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Monday, 27 April 2015 22:14

Maple Syrup Snow Taffy

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After our awesome Snowstorm in April this week, I took advantage of the fresh snow and made a batch of Maple Syrup snow taffy for the first time ever. I don't claim to have any idea what I'm doing - which will probably come across in this 'recipe', because it's very vague and suggests its own changes - but here it is documented so I can find it again and try it differently next time.

Ingredients:

  • Fresh, clean snow - one recipe I found suggested packing it down, which I did. Since I brought it in on a tray, though, I think I'll skip this part next time. The syrup didn't really sink into the snow, and I wonder if the effects would have been better on softer snow. 
  • 100 % Maple syrup - I used about a cup (didn't measure precisely), and it would have served 8 people easily, although I try to limit our sugar intake, so take that as you will. 
  • Some kind of lollipop sticks, or popcicle sticks for picking it up
Instructions:

I put the syrup in a small sauce pan and boiled it until a drop of syrup in a glass of cold water formed a soft ball.  The boiling took quite awhile (I didn't time it), and occasionally it threatened to boil over and required pretty much constant attention and stirring for the time it took.  If you had a candy thermometer (I don't), you could research the exact temperature required - that would probably be easier than what I did. The syrup drop appeared to be quite liquid still, but I could pick it up and shape it with my fingers. I wouldn't have wanted it to get much firmer - although some recipes said that this would just create a harder, crunchier candy. 

Immediately after cooking the syrup to desired temperature, I drizzled it onto the snow. We waited a few seconds for the syrup to solidify slightly in the snow, but we found it worked best if we didn't wait too long either, or the syrup became too hard to pick up with the stick. We could still pick it up with our fingers, though, and it still tasted fine, so not a complete waste. Our best technique was to poke the largest end of the syrup strip and roll it up as much as possible around itself to form a lollipop on the end of the stick. 

I set the saucepan down on the stove with the remaining syrup - only half comfortably fit in drizzles on my baking sheet - and I don't know if it became too cool, or what changed, but the rest of the syrup didn't produce very good taffy. It had become opaque - maybe with tiny bubbles - and didn't have the smooth, glassy consistency that the first amount had.  Audrey still ate it, and it was still sugary and candy-like, but not as nice as the earlier stuff.

There you are - when life gives you snow, make snow candy!

Monday, 04 November 2013 22:05

Cream Cheese Fruit Dip

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This is seriously the best fruit dip I have come across to date. I had this at a friend's house, and the very next day I made my own variation for my Mother-in-law's birthday party. Here is my version of this dip. 

Ingredients:

1 - 8oz brick of cream cheese

1/2 Cup Sour Cream

2-3 Tablespoons Sugar (I used coconut sugar)

Caramel

Crushed skor bars or skor bits

Granny Smith Apples

Directions: 

Cream together the cream cheese and sour cream and sugar to taste. Given that this includes a caramel topping, I don't think sugar is strictly necessary, but I added a bit to give a bit of a sweeter taste to the creamy mixture as well.  Spread cream mixture in a circle on the center of a serving plate, or fill a bowl half to 3/4 full.  Drizzle caramel over top of the cream mixture. I happened to have a bowl of homemade caramel sitting in my fridge from a botched attempt at caramel making during a late-night craving that eventually succeeded in creating excellent caramel, but about three times as much as I wanted at the time... Anyway, the homemade caramel was definitely superior to any grocery-store bought variety that I've tried, but any caramel would work.  

Personally, I'd stop there, because I don't think this dip needs anything more, but I know a lot of chocolate addicts who would disagree, so if you're one of them - sprinkle with crushed skor chocolate bar bits.  

Did you see this? It looks incredible, and tastes even better...

Monday, 08 July 2013 15:00

Michael Smith's Cornbread

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I gotta say, I love this guy.  He likes to explain everything he does, and WHY he does it, which makes him an excellent cook to learn from. The other night I decided to try a different recipe for cornbread than the one I had been using, and found one by Michael Smith, and so I had to try it. 

You can find his recipe here. I won't bother writing it out again, but it was absolutely delicious! My husband isn't a really big fan of cornbread, and still only ate one piece of this one, but he rated it higher than any other cornbread he had tried. It has more eggs than other recipes I've used, and so it had a really moist, almost custard-like texture.

Unfortunately we don't have a usable cast iron skillet. Actually we HAVE about 3 of them, but they were passed down to us from a family member and have been sitting in our garage waiting to be cleaned for two years... one of these days... 

