Thursday, August 25, 2016

Triple Chocolate Chip Cookies and a New Adventure!


I have been on a bit of a cookie making spree lately. 

I've been working on a really big CWJ project with my town for the past couple of months, and as a result, I obtained all of the necessary food licensing and permits in order to legally sell all of the food that I make without having to be at a Farmer's Market.  

Since I'll be testing recipes for this event all month long (and there are only so many things that fit in my freezer!) it made sense to sell some of the trial batches to help re-coop the cost of all of the ingredients. If you're local to the Hinton/Edson/Jasper area, be sure to check out my new food sales venue at https://www.facebook.com/groups/cookingwithjaxsales (please note this group is only open to locals at this time - if I ever figure out how to safely/legally ship food, I'll be sure to post it here as well!). 

For now, I'll share the recipe for these Triple Chocolate Cookies that I made last week.  So far, cookies have been my best seller in this new adventure! 

Ingredients

1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla bean paste
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped Lindt (or other fine chocolate)

Directions


Pre-heat oven to 375.

Cream butter and sugars together until light and fluffy.

Beat in vanilla and eggs.

Combine dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, and salt). 

Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture and stir until just combined.

Add chocolate chips.

Refrigerate dough for at least at hour (this ensures maximum cookie puffiness - if the dough is too warm, the cookie will fall flat). 

Measure 2 tbsp of dough into a ball and place on an un-greased cookie sheet.

Bake for 8-10 minutes until the edges of the cookie are golden.  Remove from baking sheet and cool.


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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Old Fashioned Creamed Corn




I've had this recipe for creamed corn in my head for awhile - over 5 years in fact.  Every time I have enough fresh corn it crosses my mind to make this, but I somehow end up using the corn for something else instead. 

Last week Marc and I were in British Columbia visiting my Grandparents, and on the way back we stopped at a corn farm in Chilliwack.  We grabbed 2 "farmers dozen" bunches of corn, leaving me with more than enough to make this recipe, and every other corn recipe my heart desired. 

5 years is an incredibly long time, and in the process I managed to perfect the recipe in my head long before I ever made it.  This was one of those sweet recipes that turned out perfectly the very first time I made it. 

Recipe makes 8 cups or 4 x 500 ml mason jars.

Ingredients
- 8 cobs of corn
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 small onion
- 2 bunch garden chives (optional)
- 3/4 cup water
- 1 cup of cream
- 1 tbsp sugar
- salt & pepper, to taste (optional)

Directions 

Shuck corn and rinse free of any silk strands.  Using a sharp knife, remove the corn from the cob.  Using a spoon, remove any remaining pulp and add to corn.  Discard cob. 

Finley mince onion and chives, then saute in butter in a large pot over medium for 2-3 minutes until onions are translucent. 

Add corn and water to pot, cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until corn is tender.  Add cream and sugar to pot and simmer for an additional 6-7 minutes to thicken cream.

Using an immersion blender, blend corn until 3/4 blended (you still want the corn to have some texture). 

Season with salt and pepper and serve! 

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Sunday, August 7, 2016

Parmesan Potatoes


If you’ve been following my blog for awhile, you’ll know that I have a special place in my heart for baby potatoes.  They cook quickly, cut perfectly, and make for a great appetizer or side dish, giving them endless recipe opportunities.

This recipe happened directly after last month’s column using baby potatoes for hot potato salad.  I had a ton of leftover parmesan cheese, chives, and potatoes so I  threw these into the oven to have next to barbecued steak and corn the following evening – I could not have been happier with how they turned out.  The parmesan cheese created a perfect crust for the potatoes, and the hassleback style of cutting them (see below) created the perfect French fry level of crispiness, all the while preserving the centre of the potato for a classic baked potato feel and taste. 

This style of potato is truly the best of all the potato worlds combined into one dish and is sure to satisfy and potato craving that you might have.

Recipe makes 4 servings

Ingredients

- 2 lbs baby potatoes
- 1 cup real parmesan cheese, grated
- 2 tbsp butter (or oil)
- ¼ cup chopped chives

Directions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees and line baking sheet with tinfoil shiny side up (this will help reflect the heat making the potatoes even crisper).

Cut potatoes hassleback style (sliced thinly from the top to the centre but left joined at the bottom – picture cutting a potato for homemade chips only leaving the bottom portion of the potato intact so it all stays together).

Place a small amount of butter on top of the potato, getting as much between the layers as you can (this is harder to do with baby potatoes, but is achievable).  The butter is necessary not only to achieve crispiness, but also to bind the parmesan cheese to the potato in the next step.

