Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Chinese 5-Spice Pork with Nectarines

Happy Autumnal Equinox, Pals!  Today I wore a scarf and tall boots, even though the sun was shining, and there is a definite nip in the air.  Bring on cozy meals, and night time cuddles under quilts.  I'm ready!
This Chinese 5-Spice Pork with Nectarines recipe is from a recently published cookbook I came across at the library, titled: Sheet Pan Suppers.  This cookbook has a great collection of  120 quick and easy week night meals, and also includes brunches, lunches and snacks!  Most of the recipes are fast enough to throw together on the fly, say... if it's gymnastics night?  Aaaand I think a sheet pan meal, counts almost as a one dish meal? Right?!  Gotta love a one dish meal!

I was immediately drawn this this recipe in particular, as I still have an abundance of late summer stone fruit, and pork in the freezer.  Plus, Chinese 5-Spice is Cory's fave!
I have also made this dish with apples, which was delish, so when nectarines disappear from the markets you have an alternate fruit.

Chinese 5-Spice Pork with Nectarines
Recipe adapted from: Sheet Pan Suppers Cookbook; By Molly Gilbert, pg 123

1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 Tablespoons rice vinegar
1 piece (2 inches) fresh ginger,finely grated
1 teaspoon Chinese five spice powder
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 large Pork tenderloin, chopped into chunks or approx 6 Pork Chops (preferably boneless)

3-5 nectarines pitted and sliced (wait until ready to cook) apples, peaches, or pears would also work in a pinch
1/4 cup chopped green onion (just the white & light green part of the bulb)

Whisk together the oil, sugar, soy sauce, vinegar, ginger, five spice powder, and sesame oil in a medium-size bowl until combined. Place the pork in a large zip-top bag or good sealing container, add the marinade. Turn the pork chops over in the marinade to coat fully. Place the bag or container in the refrigerator and let the chops marinate. In a pinch I've put this straight in the oven and it's still yummy, ideally you should marinate for at least 4 hours, and up to overnight.

Preheat the oven to 425°F.  Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper.
Transfer the marinated pork to the prepared sheet pan, spacing them evenly apart. Using the leftover marinade, place the nectarine slices into the marinade and toss to coat. Arrange the nectarines around and in between the pork.
Bake until the pork is cooked through and the nectarines have softened and browned, 20 to 30 minutes, flipping pieces at the half mark.


Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Dairy-Free Thai Corn Chowder & Fried Coconut Chicken

For as long as we've been living together (like, 14 years or something crazy?!), Cory has been asking to get a deep fryer.  I'm not even joking.  As much as I post recipes for cookies and bars and sweet treats, I am truly a naturalist at heart.  I am on the ever-quest for a lean body and good health.  I may not have a lean body, but I would consider my health pretty good.  So that being said, the idea of purchasing a deep fryer was not going to happen, ever. ever. ever...not by me any ways.
Cory decided to skip over my vote, and go out and buy one! GAH!!!
The hard part for me is that I LOVE to experiment with new foods, and recipies, and equipemnt.  Soooo the menu over the last couple weeks has been  mid-way esque!  Deep fried oreos, pop tarts, mushrooms, vegetables, pickles, etc etc.  we even have chcolate bars in the freezer waiting for their turn.  Le sigh - I admit itIt's been kinda fun!  And of Course Cory and the kids have been over the moon!

Stay tuned, maybe I'll share some more of our sweet experiments.  Here's one of the savoury ones:
Thai Corn Chowder with Deep Fried Coconut Chicken!  Because corn is in season in Alberta, and why the heck not take a Corn Chowder to the Thai side?!  It's deeeelsih, super satisfying while being light with just a little bit of heat to it.  And for the man in my life, DEEEEP-Fried!

Inspired by these two amazing recipes for corn chowder: one from Half Baked Harvest, and the other from Shutterbean.  If you need a tutorial on how to shi=uck your corn like a pro, The Kitchn has you covered!

