Bryan’s Mom’s Green Chile Chicken Enchilada Casserole

Woops! It’s been a little more than a month since I last posted. How time flies! We’ve been super busy around here. Most of my time has been occupied by studying for a big exam that’s coming up in December. I’m loving being a teaching assistant — I look forward every week to my two hour lecture.  I’m also taking a professionalization course and learning so many things about academia that I was unaware of before. And so much more! (I wouldn’t know what to do with myself if I had any free time!)

One of the recent highlights was a potluck with Bryan’s colleagues. I love potlucks because they’re a good time to showcase your best recipes. I also like when to see a large diversity of foods from other cultures. We had just the right recipe to fit the bill: Bryan’s Mom’s Green Chile Chicken Enchilada Casserole! It was perfect because I was able to find fresh Anaheim chile peppers at the grocery store that week, it’s difficult to find Mexican or Southwestern food here, it’s one of our favourite meals, and I was sure it was something that no one else would contribute to the potluck. (We also made Green Chile Pepper and Tomato Soup for ourselves while I was roasting all those chile peppers).

We had a fantastic evening full of good food and fantastic company! I hope we get an invitation to the next potluck despite that Bryan has now graduated.

I’m happy to report that the dish was well-received! We took one enchilada casserole with us to the potluck and kept one at home. Good thing I made extras, because there weren’t any leftovers to bring home.

Bryan’s Mom’s Green Chile Chicken Enchilada Casserole

Changes from the original recipe:

  • The original recipe calls fora package of frozen “Bueno Hot Autumn Roast green chile.”  These chiles aren’t available here and the closet thing I can get is fresh Anaheim peppers.
  • The original recipe calls for wrapping some cheese and chicken in each of the (large size) tortillas. I could only find the small corn tortillas and opted for the casserole style used in Bryan’s Step-Father’s Red Chile and Enchilada Casserole. Thus, all the cheese went into the sauce instead of reserving some to fill the tortillas.
  • The original recipe calls for a Mexican cheese blend. The blends that I found either have chili or jalapeño peppers in them, which I didn’t want because this dish is spicy enough as is… so I opted to make my own blend using Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses.
  • I doubled the quantities because we wanted lots of leftovers for lunch!

Green Chile and Cheese Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup butter– approximate cost $0.50
  • 4 (slightly rounded) tablespoons flour– approximate cost $0.25
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt– approximate cost $0.05
  • 4 cups whole milk– approximate cost $3.00
  • 7 cups cheese (a blend of medium Cheddar and Monterrey Jack), shredded – approximate cost $9.00
  • 1 onion, chopping– approximate cost $0.75
  • 2.2 kilograms (4.85 pounds) fresh Anaheim (Green) chile peppers – approximate cost $20.00

Method

  1. Preheat your oven’s broiler.
  2. Roast the Anaheim chile peppers.
    1. Arrange the chiles in a roasting pan.
    2. Roast under the broiler for 5 minutes.
    3. Turn the chiles.
    4. Roast for an additional 5 minutes.
    5. Turn the chiles.
    6. Roast for an additional 5 minutes.
    7. Turn the chiles.
    8. Roast for an additional 5 minutes.
    9. Note: The chiles should be blackened on all sides at this point.
    10. Allow the chiles to cool.
  3. Peel the blackened skin off of the chiles.
  4. De-seed the chiles as necessary (more seeds = more heat).
  5. Chop the chiles into 1/4″ pieces and set aside.
  6. Heat butter in a large pot over medium heat until melted.
  7. Turn down the heat.
  8. Stir flour and sea salt into the butter.
  9. Stir constantly until the flour dissolves.
  10. Add milk.
  11. Stir until hot, but not boiling (the sauce should be quite thick)!
  12. Add cheese blend.
  13. Stir frequently until melted.
  14. Add the roasted chile pieces.
  15. Remove from heat.

Casserole

Ingredients

  • 1.2 kilograms (2.6 pounds) boneless, skinless chicken breasts – approximate cost $24.00
  • 48 small corn tortillas – approximate cost $1.80
  • Green chile and cheese sauce
  • Cooking oil– approximate cost $1.00

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Prepare the chicken.
    1. Bake the chicken breasts until cooked through (about 15 minutes)
    2. Allow the chicken to cool until you can handle it.
    3. Chop the chicken into small, approximately 1/4″ pieces.
    4. Set chicken aside.
  3. Prepare the corn tortillas.
    1. Heat 1/4″ oil in a frying pan.
    2. Very lightly fry the corn tortillas.
    3. Place on paper towels as they come our of the frying pan to remove some of the oil.
  4. Assemble the casserole!
    1. Distribute half the fried tortillas into an even layer in the bottom of 2 9×13 baking dishes (it’s ok if they overlap).
    2. Top with half of the chicken.
    3. Smother with 1/2 of the green chile and cheese sauce.
    4. Distribute the second half the fried tortillas into an even layer in the baking dishes.
    5. Top with remaining chicken.
    6. Cover with remaining green chile and cheese sauce.
      1. Note: Once assembled, you can refrigerate the casserole and bake it at another time.
  5. Bake about 30-45 minutes, or until the sauce begins to bubble.
  6. Remove from oven.
  7. Let stand on the counter for a few minutes.
  8. Serve and enjoy! (Optional: Serve with beans, rice, and flour tortillas)

Makes about 24 servings, or 2 9×13 casseroles (approximate cost: $2.51 per serving).

