Friday, December 30, 2011

Looking forward to 2012! (And back at 2011)

I will be back to regular posts next year!  Hehe, I mean that I will have a regular post for you on Monday!

Now, let's reflect on 2011.  It was a wonderful year, but it definitely had its highs and lows.  I've continued to learn so much about cooking, to try new foods, and to grow as a blogger.  K&K Test Kitchen is a labour of love and something that I do for myself, but it has made me so happy to see that others are interested in what we do here as well.  Without you, I may have quit long ago, so thank you so much for your support.

In 2012, the blog will continue to change.  Hopefully the biggest change will be an improvement in my photography.  I finally started to focus on learning about my camera, which is about time since I got it in April!  I read "Plate to Pixel" on the plane to Seattle and I'm going to really try to put things into practice.  I will also share what I learn with my mom, K, so she is more confident with her food photography.

There will also be two new types of posts on the blog.  First, N and I have committed to doing a vegetarian meal at least once a week, so I will be participating in "Meatless Monday" (starting Jan. 3!).  Second, since I am learning my way around the kitchen and trying to teach myself, I thought we could learn some new things together.  We'll start with some of the basics, like making homemade stock for soups.  In order to share these lessons, there will be more photos and even some videos!!  I'm so excited to share these things with you!

For me personally, aside from the blog, I'm making a commitment to healthy living.  I was doing pretty well running and staying active in the fall, but I turned into a lazy bones in November and December.  Back in the day, I was a swimmer and it was really easy for me to get my workouts in because "I had to."  Practice everyday, plus scary coaches meant that I never had to think about working out.  Over the years, I haven't quite gotten into my groove in terms of learning how to workout on my own.  So I'm putting this out in the universe - in 2012, I will run a half marathon and do a "try" triathalon.  Do you have any goals for 2012??

Thank you so much for your continued support and have a wonderful new year! XO
Finally, let's look back at the recipes of 2011!

The Far and Away Most Popular Recipe:  Strawberry Lemonade Bar

strawberry lemonade bars recipe

Kelsey's Favorite Recipes
Herbed Turkey Burgers

herbed turkey burgers recipe

Sun-dried Tomato, Corn, and Bacon Pasta

sun-dried tomato, corn, and bacon pasta recipe

And for dessert, Haystacks

peanut butter chocolate cornflake haystacks recipe

(Kim and Nigel will hopefully get back to me with their favorites too!)

Monday, December 26, 2011

White Chocolate Peppermint Bark Cheesecake

white chocolate peppermint bark cheesecake

It has been a really lovely week at home in Seattle.  We spent a lot of time with family, got to see some old friends, and filled ourselves with delicious food.  One event that stood out was the Celebration of Life we held for my Grandpa David.  David was a wonderful, kind, loving, funny, family man.  He passed away December 5th, and he is truly missed.

Grandpa David loved sweets, of all kinds, so we made sure to have lots of sweets at the Celebration.  This White Chocolate Peppermint Bark Cheesecake was my contribution.  It was really good, one of the best cheesecakes that I've ever had.  It was very time consuming to make, but it was worth it.  Since the recipe is fairly involved, you can find it over at Baked By Rachel.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Happy Holidays from K&K

All the best for the holiday season from the K&K Test Kitchen family to yours!  We hope you have a wonderful day tomorrow filled with family, friends, and food!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Spinach Salad with Bosc Pears

Gaye also made us this fantastic salad and I'm so glad that she shared the recipe.  Unfortunately we didn't snap a picture of it, but that just means I will have to make it again soon so I can update the post!


Fantastic salad, that blends sweet and tart.  Great pairing for everything from fish to steaks!

