Yum

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Mummy Cupcakes

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With Halloween only 34 days away, I've been seeing Halloween themed desserts everywhere. I happen to see these in a magazine, at my Dr's office. I can't recall the name of the magazine, but as soon as I saw them, I knew I had to make them. We simply LOVE Halloween here. Hubby is more into the gruesome part of Halloween, while I'm into the cutesy fun part. So, I get to do the cutesy stuff inside the house, and Hubby takes care of the dark and macabre outside. While I enjoy his severed head and body parts, I enjoy my cutesy cupcakes even more, LOL.

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These are really just a technique and they are super simple. Well, if you're not an A type personality, they are simple. At first I was thinking the bandages too much and ended up with a cupcake covered with too many frosting bandages. After some constructive criticism from my nephew, we decided less was best. The kids just went nuts over these and I just had to share with my neighbours, who are still raving about them today. These are so cute, they could make just about anyone anxious for Halloween!

Mummy Cupcakes
printable version

1 box French Vanilla cake mix
2 eggs
1 1/4 C water
1/3 vegetable oil
green food color gel
48 M&Ms
1/4 C chocolate chips, melted
1/4 C salted butter
2 C powdered sugar
1-2 Tbs half and half

Mix cake mix with eggs, water and oil. Prepare to package directions; adding desired amount of green food gel. Pour into 24 paper lined muffin cups. Cool completely.

In a bowl, cream butter. Slowly add in powdered sugar, a tiny bit of the food gel and half and half, until the frosting is light and fluffy. Fill a piping bag, that has been fitted with a #45 tip.

Take cooled cupcakes and spread a small amount of melted chocolate, to attach the eyes. Place 2 M&Ms for eyes. Randomly pipe strips of buttercream over top of cupcakes, to resemble bandages (leaving spaces seems to look more authentic, than too many bandages).

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This post linked to

Make a Food-"e"-Friend Monday
Cucake Tuesday
Delicious Dishes
Tasty Tuesday
These Chicks Cooked
What's Cooking Wednesday

Monday, September 26, 2011

Meal Plan Monday~ Sept 26, 2011

Happy Monday!

I'm finally starting to feel better, though I'm still coughing. I'm glad to have my energy back, since my house looks like a total disaster area. I just hate being sick, because it seems like the family goes out of their way to make messes everywhere, LOL. I started getting the house back in order Sunday, and will finish up today. I'm also hoping to get some baking in this week, since I still have a ton of apples left.

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This week's menu will be simple. I'm not feeling very inspired and have limited meat in the freezer. I'm trying to plan around what the kids will eat, which totally differs from what I'd love to eat this week, LOL. I can't wait until Queenie grows out of her 3 yr old pickiness phase. So, here is the plan for the week
  • Porcupine Balls with green beans (I didn't get to these last week)
  • Pot Roast using pork loin chops
  • Chicken Thighs and Rice with Honey Lemon (new recipe) with broccoli
  • Broccoli Cheese Soup with homemade bread (didn't get to it last week)
  • Tacos with Mexican rice
  • Roast tomato and bacon pasta with bread sticks
  • leftovers
Head over to OrgJunkie.com, for more great meal plans!

    Saturday, September 24, 2011

    Strawberry Cream Pie

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    I've been trying to watch what I eat lately, in the never ending battle with my posterior and thighs. I find it very difficult, since I love baking, and I love desserts. I recently heard about Skinny Taste and decided to go over there to browse Gina's recipes. I was VERY happy to find tons of dessert recipes. In a perfect world I would be able to eat what I want and not gain an inch, but let's face it, that isn't possible (unless you're a teenage boy!).

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    This recipe immediately caught my eye. Now Gina's version is blueberry cream, but I didn't have any fresh blueberries in the house, so I went with strawberry. This pie couldn't be simpler and it tastes great. Very light and fluffy, and not too sweet. The kids really enjoyed this one too. We all seem to love the mousse like filling of the pie. Now I was a bit nervous that the pie wouldn't set as is, so I added about 3 oz of 97% fat free cream cheese. It added a slight cheesecake taste to the pie, which I just loved.

    Strawberry Cream Pie
    Adapted from Skinny Taste
    printable version



    9 inch ready made reduced fat graham cracker crust (I made my own)
    8 oz fat free Cool Whip
    2 cups fresh strawberries, finely chopped and drained
    2 (5.3 oz) fat free strawberry yogurt
    3 oz -97% fat free cream cheese, softened

    Combine Cool Whip, cream cheese and yogurt in a bowl. Gently fold in berries. Pour into pie crust and chill in the refrigerator at least one hour. Keep refrigerated until serving.

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    Friday, September 23, 2011

    Chocolate Chip Cookie Pancakes

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    About once a month, I like to treat the kids to a really special breakfast. It's usually on a special day, or on the weekend, when we will be spending the whole day together. Even though we try to eat healthy and wholesome foods, sometimes it's fun to just indulge and treat ourselves. Since chocolate chip pancakes are so popular with the kids, I thought why not try to incorporate the flavours found in chocolate chip cookies. I started with my basic pancake recipe, subbing in the flavours of the cookie. White sugar became brown sugar, oil became melted butter and vanilla rounded everything out.

