Thursday, February 28, 2013

A Dinner Built By Two

Hello Sweets,

Only one more day to the weekend, for me that means absolutely nothing as I have been off work for some time, but I do realize to the rest of the world it is something we all count down to.  I was so excited to have my hair cut (much needed too) today, but our dang alarm didn't go off and thankfully the salon was very understanding and was able to reschedule me for tomorrow.  We are setting multiple alarms tonight to ensure this does not happen again, not to mention Nathan is going to use the time to get his haircut too!

So as I mentioned yesterday, Nathan was grilling steaks for dinner tonight and it would be the topic of tonight's post, but then we decided to make it a joint meal.  Now I'm not crazy which means he was still in charge of the meat but I wanted to make some killer mash potatoes, and since they taught me how to make sweet corn, I decided that would also be part of the meal.  I was even daring enough to whip up a new dessert while cooking everything (now maybe that's a little crazy), but you'll have to come back tomorrow for that one since I'm giving you three tonight (spoiled) lol.  Now tonight's recipes are the kind that don't have precise measurements, they're the type of recipes that use all of your senses and force you to taste as you create, making the appropriate adjustments as needed.  Since there are so many recipes going on here tonight I'll keep the chatter short and get to the "meat and potatoes" of the post ;), do you see what I did there lol?

Nathan's Amazing Steaks
3 rib eye's
1 btl steak and chop marinade
coarse black pepper
garlic, minced
meat tenderizer
Worcestershire sauce
seasoning salt

1)  Start by piercing the meat with a fork evenly and then seasoning the meat with the tenderizer, lightly coating each side of the steak.   Apply a coat of seasoning salt, then pepper, then place the steaks in a large freezer bag.  In between each steak and the side of the bag place a dollop of the minced garlic and add a little more coarse pepper, then pour an entire bottle of the steak and chop marinade into the bag (add a small amount of water to the empty bottle, shake and empty into the zip lock bag).  Finally add a few dashes of the Worcestershire sauce and place in the fridge overnight (flipping once when you get up).

2)  Grill them on medium low, while they are on the grill apply the remaining marinade over top of the steaks as needed and reapply the same seasonings as the night before as preferred.  Grill to your preference (medium rare takes about 12 minutes).

Canuckette's Crazy Mashed Potatoes
3 large potatoes
fresh chives, chopped
roasted garlic, minced
sea salt
coarse black pepper
red pepper flakes
sorry potatoes were already in the pot :/

1)  Boil your potatoes until a fork can pierce them with ease, the smaller you cut them up the faster it will happen.  Once they're soft drain all the water from the pot, add all remaining ingredients and mash away! (I always hold back on the milk, it's easier to add than remove right)

Sweet Corn
1 can corn
1 Tbs (approx) sugar
1)  Combine all ingredients in a microwave safe dish, and microwave for 5 minutes.  Stir once done (careful as it will be very hot), and serve.

And here is what your dinner will look like if you choose to make it :)

Nathan and I are both super stuffed, but at the same time wanted to go back for more because it was just so dang good lol.  You can play with different spices and make the boring into something exciting, I bet if you serve these mashed potatoes people will be asking what your secrets are.

Well I think three recipes is enough for you to read and me to write in one night, but make sure you come back tomorrow to see what new dessert I made.  I'll give you a hint, it's a cleverly modified chocolate treat you can buy at any convenience store.  Until next time...........................................

Stay sweet,

Jennifer xoxoxo

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Eh, What's Up Doc?

Hello Sweets,

You've made it to the middle of the week :) and now I'm sure most of you are counting down the days until the weekend right?  I'm honestly excited for tomorrow, and I am sure you are thinking to yourself what's so special about Thursday?  Well firstly it's the night a new episode of The Big Bang Theory is shown, secondly when I'm in Texas on a Thursday it's steak night (YUM!!) and when it's Nathan behind the grill it's guaranteed deliciousness, and thirdly I'm getting a hair cut!!  I know normally a hair cut is nothing big, but it's been well over a year since I've had a haircut and I am so over due that I am trusting the good reviewers on Yelp to help me find a fantastic salon here in Texas, and most girls will tell you trying a hairdresser you know nothing about can be kind of scary, so send positive vibes for me tomorrow :)

