Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Hungarian Goulash

Hungarian Goulash
Honestly I have no clue how authentic this is. It probably isn't, but I don't care. It's yummy and it's something that goes awesome with the Fluffy Whole Wheat Rolls I made specifically for this.

I used beef shank cuz it was on sale, but honestly any cheap cut of meat/muscle would go well with this. The awesomeness of braising and stewing makes any meat super tender and fall-apart-y. This is definitely a dish that best utilizes those cheap tough meats. :D

Hungarian Goulash
(serves 2)

  • 1 lb stewing beef, cubed
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Tbsps paprika (Hungarian is best)
  • 3/4 cup beef broth or water
  • 2 Tbsps tomato paste
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsps canola oil

  1. Heat oil on medium high heat in a medium pot or Dutch oven. While the oil is heating up, add flour and season it with about 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper in a medium mixing bowl. Toss in beef cubes to coat evenly.
  2. Sear beef cubes until they're nicely browned. Sear in batches, if necessary. Transfer beef to a bowl or plate. Set aside.
  3. Stir in onions, garlic, paprika and tomato paste, scraping up brown bits as the onions releases its juices. Cook until onions start to soften and garlic gets fragrant. Add the beef back in, including any juices that may have run and beef broth or water.
  4. Bring to a boil and then lower heat to the lowest setting. Cover and simmer for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, or until tender (beef falls apart when poked with a spoon).
  5. Serve with Fluffy Whole Wheat Rolls and a side salad.

You can always make this into a one pot meal by adding some root veggies in the beginning to stew and then adding in some cooked quinoa at the end.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Fluffy Whole Wheat Rolls

Fluffy Whole Wheat Roll
It's so fluffy I'm gonna die!! >_<

Seriously these are fluffy. I think I've found my go to bread recipe for all soups and stews. Woohoo!

I gotta try making this into a loaf. Or a giant bread bowl for my French Onion Spinach dip. OMG or even use it as a soup bowl. I wonder if the bottom would be sturdy enough. Or make mini french bread-ish loaves for sandwich making. Or add some spices/herbs to make it into a fancy kind of bread. Oh the possibilities...

Fluffy Whole Wheat Rolls
(makes 16 small rolls)

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 1 Tbsp instant yeast
  • 2 Tbsps sugar
  • 2 Tbsps canola oil, plus more for greasing
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 egg, beaten + 2 Tbsps water (optional)

  1. In a large bowl (I used my stand mixer's bowl), stir together warm water, yeast and sugar. Let stand for a couple of minutes while you get everything else together.
  2. Add in the oil, salt, whole wheat flour and 1 cup of all-purpose flour. Using the dough hook on your stand mixer, mix on low. Stir in the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Turn it on medium speed and let it knead for about 8 minutes until smooth and elastic.
  3. Pull the dough ball up using one hand and the other to lightly oil the bowl. Turn the dough around to coat in oil. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until the dough doubles in volume, about an hour. In the mean time, two baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
  4. After an hour, uncover the dough and punch out all the air. Separate the dough into halves until you get 16 equal sized pieces. Form into round balls and place 8 onto each of the parchment lined sheets, spaced evenly apart. Cover the rolls with a damp cloth and let it rise while you preheat the oven to 400F. This should take only a few minutes but if you have time, let the rolls rise until doubled in volume, about 40 minutes.
  5. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until golden brown. (Optional) In a small bowl, mix egg with 2 tablespoons of water and brush on top of rolls before baking to have a nice shiny top.

It's practically winter here and cold most of the time, so it's hard to find a warm place to let any dough rise. But I always have my microwave! It's the best place for keeping your dough when you want it to proof. Just cover it with a damp cloth, shut the door, set the timer and remember not to touch that microwave door for the next hour. As long as the door stays shut, it is THE BEST place for the bread to rise. It works every time. ;)

You can also just stick all the bread rolls onto one parchment lined baking sheet if you don't mind the sides sticking together.

Oh oh and the water temp. I'm too impatient/lazy/whatever to bother testing the temperature for the water. My rule of thumb is to just stick a clean hand or a couple of fingers into the water. If it's just a little warmer than me, then it's good to go. Human beings tend to be about 96F degrees and the water is supposed to be 110F degrees, so if it's a little warmer than I am, then I'm golden. This method hasn't failed me yet!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Summer Limeade

Summer Limeade
So the weather has been cold and dreary. Typical around this time of the year and very depressing. Thank goodness for summer drinks! This limeade made it less dreary.

I love this drink. And evidently so does K, since he bit onto the straw pretty darn hard when I tried to remove it from his mouth. It was tough trying to pry it from his grip without splashing it all over the place. That kid drank almost half my drink! Crazy...

It's even better with a shot of tequila but ssshh....K is not to know about this until he's a lot older. ;)

Summer Limeade
(serves 6-8)

  • 1 1/2 cups freshly squeezed lime juice (about 10 limes)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups water, plus more
  • 1/4 tsp salt

  1. In a small sauce pan, dissolve sugar in 1 1/2 cups of water to make a simple syrup.
  2. In a 2 gallon or 4 liters pitcher, combine lime juice, syrup, salt and enough water to fill the pitcher.
  3. To serve, fill glasses half way with ice cubes and pour limeade over the ice. 

