Saturday, January 30, 2010

Healthy Baking - Double Bran Blueberry Muffins

I know what you are thinking... I have not been around very much in the last week as I have been battling a cold (the cold was winning) and I have been busy with a few other projects.  But now I have a wonderful cup of tea and best of all I have time!

So what has gone on recently that you would have missed...?  I made these yummy (healthy) double bran muffins.  I as per usual can't follow a recipe as it reads so I added candied ginger and blueberries.  Because who can resist blueberry bran muffins!

Here is the recipe; (I initially found it on my favourite Better Homes and Gardens website -

Double Bran Blueberry Muffins ( calls them two bran refrigerator muffins)

2/3 c whole bran cereal
1/3 c.   oat bran
2/3 c.   boiling water
1/2 c.   non-fat milk
2 egg whites (lightly beaten)
1 T.   candied ginger - minced
2 T.   cooking oil
1 1/2 c.   all purpose flour (I am not sure that I would ever use whole wheat flour here -  that would be bran, bran and more bran!)
1/4 c.   packed brown sugar
1 1/2 t.   baking powder
1 t.   cinnamon (I put 2 t. in - cinnamon and blueberries... yum)
1 pinch of salt
1 c.   frozen or fresh blueberries

In a medium bowl - add 2 brans together and stir in boiling water.  Add in milk, egg whites (I let the mixture cool a little as to not cook the egg whites), oil and minced candied ginger.

Mix together flour, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, salt in a second bowl, add in blueberries and gently fold into bran mixture.

Lightly grease muffin tins - or use paper liners.  Fill each muffin cup about 3/4 full, garnish with a sliver of candied ginger and bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. You can also do the toothpick test to see if they are done.  This recipe makes about 12 to 15 muffins.  The original recipe makes 12 muffins but I got 15 when I added the blueberries.

These are wonderful served warm but the next day for breakfast or a mid morning snack they are delicious too!

Next time I make these I think I will leave out the ginger and just make blueberry bran and top them with a lemon sugar glaze.  Now I just need to find a perfect lemon sugar glaze...

That's all for now!  I am off to search for more healthy recipes, see you soon.


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Sunday Dinner - Lamb Burgers

Sunday is a special day and Sunday dinner is a wonderful time to reflect on the week that has past and the weekend that always seems to fly by.  It can be a time to gather with family and friends to celebrate, to enjoy delicious food and drink and to gently prepare for the week ahead.

This past Sunday as I have mentioned earlier we planned a wonderful dinner.  On the menu was Lamb Burgers with homemade ketchup, Japanese coleslaw and sweet potato fries.  It was simple fare but so delicious.

The ketchup was sweet with a hint of spice, the tomato taste was dark and sweet.  Lamb, I find is a sweeter meat so the sweet ketchup was wonderful addition.  We garnished our burgers with the usual array of burger toppings - creamy fontina cheese, crunchy sour pickles, sweet juicy tomatoes and a vast array of mustards.  All of this a top a soft whole wheat bun.  It was heaven! (And with the leftovers... Mondays lunch was delicious too!)

And if you liked the sound of dinner, you'd better read on about dessert! It was a rustic Apple Ginger Galette.  So simple to make and you know how the first piece of pie is the hardest to get out in one piece, no worries here! No pie plate either!  Sweet apples, lively ginger and a wonderfully buttery pastry.

That was dinner on Sunday and dinner on Monday was a little different, week night dinners are usually a little lighter but never any less gourmet! I am so sorry to tell you that I did not get any photos of Mondays dinner so you will have to be satisfied with me telling you about it.  So as I was starting to say... Mondays dinner was very so quick to make, here is how it went.
spaghetti (for 2)
shrimp (about 5-7 each) - cleaned with the tails on (I like to keep the tails on as they are a perfect little handle)
1 can of chickpeas - drained and rinsed
1 can of diced tomatoes with juice
1/4 red onion thinly sliced
2 cloves of garlic - grated
a few sprigs of rosemary - minced
4 slices of prosciutto - chopped into 1" pieces
lemon zest & juice
salt & pepper

Step 1 - put a pot of salted water on to boil for your pasta, we had spaghetti but you could use any long shape pasta.
Step 2 - once the pasta goes into the pot, heat a pan with olive oil to start the shrimp.  Once the shrimp are starting to show colour add all the rest of the ingredients and heat through.  Drain the pasta and plate! It is that fast.  10 minutes from taking the ingredients out of the fridge to sitting at the table.