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Bryan’s Mom’s Chocolate Cake

Miss me yesterday? Normally I post on Wednesdays and join a bunch of blog parties… but I decided to switch things up. Typically, today I would be be participating in the Improv Challenge hosted by Kristen from Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker. But… the challenge ingredients didn’t work well with our current dietary habits so I decided to skip out this month. You should stop by and check out the challenge though, there are, as usual, some delicious and fantastic recipes posted!

Today, I’d like to wish my wonderful, loving, best friend and boyfriend Bryan a very Happy Birthday!

Bryan — Thank you for being so wonderful! … and eating all my failed attempts at baking your favourite cake. Love you immensely!

To celebrate his birthday I’ll be making yet another attempt at making his absolute all-time favourite cake (His mom’s recipe). The pictures come from my last, and most successful, attempt at making the cake so far. My brother and I served the cake at a birthday lunch we hosted for Nana back in August. The cake went over really well despite the fudgy texture.

Nana, her sisters, and my brother Matt getting ready to enjoy their chocolate cake! (For Nana’s birthday gift, Matt and I hosted a lunch for these lovely ladies. They all loved it and had a wonderful afternoon!)

The recipe may look simple enough. But you see, I’m a terrible baker. It never seems to come out right.

At first, I tried to make the recipe, but changing some of the directions (I tried to melt/boil ingredients on the stove-top instead of in the microwave). I tried to fiddle with the ingredients (using only lard instead of adding some butter and vice versa). Less sugar maybe? Usually I get the cake right. It should be fluffy (not fudgy, which is what happened last time). The frosting is generally the tough part. It frequently comes out soupy (it should be thick). What I’ve learned… mother knows best when it comes to her own recipe! Stick to it.

What makes this cake so amazing? It’s chocolately (cake and frosting). It’s fluffy. It’s oh so sweet. And when Bryan’s mom makes it, it’s one of my absolute favourite desserts. But most important, this cake reminds me of Bryan’s wonderful and welcoming family and my trips to New Mexico.

Bryan’s Mom’s Chocolate Cake

Ingredients

Cake

  • 2 cups sugar  – approximate cost $0.75
  • 2 cups flour  – approximate cost $0.60
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda  – approximate cost $0.05
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine  – approximate cost $0.50
  • 1/2 cup lard (Crisco)  – approximate cost $0.40
  • 4 tablespoons cocoa  – approximate cost $0.40
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk (1/2 milk added to 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice)  – approximate cost $0.30
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla  – approximate cost $0.10
  • 2 eggs  – approximate cost $0.50

Frosting

  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine  – approximate cost $0.50
  • 6 tablespoons milk  – approximate cost $0.20
  • 4 tablespoons cocoa  – approximate cost $0.40
  • 1 pound or 454 grams icing sugar  – approximate cost $1.00
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla  – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 cup chopped pecans  – approximate cost $2.00

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Prepare the cake batter.
    1. Stir together sugar, flour, and baking soda in a large mixing bowl.
    2. Bring butter (or margarine), lard, cocoa, and water to a boil. (NOTE: Bryan’s mom melts the ingredients in the microwave. She also notes that she uses margarine and butter-flavoured Crisco sticks. I melt the ingredients in a pot on the stove. I have used butter and a generic brand of lard)
    3. Stir butter mixture well.
    4. Slowly add the dry flour mixture to the butter mixture.
    5. Mix well using an electric mixer.
    6. Slowly add (while continuing to mix):
    7. Buttermilk (NOTE: Bryan’s mom notes that you can use milk added to one-half tablespoon of lemon juice as a substitute — I use this recommendation)
    8. Vanilla
    9. Eggs (NOTE: Bryan’s mom notes that she uses one-half cup of egg beaters)
    10. Bake in 11×13 oblong pan for 35-40 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. Prepare the frosting.
    1. Bring butter or margarine, milk, and cocoa to a boil in the microwave. (NOTE: For whatever reason, this direction is a must! I’ve tried melting these ingredients in a pot on the stove many times. Each attempt was unsuccessful, resulting in a liquidy frosting that never stuck to the cake. Use the microwave and the frosting will turn out thick every time.
    2. Mix well with electric mixer.
    3. Add icing sugar, vanilla and chopped pecans.
    4. Mix well with electric mixer.
  4. Pour icing over HOT cake.
  5. Serve and enjoy!

Makes 15 servings (approximate cost: $0.52 per serving).

Pan-Fried Perch

I’m back! I took a break for finals, some “me” time, and orientation week. I did a lot of writing the last month and needed a break in my personal time.

A lot happened during this time, but I think the highlight was the AcroYoga workshop that I attended. I attended my first beginners AcroYoga workshop back in January and have been attending the bi-weekly classes over the summer. I was super excited when I got the opportunity to attend an intermediate workshop! The focus of the workshop was Star Pose, and we learned a lot of poses that lead up to it, including: stag, candlestick, folded leaf, and a few others.

For me, the most exciting part of the workshop was right at the moment this photo was snapped! (Thanks for capturing the moment Leena!) There, in the green tank top, is my FIRST EVER ever handstand.

