Upside-Down Pear Gingerbread

photo(1)I can hardly believe fall has come on us!  For so long, we are just roasting in our house, paying exorbitant amounts on the electricity bill due to air conditioning, and then suddenly we’re pulling out sweaters from the closet and finding real shoes to wear.

The best part about fall, however, is the desire to bake and cook.  I will admit that I do bake all summer long (hence the high electricity bills!) but when it’s 35C and above, it’s hard to be motivated to turn on the oven.  But as soon as the nights get cooler and tree fruit comes in season, I get very excited to bake.

This recipe is perfect when you want a taste of fall.  It has warm pears and gingerbread and smells like a cozy evening in.  You can warm it up to serve with buttermilk or vanilla ice cream or leave it as is and call it breakfast.  No matter how you serve it, you should definitely do it soon.

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Upside-Down Pear Gingerbread (from Starting Out)

What you need:
For the topping:
    1 Tbsp butter
    1-2 Tbsp corn syrup
    1/3 cup packed brown sugar
    2 ripe but firm pears or tart apples, thinly sliced

For the cake:
 1/4 cup butter, softened
    1/2 cup packed brown sugar
    1 large egg
    1/2 cup buttermilk
    1/4 cup dark molasses
    1-2 Tbsp grated fresh ginger or 1 tsp powdered ginger
    1 cup all purpose flour
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1/4 teaspoon allspice
    1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

What to do:
Preheat the oven to 350F and grease a 8- or 9-inch pan.

To make the topping, melt the butter, corn syrup and brown sugar in the microwave or in a small pot on the stove until it’s smooth.  Pour the mixture into the prepared pan (it’s okay if it doesn’t cover the whole bottom because the mixture will be very reluctant to pour well).  Arrange the pear slices on top, overlapping them a bit (they will shrink when cooked).

To make the cake batter, beat the butter and brown sugar in a medium bowl until well blended.  Add the egg, buttermilk, molasses and ginger and beat until thoroughly combined.

In a small bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, allspice and nutmeg.  Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and stir by hand just until combined.  Pour the batter over the pear slices.

Bake the cake for about 40  minutes, until the top is springy to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.  Let stand for 5 minutes, run a knife around the edge, and invert it onto a cooling rack.  If some of the pear slices remain in the pan, use a fork to pick them out and place them back on the cake.

Serve with whipped cream, buttermilk ice cream or just warmed.

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Fancy Cinnamon Bread

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Note: I wrote this post in April and forgot to publish it… But the dessert is so good that I’m posting it now anyway!

I joined the Daring Bakers last spring, fully intending to do every single challenge.  And so far, I have done one, the Savarin bread. It’s not for lack of intentions!  Each month, I check out the challenge, think, “I can do that!” and then proceed to run out of time.

In March, I decided to get into it again, but once I discovered it was to make nougats, I decided against it.  Nougats and I are not friends.  However, the February challenge looked AMAZING and not too difficult, so that’s what I did.  This recipe comes from chef in disguise Sawsan, who says that making beautiful bread can be a way of life.

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Everyone in my house LOVED the end result.  We are all cinnamon bun fanatics, so it wasn’t hard to fall in love with these.  And they were honestly about the same amount of work as making cinnamon buns.  If you want to try this at home, I suggest following the directions about assembly, but using your own recipe for the dough and filling if you have one that you love.  I think next time I’ll try smitten kitchen’s pumpkin cinnamon bun recipe, because it’s a favourite in my house.  Despite what you may think, you can definitely achieve a dessert this beautiful!

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What you need (for the dough)
1/4 cup (60 ml) warm water
3/4 cup (180 ml) warm milk
1 large egg
1/4 cup (60 ml) (60 gm) (2 oz) butter, softened
1/4 cup (60 ml) (50 gm) (1-3/4 oz) white sugar
1/2 teaspoon (3 gm) salt
3-1/4 cups (780 ml) (450 gm) (16 oz) plain (all-purpose) flour, approximately
2 teaspoons (10 ml) (8 gm) dry yeast
1/4 teaspoon (1 gm) cardamom, optional

For topping
1/4 cup (60 ml) of milk


1 tablespoon (15 gm) (1/2 oz) sugar

Between the layers
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) butter


4 tablespoons (60 ml) (25 gm) (1 oz) cinnamon


1/2 cup (120 ml) (100 gm) (3-1/2 oz) sugar

For drizzling
1 can (400 gm) (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk

What to do:

1. In a bowl whisk the egg with milk, water, sugar, butter and yeast. Set aside.

2. In another bowl sift the flour with the salt and the optional cardamom.

3. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and knead until you get a smooth dough.
Note: This recipe requires between 3-1/4 and 3-1/2 cups of flour depending on the weather, humidity and the flour brand. Start with 3-1/4 cups and if you feel that the dough is too soft, add the extra 1/4 cup

4. Place the dough in a bowl you have brushed with some oil and cover it with a wet cloth and leave it in a warm place to double
(If you are tight on time you can heat your oven to 390°F/200°C then turn it off and place your dough in a glass bowl and place it in the warm oven with the wet cloth covering the bowl)

5. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface

6. Divide the dough into 4 parts

7. Roll each part into a circle at least 20 cm (8 inch) in diameter

8. Brush the first layer with butter then sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon

9. Place the second layer on the first layer repeat the brushing and sprinkling and then do the same with the third layer.

10. Top with the fourth layer, this time only brush it with butter.

11. Using a knife make cuts that divide the dough circles into 8 triangles.  Then make cuts that go 2/3 of the way in the middle of each triangle. The cuts should not reach the base of the triangle nor the tip.

12. Take the tip of each triangle and insert it into the cut you made and pull it from the underside.

13. Arrange the triangles on your baking sheet

14. Pinch the two angles at the base of the triangle together

15. Brush the dough with milk

16. Allow to rest for 15 minutes during which you would heat your oven to very hot 500°F/240°C/gas mark 9 (rack in the middle). (Go for the hottest your oven will do).

17. Bake for 5 minutes on very hot 460°F/240°C/gas mark 9, then lower the temperature to moderately hot 390°F/200°C/gas mark 6 and bake for 15-20 more minutes
Note: ovens do differ greatly, so the time may differ,what you want is to bake it until the under side is golden brown and the bread is baked all the way to the center. If the top of the bread is not golden brown by that time and you have a broiler (grill) in your oven. Turn on the broiler (grill) for a couple of minutes until the bread is golden brown on top. If on the other hand the top is getting too dark, consider lowering the oven temperature and covering the top of the bread with foil to stop it from over browning.
18. Take it out of the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rick and drizzle with sweetened condensed milk while it is still warm.

Weeknight Meatloaf

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Meatloaf – it’s not a particularly exciting dish.  It’s one of those meals that has the potential be amazingly delicious or just plain boring.  It’s basically ground meat, mixed with some spices, some liquid, maybe a starch, and then pressed into a pan to be baked for a while.  It is so simple to make, which makes meatloaf a great weeknight meal, for those days when you have a lot on the go.

The key to making an amazing (and not a blah) meatloaf, is the flavouring you put in.  The one that I make is a recipe I grew up eating, with one small change.  You can add any liquid you enjoy (the recipe suggests milk or tomato sauce).  But my “secret ingredient” is salsa.  Most salsas that you buy have lots of spice and flavour.  It saves you time – not chopping up extra vegetables to add into the meatloaf.  And the smell that wafts through the house while it’s baking, well, you’ll just have to make it to see for yourself how awesome that is.

Now, the other somewhat critical tastebud-explosion-inducing part of this meatloaf is that I use a ground beef that has a bit of fat still in it.  You can definitely use extra lean ground beef, but I like the moisture of lean ground beef.  However, I’m sure it would still be beyond boring if you use a less fatty meat.

In our house, we always pair meatloaf with hash brown casserole.  I’ve written an approximate recipe for it below – I never really measure how much I’m putting in, so you’ll have to play around with amounts of ingredients for that one.

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Meatloaf and Hash Brown Casserole

What you need:
(for the hash brown casserole)
a package of frozen hash browns
1 can condensed cheddar cheese soup
1/2 cup milk

(for the meatloaf)
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1 cup salsa
3/4 cup oats
1 egg
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

What to do:
Turn the oven on to 350F.  While it is preheating, take out 2 loaf pans.  Spray with cooking spray.

In the first pan, pour some hash browns.  This part is not exact – just put in a good amount.  Then dump in the cheddar cheese soup and some milk.  Mix it up.  You can add more hash browns and milk until it looks somewhat moist and all the potatoes are coated.  Put this in the oven (even if the oven isn’t finished preheating).

In a large bowl, mix all the meatloaf ingredients together – using your hands usually works best.  Put the mixture into the second loaf pan and press it down.  Once the oven has finished preheating, stick this in the oven.

Bake the meatloaf for 1 hour (the hash brown casserole stays in the oven the whole time).  Near the end of the cooking time, I usually like to steam some vegetables to go with the meal.

