Are you looking for the Daring Baker's recipe?

If you are, sorry, it isn't here.

Life happens, and time flies. This month time flew by as we prepared for the selling of our house, which resulted in an immaculately clean home, a kitchen that has not looked this sparse since it was built, and no cooking. And by no cooking, I mean there has been alot of take out in the last few weeks. Alot.

My apologies to Shel and Natalie. Please be assured that my lack of participation this month had nothing to do with the recipe itself, lavash crackers, simply life.

While I'm apologizing, a big sorry to all the blogs I regularly read and comment on - I'm trying to read them, as time permits, but mostly I'm just scanning, falling further and further behind.

Enjoy the view of my sparkly clean kitchen. And cross your fingers that the cooking/baking can resume soon.

When salad is dinner

It better be a substantial salad.

Cobb salad, family style.

With homemade ranch dressing. Where my kids discovered they liked to munch on chives, fresh from the garden.

Ranch dressing recipe found over at Pioneer Woman Cooks. What a cool kitchen she has. I love the glass fronted binds for flour and sugar.

Recipe Door

How do you make recipes that you are trying from the internet? Do you print the entire page? Bring your laptop close by? Use my post-it-note system?

(And, yes, that is a Daring Baker recipe taped to my kitchen cupboard doors - but don't get too excited, it is last months' recipe, not this months!)

Dinner has to be good, not pretty

While summer doesn't officially end until next week, the weather has not felt like summer. Between the rain and the cold, it seems winter is on its way fast!

What a better way to warm up dinner than with a tasty pot roast, one you can throw into the slow cooker and walk away from. Served with cheesy mashed potatoes and caramalized carrots, this was a tasty dinner.

Southwestern Pot Roast Cooked in the Crockpot
recipe created by Kalyn

3 lb. boneless chuck roast, trimmed of visible fat (I used a sirloin tip, couldn't find anything else)
1 can reduced sodium beef broth
1 1/4 cup salsa (I used the last jar of homemade, but next time will use Pace or something I like to dip chips in)
steak rub or your favorite seasoning for steak to rub on meat before browning
1-2 tsp. olive oil for browning meat

Put beef broth in a small saucepan. Boil until the broth is reduced to 1/2 cup.

While beef broth is reducing, trim all visible fat from chuck roast. Rub pot roast on all side with steak rub (or your favorite seasonings for steak.) Heat olive oil in heavy frying pan. Brown roast well on all sides.

When roast is browned on all sides, put in crockpot. Pour reduced beef broth into frying pan and use a wooden spoon to scrape off any carmelized bits from the browned meat. Add salsa and stir into broth, then pour salsa/beef broth mixture over pot roast.

Cook on high for one hour, then turn to low and cook 3-4 more hours, or until meat is very tender when pierced with a fork. (My crockpot has one setting only, so set the timer for 5 hours then left.) Remove meat from crockpot, tent with foil, then pour sauce into small saucepan, simmering until reduced to about 1 cup.

To serve, slice meat across the grain and serve hot, with sauce spooned over the top.

The quest for Butter Chicken

Butter chicken is a favored meal in my house. Third, sometimes even second, for my children on their all time favorite list for dinners. The only problem with that is that they seem to prefer a butter chicken sauce that comes from a jar, filled with too much sodium and who knows what else.

Not my idea of a healthy way to feed my family, though good in a pinch. Sauté some chicken, pour on a jar or two, while the rice steams, heat up the naan bread and make a quick veggie. Quick, easy, everyone will eat it, but not what I want.

Enter this recipe, a real butter chicken recipe, given to me by a friend, another Mom that I see regularly at school for child drop off and pick up. A friend from India, with family and roots, and a knowledge of what real butter chicken should be.

Unfortunately reactions to this were mixed: I loved it, the husband said, "It's butter chicken (he's not fond of chicken), but the best one so far." The youngest inhaled it, and the oldest ate the chicken but touched nothing else - the sauce was on his rice and he doesn't like the sauce so he would not eat his rice.

I guess 2.5 out of4 isn't too bad.

Butter Chicken

1 tbsp oil
6 3/4 inch cinnamon sticks
6 cardamom pods
6 cloves
1 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 1/2 tsp crushed garlic
1 1/2 tsp crushed ginger
2 lbs chicken, skinned, in small pieces (I used boneless, skinless chicken breast, it is what I had)
1/4 cup butter
2 cups crushed/canned tomatoes
5 tbsp crushed, fried onions (I didn't find these so used dried onion pieces instead, and it worked)
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp coriander powder
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp chopped cilantro
1/2 tsp garam masala

It is important that you have your mise en place ready before starting this recipe!

Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods, cloves and cumin seeds. Sauté for 1/2 minute. Stir in garlic and ginger, sauté for another 1/2 minute. Add chicken and butter and cook until chicken is half cooked, about 5-10 minutes. Add more butter if he chicken has very little fat or seems dry.