Acro-Yoga Hanstand! Photo Credit to Super-Amazing Yoga Instructor Leena Miller -Cressman (http://instagram.com/p/dOBTerMKgY)

Handstands, unassisted, still freak me out a bit a lot. However, I’ve made a point of practicing them with my AcroYoga friends. They’re becoming less intimidating, and I’m more confident. Having spotters around makes the idea of falling much less scary as well.

The weekend after the workshop, I visited my Nana for dinner. I made some pan-fried perch fillets. She made the side dishes: long grain rice and yellow beans (her favourite vegetable).

Pan-Fried Perch

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds perch fillets  – approximate cost $20.00
  • 1 1/2 cups flour  – approximate cost $0.40
  • 2 tablespoons paprika  – approximate cost $0.25
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder  – approximate cost $0.20
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt  – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper  – approximate cost $0.10
  • Oil for frying (I used canola oil)  – approximate cost $1.00

Method

  1. Combine flour, paprika, baking powder, sea salt, and pepper in a large freezer-sized zipper bag.
  2. Shake well to mix ingredients.
  3. Add 2-3 perch fillets to the flour mix.
  4. Seal and shake until fish is well-coated with the flour mixture.
  5. Set fish on a plate.
  6. Repeat steps 3-5 until all of the fish fillets are coated with the flour mixture.
  7. Preheat a frying pan adding about 1/4 inch oil in the bottom of the pan.
  8. Fry perch fillets — a few at a time so as not to overcrowd the pan — until golden.
  9. Flip and continue to fry until the other side turns a golden colour.
  10. Remove to a plate with paper towels (they will soak up any excess oil).
  11. Repeat steps 8-10 until all of the fish is cooked.
  12. Serve with your favourite side dishes and enjoy!

Makes 6 servings (approximate cost: $3.68 per serving).

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Guest Post: Best Waffles for Independence Day

Tomorrow, my friends south of the border will be celebrating Independence Day. More often, I hear it referred to as the 4th of July. Between school, work, hobbies (yes, I find time for that on occasion), and having just celebrated Canada Day over the weekend, I just haven’t had time to prepare a blog post celebrating Bryan’s country’s holiday.

Instead, today I have a blog poster here to help me celebrate!  I learned quite a bit of history from David’s article and hope you will too!

How will we celebrate? I think Bryan and I may need to make some waffles (topped with blueberries and fresh Ontario strawberries) now that I’ve got a new recipe on hand. Red, White, and Blue waffles!

Welcome and take it away David!


Author Bio: This is a guest post by David J. from Fridge Freezer Direct, UK’s premier commercial refrigeration and catering equipment specialist. For more information you can visit www.fridgefreezerdirect.co.uk.

Best Waffles for Independence Day

Independence Day – commonly called “The 4th of July” – is a proud day for the United States. It’s a day when we can celebrate our independence and really take pride in this beautiful country we live in. We generally mark this occasion in a number of different ways, and if you’re looking for a way to celebrate this great day, then we can help you!

The key is to do something truly American. After all, being American is what the 4th of July is all about! However, it doesn’t have to be a big grand gesture then enables you to mark this magnificent date; there are many small ways in which you can showcase your patriotism.

One possible way is through waffles. Thomas Jefferson returned from France in 1789 and he brought back a waffle iron. Since that day, we Americans have loved waffles, and so, what better way to celebrate than by making the perfect American style waffle?

Image courtesy of Grant Cochrane / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Grant Cochrane / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

So if you want to mark Independence Day with a whole heap of waffles, you first need to grab the following ingredients.

Waffles

Ingredients

  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 4 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tbsp. white sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 ½ cups warm milk
  • 1/3 cup melted butter

Once you’ve got these ingredients in stock, follow our easy guide to turn these ingredients into delicious American style waffles.

Method

1) Turn on your waffle iron.
2) Get yourself a big mixing bowl.
3) Mix the flour, salt, baking powder and sugar together.
4) Beat the eggs in a separate bowl.
5) Stir the milk, butter, and vanilla extract into the eggs.
6) Pour the liquid mixture into the bowl containing the dry mixture
7) Beat the batter until it develops a smooth consistency.
8) Ladle the batter into the waffle iron.
9) Cook until the waffle looks done (golden and crispy).
10) Garnish with whatever toppings you like; for example, fruit, syrup, chocolate, or candy.
11) Repeat the process until everyone’s full!
12) Sing the national anthem.

It’s as easy as that! Enjoy your 4th July and some delicious waffles!

Bryan’s Step-Father’s Red Chile and Enchilada Casserole

Bryan and I don’t often go out of town. You might not guess because I’ve posted already this month about travelling to Northern Ontario. This time, the destination was much closer: Toronto. Bryan’s sister is currently living in Toronto and his step-father came for a visit, so we took the opportunity to finally visit. And we hope to visit his sister M again soon!!

We spent most of our day at the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.

I didn’t get any “good” shots of the group. Bryan and his step-father managed to make a “kissy-face” in every one! 🙂

Race time!

This is not my usual sort of activity. Honestly, I was a bit skeptical about it as well. I brought a book with me just in case I was bored. Fortunately, that was not the case. I had such a great time with Bryan and his family. They’re a lot of fun to be around!