Serves 6

Spinach – 1 plastic tubs worth (8 cups). Remove stems & rinse
Candied pecans
Stilton Cheese – 1 sm package
1 cup thinly sliced red onion
1/2 cup sweetened dried cranberries
8 cups lightly packed fresh baby spinach leaves, stemmed if needed
2 firm but ripe Bosc pears (do not peel), quartered lengthwise, cored, and cut into long, thin slices

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons whole-grain mustard
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
Freshly ground pepper

To make the dressing, in a small jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine the olive oil, vinegar, mustard, sugar, salt, and pepper to taste. Cover tightly and shake vigorously to blend. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Set aside.

Place the onions in a medium bowl and cover with cold water. Let stand for 30 minutes. This crisps the onion and takes away the raw onion taste. Drain well and pat dry on paper towels.

In a small bowl, toss the cranberries with 2 tablespoons of the dressing to soften them. Set aside for at least 20 minutes or until ready to serve the salad.

To assemble the salad, toss everything with dressing, OR layer in this order:
Cheese on the side
Drizzle with dressing

Flank Steak

flank steak with blue cheese butter recipe

One of the lovely things about coming home for the holidays is that we get to see lots of family and friends from the West Coast.  Last night, our family friends came down to visit and brought all the fixings for a delicious dinner!  Gaye was gracious enough to share the recipe for the amazing flank steak that she made and the delicious salad we had too. - Kels


Fantastic time visiting with K&K (and T&T).   In appreciation, here is my treasured Flank Steak recipe:

Flank Steak:  Score in diamond pattern on both sides, place in lg. zip lock baggie
Italian Dressing:   Dump 1/2 bottle of Italian Dressing in bag with Steak.   Refrigerate overnight!

Mix 1 part blue cheese with 2 parts Butter into spreading consistency

Drain Flank Steak, grill on BBQ.   Immediately spread entire Flank Steak with generous layer of Blue Cheese Butter.   Let sit 3-4 minutes.  Slice thinly on angles.

Serve extra blue cheese butter on the side.  

Even folks that don't think they like Blue Cheese LOVE THIS

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Apricot Tarts

apricot tart recipe with pecans recipe

There is still time to squeeze in some holiday baking! I know, because that is what is on our agenda today.  My mom made these apricot tarts today.  And if you only bake one thing before Christmas, you should make these delicious tarts.  The recipe is from my Great Great Aunt Ted.  Everyone in my family always says these are their favourite treats for the holidays.  They are even delicious when crumbled into a smushed mess, something I learned when I took them while still warm on the train home with me last Christmas.

Apricot Tarts
From Great Great Aunt Ted

Pie Crust
1/2 cup butter and 1/2 Crisco
2-1/4 cup of flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 to 1/3 cup of ice cold water

Apricot Jam (we use a half jar of Smucker's Simply Fruit)

1 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 cup pecans, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 375°F. 

Make pie crust by mixing flour and salt, than add butter and Crisco and mix with a pastry blender or two knives until the dough forms into large crumbles.  Add ice water by adding to the outside edge and use a fork to blend.  Do not over work the pastry. Refrigerate until chilled, so it rolls out better.  Roll very thin and cut to fit tart pans. Line the tart pans with dough.

Combine the sugar, beaten egg, and pecans.

Drop 1/2 tsp of apricot jam in the center of each tart. Then top with 1/2 tsp of topping.  Bake in preheated oven at 375°F for 15- 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Nuts and Bolts

nuts and bolts snack mix recipe

Sometimes things happen so that even when I follow a recipe exactly, it just doesn't turn out quite as good as I hope it will.  For this particular recipe, I happened to slosh a tiny bit of sauce out of the saucepan as I was moving it to pour it onto the cereal and cracker mix.  As it turned out, the sauce had separated slightly, so all of the flavour happened to be in that tiny bit that sloshed out.  After the nuts and bolts came out of the oven, and we were less than excited about eating them, Nigel took things into his own hands.   He added soy sauce, Sriracha, and honey to the mix and continued to bake the nuts and bolts for another half an hour.  Nigel claims that he "fixed" the nuts and bolts, and I definitely agree that his version of the nuts and bolts were delicious and addictive!  The recipe below represents the way that you should make nuts and bolts, not the way that I first made them.  I highly recommend making these to have on hand for  guests to snack on in the next week, or stash them somewhere only you know about for your own secret treat.

