Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies

The last few weeks or month even I haven't done much baking, so this past weekend I decided it was time to get back into the kitchen and whip something up! I started scrolling through the blogs I follow and the recipes sites I like and tried to come up with something that I had all the ingredients for already. I came across these jumbo coconut chocolate chip cookies and knew they would be perfect!



I like this recipe because it makes a big batch, because the cookies are jumbo in size they have you make more dough so that you get a lot of cookies. If you decide to make them regular size you get even more cookies. If you don't want 3 or 4 dozen then I suggest cutting the recipe in half.

These cookies turned out so good and tasted amazing. I don't know if it was because it's been so long since I made cookies or what but I am loving these!

I definitely suggest giving these a try. I had some leftover chocolate chips with peanut butter stuffed in them so I threw some of those in the cookies as well and it gives it even more flavour!

I got this recipe idea from http://www.the-girl-who-ate-everything.com/2014/12/jumbo-coconut-chocolate-chip-cookies.html

Ingredients
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2-2/3 cups flaked coconut
  • 1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
  • ½ cup milk chocolate chips
  • (optional) 6 ounces white candy coating, coarsely chopped
Instructions
 
In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time mixing well in between. Beat in vanilla.
 
In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt; gradually add to the creamed mixture and mix well. Stir in the coconut and chips.
 
 
 
For jumbo cookies, shape 3 tablespoonfuls of dough into a ball; repeat with remaining dough.
Place balls of dough 3 inches apart on parchment lined baking sheets. Bake at 350° for 12-18 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove to wire racks to cool.
 
 
 
For smaller cookies, shape about 1½ tablespoons of dough into a ball and placed on parchment lined cookie sheets. Bake for about 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned.
 
 

Monday, 26 January 2015

Butternut Squash Goat Cheese Dip


Is everyone familiar with the card game Cards Against Humanity? I bought this for my husband for Christmas because we had played it at some friends house in the past and just had a blast laughing our behinds off! Well this weekend we hosted out first Cards Against Humanity party with three couples plus ourselves and we just had a blast! I don't think I have ever laughed so hard in my life! It was a really nice release and some good times with some great friends!



Of course as with any party there had to be a little food. I made this Butternut Squash Goat Cheese dip with Pita Chips and it was fantastic! I fully intended to have leftover dip to bring to my parents the next day but nope, it was all gone. The bowl was practically licked clean! LOL

This dip was pretty easy to make and relatively healthy as far as dips go. I mean no sour cream or cream cheese helps in the calorie department! I definitely recommend giving this dip a try sometime. You won't be disappointed and neither will your guests!

I got this recipe idea from http://www.howsweeteats.com/2015/01/butternut-squash-goat-cheese-dip/

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups cubed butternut squash
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
a few grates of fresh nutmeg
11 ounces goat cheese, at room temperature
3 tablespoons freshly chopped herbs: oregano, basil, cilantro, parsley, sage

Pita Chips
Pitas cut into chip pieces

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil.
Toss the squash cubes with the olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic powder. Spread out on the baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes, then toss and bake for 15 more, or until tender when pierced with a fork. Turn the oven down to 350 degrees F.



Add the squash (and any olive oil drippings) to a food processor along with the nutmeg and goat cheese. Blend until completely smooth and pureed. At this point, you can taste and determine if you need more salt and pepper. Transfer the puree to an oven-proof dish. Bake the dip for 20 to 25 minutes, or until it is warmed through. I like to remove the dip from the oven and stir so it gets super creamy. Top with a drizzle of oil and the fresh herbs and serve immediately.

Pita Chips
Place the pita chips on a baking sheet. Put in the oven when the dip has 5 minutes left to warm the pitas - or a little before if you want them toasted and not warm.  Serve immediately. You can also serve this dip with veggies!

Monday, 19 January 2015

Winter Roasted Veggies

Time sure flies by, I can't believe we are half way through January already. January is my least favourite month, it's usually, cold, dark and bleak but I have got to say that so far this month has been flying by and we even have had some above seasonal temperatures to boot!