Add tomatoes, onions, cumin powder, coriander powder, turmeric and salt to chicken. Stir and cook for about 10 minutes to finish cooking the chicken.

Add 1 tbsp of the cilantro leaves. Continue to cook until the chicken is tender and the oil begins to separate. Add the garam masala and remaining cilantro.

Serve with warm Naan bread.

Fire + Meat = Good

It is a cold and dreary, rainy day outside. So what better day to tell you all about a nice recipe for the bbq?

I have a nice gas bbq. Four burners, a side burner, a good sized grilling surface, in need of cleaning. Lots of room for my grill basket full of marinated flank steak, part of the Vietnamese Grilled Steak Wraps.

Now this recipe came from a cookbook I've had for a few years, a gift from one of my children, but rarely used. The recipes are supposed to be used with a charcoal bbq, preferably one lit with Kingsford briquets, but I like my gas grill. Some decent enough recipes in it, but recipes that might be a bit adventurous for some of my eaters. I love the idea of stuffed cheese burgers, but could never get away with one that had chopped, canned black olives in it. So this book has largely sat unused, on my shelf, for quite awhile.

The steak was the filling for the homemade tortillas I made with my youngest child. It had been marinated, then grilled, then served with some fresh herbs and a syrupy sauce, wrapped in the tortillas. The meat was tasty and tender, though not authentic Vietnamese. Everyone enjoyed the meat and the tortillas, but the fresh herbs were pulled out of the children's wraps, to be left limping at the sides of their plates.

Vietnamese Grilled Steak Wraps
From Great Barbecues with Kingsford

1 beef flank stead(about 1 1/2 pounds)
grated peel and juice of 2 lemons (or limes)
6 tablespoons sugar, divided
2 tablespoons dark sesame oil
1 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
6 (8 inch) flour tortillas - we used more than that
6 red leaf lettuce leaves - or one for each tortilla you use
1/3 cup lightly packed fresh mint leaves
1/3 cup lightly packed fresh cilantro leaves

Cut beef across the grain into thin slices. Combine lemon peel, juice, 2 tablespoons sugar, sesame oil, 1 teaspoon salt and black pepper in medium bowl. Add beef; toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.

Combine water, vinegar, remaining sugar and salt in a small sauce pan; bring to a boil. Boil 5 minutes without stirring until syrupy. Stir in red pepper then set aside.

Remove beef from marinade; discard marinade. Thread beef onto metal or soaked wooden skewers (I skipped this part and used my grill basket instead.) Lightly oil hot grill to prevent sticking. Grill beef over medium-hot heat, about 3 minutes per side, until cooked through. Warm tortillas over grill.

Place lettuce, beef, mint and cilantro on tortillas, drizzle with vinegar mixture. Roll tortillas to enclose filling.

Showing off my pretty new badge

Another one off my list: The BBB's make pitas

I finally get to be an honorary Bread Baking Babe!

This month's recipe was chosen by Ilva, a wonderful lady over in Italy who blogs at Lucullian Delights. I'm so glad she make a recipe that wasn't going to take several days to make, no starters, no hard to find flours (though I have never seen whole wheat pastry, Mary tells me I can mix whole wheat with pastry flour to get whole wheat pastry flour - and it worked!)

And, I can cross home made pita off my list of things I'd like to try and make (which leaves me with Naan bread and Marshmallow fondant for this year, last on that to make list.)

Not quite as simple as making tortillas, but still a nice result. Especially if you actually put your stone on the bottom of your oven and bake down there, rather than having it in the lower 3rd. I had a few puff up in that spot, but as soon as I moved it down... WOW! Did those suckers blow up to be nice and puffy!

I stuffed my pitas with chicken and cesear salad, and served it with corn oh the cobb on the side. Pitas that didn't puff up were great to use in a school lunch the next day, as dippers for hummus.

Thanks for the great choice Ilva! I will be adding this one to my list of make agains.

Recipe request please!

I've pulled some nice lean pork loin chops out of my freezer to make for dinner tomorrow, but so far am drawing a blank on what to do with them. I don't want to do anything fancy, but I also don't want anything plain. Nor do I want to make my usual sweet and sour sauce. Or apple sauce pork chops.

Any ideas for something quick but tasty with these chops?

Don't everyone speak up all at once!

Cards and snacking

That's me, I'm a card shark. Ruthless and shifty. Always a card up my sleeve. Or under the table. Two's are high, right?


In reality, I do play cards, but aside from Solitaire, my game of choice is contract bridge. You know, the "old people" card game, needs a partner and another team to play. I've been playing since high school, when my future mother-in-law and future husband taught me. Which lead to my husband and I teaching our two good friends. We four been playing together ever since.

We are so dedicated to playing with our friends, that when we meet somewhere out of town, one of us brings the cards. Two decks, always.