That's all for now, come back later for more food adventures!


Saturday, January 16, 2010

3 lbs of tomatoes

As I mentioned in my last post I have decided to make my own ketchup.  Well, 3 pounds of tomatoes and 3 hours later I have 2 small bottles of ketchup.  Even though it was so time consuming the end result is delicious! I found the recipe in a Jamie Oliver cookbook (Jamie At Home).  The ingredient list was quite lengthy and some ingredients were a little surprising.  Fennel, celery, ginger, red chili pepper and coriander seeds are just a few of them.  Now that my ketchup is made and I have tasted it I realize that all those surprising ingredients have their place in my ketchup!  Through this process I was worried that the ketchup would be quite light in colour, but as I simmered the ketchup down to a typical ketchup consistency it changed colour quite a bit - it is now a nice dark red-orange.

It was an exciting process to make this, not something that I would do very often but in the Fall when we have loads of ripe tomatoes from the garden it would be a great way to enjoy our tomato harvest.

That's all for tonight, see you all after our gourmet food adventure tomorrow!


Thursday, January 14, 2010

A late dinner

So I have not been blogging much this week... many apologies to my readers!

Today was a really long day, I went right from work to a hair appointment then out for a bit of shopping, now that I am at home I need dinner... So what would be quick, easy and gourmet?
Grilled chicken on a bed of sweet butter lettuce with cottage cheese, fresh tomatoes, carrots & celery topped with my comfort food - an over easy fried egg.  Some many think that is sounds like a strange combination to have both chicken and egg, but it was fresh, clean and perfect for dinner at 10pm.

This weekend I am planning a celebration dinner.  Celebrating a job change and the completion of a very big exam.  This dinner is for my nearest & dearest friends Chelsea & Brian, two wonderful chefs in their own individual ways and partners with me in my gourmet food adventures! This dinner will be so much fun.  So far on the menu we have homemade lamb burgers with homemade ketchup - yes, I will be attempting to make my own ketchup.  I will borrow a food mill from the Baking/Cooking 101 lending division or also known as Mom's kitchen.  And I suppose that I should do a bit of research on homemade ketchup - or I could just wing it... You will read all about it after the weekend is passed.

Right now I have been enjoying these little tiny Clementine Oranges, they are so sweet and juicy.  I am dreaming of a Clementine White Sangria.  You will soon learn about my many Sangria recipes, actually I don't really follow a specific recipe, I just create with what ingredients I have around and mixing things up as I go.  A favourite of mine for the winter is this Winter Spice Red Sangria, I have written it out in a recipe format for you.

1 bottle of Red Wine - I like a Merlot
1 bottle sparkling apple juice (or Club Soda)
1 Orange cut in half then sliced thinly (half moon shapes)
1 Apple sliced the same way as the Orange
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen whole Cranberries
1 cup fresh or frozen blackberries
2 tablespoons cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
2 1/2 oz. Spiced Rum or Brandy

Add cut fruit, cloves, cinnamon and Spiced Rum to large pitcher; gently muddle together. Then add wine and sparkling apple juice.  Enjoy immediately and responsibly!

A few things to remember when creating your own Sangria; you will need wine, something sparkling, fortification in the form of Brandy or Rum.  (I have not tried fortifying with Vodka but I suppose it could be good so it is worth a try!)  As well you need fruit, citrus is a popular choice, apples are always good and mixing flavours together is quite nice too.  A good combination is peaches and raspberries.  I like to slice the fruit quite thin - it makes it delicate and easy to eat. The most important thing to remember about Sangria is don't be afraid to experiment, it is just fruit and wine mixed together with love.  have fun with it!

Later I will write about my spring and summer Sangrias, the possibilities are so endless.

Now it is late and I need to sleep, so be sure to come back to read about my very exciting celebration dinner this weekend - I just know it will be a fantastic food adventure!