To serve, scoop out the casserole and serve beside a slice of meatloaf.

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July Daring Baker’s Challenge – Surprise!

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For the July Daring Baker’s Challenge, Ruth from The Crafts of Mommyhood challenged us to bake a cake. But not just any cake; she asked us to add in a special surprise for our eyes as well as our taste buds! (Note: Daring Baker’s challenges are supposed to be posted on the 27th, but I totally forgot to post it! So here it is:)

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I have missed about a year and a half of Daring Baker’s Challenges, but last Thursday night, while sitting in front of my computer, bored, I decided to check up on what this month’s challenge was.  And when I saw that it was making a cake, using whatever recipe we wanted to, I knew I could do it.  The idea was to make a surprise cake – one that looked like a completely normal cake on the outside, but had something daring on the inside.  I decided to go for the rainbow cake.  My daughter loves to recite the colours of the rainbow, so I figured she’d get a kick out of this one.

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After looking up different recipes for making a rainbow cake, I decided to go with my white cake recipe that I love from Starting Out.  The cake batter is quite simple to make (but if you like boxed cakes, you could use one of those too).  Once you’ve mixed the batter, divide it up between 6 bowls (or the number of colours that you want to use).  Add about 1/2 teaspoon food colouring to each bowl and mix.  It does over-mix the batter a bit, but the effect is so beautiful!

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Then, to create the rainbow effect, butter / spray 2 8- or 9-inch cake rounds.  Add about half of the first colour to the middle of each pan.  Then add half of the second colour right in the middle of the first one.  Continue on with each colour until they’re all used.  It might be a good idea to spread it out a bit at the end – mine were really domed once I finished because I just left them as is.  Also, I wanted to experiment a little with the colours, so I started with red in the first pan and went through to purple, but then started with purple in the second pan to end with red.

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Once I took the layers out of the oven, I just couldn’t bring myself to cover both with icing.  They just looked so beautiful the way they were!  So I ended up leaving one layer as-is and frosting the other one, as a true surprise-inside cake.  I wasn’t sure at first how to ice the second cake layer, as there were no birthdays that weekend.  But I just recently ran a 10K race and I was pretty proud of it, so that’s how I ended up decorating the cake.

Of course, after doing all that work, I remembered that I needed to bring some treats to church on Sunday.  So, even though I said I’d never make the cake again, I promptly made it on Saturday night.  This time my daughter helped me put it together.  We still used the 6 colours, but I layered them in a Bundt cake pan – creating sections of red, yellow, blue and orange, green, purple. You can see that the bottom of the cake was quite psychedelic  while the top looked like a normal cake.  I just drizzled the top with some glaze and then cut into it.

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The effect was amazing!  Everyone was mesmerized by the cake and wanted to know how to make it.  No matter how you try the rainbow cake, it’s definitely a show-stopper.  I have a feeling I may get some requests for kids’ birthday parties in the next few months!

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Fried Egg Sandwich

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This winter, I started running again, after injuring my tailbone in December, and I have managed to keep it up!  I’m not sure if it’s because I still can’t ride my bike, but I genuinely love running and have been doing a lot of it.  In the beginning, I would make sure to go 3 days a week, building up to 5km runs.  Now that it’s summer and I have time, I have been able to go at least 5 mornings a week, bumping up my longer runs to 10km and more.  I have even signed up to run a half-marathon this fall!

With all this early morning exercise, I realized I needed to step up my breakfasts.  While I love cereal, toast and waffles, they just don’t cut it after running for an hour or more.  So I’ve been finding a lot of ways to eat eggs that don’t take too much time but are still interesting and delicious.

I love this sandwich.  I have posted it more than once on Instagram and every time I eat it, I exclaim about how good it is.  The part that takes the longest is cooking the bacon, but if you chop it up before frying it, I find it takes 5-10 minutes on medium-high heat, and then the rest of the sandwich comes together rather quickly.  It’s basically a wilted spinach salad on a bun, with a fried egg and blue cheese.  The original recipe can be found here at SmittenKitchen.com.  I’ve modified it a little bit to make it for 1 serving because no one in my family wants to have that much spinach at breakfast.  I also usually fry up an extra egg to eat on the side – one egg isn’t enough for a post-run meal.  And although I usually make it for breakfast, it’s also great for lunch or even dinner!