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    The kids really loved these and honestly so did I, LOL. I mean who could resist a fluffy pancake, studded with deep rich chocolate? The flavours were very close, but you still knew you were eating pancakes. They are fluffy, with a slight deep richness to them, thanks to the brown sugar and vanilla. And of course every one knows that if you add some healthy fruit in there, it cancels out the not so good stuff :o). So now we have another special breakfast for those days where we just want to indulge.


    Chocolate Chip Cookie Pancakes
    printable version

    1 egg
    3 Tbs brown sugar
    3 Tbs melted butter
    1/4 tsp salt
    3/4 tsp vanilla
    1 1/2 C flour
    3 tsp baking soda
    1/2-1 C milk
    1 C semi sweet chocolate chips
    sliced bananas, raspberries and blueberries/strawberries, to garnish

    In a medium bowl whisk together the egg, brown sugar, melted butter, salt and vanilla. Add in the flour, baking powder and 1/2 C milk. Mix thoroughly, until a smooth batter is formed, adding more milk if too thick. Preheat a large skillet or griddle over medium heat. Lightly coat with oil and drop 1/3 C batter into the skillet, gently spreading the batter out with the back of the laddle (if the skillet is big enough, cook 2 pancakes at once). Sprinkle with chocolate chips and cook until the edges set and the top starts to bubble. Flip and cook until golden on second side, about 2-3 minutes. Garnish with bananas and berries before eating.

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    This post linked to

    Full Plate Thursday
    Turning the Table Thursday
    Foodie Friday
    Friday Potluck

    Tuesday, September 20, 2011

    Broccoli and Carrot Casserole

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    This summer, as the Real Women of Philadelphia contest came to an end, I had the opportunity to meet some very amazing women. One of those women was Heather, from Baytree AB. She is such a wonderful woman. Full of life, fun loving and just amazing. She lives on a farm in Alberta, that is home to llamas, donkeys and bunnies. This is also the homebase for Buttery Bites Caramels; some of the best homemade caramels on the planet.

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    As I got to know Heather, I found out about her affinity for Stove Top Stuffing. So, when side dish week came around for the RWOP recipe contest, I decided to make a side dish featuring Stove Top, just for Heather. I must say, this is one of my favorite creations so far. I've come to love the combination of lemon and dill, with broccoli. The savory and cripsy stuffing crust rounded out the fresh flavors and made this side dish an amazing thing. This would truely be a perfect side for Thanksgiving!

    Broccoli and Carrot Casserole
    printable version

    2 large carrots, cut into 1/4 inch rounds, on the diagonal
    1 large bunch of broccoli, cut into florets
    1 small onion, chopped
    1 tbsp. of olive oil
    8 ounce(s) of Dill PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese
    3/4 cup(s) of half and half
    1 tsp. of lemon zest
    1/2 lemon juiced
    1/4 tsp. of salt
    1/4 tsp. of fresh ground pepper
    1 box of Chicken flavored Kraft Stove Top Stuffing
    1 cup(s) of water
    2 tbsp. of margarine
    1 cloves garlic, minced

    In a medium sized sauce pan, bring 1 C of water and margarine, to a boil.Stir in stuffing mix, cover, remove from heat and let sit 5 minutes.Uncover stuffing, to let it cool, so it's easier to handle.

    In a skillet, heat the olive oil and add onion and garlic and cook over med low heat; until onion is translucent.Add the Dill PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese and half and half; stirring to combine as it melts.Once fully combined add in lemon zest, lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.Turn the heat under the sauce to low and let it hang out, while you prepare the carrots.
      
    In a bowl add the carrots and 3 Tbs water.Cover bowl with carrots and cook in the microwave for 4 minutes; until just tender.
      
    In a larger bowl, combine the broccoli, the carrots and any remaining water, and the lemon dill sauce; ensuring that the vegetables are fully coasted with the sauce.Place in a 2 quart casserole dish and sprinkle evenly with cooled prepared stuffing.
      
    Bake, covered, in a 375 degree oven for 25 minutes; until the broccoli is fork tender.Set oven to broil, uncover and broil for 3-4 minutes; until the top crisps up.

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    This post linked to

    Make a Food-"e"-Friend Monday
    Delicious Dishes
    Tasty Tuesday

    Monday, September 19, 2011

    Meal Plan Monday~ Sept 19, 2011

    Happy Monday!

    Hope everyone had a great weekend. We hit the apple orchard on Sunday and came home with 40lbs of apples. I see many apple recipes in the near future, so check back in for those.


    Stuffed Pretzel Bites


     On another note, I have some exciting news. A few weeks ago, a recipe that I had submitted to the Real Women of Philadelphia recipe contest, won a spot in the appetizer round. They chose my Stuffed Pretzel Bites, which will be published in the RWOP Community Cookbook. I am VERY excited to finally get one of my recipes published!

