world.  This is just normal, albeit hard, life stuff.
I can only answer that loaded question, with "I'm hanging in there"...and its the truth.

I'm hardly doing any cooking or baking at the moment.  It's been so busy, and we're just so physically and emotionally exhausted.  But, I'm not so good at the fast food thing, one must for me, is a salad.  Winter, Summer, Spring, or Fall, it doesn't matter, I'll always be eating a salad for at least one meal a day.  In the warmer days during the summer months though, the rest of the fam will go for a salad for dinner too!  Hooray!

One new condiment we're all enjoying right now is this Home made Buttermilk Ranch Mix.  Try it as a dressing on a simple garden salad, or roll that salad it into a wrap with some chicken (kid approved!). Or try making it into a dip, and take it to the beach to eat with some chopped veg.
This base mix is versatile, chemical-free, and Yum, Yum, Yummy.

Homemade Buttermilk Ranch Mix
Recipe Adapted From: Simply Scratch

1 cup buttermilk powder (I found mine at Bulk Barn)
2 1/2 Tablespoons dried parsley (reserve half)
2 teaspoons dried dill (reserve half)
2 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 1/2 teaspoons onion salt
1 1/2 teaspoons dried onion flakes
2 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika

Using a small food processor or blender, add in the dried buttermilk, 2 tablespoons dried parsley, 1 teaspoon dried dill. Place the remaining 1/2 tablespoon parsley and 1 teaspoon dried dill and set off to the side.
Next add in the onion powder, dried onion flakes, salt, sugar, paprika, cayenne, salt & pepper, and process until the spices are blended into the buttermilk powder.
Transfer the ranch mix into a jar or container with a lid and add in the reserved parsley and dill, and shake or stir to combine.
Store in the fridge for 3-4 months or in the freezer for 6-8.

Home made Buttermilk Ranch Dressing
1/2 cup Mayonnaise
1/2 cup Sour Cream
3-5 Tablespoons Homemade Ranch Dressing
1/4 - 1/2 cup of Milk or Buttermilk

Home made Buttermilk Ranch Dip
1/2 cup Mayonnaise
1/2 cup Sour Cream
4 Tablespoons Homemade Ranch Dip


Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Bouchon Bakery Chocolate Chunk & Chip Cookies

It was a few months back on National Chocolate Chip Day, that I realized - I have virtually no chocolate chip cookie recipes on this here blog!  Whaaa?  Not sure how that is even possible.  There is a bottomless cookie jar in my kitchen.  Each week a different type, flavour, method, of cookie is in that jar, mostly it's kid's choice though.  And usually their favourite ends up being the most basic: Chocolate Chip.

I stumbled across the Bouchon Bakery Cookbook on the shelves at work, and took it home for a little night time reading.  Honestly, I found it to be super intimidating, and really pretentious.  The tools and instructions in the book are all just too much.  I mean...60 grams of eggs?!  Yeesh.  Just say 1 egg for goodness sakes!
But there is genius behind the method, 'cuz these are some darn delicious cookies.  I've made this recipe probably 6 times in the last month, and have adapted it in a few ways.  First, I make the cookies much smaller, so that a batch makes more than 6 ginormous cookies the size of your head, that's just silly.  Also, I make the cookies with browned butter, because, yum!

Bouchon Bakery Chocolate Chunk & Chip Cookies
Recipe adapted from Page 34, Thomas Keller Bouchon Bakery Cookbook

1 1/2 cups plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 3/4 teaspoon blackstrap molasses
1/2 cup plus 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
3/4 cup butter (optional - brown & cool)
1 egg
2/3 cup 70%-72% cocoa chocolate chunks
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

**If using browned butter, make ahead, allowing time to cool and reharden in the fridge**

In a medium sized bowl, add the flour and baking soda, and set aside.
Place the butter (browned or regular) in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Turn to medium-low speed and cream the butter until it has the consistency of mayonnaise and holds a peak when the paddle is lifted.
Add the brown sugar and molasses to the butter mixture and beat for 3 to 4 minutes, until fluffy.
Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowel, then add the egg, mixing on low speed for 15 to 30 seconds until just combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl again.
Add the dry ingredients in 2 additions, mixing on low speed for 15 to 30 seconds after each, or until just combined.
Add 2/3 cup chocolate chunks and 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips and pulse to combine the chocolate into the dough.  Wrap & Refrigerate the dough for at least 30 minutes or overnight.

While the dough is chilling, position the rack in the centre of the oven and preheat to 350F.

When the dough has chilled, use a scoop or just break off the dough using your hands, and shape into large balls, or simply drop generously onto pan.  Space the cookies well-apart, to allow for spread.
Bake until golden brown, around 15 minutes.  Transfer onto a wire rack to cool completely.


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Ruhrei: A Memorial dish for our "Bucka"

If you've noticed a gap to the frequency of my posts, its because our family recently said good-bye to Cory's father, Ike: our beloved Bucka.  
When my daughter, Sloane, was just beginning to talk, she could not pronounce Grandpa properly for all her might.  What she called him instead was "Bucka".  Bucka kinda sounds like a bad word (I'll let you figure it out;)), which of course made him love the name more, and so the title Bucka stuck.  Bucka was the teller of all the dirty and inappropriate joke, collector of beautiful vehicles, and we will miss him so much.

Bucka loved good, traditional German food like his mom used to make.  Bucka's mother, was a stoic German woman, who also had a major part in the care of my husband, Cory, as a child.  She was also a killer cook.  She passed away shortly after Cory and I first started dating (17 years ago!), and unfortunately I never got to learn from her all the recipes that these boys were raised on.  Ruhrei was one of those dishes.

Ruhrei was a typical "grandma" recipe, in that the way it was described to just adding a little bit of flour, and a little bit of milk, that you'll know by the consistency...I could never get it right.
I searched in every German cookbook I could find for this recipe, never knowing how to properly spell Ruhrei, as it is pronounced "Ree-ai".  I happened to flip through the Mennonite Girls Can Cook cookbook at work about a month ago, and low and behold it was filled with so many of the recipes that I had been searching for!  There's even a recipe for Rollkuchen, another frequently requested Grandma classic.

Ruhrei is kinda like scrambled eggs in consistency, but has the taste of almost a pancake.  Cory said they always ate it topped with brown sugar or maple syrup, even through it was often served as a dinner dish.  In the Mennonite Girls can Cook cookbook, they mention that they serve theirs with salsa, we'll have to give that a whirl sometime.

Bucka, I was so excited to make this dish for you, and I'm so sad that I never got the opportunity.  However, I do get to serve it to my own children, and share the history of your family, and Cory's childhood memories that go with it.  You'll never be far from our thoughts.  Peace.

Ruhrei (ree-ai)

1/2 cup milk
6 Tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 eggs
1 Tablespoon butter

In a medium sized bowl, using a fork or whisk, blend together the flour and milk into a smooth consistency.  Add the eggs and salt, continuing to whisk into a thin batter.  Over medium-high heat, melt the butter in a pan, and then pour in the egg mixture.  Cut and turn small sections of the mixture until completely cooked through and lightly browned.  Serve hot, sprinkled with brown sugar or maple syrup.