Fried Egg Sandwich

Makes 1 sandwich

What you need:
a couple of handfuls of baby spinach leaves
1 slice bacon
1 Tablespoon diced red onion or shallot
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese (or cheddar)
1 large egg
1 bun or 2 slices of bread

What to do:
Place the baby spinach in a bowl.  It may seem like way to much to fit in a sandwich, but it will, I promise.  You can always eat the extra if it doesn’t.

Heat a small frying pan on medium-high heat.  Chop the bacon into matchsticks (I use scissors to do this part).  Cook the bacon until it is crispy and has rendered its fat.  Remove the bacon carefully with a fork onto a paper towel and leave the fat in the frying pan.

Add the red onion to the pan and cook for a minute or two.  Then add the red wine vinegar and let it sputter for about 30 seconds.  Remove from heat and whisk in the mustard.  Pour this over the spinach and toss to coat.  The spinach will wilt slightly.

Add some butter or oil into the frying pan and fry up the egg the way you like it.  While it’s frying, toast your bun or bread and then butter the bread.

To assemble the sandwich, place half the spinach on the bottom bun.  Put on half of the crumbled bacon and cheese, then the egg, more bacon and cheese and the rest of the spinach.  Top with the bun top.

Almond Butter Apple Sandwich

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Our air conditioner has broken.  This may not seem like the end of the world for some, but it’s been quite the problem for us.  We like to keep the house at 22C or lower when we’re home.  And since I’m off for the summer, we’re home all the time.

The biggest problem is that I like to cook.  And cooking unfortunately requires heat (unless you are into the raw food movement, which I am definitely not!).  I know that most people just change up what they make in the summer, preferring to eat salads or use the barbecue to avoid heating up the house.  But I like to eat what I want to eat when I want it.  It may sound selfish (and really not energy efficient) but that’s just how I am.  It means that I will be outside barbecuing at -30C and inside baking a casserole at soaring temperatures.  However, to ensure that my family can sleep at night without having the house at overly high temperatures, I decided to try making meals with the weather in mind.  Other than the fish sticks and cookies we had last night, I think I’ve done pretty well, and have even managed to find a few new recipes.

One thing I’ve been making more of is sandwiches.  I was never really into sandwiches as a kid (probably because I made Cheez Whiz sandwiches every day for lunch for a year) but I have started really getting into them.  There’s a whole smorgasbord of fillings you can use, different types of bread to place the fillings on and even different temperatures (grilled, toasted, room temperature) you can serve them at.  So when I saw Great Sandwiches for Runners on RunnersWorld, I decided I should try some out.

I didn’t have any pears, so I’ve used apple instead.  And if you want to add extra dried apricots (because you have been eating them by the handful out of the bag), they only add more flavour.  You can even make the almond butter spread, use half of it and save the other half for the next day.  The spread gets a little stiff, but it’s still manageable.  The original suggests using whole grain bread, which is a good idea, but it also tastes amazing on toasted white bread.  Use the recipe below as a starter and then change it up to fit what you like best!

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Almond Butter Apple Sandwich (adapted, barely, from Runners World Magazine)

Makes 2 sandwiches

What you need:
3 tablespoons almond butter
1 teaspoon honey
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
4 slices of bread (toasted or not)
1/2 – 1 whole apple, cored and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons chopped dried apricots
2 tablespoons crumbled goat cheese

What to do:
In a small bowl, whisk together the almond butter, honey, cinnamon and vanilla (I did it with a fork).  Spread the mixture on two of the slices of bread.  Top bread with the sliced apple, dried apricots and goat cheese.  Put the last slices of bread on top and enjoy!

Salade Nicoise with Lemon-Thyme Vinaigrette

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Growing up, we didn’t have a lot of salad.  We lived out in farm country where there was definitely an abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables in the summer, and we would take full advantage of those.  And by full advantage, I mean we would buy tons from road-side stands and farmers (or sometimes even pick them ourselves) and eat some, then can or freeze the rest for the winter when we wouldn’t have as much access to them.  Lettuce really doesn’t freeze or can well, so we didn’t eat it at all over the winter months.  And in the summer, we would only occasionally eat a taco or Caesar salad.

As my youngest sister and I got older, we decided that eating salad would be a great way to get healthy, so we would make intimidating salads.  I’m pretty sure they were just a plate piled high with lettuce, whatever vegetables we could find in the fridge and cut up, and a LOT of cheddar cheese.  I think it was the cheese that made it intimidating.  The reason we loved the salad was the sheer volume of non-lettuce ingredients we put in it.  Salad just seemed so much more interesting that way.

