Sunday, April 29, 2007

Pretty on the Inside - Darkest Chocolate Crepe Cake

Sharp-eyed readers might have noticed that last month I added a new logo to my side bar for the Daring Bakers. It's true; hell has frozen over and I was invited to join the baking club full of some of my favorite bloggers.

You may have seen it all start way back in November when Lis of La Mia Cucina and Ivonne of Creampuffs in Venice joined forces to make pretzels. Their baking group grew monthly and in addition to the pretzels they've also tried their hands at biscotti, croissants, flourless chocolate cake and red velvet cake.

There are now 30 members, and this months' challenge, my first, was a particularly frightening one, chosen by Brilynn - Martha Stewart's Darkest Chocolate Crepe Cake. Now go and take a look at that picture. Would you be at all surprised to learn that upon seeing that picture I turned to Scott and said "I can't do this!"?

Luckily Scott insisted that I give it a try. So I began to work on what is most certainly the most labor intensive recipe I have ever made before.

Day 1 - I make the crepe batter. As I had heard that some of the other DB's were having trouble with the crepes, I decided to chill the batter overnight, hoping somehow that would make it easier to work with.

Day 2 - It may have worked, as after two hours (!!!!!!) of standing at the stove I have 33 fairly presentable crepes of the same size. I am too sick of being in the kitchen to do anymore that night.

Day 3 - It's time to make the filling, the glaze and assemble the whole thing. Scott picks up takeout for dinner, and by the time he gets home I have the glaze cooling outside, the whipped cream chilling, and the filling almost complete. As I have never heard of Hazelnut Cream before, I substitute Nutella. Making the filling involves using my candy thermometer which I have owned for 6 years and never used before. The filling is incredibly delicious but so rich my eyes nearly pop out of my head. That doesn't stop me from continuing to sneak tastes though.

We start our tower, layering the filling between the crepes. About halfway through the filling I start to worry that we won't have enough filling for all the crepes. Scott goes into the fridge to get me a beverage (to keep up my strength!) and finds the whipped cream I forgot to mix into the filling.

Argh! We mix it in to the remaining filling and use up 29 crepes before the filling runs out. The edges of the crepes didn't get much filling on them so the outside of the cake is uneven and flimsy. We glaze it as best we can, then let it sit to set while we run out to buy strawberries. I don't want to push my luck by trying to make the candied hazelnuts on top of Martha's cake.

We fling some berries on to decorate the cake and then can't wait any longer. We cut a piece to try. It is good, quite good, but incredibly rich. The two of us are not able to finish the piece.

I wrap up the cake and put it in the fridge.

Day 4 - The cake (which is so heavy! I should have weighed it.) and I go to work and we are stopped repeatedly in the halls and elevator by people looking at the cake. Two ladies from another floor ask if they can come up for coffee and I tell them where my office is. I have 11 cake testers that day and every one of them (including my boss!) really like it. Early the next morning the last piece was eaten by my co-worker. It was a success.

Thank you to all the Daring Bakers for allowing me to join your ranks, and a special thanks to Mary, Lis and Ivonne.

I can't wait to see what delicious challenge next month brings!

All the Daring Bakers who took part in this month's challenge are posting about the cake today, Sunday April 29. Please go and check them out.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Sandwich Week! Day Five

Day Five already! Today's sandwich is....

The Bacon and Eggwich.

While certainly not the healthiest sandwich in the world, this can be whipped up for a fast breakfast, lunch or dinner in minutes. If you use the microwave it can be even faster.

Here's how we make our eggwiches.

I only like my eggs scrambled, and for this sandwich Scott likes his fried. So, do what you will with your egg. Cook some bacon, 2 (or more) strips per sandwich. Sometimes we use bread, sometimes buns, sometimes bagels. Toast your bread item, if desired, and spread a little bit of mayo on one piece of bread. When your eggs and bacon are done, assemble your sandwich. Place the egg on the bottom piece of bread, then a slice of cheese. Top with the bacon and then douse the whole thing with hot sauce. Top with the other bread, and serve straight away, with ketchup on the side for dipping.

Daily Question - Your favorite restaurant is going to name a sandwich after you. What does it have in it? Leave your answer in the comments below.

Trivia Question 5 - What is the official Pepper of Texas? Save up your answers to the 7 trivia questions and email them to me on Day 7. A winner will be drawn and will be sent a prize!

Friday, April 27, 2007

Sandwich Week! Day Four

Today's sandwich is......

Pan Bagna.

