Tuesday 25 March 2014

Photo a Day, and Hockey Champs

A glimpse of the past week, Instagram style.

And last nights hockey champions. 

Friday 21 March 2014

Coconut Banana Chia Chocolate Snack Cake

Earlier this week we celebrated a birthday, shamrock style.  We wrapped it all up with this wonderful coconut banana chocolate chip snack cake, as requested by the birthday girl.  It's an easy, no fuss snack cake, packed with flavour, 

Coconut Banana Chia Chocolate Snack Cake

3 ripe bananas, mashed
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 tbsp chia seeds
2 cups brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup coconut oil 
1/4 cup milk (dairy, almond, soy, rice...whatever!)

1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder

3/4 cup chocolate chips (I used milk chocolate chips, semi-sweet would be good too)
3/4 cup shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line a 9 x 13 baking pan with parchment paper.

Cream together the mashed bananas, eggs, chia seeds, brown sugar, milk, vanilla, and coconut oil.  Make sure the coconut oil is well distributed, small lumps are OK.  Let the wet ingredients sit for 10 min to allow the chia seeds to absorb some of the moisture.

In a separate bowl, sift together flour, salt, and baking powder.  Whisk dry ingredients into wet ingredients until combined.  

Stir in chocolate chips and coconut until evenly distributed.  Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 30-45 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.  Allow to cool in pan before slicing.

Oh, and a little something to honour the first day of Spring.  I'm so crafty.

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Wednesday 19 March 2014

Shamrocks, and Tater Tot Casserole

We celebrated a birthday in our house on St. Patrick's Day.   

The tradition is that the birthday child, or in this case adult, is allowed to choose their favourite meal for dinner on their birthday.  So we decked out the kitchen in shamrock swag and made Tater Tot Casserole.

Creamy, spicy ground beef, green beans, frozen tater tots, and shredded cheese.  This is simple comfort food, and it was devoured in record time.  The potato topping and GREEN beans made it work as a St. Patrick's Day meal which was an added bonus.

Tater Tot Casserole

1 pound lean ground beef.
1 onion, diced
2 cloves minced garlic
1 tbsp Montreal Steak Spice (if you can't find it, there's a DIY recipe here)
1 can of cream of mushroom soup, OR this Basic White Sauce, if you prefer to avoid canned soups
1 tbsp ketchup
Dash of hot sauce (optional)
1 can of green beans, or fresh steamed green beans
1 bag of  frozen Tater Tots
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 400°F.  In a large pan, scramble fry ground beef with onion until the meat is cooked and the onions are soft.  Depending on how lean your ground beef is, you may want to drain some of the fat from the pan.  I usually buy extra lean ground beef and don't bother with draining the fat from the meat.  Add garlic and seasoning, stir and cook for another minute or so.

Stir in the basic white sauce OR cream of mushroom soup, along with the ketchup and hot sauce, if using.  Heat through while stirring occasionally.  Transfer to casserole dish.  If using canned green beans, drain first and pour over meat mixture.  I like to use fresh green beans which I've cut into bite sized pieces and steamed until crisp-tender.

Add a layer of frozen Tater Tots over the green beans, and top with shredded cheese.  Bake for approximately 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are cooked and the cheese is melted.

And this was the requested dessert.  Stay tuned.


The recipe is up for the Coconut Banana Chia Chocolate Snack Cake

Tuesday 11 March 2014

Photo A Day, Instagram Style

It took me a while to warm up to it.  I didn't get it right away.  So many selfies, so many hashtags.  But as I look back at what I've posted over the past couple of months, I see that it's become a photographic journal of sorts.  A random sampling of our days.  

Which is exactly what I'd hoped that this blog would become when I first started it.  I love the idea of journaling, and I've always been a photo junkie, but I've struggled to do any of it consistently.  I have a drawer full of half filled journals, scrapbooks that haven't seen a sticker or glue stick in ages, and baby books with more blank pages than filled.  Even with the best intentions, I've sucked at memory keeping.  But this blog has made me accountable.  In the beginning the only person reading was my Mom, then a few friends, and eventually some like-minded bloggers.  Now, I can't very easily tuck it into a drawer, because someone will call me out on it.  And for the days that there aren't any words to share, Instagram's got my back in the memory keeping department, which I think is pretty awesome.

Friday 7 March 2014

Almost Spring, and Sour Cream Biscuits

The temperature is supposed to climb above zero degrees today.  Daylight Savings Time starts this weekend, and March break has begun.  Despite the snowbanks that surround us, I can feel the promise of spring.  The days are getting longer and the sun is feeling warmer.   

I know I said there wouldn't be any more snow pictures, but looking at all that snow makes me wonder what sort of a mess we're in for when it all starts to melt.  

We celebrated a couple of birthdays this past week, and it was all about hockey.  Hockey cupcakes, a commemorative hockey jersey from the New Year's Eve NHL Winter Classic, a new hockey stick, and a trip to Detroit for a Red Wings game on the same night that Nicklas Lidstrom's jersey number was being retired.

And I made biscuits.  And they were the best biscuits.  We've been having a lot of pasta, soups & stews, and there's nothing better than warm, fresh rolls on the side.  The problem is rolls take time.  Kneading time, rising time, more kneading, more rising... not an option when you walk in the door at 5pm and hope to have dinner on the table by 6pm.  

Biscuits are a quick and easy alternative.  I've tried a few different recipes... some were good, some were horrible.  I've tried buttermilk, yogurt, and butter.  They've come out puffy, flat, salty, tasteless, hard, soft, dry, and crumbly.  Now that I've had consistently good results by combining and tweaking a few different recipes, I can honestly say these are the best biscuits I've ever made.

It's all about sour cream.  Full fat sour cream.  Honestly, those low fat dairy products sort of scare me.  The ingredient list is four times longer than the list on a container of regular sour cream.  Seriously, what on earth do they add in order to make up for the bit of fat they're removing?  Besides, our brains need fat... I read it somewhere.   

So if you're looking for a good biscuit recipe, try this one.  It's easy, it uses real ingredients, and the result is soft, flaky deliciousness.

Sour Cream Biscuits

3 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp sugar
1 1/2 cups sour cream
1/2 cup butter, room temperature

Preheat oven to 400°F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  
Whisk together the dry ingredients.  
Add the sour cream and butter.  Stir until it just holds together.  
Roll dough out on a floured surface, about 1/2 - 3/4 inch thick.  Use a round cutter and press straight down to cut out biscuits.  If you twist the cutter you won't get those nice looking layers on the side of the biscuit.
Bake until they are golden brown, about 12 - 15 minutes.


These are best freshly baked and still warm from the oven.  If you want to make them ahead of time, freeze the unbaked biscuits and then bake them straight from the freezer, adding a few minutes cooking time.

Don't over overwork the dough, it should be just combined and still lumpy before you roll it out.  Overworking the dough will result in tough biscuits.

When measuring the flour, don't just scoop and dump.  This compacts the flour in the measuring cup, resulting in too much flour and hard, dry biscuits.  Instead, fluff the flour with a scoop and add it to the measuring cup scoop by scoop.  Read how to properly measure out a cup of flour here:  King Arthur Flour.

I've gone easy on the salt.  If you prefer a saltier biscuit you could use up to a teaspoon.  Alternately, if you prefer a sweeter biscuit, the sugar can be increased up to one tablespoon.

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