Wednesday, February 26, 2014

A Soup and A Cookie (Chicken Kale and Quinoa Soup / Toffee Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies)

Here's a double recipe post for you.  One savoury and one sweet.  A healthy, hearty, delicious Chicken Kale and Quinoa soup and a chewy, nutty, sweet Toffee Chocolate Chip Oatmeal cookie.  Yup, I made both today and ate both today, just so I blog this for you.  You're welcome.

Part 1: Chicken Kale and Quinoa Soup

It snowed this weekend.  Like a lot.  I was happy because I really wanted one last blast of the white stuff before spring.  When the snow started I doubted that it would last but the flakes kept coming.  I love snow covered trees and watching snow fall.  The girls were happy...I already fed them, bathe them, coloured, played games and watched some Disney Jr.  I was even willing to play outside again (we played Sunday afternoon) but Little Miss C said no thanks.  So, on a very snowy Monday, I let them entertain each other and while I spent the afternoon sitting on the couch reading (Insurgent, book 2 of the Divergent series) and watching the winter wonderland outside my window.


I felt guilty about my lazy Monday so I told myself to be more productive today (Tuesday)...I digress. My point is: it's snowy, it's super cold and I wanted to make soup for dinner.  I found this recipe because I liked the ingredients in it but I didn't really follow it.  I made my own version.

Chicken Kale and Quinoa Soup
Prep Time: 10 mins Cook Time: About 45 mins
Serves 6

  • 4 pieces of bacon, chopped
  • Ground chicken (or use boneless, skinless chicken thighs)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 8 cups of chicken stock (low sodium)
  • 1 Knorr homestyle chicken stock concentrate (no water needed)
  • 1 cup of baby carrots
  • 2/3 cup of quinoa, rinsed
  • A bunch of kale
  • Salt and pepper to taste
In large soup pot, pan fry the bacon until crisp. Drain on a plate covered with paper towel, set aside. Remove all but about one tablespoon of bacon fat in pot. Cook the chicken until no longer pink. Remove from pot. Add onion, garlic and bay leaves and sauté until fragrant. Deglaze the pot with some chicken stock. Be sure to scrape all the brown bits from the pot. Add the rest of the chicken stock and Knorr concentrate. Return the chicken to the pot. Add carrots, quinoa and kale. Stir and simmer for about 15 mins until quinoa is cooked. Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve in bowls and garnish with bacon bits.

Classic: soup and a sandwich

Part 2: Toffee Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

Really, these should be called Toffee Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Maple Cinnamon Oatmeal cookies but that's just ridiculous.  They also taste ridiculous.  In a great way.  I don't have much else to say.  The name says it all.  This is my adaptation of monster cookies found from this recipe and this recipe.  My house smelled scrumptious while these were baking.  They're great warm and still chewy when completely cooled.  So good.  So, so good!

Toffee Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies
Makes about 3 dozen large cookies

3 1/2 cups oats
1 cup almond flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1tsp cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
½ cup butter (1 stick), at room temperature
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups peanut butter
1 tbsp maple extract (I used maple syrup)
1 package of Heath toffee bits
1 package of chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line cookie sheets with parchment paper or silicone liners.

Mix together oats, almond flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt, set aside.

Using the paddle attachment on your stand mixer, cream butter and sugar together until fluffy.  Add eggs, one at a time, until fully incorporated.  Add peanut butter and maple and beat for about 2 minutes.  Scrape down the bowl then add dry ingredients.  

Mix on low until all ingredients are combined.  

Add toffee and chocolate chips and mix until distributed.  

Use a large cookie scoop or form about ¼ cup balls.  

Bake for 8-9, until edges are starting to brown.  

Remove from oven and leave on cookie sheet for about 5 mins then transfer to cooling rack.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Cream Cheese Chocolate Chip Cookies

Hubby is anti-Valentines so I didn't have any big plans for V-day.  This is exactly his opinion of it.

Lucky for me, I have 2 little girls so no matter how he feels, I still get to make a semi-big deal about it.  First, I decided I wanted to do a mini photo shoot with the girls.  Thanks a lot Pinterest.  I buy a couple of Valentine banners, blow up some balloons and make some tissue puffs.  Luckily it was a gorgeously sunny-but-freezing-cold-super-windy day. I bundled up my girls and thankfully, they were happy and cooperative.  Here are a few favourite shots.  

Then I decide I wanted to make a sweet treat for the girls and to give away with Valentines. When my long-time friend Nancy from gottagetbaked posted this recipe, the cream cheese caught my attention.  I thought V-day would be great to time to try because who doesn't like chocolate chip cookies? The only thing I modified is I added the Valentine m&ms.  These damn m&ms!  While Little Miss C was at preschool, I dragged Little Miss L to Walmart, Target, Superstore and Save On with no luck finding them.  Yes, pink and red Smarties were available but I'm an m&m girl.  Thankfully, CJB was heading to America and imported the goods for me.  Yup, that's right folks.  Had to leave the country for ingredients just to make these perfect little cookies.  I don't think you can taste the cream cheese, but it gave it a different texture.  The cookies were cakey, soft and chewy.  I don't like crisp, hard chocolate chip cookies so I loved the texture of these.  But I did feel that it needed more salt (it calls for a pinch) so next time I make them I will modify it to 1 teaspoon of salt.  