The literal translation of the name of this French sandwich is "Bathed Bread" and it's easy to see why. Instead of using butter or margarine or mayonnaise, the sandwich is "bathed" in olive oil to flavor and moisten. There is some debate over what constitutes a "real" Pan Bagna; some say it must contain tuna and nicoise olives (practically a Nicoise Salad on bread), others say that the dressing is what makes it a Pan Bagna, that the ingredients you put inside are not as important. I say as long as it tastes good, that's all that matters!

My Pan Bagna is what it is because of 3 factors:
1. I had a small loaf of whole wheat french bread that was going to go stale,
2. I had a crapload of tomatos I needed to use up, and
3. I don't like tuna unless it's mixed with mayonnaise or in sushi.

I sliced 2 tomatos and half of a red onion thinly. I cut a big handful of large pitted green olives (also needed to be used up asap) in quarters and threw them all in a bowl. In a smaller bowl I made a vinaigrette of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, a pinch of sugar and some pepper. I poured that over the veggies and let them sit for 10 minutes. Cut the loaf of bread in half horizontally. Spoon the vegetables over the bottom half of the loaf. Spoon all the dressing (or as much as you want to use; this is not a dry sandwich) over the bottom and top of the bread.
Place the top half of the loaf back on the bottom and press down gently. Wrap the sandwich tightly in saran wrap and let sit for at least 30 minutes, or up to 4 hours. Remember, the longer you let it sit, the wetter it will be.
Unwrap the sandwich and cut into thick wedges to serve.
This one only sat about 20 minutes - we were too hungry to wait any longer!

Daily Question - How often do you eat sandwiches?

Trivia Question 4 - Tomatos are referred to as a vegetable, but they are really a fruit. What is the difference between a fruit and a vegetable?

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Sandwich Week! Day Three

It's Day Three of Sandwich Week. Are you enjoying it so far? I am having a blast! If you haven't done so yet, go and check out the comments on Day One and Day Two. There are some crrrrrazy sandwiches out there.

Today's sandwich is.........

Smoked Meat Monte Cristo.

A traditional Monte Cristo has ham, turkey and cheese. The sandwich is dipped in egg and pan fried or deep fried. The only traditional Monte Cristo I've ever had was at Disneyland's Cafe Orleans a couple of years ago, and it was heavenly. It was sprinkled with powdered sugar and served with berry jam on the side.

Smoked Meat Monte Cristo

Spread bread slices with dijon mustard. Top one bread slice with smoked meat and slices of cheese and then another bread slice. Whisk an egg or two, depending on how many sandwiches you are making, with some milk.

Dip the sandwiches in to coat both sides. Heat a pan over medium high heat and melt 1 tsp butter. Fry the sandwich until golden brown on both sides. Serve straight away.

Daily Question - What sort of bread do you like to use for your sandwiches? White? Brown? Rye? Or perhaps a bun or flatbread? Leave your answer in the comments section.

Trivia Question 3 - New Orleans Square in Disneyland was opened in what year? - Save up your answers for the 7 trivia questions and email them to me on Day 7. A random winner will be drawn from the emails with the correct answers. There is a prize, people!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Sandwich Week! Day Two

Today's sandwich is one of my very very favorites. I could eat these on a daily basis and be oh-so-happy. It's...

The Falafel.

The falafel is a specialty from the Middle East. Falafel are small balls of ground chick peas or fava beans and spices that are deep fried. Falafel are most ususally served in pita bread as a sandwich.

You can buy falafel fresh, frozen or as a mix. I always buy the mix; it costs me $1.99 and I get 3-4 meals out of one box.

Falafels from a mix.

But then one day I thought, why not try making them from scratch?

1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/2 small yellow or red onion
2 garlic cloves
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 - 1/2 tsp hot chile flakes
2 tb chopped cilantro

Place the onion and garlic in a food processor and whiz until finely chopped. Add the chickpeas and whiz again, scraping down the sides until the mix is starting to smooth out. Add the cumin, chile flakes and cilantro and process again until everything is well blended. Scrape into a container with a lid and refrigerate overnight.

Then I formed them into patties and baked them at 400' for 30 minutes, turning once. I'm sure they are not anywhere near authentic, and the texture is softer than the kind I make from a mix, but I thought they were pretty tasty.

Daily Question - What is the strangest sandwich you've ever eaten? Tell us all in the comments below.

Trivia Question 2 - What is another name for cilantro?