Dairy-Free Thai Corn Chowder

2 Tablespoons olive or coconut oil
1 medium onion chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
1 Tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
1 lemongrass stalk, chopped
1 Tablespoon red Thai curry paste
1 jalepeno or red thai chile, seeds removed + chopped
4 cups chicken broth
1 potato, peeled + cubed into small pieces
4 cups fresh or frozen corn, I used 3 Cobbs from Taber, Alberta
1 can full fat coconut milk
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper... or S&P to taste

fresh chopped cilantro, basil, lime, fish sauce, sweet Thai chili sauce, for serving

Fried Coconut Chicken
1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt + pepper
2 eggs
3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
1 1/3 cups shredded coconut, unsweetened or sweetened
3 or 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, sliced into strips
coconut or canola oil, for frying

Shuck your corn, and run a sharp knife down the cobb, to release the kernels, set aside the kernels, and reserve a cobb or two.
Heat a large soup pot over medium heat and add the olive oil. Once hot, add the onion, garlic, ginger, lemongrass and chile or jalepeno, and thai chili paste. Cook for 1-2 minutes or until fragrant and soft. Slowly pour in the chicken broth and add the potato. Simmer, uncovered for about 15 minutes or until the potato is fork tender (this is when I start making the chicken), and my special trick is to leave one or two of the stripped corn cobbs in the broth to add flavour.
Add the corn kernels, coconut milk, and salt & pepper, cooking until the corn kernels are tender and bright yellow, about 5 minutes.  If you don't dig a "chunky" soup, use a hand held blender and puree away!
Remove the soup from the heat and top with your fave garnishes: basil, cilantro, fish sauce, lime, and/or sweet thai chili sauce, and of course your Fried Coconut Chicken!  Divide the soup among bowls and serve immediately. Recipe below!

Coconut chicken:  Use boneless, skinless chicken breasts sliced into strips.  Get ready your dredging stations - Add the flour, salt + pepper to a shallow bowl. Add the eggs to another bowl and gently beat together. Add the Panko and coconut to a third bowl, mixing them to combine.  Working in an assembly line, first dip the chicken through the flour, then take it for a dip in the egg and then dredge it through the coconut crumbs. Place on a plate and repeat with the remaining chicken.  Heat a heavy bottomed, high-sided skillet over medium heat and add enough oil to cover the bottom and 1-2 inches up the sides. Once the oil is hot (BUT NOT SMOKING), add the chicken in batches, frying each about 2-3 minutes per side or until the chicken are light golden. Place the fried coconut chicken pieces on a plate lined witha papertowel and until all chcien is fried up. Serve the fried coconut chicken warm atop the soup along with your fave garnishes.


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Peanut Butter Caramel Chocolate Chip Toffee Bars AKA Husband Stealer Squares

As you can see by my lack of posts, this summer has been super duper busy!  I hope to have more time to share more recipes soon, but I'm gonna keep this short and sweet(!) today, and just get straight to the goods!

The original name of these bars is a liiiitttle lengthy, "Peanut Butter Caramel Chocolate Chip Toffee Bars" whew!  This past weekend these amazing, absolutely decadent squares were renamed" Husband Stealer Squares".  We might've been drinking when this name came to be, I'll never tell, but the name shall live on!

Peanut Butter Caramel Chocolate Chip Toffee Bars AKA Husband Stealer Squares
Recipe adapted from:Mom On Timeout

Caramel Filling
1 bag (11 oz/300 grams ish) caramels
14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
4 Tablespoons butter

Cookie Dough
3/4 cup butter
2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter, creamy or smooth - your choice
2 eggs
1 Tablespoons vanilla
2 cups flour
1 c old fashioned oats
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 cup chocolate chips
1 cup Reese's peanut butter chips (optional - I didn't have any and skipped it - they would just be extra peanut buttery)
1 cup Scor toffee bits

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a 9x13 inch baking dish with parchment paper.
Unwrap caramels and place in a small saucepan with butter and sweetened condensed milk.
Cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until caramels have fully melted and the mixture is nice and smooth.  Set aside to cool slightly.
For the cookie dough:  Combine flour, oats, baking powder, and salt in a small mixing bowl, and set aside.  Cream butter and sugar together in a large mixing bowl. Add peanut butter and continue mixing.  Add eggs and vanilla.  Add the flour mixture slowly stirring until well combined.
Stir in the chocolate chips, peanut butter chips (optional), and toffee bits.
Spread approximately 2/3 of the dough on the bottom of the prepared baking dish, using wet hands/fingertips to get it evenly spread out.
Slowly pour caramel mixture evenly over the dough.  Drop the remaining cookie dough on top by the teaspoon. It doesn't have to be perfect!
Bake for about 35-40 minutes,until lightly browned around the edges and over the top.  Let cool completely and then cut into bars.


Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Cake Batter Snacks n' Stuff Popsicles

This week I was inspired by all the amazing Popsicles as part of #popsicleweek, and my brain created this: Cake Batter Snacks n' Stuff Popsicle! The creator of this fantastical week of sweet and chilly treats is the voice behind the blog wit and vinegar, Billy.  Billy's totally adorable and infectious enthusiasm for his creations comes out through the writing of his blog, as well, he is working on his first cookbook!  So excited to get my mits on it!  Check out all these other amazing #popsicleweek creations HERE.