I love roasted veggies, especially in the winter so last night I finally found myself at home around dinnertime with enough time to actually roast the veggies. I threw a bag of little potatoes, a bag of parsnips, a bag of baby carrots and half an onion chopped up into a casserole dish. I tossed this with some olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper and baked at 400 degrees for a good 90 minutes. I was super impressed with how it turned out!



I also loved that it made such a huge batch that we all got some for dinner but there are enough leftovers to go for a few more days this week. I just let it cool completely then I put them into a container with an airtight lid in the refrigerator.

I definitely recommend trying some roasted veggies. They are really good to eat all winter long and the best part is you don't even need much seasoning. You can try different veggies with different spices and see which combination you like the most!

I adapted this recipe from www.allrecipes.com

Ingredients
1 bag of little white potatoes (washed and rinsed)
1 bag of parsnips (peeled and chopped)
1 bag of baby carrots
1/2 onion (peeled and chopped)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Wash and rinse the potatoes and toss them into a 9 by 13 casserole dish. Peel and chop the parsnips, carrots (if necessary) and half the onion. Place all the veggies into the casserole dish and drizzle the olive oil and balsamic vinegar over the veggies, Add the salt and pepper and mix well.



Bake for about 90 minutes, stirring every 25 minutes or so to ensure the veggies on the bottom of the dish don't burn.

Let them cool for a few minutes before serving and enjoy, but be warned the potatoes especially are hot.

Note: Next time I would probably cut all the little potatoes in half.

Monday, 12 January 2015

How to make a delicious Turkey

Some people might be surprised to hear that this Christmas was the first time I cooked a turkey myself. I guess it was something that my mom always did and I usually prepared all the side dishes. This year I was tasked with the turkey for a family dinner and I decided that it was time I figure out how to cook a great tasting turkey.



I asked a lot of people who I know have done turkeys before for ideas and suggestions as well as googling a lot of recipes ideas and different way to do it. In the end I knew I was going to use an electric roaster for the turkey to keep my oven free for other dishes so I found a great recipe for that.

I started by of course thawing the turkey for about 24 hours before cooking it. Once I was ready to start cooking I cut up an onion, celery and an apple and placed this in the turkey's cavity. I then rubbed poultry seasoning all over the turkey and tried to get some up under the skin on the turkey breast.

Lastly before I started cooking I made an apple cider vinegar and maple syrup mixture and poured that all over the turkey including letting some fall into the cavity. I then turned the electric roaster to 350 degrees and let the cooking commence.

I basted every 30 minutes but found that there wasn't enough juice until about an hour after I started cooking. Then once that juice was there I basted very regularly. The thing I found about an electric roaster is that it does cook the turkey faster then a regular oven. I found that my 12 pound turkey was ready in about 3 hours...maybe even slightly less then that.

The most important part about carving a turkey is letting the meat rest for at least 30 minutes before cutting into it. This is super important to keep the juices inside the turkey and not have them all come running out once you cut it.



I let my turkey rest for close to an hour using foil to keep it warm. Then when my husband carved it, it was perfect!

I think the turkey turned out really well. It tasted really nice and juicy and was cooked well. I would definitely use this method for cooking a turkey again.

I got my recipe idea from http://kidscooking.about.com/od/thanksgivingrecipes/r/turkey-oven-bag-recipe-how-to.htm

Ingredients
  • 2 stalks celery, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 large yellow onion, sliced
  • 1 12 to 18 lb. turkey, thawed
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened to room temperature, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 Tbsp. poultry seasoning
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 apple, sliced
  • 1/2 cup apple cider
  • 2 Tbsp. maple syrup
 
 
Preparation
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Remove the neck and giblets from turkey. Rinse turkey and pat dry with paper towels. Set turkey on a clean surface, such as a cutting board. (You will wash this surface, along with anything else that touches the raw turkey, with detergent and water, so make sure you don't plan to use this surface again today.)

Combine softened butter with poultry seasoning. Gently lift the skin of the turkey breast away from the meat with your hands and rub all but 3-4 Tbsp. of the butter mixture on the breast between the turkey and skin. Note: You can skip this step, but it does make the turkey extra juicy.

Rub the remaining butter mixture on top of the turkey breast. Note: You can use less butter if you have a smaller turkey.