This summer the game was at my home, which meant I was able to provide the snacks. And while our snack of choice is always nachos, with extra sour cream, extra salsa and jalapenos on the side, please, sometimes it is great to have something sweet for later. (And in case you are wondering about the link, yes, we used to order those when in high school all the time, for delivery, and when both couples are able to get to North Bay at the same time, we still get those same nachos.)

Homemade Butter Tarts
makes 12

tart dough recipe of your choice, rolled and formed into 12 tart shells, on a tray

3/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/4cup corn syrup
2 tbsp butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 450F.
Stir together all the filling ingredients, except the raisins, in a large bowl. Place the raisins equally among the bottom of each of the 12 tart shells. Spoon the filling on top of the raisins. Using a toothpick, stir the filling around a bit the raisins, to make sure that some of the filling gets under them.
Bake in the bottom third of your oven for 12-15 minutes, until golden brown. If you like runny butter tarts, take them out a bit earlier.
Allow to cool before eating. Unless you like burning your tongue.

In Ottawa this weekend?

Why not head downtown to the SimplyRaw Festival? Admittance is free to the festival itself, though there is a fee for the Film Festival.

I've never been myself, having not heard of it until this week, but I understand the festival has grown considerably in the few years it has been around and this year is supposed to be its biggest yet!

Sounds fun to me!

I don't know who I thought I was fooling

My meal plan for today calls for something a little heavier than normal, Sheppard's Pie, one of my families favorites. Not exactly summer eats, but then again, we haven't exactly had a normal summer.

Take today. It is 29C outside right now. Before the humidity. (For those of you in F land - that is 84.)

It feels much hotter than that, the slight breeze doing nothing to cool you down or evaporate some of the sweet.

As in summer has finally arrived. In September. Now that the kids are back in school.

What in the world made me think that a heavy meal, one that requires boiling potatoes and turning on the oven, was a good idea for today?

This is about right for today.

Think I need to figure out something different for dinner tonight. And fast, it is already 4pm!

Two minute ice cream

So easy to make, a 5 year old can do it. Oh wait, a 5 year old did do it! (This was one of the recipes we made together when I mentioned 'batch cooking' in my tortilla post.)

Four ingredients in a blender, give it a whirl, chill then pour into an ice cream maker. How much easier can it get?

Thanks to this recipe from Mercedes of Dessert Candy, a fellow Daring Baker. We reduced her ingredients to 4 from 5, omitting the bourbon, and ended up with a lovely, smooth ice cream with an assertive flavor.

Brown Sugar Sour Cream Ice Cream
from Dessert Candy

2 cups sour cream
1 1/4 cup half and half cream
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 tsp of vanilla

Toss everything together into a blender and whirl until smooth. Chill for several hours before pouring into an ice cream maker. When the ice cream appears ready, move into a freezable container, cover, and freeze for several hours before eating.

I taught my son to knead

It's wonderful that my 5 year old wants to learn to cook, wants to be involved in the kitchen, except the cleaning up part. Sure, it means something that might take me 5 minutes to do will now take 15 minutes, but if the time is there, and he's willing, I try to get him involved.

We had a batch cooking session together, making a bunch of different things. And little hands became very floury, trying to learn how to knead.

Ingredient wise, this recipe for homemade flour tortillas is not that different from homemade play dough. Flour, salt, oil and water. The proportions are vastly different, so I wouldn't recommend using this for play dough.

This dough is soft and easy to knead. It's not like bread dough at all and does not push back at you.

(One thing to note - our finished product was likely a bit chewier than it should be, from over developed gluten, but that's what happens when you let a 5 year old knead.)

It also rolls very nicely. Good to know when you don't own a tortilla press.

Another item I can cross off my mental "to make" list. I should probably write that list down somewhere, so I can keep better track of it.

I was as fascinated watching the tortillas puff up in the pan as he was.

Sorry, you will have to wait a few days to learn what we put in these tortillas!

Flour Tortillas
from How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman

1 1/2 cups flour, plus more for rolling
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp fat (lard, butter, or canola oil, or other neutral oil - we used canola oil)
about 1/2 cup warm water, possibly more

Combine the flour, salt and fat in a food processor, pulsing to mix. Slowly add the water in through the feed tube, a tablespoon at a time, until the dough holds together and begins to form a ball in the processor bowl. (You may not use all the water, we didn't)

Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for several hours. But only if you have the time - if you don't, then don't worry, but they are better if you do wait.

Divide the dough into 6 pieces. On a lightly floured surface, press a piece of dough into a disk and then roll as thin as possible. Or if you happen to own a tortilla press, use it. I don't, so I rolled.

While rolling, head a large skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium heat. One at a time, place a tortilla in the skillet and leave it alone until it begins to puff slightly and brown spots begin to show up. Flip to cook the other side - the tortilla may continue to blow up like a little balloon and that's okay! Each tortilla will take 4-5 minutes or so.

Serve warm if you can, otherwise allow to cool and wrap in plastic.

These tortillas will be a bit chewier than the store bought kind, but are fresher and have much more flavor.