The limeade is pretty tart stuff, so the ice shouldn't water it down. If you find that it's too tart, just divide it into two pitchers and fill with enough water to your tastes.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Honey Garlic Wings

Honey Garlic Wings
So one of Hubby's favourite wings is just good old plain salt and pepper wings. I, on the other hand, love saucy wings, so my go to is most definitely honey garlic. That day when I made the Roasted Salt & Pepper Wings, I also made a honey garlic sauce to go with it. It was just a tad salty, so I'd suggest that if you're going to slather the honey garlic sauce over these wings, you'd make the wings with less salt.

Honey Garlic Wings
(serves 4-6)

  • 3 lb Roasted Salt & Pepper Wings (made with less salt), or any cooked wings
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 2 Tbsps cornstarch
  • 2 Tbsps soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

  1. In a small pot, combine sugar, water, honey and garlic. Bring to a boil and let it boil for about a minute while you make the soy slurry. 
  2. Dissolve cornstarch in soy sauce in a small bowl and whisk into the sugar mixture. Keep whisking until it starts to thicken. Turn off the heat and pour over cooked chicken wings. Toss to combine.
  3. Serve as is as an appetizer or with some rice and veggies as a meal.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Roasted Salt & Pepper Wings

Roasted Salt & Pepper Wings
I have not had wings in a while. Pre-K we'd go for $0.39 wings (or something like that) at the pubs and stuff. But since K, we haven't gone to any of those places anymore, thus no cheap wings. Since we haven't had any in a while and wings were on sale, I decided to just go for it and make my own. I made these for K's first birthday and they were all gone, so they couldn't have tasted too bad. ;)

Hubby and I had these for lunch and it was more than enough. I think if you were to make them as appies for a party or something, they'd stretch a lot further.

Roasted Salt & Pepper Wings
(serves 4-6)

  • 3 lbs wings, split and tips removed
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

  1. Preheat oven to 450F and line 2 shallow roasting/baking pans with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, combine olive oil, salt and pepper together. Toss in wings and mix thoroughly.
  3. Spread wings onto parchment lined pans and roast for 20 minutes. Flip wings over and cook for another 15-20 minutes, or until wings are cooked through and golden.
  4. Serve as is or with your favourite dip/hot sauce.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Braised Pork with Apple & Onion Gravy

Braised Pork with Apple & Onion Gravy
First time ever combining apples with pork. It's pretty good. It's weird that I've never tried this before, but it was pretty good. I think I prefer the roast pork from Hong Kong style BBQ places though.

This made a lot of gravy (could've used more flour to make it thicker, but meh), which I then stored in the freezer for future pork chop uses. I wouldn't call this a traditional gravy though. More like a sauce? Oh the identity crisis...

Braised Pork with Apple & Onion Gravy
(serves 6-8)

  • 5 lb pork shoulder, cut in half
  • 2 large onions, sliced
  • 3 medium (or 2 large) apples, cored and sliced into wedges
  • 4 cups apple juice
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 Tbsps canola oil (or bacon grease)

  1. Heat up the bacon grease or canola oil in a large Dutch oven or pot on medium high heat. Rub a generous amount of salt and pepper onto the pork shoulders. Carefully place one into the Dutch oven and sear all sides. Transfer to a plate and repeat with the other one.
  2. Transfer the second piece onto the same plate as the first. Stir in onions and apples to the Dutch oven and sauté, scraping up the brown bits as the apples and onions start releasing its juices.
  3. Return the pork shoulders back into the pot, cover with apple juice, broth and two bay leaves. Bring to a boil. Cover and lower heat to the lowest setting simmer for 2 1/2 hours.
  4. After 2 1/2 hours, transfer pork shoulders onto a plate to rest. In the mean time, crank up the heat to full blast and let the sauce reduce to half. In a small bowl, mix the flour and water to make a slurry. Once the sauce has reduced to half, whisk in the flour slurry and heat thoroughly. The oniones and apples should've disentegrated by now. If not, just use the whisk or a spoon to smush it all up.
  5. To serve, slice pork shoulders and pour gravy over the slabs of meat, accompanied with some wild rice.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Pollo a la Brasa with Potatoes

Pollo a la Brasa with Potatoes
I was looking at this Peruvian restaurant's menu. I've never had Peruvian food before, but I'm always up for trying new cuisines, so I was intrigued. I hadn't a clue what I'd order if I went to the restaurant, so I did a little research.

One of the least adventurous dishes was the pollo a la brasa (Peruvian roasted chicken). I thought it looked yummy so I went and looked up some recipes and came to this one. I don't know how authentic this is but it was indeed yummy. Of course I didn't follow the recipe exactly. I tried. I really did, but I hate water brines, so I didn't do that. Instead, I had planned on marinating the chicken over two nights rather than just one. But then I got impatient and wanted to eat this. Next time I'll marinate it for two nights because the flavour didn't really get all the way into the chicken. Oh wells.