However, I think my favourite part of the day was dinner. We went back to M and C’s place in Toronto where Bryan’s step-father taught us how to make his Red Chile and Enchilada Casserole. We all pitched in one way or another (despite the kitchen being a bit on the small side). The “kids” made guacamole while the “parent” worked on the Red Chile and Enchilada Casserole. He went through the recipe with us step-by-step, explaining what he was doing and allowing for the occasional photo-op along the way.

The master chef showing us how to fry a corn tortilla.

There was enough left over that we got to bring some of the red chile home. I’ve since made another enchilada casserole. I’m so glad we documented the process… now we can make our own red chile sauce at home!

Red Chile

Bryan’s step-father’s recipe, posted with permission

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef – approximate cost $6.50
  • 3 heaping + 1 level tablespoons all-purpose flour – approximate cost $0.30
  • 4 ounces (red) guajilli molido chile powder – approximate cost $4.00
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt – approximate cost $0.05
  • Approximately 1/2 cup canola oil – approximate cost $0.25
  • Water (about 6 cups)

Method

  1. Brown 1 lb ground beef in a large pot.
  2. Drain any liquid from the ground beef.
  3. Heat 1/4″ oil (approximately 1/2 cup) in a small frying pan over medium heat.
  4. Turn down the heat.
  5. Stir 3 heaping + 1 level tablespoons of flour into the oil
  6. Stir constantly until the flour dissolves.
  7. Add 4 ounces of (red) guajilli molido chile powder.
  8. Stir until it becomes a thick paste.
  9. Add chile paste to ground beef.
  10. Fill the pot to about half with water (about 6 cups).
  11. Add a teaspoon of garlic powder and a teaspoon of sea salt.
  12. Bring to boil and let the sauce thicken.
  13. Stir frequently.
  14. Remove from heat and divide into three batches.

Makes 3 batches of red chile (approximate cost: $3.73 per serving).

Red Chile Enchilada Casserole

Also Bryan’s step-father’s recipe, posted with permission

Ingredients

  • 2 cups red chile – approximate cost $1.24
  • 12 yellow corn tortillas – approximate cost $0.40
  • 2 cans of pinto beans (liquid reserved) – approximate cost $2.20
  • 2 cups Mexican cheese blend, shredded (cheddar, mozzarealla, and american cheeses) – approximate cost $4.00
  • Canola oil (for frying) – approximate cost $0.25

Method

  1. Heat 1/4″ oil in a frying pan.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. Very lightly fry 6 yellow corn tortillas.
  4. Place on paper towels to remove some of the oil.
  5. Pour 1/2 juice from the can of pinto beans into a 9×13 baking dish (it should coat the bottom of the dish).
  6. Distribute the fried tortillas into an even layer in the baking dish (it’s ok if they overlap).
  7. Pour the can of pinto beans (and remaining liquid) on top of the tortillas.
  8. Top with 2 ladles of chile sauce (about 1 cup).
  9. Sprinkle with 1 cup of shredded cheese.
  10. Repeat steps 3-9 to make a second layer on the enchilada casserole.
  11. Bake about 30 minutes, or until the cheese and sauce begin to bubble.
  12. Let stand on the counter for a few minutes.
  13. Serve and enjoy! (Optional: Serve with flour tortillas to soak up any extra sauce)

Makes 6 servings (approximate cost: $1.35 per serving).

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Improv Challenge: Cinnamon and Sugar (Strawberry Cobbler)

Once again I find myself thinking… it’s been way too long since I’ve posted on my blog! Last post, I had just made it through the exam season. Since then, I’ve been quite busy as usual.

I took a short vacation to visit one of my very best friends and her family in Northern Ontario. I spent 3 wonderful days visiting and relaxing. The time out of the city was much needed.

Waterfall in South River

Waterfall in South River

We made a day-trip to Pickerel River where H’s aunt and uncle own a lovely cottage. It had been about 10 years since my last visit. As children, we visited for a week most summers, not a whole lot has changed (except they finished building the house). We even fit in a short kayaking trip! I wish I had been brave enough to bring my camera along, the was a waterfall down the river that was still frozen.

Pickerel River

Pickerel River

A beaver swimming in the Pickerel River

A beaver swimming in the Pickerel River

I have to admit I didn’t really want to come home. Don’t get me wrong, I missed Bryan and Loki. And I was looking forward to starting my summer classes. But a full week away would have been nice. 🙂

I’m excited to once again be participating in the Improv Challenge hosted by Kristen from Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker! This month, the challenge ingredients are cinnamon and sugar. So far, I’ve shared:

This month, my dish is inspired by my trip up north. When we visited Pickerel River, H’s mom made a lovely peach cobbler that we took along for dessert. For the challenge, I made a Strawberry Cobbler!