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Sandwich Week! begins - Day One

"Too few people understand a really good sandwich." James Beard



Origin: Named after the Fourth Earl of Sandwich.

Definition: Two or more slices of bread or the like with a layer of meat, fish, cheese, etc., between each pair.

What a boring definition for how much fun a sandwich can be!

"The hardness of the butter is proportional to the softness of the bread."
Steven Wright.

This week we at iliketocook celebrate the sandwich! Every day for seven days I'll post about a different sandwich, have a daily question for you to answer about the sandwiches in your life and a contest! With a prize at the end!!!!!! Will it be fun? Interesting? Let's hope so!

Ok so here we go with our first sandwich. Drum roll please...
Our first sandwich is...THE MUFFULETTA.

A while back The Cookbook Junkie mentioned some Muffuletta Sandwiches she had made in 2005. They looked so delicious, I just had to make them for dinner.

The Muffuletta sandwich originated in New Orleans (which is on my list of places to go before I kick the bucket). It is traditionally made on a loaf of bread- preferably a loaf of Muffuletta or Italian bread - and is topped with olive salad, cheese and a variety of meats.

I made two versions - one for Scott with provolone, lettuce, tomato and salami, and a veggie one for me with provolone, lettuce, and tomatos. And both with olive salad, of course. The Muffuletta is all about the olive salad.

I think it's up to the sandwich maker as to what's on your Muffuletta. Use bread or buns. Use mozzarella, provolone, or some other cheese. One meat, a variety, or none at all? As long as you don't forget the olive salad, it will be delicious.

Olive Salad

this is adapted from the Cookbook Junkies version, to fit what I had on hand at the last minute.

1/2 cup green olives with pimento
1/2 cup kalamata olives, pits removed
2 garlic cloves
1 green onion, chopped
1/2 tsp basil
1/2 tsp oregano
2 or 3 dashes of hot sauce
1 tb olive oil

Dump the olives, garlic, onion, basil, oregano and oil in a food processor. Pulse until fairly finely chopped, but not a paste. Add hot sauce and pepper to taste.

OK, so here's your first daily question about the sandwiches in your life. It's an easy one -

Tell me in the comments below.

Now for the trivia game. Every day I will post a trivia question. After I have posted all 7 questions, send your answers to me by email. The lovely and talented Scott will draw a name and that person will win a prize.

Trivia Question 1 - Name the store/restaurant that created the Muffuletta.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

V is for...

V is for Vietnamese Food.
Who: Vietnamese Food

What: Vietnamese Food, featuring rice, noodles, fish sauce, and aromatics such as lemongrass and lime leaves. Pho (basically noodle soup) may be the most well known Vietnamese dish.

Where: Well, Vietnamese Food originated in ... Vietnam!

When: Vietnam was at one time an independant county, but was colonized by France in the 1800's. French influences on the food can be seen in dishes such as Vietnamese sandwiches (served on baguette) and their hot and cold coffee drinks (made with condensed milk).

Why: Why ask why. It's tasty, isn't that enough for you? Geez.

Salad Rolls

Salad rolls are basically some combination of noodles, veggies (like lettuce, carrots, bean sprouts) and meat or seafood (shrimp) rolled up in rice wrappers. Traditionally they are served with hoisin sauce on the side.

Ours had rice noodles, shredded lettuce, cucumber, shredded carrot flavored with rice vinegar and sugar, and chicken.

Soak your rice paper wrappers in hot water until soft. Then flop them on a paper towel to get off most of the water. Plonk on your fillings, fold in the sides and roll up.


Iced Coffee is an occasional treat for me; the caffeine and all that sugar are too much for me so I only have these once or twice a year. You can make them at home if you want that kick more often.

Traditional Vietnamese Iced Coffee is (at least where we go) brought to your table in 2 parts: a tall glass full of ice, and a metal coffee filter over a cup. The coffee slowly drips through into the cup which has a layer of sweetened condensed milk on the bottom. When the coffee is ready, you stir together the coffee and milk and pour over the ice. I don't have any filters like the restaurants do, so here's our method.

Vietnamese Iced Coffee

2 Tb sweetened condensed milk
6 oz very stong hot coffee
tall glass filled with ice

Spoon the milk into the bottom of a glass (not the one filled with ice) or a mug. Pour the coffee slowly over top, trying to keep the 2 layers separate. Let sit for a few minutes to heat up the milk. Stir together the coffee and milk, then pour over the ice. Stir to bring down the temperature, then drink.