Until next time - happy cooking


Friday, January 8, 2010

Iced Oatmeal Applesauce Cookies

Here is a picture of the Iced Oatmeal Applesauce cookies (from Martha Stewart's Cookies book as mentioned in yesterdays post).  They were super easy to make and so delicious! A real home-baked taste, sweet and chewy.

These cookies were baked for an occasion, a fun and exciting occasion.  At work we had this big meeting, and I was asked to bring some baking for the coffee break.  I certainly could not decline this request as it would have disappointed many!  And now after the fact, I really don't think I did!  It was the many wonderful comments that I received that made me happy and proud to share my baking.  I love to bake, I would even consider it a passion of mine and with this comes the joy that I get back when I share my passion.

Everyday we must spread joy, I do it through food.

After a very busy day for dinner tonight I got a real treat.  Tanner - my ever so sweet husband - made me dinner.  Spaghetti and meat sauce, simple but delicious!  Since he made dinner, I think now I have to do the dishes.  In our house the kitchen is not just mine, it is a shared space. A space where we come together after a long day at work.  A space where we gather with friends and family.  A space where so many memories are created.

So after a long week of busy days and very late nights I am looking forward to a quiet evening and a nice and relaxing weekend with Tanner.  This weekend is when we are celebrating 10 years together, a weekend where we can look back at many happy memories and think about the future of us together.  Most likely there will be some sort of food adventures too!

Have a wonderful weekend with hopefully a gourmet food adventure of your own!


Thursday, January 7, 2010

the baking bee has bit me

Well, I needed to bake... it is almost like an addiction.  A good addiction and thank goodness I have many friends and family that are willing to eat my baking.  Otherwise... ugh that thought scares me.

So I baked tonight, cookies and not just one kind but two - because we all know that two cookies are better than one! On the cookie menu tonight there are Chewy Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies from this fantastic Martha Stewart Cookie book and also from the same cookie book just a few pages down I made Iced Oatmeal Applesauce Cookies.

Tonight was a wonderful night to bake as I had some of the very best kitchen help any cook or baker could want.  Mom is her name. She runs the Baking/Cooking 101 hotline that is oh-so-valuable especially when I am up to my elbows in bread dough and something is just not quite right.  Tonight she washed and wiped and washed some more.  You have to understand that I have a small kitchen with very limited counter space so dirty dishes do not have any space to pile up.  And of course my dishwasher is... well... very human.  Usually it is either my wonderful husband (who stays up to wash my baking dishes after I go to sleep) or in tonight's case it was Mom.  I do wash some dishes, but I find that it is so much more fun to make the dirty dishes than it is to clean them.

It is now time to pack away my little goodies and get ready for tomorrow.  I hope there is not too much disappointment in the lack of pictures tonight, but it is late and I will have more time tomorrow to post them!

Good night - I am off to dream of all things sweet.


Tuesday, January 5, 2010


Well as mentioned earlier I made the Ginger Orange Sandies or maybe they are the Orange Ginger Sandies... hmmm, I have to think about that for a while.  They turned good, a great candied ginger flavour the essence of orange with perfect texture, crispy on the outside and lightly crumbly on the inside.  And very pretty too, I rolled each cookie in white sanding sugar with a slice of candied ginger for garnish.  I think next time I will tint the sanding sugar pale orange or yellow to give them a bit more colour.

I forgot to mention in my earlier post that I initially found the recipe for the Christmas Sandies on the Better Homes and Gardens website (a favourite recipe site of mine) and I made a few small changes, increase the amount of lemon zest and use sanding sugar instead of nonpareils.  So this was a slight variation of that recipe, and I think it turned out just wonderful!  I have posted the pictures of these new cookies to the side here, hope you enjoy.

Thats all for now!


Monday, January 4, 2010

I dream of Dinner Tonight

Dinner tonight was a quick soup - Tomato Tortellini was on the menu.

