Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Best Cinnamon Bread

I love magazines.  Fashion, Fitness and Food magazines are my favourite.  A really great cooking magazine is Cook's Illustrated.  It is filled with very technical recipes with tons of great information on the how and why, which fills my curiosity and answers all my how and why questions!

In the April issue I found a few recipes to try and so far I have made two of them and they turned out perfect.  My favourite one was the Cinnamon Swirl Bread, it made a light bread with lots of cinnamon flavour and no gaps in between the layers of bread.  I started making it at 4pm on a Wednesday night and I was able to sit down with a slice and a cup of tea at 10pm.  I know you are probably thinking who wants to spend that many hours baking bread?!?  Well, let me tell you... it is well worth it!

... I just went and had a slice for inspiration...
It tastes so amazing, you can't even buy cinnamon bread that is this good.
The end result was a rustic looking braided loaf, (actually it made 2 loaves but one was a taste test subject and therefore did not make the photo shoot) that was filled with cinnamon sugar and lots of raisins.  

For those of you out there who wrinkle your noses at raisins, you really must re-think your relationship with raisins for this cinnamon loaf.  They really do make the bread extra special.  And you know who you are... B.

I would have taken the time to write out all the steps to make this amazing bread but I really have to give the recipe writing credit to Cook's Illustrated and let them share the recipe with you.  Head over to their website and you can get all the info and so much more there!  

If you love cinnamon as much as I do, you will enjoy every last crumb of this Cinnamon Swirl bread.
That's all for now, see you around in the kitchen.


Sunday, February 5, 2012

Natural Energy bars

I am hungry right before my workout, but I don't know what to eat.

My day is so busy, I am rushing from work to the gym and then off to pick up the kids.  What should I eat while dashing between all of this?

Does any of this sound familiar?

There seems to be so many different energy bars, bites, cookies, you name it on the market these days.  And if you read the list of ingredients there are many items that either you can hardly pronounce or they are not really 'food'.  I like to enjoy real food; food that is simple, with names that I can pronounce and food that is created in my kitchen.  Another bonus to making your own energy bars at home is the cost!  Would you rather spend $3 on one energy bar with ingredients that are chemically enhanced or spend $15 and with a great afternoon in the kitchen and get 25 energy bars?!?  Yes, my thoughts exactly.

There are a few different recipes out there for energy bars, each one with its own claim to fame and benefits.  I like to keep it simple, healthy and delicious.  A small energy bite that is low fat, low in processed sugar and high in protein.

Here is my version of an energy bar, bite, cookie or whatever you want to call it.
I like to call them Ella bars and to be seasonally festive I have cut them into heart shapes.  Cute, I know.

Fruit & Nut Ella bars

1 c. chopped, toasted pecans
12 oz (about 2 c.) dates
6 oz (about 1 c.) dried fruit (cherries, cranberries, apricots)
2 T chia seeds
1/3 c. peanut butter (melted)

Using your trusty food processor chop the dates and dried fruits together.  Then add in the toasted pecans and process until the nuts are evenly minced.

Heat peanut butter over medium heat until it is soft and runny.  Add chia seeds to nut and dried fruit mixture and pour in melted peanut butter.  Gently mix all together and press evenly into a pan lined with plastic wrap.

Chill until firm and cut into bars (or shapes).  If you use a cookie cutter to make your shapes, you can roll the leftovers into balls!  Store in a covered container for 1 week, or keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.  You can also wrap each bar individually and freeze for up to 3 months.

Here are a few benefits to these wonderful Fruit & Nut Ella bars;
- great source of protein in the peanut butter & pecans
- healthy antioxidants found in the dried cranberries
- at least 30% of your daily iron requirements in the dried apricots and cherries
- chia seeds are a superfood filled with omega-3s and calcium

Now that I have the perfect snack, it is time to plan a new workout.  Who would have thought that food could inspire a new and exciting workout...?  Around here anything is possible.

That's all for now, see you around in the kitchen.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Sunday lunch

Napoli salad and sweeeet BBQ chicken pizzetta.

What a perfect day.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

the Last Supper

Whomever coined the phrase "all good things in life must come to an end", really knew it all.

Here is a healthy, delicious supper that C and I enjoyed on our last night together in Edmonton.  I am not going to go on and on about C leaving... I really don't want to get a  teary and sad.

So instead I will go on and on about the food instead.

I have this cookbook called frame>by>frame - quick and easy by Parragon Books.  It has beautiful photographs - which is imperative to a great cookbook.  And the recipes are all photographic, quick and easy with simple and healthy ingredients.  The recipe that gave me the inspiration for our Last Supper was the steamed chicken with chile & cilantro butter.  Of course the recipe was only an inspiration or a guide and we therefore made it our own with what we had on hand.

We have this enormous tub of dried wild mushrooms, and seeing that C loves mushrooms...
For a side we made a pilaf from a blend of brown and wild rice with the usual onion, garlic and these wild mushrooms.  It was actually really good!    The rice needed about 55 minutes so we enjoyed foie gras on crackers and a great heart to heart visit.

Once the rice was done we started the main.  While C sautéed the mushrooms, onion and garlic I started prepping the chile and cilantro butter and the chicken.  This recipe requires a bit of fussing but trust me.  The end result is great.

Start by mashing together; minced garlic, minced cilantro, minced red chile (or a healthy pinch of chile flakes) and a pinch of salt in a few tablespoons of softened butter.  Allow this to sit for a few minutes for the flavours to develop.

Prepare your steaming pan.  I used a metal vegetable steamer in a large straight sided saute pan with aluminum foil for a lid.  Pour enough water into the pan so it will not boil dry but it is not covering the bottom of the vegetable steamer.  Allow the water to come to a boil.

Slice a pocket in the thickest part of each chicken breast and fill with the butter mixture.  Place each stuffed chicken breast in a parchment bag or wrap in parchment paper.  If you are wrapping in parchment paper, be sure to close tightly as there will be a little bit of sauce at the end of cooking that you don't want to lose.

Arrange each packet on the vegetable steamer over the boiling water and cover with foil.  Steam for 18-22 minutes.  Try to keep the foil (or lid if you have one that fits) on tight through this time, as the more steam escapes the longer the chicken will need to cook.

For our vegetable sides we had baby carrots and a fresh green salad (not shown) with homemade dressing.

All was simple and perfect.

This dinner really marked the end of one era and the beginning of a new one.  I am so very thankful to have had so many wonderful moments with C (& B too), I will remember and treasure each and every one of them.

C - at least we will have facetime, emails and airplanes.  :)

That's all for now.  See you in the kitchen.