Saturday, March 29, 2008

Italian Potatoes

I love potatoes with a meal but after eating them at least 3 times a week for 18 years, you get a little tired of the same old mashed and baked potatoes. Well, one night upon realizing that Hubby had a hockey game that we had to leave for in just over an hour and I hadn't even decided what to make for supper yet - I was in need of something quick and simple.

4-5 medium Unpeeled potatoes, chopped into cubes
1 to 2 tbps olive oil (the recipe called for 2 but I found I didn't need that much)
1 pkg zesty italian seasoning ( I used 2 -3 tablespoons of Club House One Step Seasonings - Italiano)

1. Place chopped potatoes into a sealable bag (like a large ziploc) and drizzle with oil. Shake until they are coated.
2. Sprinkle seasoning over the potatoes, seal bag and shake until coated. You can adjust the amount of seasoning you would like to add, just make sure they are all a little coated with seasoning.
3. Dump the potatoes into a shallow pan so that they form a single layer and bake for 30 minutes at 400F. Then remove from the oven, stir and cook for another 5 to 10 minutes until they are browned.

These were delicious and so easy to make! Hubby loved them and couldn't stop eating them - so much for leftovers.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Just like a Scorebar!

After recieving a candy thermometer in the Jknotties Kitchen Gadget Exchange I decided to try making some more candy. I love toffee so I went looking for a recipe. Most of the toffee recipes I found included nuts - and I am really not a fan of nuts in my baking or candy so I decided to just leave it out.

I got this recipe off of and it is delicious - with semisweet chocolate chips on top it tastes almost exactly like a skor chocoate bar! Thanks to FUNKYSEAMONKEY for this great recipes!

I cut the recipe down a lot as I didn't want to have a ton of this candy laying around.

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup white sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1. In a large heavy bottomed saucepan, combine the butter, sugar and salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring until the butter is melted. Allow to come to a boil, and cook until the mixture becomes a dark amber color, and the temperature has reached between 280 - 290 F (137 degrees C). Stir occasionally.
2. While the toffee is cooking, cover a 8x8 baking pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper.
3. As soon as the toffee reaches the proper temperature, pour it out onto the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle the chocolate over the top, and let it set for a minute or two to soften. Spread the chocolate into a thin even layer once it is melted.
4. Place the toffee in the refrigerator to chill until set. Break into pieces, and store in an airtight container.

As I have said above this tasted just like a skor bar. The entire batch was gone the night I made it. Hubby and his friend could not stop eating it! The hockey guys also loved the little bits I was able to save for them that night. This was delicious and will become a family favourite I am sure.

Cinnamon Buns Take Two

So after my first attempt at cinnamon buns I decided that I wanted something a little softer and gooey. The other cinnamon buns were alright, but they weren't soft like a cinzeo bun. Upon looking an all I found a very well rated cinnamon bun recipe that looked easy enough - A clone of a cinnabon.

I halved the recipe but made the same amount of icing. I also followed some of the reviews and did this without a bread maker as I do not actually have one. What I did is outlined below:

1/2 cup warm milk (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
1 eggs, room temperature
2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons margarine, melted
2-1/4 cups bread flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup white sugar
1-1/4 teaspoons bread machine yeast

1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon and 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons butter, softened

1 (3 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt

1. In an oven safe bowl mix together the ingredients for the dough and knead together.
2. Heat the oven to 200F and then turn it off. Cover the dough with a damp cloth and pace in the oven to rise for about an hour or until the dough has doubled in size.
3. In a separate bowl mix together the ingredients for the filling as the dough is rising.
4. Remove from oven and roll into a rectangle. Cover with the filling and roll.
5. Cut into 6 buns using a serated knife, and place in a 8x8 pan.
6. Cover with a damp cloth and place in the oven for another 30 mintues or until the buns have doubled in size.
7. Heat the oven to 400F and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until the buns are golden brown.
8. While the buns are baking cream together the ingredients for the icing.
9. Place icing on warm buns and serve.

These were absolutely delicious and everything I hoped they would be. Hubby loved these as well and his friend said they were great as well. I will make these again for sure!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Homemade Nutella!