Nuts and Bolts 

1 box Chex cereal
1 box Cheerios cereal
1 bag pretzel sticks, broken in half
1 bag Goldfish crackers (or other cheese crackers)
1 cup butter
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon Sriracha sauce
2 teaspoons celery salt
2 teaspoons garlic powder

Preheat oven to 200°F.  Stir cereal, pretzels, and crackers together in a large bowl.

Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. When the butter has melted, stir in Worcestershire, soy sauce, honey, Sriracha, celery salt, and garlic salt. Cook for another minute.

Pour the sauce over the dry ingredients and stir well to coat. Spread the mix into two 9x13 inch pans (or one large roasting pan). Cook the mix for 2 hours at 200°F, stirring every 15-20 minutes.

Note: you can add just about anything you want to this mix, including actual nuts!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Cookies Galore!

My friend Annie hosted the cookie exchange this year.  She was a lovely hostess and made us a delicious lasagna for dinner.  The only bad thing about delicious lasagna is that it doesn't leave much room in your tummy for cookie tasting!  But, somehow we all managed to try the cookies anyways.  With nine different types of cookies to try, we were not only full by the end of the evening, but we were in sugar comas too! (PS love the super cute Rifle Paper Co. holiday postcards I picked up!)

I made my Great-Grandma Rose's Almond Crescents, a cookie that our family has loved for as long as I can remember!  These cookies are delicate and have a subtle nut flavour.

almond crescents cookie recipe

Almond Crescents
From Great-Grandma Rose

1 cup butter
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoon vanilla
1-3/4 cup flour
1 cup finely chopped almonds (or pecans)
½ cup granulated sugar

Cream butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, and salt until fluffy.  Stir in flour and almonds. Chill for 30 minutes.

Break off small pieces and roll into finger size logs.  Cut into two inch pieces.  Shape into crescents and place on cookie sheet.  Bake for 18-20 minutes at 300°F until just golden.

When still warm, roll cookies in granulated sugar.

holiday cookies recipe

Chocolate Pretzel Cookies
From Sobeys

1 cup salted butter
¾ cup brown sugar
½ cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1½ all purpose flour
1 cup medium desiccated unsweetened coconut
½ cup large flake oats (not instant or quick oats)
1 tsp baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 cup mini twist pretzels, broken into large pieces
½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
½ cup puffed rice cereal

Preheat oven to 375˚. Using a hand mixer on medium speed or a whisk, cream together butter and sugars until light and fluffy, then add the egg and vanilla.
In a large bowl, combine flour, coconut, oats, baking soda and salt. Add the flour mixture, stirring with a wooden spoon until combined. Blend in pretzels, chocolate and cereal until just combined.
Drop about 30 spoonfuls of cookie dough, roughly 2 in. apart, onto parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Bake in center of oven, 8 mins for chewy cookies or 10 mins for crispy ones. Cool on wire racks. Yields 30 cookies.

Mrs. Field's Applesauce Oaties
From Mrs. Field's

1 3/4 cup Quick oats (not instant)
1 1/2 cup Flour 1 teaspoon Baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon Nutmeg
1 cup Light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup Sugar
1/2 cup Butter, softened
1 large Egg
3/4 cup Applesauce
1 cup Semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup Raisins (I used a half-cup of raisins, and a half-cup of dried cranberries)
1 cup Chopped walnuts (I omitted this)

Preheat oven to 375 F. In a medium bowl: combine oats, flour, baking powder, soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Mix well with a wire whisk and set aside.

