Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Bacon pancakes, makin' bacon pancakes...

Relevant to the cat's interests...
Hubs doesn't really love breakfast foods, especially if they're bread-like and/or sweet (French toast, pastries, muffins, etc).  He does, however, love breakfast meats. I mean, who doesn't like bacon?! (Quiet, vegetarians and your ilk...)

Hubs was up late on baby duty, and came across this clip from Adventure Time (one of our favorite cartoons). It's pretty catchy, and had the added benefit of calming our little Dude.  There is also a ten-hour version.  I have spared you.

The unintended (but perhaps obvious) side effect? Hubs wanted bacon pancakes for breakfast the next morning. Luckily, I had seen just this on Pinterest!!

It would seem that Pinterest now has MANY such recipes... Love the Breaking Bad reference on the left ;)
 I used this oven-baking method for the bacon from (genius!) and made this pancake batter from Allrecipes (notably, I substituted bacon grease for the melted butter).  It became pretty simple after that- pour one over the other!

The result wasn't glamorous, but it WAS tasty. Hubs loved it, and The Dude enjoyed watching.  Hubs is now convinced that we should buy a food truck and serve these.  Of course, they'd also be battered and fried with cinnamon, chocolate and powdered sugar.  He's even investigated companies that would make a custom food truck.  I wonder if there's enough room at the Strawberry Fest for another food vendor...

Om nom nom.  Kinda like Cookie Monster.  But with pancakes.
The one on the left is still too small for solids.  I'm sure Hubs is hoping he'll take to bacon immediately at 6 months...
Hoping early exposure to bacon smell is beneficial for baby's growth,

Friday, November 15, 2013

Cajun Shrimp Pasta

Believe it or not, I managed to actually cook a bona-fide meal!  Wohoo!!  I even set up G-man's bouncy chair in the kitchen (safely out of the way of culinary dangers) so he and I could hang out while I was cooking.  Somewhat unfortunately, though, this leftovers container is the only pic I have of it.  Oh well.  A testament to how tasty it was!

Since my lengthy blogging hiatus, Pinterest seems to have soared in popularity.  I'm not immune; I even have a board linking back to this blog, showcasing my favourite pics.  No harm there!  I bring up Pinterest because Hubs' mom posted this recipe the other day, and it caught my eye.  Stupid-simple?  Spicy?  Tasty-looking?  Using ingredients I usually have around the house?  Winner!

Here's the pic from the recipe at this site.  MUCH better than mine (and looks far more appetizing!)
Of course, I can't leave well enough alone.  I had to muck with both the recipe and the method of preparation (the original involving the use of chicken, which isn't Hubs' favourite, and far too many dishes for my liking.  Ain't nobody got time to wash all that!).  This is my slightly altered version!

 Cajun Shrimp Pasta
Adapted from

Serves 4, with leftovers

Cajun Blackening Seasoning:
  • 2 tsp paprika (smoked or sweet)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 3/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp dried oregan
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • freshly cracked pepper (20-25 cranks of a mill)
For the Pasta:
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1/2 yellow bell pepper
  • 2 small cooking onions
  • 1 lb frozen raw shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails off (especially if you're Hubs)
  • 1 28-oz can diced tomatoes (fire-roasted if you have 'em; I didn't)
  • 1 large scoop (maybe 1/4 cup?) cream cheese
  • 12 oz (or ~330 g, or ~3/4 of a 1 lb package, or whatever you can estimate) linguine
  • 3 green onions
  1. Combine the herbs and spices for the blackened seasoning in a bowl.
  2. Prepare a large pot of water for the pasta. Bring it to a boil over high heat and then add the pasta. Cook the pasta until tender and then drain in a colander.
  3. Meanwhile, thinly slice the bell peppers and cooking onion. In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Once the skillet is hot and the butter is melted, add the sliced vegetables, and sauté until they are tender.  Add the shrimp and half of the blackened seasoning.  Cook until shrimp are cooked through (pink, firm, and opaque all the way through). 
  4. Turn the heat under the skillet down to medium low. Add the can of tomatoes (with their juice) and the second half of the blackened seasoning. Add the cream cheese. Stir the mixture until the cream cheese has melted and created a creamy sauce.
  5. If your skillet is extra large, add the cooked pasta to the skillet and toss to combine with the shrimp, vegetables, and sauce. If your skillet is smaller, you can add the drained pasta back to the large pot it was cooked in (with the heat turned off), then add the shrimp, vegetables, and sauce to the pot and stir to combine.
  6. Slice the green onions and sprinkle over top before serving.