I am a nutella fanatic, I can't have a jar in the house or I will eat it by the spoonful if I have nothing to put it on. Now, even though I love the stuff, I can often find it a little sweet (well a lot sweet at times - like by the third serving in 10 minutes). I always thought it would be great to find a less sweet version - and upon my internet wandering on day I ran across a blog that caught my nutella loving attention - Su Goods Sweets. On her blog there were not only one, but Two recipes for making your own Nutella!

My Mother in law has a great yard complete with a hazelnut tree, so instead of going and buying some nuts, I had her send me some nuts from the fall off the tree. She sent me a rather large amount of nuts, and I proceeded to spend the next couple days cracking nuts until I had 2 cups of whole hazelnuts with the skins still on.

I decided to use the second recipe as it had apparently been revamped from the first one to cut down on the chalky taste of the powdered sugar.

My first attempt at making the caramel sugar didn't turn out so well, as I wasn't sure how dark a "medium amber" was supposed to be. The second time I made the caramel sugar I broke out the new candy thermometer and took the sugar to "hard crack" at about 300F. This worked perfectly.

The nutella turned out great, less sweet than the brand name stuff and more nutty. Everyone who has tried it loves it!

Thanks to Jessica for the fantastic recipe!

Orange Brownies

So I was grocery shopping last weekend, and upon getting the checkout I was informed that I got a free box of oranges. Now thinking that this was free and as such would only be 5 or 10 oranges, I gladly accepted my free oranges. Then I I get the oranges and find that it is a rather large box with at least 25 oranges in it. Now I love oranges, but there is no way I can eat that many. Upon looking in a couple of my cookbooks for some baking that I could do with them I found a recipe for orange brownies, now this recipe uses a boxed mix, but I thought I wuld give it a try as I had a box mix in the cupboard and I couldn't think of anything else I would use the mix for.

Orange Brownies:
1 box of fudge brownie mix
1 whole orange

1. Cut the orange into quarters and remove the seeds. Place quarters (including the rind) into a blender/food processor and blend until smooth.
2. Mix the box of mix together as directed on the box, leaving out the water. Instead of adding water, add the processed orange.
3. Follow the box instructions for baking.

These brownies were delicious - they tasted like a Terry's Chocolate Orange. I will definately make this again ( or maybe I will try to make a non box version of the brownies.)

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Gadget Exchange

As some of you may have seen on other blogs (or may have been part of) a group of us did a Kitchen Gadget Exchange in February. Well, due to customs, mine was a little delayed - but it is here now! I want to thank the lovely Dawn for the fabulous gadgets. I can't wait to start using them.

Included in the package was a candy thermometer with a digital readout. This is great, as now I don't have to worry about going out to buy one to continue my candy making adventures and the bonus - I don't have to wear my glasses to read it. Also included were some small cake pans that will be perfect for making cakes for 2, so maybe I won't have so much baking around the house and have to find people to pawn it all off one. I am looking forward to making some more cakes.

Thanks again Dawn, the gadgets are great. Look for updates on their handiness in the near future!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Chocolate Covered Caramels

So, even though I had halved the caramel recipe I made on the weekend, I found myself with an whole lot of caramels. I decided to have some fun with them, and since they were really sticky when you tried to touch them, I decided to try covering them in chocolate.

Melt 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Dip caramels into the melted chocolate and set on parchment paper to cool.

Once cool and hardened wrap the chocolate caramels in pieces of parchment paper and enjoy.

My Hubby and his friends loved these, and were eating them all night. However once they found the uncovered caramels they decided they were better without chocolate on them (but only slightly). His friends all left with pockets full of Caramels.

Butterless Banana Muffins

I am in love with banana muffins and banana bread, but not in love with fat filled desserts (I need to wear a swimsuit in a month!). Now I was unable to find a low fat banana muffin recipe that was still as good as the regular recipe, so I set out on a mission to make my own. The result was the following recipe, that is delicious, even my Hubby loves these muffins.

3 large mashed ripe bananas (~1.5 cups)
3/4 cup white sugar
1 egg
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour.