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    Well, as things go when school starts, Mr.B came home with a cold. As luc kmay have it, I woke up Saturday with a sore throat. It quickly went down hill from there and I fell like death warmed over, LOL. So this week's meals will be quite simple, and quick to throw together. Here is my plan
    Head on over to OrgJunkie.com, for more meals plans for the week. Also linked to Serve it up Sunday.

      Sunday, September 18, 2011

      VH Sauces Moon Festival Blog Tour

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      I was recently chosen by Mom Central Canada and VH Sauces to participate in their Moon Festival blog tour. Moon Festival, also known as the Mid-Autumn Festival, is one of the most celebrated holidays in the Chinese calendar.  Moon Festival fell on September 12th this year, but since Hubby was working that night, I decided to wait until the weekend to celebrate. The kids and I had fun decorating lanterns and I bought the most beautiful fall themed lantern garland. We decorated early this morning and I prepared an amazing Moon Festival inspired meal, using VH's incredible sauces. I love VH sauces and most often buy their soy sauce and sweet and sour sauce. I was very excited to try their fabulous Orange Ginger and Garlic Rib sauces. 

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      I decided to try two recipes from the VH Sauces website. The Crispy Chicken and Scallion in Orange Ginger Sauce  immediately caught both my and Hubby's attention. We LOVE orange chicken and the thought of being able to make this dish at home, had us both salivating, LOL. To go with the chicken, I decided to make one of my favorites, Vegetable Chop Suey. I had never made this at home and was super anxious to see if it would taste just like at the Chinese Buffet. 

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      Let me tell you, these recipes did not disappoint! The chicken was tender and the sweet and slightly spicy orange ginger sauce was out of this world. This is truly a recipe I am glad I tried, since it will now become a regular in our house. The chop suey was exactly like what we are use to eating. Full of tender vegetables and bean sprouts. Even Mr.B had a big serving of it. 

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      I couldn't be more thankful to Mom Central Canada and VH Sauces for giving me the opportunity to do this blog tour. If not, I never would have found these amazing recipes, that will be in our repertoire for years to come. But on the nights when making a big meal is not possible, we will turn to VH Steamers, to satisfy our Chinese food cravings. These are great since they heat up in just a matter of minutes and are jam packed with delicious flavors. Hubby often heats one up, when he gets home after a long and hard day at work. Our favorite flavor is Thai Chicken and Shrimp.

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      And what would a Moon Festival be, without Moon Cakes? I was lucky enough to find some at our local Chinese buffet and brought some home for the family to enjoy. For those of you not familiar with moon cakes, they are a Chinese pastry often filled with lotus bean paste and eaten during the Moon or Mid Autumn Festival. It was our first time trying Moon Cakes and I was the only one who enjoyed them. They taste a bit like dates and peanuts mixed together, but not as sweet. And a small piece goes a long way. I am just happy to be able to say that "yes, I did eat Moon cake". Don't forget about the VH Sauces $50 grocery card Giveaway, courtesy of the generous people at VH Sauces. The giveaway is open to Canadian Residents only and closes Sept 20th!

      Crispy Chicken and Scallions in Orange Ginger Sauce

          PAM® Original Cooking Spray
          1 ½ lb (675 g) boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into thick 1" strips
          2 tbsp (30 mL) VH® Soya Sauce
          2 cups (500 mL) frozen broccoli florets, thawed
          1 cup (250 mL) red pepper, finely diced
          ¼ cup (60 mL) corn starch
          1 cup (250 mL) vegetable oil
          1 bottle VH® Orange Ginger Stir-Fry Sauce
          ½ cup (125 mL) green onions, finely sliced
          4 cups cooked rice

       Mix chicken with VH® Soya Sauce in a small bowl. Spray small sauté pan with PAM® Original Cooking Spray. Sauté broccoli and red pepper over medium-high heat until browned [5 minutes]. Add VH® Orange Ginger Stir-Fry Sauce and green onions. Set aside.
          
      Heat oil in large pot over medium-high heat. Coat chicken pieces in corn starch. Carefully place chicken in oil, fry until golden brown [4-5 minutes]. Repeat until all chicken is cooked.  Warm sauce and vegetables. Place cooked chicken pieces on 1 cup cooked rice per person. Spoon the warmed sauce and vegetables over the top.
      Tip:
      Chicken can be grilled, baked or sautéed instead of fried.
      Also try serving the chicken on top of noodles or with an Asian-style slaw.