Any who, you guys don't come here for tales of new hair adventures, but you do come for good eats and that is exactly what I have for you today, I'm actually spoiling you with two recipes instead of just one (I love you guys that much!).  I'm not sure if you remember but a few weeks ago I was talking about doing some posts about revamped food from our childhood, only problem was I never got around to it :(   But today I am bringing you a recipe that I used to have all the time as a child, but with a sweet little twist to it.  I even brought it to a luncheon I had that same week and needless to say there wasn't anything to bring home, but the best part was no one could put their finger on what the mystery ingredient and when I told them they were pleasantly surprised.  Now enough talk, lets get you in the kitchen and creating with another great recipe inspired by the wonderful app AllRecipes (seriously if you haven't gotten it yet you really should).

Carrot Pineapple Cake
 2C all-purpose flour
2Tsp baking soda
1 Tsp baking powder
1 Tsp salt
2Tsp cinnamon
1 3/4C sugar
1C extra virgin olive oil
3 eggs
1 Tsp vanilla extract
2C carrots, shredded
1C coconut, shredded
1C pecans, chopped
1C pineapple, crushed and drained

1)  Preheat oven to  350F.  Grease a 9"x13" baking pan and set aside.  Mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.
 2)  Make a well in the center and add sugar, oil, eggs, and vanilla.  Mix with wooden spoon until smooth.
the well was over"whelmed" lol

3)  Stir in carrots, coconut, pecans, and pineapple.

4)   Pour into baking pan and bake for about 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Don't panic as the center will sink slightly.  Allow to cool before icing.

Cinnamon Coconut Cream Cheese Icing
8oz cream cheese
1/4C butter, softened
2C powdered sugar
1 Tsp cinnamon
dash of allspice
1/2C pecans, chopped
cinnamon and allspice not pictured :/

1)  Cream the butter and cream cheese together until smooth.  Add the spices and icing sugar and beat until creamy.

2)  Ice the cake and top with the chopped pecans.
Forgot to take a pic and only this tiny piece remained

This is very moist and has a wonderful sweetness that is created by the pineapple.  I like carrot cake, but I don't think regular carrot cake will cut it anymore, lol.  This is definitely a keeper and will be made again.  If you decided to make it you can change (or even omit) the nuts, and play with the spices a little I didn't follow the measurements to a t, but that is just how I bake :)

So there you have it, the final recipe that was waiting to be published, and it's good timing too, because when I'm here in Texas I do nothing but spoil my sweetheart with sweet and delectable treats ;)  Tomorrow I think I will blog about our dinner, he is making the steak and I am in charge of the veggies so it is a joint meal, and maybe I can even get him to write a little about his marinating techniques if we're lucky!  And be on the lookout for a delicious chocolate peanut butter duet that is sure to be a hit, I say that because as soon as I saw the idea I had to make it a reality.  Until next time............

Stay sweet,

Jennifer xoxoxo

One Of The Best Gingers I Know!

Hello Sweets,

How has your Tuesday been so far?  Mine has been absolutely wonderful :D, why you ask?  Well this morning I landed in the great state of Texas, which means Nathan and I have been reunited (and it feels so good lol). 
Not great quality, but you can feel the love <3

Even though I am EXTREMELY tired, feel sore, and a little sick, no of that matters as soon as I saw him as I was coming down the escalator.  Knowing that the hand I love to hold is now always in my reach is undeniably the best feeling you can have when everything seems to be going haywire.  Needless to say there will definitely be baking going on, although you may see some old recipes, I will make small changes to keep things fresh.  Not to mention that Nathan will be cooking too, so you will be privy to his delicious bites as well :)

As I promised yesterday, I have a longer post, and tonight you are going to get a yummy treat for your taste buds :)  So yesterday I made candied ginger so my tummy would have a tasty way to be settled which then got me thinking, could I make an even tastier treat that could possibly settle the tummy as well?  Then I came across an idea for the candied ginger, and giant soft and chewy ginger cookies.  When I was growing up, the mother of a childhood friend of mine would make ginger snaps, but they weren't your traditional ginger snaps because they were crisp on the outer edge but the center was chewy.  Now this recipe is not a ginger snap in any shape or form, but the soft and chewy centers of the childhood cookies are the entire embodiment in every sense of the word :)  So let's get to the deliciousness shall we?