Strawberry Cobbler

Inspired by S’s Peach Cobbler

Ingredients

Fruit Filling

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar – approximate cost $0.25
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 cup COLD water
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice – approximate cost $0.20
  • 3 cups sliced strawberries – approximate cost $2.00
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon – approximate cost $0.10

Topping

  • 1 cup flour – approximate cost $0.40
  • 1 tablespoon cane sugar – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt – approximate cost $0.05
  • 1/2 cup whole milk – approximate cost $0.50
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons butter, divided into 6 – approximate cost $0.30

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Prepare the fruit filling.
    1. Combine the cornstarch and cold water in a cup.
    2. Mix well.
    3. Add cornstarch mixture and brown sugar to a sauce pot.
    4. Cook over medium heat until thickened and sugar is dissolved.
    5. Remove from heat.
    6. Add lemon juice.
    7. Add strawberries.
    8. Pour into a 9×13 baking dish.
    9. Sprinkle with cinnamon.
  3. Prepare the topping.
    1. Combine flour, cane sugar, baking powder, and sea salt in a large mixing bowl.
    2. Add milk, stirring constantly.
    3. Add water, stirring until well-mixed (no dry flour).
  4. Spoon the topping over the fruit (leaving it in dumpling shapes).
  5. Dot each dumpling with butter.
  6. Bake the cobbler for about 25 minutes (or until topping is cooked through and golden brown).
  7. Cool slightly.
  8. Serve warm and enjoy!

Makes 6 servings (approximate cost: $0.60 per serving).



ALMOST Gluten Free Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies

Last week, I attended a potluck dinner. The theme was St. Patrick’s Day – so green and/or Irish foods were a preferred contribution.

Generally, I contribute a savory food, something that can be a side dish or a main course. However, this time I decided to go with a (green) dessert. I was in class prior to the potluck and needed something that would be easy to transport and didn’t require refrigeration.

I’ve wanted to try making gluten free cookies for a while and decided this was a good opportunity. And it’s a good thing I wasn’t serving the cookies to anyone with an intolerance, because, as it turns out, these cookies did contain gluten. As I was researching gluten-free cookies, I realized the spelt flour (that I had bought in the healthy food section at the grocery store next to the gluten-free flours and cake mixes) contains gluten! According to The Kitchn:

“Spelt has a reputation as a “healthier” grain, but as far as gluten-free cooking goes, it’s out. It is a direct relative of wheat, and while its protein content may be higher and therefore better for those of us without a gluten intolerance, it will cause problems for those with gluten-intolerance. One interesting note, however, is that some people who simply have a mild intolerance say that they can tolerate spelt better than wheat. But you should still avoid it completely when cooking for those with a gluten or wheat intolerance.” (from “Cocoa to Cornstarch: Are These 10 Ingredients Gluten-Free?” on The Kitchn)

A few other things “went wrong” in the process. First, I realized after adding the green food dye that it was also mint-flavoured. This ended up not being an issue because both Bryan and I like mint. And I let my classmates know about the flavour ahead of time. Second, although the dough was green, the cookies turned out golden-brown with a green center. They didn’t look very festive. Next time, I will take them out of the oven sooner so they retain a bit more colour.

So, while these cookies were not, in the end, gluten-free… they were a delicious first attempt. (Bryan asked me to tell my classmates that they were terrible so we could have more at home). However, I promised to make these cookies again soon. However, the next batch will be truly gluten-free, substituting a bit more of each of the other flours to remove the spelt flour.

ALMOST Gluten Free Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup salted butter, softened  – approximate cost $1.50
  • ½ cup brown sugar  – approximate cost $0.25
  • ½ cup cane sugar  – approximate cost $0.45
  • 1 egg  – approximate cost $0.30
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract  – approximate cost $0.15
  • 20 drops of mint-flavoured green food dye  – approximate cost $0.25
  • 2 teaspoons xanthan gum  – approximate cost $0.50
  • ½ cup spelt flour  – approximate cost $0.50
  • ½ cup coconut flour  – approximate cost $0.60
  • 1/3 cup tapioca flour  – approximate cost $0.50
  • 1/3 cup almond meal flour  – approximate cost $0.50
  • 1/3 cup white rice flour  – approximate cost $0.50
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch  – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda  – approximate cost $0.05
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt  – approximate cost $0.05
  • 150 grams semi-sweet chocolate chips  – approximate cost $1.25

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Cream together the butter, brown sugar, and cane sugar.
  3. Add the egg, vanilla, and mint-flavoured green food dye.
  4. Stir until well blended.
  5. Mix together the xanthan gum, spelt flour, coconut flour, tapioca flour, almond meal flour, white rice flour, cornstarch, baking soda, and sea salt.
  6. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture ½ cup at a time, mixing well each time you add flour.
  7. Add the chocolate chips when the flour is completely blended with the butter mixture.
  8. Use an ice cream scoop to make spheres of cookie dough.
  9. Place each scoop of dough onto a non-stick baking sheet (about 5 centimeters apart).
  10. Bake for about 8-10 minutes or until the cookie is golden (the dough on the inside of the cookie will be green).
  11. Cool for a few minutes on the cookie sheet.
  12. Remove to a wire rack and cool completely.
  13. Enjoy immediately and pack a few cookies away for later!

Makes about 15 cookies (approximate cost: $0.50 per cookie).

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Lobster and Egg Served Over a Potato Pancake

Breakfast is probably our favourite meal of the day.

I’m an early riser. Loki (my kitty) likes to be fed by 7am and wakes me up regardless of whether it is a day I can sleep in. (Loki purrs loudly to wake me up, it’s really cute. If I don’t wake up, she will paw my hair, which is my least favourite way to wake up). Bryan, on the other hand, prefers to stay up late. Loki likes to stay up late with him, snuggled in his lap while he is at the computer working. Luckily for us, these diverse schedules both work for graduate students.