      Vegetable Chop Suey

          1 Tbsp (15 mL) vegetable oil
          2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
          2 stalks celery, cut thinly on the diagonal
          1 red pepper, cut into thin strips
          1/2 red onion, cut into thin strips
          1 cup (250 mL) sliced mushrooms
          2 cups (500 mL) vegetable broth
          2 cups (500 mL) Napa or Chinese cabbage, thinly sliced
          1 cup fresh bean sprouts
          1/3 cup (75 mL) VH® Garlic Rib Sauce mixed with 2 Tbsp. (30 mL) cornstarch
          8 cups (2 L) water

       In a large pot heat oil and stir-fry garlic, celery, red pepper, red onion and mushrooms for 5 minutes.
      Add cabbage and cook for 5 minutes longer. Pour in water, and VH® Garlic Rib Sauce and cornstarch mixture, bring to the boil. Simmer for 20 minutes.
      Serve into bowls and garnish with bean sprouts. Season with VH® Soya Sauce.

      “Disclosure – I am participating in the VH Moon Festival program by Mom Central Canada on behalf of VH.  I received compensation as a thank you for my participation. The opinions on this blog are my own.”













      Saturday, September 17, 2011

      Chocolate Cola Crater Cake

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      This is a recipe that I found, while browsing through my Mom's many recipes. I'm not sure who she got this one from, since it was a hand written recipe. She has never made this cake and it really intrigued me with the addition of marshmallows and Pepsi. Two of my favorite things, LOL. With Mr.B gone to school everyday now, I have found that Queenie really enjoys helping me around the house. Wether it's in the kitchen, putting the silverware away, or folding wash cloths; she loves helping her Mommy. So, I've been making a point of letting her help in the kitchen, hoping it'll help with her 3 yr old pickiness. When she found out that the cake contained our secret ingredients, she was super excited to make it.

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      This cake is surprisingly good. I'm not sure why it's called a Crater Cake, maybe it's because once it cools slightly, the top is very bumpy. Or, maybe I was suppose to leave all the marshmallows in the middle of the batter, therefore making a crater in the cake. What ever the reason, it is a pretty yummy cake. The chocolate flavor isn't very strong, but it is moist with a hint of cola flavor. Everyone is enjoying this cake, as snack, dessert or even breakfast, LOL.

      Crater Cake
      printable version

      1 C butter, melted
      5 Tbs cocoa
      1 C Pepsi (or your favorite cola)
      2 C flour
      1 1/2 C sugar
      1/2 C butter milk
      2 eggs, beaten
      1 tsp baking soda
      1/2 tsp salt
      1 tsp vanilla
      2 C mini marshmallows

      Frosting:
      1/4 C margarine or butter
      1/3 C Pepsi or favorite cola)
      3 Tbs cocoa
      2 C powdered sugar
      1 tsp vanilla

      Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

      In a sauce pot melt the butter. Mix in the cocoa and Pepsi; bring to a boil. In a large bowl combine the flour and sugar and add the boiling  cola mixture, butter milk, eggs, baking soda, salt and vanilla. Mix well to combine. Stir in marshmallows. Pour batter into a greased 9x13 pan and bame for 35-45 minutes.

      For Frosting: In a sauce pot melt the margarine. Stir in cocoa and cola; bring to a boil. Remove from heat and whisk in powdered sugar and vanilla, until smooth. Pour over warm cake (it's ok if it is runny; it will thicken as it cools).

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      This post linked to

      Baking with Bizzy
      Fat Camp Friday
      Friday Favorites
      Sweets for a Saturday
      Country Pot Luck

      Thursday, September 15, 2011

      Spinach Tomato and Mozzarella Salad with Balsamic Drizzle

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      This has to be my all time favorite salads. It has all of my favorite salad components. Nice fresh dark greens, tomatoes and cheese. Add the sweet Balsamic drizzle and I'm in heaven. I am very  fond of sweet dressing, on my salad. This is the perfect summer salad, and is elegant enough to serve at a dinner party.

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      Who would have ever thought that the tart Balsamic vinegar, could be turned into a thick sweet syrup like sauce. The deep flavor just pairs so nicely with the sweetness of the reduced vinegar. It balances out those bitter greens and just intensifies the sweet tomatoes. The salty mozzarella rounds out the flavors, leaving you with a symphony of flavors in your mouth.

      Spinach Tomato and Mozzarella Salad with Balsamic Drizzle
      printable version

      1 bag of spinach, washed and dried
      1 pint cherry tomatoes, sliced in half lengthwise
      4 bocconcini (fresh mozzarella balls), sliced to 1/4 inch slices
      2 Tbs olive oil
      1/2 tsp dried basil
      1/4 tsp pepper
      1/2 C Balsamic vinegar
      1/3 C sugar

      In a bowl mix together the tomatoes, bocconcini slices, olive oil, basil and pepper. Let sit while you make the Balsamic drizzle.

      In a small saute pan, over med low heat, stir together the Balsamic vinegar and sugar. Slowly bring to a boil and reduce to a slow simmer. Simmer until almost reduced by half (you don't want it too thick, since it will thicken even more when cooled). Remove from heat and cool, until syrup can drip off a spoon, in a continuous strand.

      On a large plate, or salad platter, and arrange tomato cheese mixture mostly in the center. Once syrup is cooled sufficiently, drizzle on greens, tomatoes and mozzarella.