If you love cornbread - check this one out! 

Monday, 29 April 2013 11:23

Recipe for Homemade Pedialite

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This week we have purchased a lot of Pediatric Electrolyte Liquid for rehydrating Clara.  It is also known as 'Pedialite', although I believe that is only one brand. I spoke to a family member on the phone who was given this recipe for a homemade version by her doctor. She was given this recipe in the 90's, but one of Clara's doctors at the hospital validated that this would work - although the doctor had never heard of it herself. 

Considering the cost of Pedialite or other Pediatric Electrolyte drinks, this would be an excellent low-cost alternative.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pkg Jello powder
  • 4 Tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 Cups water

Add first three ingredients into 1 cup of warmer water to dissolve. Then add colder water for drinking. This mixture will start to solidify eventually, but should last a number of hours sitting on the counter.  We will definitely use this in the future! 

Friday, 25 January 2013 10:38

Chicken Dump Recipes

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Add 2 to 4 chicken breasts (or other chicken pieces) to each bag, and freeze.  When I found these recipes, they typically called for 4 pieces of chicken, but I like lots of sauce and we don't eat that much meat in one sitting so I kept the recipe amounts 'as-is' and only added 2 chicken breasts.  It worked great, and there was lots of sauce to go over rice.  

Caribbean 'Dump' Chicken

  • 8oz crushed pineapple
  • 1/4 C brown sugar
  • 1/3 C Orange Juice
  • 1/2 C raisins

Jammin' 'Dump' Chicken

  • 1/2 C Ketchup
  • 1/2 C Apricot Jam
  • 1/4 C vinegar
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • 2 tsp chili powder

Teriyaki 'Dump' Chicken

  • 3 Tbsp Apple Cider vinegar
  • 1/3 C Soy sauce
  • 2 tsp ginger
  • 2 tsp garlic
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar

Maple Balsamic 'Dump' Chicken

  • 1/2 C Maple syrup
  • 1/2 C Balsamic vinegar

Lemon Dill 'Dump' Chicken

  • 1/2 C Sour cream
  • 1/4 C Lemon juice
  • 4 sprigs fresh dill - chopped

The following came from my LooneySpoons Collection Cookbook, but the recipe method (and in some case ingredients as well) was modified to mix together in a bag. 

Simply Orange Chicken - modified

  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 Can mandarin oranges in light syrup
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 1 Tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch

Sticky Chicky - modified

  • 1/3 Cup BBQ Sauce
  • 1/3 Cup Soy sauce
  • 1/4 Cup Red Wine vinegar
  • 1/4 Cup honey
  • Spices: chili powder, ginger, garlic & cumin (I never measure these things...)
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch mixed into a small amount of water

Sesame Sweet Chicken - VERY modified (this recipe called for Hoisin sauce, which I omitted when I realized that our bottle had a best before date of Dec. 2007...)

  • 1/4 Cup Honey
  • 1/4 Cup Soy sauce
  • 3 Tbsp Lime juice
  • Spices: Ginger, cumin & paprika
  • 2 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds

The Thigh Who Loved Me - modified

  • 3/4 Cup Ketchup
  • 1/2 Cup Salsa
  • 1/4 Cup honey
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • Spices: chili powder & cumin
Thursday, 24 May 2012 21:27

McDonald's Cheeseburger!

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This isn't actually a McDonalds Cheeseburger, hopefully that would be obvious, but the first time I tried it, that was the first thing that came to mind.  Contrary to what would be intelligent thought, I immediately begged for the recipe thinking it would curb my cravings for fast food... No luck, as it turns out, but it is still a MUCH healthier alternative to a McDonald's Cheeseburger.

Ingredients:

1 lb Ground beef

1/4 cup chopped onion

4 slices processed cheese (or any cheese)

1/4 cup ketchup

2 tsp mustard (or more, if you wish)

16 dill pickle slices

2 tubes (8 ounces each) Pillsbury® Refrigerated Crescent Dinner Rolls

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Fry the ground beef along with the onion until cooked through.  Mix in cheese, ketchup and mustard until cheese is melted and mixture is evenly mixed.

On a pizza pan or pizza stone, layer and fan each individual triangular crescent dough in a circle. The inside of the circle will be a smooth circle, while the outside will be an evenly-spaced circle of 'spikes' (I should have included a picture, sorry!).