Loki would like some breakfast too, please!

That said, our “breakfast” times do not frequently coincide. So, we enjoy breakfast meals at any time of the day. Actually, not that long ago I learned of the mash-up word “brinner” meaning breakfast foods served for dinner. The word hasn’t made it into our regular vocabulary yet, but I can see if happening sometime soon.

The recipe I’m sharing with you today is one that I made for a weekend brunch. It felt like it took quite a while to make… but it was worth the wait!

What is your favourite meal of the day?

Lobster and Egg Served Over a Potato Pancake

Potato Pancake

  • 1 ½ cups shredded potatoes  – approximate cost $1.00
  • 1 egg  – approximate cost $0.30
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt  – approximate cost $0.05
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper  – approximate cost $0.05
  • 1 teaspoon grapeseed oil  – approximate cost $0.05
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour  – approximate cost $0.25
  • 1/3 cup whole wheat flour  – approximate cost $0.25

Toppings

  • 4 eggs, cooked sunny-side up or over-easy  – approximate cost $1.20
  • ½ cup cooked lobster, shredded  – approximate cost $7.00
  • ½ cup cheddar cheese, shredded  – approximate cost $2.00
  • 2 green onions, sliced  – approximate cost $0.15
  • 1 large sweet onion, sliced  – approximate cost $0.60
  • 2 cloves garlic  – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 teaspoon grapeseed oil  – approximate cost $0.05

Method

  1. Cook the onion and garlic toppings.
    1. Preheat a frying pan and add a ½ teaspoons of the grapeseed oil.
    2. Add the sweet onion slices and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
    3. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant.
    4. Make the potato pancakes.
      1. Combine the sea salt, black pepper, all-purpose flour, and whole wheat flour in a large mixing bowl.
      2. Add the shredded potato and egg.
      3. Mix until well-combined.
      4. Preheat a frying pan and add the grapeseed oil.
      5. Add ¼ cup of the potato pancake mixture.
      6. Press the mixture down until it is about 1cm thick.
      7. Cook until golden.
      8. Flip.
      9. Cook until golden and cooked through.
      10. Set aside.
      11. Repeat steps e-j until the mixture is used up (makes about 4 pancakes).
      12. Cook the eggs (ours were sunny-side up, but over-easy would be awesome as well).
      13. Place a potato pancake on a serving plate.
      14. Top with lobster, onion and garlic mixture, cheddar cheese, egg, and green onion slices.
      15. Serve warm and enjoy!

Makes 4 servings (approximate cost: $3.25 per serving).

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Piparkakut (Finnish Gingerbread) Cookies

I’m excited to once again be participating in the Improv Challenge hosted by Kristen from Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker! This month, the challenge ingredients are hearts and flours. So far, I’ve shared:

This month, I’m sharing a gingerbread cookie recipe I got from my friend Kas (with slight modifications).

  • The original recipe calls for 1 teaspoon ground cardamom in addition to the other spices. However, I left this out because I didn’t have the ingredient readily available in my pantry (and it was Family Day, so I couldn’t go to the store to buy some).
  • I used fancy molasses instead of unsulphured molasses.
  • I baked the cookies for 8 1/2 minutes (which made for crunchy cookies, but I would have preferred they turned out soft like Kas’s cookies).
  • I used lactose-free milk instead of regular milk.
  • I used cane sugar instead of white sugar.
  • I used sea salt instead of table salt.

Kas’s Piparkakut cookies are amazing. She tends to make them around Christmas and, if you’re lucky, you get a pack of cookies as a gift. this year, I had the privileged of making a double-batch of cookies with her during a visit. I’m not great at baking, so it was nice to go through the process with a pro (it is her family’s recipe after all!). The ones we made over the holiday were decorated with sprinkles and divided between the two of us. I gave a few away, but Bryan and I kept most of that batch for ourselves.

So, after getting the stand mixer a few weeks back, I decided it was about time that I try making these cookies at home. So on Family Day (this past Monday), I enlisted Bryan’s help with some cookie making. One thing I must point out is that the cookie dough is just as delicious as the cookies themselves. As we were rolling out the cookies, Bryan and I enjoyed many tastes of the dough before it even made it into the oven! We just got our first set of cookie cutters and made several shapes: hearts (as per the Improv Challenge), stars, multi-pointed stars and a shape we cannot agree on (I think it’s candy — Bryan thinks it’s a bone). At the end of the night, we’d sampled so much dough that we were too full to sample the finished cookies! I may have had cookies for breakfast on Tuesday morning, just to make sure they tasted ok.

A single batch, we found, was wayyyyy too many cookies for the two of us. So I’ve given a few to friends as taste testers of my first batch.

Kas and her partner got half a dozen. I was upfront with her about the changes I’d made. Their verdict? Not bad for the first batch! And they didn’t miss the cardamom too much, They only complaint was that I’d left them in the oven a touch too long and they were a bit crispier than they should be. I was already aware of this.

Another half dozen went to my childhood best friend and her sister. Our visit was unplanned, but I was glad to have a few cookies to share with them. They had also tasted a few that I had made with Kas over the holiday and had a point of comparison. They too thought the cookies were pretty good!