Soft and Chewy Ginger Cookies (via The Baker Chic)
 2 1/4C all-purpose flour
2Tsp ground ginger
1 Tsp baking soda
3/4Tsp cinnamon
1/2Tsp cloves (I used allspice as a substitute)
1/4Tsp salt
 3/4C butter, softened
1/2C white sugar
1/2C brown sugar
1 egg
1 Tbs water
1/4C molasses
1/2C ginger, candied (see previous post)
2Tbs raw sugar (for rolling, I used white and it worked just as well)
candied ginger not pictured

1)  Preheat oven to 350F, positioning the racks in the center of your oven.  Mix together the flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt in a medium bow.  Set aside.

2)   In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy.

3)  Beat in the egg, then mix in the water and molasses.

4)  Gradually mix in the sifted mixture to the molasses mix.  Stir in the candied ginger.

5)  Chill the dough for 15 minuted to allow for easier handling.  Shape dough into 1" sized balls, and roll them into the raw sugar.  Place the cookies 2" apart on a parchment lined baking sheet (lol I made mine a little bit too big as you will see), and flatten slightly.  Baking for 8-10 minutes.

6)  Allow to cool on the pan for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.  Store in an air tight container.
Don't they look delicious :)

There are a couple different things that make these cookies unique; the fact that they have the candied ginger in them gives them a spicy depth that most ginger cookies don't have, and they stay soft and chewy as long as you can keep them in the house (lol which isn't long).

So now I am almost caught up with my back up recipes, although I do have one more up my sleeve which is something of a traditional, old fashion treat but with a sweet little surprise to it ;)  Now that I've got you intrigued you'll be coming back tomorrow for yet another one of Canuckette's creations.  Until next time...........

Stay sweet,

Jennifer xoxoxo

Monday, February 25, 2013

Candy With Some Zing!

Hello Sweets,

Did you have a manic Monday?  I had a painful Monday :(, why you ask?  Well I get TPI's (trigger point injections) every month and where I get them there isn't a lot of muscle or even fat (ie my head).  It's weird though because they've always been painful, but the last few months it seems even worse, but I will keep going at it to try and get back to my regular old self :)

I want to give you all a heads up that today's post will be on the shorter side for a few reasons; 1) I'm not feeling so hot, 2) I'm tired and need to try and nap, and 3) because it will lead into a longer post tomorrow ;)
As most of my readers know I have some "go to" comforts that seem to be the only things that make me feel better or allow me to eat when I am having a bad day.  One that is definitely in my top five is ginger ale, you know the beverage that every grandmother would give you to settle your stomach (even though it should have been flat lol)?  Well still to this day I love it and with all of my not feeling well reminded me of a time when I worked for a retirement home.  Now we're going back a few years but I loved the people I was helping everyday, it honestly was like having one hundred grandparents :)  Of course each of the staff had our favorites, I know I did, and they all stood out for their own unique qualities or traits.  One specific gentlemen named Jack was funny, very friendly, and was always looking out for us girls.  I would volunteer every other weekend to have a billiards day (they had a very nice pool table), and sometimes it would just be Jack and I playing for hours.  One day while helping with cleaning his room, I had a terrible stomach ache and felt awful, he immediately picked up on it and said "I have just the thing for you".  When he came back he was holding open a small candy jar, only I had no idea what the pieces were inside.  Since I had this perplexed look on my face, he spoke up and explained that it was candied ginger and that it would help settle my stomach.  Knowing I still had a good four hours until the end of my shift I thought I'll give it a shot since I didn't have any ginger ale, and sure enough it did the trick.  Now I do keep some on hand that I picked up but it doesn't always help unfortunately, and then one day I ran out and while I was at the grocery store I saw they had fresh ginger on sale.  I took it as divine intervention, the baking Gods were putting a challenge right in front of me and telling me I could make this on my own.  So thanks to my funky little AllRecipe app for my iPhone, that is the recipe I'm bringing to you today!

