Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Single Serving Mac & Cheese Au Gratin


Macaroni and cheese is one of my favourite comfort foods, especially when baked with a cheesy, buttery crust.  It's incredibly simple to make, but if I'm cooking for just myself, I usually don't go through the efforts to bake an entire panful and usually stick to the stovetop version.  With these CorningWare Meal Mugs from World Kitchen LLC, single serving macaroni and cheese au gratin is not only do-able, but since they also come with a BPA free microwave safe vented lid, it makes transporting and re-heating leftovers a breeze.  We have a few of these mugs in our kitchen so even if I'm not feeding a crowd, I can still make a family sized batch and portion it out into my mugs for an easy weekday meal on the go.  

Friday, December 9, 2016

Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing


I have been infatuated with decorated sugar cookies for as long as I can remember, especially with the increase of the foodie how to videos that have fast become an adult version of a bedtime story before I fall asleep for the night. Over the years I’ve collected all of the necessary supplies, but I’ve never actually sat down and worked with royal icing before.  I mentioned to Sarah that I had been making the dough and cutting out cookies in hopes to decorate them this week, and before we finished our conversation she already had a dough of her own happening in her kitchen.  We decided to combine forces and the next night her son and daughter in law stopped by we all listened to Christmas music and decorated sugar cookies until late into the night.  We had so much fun; both of us are already planning our next batch for tomorrow.

For the cookies, we adapted this recipe from The Pioneer Woman:

Ingredients

Cookies
- 2/3 cup shortening
- ¾ cup sugar
- ½ tsp grated lemon zest
- ½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or extract)
- 1 large egg
- ¼ cup milk
- 2 cups flour
- 1 ½ tsp baking powder
- 1 ½ tsp salt

Royal Icing
- 3 tbsp meringue powder
- 4 cups sifted icing sugar
- 5 tbsp water

Directions

Cream together shortening and sugar until light and fluffy.  Stir in lemon peel, and vanilla.  Beat egg, and add mixture.  Stir in the milk and mix thoroughly.

Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together, then add to cream mixture mixing until well blended.

Divide dough in half, and shape into disks.  Wrap with plastic wrap, then refrigerate for a minimum of 1-2 hours, overnight if possible.

Once dough has been chilled, roll out onto a lightly floured surface to approximately ¼ inch thick and cut into shapes using your favourite cookie cutters.  Transfer to a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and bake at 375 for approximately 6 minutes, being sure that cookies don’t brown.  For best results, allow cookies to cool and harden 1-2 hours (or overnight) before decorating.

For icing:

Whip ingredients together in a stand mixer set to medium speed for 7-10 minutes, or until stiff peaks form and the icing loses its glossy sheen.  If using a hand mixer, increase whipping time to 10-12 minutes.

This icing is now ready for edging consistency. Add food coloring to the icing, then split 1/4 of the icing into a piping bag or squeeze bottle with a small round writing tip (Wilton Tip 1 or 2).

For flooding constancy, add water to remaining icing ¼ tsp at a time until you have what’s called a 5 second icing.  This means that the icing will easily run off the spoon and lay smoothly back in the bowl after 5 seconds.  Youtube is your friend here.  Add icing to a squeeze bottle (or piping bag if you don’t have a squeeze bottle) fitted with a larger round tip (the size will be dependent on a number of factors, though I used a Wilton Tip 3 for ours).


Use the edging icing to create an outline around the edges of your cookies to help contain the flooding icing.   Once the edging has set, flood the cookie with the flooding icing, using a toothpick to spread the icing to the edges. Use a different coloured flood icing to create designs (it will dry completely flat).  Allow cookies to dry for 1-2 hours (or overnight).