1. Mash the bananas, then add applesauce sugar and egg. Mix well with the masher.
2. In a separate bowl mix the dry ingredients before adding them to the banana mixture.
3. Fill muffin tins/muffin cups with batter. Bake at 375F for 20 minutes.

Note: I added chocolate chips to half the batter for my Husband, he loves chocolate chips in his banana bread and muffins. These are super good as well, and my Hubby can't tell the difference between them and the regular oil/butter recipes.
I LOVED these muffins, and think they are one of the best banana muffins I have ever made.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Cinnamon Buns in a Hurry

I was craving cinnamon buns today and decided to make some, only to find that I was out of yeast. Then I discovered this recipe in my old 4H cookbook. I was so happy to be able to make the buns without waiting for the dough to rise, so I decided to try it.

3 cups flour
2 tbsp sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup unsalted cold butter
1 cup cold milk

1/3 cup butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
3 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup raisins

1. Combine the flour, sugar and baking powder in a large bowl. Cut in the butter and mix well. Add the milk, and mix. Knead until a dough is formed.
2. In a small bowl cream together the butter, brown sugar and cinnamon for the filling.
3. Put 1 tsp of the filling into the bottom of each sup of a muffin tin.
4. Roll the dough out into a rectangle. Spread the filling out onto the rectangle and sprinkle with the raisins. Roll the dough into a roll and cut into 12 buns. Place a bun in each of the muffin tins.
5. Bake at 400F for 20 minutes.

These buns were yummy with lots of cinnamony goodness. However, the dough could have used some more liquid and 20 minutes may have been a tad long for baking. After they cooled the dough became dry and not as yummy. They were good wile they were warm, but not so much afterwards. I don't know if I will make these again.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

My Attempt at Making Caramels

This weekend I had the pleasure of being home alone for the whole the weekend - now as great as it is to have some peace and quiet I also found that having this much time on my hands leaves me extremely bored. Especially when things that were planned fall through - through a calander error plans I had for the weekend seem to actually be taking place two months later - I had written them down for March instead of May.

So with all this extra time I decided that I would try something that I have been meaning to try for years - making my own caramels. I had always shied away from this due to my lack of a candy thermometer (I have been meaning to get one for ages, and somehow it always gets forgotten) and my fear of the candy "stages". I had the time and nothing to do so I figured I would just run out and get a candy thermometer - turns out my Hubby took the car keys with him, so no luck on going anywhere. Now instead of doing the smart thing and waiting till I had a thermometer, I decided to try my luck with the "stages".

I found an easy looking Chewy Caramel recipe on and decided to give it a try. So in trying to get everything ready in order do the softball testing, I accidently let the sugar burn a little. I am hoping people don't notice it too much (I didn't when I tested the mix). Then off course I was completely paranoid that I was going to overcook the mixture and I am pretty sure that I have undercooked it, as it is really soft and I had to put it in the freezer to get it hard enough to cut. This isn't actually so bad, as I love softer caramels that you suck on more than you chew.

I am took them to my H's team's hockey game tonight and some of his team-mates and spectators tried them. They all liked them, although they did say chewing them wasn't a good idea. I will try this again when get a thermometer and see if I can't get them a little harder.

Chicken Kabob

So after a long winter and it not being quite ready to warm up yet, I decided I needed to add a little spring and summer to my dinner. What is more summery than Hawaiian chicken on kabobs?

3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons sherry
1 tablespoon safflower oil
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
3 lg skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - cut into cubes
1 (20 ounce) can pineapple chunks, drained
1 green pepper
1 red pepper

1. Mix the soy sauce, brown sugar, sherry, oil, ginger and garlic powder in a dish to be used for marinading.
2. Add the chicken and veggies to the marinade (Note it is safer to use two marinades and keep the chicken and the veggies seperate), marinade for at least 2 hours.
3. While the chicken and veggies are marinading, soak the skewers in water so they will not burn.
4. Spear chicken and vegetable onto skewers and grill until the chicken is cooked.


I loved this! It was just the burst of summer I needed as a pick me up. Hubby said this was keeper recipe and his friend raved about it. The only thing I would do differently is marinade it a little longer - I barely made the 2 hour mark.