Tastiness, and took only about a half an hour at best.  Served this to my parents (now known as "the Nonni", Italian for grandparents) as a small token of gratitude for everything they've done for us since G-man arrived.  Of course they insisted that it wasn't necessary (and Nonna even did the dishes), but that's why we love 'em.  Plus, even though I'm a busy new mom, I can't leave behind my tradition of using friends and family members as guinea pigs for all my new recipes!

Looking forward to making some freezer-friendly baked pasta casseroles for her & her friends' new little families,

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

And baby makes three...

...hours between "milkings."

Caught you off guard there, didn't I?

Yes, as mentioned briefly in my last (and very belated) post, our little bundle of joy is here.  Baby G is rockin' it so far.  We love him to bits.  So much so that, after our nursing partnership turned into more of an angry one-sided relationship, I have dedicated much of my days to making "magic Mommy Juice" by exclusively pumping (EPing) and feeding it to our little man via bottle.  It's great, because Hubs gets to help!

Here he is, my lazy baking partner!  Graham Raymond Richard, born 11-Oct-2013, 5 lb 14 oz!  Proud first time mommy, daddy, and grandparents are all doing well.
How is this relevant to my food blog?  Well, since we have an extremely hungry little man (born a little too small for everyone's liking), milk-making has become a big deal around here.  It's pretty much the ONLY food I make these days; we adults have mostly been subsisting on leftovers generously provided by friends and family or frozen microwave/oven meals.

I swear, there's a recipe in this post.

See?? I swear this isn't all about baby!!
I'm trying all sorts of things to make the most Magic Mommy Juice possible.  I forget how I came across this recipe for oatmeal chocolate chip "lactation cookies", but I finally (after 3 1/2 weeks with G-man) got a spare hour to pull them together.  They're tasty (and, they're a perfect excuse to eat cookies without impunity)!!

Apparently the "magic" ingredients are oatmeal (I've been eating a huge bowl every morning), flax, and brewer's yeast.  I've used flax before as an egg substitute, so that was nothing new.  I'd never seen brewer's yeast before, but after some help from a Bulk Barn associate, I got my hands on some.  I used the max amount called for in the recipe (4 Tbsp, or 1/4 cup); it sort of made the cookies taste malted.  Reminded me of an oatmeal stout I had once.  Not a bad thing!!

Here's the brewer's yeast!  It's very interesting in that it's a byproduct of beer-making; it's not active or alive at all (it's already done its job, making delicious booze!)  I had a guy in Bulk Barn try to convince me to buy active brewing yeast from his website; the helpful store associate chided him for trying to steal away customers!  Plus I had to explain to him that this wasn't for home brewing.  He didn't believe me.
My lonely Kitchenaid; it's been about a month since she saw any use!!  Mixing up the dough here.

Finished product!  Tasty stuff.  Even Hubs had one (after I assured him that they wouldn't turn him into a dairy cow like me)!  I've packaged some up for my friend with a 4-month-old, and there's a store of them in the freezer for whenever Teh Kimmeh's baby girl bundle of joy arrives!
Ah, motherhood.  It's all new and exciting to me, but I'm doing my best (with the amazing, constant, wonderful support of Hubs) to have my cookies and eat them too!

Thinking that Medela is the most wonderful company in the world,

Saturday, September 28, 2013

So yeah, life...

Step 1: Do a whole bunch of job interviews in Detroit (just ignore Spock!)

Step 2: Get offered a job in pediatric genetics.

Step 3: Buy a house in Windsor for the first time over the course of five days.

Step 4: Get a great big convoy and move HOME.

Step 5: Make a baby (oven timer's almost up on this one; should be done cooking in 25 days!)

Step 6: Remember that, once upon a time, I had a food blog...

Lots of changes! Including a new-to-me but rather dated kitchen that makes for lackluster food pics. Ah well. Let's just pick right back up!!

I had a long day of gathering up the last few things that my & Hub's little "Dude" is going to need. Along the way, I was hit with a craving for Vietnamese noodle bowls (probably because my last stop, the grocery store, is next to a place called Pho Mango...)