Vietnamese BBQ-d Chicken Thighs

These chicken thighs are marinated with flavors of Vietnam, then cooked on the barbecue to add a smoky flavor. If you don't like chicken thighs use drumsticks or breasts, but thighs really are the best.

8 bone in chicken thighs, skin off or on
zest of one lemon
5 garlic cloves peeled and cut in half
5 shallots peeled and cut in half
1 jalapeno or other hot chile seeded and cut in half
1 tb brown sugar
1 tb fish sauce OR soy sauce

Dipping Sauce:
2 Tb red wine vinegar
2 Tb soy sauce
juice of one lime
2 garlic cloves peeled and cut in half
1 jalapeno or other hot chile seeded and cut in half
2 tb brown sugar

Rinse and pat the chicken dry. Place in a large plastic bag or dish. Place the lemon zest thru fish sauce in a blender or food processor and blend to a paste. Rub the paste all over the chicken. Cover the dish and let the chicken sit for 2 hours.

Preheat your barbecue and cook the chicken over medium heat until cooked through. Remove to a plate and let sit while you make the sauce.

For the sauce, combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender and whiz until smooth. Pour into a bowl and serve on the side.

Previous Alphabet Posts:
A is for Artichoke
B is for Beet
C is for Carrot
D is for Dogs
E is for Egg
F is for Fondue
G is for Garlic
H is for Hamburger
I is for Indian Food
J is for Jamie Oliver
K is for Kaffir Lime Leaves
L is for Lobster
M is for Mushroom
N is for Noodle
O is for Onion
P is for Pub Food
Q is for Quinoa
R is for Rice
S is for Sushi
T is for Taco
U is for Upside Down Desserts

Carrot Ginger Soup

Well! It's April 19 and it's snowing. That really sucks.

But you know what doesn't suck? Carrot Soup! Ever since I did C is for Carrot and Peabody left me a comment saying she wished I had made a soup I've been meaning to. But never did.

And then I found myself with 5 pounds of the most delicious carrots from Lund's Organic Farm. How could I not?

Carrot Ginger Soup

2 tb oil
1 leek, washed well, white and light green parts chopped
2 tb ginger
24 oz peeled carrots, cut into rounds
4 cups vegetable broth
1 cup low or non fat milk

Heat the oil over medium heat in a large pot and cook the leeks until starting to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the ginger and cook another 3 or 4 minutes. Add the carrots, stir well and cook 5 minutes more. Pour in the broth. Simmer the soup, covered for 20-25 minutes or until the carrots are tender. Remove the soup from heat and puree. Stir in the milk and season with salt and pepper.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Blog Party 21 - Let's Have A Picnic

I think I done missed a couple of Blog Party's thrown by Stephanie over at Dispensing Happiness, but I'm back, baby! The theme for Blog Party 21 is picnic food. Sadly, our weather isn't co-operating with said theme. I was hoping to have an actual picnic to write about, but Mother Nature just won't have it.

So here's my contributions to the party from the comfort and warmth of my kitchen.

Up first, our drink, this month of the non-alcoholic variety:

I love to drink this in the summer. It's just water with thinly sliced cucumber and lemon. It is so refreshing. My other favorite is mint, lots of fresh mint steeped in water. I can't wait for my mint plant to spring back to life (hopefully) soon.

And also with the cucumber, Greek salad on cucumber rounds. Simple, refreshing, and easy.

We don't mess around much with Greek salad. Tomato, Kalamata olives, green onion, red bell pepper and feta mixed with a bit of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Stephanie, you've whet my appetite for some outdoor eating! You'd better hope the weather turns soon, or I'm coming to your house!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Preserved Lemon - The Lemoning - Part One

Some of you may remember that back in February I started to make preserved lemons. Then I updated the progress and used some of the quick batch for WCC 14. And then I went on holidays and sort of forgot about them. I'd see them in my fridge and go "Oh yeah!" and then forget again. But someone out there wouldn't let me forget! A lovely reader named Mike has also made some lemons that were ready for use on April 1 and has been waiting for me to get off my keister and do something with them, already! So this one's for Mike:

Mashed Potato and Preserved Lemon Cakes

I made these to get rid of some leftover potato. These would go very well with roast chicken. I really enjoyed the chutney with them, you may not.