Start with 28 oz. chicken stock, bring to a simmer and reserve about 1 cup, add 9oz. tortellini pasta.  In the reserved cup of chicken stock add 100g cream cheese, mix together and set aside until pasta is ready.  Once pasta is ready add cream cheese and stock mixture and 1 can of crushed tomatoes (or 1 can of tomato soup).  Bring to a gentle boil and add in any assortment of herbs, I added thyme and rosemary.  Serve immediately with fresh chopped parsley, grated parmesan cheese and fresh chopped tomatoes.  This is a super quick and easy week night dinner to make, it only took us about 15 minutes to make. If you want to have a quick bread with the soup scones are just as quick to make as this soup.

This recipe is my Mom's Saturday Morning Scones - but we make them anytime and all the time!
1 cup Flour (white or a mixture of whole wheat and white)
1 1/2 teaspn Baking Powder
1/4 teaspn salt
1/4 cup Cold Margarine (or Butter)
1/3 cup Milk
Mix all dry ingredients together, cut in butter and mix in to make a coarse crumb mixture.
Add milk and gently mix until a rough dough is formed. *don't over mix at this point.
Shape into a rectangle and cut into smaller squares or triangles.
Arrange on a baking sheet and bake at 350F for 12 to 14 minutes. (or until nice golden brown on the bottoms)

So that was dinner tonight - easy as ... soup!


We all must start somewhere!

It is a new year - 2010 - and I believe that it is important to try new things and continually expand our knowledge.  I have always thought of myself as a lifelong learner and adventurer so here I am - on a epicure adventure.

This is just the beginning, where we will go and what will we delve into is still yet to be known.

So far I have decided that this blog will be about my gardening and cooking adventures. There may be more added to that as time goes on, but for now I think just gardening and cooking will entertain many.  And while there is a snowy blanket on my garden I will entertain you with my wintertime cooking and baking adventures.  As I sit here with a wonderful cup of tea I am dreaming of what to create for dinner tonight. Then my mind jumps over to something new to bake.  The possibilities are endless and thankfully so are the ingredients!

With Christmas just passed by I have lots of past adventures that I can report on.  Here is one of my favourites that I made recently.

Lemon Cranberry [Christmas] Sandies - They are a wonderful cookie to make at Christmastime but really, you could make them anytime and use different coloured sugars to decorate them with.  (I used red and green sugar - as the season would expect)  the recipe is as follows.  The texture of these cookies is crispy on the outside and crumbly on the inside but not dry at all.  I think it is the cranberries and lemon zest that keeps them moist and delicate.

lemon cranberry [christmas] sandies

Makes: about 144 1/2-inch cookies; 72 3/4-inch cookies; or 36 1-inch cookies
Prep: 30 minutes
Bake: 10 to 15 minutes per batch *or until bottoms are light golden

1  cup butter, softened
1/2  cup powdered sugar
1  teaspoon vanilla
2  cups all-purpose flour
1  cup finely chopped dried cranberries*
3  teaspoons finely shredded lemon zest
  Coloured sugar or nonpareils

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper; set aside. Beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add powdered sugar. Beat until combined, scraping bowl. Beat in vanilla. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Stir in cranberries, lemon zest, and any remaining flour (use your hands to work in flour, if mixture seems crumbly).
2. Shape mixture into 1/2-, 3/4-,or 1-inch balls. Roll dough balls in sugar or nonpareils. Arrange balls 1 inch apart on prepared cookie sheets.
3. Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes for about 1/2-inch balls, 13 minutes for 3/4-inch balls, or 15 minutes for 1-inch balls, or until bottoms of cookies are light brown. Transfer to wire racks and let cool. Makes about one hundred forty-four 1/2-inch cookies; seventy-two 3/4-inch cookies; or thirty-six 1-inch cookies.
*Tip: Place dried cranberries in a food processor. Cover and process until finely chopped. Or finely chop cranberries by hand.

An interesting thought about these cookies is - how would these taste if we took out the cranberries and replaced them with candied ginger and replaced the lemon zest with orange zest? Maybe a little cinnamon and cloves could round out the flavours.  Ginger Orange Sandies or maybe Orange Ginger Sandies,  hmmm, I think I will have to try this.  They would be absolutely divine with a hot cup of chai tea. 

So there is my first post, it was not difficult at all.  Now that my tea is finished and I must make my way to the kitchen to refuel I will publish this post and move on with my day. (which will most likely consist of recipe searching)

Until next time - E