My cousin introduced me to this deliciousness during a trip to visit him many years ago in Austin, TX. I've craved them ever since. Finally I worked up the gumption to make them myself. How hard could it be, really?? It's not much more than rice noodles, julienne veggies, a tart, salty sauce and some protein. I could do that!

I used this Allrecipes site for the basics, but got a little fancy tonight. FreshCo had four little rock lobster tails on for $10, so I thought I'd treat my crustacean-loving Hubs to something special (he's been such a champ through the hot mess that is me + pregnancy!)

The package suggested a lemon butter recipe, but I improvised a bit given the flavors in your typical noodle bowl. I melted 1/4 cup of butter with a healthy dollop of sriracha, the juice of 1/4 lime, lime zest, and grated fresh ginger (maybe a 1/4 tsp each; I didn't measure). That got brushed on the tails before being broiled in the oven for about 10 minutes (until the tail meat was flaky and opaque).

I got together my other ingredients (I like using baby spinach instead of lettuce, and left out the mint and daikon). The end result (along with some store-bought spring rolls) looked pretty delish, if I do say so myself:

Hubs was rather thrilled with the whole thing, and it was honestly so easy to throw together (even after a long day on my elephant-swollen feet). Ease of preparation is most definitely something I need to keep in mind in days ahead! It's led me to a whole new world of freezer +/- crockpot cooking... But more on that another time.

Thoroughly enjoying life with a full belly,

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Tea, sympathy & banana muffins

 Things have been quiet around here.  Winnipeg doesn't seem to have gotten the memo that spring/summer should really be around the corner.  Today it's overcast, drizzly, and 10ºC (50ºF for those south of the border!)  Perfect time for sipping hot beverages and making muffins.

Banana muffins were a weekend staple in our house.  It seemed we always had overripe fruit to contend with.  My mom had a spiral-bound cookbook called "Muffin Mania", which I loved... it was perfect for the beginner cook (which I definitely was, at age 12).  My Nonna loves making banana muffins, too... she'll make a batch, freeze them, and reheat them individually whenever we show up for weekend coffee.

The pics here are from a batch I made quite awhile ago, but I found a recipe that seems to work super-well, and has the added benefit of being quick and easy.  I whipped up a batch in about 10 minutes while Skyping with Tori last week, and Nonna-style, they lasted me well into this weekend.  Mmm!

Best-ever Banana Muffins
From Robin Hood Home Baking 2004, by way of "The Canadian Baker" (another fellow Blogger user!)

Makes 1 dozen
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 cups mashed ripe banana ( 3 or 4 large)
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Grease a 12-cup muffin tin or line with paper liners.
  2. Beat egg, mashed banana and melted butter in a large bowl until thoroughly blended.
  3. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add to banana mixture and stir just until moistened. Spoon batter into prepared muffin pan.
  4. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until tops spring back when lightly touched.
  • Add 1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries or blueberries to the batter.
  • Add 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips to the batter (I used chopped 70% chocolate last week... mmm!)
  • For a vegan version, substitute 1 Tbsp ground flax mixed in 3 Tbsp water for the egg and dairy-free margarine for the butter.

Off to put on my ugly sweater and curl up with a warm, snuggly (if somewhat annoyed) cat,

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Sunday Dinner Series Part VI: Totally Non-Polish Perogies

Hooray for the iPhone!! Without it, I'd be very bored sitting here in the Winnipeg airport without my library eBooks, Facebook, email, Skype, Words with Friends, etc etc. and now Blogger!! Hooray! Flight delay entertainment? There's an app for that!

Perogies are a big thing in Winnipeg. I've been good-naturedly teased about buying frozen Cheemos from Superstore when there are so many great local, handmade offerings. These pillowy pockets seem to be a staple at big family meals here, even if there isn't a drop of Eastern European blood sitting around the table.

Despite defending my frozen, mass produced varieties, I felt the need to see if I could make a decent perogies from scratch (and nobody criticize my spelling... This is how I've ALWAYS spelled it. You people and your kubasa... I'll never understand). Turns out, I can!! I got the recipe here.

I did doctor the filling somewhat, keeping Hubs in mind. I added a seeded, chopped jalapeño when cooking the onions. I also fried, cooled and chopped some top-of-the-line PC double-smoked bacon. Heaven, people.