Finely grate parmesan cheese (if you don’t have a parmesan specific cheese grater, use the smallest grate side on a regular cheese grater).  Mix cheese with finely chopped chives.

Roll the buttered potato top in the parmesan cheese, pressing the cheese on top of the potato flat. 


Bake in pre-heated oven (with rack in the middle position) for 15-20 minutes, or until potatoes are cooked through and cheese is golden brown.

Great served on their own, or with a little bit of sour cream on the side for dipping.

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Sunday, July 24, 2016

Warm Roasted Potato Salad

 
I tend to give people homemade treats whenever they help me out with something.  Recently a friend did just that, and came through in a really big way for me.  I wanted to make her something really special, so I asked her BFF what her all-time favourite dessert was.  She replied “if you really want to make her something she’ll love, make her a hot potato salad”.  She went on to tell me that our friend always ordered this exact dish at her favourite restaurant in Jasper.  I always love a good challenge, so I was on a mission to re-create it for her.

It’s not often that a recipe comes through exactly right on the very first attempt, but this recipe happened that way.  I made it once, and it was ready to take over to her house.  I was barely out of her driveway when I received a text from her saying “THAT’S SOOOOO GOOD!!!!!!!!!”.  I’ve made it a few times since and it never seems to last long enough to try cold, though I imagine that would be pretty tasty as leftovers too.

Recipe makes 6 side servings
(recipe easily doubles for a crowd)

Ingredients

- 1/2 lb bacon
- 1 kg baby creamer potatoes
- 1 ear of fresh corn
- 3 small shallots (the equivalent to a large onion)
- 3 cloves of garlic

For dressing:
- 1/3 cup real mayonnaise (not miracle whip)
- 1/3 cup sour cream
- 1/4 cup real parmesan cheese
- 1 tbsp lemon juice or white wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp fresh dill, chopped
- fresh pepper to taste
- fresh chives, for garnish

Directions

Place bacon on a silpat (or parchment paper) lined baking sheet being careful to not overlap.  Place bacon in oven, then turn oven on to 425 degrees.  It’s important not to preheat your oven for this step – bacon cooks much better when starting in a cold oven).

Cook bacon for approximately 15 minutes, or until desired crispiness.  Pause to marvel over how awesome it is to cook bacon this way, then vow to make it this way for breakfast from now on if you don’t already.

Once bacon is cooked, remove it from the pan to cool, reserving the bacon grease.  Without wiping the pan, add chopped potatoes, corn, shallots, and whole cloves of garlic (you’ll be removing these at a later step).  Toss ingredients in bacon grease, adding more if necessary until potatoes are lightly coated throughout.

Bake in a pre-heated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until potatoes are crispy.  Be sure to stir halfway through cooking time.

Remove whole gloves of garlic, and mash.   Combine dressing ingredients, and toss in the mashed garlic.   Coat the potatoes with the dressing while the potatoes are still warm.

Serve salad immediately. 

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Sunday, June 5, 2016

Honey Grilled Steak


A few months back we bought some beef from a friend’s family farm here in Alberta.

If you’ve been around me for any length of time you’ll know that I don’t typically eat a lot of meat.  I’m always the one at the table to order the vegetarian dish, so the meat I do eat generally has to be spectacular in order to end up on my plate.

My husband is 100% a carnivore (and also a great cook himself). He would eat meat with a side of meat if given the opportunity, so I knew that buying a large quantity of fresh Alberta beef would be a good call.  As it turns out, it was a great one.  

Not having a lot of experience cooking beef myself, I quickly learned with a freezer filled to the brim with every cut I could ever imagine.  Knowing exactly where the beef came from and having that connection with my food really inspired me to try out several different recipes.  

Our barbecue has been working around the clock ever since that fateful day the beef was delivered, and this recipe for honey grilled steak has now landed among our favourites.

The vinegar in this recipe helps tenderize the meat making it ideal for cuts that are less tender to begin with.   The sesame oil adds a bold nuttiness combined with fresh garlic and ginger giving the recipe a bit of an Asian inspired flair.  The honey really ties it all together and finishes off the steak with a sweet and sticky glaze.   Great served as is, or sliced with veggies over steam fried noodles or rice, this recipe is definitely one you’re going to want to add to your summer grilling roster.


  
Recipe makes 4 servings

Ingredients

- 1 lb any cut of steak  

Marinade:
- ¼ cup sesame oil
- ½ cup liquid honey
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 tsp freshly grated ginger
- 1 tsp freshly grated garlic
- salt & pepper to taste

For Garnish:
- 1 tsp sesame seeds
- 1-2 green onions, chopped

Directions

Mix together all of the ingredients for the marinade, reserving ¼ cup for the final step.

Pour marinade over beef and let rest in the fridge for a minimum of 2 hours.