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      This post linked to

      These Chicks Cooked
      Garden Variety Wednesday
      What's Cooking Wednesday
      Full Plate Thursday
      Turning the Table Thursday

      Tuesday, September 13, 2011

      Pasta Primavera

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      A few weeks back, Hubby's cousin came to visit for about a week. She is a vegetarian, so to make her feel at home, I made meat free dinner, most of the time she was here. I didn't mind one bit, since I would gladly go meat free 5 days out of the week. The guys (Hubby and nephew) weren't too thrilled about it, but they didn't complain. One of the dinners I made was this pasta primavera. I like this pasta, since it's so light and tasty. I first made a similar version of this recipe at my sister's, about 8 yrs ago. I had seen it in a Canadian Living cookbook. It was pretty simple, so I remembered the basic concept. This dish comes together in the time it takes to cook the pasta and uses tons of delicious fresh vegetables.

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      I used whole grain pasta, this time around. I'm trying to get us to all eat more whole grains and pasta is a perfect way to do so. It doesn't taste all that different, though the texture is a bit grainy-er. No one really noticed though.... well except for Hubby (I can't sneak anything past his palette). This was a big hit with the adults, but the kids had issues with the zucchini. After telling them to just push it to the side, everyone gobbled their dinner up. This is the perfect way to use up those summer veggies!

      Pasta Primavera
      printable version


      3 Tbs olive oil
      1 small onion, minced
      2 cloves garlic minced
      1 large zucchini (or 1 small zucchini and 1 small yellow squash), cut into half moons
      1 yellow pepper (red or orange would also do), cut into thin strips
      1 large carrot, cut into match sticks
      1 C chicken stock or broth
      2 Tbs butter
      1/4 C Parmesan cheese
      salt and pepper to taste
      1 box whole wheat spaghetti

      Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Place pasta in boiling water and cook to packaged directions.

      While pasta cooks, heat oil in a large skillet. Add in onion and garlic and cook for 3 minutes. Add carrots and broth; cook for 5 minutes. Add in peppers and zucchini and season with salt and pepper; cook until zucchini is tender, about 7 minutes.

      Drain pasta, reserving 1 C of water.

      Once zucchini is tender, add the pasta water, butter and drained pasta; toss to combine. Sprinkle in Parmesan cheese, season with salt and pepper and gently toss again. Serve with additional Parmesan at the table.

      Note: Fresh summer peas and egg plant would also make a great addition to this pasta

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      This post linked to

      Make a Food-"e"-Friend Monday
      Hearth and Soul
      Delicious Dishes
      Tasty Tuesday
      Tuesday Night Supper Club 
      Recipe of the Week

      Monday, September 12, 2011

      Meal Plan Monday~ Sept 12, 2011

      Happy Monday!

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      Well, our first week of grade 1 went splendidly! Mr.B is very content being back at school and loves his teacher. He told me the other night that she was nice, fun and beautiful. I think this may be his first teacher crush, LOL. We get to meet Ms.Maxwell in a few week at the school pizza dinner and meet & greet. Getting back into our routine wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. Though, by Saturday I was exhausted and happy to be able to relax and read my book, most of the day.

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      This week will be a long one, since Hubby has to work until Saturday. This weekend is his weekend off and his last day off was Thursday. So, we will both be happy to see the weekend arrive. Nothing too fancy on the menu this week. It's the second half of our grocery run, so I'm working with what's in the freezer and pantry. I think it'll still be some pretty good eats though. Here is the plan, in no particular order
      • Baked sole with lemon rice and peas
      • Peameal bacon sandwiches with black bean and corn salad (new recipe)
      • Country casserole
      • Fettuccine with chicken, fennel and lemon (new recipe)
      • Slow Cooker Sweet and Sour Chicken (new recipe) and vegetable chop suey (new recipe)
      • Pizza with Caesar salad
      • leftovers
      Head on over to OrgJunkie.com, for more great meal plans, for the week!

        Friday, September 9, 2011

        Zucchini Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

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        Interesting combination right? Zucchini and bananas. You'd never think to put them together. But I got to thinking what if I added bananas to zucchini muffins. I mean both muffins taste delicious separately, so why not put them together, to get added nutrition and a great muffin. The chocolate was really to ensure that these would be edible, but they would be even without it, LOL.

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        These muffins are amazingly moist and tender. I love the banana flavor with a slight hint of cinnamon. The chocolate just adds a deep rich flavor that brings everything together. The kids devoured about 5 of the mini muffins after school on Friday. I'm just glad I'm getting zucchini in them, one way or another. These could easily be converted to 2 loaves and they'd be the perfect gift. Not even the pickiest eater could turn these down.

        Zucchini and Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins
        printable version

        2 cups Zucchini, Shredded
        2 large Ripe Bananas, mashed
        2/3 cup Sugar
        1/2 cups Vegetable Oil
        2 eggs
        2 cups Flour
        2-½ teaspoons Baking Powder
        ½ teaspoons Baking Soda
        ½ teaspoons Salt
        1/4 teaspoons Cinnamon, Optional
        1 cups Chocolate Chips

        Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prep muffin tins with liners and set aside.