'Murica, we love your snacks!  Nobody believes us when we say that we go to the states just to load up on snacks.  But it's the honest truth, and this recent trip to Montana did not disappoint.  I found some craaaazay kinds of cereal, like Cap'n Crunch Sprinkled Donut Crunch?!  and Cap'n Crunch's Caramel Popcorn Crunch?!...the Cap'n's crazy, man.
We also came across this new Chex Mix variety Popped sweet and salty, I thought the popcorn in this mix might go soggy?  So I ate it all out of the mix a precautionary measure.
'Murica also has like a gazillion different kids of Gold Fish crackers than we do, both the sweet and savoury variety.  For this recipe I used the strawberry shortcake, and cinnamon flavoured Gold Fish, the cupcake and brownie ones we have in Canada would also work deliciously. Snack time!

Cake Batter Snacks n' Stuff Popsicles

1 can full-fat coconut milk
1/2 cup vanilla flavoured almond milk (or your fave nut milk)
1/4 cup dry cake mix (I used Betty Crocker Rainbow Bit)
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1 cup (approx.) snacks! (pretzels, candy coated chocolate pieces, sweet n' salty chex mix; cinnamon & strawberry shortcake Gold Fish, Cap'n Crunch Sprinkled doughnut cereal, Sprinkles, etc!)

In a medium bowl, or large measuring cup (the spout is handy!) mix together the coconut milk, and almond milk, along with the vanilla bean paste.  Stir in the dry cake mix, until combined, then add all the snacks.  Pour the mixture into the popsicle molds, you might have the push down bits of snack with the popsicle stick, to ensure you leave room for enough liquid (milk mixture), finish with additional sprinkles, if desired.  Place popsicle mold carefully in your freezer, and freeze for at least 4-6 hours, if not overnight.  To release the popsicles from the mold run under hot water, or place mold in a warm water bath for 30-60 sec, and gently pull out your creations!


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Fried Chicken Sandwiches "Store Chicken"

Oh man, time flies, no posts since April?!  I totally didn't intend to take that much of a break, life just kinda got busy, you know?  It's been a year since the passing of my Father-in-law, Ike, and we're finally at the final stages for settling his estate.  Which means allot of driving back and forth to Red Deer, and allot of work!  But we're almost there, and then we have the rest of the summer to chill out, and maybe do some work and organization at our own home.

 After a really intensive weekend of cleaning/organizing/sorting etc, myself and Cory were both totally burnt out by the end of our work day on Monday. Instead of ordering out, like a normal person might do, I made a delicious complicated meal! ha ha.  Not that this chicken is too too much work, but not doing it would be allot easier.  Does that make sense, even?
I was so tired, but this chicken is THE BOMB, and we were all making yum yum noises while enjoying our sandwiches, and my smartypants description, was to declare  "This tastes like store chicken"!  Meaning this chicken is so good, it tastes like it came from a store, but we were all in fits of giggles, with our tired sillies.  And so, that is how this chicken came to be called "Store Chicken". The End.

Fried Chicken Sandwiches
Recipe Adapted from: Date Night In, Page 174

4-6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts (I’ve used bone-in as well, just allow for more baking time.)
Approx. 4 cups Vegetable, canola or peanut oil, for frying

Spice mix

1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons salt

Flour dredge
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Buttermilk dredge
1 cup buttermilk (1 Tbsp lemon to 1 cup milk =tada!)
1 egg

** The day before you plan on frying the chicken, whisk together the paprika, oregano, thyme, marjoram, garlic powder, pepper and salt to form the spice mix. Set aside 1 tablespoon of the spice mix and sprinkle the rest over the chicken. Cover the chicken with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. ** I’ve managed to make this recipe on the fly, by just seasoning as my chicken breasts defrost in the microwave, and I get all my other ingredients organized, and they were still delish.

Set up a wire rack over a baking sheet, and set aside. Fill a large, heavy skillet (I use a cast-iron pan) with about 3/4 inch of oil, and bring to a medium high heat.

To fry the chicken, mix together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder and reserved 1 Tbsp spice mix in a bowl or shallow dish. And in a separate bowl or disk, whisk together the buttermilk and egg

Dredge the chicken in the buttermilk mixture, then the flour mixture, then the buttermilk mixture again and finally back into the flour. I fry 2 pieces at a time, so the oil doesn’t cool off too much. Fry the chicken for 3 minutes per side until deep golden brown, then place on the rack over the baking sheet.