Hope you had a great Valentine's Day or Galentine's Day or regular Feb. 14th day!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Banana Oatmeal Muffins (Flourless and Sugar-free)

I'll be honest.  I'm not ever interested in making any gluten/dairy/sugar/blah-blah-blah free recipes.  I love using flour, real butter, real chocolate and actual eggs in my baking.  I'm always doubtful when I see a recipe for "Gluten-sugar-dairy free Cookies and it tastes great."  Really?  Really, it tastes..."great"?  I think it tastes bad or okay, maybe even almost good.  But I have yet to try one that I can say tastes "Grrrreat!".   I say pick one evil and leave the rest of the good stuff.  For example, French macarons.  (And that's macarOns, not macarOOns...for goodness sake get it right, this drives me CRAZY!)  They're gluten free. And if you know me, I definitely think they taste great.  Even if you make a failed batch, it may look like crap, but they still taste great.  If you've ever attempted to make French macarons, you know exactly what I mean by failed batches.  Once, I forgot to add 1 cup of sugar to Lemon Blueberry Muffins.  They still tasted great!  Like a scone.  My friend, Super Momma J baked flourless chocolate cookies with pink sea salt.  They were amazing!  So, the lesson is...leave one bad thing out and you can still indulge on something great.  Ha, that's my logic.

Oh my, I got distracted.  So, I found this recipe for Banana Oatmeal Breakfast Muffins that said no flour, no white sugar and tastes great.  Hmmm.  Well, I had all the ingredients on hand so I thought, why not give it a go.  I love muffins, I like the oatmeal + banana combo and I don't need them to be sweet so I was optimistic I would like these.  As usual, I made a few tweaks to the original recipe.  I did not use a food processor, just my KitchenAid mixer.  Why take the extra step of grinding the oats?  I did not add nuts.  I reduced the honey because I knew I was adding an entire package of Ghiradelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Baking Chips.  These muffins are great!  Tender, moist and good chew from the oatmeal.  The girls and I taste tested when they finished baking, then I shared some with AKRams, then the girls and I ate them for breakfast.  I need more.  Looks like I'm making my second batch in 1 week.

I love this cannister I got for my birthday!

Banana Oatmeal Muffins
Prep time: 5 mins Bake Time: 20-25 min
Makes 12 muffins

2.5 cups old fashioned oats (buy gluten free oats if you want)
1 cup plain low fat greek yogurt
2 eggs
1/2 cup honey (reduce to 1/4 if adding chocolate)
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 tbsp ground flax seed
1 tsp vanilla
2 ripe bananas
1 pk chocolate chips or chopped chocolate (optional) use the good stuff!
chopped nuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 dregrees.  Grease or line muffin tray with parchment.  Put all ingredients in a mixing bowl except nuts and/or chocolate.  Mix for 2-3 mins.  Fold in the nuts/chocolate.  Scoop into muffin tray.  Bake for 20-25 mins or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Enjoy warm or at room temperature.

Look at the beautiful texture of this muffin.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Philly Cheesesteak Dip

Years ago while hubby and I were still at college, one of our favourite restaurants was Boston Pizza.  We lived in our tiny little basement suite, both worked full time and went to college almost full time.  Our classes were in the evening from 7-10 pm so on the nights we didn't manage to eat before class, we would head to BP after since it was (and still is) one of the only places open late.  Hubby loved the Boston Cheesesteak sandwich from BP.  Beef, peppers, onions and mushrooms smothered with cheese with a side of beef au jus for dipping.  Like us, BP has changed over the years and the Cheesesteak is no longer on the menu.  Lucky for hubby, I make this all the time at home.  Here is the recipe I've come up with.  You'll be amazed how easy it is.  Dinner in 30 minutes?  No problem!

Cheesesteak Dip
Prep Time: 10 mins Cook Time: about 20 min
Makes 4 Sandwiches

1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 lb (500g) rouladen* beef, cut into strips
1 small green bell pepper, cut into strips
1 small onion, cut into strips
8-10 button mushrooms, sliced
1 heaping tsp Montreal steak seasoning
4 Kaiser** rolls
Butter or margarine (optional)
Slices of Pepper Jack cheese***
4 cups of beef broth

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Slice and butter the buns and arrange on a cookie sheet.
Heat oil in a frying pan and stir fry the beef over medium-high heat until brown.  Sprinkle seasoning all over and toss well.  Keep cooking until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 5-7 minutes.  Add the veggies and cook for another 2 minutes.  Divide the cheese steak into the four prepared buns and top with cheese.  Bake for 5 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbly.  Heat the beef broth while the sandwiches are baking.  Serve 1 cup of broth with each sandwich.

*Rouladen is round steak cut in large, thin slices.  I usually roll the beef and then slice it like pinwheels. You can choose any cut that works well for stir fry.

** Make sure your choice of bun is heavy enough to hold the filling while you're dipping.  I normally use long sub buns, they're easier to dip.

*** Choose your favourite cheese.  Marble is always in available in our household.