Finally, I gave another half dozen to my friend and her four-year old son when I went to babysit last night. She, as far as I know, hasn’t tried a cookie yet, but they also seem to be kid-approved! I allowed him to have one cookie during my visit last night and he savored it over about half an hour.

Hooray for a successful batch of cookies!

Piparkakut (Finnish Gingerbread) Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup salted butter – approximate cost $2.50
  • 1 ¼ cups cane sugar – approximate cost $1.00
  • ¼ cup fancy molasses – approximate cost $0.25
  • 1 large egg – approximate cost $0.25
  • 2 tablespoons lactose-free milk – approximate cost $0.20
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour (and a bit extra for rolling the cookies) – approximate cost $0.75
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda – approximate cost $0.10
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon – approximate cost $0.15
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger – approximate cost $0.10
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves – approximate cost $0.05
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt – approximate cost $0.05
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper – approximate cost $0.03

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Mix together the butter, sugar, and molasses until well mixed and fluffy.
  3. Add the egg and lactose-free milk and stir until well mixed.
  4. Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ground ginger, ground cloves, sea salt and pepper in a separate large mixing bowl.
  5. Slowly add the flour and spice mixture (1/2 cup at a time) into the butter and molasses mixture, mixing constantly until the two are well-combined.
  6. Roll out the dough on a floured surface (the dough should be about 1cm thick).
  7. Use cookie cutters to cut out cookies.
  8. Gently peel away the unused dough.
  9. Work the unused dough into a ball.
  10. Place cookies on a cookie sheet.
  11. Bake cookies for 7 1/2 minutes (until golden brown but still soft).
  12. Remove cookies to a wire rack.
  13. Repeat steps 6-12 until you use up all of the dough.
  14. Cool cookies completely before packaging or enjoy warm.

Makes about 3 dozen cookies, depending on the size of the cookie-cutter shapes (approximate cost: $0.15 per cookie).



Cookbook Review Kitchenability 101: The College Student’s Guide to Easy, Healthy and Delicious Food, by Nisa Burns

Today, I’m sharing with you my first ever cookbook review! for my first review, I chose a cookbook that reflects my goals for this blog. The cookbook shares easy to make, affordable, and nutritious foods and is directed towards university/college-level students who are living on their own for the first time.

Kitchenability 101:

The College Student’s Guide to Easy, Healthy and Delicious Food

By Nisa Burns

ISBN: 0985643005

List price: $17.95

Synopsis

Kitchenability 101 is a book after my own heart. Author Nisa Burns, recently a student herself, writes about healthy, affordable, and easy to make recipes for students (both who are experienced or new to cooking)

Overview

The book is divided into seven chapters that help the reader choose the right food for the right occasion:

  • Orientation
  • Wake-Up Call
  • Grab and Go
  • Choose Your Major
  • Amazing Grazing
  • Cram Sessions and Study Groups
  • Party!

The orientation section is especially helpful for beginner cooks. It lists the equipment you will need (indicating whether it is appropriate for a kitchen or a dorm room), cooking techniques you will use for the recipes in this book, and other very helpful information. It reminded me that I really need to buy a whisk!

The recipe sections are very well thought out to accommodate the student lifestyle. The Wake-Up Call section is filled with quick, easy, and healthy breakfasts, the Grab and Go section features easy to make food that you can take to class, meetings, etc. The Choose Your Major and Amazing Grazing sections feature main course meals (likely intended for dinner, but great whenever you have time to make them). The Cram Sessions and Study Groups and Party! sections feature foods that you would make in large batches and is easy to share.

Because this book has a strong focus on sharing food with others and is directed towards new cooks, I would have liked to see a bit more about common food-related allergies or intolerances. This sort of information could help the reader identify which foods are or are not acceptable for a particular occasion.

Writing style

I love the way that Nisa introduces each recipe. That is, each one is introduced with a short personal narrative about the context in which she prepared and served the recipe. For example, the Pumpkin Muffins, which I’ve tested and will share with you later in this post, she tells the reader about a Halloween party she attended with her boyfriend, the costumes they wore, and the food they contributed. This story is very relatable for the reader because of the common scenario and her casual writing style. Her casual approach to writing helps make the recipes seem feasible for the readers. In fact, I chose to bake the pumpkin muffins first because I find baking challenging, and second because Nisa made them sound so easy to prepare, I figured that even I could make these and it would turn out alright.

Recipes

I love the way that Nisa has thoughtfully organized each recipe. Most recipes have a three-page layout. The first page (on the left side of the book) is a list of ingredients, the second page is a vibrant and gorgeous photo of the final product, and the third page is the directions. Why do I like this setup? Because it makes it easy to have the book in the kitchen with you while you’re cooking. With the essential information on the left side of the book, you can place an object on the right side of the book to hold it open while you work, making easy to refer back to the ingredients and instructions pages.

In addition, the instructions are clear and easy to follow. The cooking techniques are common and written in plain language. And the ingredients are all common, easy to find items that a student could likely afford to purchase at their local grocery store.

Testing a Recipe

Now for the fun part of the review… I tested the Pumpkin Muffin recipe!

As I’ve mentioned many times before, baking is not my specialty. I tend to stick to cooking meals and will avoid making a dessert or breakfast that involves ingredients such as flour, baking powder, sugar, etc, in combination.