In a large bowl: combine sugars with an electric mixer at medium speed. Add butter and beat to form a grainy paste. Add egg and applesauce, and blend until smooth. Add the flour mixture, chocolate chips, raisins and walnuts. Blend at low speed just until combined.

Drop dough by tablespoons onto lightly greased baking sheets, 2 inches apart. Bake 12 - 14 minutes or until light brown. Immediately transfer cookies with a spatula to a cool flat surface.

holiday cookies
Best Rolled Sugar Cookies

1 ½ cups butter, softened
2 cups white sugar (I put 3 cups after reading reviews)
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cover, and chill dough for at least one hour (or overnight).

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Roll out dough on floured surface ¼ to ½ inch thick. Cut into shapes with any cookie cutter. Place cookies 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake 6 to 8 minutes in preheated oven. Cool completely.  Yields five dozen cookies.

Chewy Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups quick-cooking oats
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).

In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs one at a time, then stir in vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt; stir into the creamed mixture until just blended. Mix in the quick oats, walnuts, and chocolate chips. Drop by heaping spoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheets.

Bake for 12 minutes in the preheated oven. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

1/2 cup margarine
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup flour
1 cup chocolate chips

Heat butter until soft, not melted. Add sugar and brown sugar, and mix.  Add egg and vanilla, and mix. 

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, salt, and baking soda, then add to the rest.  Mix in the chocolate chips.  Then put spoonfuls onto the baking sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes at 350F. Makes 2 dozen.

Peanut Butter Blossoms

48 Milk Chocolates
1/2 cup shortening or butter (butter will require chill time approx 2hrs) (unsalted)
3/4 cup Creamy Peanut Butter
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar (make sure there are no clumps of brown sugar)
1 egg
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Heat oven to 375°F. Remove wrappers from chocolates.

Beat shortening and peanut butter in large bowl until well blended. Add 1/3 cup granulated sugar and brown sugar; beat until fluffy. Add egg, milk and vanilla; beat well. Stir together flour, baking soda and salt; gradually beat into peanut butter mixture.

Roll dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in granulated sugar; place on ungreased cookie sheet. NOTE: if the mix is too soft it will be hard to roll the dough into 1-inch ball. Instead, place in the fridge for 1-2 hours to firm up and then roll.

Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Immediately press a chocolate into center of each cookie; cookie will crack around edges. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely.

About 4 dozen cookies.

Peanut Butter Mocha Checkerboards
From Better Homes and Gardens

1/2 cup butter, softened
2 tablespoons shortening
2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
2/3 cup sugar
1 egg
2 tablespoons freshly brewed strong coffee, cooled
1 teaspoon instant espresso coffee powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
¼ teaspoon salt
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled
1 egg white, lightly beaten

In a large bowl combine butter, shortening, and peanut butter. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until combined. Add sugar. Beat until mixture is combined, scraping bowl occasionally. Beat in the one egg, the coffee, espresso powder, vanilla, and salt until combined. Gradually beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Stir in any remaining flour. Divide dough in half. Stir 2 ounces melted chocolate into one dough portion. Cover and chill both dough portions for about 1 hour or until easy to handle.

Place each dough portion between two sheets of waxed paper. Roll each portion into a 5-inch square. Remove top layers of waxed paper. Brush the top of the chocolate dough square with beaten egg white. Carefully invert peanut butter dough square on top of the chocolate dough. Remove waxed paper. Trim edges to make a 4 ½-inch square. Wrap dough in waxed paper or plastic wrap. Cover and freeze for about 1 hour or until dough is easy to handle. Chill remaining egg white.

Cut dough square into six ¾-inch strips. Working carefully but quickly, lay one strip, cut side down, on a work surface and brush with egg white. Top with another strip, cut side down, so opposite colours/flavours meet; transfer the stack to a baking sheet or tray. Repeat with remaining strips to make three stacks total. Cover and freeze stacks on baking sheet for about 30 minutes or until dough is firm enough to slice.