Candied Ginger via (AllRecipes)
2C sugar
2C fresh ginger, cut into thin slices
2C water
I didn't use bottled water lol

1)  In a medium sauce pan combine the sugar, ginger, and water bringing to a boil over high heat.  Reduce heat and let simmer until it becomes syrupy and the liquid has been reduced by half 40-45 minutes.  Strain the ginger out and reserve the syrup (if you'd like, I didn't).

2)  I was a little impatient in regards to letting them dry so I threw them in the oven on a low heat until they became tacky to the touch.  I then tossed them in sugar and stored in an air tight container until I needed them.
 from this
to this!

I apologize for the lack of "process" pictures, not sure what I was thinking.  It wasn't overly complicated and I did it without a candy thermometer :)  The smell of the fresh ginger was a lovely aroma that you don't smell very often, and not to mention the fruits of my labor are delish!

So tomorrow you will see what I did with a majority of these bad boys, until them I'll leave you with the many ideas that run through your brains and I'll go try and nap!  Until next time.............................

Stay sweet,

Jennifer xoxoxo

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Small In Stature, Big In Flavor

Hello Sweets,

I cannot even begin to explain how good, no wait amazing it is to feel like my old self again, and that my passion for all things tasty and blogs have been reignited and are stronger than ever :)  If you knew what my happy dance looked like you'd get a little giggle and a big smile, you can thank Nathan since I stole his (I love you handsome!) *happy dance*.  Did you all have a great weekend?  Was it full of smiles, fun, and good eats?  My weekend definitely embodied all of these things, I finally sorted through the things that were stressing me out, which has been a big reason my passion is back : D  I had a "play date" with the love of my life Saturday, for those of you who don't know we live far apart (1,290 miles to be exact lol) so we FaceTime a lot and we play an online game together so we make due.  Today even though I didn't get too much sleep I got ready for church and my friend surprised me by taking me out to breakfast first, and then I "payed it forward" by cooking my grandparents dinner.  As an added bonus my cutie nephew was there visiting when I got there (love that little guy to bits), so it was very much a family and friends weekend.

I know I had said in previous posts that I would be making them dinner a few times a week, but unfortunately that hasn't panned out as much as we had hoped so we just play it by ear.  They invited me over for dinner earlier this week where I tried breaded salmon for the first time, and it was actually pretty good.  My grandmother's parents came from England so fish and chips we very normal for us growing up, however my grandmother didn't realize she was out of tartar sauce so I whipped some up quickly and the meal was saved lol (alas I didn't even think to take pics so it's not making it to the blog........yet anyways).  While I was getting everyone dessert I noticed that they had shrimp in their freezer (I LOVE seafood, like love love), immediately I knew my passion was back because the ideas came rushing through my head.  So I asked them if I could make Sunday dinner at their house. They agreed but I told them it would be a surprise what I will make, so they had to trust me.  So for the last few days I had been thinking about what they had there and what is something they didn't make for themselves, and thus today's blog was born.

Canuckette's Spicy Shrimp Linguine
linguine pasta
 3Tbs extra virgin olive oil
2Tbs butter
2 shallots, finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1Tbs red pepper flakes (I like spicy!)
1lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
1C peppers, assorted and chopped
1/3-1/2C pinto grigio (dry white wine)
1 lemon, juiced
1/4C parsley, chopped

1)  For the pasta; bring a large pot of water to boil, add a pinch of salt and the linguine, stirring to ensure the noodles don't clump together and cover with a lid.  When the water returns to a boil (6-8 minutes) drain the pasta, you want the pasta to be undercooked slightly as it will be going in the frying pan.

2)  While the noodles are cooking; in a large frying pan, melt 1Tbs of butter and 1 1/2Tbs of the olive oil over medium heat.  Saute the shallots, garlic, and red pepper flakes until the shallots become translucent (this only takes a few minutes).