        In a medium sized bowl mix together the oil and sugar. Add in the eggs, banana and zucchini (that has been squeezed of excess water); mixing to combine well.

        Add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Gently fold in the chocolate chips.

        Spoon batter into each lined muffin tin; to 2/3 full. Bake for 20-25 minutes; until tops are slightly brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

        For mini muffins: line mini muffin tin with liners. Spoon batter into lined tin; to 2/3 full. Bake for 10-14 minutes; until tops are slightly brown and toothpick inserted comes out clean.

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        This post linked to

        Bake with Bizzy
        Friday Favorites
        Fat Camp Friday
        Sweets for a Saturday

        Thursday, September 8, 2011

        Western Skillet Hash Browns

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        One of our guilty pleasures is store bought hash brown patties. They remind me of the summers my family and I would take a trip to Toronto to do some sight seeing. We would always leave very early in the morning and we would stop at McDonald's, about 45 minutes from Toronto. I would always order the pancakes with 2 hash brown patties. I'd save them for last and just savour the crispy outer crust and creamy potato filling. Anytime I cook these up at home, it brings me back to those exciting times when I was a child.

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        Being married to a Chef, many people think we eat extravagantly every night. When we lived in Tennessee, we lived next door to a butcher. He thought we ate like kings every night, and we thought they had prime rib and filet every night. It wasn't until a friendship blossomed, that we both found out it was far from the truth. Hubby is quite a simple person. Though he loves to occasionally cook elaborate and lavish meals, he is most happy eating simple foods. And he has many guilty pleasures that are far from luxurious. Hash browns are one of them.

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        While thinking of breakfast this past weekend I wondered how I could make these hash browns more like a complete meal, instead of a side dish. I decided to incorporate some of our favourite omelet flavours and top these with peppers, onion, mushrooms and cheese. Let me tell you, these were superb. The crisp and creamy potatoes paired so well with the savory vegetables and salty cheese. These truly were the perfect guilty pleasure breakfast.


        Western Skillet Hash Browns
        printable recipe

        2 Tbs olive oil
        1 small onion, chopped
        1/2 green pepper, chopped
        6 button mushrooms, sliced
        salt and pepper
        5 thin slices of deli ham, chopped
        2 Tbs butter
        6 frozen hash brown patties
        1 C shredded sharp cheddar

        In a small skillet heat the olive oil, over medium heat. Add onion, peppers and mushrooms, and cook until vegetables are tender. Season with salt and pepper and cook 1 minute longer. Add the ham and cook until slightly browned.

        In a large skillet heat the butter over medium low heat. Add the hash browns and cook until golden brown and crispy, about 5-6 minutes. Flip the hash browns and cook on other side until golden, about 5 minutes. Top with sauteed vegetables and ham, sprinkle with cheese and cover. Turn heat off and let sit until cheese melts.

        This post linked to

        What's Cooking Wednesday
        These Chicks Cooked
        Full Plate Thursday
        Turning the Table Thursday
        Recipe of the Week

        Tuesday, September 6, 2011

        BBQ Bahn Mi Sliders

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        Bahn Mi is popularly known as a type of sandwich traditionally made with this type of Vietnamese baguette. There are many global and regional variations of the sandwich, but the most common version features thinly sliced pickled carrots and daikon (known as đồ chua), cucumbers, cilantro, chili peppers, pâté, mayonnaise and various meat fillings or tofu. Popular bánh mì fillings include roasted or grilled pork, steamed or roasted pork belly, Vietnamese sausage, chicken, head cheese and ham.[ wikipedia]

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        I had never heard of Bahn Mi until several months ago. It was popping up everywhere; in blogs, on TV, in magazines.... So, when I bought an issue of Everyday with Rachael Ray, early this summer, I noticed that she had a BBQ slider version of this new food fad. What I liked most about this recipe is that it uses many ingredients everyone would have their pantry. And I loved the idea of slathering the sliders with an Asian inspired BBQ sauce. These were really delicious! I loved the many Asian flavours that all married so well. The sweet and sour pickled vegetables that topped the salty savory patties just intensified the flavors and made everything pop. I did omit the bologna, since I could bring myself to mix it with the fresh ground pork, LOL. We also didn't top them with pea shoots, since I couldn't find any, in our markets. The kids really loved these too, so this is definitely going into my Summer meal repertoire.