Preheat oven to 350F. Cut each stack crosswise into ¼-inch slices. Place slices 1 inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until edges are firm and cookies are set. Transfer to a wire rack; cool.

For decoration: In a small saucepan heat and stir 2 ounces of chopped white chocolate (or semisweet chocolate if you prefer) over low heat until melted and smooth. Place melted white chocolate in a resealable plastic bag. Snip a small hole in one corner of the bag. Squeeze the bag to pipe bows or desired designs on cookie tops. Let stand until white chocolate sets.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Green Bean and Feta Salad

green bean feta and bacon salad recipe

We interrupt this parade of cookies for something "green."  I can't quite claim that it is healthy, but at least it contains some vegetables.  There is a funny story, perhaps legend, that my mom once asked my aunt to make sure that I ate something "green" every day while I stayed with her.  When my parents came back, she asked if I had in fact eaten something green every day.  My aunt replied that "yes, she ate lime popsicles."  Now, I'm not sure how true that story is, but let's all try to eat something "green" every day this holiday season, and no, green candy canes don't count.

This green bean salad will definitely be on the menu for our family Christmas.  It is a family favourite that has been on holiday menus every year since my sister started making it about six years ago.  It is best to make it a few hours ahead to allow the flavours to mingle together.  Your guests will love this addition to the meal!

Also, K&K Test Kitchen was featured on Club Monaco's Culture Club Blog yesterday!! Thank you to my friend Becky for passing the blog along to them.

Green Bean and Feta Salad
(Maybe from The Junior Club of Seattle? or from Taryn)

1-1/2 pounds green beans
1/2 cup red onion, chopped*
1/2 cup crumbled feta
1/2 cup walnuts
4 strips of bacon, cooked and crumbled

1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/3 cup of extra-virgin olive oil

Put beans in boiling water for five minutes.  Drain and plunge beans into ice water to cool.  When cooled, combine with remaining salad ingredients.

Combine all the vinaigrette ingredients together and whisk in the olive oil.  Pour onto salad and mix well.  Place in refrigerator to allow flavours to blend.

*Note: I like to soak the chopped red onions in warm water for a few minutes before adding them to the salad.  The warm water makes the flavour a little bit more mild, so that it doesn't overwhelm the other flavours of the salad.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap: Haystack Cookies

peanut butter butterscotch chocolate cookies with cornflakes recipe

I'm so excited to finally share the cookies that I made for the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap!

These cookies are based off of one of my favourite treats, Haystacks.  Unfortunately, haystacks aren't the most practical thing to send in the mail.  So I took all the elements of haystacks - peanut butter, butterscotch, chocolate, and cornflakes - and turned them into a cookie.  I did a lot of research, since I haven't done very much recipe development for baking.  Baking is a science, and I wanted to make sure I got things right.  I learned that butter is extremely important from the New York Times, and I learned that the butter is creamed for 10 minutes for the famous Milk Bar compost cookies.  I have also heard that peanut butter cookies are best when the peanut butter is melted first.  My goal was to have a crunchy, chocolate-y cookie with hints of peanut butter and butterscotch.  I was really happy with the result!  These cookies are delicious and I really hope that the recipients of my cookies liked them too (Hi Sweet Twist of Blogging, Cravings of a Lunatic, and the Bold Baker! Go visit them for awesome recipes.)

A huge thank you to Christina of Mis-Cakes Oven Adventures for the Malted Milk Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies, Jill of Miss Delish for the Red Velvet and Peppermint Whoopie Pies, and Shannon of Red Deer Foodie for the Ginger Molasses Cookies!  These ladies can bake!

Another huge thank you to Lindsay and Julie for organizing the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap!  It was so fun receiving cookies in the mail and learning about awesome new blogs in the process. If you are a food blogger and you missed the swap or want more information, you can sign-up here to receive a notification about the swap next year.  Make sure you visit the main page to see what everyone else made for the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap too!