1 cup mashed potatos
1 tb finely chopped preserved lemon

oil for frying
mango chutney, optional

Pull the flesh off the rind of the lemon and discard the flesh. Rinse the rind under water and pat dry. Mince the rind very finely (i put mine in the food processor) and mix into the mashed potatos. Heat some oil in a pan over medium heat and form the potatos into small cakes. Fry the cakes, turning once, until golden on both sides. Serve plain or with chutney or other topping (sour cream, maybe?)

Mike, I'm working on some other stuff! Don't give up on me yet!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Weekend Cookbook Challenge 15 - Easter/Spring Food

lemon yogurt cake from a whisk and a spoon.

Just to let you know the round up for WCC 15 is done. Go and check it out.

Thanks to Marta for hosting and thanks to all who joined in this month. See you next month for Weekend Cookbook Challenge #16 - Something New.

Friday, April 13, 2007

U is for...

U is for Upside Down Desserts.
Who:Upside Down Desserts.
What: Most simply, an upside down dessert would have the filling or topping (ie sauce, fruit, nuts) placed at the bottom of the pan/baking dish. The batter or dough is placed on top and then when the cooking is finished the dish is inverted, so the topping is visible. Most upside down desserts are cakes.
Where: The word "Cake" was first used in Europe in the 1200's. However similar goods had been made since the Middle Ages.
When: Cakes that were similar to our modern style began over there around the 1600's. The Pineapple Upside Down cake, the most popular style of Upside Down Desserts, was created in the early 1900's, most likely in the 1920's when canned pineapple was readily available.
Why: 'Cause it tastes good!

Easy Strawberry Upside Down Brownies

Alrighty, get your self a box (GASP!) of brownie mix. I used the low fat sort you only have to add water to. Mix up the batter as per the box and set aside. Preheat your oven as per the box too. Then take your muffin tins - I use silicon - and grease or spray VERY WELL. You don't want these suckers to stick. DO NOT use paper liners, because then you can't see the bottom, what becomes the top. Chop up some berries and put a spoonful or so in the bottom of each muffin cup. Top with the batter and cook as per the directions on the box. When they are done, and don't forget to do the old toothpick test, remove them from the oven and let them sit for 10 minutes on a rack, still in the pan. Then carefully flip the muffin pan over, tapping, wiggling and prying as needed to get those suckers out. Hopefully they will all come out whole and intact. If not, they still taste good.

Upside Down Apple Tart

altered slightly from Baking: From My Home To Yours by Dorie Greenspan

1 sheet pre-rolled puff pastry
4 oz butter
1/2 cup sugar
5 large Red Delicious apples, peeled, cored and cut into fourths

Heat a 10 or 12" pan over medium high heat. Add the butter and stir, coating the surface of the pan. When the butter is melted, sprinkle over the sugar. Place the apple quarters in the pan tightly. Cut up one or two of the quarters and fill in any small spaces between the apple pieces.

Cook the apples, without stirring, over medium high heat until the sugar caramelizes. Lower the heat to medium if necessary. When the sugar has turned golden, remove the pan from the heat. Preheat the oven to 375'. Roll or press out the puff pastry, if needed so the pastry is a bit larger than the pan. Poke some holes in the pastry with a fork and carefully lay the pastry over the pan, adjusting as needed to cover all the apples. Bake for 25-35 minutes until the pastry is crisp and golden brown.

Remove the pan from the oven, and wearing oven mitts and being VERY CAREFUL, invert the pan onto a plate or tray that is at least 2 inches larger than the pan. Center the tart on the plate, wipe away any splatters and let sit for 20 minutes before serving. Serve with vanilla ice cream for the best dessert.

Previous Alphabet Posts:
A is for Artichoke
B is for Beet
C is for Carrot
D is for Dogs
E is for Egg
F is for Fondue
G is for Garlic
H is for Hamburger
I is for Indian Food
J is for Jamie Oliver
K is for Kaffir Lime Leaves
L is for Lobster
M is for Mushroom
N is for Noodle
O is for Onion
P is for Pub Food
Q is for Quinoa
R is for Rice
S is for Sushi
T is for Taco

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Presto Pasta - For me to know and tofu to find out.

I bought the coolest book a couple of weeks ago - Tofu 1-2-3 by Maribeth Abrams. There are a lot of recipes I am anxious to try out, but I started with a pasta for this weeks Presto Pasta hosted by Ruth at Once Upon A Feast.

I picked this recipe for two reasons: One, the tofu is hidden in the sauce which is neat, and two, finally I could use the nutritional yeast flakes I bought in Canmore.

I was a bit surprised about the lack of seasoning in the sauce, so I've made some changes. It's really really good - you'd never know there was tofu in there unless the cook told you. It's also fast - by the time the pasta has cooked your sauce is ready to go.