        BBQ Banh Mi Sliders
        Adapted from Every Day from Rachael Ray Magazine

        Toppings:
        2 medium carrots, sliced into matchsticks
        1/3-1/2 English (seedless) cucumber, sliced into matchsticks

        4-5 large radishes, sliced into matchsticks

        1/4 cup
        sugar

        1/4 cup
        white wine vinegar or rice vinegar

        1 scant teaspoon sea salt

        A handful each
        of cilantro and mint leaves

        A handful of micro greens or pea shoots



        For the barbecue sauce:
        1/4 cup
        honey

        3 tablespoons soy sauce or Tamari (dark soy sauce)

        1 tablespoon chili-garlic sauce or Sriracha


        For the sliders:
        1 1/2 pounds ground pork

        1/4 pound
        bologna, coarsely chopped

        3 tablespoons onion,
        finely grated
        2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

        1 1 1/2-inch piece of fresh ginger root, grated or finely chopped

        A little sea salt and lots of pepper

        Vegetable oil, for coating

        8 French rolls or 3-inch pieces baguette, split

        Pre-heat an outdoor grill or grill pan to medium-high. Combine the carrots, cucumber and radishes in a shallow dish. In a small saucepan, heat 1/2 cup water, the sugar, vinegar and salt until dissolved. Pour the hot dressing over the vegetables, then let cool until ready to serve. Combine with the cilantro, mint and micro greens (or pea shoots).

        Meanwhile, combine all of the ingredients for the barbecue sauce in a small saucepan and warm up.

        Place the ground pork in a large bowl. Add the bologna to a food processor bowl and pulse until very finely chopped. Mix it into the pork, along with the onion (which you can grate directly into the bowl), garlic, ginger, salt and pepper.

        Form the meat mixture into eight patties and lightly coat with oil. Grill, turning once, until cooked through, 6-8 minutes, liberally brushing with the barbecue sauce during the last minute or so.

        Serve the pork patties on the rolls (or baguette). Top with the drained salad mixture.

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        This post linked to

        Cookbook Sunday
        Make a Food-"e"-Friend Monday
        Tasty Tuesday
        Delicious Dishes
        Hearth And Soul
        Saturdays with Rachael Ray

        Monday, September 5, 2011

        Meal Plan Monday~ Sept 5, 2011

        Happy Labour Day everyone!!

        Today is the last holiday of the summer and the last day, before school starts. That's right, Mr.B goes back to school tomorrow! (Insert happy dancer here, LOL) As much as I love spending time with the kids, this past month they have just been bickering with each other so much. Some one on one time with Queenie, is just what we need; and a regular structurized routine is exactly what Mr.B has been longing for, all week. I just hope we can get back into our routine, without too much stress.

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        Since Mr.B will be in school full time this year, my back to school menu will focus on quick and easy, mixed with some crock pot meals. I'm hoping to get some more meal off the grill (I'll keep grilling until there is snow on the ground, LOL). I'm hoping I can adjust my dinner prep and get back into eating dinner earlier, since bedtimes will be earlier too. This summer we slept in late, went to bed late and ate late. So, here is my plan for our first week back to school. In no particular order

        • Spaghetti and Meatballs with garlic bread and salad
        • Artichoke Dip Grilled Cheese Sandwiches (new recipe) with spinach salad
        • Roast beef with creamed corn (new recipe) and green beans almondine (new recipe)
        • Sausage and pepper kabobs with rolls and pasta salad
        • Chicken Fried Rice
        • Hot beef sandwiches with peas
        • leftovers
        Head on over to OrgJunkie.com, for more meal plans for the week.

        Friday, September 2, 2011

        7 Links and a Giveaway

         ***GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED***

        Patricia from ButterYum recently nominated me to complete a 7 links assignment, that has been popping up all over blogdospere. If you haven't heard of Patricia (aka ButterYum) then you are missing out. Not only doesn she post the most beautiful desserts (LOVE her cakes!), but she also shares savory recipes and little snippets of her life. The photographs on her blog are stunning and drool worthy! So drop by and say hello!

        I am suppose to share 7 links to posts on my blog that best fit the criteria given, then nominate 7 additional bloggers to do the same. This should be quite interesting, since I always think other blogs are much nicer and yummier than mine, LOL. And which 7 bloggers do I choose, to pass this assignment on to. I mean, I don't want them to hate me, for bestowing this on them, LOL. So, here I go

        Most Beautiful Post


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        I'd have to say Lemon-Blueberry Cupcakes. I just love the colors on the plate, the cupcakes looks so mouth watering and I love the shot of the birdhouse in the back ground.

        Most Popular

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        This one was tough, since I had 3 posts that were equaly popular. So I'll pick my favorite from the 3, LOL. This Banana Split Cake is not only stunning, but guests would never know how easy it is to make.

        Most Controversial Post

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        I'd have to say Roast Beef with Horseradish Gravy. Only because someone left a message telling me that it must taste horrible since I overcooked the roast and ruined it. I recovered nicely and replied with decorum (which is far from what I wanted to say...)

        Most Helpful Post

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        I'd have to say Pie in a Jar. I got to share a really beautiful and easy technique with my readers and have inspired many to make them as gifts.

        Post Whos Success Most Suprised You

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        This one would be the Baked Honey Mustard Chicken. It's a super simple and delicious way to cook chicken, but I didn't think chicken legs would be so popular.