Once all the chicken is fried, place the pan , wire rack and all, and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until just done inside. If you use bone-in chicken, increase time to 15-20 minutes.

We served these with bacon, lettuce, and tomato, on fresh yummy buns. They are great as an entrée with your fave sides too. Kid approved!


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Cake Batter Cookies

Holy crap, I forgot about Food Swoon's second blogiversary!  It was was back at the end of February, so I'm only two months behind.  Happy Belated 2nd Blog Birthday to me!  Last year I was more on the ball, apparently, and went all out making a Flourless Chocolate Cake that was just for me, and oh so delicious. 

This year, I didn't even have a celebration on my radar, but I did have a recipe for these festive and fun Cake Batter Cookies, that I've been meaning to share forever.  These cookies are SO yummy!  They totally killed my diet, and I kinda don't even give a care - they were worth it!  
I now have a few Cake Batter recipes in my repertoire, my kids and their friends love Cake Batter Rice Krispies Treats, and one of my faves is Cake Batter Popcorn... Oi, those old pictures;)

This recipe came from another recently published cookbook: Sallys Baking Addiction, There's been SO many great cookbooks coming out lately, that I really haven't been creating my own recipes.   I want to try all these great recipes from the blogger's I've been following all these years.  Sally actually features these cookies on her blog of the same name, and can be counted on to be a constant source for super delicious treats, usually loaded with sprinkles too!

Cake Batter Cookies
Recipe adapted from: Sallys Baking Addiction Cookbook

1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cup boxed cake mix (I use Rainbow Bit Cake mix, but vanilla cake mix would work in a pinch - you just need the DRY mix)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup sprinkles 

***this dough requires chilling - plan ahead***
In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cake mix, and baking soda. Set aside.
Using a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, or a 
hand-held mixer, cream the softened butter and both sugars until smooth.  Add the egg and vanilla, and mix on medium-high for about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and mix on low-medium speed until just combined. Finally, add the chocolate chips and sprinkles, and pulse once or twice to distribute.
Wrap the dough tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate dough for at least 2 hours, or up to 3-4 days.

Once dough has been chilled, preheat oven to 350F degrees.
Using your hands, grab about 1.5 -2 Tbsp of the chilled dough, shaping the cookie dough balls to be taller than they are wide.  For extra pretty cookies, press a few chocolate chips and sprinkles into the tops of the cookie dough balls.
Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes until edges are slightly browned. The centers will still appear very soft, but the cookies will set as they cool.
Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for about 5 minutes before transferring  to a wire rack to cool completely. 


Friday, April 10, 2015

Sour Cream and Onion Popcorn

Oh dear, I'm posting super late in the day/week, I actually wasn't even planning on posting today, but I know your probably perusing the interwebs making dinner plans, so I figured I should share mine.  

Okay, Confession.  I want this popcorn right now, I don't think I can even wait for dinner!  It's that witching hour of about 3:00, when the snackies really hit me.  I think it's long formed habit, from back in the Oprah days.  Keep in mind those were pre-PVR days, so when it was on, if you hadn't set your VCR, that was when you parked yourself in front of the TV box for OprAHHHHH.  Oh, and don't forget the Popcorn and the Kleenex.  Essentials. 
I'm going to hold of on popcorn right now, and wait until dinner time.  Cuz post-Oprah life, Friday night's are my new popcorn time.

Sour Cream and Onion Popcorn

Recipe adapted from Seriously Delish, pg. 88

1/3 cup popcorn kernels
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or melted butter
3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons powdered buttermilk
1 1/2 tablespoons onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

I use a air-popper for my popcorn, you can do your preferred methodweather that be stove-top or Whirly-pop, making sure to do your best to remove any unpopped kernels. My technique is to use two bowls, shake the the first bowl so the seeds fall to the bottom, and then transfer popcorn to the second bowl by hand, leaving all the kernels behind.
In small lidded container or jar, add together the dill, cheese, buttermilk powder, onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper.  Put on the lid, and shake to combine.

Drizzle the popcorn with olive oil or butter, and toss it well to coat. Pour a healthy amount of the Sour Cream and Onion Seasoning over the popcorn and toss the popcorn evenly to coat it in the mixture. Taste the popcorn and season it additionally if needed.  Place any remaining Sour Cream and Onion seasoning in the fridge until your next popcorn fix!