Sunday, February 26, 2012

Heather's Honey Bran Muffins



One of my all-time favourite activities is "Girl's Night" with my best friend Heather.  They occur most Thursdays (Grey's Anatomy), the occasional Tuesday (Glee) and anytime an epic chick-flick comes out.  The more crying the better.  Seriously.  

We used to have a tradition where one of us would pick up a bottle of Boones (cheap, fruity wine) on the way to the other's house.  Now we have bake-a-thon's instead (okay - the wine occasionally makes an appearance).  

 These muffins are Heather's signature recipe - you can always find some of these on her counter or in her freezer.  These are a great breakfast muffin and go excellent with your morning coffee. 

[Heather: These muffins are fast, healthy and delicious. I make a batch every two weeks and my house eats them for breakfast everyday. And with the news that a small amount of chocolate in the am will help your metabolism, they are even better for you!]

Ingredients
- 2 cups apple juice
- 2 cups chocolate chips
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup honey
- 5 eggs, beaten
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 4 cups bran 

Directions

In a medium bow, combine flour, baking soda, and salt.  Stir in bran.  Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl or electric mixer, combine brown sugar, oil, honey, and eggs; mix well.  Stir in apple juice.  Add bran mixture, and mix well.  Fold in chocolate chips.  

Cover, and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or overnight for best results (can be placed in the freezer for 30 minutes instead). Batter will be thin; it will thicken as it chills.  

Stir chilled batter.  Fill greased or paper lined muffin cups 3/4 full. 

Bake in preheated 400 degree oven for 20-25 minutes.  Cool in pan for 10 minutes before removing to counter to cool. 

Enjoy! 

This is the oldest picture I can find of Heather and I (I'm on the left, she's on the right).  I'm pretty sure this was in grade 9 (yep, that would be the late 90's) - taken in front of our high school.  It's really too bad there is no photographic evidence (ha!) of our matching pixie cuts - mine hot pink, and hers smurf blue.   Yep, we were the coolest. 


Sunday, February 19, 2012

Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix



We woke up to a light sprinkling of snow this morning, so my husband and I decided to drive in Jasper National Park (about 15 minutes from home) so he can take some photo's for his nature blog.  I think I will be making some hot chocolate for us to take in a thermos!

Happy Family Day weekend my Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan friends!  

Ingredients
- 2 oz (2 bars) semi-sweet Bakers chocolate (or your favourite semi-sweet chocolate)
- 1 tbsp cocoa powder
- 1/4 cup sugar

Directions

Coarsely chop chocolate and place in a small blender (such as a magic bullet) or food processor until fine. If you don't have a small blender or food processor, you can finely grate the chocolate using a cheese grater. 

Mix chocolate with cocoa powder and sugar and place in an airtight container (I used a small mason jar).

Use 2 level tbsp mix with 1 cup of hot milk (we like almond milk). 

Recipe makes 4 servings. 


Enjoy!

- Nutritional Info (per 2 tbsp) -
Calories - 120   Fat - 5    Carbs - 21     Protein - 1    Fibre - 2

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Valentines Day Dinner: Heart Shaped Chicken Parmesan w/ Vermicelli & Garlic Toast


Every year on Valentine's Day my husband makes me the same dish - heart shaped chicken parmesan.  Before he became an Electrician, he was a cook.  I remember when we first started dating he would bring me yummy dishes that he made at work - usually items of his own creation.   I love it when he cooks for me, and I love it even more when he makes me this dish!  This dish also goes well with caesar salad, and of course WINE.  :) 

Ingredients
- 2 chicken breasts
- 1 jar of your favourite spaghetti sauce
- 1/2 cup mozza (we like Saputo)
- 1-2 tbsp parmesan cheese (use real cheese)
- 2 servings (170 g dry) vermicelli (or your favourite noodle)
- sprinkle of parsley, for garnish

Garlic Toast
- 4 slices french bread
- 3 tbsp butter
- 2 cloves crushed garlic
- 1/2 tsp parsley
- 1/4 tsp oregano

Directions
Grate cheeses and place in separate dishes.  Set aside. 


Butterfly cut chicken to give it the heart shape.  Trim as necessary.


Preheat frying pan over medium heat.  Add 1 tsp of olive oil and cook chicken for 3-4 minutes on each side, until each side is golden brown and chicken is cooked throughout. 