And it's easier to roast a chicken after it's been cut into 8 parts, so that's what I did. Hah. :P

I think this can be a dish that I could just serve on plain white rice rather than the potatoes. Or wild rice. I love wild rice.....or a rice pilaf! Oh the possibilities...

Pollo a la Brasa with Potatoes
(serves 4)

  • 1 whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces
  • 1/4 cup canola oil/extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp garlic salt
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 3 medium russet potatoes, cubed

  1. In a large Ziploc bag, combine oil, vinegar, garlic, chili powder, cumin, garlic salt, paprika, oregano and soy sauce. Toss in the chicken pieces and massage until well coated. Marinade in the fridge overnight (or 2 nights).
  2. Preheat oven to 375F. 
  3. Add potatoes into the Ziploc bag. Massage until potatoes are well coated. Pour everything from the Ziploc bag into a roasting pan, arranging chicken to rest on top of the potatoes, skin side up.
  4. Bake for 45 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through (165F when tested with a thermometer). Rest for 10-15 minutes before serving.
  5. Serve chicken with the potatoes and a side salad.

Update: You can always freeze the chicken pieces for up to 2 weeks in the freezer and then take it out the night before you want to bake it to defrost in the fridge.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Carrot Cake Thumbprint Cookies

Carrot Cake Thumbprint Cookies
There was a cookie bake-off at work and you get points for creativity. At first I thought "what can be more original than carrot cake cookies!?" Oh how wrong I was. After some research to try to find the right "formula" to turn a cake recipe into a cookie one, I found out from a friend that there already are people making these. Doh.

At first I was a little disappointed that someone already had "my" idea, but then I got over that pretty quickly when I realized that I could just do what I normally do with recipes - research a bunch of them and then do my own thing! :D

These cookies are like little cakes. They're super soft and cake-like, especially during the second day. Good if you like the cake-like cookies. Not so good if you're looking for something crunchier.

Carrot Cake Thumbprint Cookies
(makes approximately 4 dozen)

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups coarsely grated carrots (approximately 2 medium)
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup honey

  1. Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 375F.
  2. Whisk together flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Set aside.
  3. Beat together butter, sugars, egg, and vanilla in a bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy. Mix in carrots and raisins at low speed. Scrape down the sides and mix on high for a couple of seconds to make sure everything is well incorporated.
  4. Add flour mixture and beat until just combined.
  5. Drop 1 tablespoon batter per cookie 2 inches apart on baking sheets and bake, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until cookies are lightly browned and springy to the touch, 12 to 16 minutes total.
  6. While cookies are baking, whip cream cheese with honey until smooth. Spoon into a Ziploc bag. Set aside.
  7. Take cookies out of the oven and use your thumb or a wooden spoon to press “thumbprints” into the center of the cookies while they’re still warm. Cool cookies on sheets for a minute.
  8. Snip off a small corner of the Ziploc bag and pipe cream cheese filling into the thumbprints.
  9. Transfer cookies to racks to cool completely before storing away or eat immediately while still warm with coffee or milk.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Sticky Sweet & Sour Chicken

Sticky Sweet & Sour Chicken
I love sweet and sour pork whenever we go out to Chinese restaurants. Either that or the Peking Style Pork Chops. They're similar but different. K loves the pineapples int he sweet and sour pork dish and I love the meat. I wanted to make it at home, but without the deep frying, since I don't do that at home.

I haven't a clue where I got this recipe. I was just flipping through one of my older notebooks when I came across this one. It is indeed sticky and saucy.

Sticky Sweet & Sour Chicken
(serves 4)

  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed
  • 1-2 bell peppers, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup white vinegar
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 2 Tbsps soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsps cornstarch
  • 1 Tbsp canola oil

  1. In a bowl, combine sugar, vinegar, water, ketchup, soy sauce and cornstarch. Mix until cornstarch has dissolved. Set aside. 
  2. In a wok or large pan, heat up oil on medium high heat. Brown chicken until opaque. Stir in peppers, onions and garlic. Cook until onions just get soft.
  3. Add the mixed sauce. Cook until sauce has thickened and chicken is cooked through, stirring occasionally. 
  4. Serve with rice.

Friday, November 1, 2013

French Onion Spinach Dip

French Onion Spinach DipIt's a cheat, but it's my go to dip. It's simple and it goes well with chips and sourdough bread. It's awesome for parties. :D

It might be better if you use your own French onion spice mix but I don't make this enough or use French onion spices enough to validate making a big batch of spices so I just use the packets. Bad, I know but there's spinach in this, so I'm going to consider it "healthy" with giant quotes. :P

French Onion Spinach Dip
(serves 6-8)

  • 1 10oz package of frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
  • 1 28g packet French Onion soup mix
  • 2 cups sour cream
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • Pepper, to taste

  1. In a medium bowl, mix together soup mix, sour cream and mayonnaise until well blended. Add in spinach and mix well. Season with some freshly ground pepper.
  2. Chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours for flavours to meld.
  3. Serve with chips, crackers or in a bread bowl with the top and dug out pieces chopped into cubes.