3)  Season the shrimp with a small amount of salt and pepper, adding them to the frying pan, cook until they turn pink (2 minutes).

4)  Remove the shrimp; set aside and keep warm.  Add the wine and lemon juice and bring the mixture to a boil.  Add the remaining butter and olive oil and bring to a boil, then add the peppers and allow them to soften.

5)  Return the shrimp back to the pan along with the fresh parsley and cooked pasta.  Stir the mixture, slightly sauteing enough for the pasta to finish cooking and serve immediately.
I paired it with a french baguette and a small glass of the pinto grigio

The hardest part of this meal is the chopping of all the fresh ingredients, and I think it only took 30 minutes from start to finish.  It's very simple and delicious, not to mention healthier because it's not a cream based pasta and it's full of fresh ingredients :)  If you try it give it a twist of your own to make it your own, and whether or not you make any changes I would love to hear how you guys liked it too!

Funny side note, about a third of the way typing this post up I realized I had two other recipes (with photos) sitting waiting to be written lol, actually three now that I really think about it, and they are good ones too.  Well at least I know if I have a "sicky" day that I have some to fall back on, either way I'm ahead of the game for a little while at least :)  Sometimes I do the darnedest things, and I'm not a child!!  Until next time.....................

Stay sweet,

Jennifer xoxoxo

Saturday, February 23, 2013

A Twist On Something Old

Hello Sweets,

I'mmmmmmmmmmmm backkkkkkkkkkk!!!  I know I know, it's been forever since I wrote a post. Well okay, almost two weeks, but damn it feels longer.  I'm so sorry but I had some personal growth to do and now I feel better than ever :) and I am happy with the steps I've taken in the last couple of weeks and have re-lit the flame of my passion again and it feels great!  My baking and blog no longer feels like a chore (cue the happy dance), which really had me down, but now being rejuvenated, I am ready to hit the ground running :)

So I have found some great outlets with some supportive women to help me get through my bad days, there is even a luncheon that we have once a week which means a whole new group of people to feed my baked goods.  At first I was nervous (surprise surprise) about having a whole slew of people trying my treats, but then I just reminded myself that I'll only get better when I have a wider spectrum of people's feedback.  It might sound funny, but I feel like a new woman, with an even brighter flame for my "torch of passion" ;) and I am trying new things and recipes like nobody's business.

Now the recipe I have for you guys tonight isn't a new one, it's actually a new version of a recipe I've shared with you before.  It also isn't one that I brought to the luncheon, those babies will start coming out tomorrow, and they are yummy and delicious.  So do you remember waayyyy back when I introduced myself to kale?  Well I was in the grocery store a week or so ago when I came across it in the produce section again, and I decided that I would make it again but would change it up a little bit.  Without further ado, I present to you my new and "fresh" kale chips!

Canuckette's Twisted Kale Chips
1 bunch of Kale
mint, fresh
garlic powder
sea salt
cayenne pepper
black pepper
celery salt
olive oil

1)   Preheat oven to 350F.  Wash the kale and mint, cut the leaves off of the spine, chopping the leaves into bite size pieces and place in a bowl.

2)  Add olive oil (maybe a couple of tablespoons, I don't use measurements) and all of the spices.  Toss the mixture to distribute the spices and oil evenly.

3)  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the kale on it in a single layer.  Place into the preheated oven and bake for 15-20 minutes or until crispy.

4)  Allow to cool, and enjoy your healthy yet salt satisfying treat!

Adding the mint gave the kale chips this refreshing kick to them, and the celery salt gives it a clean yet salty taste as well.  This was a spur of the moment kind of recipe.  I didn't plan a single ingredient as I originally was going to use the kale in a salad but forgot about it and needed to use it quickly before it spoiled.  I encourage all of you to try your own twists on this recipe, adding different spices and herbs to take it to a whole new level of fresh and healthy :)

Now I know this post is a little short, but I'm getting back into the swing of things and feel that if I keep writing I might start rambling on lol which isn't too much of a stretch.  However, tomorrows post will be new and exciting and I may even let myself ramble a little since I have missed you all so much :)  Until next time...............

Stay sweet,

Jennifer xoxoxo