The first time I made this Salade Nicoise, I couldn’t help but remember our intimidating salads.  Now, this does not have a pile of cheese.  But it does have a pile of beans, potatoes, tuna, eggs, tomatoes and green onions.  And if you bring it to work, people are pretty impressed at your commitment to making a healthy lunch.

What I really love about this recipe is that you can serve it to a group of 4 as a main dish or you can prepare the cooked ingredients and store them in ready-to-go containers in the fridge for your lunches at work.  If you’re going to go that route, mini-cans of flavoured tuna are really the way to go.  Lemon-pepper tuna is AMAZING on this salad.  And definitely use grape tomatoes.  You can put them in with the lettuce and then decide at lunch whether or not you want to cut them up.

Salade Nicoise with Lemon-Thyme Vinaigrette (from Ten Dollar Dinners by Melissa d’Arabian)photo 2(1)

What you need for the salad:
4 large eggs
1/2 pound green beans
2 large red potatoes, cut into bite-sized cubes
1 head romaine lettuce, sliced
2 5-ounce cans of tuna, drained
2 green onions, chopped
1 tomato or a few handfuls of grape tomatoes, chopped
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

What you need for the vinaigrette:
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
juice of 1/2 lemon (about 2 Tbsp)
1/2 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh thyme leaves (or a sprinkle of dried)
1/2 cup pitted and chopped black olives
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

What to do:
Boil the eggs by the method you most prefer.  I usually place them in a pot of cold water, bring it to a boil and let it boil for about 5 or 6 minutes.  Then I remove it from heat and put the eggs under cold water to stop the cooking.  Peel and slice the eggs into quarters and set aside.

While you are cooking the eggs, prepare the vinaigrette.  Whisk the mustard, lemon juice and vinegar together in a small bowl.  Slowly whisk in the olive oil, then the thyme, olives, salt and pepper.

In the pot you just used, cook the beans, again how you prefer to steam them.  I just put them in a pot with about an inch of water on the bottom.  I bring it to a boil and let it go until the beans are tender (a couple of minutes).  Drain the beans and set aside.

Using the same pot yet again, boil the potatoes, just until tender (about 6-8 minutes).  Once again, drain and set aside.

Arrange the salad by putting the lettuce on a large platter (or use individual plates).  Top with the eggs, beans, potatoes, tuna, green onions and tomatoes.  You can set it up like a Cobb salad if you would like it to be visually stunning.  Then pour the dressing over the salad and sprinkle with black pepper.

Sorbet

photo 1(6)For Christmas this year, I had a long list of cookbooks on my wish list.  And my sister made sure that at least one of my wishes would come true.  She got me The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz.  This cookbook is an ice cream fanatic’s dream.  It is filled with all sorts of ice creams, sorbets, granitas and mix-ins.  We were in between houses right after Christmas, so I couldn’t try out any of the recipes.  But now that the warm weather is looking like it might be here, I have taken out the book and tried many recipes.

The thing I love about a sorbet is that it’s just fruit, sugar and water.  No milk or cream necessary (which is great for my lactose-intolerant friends).  And because you don’t need to cook a custard or warm anything, it takes a lot less time to make.  The best part is that I let my daughter have LOTS of it because it doesn’t have all the fat of ice cream.  If none of those reasons convince you to try to make some sorbet, I’m not sure what will.

Oh, and if you don’t have an ice cream maker (this is the one I have), you can still make ice cream and sorbets, as long as you have a bit of time on your hands.  Once you have the mixture ready, stick it in a container in the freezer.  Every 20-30 minutes, take it out and stir the more frozen outer edges into the centre.  Once it’s too hard to stir, you’re done!

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Bananaberry Sorbet

What you need:
1 medium ripe banana
2 cups berries (blueberries or blackberries), fresh or frozen
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbsp lemon or lime juice

What to do:
Cut the banana into chunks and puree in the blender with the berries, water, sugar and lemon or lime juice until smooth.  Chill the mixture thoroughly and then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

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Pineapple Sorbet

What you need:
1/2 pineapple, peeled, cored and cut into chunks
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water

What to do:
Puree the pineapple, sugar and water in a blender until smooth. Chill the mixture thoroughly and then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Taco Salad

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I have been making incredible amounts of ice cream, sorbets and frozen yogurts lately (don’t worry! those recipes will come soon!).  In order to make them, I have to store my ice cream maker in the freezer.  It’s a KitchenAid attachment bowl and it makes churning ice cream very easy.  However, it takes up a fair bit of space in my freezer.  A few days ago, it got in the way of the freezer door while we were in bed, meaning the door was open with the fridge running all night.  I awoke to frozen milk, icy peppers and three Romaine hearts that had frozen solid!