Once beef has finished marinating, grill steaks until your desired level of doneness.

Baste steaks with remaining sauce and garnish with freshly chopped green onions and a sprinkle of sesame seeds.


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Saturday, May 7, 2016

Apple Pie Granola


This recipe appeared as my cooking column in the May 5th edition of my local newspaper,  The Hinton Voice.  


[I’ve been making homemade granola for as long as I can remember.  In my early days of cooking, I would use my library card liberally to take out as many recipe books as I could.  I remember one book in particular that was bound in hardcover and heavier than any school text book I currently had in my backpack. After pouring over this book for weeks (and lets be honest, probably incurring a great deal of late fees if current me is any indication) I discovered a how-to manual for making the perfect granola.  It called for a little of this, and a little of that, with heavy suggestions of substitutions.  The beauty of granola is that it’s incredibly easy to mix up depending on what you have in the house, right down to the type of oats you use – rolled, large flake, old fashioned, instant, quick oats… I have used a variety over the years and I haven’t had a granola that didn’t turn out yet.]

Granola Making Tips:

Mix the sweetener (maple or honey) and vanilla in first so the oats have a chance to absorb the flavor before adding butter or coconut oil.

Add nuts ½ way through baking to give them a nice toasted flavour (the full time would be too much).

Only add dried fruit to granola after it’s out of the oven.

Recipe makes approx. 4 cups

Ingredients
- 2 cups oats (I like old fashioned for this recipe)
- 1/3 cup maple syrup (or honey)
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 5 tbsp butter or coconut oil
- 2 tbsp seeds (flax, chia, hemp or a combination of all three)
- 1 tsp apple pie spice (1 tsp cinnamon, ¼ tsp nutmeg, 1/8 tsp allspice or cloves, 1/8 tsp cardamom,)
- 1 cup pecans or walnuts
- ½ cup dried apples, chopped

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine the oats and maple syrup and vanilla in a medium sized bowl.  Next, add butter or oil and mix.  Add seeds and spices and combine thoroughly.

Spread mixture evenly onto a cookie sheet.

Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes.  Remove from oven, stir, and add pecans or walnuts.  Return to oven for an additional 10 minutes, being careful to watch in the last few minutes to ensure the granola doesn’t burn.  You’ll know it’s ready when the edges are golden brown, and your house smells like you just baked an apple pie.

Once the granola is ready, give it one last stir, then add chopped dried apples and allow to cool.  Store in an airtight container (a 1 L mason jar works great) for up to a week.


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Sunday, April 10, 2016

Bacon Wrapped Jalapeño Poppers


This recipe was written for my Foodie Column for the April 7th edition of my local newspaper, The Hinton Voice. 

[When I was growing up, my Dad used to make jalapeño poppers
whenever a reason to make appetizers came around.  Christmas, Easter, the Super Bowl… you name it, we were having jalapeño poppers.  

They take very little effort to throw together, yet taste like a dream, and are fancy enough to make for nearly any occasion.

Dad’s favourite combination was always a mixture of crab and horseradish (see chart below), though I’ve since made them with everything from freshly chopped fruit to plain cream cheese topped with buttery breadcrumbs.  As long as you start with a base of cream cheese, it’s really easy to get creative from there.

The fillings for these poppers also work really well with mushrooms (or so I hear, since you generally won’t see mushrooms anywhere in my vicinity).  Often times Dad would take the filling for the poppers and place them inside of mushroom caps (to which, I would only eat the filling and discard the mushroom, much to his dismay).  Needless to say, my feelings for mushrooms still haven’t changed, but these poppers are definitely around to stay.]

Recipe makes 1 dozen

Ingredients
- 6 large jalapeños
- 1 (6oz) container of cream cheese  
- filling of choice (see side chart for inspiration)
- 1 lb bacon (not thick cut)

Filling Options
- 2-3 cloves crushed garlic +
  fresh herbs (chives, basil, oregano)
- ½ cup cheddar (or other cheese)
- ½ cup crab + 1 tbsp horseradish
- ½ ripe mango, or peach chopped

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with Silpat (or parchment paper). 

Using gloves (trust me, don’t skip the gloves) cut jalapeños in half, and use a spoon to scrape out all of the seeds.

Combine cream cheese and fillings of your choice.  It helps if you use room temperature cream cheese for this step.

Scoop cream cheese filling into jalapeños, being careful not to overfill (I generally have about a tbsp or so of filling leftover).

Wrap each jalapeño half with a piece of raw bacon (don’t wrap too tightly as the bacon will shrink once it cooks).

Bake for 30 minuets or so, or until the bacon is cooked.

Serve either hot or cold.

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