Tomato and "Cheese" Pasta

adapted from Tofu 1-2-3.

1 1/2 cups tomato sauce
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4 to 1/2 tsp hot pepper flakes
1 tsp dried onion
1/2 tsp salt
1 package soft silken tofu drained
5 tb nutritional yeast flakes
2 tb sweet white miso
2 tb lemon juice
1 lb pasta, cooked according to the package directions.

Mix together the tomato sauce thru salt. When the pasta is cooked, drain and return to the pot. Add in the tomato sauce mixture and heat gently. Meanwhile mix together the tofu, yeast flakes, miso and lemon juice in a blender or with a hand blender. Add the tofu sauce to the pot and heat until warm. Season with salt and pepper if needed.

The day after I made this I gave the recipe to a lady who works in my building. She's been asking me to give her some healthy vegetarian recipes to cook at home. I also gave her some miso and yeast flakes so all she would need to buy would be the tofu, pasta and tomato sauce. She came to see me a few days later and raved about how good the sauce was. I was very happy she'd tried it; I had expected the miso, tofu and yeast flakes to scare her off. But then she said "Of course I made a few changes. I didn't buy tofu, so I left that out. I also didn't use the miso or the nutritional yeast. But other than that I followed the recipe exactly!"

Ah, what are you gonna do!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


HERE'S a story for you...

My boss just celebrated his birthday. On his past birthdays I would bake him a cake. The first year, a white cake. The next two years, my world famous carrot cake with cream cheese icing. Then he mentioned in passing, months before his birthday, that his favorite cake in the whole world is angel food cake with cream cheese icing. So I remembered, and made that for him the next two years.

In the past year my boss has really changed his eating habits. He won't go near anything fried, fatty, sweet, chocolate, etc. A former work collegue stopped by our office a couple of weeks ago and dropped off a cake. He wouldn't go near it and complained about it even being there. So I naturally assumed that he would not want a cake this year. I mean, you'd think the same, right?

When he came into the office this morning I was on the phone. I could not figure out why he was pacing the halls, going into everyone's office and the fax room/kitchen over and over again. When I got off the phone he stomped into my office and demanded to know where his cake was! When I tried to explain why there was no cake, well. Have you ever heard the sound a wounded Rhino makes? Add in some hair pulling and arm waving and you've got the picture. My day. ALL DAY.

So in order to preserve my sanity, I made a stop at the grocery store on the way home.

Nope, not even going to make him the real cream cheese icing. And if he doesn't eat this cake tomorrow, so help me...he will wear it.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Free Hugs

This is so awesome I almost cried...

From Free Hugs Campaign Dot Org:

"Sometimes, a hug is all what we need.

Free hugs is a real life controversial story of Juan Mann, A man whos sole mission was to reach out and hug a stranger to brighten up their lives.

In this age of social disconnectivity and lack of human contact, the effects of the Free Hugs campaign became phenomenal.

As this symbol of human hope spread accross the city, police and officials ordered the Free Hugs campaign BANNED. What we then witness is the true spirit of humanity come together in what can only be described as awe inspiring.

In the Spirit of the free hugs campaign, PASS THIS TO A FRIEND and HUG A STRANGER! After all, If you can reach just one person...

Now go hug someone!

Happy Wednesday.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Easter Weekend

My parents left this morning to go back to B.C. (booo!). We've got a fridge full of leftovers, so we won't have to do much shopping for a few days. Here's some of the stuff we ate.

We had a snack ready Friday afternoon when Mom and Dad got here; sweet and sour meatballs. They were very good, although the sauce didn't get as thick as I would have liked.

Friday night for dinner we had steak and roasted potatos and salad. My parents made their version of Ruth's Chris Chop Salad and lo, it was good.

We had lunch at Ichizen and my Dad said it was better than the Japanese restaurant they go to back home. Next time we go visit them (hopefully next month) I'd like to try it out. For dinner that night we had pasta with olives, capers, fresh oregano and feta cheese. And more Chop Salad!

Sunday morning we showed my parents how to cook omelette's in freezers bags - a super fantastic idea I saw over at Chowtimes. Go here to read about the Ziplock Omelet. There's our 4 bags cooking away...

... and finished product.

We had a very very nice dinner on Sunday night. Roast pork, mashed potatos and honey glazed carrots. Go here to see the pork recipe. To make the honey glazed carrots just steam some carrot slices until tender, then stir in some butter and honey. Add a bit of chopped parsley if you happen to have any handy.