So why, then, did I choose to make these muffins? Because it was a challenge, because I consider myself a beginner in this category, and because I wanted to see whether Nisa’s recipe and directions could help me become a better baker.

I stuck to the exact recipe. I had most of the ingredients readily available in my pantry or fridge. I did have to add cream cheese to my grocery list for the week because it’s something I normally don’t keep on hand.

I made the muffins first thing in the morning before a day full of classes and left them on the counter to cool all day. The cat knows not to get on the counters, so I wasn’t worried that she would be interested and sneak a taste. Instead, when I got home, Bryan greeted me at the door telling me how wonderful the pumpkin muffins were. Oops! I had forgotten to mention to him that they were not ready for sampling. No worries though, it was just one.

How could I be upset? I was already ecstatic that they had turned out! They were perfectly cooked through, moist, and no lumps of flour. Hooray!

I made the frosting that evening and frosted the muffins (leaving a few unfrosted just in case) and then put the muffins to the test!

One for myself, one for Bryan, and I packed one up to share with a classmate.

I thought the frosting was too sweet (and I was a bit worried about the possible negative effects of the dairy with my lactose sensitivity). However, the unfrosted muffins were amazing and I enjoyed them very much. Bryan enjoyed the muffins either way. He liked them without the frosting as a breakfast food and with the frosting for a snack or dessert. My classmate tried the frosted muffin and loved it! She even asked if I could share the recipe with her. I assured her it would be making an appearance on the blog.

My overall impression of the recipe?

  • Easy to make
  • Ingredients I would (mostly) have on hand and are readily available at the store
  • Delicious (and moist) snack for breakfast or dessert
  • Recipe is clear and easy to follow
  • Smells delicious when baking and it was nice to come home to the smell permeating my apartment
  • Looked very pretty without too much effort (remember, I’m not great at baking, so I don’t have much experience decorating baked goods)

And, at long last, here is the recipe!

Pumpkin Muffins

Recipe is posted with permission from PR by the Book – Austin

What You Need

To make the muffins

  • 3 1/3 cups flour – approximate cost $1.75
  • 2 tsp baking soda – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt – approximate cost $0.15
  • 2 cups canned pumpkin – approximate cost $2.00
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1 cup vegetable oil – approximate cost $1.00
  • 4 eggs – approximate cost $1.00
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar – approximate cost $1.00
  • 1 tsp cinnamon – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 tsp nutmeg – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1/4 tsp grated fresh ginger or a dash or dried – approximate cost $0.10

To make the frosting

  • 8 oz cream cheese – approximate cost $2.50
  • Splash of milk – approximate cost $0.05
  • 3 or 4 cups powdered sugar – approximate cost $1.00
  • 2 tsp vanilla – approximate cost $0.50

What You Do

As with any cake batter, you mix the dry ingredients separately from the wet ingredients. Then you mix the dry and wet ingredients together by slowly adding the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Don’t try to mix them all together at one or your batter will be lumpy with bubbles of unmixed ingredients. Believe me, a bit of baking soda or salt is gross!

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Mix the flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix the pumpkin, water, vegetable oil, and eggs. Slowly add the sugar to the wet mixture, along with the cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger.
  4. Once all is mixed well, add the dry ingredients by half-cupfuls to the wet ingredients. Use an electric mixer on low to make sure the batter is completely mixed.
  5. Place paper cupcake holders in a muffin tin, then pour the batter into the muffin holders. Each should be about two-thirds full.
  6. Bake the muffins for 15 to 20 minutes, until they have risen. Use a knife to check the center; if it pulls out clean, they are done.
  7. While the muffins are in the oven, make the frosting. Place the cream cheese in a large bowl and add a splash of milk for a smoother consistency. Beat the mixture with an electric mixer.
  8. Once the cream cheese mixture is smooth, slowly add the powdered sugar and mix.
  9. Add the vanilla, and mix again until smooth.
  10. When the frosting is at a spreadable consistency, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and keep at room temperature.
  11. Once the muffins are done, let them cool for approximately 40 minutes. Do not frost the muffins right away, or the heat will melt the frosting.
  12. Frost each muffin.

Makes one dozen muffins (approximate cost: $0.95 per serving).

Maybe I have a smaller thank average muffin tin, because this made 18 muffins (approximate cost: $0.63 per serving)!

Summary

But the big questions are: Would I recommend this cookbook? Would I make these muffins again?

Yes, I would, to both. This book is a great introduction to home cooking for students. It tells you what you need to start out depending on your living situation, features easy to make recipes, and readily available ingredients. Perhaps not as intentional, the recipes are affordable for students. While the recipes are mostly directed towards students who are learning to cook, there is much to offer for those who already know how to cook but are looking for recipes that are healthy, affordable, or just new to the reader. In addition, the book is affordable for its intended audience. It’s something a student could afford on their own or ask a family member to purchase for them at the next upcoming occasion.

As Nisa suggests, her Pumpkin Muffins are a great party food. I would make a double batch of the muffins to share with others (half frosted, half not to suit a variety of tastes). I would make them just for Bryan and I to pack with our lunches or as a quick breakfast before catching the bus to school.

Overall Rating

4.5/5

Want more?

Check out Nisa’s websiteFacebook PageTwitter Profile and YouTube Channel

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