I will admit, all the hassle didn't seem worth it in the beginning. I had a hard time rolling the dough to a consistent thickness, so some were more doughy than others. Also, the dough seemed a bit tough (not tender and pillowy) the first time around. This actually improved after freezing... I stored a batch and cooked them later in the week and was much happier.

So would I do it again? Meh, maybe, if only to fool around with the filling some more. Otherwise, how can you beat a jumbo variety pack on sale for $3.99??

Feeling her Winnipeg (and food blogger) cred slipping away,

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Sunday Dinner Series Bonus: Challah!

I've got one of these in the oven right now, so what better time to post?

There are times I'm glad I don't do a vlog/audio component to these entries.  One of the docs I work with keeps criticizing my pronunciation of 'challah.'  I guess I just can't make that Hebrew/Yiddish 'ch' sound properly...
Deb once told me about a wonderful bakery in Winnipeg that closed many years ago.  According to her, they made the best challah.  I've always thought it was a beautiful loaf of bread, and so versatile... good for dinner, breakfast, French toast, etc.  I've also heard that it can be challenging to braid.  What's that?  A food challenge?  Accepted!

When we had Deb over for a roast beef dinner, I decided to surprise her with my first-ever challah efforts.  She was definitely surprised!!  I felt like a whole slew of Babas were rolling over in their graves at the thought of two goyim (me and Hubs) working in the kitchen- he with the laptop+YouTube, me with the six strands of bread dough- trying to make this thing work.  And work it did!  After the first bite, our guest exclaimed, "Y'know what this reminds me of?  Did I ever tell you about that bakery that closed..."  YES!

It's somehow fitting that I got the recipe for this loaf from another Deb, over at Smitten Kitchen.  Her blog is something that all other food blogs aspire to, I'm sure (I know I do).  I cut her recipe in half (I don't usually have a use for two loaves at once), and use black sesame seeds instead of poppy seeds (I prefer them, myself).  In terms of braiding, this is why Hubs was holding the laptop for me in the kitchen...

Very, very helpful.

Best Challah (Egg Bread)
Adapted from Joan Nathan by Deb @ Smitten Kitchen
Makes 1 loaf
  • 3/4 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 1/2 tablespoon plus 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup olive or vegetable oil, plus more for greasing the bowl
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 tablespoon salt
  • 4 to 4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • Sesame seeds for sprinkling
  1. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast and 1/2 tablespoon sugar in 7/8 cups lukewarm water.
  2. Whisk oil into yeast, then beat in 2 eggs, one at a time, with remaining sugar and salt. Gradually add flour. When dough holds together, it is ready for kneading. (You can also use a mixer with a dough hook for both mixing and kneading, but be careful if using a standard size KitchenAid - it’s a bit much for it, though it can be done)
  3. Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead until smooth. Clean out bowl and grease it, then return dough to bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour, until almost doubled in size. Dough may also rise in an oven that has been warmed to 150 degrees then turned off. Punch down dough, cover and let rise again in a warm place for another half-hour.
  4. To make a 6-braid challah, either straight or circular, form the dough into 6 balls. With your hands, roll each ball into a strand about 12 inches long and 1 1/2 inches wide. Place the 6 in a row, parallel to one another. Pinch the tops of the strands together.  Watch the YouTube video I posted :P Then place braided loaf on a greased cookie sheet.
  5. Beat remaining egg and brush it on loaf. Either freeze breads or let rise another hour.
  6. If baking immediately, preheat oven to 375 degrees and brush loaves again. Sprinkle bread with seeds, if using. If freezing, remove from freezer 5 hours before baking.
  7.  Bake in middle of oven for 30 to 40 minutes, or until golden. (If you have an instant read thermometer, you can take it out when it hits an internal temperature of 190 degrees.) Cool loaves on a rack.
Note: Any of the three risings can be done in the fridge for a few hours, for more deeply-developed flavor. When you’re ready to work with it again, bring it back to room temperature before moving onto the next step.

I also made this for Christmas/Chanukkah this year, for my aunt, uncle and cousins.  The whole family gobbled it up!!
Off to enjoy a traditional brisket dinner at Deb's tonight and celebrate the Oscars,