And you can't have Easter without some sort of Chocolate. We made Chocolate Mousse...made with Tofu! It is so damn good. No one would know it's got tofu in it unless you told them. This is the second time we've made it. It won't be the last.

Sweet and Sour Meatballs

adapted from Looneyspoons by Janet and Greta Podleski

1 1/2 lb skinless lean ground chicken
1/2 cup italian style breadcrumbs
1/3 cup diced red onion
1/3 cup chopped parsley
1 egg white
1/2 tsp ground sage
2 garlic cloves minced
1 250 ml jar raspberry jam, seedless if possible
1/4 cup yellow mustard
2 tb horseradish

Mix together the chicken thru garlic until well combined. Form into one-bite meatballs, around 1 inch in diameter. Line two baking trays with parchment paper and spread out the meatballs. Bake at 400' for 15 minutes. At this point you can set the meatballs aside and when you are ready to serve make the sauce and reheat the meatballs.

In a large pan combine the jam mustard and horseradish. Cook until the jam and melted and the sauce is hot. Carefully add in the meatballs and cook, stirring often until the meatballs are heated thru and covered with the sauce.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Cookbook Spotlight - Ships of the Great Lakes

Hi everyone! We have the round-up done for the Spotlight on The Ships of the Great Lakes Cookbook.

Go here to read Part One with Mary at The Sour Dough and go here to read Part Two at WCC.

Hope you enjoy it, have a great weekend!

Friday, April 06, 2007

T is for...

T is for Taco.
Who: Taco
What: A Mexican style sandwich wrapping flour or corn tortillas around various fillings.
When: In the 1500's a Spanish soldier who had come to The New World wrote about the dish that used fillings such as fish and insects.
Where: The popularity of Tacos has spread from Mexico, where the Tortilla is a food staple, to all over North America and beyond.
Why: Why not? They're delicious, easy, versatile and fast. Tacos are a great way to sneak lots of veggies into a meal too.

Tortillas for tacos can be soft or hard. In the United States, the hard tacos are the most popular.
Popular fillings for tacos include ground beef, sliced steak or chicken, chorizo sausage, beans, lettuce, tomatos, onions, cheese.

Also popular: salsa, guacamole, cilantro, hot sauce, lime juice.

Did you know? There are more than 6,500 Taco Bells in the US.

Fish Tacos

300 g Tilapia, cut in strips or chunks
juice of 1 lime
1 tb oil
1 tsp chile powder
1/2 tsp cumin

for the taco assembly:
flour tortillas
sour cream
chopped cilantro

Whisk together the lime juice, oil, chile powder, cumin and salt. Toss together with the fish in a bowl. Let sit for 20-30 minutes. Heat a large skillet over high heat with a bit of oil. Drain the marinade off the fish and add the fish to the pan. Cook until the fish is done and a bit crispy.

Layer the fish and other desired toppings in the tortillas, roll and serve.

Chicken Tacos with Pineapple Salsa

For the chicken, we use rotisserie chicken from the grocery store cut in chunks. Heat the chicken and some taco seasoning in a small pan over medium heat until the chicken is hot.

Place your tortillas on a microwave safe plate and cover with damp paper towel. Microwave for 20-30 seconds until warm. Place one tortilla on a plate and top with the chicken, slices of tomato, onion, or whatever suits you. Top with pineapple salsa and roll up.

Pineapple Salsa

1 cup diced fresh pineapple
1/4 cup diced red onion
1 tb chopped cilantro
lime juice to taste (start with about 1/4 of a lime)
pinch of salt
pinch or two of cumin

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Taste and adjust lime, salt or cumin if needed.

Bean and Vegetable Taco with Avocado "Cream"

Warm up your flour tortillas as directed above. Heat some black or refried beans and spread on the tortilla. Add your choice of veggies - lettuce, sliced radish, tomatos, sliced avocados, onions, whatever. Top with the Avocado "Cream", roll up and serve.

Avocado "Cream"

1 avocado, peeled, pitted and mashed
2-4 tb plain yogurt or sour cream
1-2 tsp chipolte salsa OR chiplote en adobo, or to taste
lime juice

Mix the avocado, yogurt and salsa together. Taste and add more yogurt or salsa to your liking. Squeeze in some lime juice and season with salt if needed.