Spread ground beef mixture evenly around the inside of the ring of dough, leaving 1/4 to 1/2 inch of dough around the inside.  Pull the spikes up and over the ring of beef and pinch into the 1/4 to 1/2 inch of dough in the middle of the circle.  Ideally, the curled in 'spikes' will be evenly spaced, and you will have a perfect wreath of dough and beef. 

I seriously need to do this again with pictures...

Anyway, bake for 20-25 minutes (or less, if using a pizza stone).  Cut and serve!

Yummy!

Monday, 23 January 2012 14:51

Nacho Casserole

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Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 Cup cooked ground beef
  • 3/4 Cup salsa
  • 1 C grated cheddar cheese
  • Corn tortilla chips

Directions:

Combine cooked beef, salsa and 1/3 Cup of cheese in a bowl, and turn into lightly greased casserole dish.  Cover and bake at 350 for 20 minutes.  Top with remaining 2/3 Cup of cheese and bake uncovered for another 10 minutes until cheese is melted.  Serve with tortilla chips.

 

This recipe is struck me as being kind of like bachelor food, but we loved it and it was super-easy, so we'll definitely do it again.

Monday, 23 January 2012 14:48

Tourtiere

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Ingredients:

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 onion, chopped finely
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp celery salt
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 1/4-1/2 Cup bread crumbs
  • 2 Pie shells (for bottom and top crust of pie)

Directions:

Brown ground beef with onions.  Add remaining ingredients.  The bread crumbs should just soak up the excess liquid.  Pour into bottom pie shell, and cover with crust.  Bake at 425 degrees for 30 minutes.  Serve hot.

A cooked tourtiere can be frozen for up to 5 months.  It does not have to be thawed before reheating.

 

My husband's little brother brought this recipe back from Quebec after an elementary school trip.  My husband's family does not regularly eat 'non-Mennonite' cuisine, but this was one exception that everyone loves.  Even my one-year-old couldn't seem to get enough of it.

Monday, 23 January 2012 14:40

The Chili that made me discover I loved Chili

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Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 cup each, chopped - carrots, celery, red and yellow bell peppers, mushrooms
  • 1 - 2 Cups frozen corn
  • 1 can tomatoes, or 1 Cup chopped tomatoes
  • 1 can mixed beans
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • 1 Tbsp cumin
  • 1 tsp curry
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 Tbsp oregano
  • 2 Tbsp basil
  • 1 tsp garlic powder

Directions:

Heat oil in a large pot, add onion and carrots - cook until tender.  Add remaining vegetables and cook for another 5 minutes until peppers are tender.  Mix in remaining ingredients and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and cook for at least 10 minutes longer (or up to 30 minutes) stirring occasionally.

Optional: Add 1 lb of ground beef to oil and onion and brown before adding carrots.  To compensate for the extra 'chunkiness' of the beef, add an additional can of tomato sauce.

This recipe is extremely approximate, we tend to just add whatever vegetables we happen to have on hand, and whatever spices sound appetizing at the moment.  As a child, I seriously disliked chili, and it wasn't until I had grown up that I realized that chili didn't have to be a selection of canned beans and tomato soup (as I was used to). 

Tuesday, 06 December 2011 15:34

The Best Easy Beef Dip

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Beef Dip

Ingredients:

  • 1 Beef Roast
  • 1 can onion soup
  • 1 can beef broth
  • 1 can dark beer
  • 1 can water
  • 8 Kaiser buns
  • 8 slices provolone cheese

Directions:

Place roast in large crock pot with onion soup, beef broth, beer and water.  Cook on low for 8 hours, or high for 4-6 hours, or until beef is done to your liking. 

For more tender meat, pull roast apart in crock pot 30 minutes before it is done and cook for remaining 30 minutes in the au jus.  Oh, juice!

Just before serving, cut kaiser buns in half and place cut side up on a cookie sheet.  Top with provolone slices and broil in oven until cheese is melted and starts to bubble and brown.  Cut or break apart roast and serve on cheese buns.  Pour au jus into small bowls or cups for dipping.

Serves 4.

 

          This is my favourite roast beef recipe.  I was working in an office and a coworker verbally passed along this recipe to me, and I repeated it to myself all day long until I got home and made it the next day.   The last time we made this, I used slices of Brie instead of provolone, which was also delicious.  We used the leftover beef for fried onion, beef and brie paninis the next day.

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