Preaheat oven to 400 degrees and place chicken breasts on a baking sheet.  Spread a few tbsp of spaghetti sauce over each chicken breast.  You want to spread a nice even amount, and not so much that it is dripping down the sides. 


Sprinkle chicken breasts with cheeses.  Start with the mozza and sprinkle evenly over the chicken breasts.  Finish with the parmesan (this cheese will brown nicely given the chicken parmesan a nice golden colour).   You may need to use more or less cheese depending on the size of your chicken breasts. 


Bake for about 10 minutes, until cheese is nice and bubbly and the cheese has turned golden brown.

Sprinkle with parsley for garnish.

Garlic Toast:

Combine ingredients and spread a thin layer of butter on garlic toast (You will have some garlic butter left over you will use to toss with the cooked pasta).  Place toast in oven with chicken 1/2 way through the cooking time (about 5 minutes).  

Cook vermicelli as per package directions.  Strain and return to pot.  Add remaining garlic butter and pasta sauce and combine until warmed throughout. 


Enjoy!

Here are a few pictures of my husband and I throughout the years. 


At a friend's wedding around the time we first started dating. 


In front of the church in Ontario that Marc's grandparents were married at that was taken on the trip we got engaged on. 


At our wedding on July 29, 2006.



The most recent photo of the two of us - this was taken by Just For You Photography this past September. 

Pomegranate Champagne Cocktail



I created this recipe for Carrie over at Bakeaholic Mama.  When she mentioned she was looking for guest bloggers for Valentine's Day, I jumped at the chance.  I first discovered her blog right before Christmas last year - and she has continued to impress me with her recipes ever since.  I'm honoured to be sharing this recipe on her blog today.  Be sure to head over to her blog to check out this recipe, as well as many of her own delicious recipes (I especially love her Ruby Red Grapefruit Bars - they look amazing!). 



Sunday, February 5, 2012

Creamy Curried Chicken


In addition to cooking, another passion of mine is writing.  You can imagine my delight when my local newspaper offered me a Cooking With Jax feature.   I could not be happier with how it turned out - the folks over at The Hinton Voice are formatting geniuses.  I can hardly believe how much it looks like the blog. I'm really looking forward to writing more features in the future and sharing them with you all. 

Click on picture to enlarge

[This is easily favourite recipe of all time, and I am really excited to share.  This is a family recipe, passed on from my Grampa, to my Dad, and now to me.  Don't worry, I have permission to divulge our cooking secrets.  My brother and I who are two years apart but share the same birthday - always request this dish on our special day and either Dad or Gramma usually oblige. 

Traditionally, curried chicken is prepared with a tomato yogurt base rather than a cream sauce, which makes this recipe unique.  While I enjoy both version immensely, this one is my favourite and much easier to make. 

I called my grandparents last week to make sure that I had the original recipe for the dish that Gramps came up with one night during their early years of marriage.  My Dad - who is a pretty good cook himself - came over for lunch last week so we could make this together.  We made a mild version for those who don't like spicy foods, but we always pile on the curry powder the second the sauce hits the rice.]

Ingredients
- 4 chicken breasts
- 1 tbsp olive oil 
- 1/2 tsp seasoning salt
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
- 4 cups rice, prepared

White Sauce
- 3 tbsp butter
- 3 tbsp all purpose flour
- 1 tsp curry powder (for mild), add more to taste
- 3 cups milk

Directions

Remove fat, cube chicken and place in large bowl with olive oil, seasoning salt, and pepper and mix well to coat. 


Preheat frying pan over medium heat and cook chicken 20 minutes until lightly browned (cook covered for first 10 minutes then remove lid for 10 minutes).  


White Sauce
Pre-heat saucepan over medium heat.  Add butter, flour, and curry powder. 


Wait for the butter to melt, then stir to combine into a thick paste.  


Add 1 cup of milk and bring to a boil, stirring often.  Once mixture has thickened, repeat steps with remaining milk, adding 1 cup at a time.  

After 1 cup of milk has been added and mixture has thickened.

Once mixture has thickened, repeat steps with remaining milk, adding 1 cup at a time.  Once all of the milk has been incorporated, add the cooked chicken breasts and remove from heat.  Mixture should thicken upon standing. 


Serve over cooked rice.


Enjoy!  

- Nutritional Info (per 1/4 recipe) -
Calories - 505    Fat - 18    Carbs - 59     Protein - 29   Fibre - 4


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