**We use soft flour tortillas because those are our favorites. Use hard shells if that's what you like.**

Previous Alphabet Posts:
A is for Artichoke
B is for Beet
C is for Carrot
D is for Dogs
E is for Egg
F is for Fondue
G is for Garlic
H is for Hamburger
I is for Indian Food
J is for Jamie Oliver
K is for Kaffir Lime Leaves
L is for Lobster
M is for Mushroom
N is for Noodle
O is for Onion
P is for Pub Food
Q is for Quinoa
R is for Rice
S is for Sushi

Tuesday, April 03, 2007


Instead of individual posts on these dishes, here's a round-up of recipes I've made from other bloggers recently.
  • I found this recipe for Coconut Chai Breakfast Cake via a link from another blog that now I can't find. I really enjoy Fatfree Vegan Kitchen and this cake was so good. I left half at home and took the other half to work. As usual I didn't tell anyone that it was vegan and as usual they were all gone in a snap.

  • This recipe is going in my permanent collection. Behold the beauty that is Delia's Chicken Chili with Cheese. This comes from the How To Cheat section on her website. These recipes use pre-cooked or convenience packaged ingredients to speed up cooking times. You can make this chili in just about 30 minutes, and it tastes absolutely incredible.

  • A long while back I saw over on Baking Sheet that Nicole made French Toast in her waffle maker. Now that I have a new waffle maker that works, I thought I'd take that idea one step further: stuffed french toast waffles. We made two kinds, one stuffed with jam and one stuffed with ham and cheese, sort of like a Monte Cristo of sorts. As usual, my pictures are awful and don't show how delicious they really were:
Here's the ham and cheese one. Scott had his plain, I had a bit of maple syrup on mine:

This one is stuffed with lingonberry jam, my current favorite jam:

We beat 2 eggs with about 3/4 cup of milk and added a pinch of salt and a pinch of sugar. Make your little stuffies, dip them in the eggs and cook them in your waffle iron as per the manufacturers instructions.

  • After the U.S. has it's Thanksgiving last year Lis at La Mia Cucina posted about her Easy Stuffing and boy it sure looked good. I bookmarked it and kept going back to look at it. But we had already had our Thanksgiving, and we were not having a turkey for Christmas. What to do? I really wanted to try it. So I turned it into a casserole.
It's not that different from Lis' recipe which you can see here. I used the same amounts of stuffing, zucchini, onion, and mushrooms. I used the 2 tb of butter for sauteing, but substituted 1/2 cup of vegetable stock for the stick of butter. I also substituted the soup and sour cream with a can of low fat cream of mushroom soup and fat-free sour cream. Once I had it assembled, I pressed some cooked cut up chicken breast into the top and then covered with the onions.It was totally delicious! Scott loved it, so I'm sure it will make many more appearances at our table. Thanks Lis!

  • I'm late to the game (as usual) but I am LOVING It is so easy to keep track of new recipes I want to try and new websites I want to read. One of my favorite new finds is A Veggie Venture, a great site full of recipes heavy on the veggies. I bookmarked Alanna's baked pasta recipe she made for the Mac-n-Cheese-Off, but of course the night I decided to make it I didn't check the recipe to see if I had what I needed. So we made a few adjustments and came up with a delicious variation of Alanna's pasta dish. The recipe for her original Baked Pasta with Ham Tomatos and Peas can be found here.
my computer ate the picture.

Here's ours.

Ham and Pea Pasta

adapted from Alanna's Veggie Venture's Baked Pasta with Ham Tomatos and Peas.

8 oz Organic Vegetable Gemelli
1 cup of diced ham
1-28 oz can fire roasted tomatos
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
6 oz shredded smoked gouda cheese
1 tsp dried basil
2 cups frozen peas
3/4 cup non fat milk

Cook and drain the pasta. Mix the pasta with the ham, tomatos, the cheeses, basil and peas. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Spray a baking dish with non stick spray and pour the pasta in. Pour the milk over top and bake at 375' for 30 minutes. Turn broiler on and broil until the top is bubbly and crisp.

  • These are extremely, completely, utterly delicious waffles - and their name is Nummy Yummy Waffles. The recipe is from The Garden of Vegan by Tanya Barnard and Sarah Kramer. No eggs, no dairy, and only 1 tb of oil in the whole batch! Made with ground oats and whole wheat flour. Total yum for body and soul. We get about 8 waffles out of a batch and the leftovers and great toasted and spread with jam.

And lastly, this is not food related, just really funny.

"My Humps" Alanis Morissette

from YouTube

Happy Tuesday!