Haystack Cookies

3/4 cup butter, divided into 1/4 cup and 1/2 cup
1/2 cup natural peanut butter
1/2 cup butterscotch chips
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups crushed cornflakes (start with 4 cups whole flakes, when crushed they become 2 cups)
1-1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 cups chocolate chips
1/2 cup butterscotch chips

Melt one-quarter cup butter, half cup of peanut butter, and half cup of butterscotch chips together in small saucepan over low heat.  Stir constantly until butter and chips are melted thoroughly.

Let the mixture cool.

Cream together half cup of butter and the sugars until just combined.  Then add the eggs and vanilla together for about five minutes with the mixer on medium.

The creamed mixture should double in size and become pale in color.

Blend the cooled peanut butter-butterscotch mixture into the creamed butter and sugar, just until it is all combined.

Crush the cornflakes and mix them with the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

Gradually add the dry ingredients to the bowl of wet ingredients, blending in batches until all of the dry mix is combined.  Be careful not to over mix.  Stir in chocolate chips and remaining half cup of butterscotch chips.

Chill the batter for 24 hours.  After chilling, preheat the oven to 375°F.  Scoop the dough in rounded tablespoons and place two inches apart on a cookie sheet.  Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes.  Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.

Makes three dozen cookies.

You can print this recipe by clicking the "Print Friendly" button below.  Just click on all the pictures to delete them and make the recipe easier to read.  Thanks!  Happy Baking!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Jam Thumbprint Cookies

jam thumbprint cookies recipe

Holiday baking is dangerous.  I said it. D-a-n-g-e-r-o-u-s.  I think my sweet tooth is going into overload and I'm afraid that I will start having sugar withdrawals after Christmas.  And it's only just starting.  So far, I've made cookies and received two kinds of cookies for the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap, but you'll have to wait until Monday for the recipe.  These Martha Stewart Jam Thumbprint cookies should hold you over until then.  The great thing about thumbprint cookies is that you can fill the thumbprint with whatever you want - jam, chocolate, caramel, crushed candy canes, anything!  I used the new President's Choice black label raspberry jam and it was delicious.  Luckily I took the cookies to work, otherwise I would have eaten them all myself!

The dough for these cookies was a little bit crumbly, but we were able to make it work.  It may have had something to do with my sad attempt to use a hand mixer with my broken finger (these days I'm really wishing for a stand mixer).  But, I think that it was probably that I added too much flour, which has made me start to think about getting a kitchen scale to measure baking ingredients more accurately.  A recent article on scales from the Globe & Mail has essentially sealed the deal for me.  Do you have a kitchen scale?  Has your baking improved?

Jam Thumbprint Cookies
From Martha Stewart

1-1/2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup finely granulated sugar
1 large egg
3-1/4 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
3/4 cup raspberry jam (or any flavour)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until smooth. Add egg, and beat until completely combined. With mixer on low, add flour, and mix just until incorporated.

Shape dough into 1-inch balls (about 2 tablespoons each). Place on baking sheets, at least 3 inches apart.

Moisten thumb with water, and gently press the center of each ball, making an indentation about 1/2 inch wide and inch deep. In microwave or on stove, heat jam until liquefied; spoon about 1/2 teaspoon into each indentation. Bake until cookies are golden brown around edges, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack, and let cool completely. If storing, place in an airtight container at room temperature, up to 2 days.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Vegetarian Chili and Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread

After a weekend in Toronto, with stops for fast food on both the drive there and the drive home, we were feeling like we needed something a bit healthier to kick off the week.  Since we had such a busy weekend and upcoming week, we also wanted to ensure that we made a meal that did double duty for dinner and work lunches.  N suggested chili, so we settled on making a vegetarian version.  This chili is hearty, spicy, slightly sweet, and chock full of vegetables.  And all you need to do is tell the man in your life that this chili has beer in it and he won't worry at all that its vegetarian.  To round out the meal, I made some super easy cornbread.  Starting from a mix, I added in jalapenos and cheddar cheese, which took it to the next level in terms of flavour!