        Post You Feel Didn't Get the Attention It Deserved

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        These awesome and insane Peanut Butter and Fudge Brownies. Just over the top YUM!

        Post You Are Most Pround Of

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        Skeleton Cupcakes, for sure! When I set out to make these, I was certain they would be a total failure. But they are actually pretty darn cute. Plus the kids LOVE LOVE LOVED them!


        Now for the 7 awesome bloggers I'd like to pass this assignment on to

        Debie from Debbie Does Dinner... Healthy and Low Calorie
        Wendy from Around my Family Table
        Miz Helen from Miz Helen's Country Cottage
        Christy from Fudge Ripple
        Kim from My Mediterranean Diet
        Jeanine from The Baking Beauties
        Katie from This Chick Cooks


        ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

        Now, onto the giveaway!!! I was recently chosen my Mom Central Canada, to be part of the VH Moon Festival Giveaway.  

        Moon Festival, also known as the Mid-Autumn Festival, is one of the most celebrated holidays in the Chinese calendar.  Moon Festival falls on September 12th this year and on this date, families across the world will gather with brightly-lit Chinese lanterns to share delicious Chinese cuisine with one another. VH Sauces and Steamers are just what you need to get your celebration going; since they bring variety to the dinner table and take your taste buds on an exotic flavour adventure.

        But, for the nights when celebrating (between hockey and ballet) just isn’t possible! VH Steamers are Asian-inspired meals that are ready in less than 5 minutes and steamed to perfection!  Available in Kung Pao Chicken, Shanghai Ginger Beef, and four other delicious varieties, they’re quick and tasty, perfect for lunch at the office or busy school nights. For more information about VH Sauces and Steamers; and delicious recipes to help you celebrate the Moon Festival visit their website!

        Mom Central on behalf of VH would love to give one of you the chance to get in on the Moon Festival excitement by offering them a chance to win a $50 grocery card. Contest is open from September 2 to September 20, 2011 and is open to Canadian residents only.  Readers may enter on multiple blogs, but may only win one prize.  

        All you need to do is leave me a comment sharing how you introduce culture into your meals. It's that easy!! Good Luck everyone!!

        “Disclosure – I am participating in the VH Moon Festival program by Mom Central Canada on behalf of VH.  I received compensation as a thank you for my participation. The opinions on this blog are my own.”

        Thursday, September 1, 2011

        Broccoli and Cheese Stuffed Shells

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        One of the things Hubby and I absolutely love is, pasta stuffed with cheese. It is one of our weaknesses and what saddens us is that the kids really don't care for it. After eating cheese ravenously, for a year, Queenie now detests cheese; in any way shape or form. She takes the cheese off pizza, refuses to eat any sandwich that contains cheese (well she does eat the occasional grilled cheese; with much prodding). So, when the kids were gone during the summer, I took the opportunity to make Hubby and I a wonderful dinner, that included some of our favorite foods. We started with Sausage and Pepper Stuffed Portobellos, followed by these yummy stuffed shells and Rosemary Artisan Bread. We finished off the meal with a new favourite; Lemon Chess Pie. It was a very outstanding meal, that we both extremely enjoyed (especially since there was no whining from the kids, about not liking what was for dinner, LOL).

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        I love the combination of cheese with green vegetables. Their bitterness is softened by the salty creamy smoothness. These were super yummy. The savory cheese was studded with tender broccoli and topped with a smooth as silk cream sauce. These would be great for vegetarian guest and family members; but still delicious enough that meat eaters would enjoy them too.

        Broccoli and Cheese Stuffed Shells
        printable version

        15 large shells
        1-8 oz container ricotta cheese
        1 egg
        1 tsp onion powder
        1 tsp garlic powder
        1/2 tsp oregano
        1/2 tsp basil
        1 C finely chopped broccoli
        1 C shredded mozzarella
        3/4 C Parmesan, divided

        Sauce:
        2 Tbs olive oil
        3 Tbs flour
        1 C chicken stock
        1 1/2 C milk
        1 C Italian Style shredded cheese
        salt & pepper

        Boil shells in salted boiling water, until just al dente.
        While shells are cooking, mix together ricotta, egg, garlic and onion powders, oregano, basil, mozzarella, Parmesan, salt and pepper. Stir in broccoli and mix well.
        In a saucepan heat olive oil and add flour; mix well. Cook for 2 minutes. Slowly add chicken stock, whisking to ensure no lumps. Add in milk and bring up to a simmer. Simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Take off heat and stir in Italian Cheese blend.
        Spread 1/2 the sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish. Stuff shells evenly with broccoli cheese mixture. Place stuffed shells in baking dish and top with remaining sauce. Sprinkle with 1/4 C Parmesan. Cover with foil and bake at 375 degrees, for 45 minutes. Remove foil and bake for 10 minutes longer. Let sit 5 minutes before serving.


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        This post linked to

        Made it on Monday
        These Chicks Cooked
        Turning the Tables Thursday
        Full Plate Thursday