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Friday, November 11, 2016

Basic Homemade Pancakes



This recipe for pancakes is really easy to whip together.   Mix together the first 4 ingredients and store for quick use later on (this is essentially homemade Bisquick).  We often bring this camping with us, storing the wet and dry ingredients in separate containers, combining only when it's time to use. 
Goes wonderfully with this recipe for Brown Sugar Syrup
Recipe makes 8 large pancakes 

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Easy Homemade Mac and Cheese

Ingredients
- 2 cups dry macaroni noodles
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp flour
- 2 cups whole milk 
- 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Brown Sugar Syrup


My Gramma has always made her own syrup out of brown sugar and water.  Whenever we would visit as kids, Gramps would make us all customized pancakes (I usually got a letter "J") and Gramma would be busy at the stove whisking the syrup.  This is a great, simple recipe that costs only around $1 or so to make. 

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Easy Homemade Bread

We've been making most of our own bread for years now.  Up until last year, we would use the bread maker "dough only" setting and then transfer it into our own pans to bake.  This is my Gramma's recipe, and it served us well for many years!  Unfortunately our bread baker broke last year, and rather than replace it we decided to figure out how to make bread without it. 

Friday, November 4, 2016

Creamy Chicken and Dumplings


I made this recipe as part of the $4/day food challenge I am working on this month. This is a great classic comfort food recipe that uses leftover roasted chicken, so I knew it would be perfect for the challenge!  This recipe makes between 4-6 servings. 

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Sushi Bowl


I was craving sushi the other night but didn’t feel like ordering takeout.  The night before we had a shrimp ring and I still had a dozen or so to use up.  While I felt like cooking at home that night, I wasn’t up for the task of rolling out sushi.  When I was little, my mom used to make deconstructed cabbage rolls, which was essential a cabbage roll casserole. I decided to try going that route with what I had in the house, and as a result I made something that is definitely going to be appearing in our house again in the future.  In fact, I’m craving it again right now just typing this recipe out!

Recipe makes 4 servings

Ingredients

- 2 cups cooked white rice (sticky is best for this recipe but any white rice will do)
- 12 cooked shrimp (I used part of a shrimp ring)
-  2 tbsp mayonnaise
- 1 pkg roasted seaweed snacks (or seaweed paper)
- 1 carrot, julienned (or chopped)
- ½ English cucumber, julienned (or chopped)
- 1 green onion
- 1 tbsp sesame seeds
- 1 tsp sesame oil (optional)
- sushi ginger & wasabi (optional)

Chipotle Sauce:
- 1 chipotle pepper (fresh or ground)
- ¼ cup mayonnaise

Dipping Sauce:
- ¼ cup soya sauce
- 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
- 1 tsp sugar

Sidebar: to julienne carrots or cucumber, first start by creating a rectangular piece by slicing off the round edges.  Chop each piece lengthwise, then flip and chop once lengthwise once again.  To see a full photo tutorial of this process, visit www.CookingWithJax.com this Sunday!







Directions

You can create this dish either in a casserole dish and serve it family style, or you can make each bowl individually (which might be nice if you leave out toppings taco style, so each person can customize their own serving).

Place cooked rice in either bowls or casserole dish to create a base layer.

Crunch up a package of seaweed snacks (or 2 sheets of seaweed) and sprinkle on top of the rice.

Next, chop up shrimp into small pieces, and combine with 2 tbsp mayonnaise. Add this as the next layer.

Top with julienned carrot and English cucumber, then sprinkle with chopped green onions, sesame seeds, ginger, and wasabi.

Combine ingredients for chipotle sauce, and place in a small sandwich bag.  Cut off the tip, and finish off each bowl/casserole dish with a drizzle before serving.

Combine ingredients for dipping sauce and serve on the side. 

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Sunday, September 11, 2016

Homemade Canned Fruit in Light Syrup


I made a recent trip to BC to visit my Grandparents.  They live on Vancouver Island, so there is a huge abundance of fruit in their neighbourhood.  My Grampa is constantly finding me fresh, backyard grown fruits and vegetables whenever I visit him, and this trip was no exception.  I left with freshly picked blackberries, blueberries, apples, pears, peaches, cherries, 2 different kinds of plums,  not to mention pumpkins, spaghetti squash, acorn squash, and even banana quash!  Needless to say as soon as I got home, I had to process fruit, and I had to process it fast!  My favourite method this year was my Gramma's method for canning stone fruit.  We tried canning berries together this way and it worked out beautifully! 