I had to stop by the grocery store on my way to work that morning to pick up more lettuce because this salad is just too good to pass up.  Eating a tuna sandwich when I could have a pile of lettuce with grape tomatoes, avocado, peppers, sour cream, salsa, seasoned ground beef (warmed!) and melted cheddar cheese just wasn’t an option.

Most people think it’s too much work to bring a salad this awesome to work, but it’s actually doable.  You just need a container large enough to hold your shredded lettuce and any of the other ingredients that will keep when sliced.  I even put the mini container of dressing right in the lettuce container.  I have my other condiments in separate containers and I take a couple of minutes in the lunch room to assemble the whole thing.  I find it worth it to have a delicious, huge and guilt-free lunch.

Note: if you’d rather cook the beef mixture with a package of store-bought taco mix, I’m sure that would also turn out amazingly well.  Also, I did not use corn or black beans in mine, but they would add to the “taco” feel of the salad.

Taco Salad (from Looneyspoons)

Makes 6-8 servings

What you need:
Beef Mixture
1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced (I used about 1/3 of a pepper)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 cups quartered grape tomatoes
1/3 cup ketchup
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Salad
12 cups torn romaine and iceberg lettuce
1 cup canned whole-kernel corn, drained
1 cup canned black beans, drained
1/2 cup diced green pepper
1 cup packed shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup quartered grape tomatoes
1/3 cup chopped green onions
1 small ripe avocado, sliced
1 cup sour cream
1 cup salsa

What to do:
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the beef, onions, jalapeño pepper and garlic.  Cook and stir until beef is no longer pink.  Add chili powder and cumin.  Cook 1 more minute.  Add grape tomatoes, ketchup, salt and pepper.  Cook and stir for 2 more minutes.  Remove skillet from heat and set aside.  This can definitely be done in advance – just reheat the mixture before serving the salad.

To assemble the salad, spread lettuce over bottom of a serving platter or divide it up between individual serving plates.  Top with beef mixture followed by corn, beans, green pepper, cheese, tomatoes, green onion and avocado sliced.  Top with sour cream and salsa and dig in.

Teriyaki Chicken

chicken teriyaki

I seem to pick the worst possible days to go out an barbecue.  Last week, I thought I would head out, despite the fact that it was approaching 0C (again!) and it started to rain while I was cooking the burgers.  I left the barbecue cover on the patch of snow that just would not melt and then it started to snow.  When I tried to retrieve the cover a few hours later, it had frozen to the ice pile and I had to wait a few days before it could be pulled off again, leaving my barbecue out in the elements.

Then, last night, I had planned to barbecue again.  I had marinated some chicken a day earlier and didn’t want to put off cooking it.  So despite the crazy rain, I went out and started the barbecue.  I managed to have the chicken cook for maybe 5 minutes before the propane ran out. And being lazy and unwilling to head out in the rain again, I had to fry the chicken instead.

Thankfully, this recipe for teriyaki chicken is amazing, whether baked, fried or barbecued (although, on the barbecue is definitely the best).  The great thing about marinating chicken breasts is that you can do it days or even weeks ahead.  Buy a value pack of chicken, portion it out for a few meals, and freeze it in the marinade.  It’ll keep for about 4 months in the freezer.  You can also marinate it for a short period of time, but this one definitely gets better with age.

We had the chicken with some rice and vegetables, but the options are endless.  I plan to use the leftovers to make chicken salad sandwiches and to add some to a green salad later this week.

teriyaki chicken

Teriyaki Chicken (from Starting Out)

What you need:
4-5 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 Tbsp honey or brown sugar
1 Tbsp sherry, orange juice or water
1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
3 green onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon sesame oil

What to do:
Combine all the ingredients (except the chicken) in a bowl.  Pour the sauce over the chicken in a sealed container or large ziplock bag.  Refrigerate overnight or freeze as long as you would like.

To grill the chicken, brush the grill with a little oil and then preheat the grill.  Remove the chicken from the marinade and grill for 3-4 minutes per side, or until it is cooked through – it should no longer be pink on the inside.

To sauté the chicken, heat some oil in a large, heavy skillet set over medium high heat.  Toss the chicken and the marinade into the skillet and cook for 3-4 minutes per side, or until it is cooked through.  The marinade cooks up nicely to make a thick sauce.