Vegetarian Chili

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 onion
2 cloves of garlic, minced
3 carrots, diced
1 zucchini, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 cup frozen or fresh corn kernels
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
Salt and pepper
1 cup amber ale
2 cups vegetable broth
1-28 oz can diced, low-sodium tomatoes
1-14 oz can diced tomatoes
1-14 oz can kidney beans, drained
1-14 oz can black beans, drained
1 cup barley
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 cup diced pickled jalapenos

Heat vegetable oil in a large stock pot.  Add the carrots to the pot and cook for two to three minutes.  Add the onions and stir until they start to soften.  Next, toss the zucchini, garlic, and peppers in to the pot.  Stir for three minutes, add the spices, and cook another minute.   Pour the beer into the pot and let it come to a simmer.  Add the tomatoes, beans, and broth.  Let it come to a boil (10 minutes) and then add the barley.  The barley should cook for 35 minutes.  Close to the end of cooking time, stir in the brown sugar and jalapenos.

Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread (the easy way)

1 package Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free Cornbread Mix
1-1/2 cup skim milk
2 eggs
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1/2 cup cheddar cheese
1/4 cup diced pickled jalapenos

Preheat the oven to 375°F.  Whisk together the milk, eggs, and vinegar.  Add to the cornbread mix and blend with a hand mixer until just combined.  Stir in cheddar cheese and jalapenos. Bake for 25 minutes at 375°F.

Test: Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie Muffins

oatmeal chocolate chip muffin recipe

My finger is stilllll broken, so here is a quick photo and a link to a tasty recipe!  I always like to have snacks to take with me in the car or on the plane while travelling.  During the chaotic holiday season, it is a great idea to have something on hand when hunger hits.  These Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie Muffins are a great option.  They are a little sweet and definitely satisfying (though they may not be the healthiest choice).  The recipe is from the lovely, talented How Sweet It Is, so head on over and check it out!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Tart Cranberry Doughnut Glaze

As my mom mentioned, I broke my finger this week playing floor hockey.  Of course it is my index finger on my dominant hand, the finger that I apparently use for everything!  I've discovered that it is very difficult to chop vegetables, stir things, and even eat with this broken finger.  It also happens to be the finger I use to press the shutter button on my camera.  So cooking, taking pictures, and typing have become very difficult.  Please forgive me if the blog is sparse for the next few weeks!  Hopefully Kim will come up with some more treats for us!

In the meantime, here is a delicious donut glaze from Top Pot Doughnuts.  The recipe was in the December issue of Food & Wine magazine, and I was so happy to see it there.  Top Pot is a doughnut shop that my family in the Bellevue/Seattle area has been raving about for ages.  They are known for amazing donuts and unique flavour combinations.  I've never been there myself, but definitely plan to make a visit there when I go to Seattle for Christmas... especially after trying out their recipe for Cranberry Glaze.  Now, this is only a recipe for glaze because I used a baked doughnut recipe and the doughnut itself wasn't very good.  The cranberry glaze definitely saved the doughnut and meant that we still managed to eat them all! (It also might be delicious on some cookies for the holidays.)

Tart Cranberry Glaze
From Top Pot Doughnuts via Food & Wine , December 2011

1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
3-1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt

Simmer the cranberries, granulated sugar, and water in a small saucepan.  Crush the berries as they simmer, until they become jammy, about 8 minutes.  Let cool slightly.

Transfer the cranberries to a bowl and add the confectioners' sugar, corn syrup, vanilla, and salt. Blend together with a hand mixer until smooth.  Use the glaze immediately.  Dip doughnuts in the glaze when they are still warm.  Allow the glaze to set slightly, then dip the doughnuts a second time.  You can also cover the glaze with plastic and refrigerate for a week.
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