Ingredients
- Fruit of choice (peaches, pears, berries, etc.)
- 1 cup sugar
- 4 cups water

Supplies
- Mason jars, lids, and rings
- Clean, dry cloth
- Baking sheet 
Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

Fill sink full of hot water, and place mason jars, lids, and rings in there until you area ready to use them.  It's important that the mason jars are as hot as possible (alternatively, you can put the mason jars through the dishwasher and use them immediately after it's finished running since they should be nice and hot). 

Bring sugar and water to a boil making sure sugar is fully dissolved. 
Rinse fruit, and peel/chop if necessary. 

Place fruit in mason jar leaving an inch or so of headspace (aka the ring portion of the jar). 
Pour boiling sugar/water mixture into jars, then wipe the rim of the jar and the seal making sure it is completely dry (this is really important or your jars won't seal properly), then place on jars. 
Place jars of fruit on a baking sheet and baking for 30 minutes (you want to see the liquid boiling in the jars). 

Carefully remove the jars from the oven, and allow them to cool on a flat surface.  You will hear the jars "pop" to seal if they haven't do so already.   Be sure not to force the seal on the jar, let it happen organically for a proper and safe seal. 

Once jars are sealed, they are ready to store!  If any jars didn't seal, be sure to put those jars in the fridge and use them within a couple of weeks. 

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Sunday, September 4, 2016

Cheddar Biscuits/Scones


This recipe appeared as my September Column in my local newspaper, the Hinton Voice. 

One of the very first recipes I ever remember making were my Gramma’s baking powder biscuits.  Back in the 90’s my Grandfather gathered up all of Gramma’s recipes, typed them all out, created an index, and placed them into giant binders to ship out to all of their children and grandchildren. Throughout the last 20 years each binder has grown and become unique to it’s owner.  When I visit my Aunt’s house, she has little notes she’s made in the margins and added pages of recipes that have been passed onto her from friends, cut out of her favourite magazines, and newer recipes that have been personally passed on from Gramma.  My little cousin’s earmarked all of the jam recipes in her book and started up her very own jam business on Vancouver Island.   Though I adore all of the recipes I’ve tried from the family recipe binder, this recipe is hands down the most adored page in my book.

I’ve made these biscuits/scones probably hundreds of times throughout my life, in every variation under the sun.  In addition to this cheddar version, this summer alone I’ve made them into fire roasted jalapeno cheddar scones, raspberry scones, plain biscuits, and even dumplings.  This recipe could very well be the most versatile recipe in my entire collection!

Recipe makes 8 large biscuits/scones

Ingredients

- 2 cups flour
- 4 tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp sea salt
- 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
- 5 tbsp butter
- 2 large eggs
- ¾ cup whipping cream (or milk, though cream really is better for this recipe)

Directions

Preheat oven to 425ºF.

Add dry ingredients to a large bowl, and cut in the butter with either a butter knife, pastry cutter, or your hands (I prefer the hands on method).  Add grated cheddar.

Beat eggs until frothy, then mix them with the whipping cream. Add this liquid mixture to the dry ingredients, stirring as little as possible.

For a traditional scone shape:

Pat the dough into a pie shaped piece (again handling the dough as little as possible).  Using a sharp knife, cut the dough into 8 separate pieces (just like you would a pie) and pat each piece into shape.  Place on a greased baking sheet being careful to space out so they don’t stick together as they bake.

For rolled bicuits:

Gently roll the dough onto a floured surface, using a well floured rolling pin.  Cut the biscuits using a pastry cutter or glass with a sharp rim, then place on baking sheet.

For rustic looking biscuits:

Separate the dough into 8 equal pieces and drop onto baking sheet.

Bake for preheated oven for approx. 15 minutes, or until golden brown.

Allow to cool for 2-3 minutes, then remove from baking sheet and place on a wire rack to cool further.

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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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