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!


Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Butter's Chocolate Cake

You guys!  This chocolate cake is INSANE!  I'm pretty sure my last post was all hormones talking, and then I made this chocolate cake, and all my problems faded into the background.  Now my problem is that I can't stop eating this cake!  There's one last piece in the fridge screaming at me right now, I'm wearing skinny jeans this weekend, so I'm wearing earplugs:)
Last weekend we threw a surprise birthday party for my Mother-in-Law's 70th, which went off without a hitch!  We managed to get our regular Elvis impersonator, we always book him on milestone birthdays, it's family tradition.

My contribution was 3 cakes.  Yup, 3.  Mostly because I couldn't decide on one flavour/type that would please all tastes, but also because when your turning 70, you should eat ALL the cake!
So, we had carrot cake, a Crystal standard, which I didn't even get a piece of, and there were no leftovers. I also made that Glazed Lemon Cake that I shared the recipe for last week, and then this Chocolate Cake!

Similar to what I was saying about a lemon cake recipe, everyone should have a go-to chocolate cake recipe, and I think this will now be mine.  I found it in the cookbook: "Butter Baked Goods", which is from a little bakery in Vancouver, BC.  I haven't had the opportunity to visit Butter Baked Goods, as I haven't been to the coast since 2002, and they opened in 2007, but I drool over every Instagram post, and envy their creativity on a daily basis.
Butter's Chocolate cake is moist, dark and oh so decadent, all the calling cards of a to-die-for recipe.  You absolutely must make the Deep Dark Butter Cream to accompany the cake, they go hand and hand, and take the chocolate cake up a notch, to a death by chocolate status. So deadly!

Butter's Chocolate Cake
Recipe adapted from:  Butter Baked Goods, pg 150

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sale
2 cups hot coffee
1 cup dark cocoa
2 cups sugar
1 cup oil, vegetable or canola
4 eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk (add and tablespoon of lemon to milk & voila = buttermilk)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350F.  Prepare cake pans (I used 3 8 inch rounds) by greasing with butter and dust with flour or cocoa, set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk together the hot coffee with the cocoa, until you have a smooth consistency with no lumps.  Set aside to cool.
In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside.
Using a stand or hand held mixer, whisk together the sugar, oil, eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla.  Add the cocoa/coffee mixture, and whisk to incorporate.  Add the dry ingredients, and whisk until just combined.
Pour the batter into the prepared cake pans, and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 10-15 minutes, then invert on wire racks to cool completely.
Prepare the frosting!

Deep Dark Butter Cream
recipe adapted from: Butter Baked Goods, pg 133

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup dark chocolate, melted
3 cups icing sugar
3/4 cup cocoa
1/4 cup coffee, cold
1/4 cup whole milk (I used half and half)

Using a stand or handheld mixer, beat the butter of high, until pale in colour, scraping down the bowl as needed.  Melt the chocolate in a microwave or double boiler, and set aside to cool.
Sift together the icing sugar and cocoa, and then slowly add about half to the creamed butter.  Add the milk, coffee, and melted chocolate, followed by the remainder of the the cocoa icing sugar.  Turn the mixer to high and run for about 10 minutes, until the butter cream is light and fluffy

Transfer the cooled cakes to a nice plate or cake stand, and use a large-long serrated knife to cut each cake round in half horizontally.  Since I used 3 rounds, I had 6-layers.  A crumb coat is essential for this moist chocolate cake!  Carefully spread (or pipe) butter cream between each layer, and then a thin coat over the whole thing: top and sides, as smoothly as you're able.  Refrigerate the cake in the crumb-coat stage for about 10-15 minutes, which allows the icing to firm-up.  Apply the final coat, starting with the sides, and finishing with the top using an offset spatula for a super smooth finish.  And then use the tool of your choice to finish it in your fave way, this butter cream pipes amazingly!


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Glazed Lemon Cake

I've got itchy feet, y'all!  Not like, itchy-scratchy, but just, so super restless.  I want a new job, a new house, a new routine!  We tend to move house every 3 years or so, so the timing of our nomadic habits isn't all that shocking.  But I thought this was going to be our forever home, so I'm surprised that I am wanting to give up on all the conveniences that this location gives us, just for some country air.  I don't dig commuting, but I want a big ol' garden.  I like that my kids and I can walk to school & work, but I'm sick of car thefts and break-ins, not to mention all the big city violence.

Should I consider a career change?  I've been working for Calgary Public Library for almost 18 years...18 years!  How is that possible?!  It's possible, I suppose, because I truly do love working for the Library, how it allows me to help people in simple ways everyday.  But even that is on a mega shift right now, with all sorts of re-branding, and job description changes at all levels of employment.  If I'm gonna be honest, I love my job, but there's some people I just cant stand working with.  That is something I think everyone can relate to.  My rants have become a nightly routine, and perhaps its just hormones, or even spring fever, but somethings gotta give!  I feel worn out!
Maybe I should just take a chill pill, and paint a wall in my house, move some furniture, or do some baking, that usually helps me de-stress.  

Everyone should have a go-to lemon loaf cake recipe in their repertoire, it's like, an unwritten rule. This "Lemon Loaf cake with glaze" if from local foodie and author Gwendolyn Richards.  Gwendolyn is the voice behind the blog: Patent and the Pantry, numerous Calgary Herald articles, as well as the recently published cookbook: Pucker.  This lemon loaf is the bees knees because of the layers of lemon-y goodness.  Lemon in the cake, lemon in the syrup which also lends yummy moisture, and topped with yet more lemon in the glaze. Pucker-up!

Glazed Lemon Cake
1/1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 lemons, zested
2 eggs
1/3 cup plain yogurt or sour cream
1 Tablespoon lemon juice

3 Tablespoons sugar
3 Tablespoons lemon juice

1 cup icing sugar
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
pinch salt

Preheat the oven to 350F and prepare a loaf, or bundt, or your fave pan (I used a cute gem shaped one from Ikea!) by buttering it and lining with parchment if you desire.  
Using a medium sized bowl, add together the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda, stir slightly with a fork, and then set aside.
Using a small bowl, mix together the yogurt (or sour cream), and the lemon juice, set aside.
Using a stand or hand held mixer, cream the butter and the sugar, until pale and fluffy.  Add the lemon zest and mix until well distributed. Add the eggs and mix again.  
Add the flour mixture, and the yogurt mixture, in alternating additions, staring with the flour.  Mix until it just comes together, do not over mix.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan of your choosing, and bake until toothpick or cake tester comes out clean, about 45 minutes.
While the cake bakes, prepare your lemon-y syrup!  Using a small saucepan, over medium -high heat, combine the sugar and the lemon juice, and stir until the sugar has completely dissolved.  Remove from the heat, and set aside.
Remove the baked cake/loaf/gem from the oven, and allow it to cool in it's pan for about 10-15 minutes.  Using a toothpick, poke the cake all over, and then spoon or pour the syrup over the top.  Allow the cake to cool completely, and then remove from pan.  
Mix together the glaze ingredients of icing sugar and lemon juice, and drizzle or pour over top of the cooled cake.  Allow it to set before serving.