Season the outside of the turkey with salt and pepper. Place the apple slices, onion and celery inside the turkey cavity. Place the turkey, breast side up (the regular way), in the electric roaster.

Whisk apple cider and maple syrup together. Pour the mixture over the turkey, letting some spill into the cavity.

Roast turkey 2-4 hours, depending on the size of the turkey, until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the turkey measures 165 degrees F. A 12-15 lb. turkey will take approximately 2 hours; a 20-24 lb. turkey will take about 3-1/2 hours.

Remove turkey from oven, and let the turkey rest 20 minutes before carving. This is an important step! Don't skip the resting part - it allows the turkey's juices to redistribute, keeping your turkey moist. You can use a turkey baster to extract the juices from the bag to make turkey gravy.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Cranberry Sauce

This year is the first year that I have made homemade cranberry sauce. I am ashamed to say that I always just liked the stuff from the can and never really thought to try my own. I don't know what made me think of it this year but I decided to give it a try and now I'm spoiled and the stuff from the can will never do again! LOL



I couldn't believe how easy this was to actually make. I was really worried at first that it was too liquidy and wasn't going to firm up to a nice jelly sauce but it really did set nicely and it was so tasty. I love that it wasn't too sweet but also wasn't too tart!

It paired so nicely with the Christmas turkey and is just a really nice festive touch to any holiday meal!



I got my recipe from http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/bobby-deen/homemade-cranberry-sauce-recipe.html


Ingredients

2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup orange juice (no sugar added or freshly squeezed)
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
One 12-ounce bag cranberries

Directions
 
Combine the sugar, orange juice, 1/2 cup water, the cinnamon, salt and cranberries in a medium saucepan. Bring up to a simmer over medium heat and cook for 15 minutes. Let cool completely before serving.

 



Sunday, 4 January 2015

Chocolate Truffles

Did you know that making homemade chocolate truffles can be really easy? I was not so sure until I tired it with all the correct tools and ingredients. First off I bought this awesome silicon chocolate mold at HomeSense and silicon in my opinion is the way to go.

Secondly you need to use good tasting chocolate that melts easily. I used dark chocolate wafers and then I also added some mint extract to one batch so I would have mint chocolate truffles. Next time I might try buying different colours of chocolate wafers from Bulk Barn and try making my chocolates a little more fancy but for my first time I stayed easy and then turned out fantastic!

I found that these set very quickly and about an hour so so in the fridge they were ready to be popped out of the mold.



I used cute little Christmas boxes and gave a few of these away as gifts. I wanted to share because this was a really easy and great way to make some homemade gifts and who doesn't like chocolates?

Ingredients
chocolate wafers
flavour extracts (optional)

Directions
Melt chocolate wafers in a glass dish over boiling water or in a double boiler.



If using a flavour extract add in once chocolate is mostly melted and stir in to combine.

Using a spoon slowly fill the chocolate molds to the top with melted chocolate.



Tap the mold on the counter three times to ensure any air bubbles escape from your chocolates.

Place in the fridge or freezer to set.

Once completely set slowly and carefully pop each chocolate out. Keep refrigerated.

Friday, 2 January 2015

Mini Cheese Ball Bites

Happy New Year everyone! I can't believe we have rung in 2015 already! I have been really enjoying my holiday time off and have been slacking on posting recipes, but here is one I really wanted to share as I used it over the holidays for parties and get togethers and it would be an appropriate appetizer to use for any party basically any time of year!



These Mini Cheese Ball Bites are delicious and very easy to make. I loved using the pretzel stick as a handle of sorts for picking them up to eat! I made these for my Christmas cocktail party and then made a few more for Christmas Eve and Christmas day. They were a big hit!

I got this recipe idea from http://www.fivehearthome.com/2013/11/24/mini-cheese-ball-bites/

Ingredients
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (about 3 ounces) blue cheese crumbles
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups pecans
  • Pretzel sticks
Directions

In a medium bowl, beat together cream cheese, blue cheese, and dried cranberries until smooth. Dampen hands to prevent sticking and form cream cheese mixture into approximately 24 tablespoon-sized balls. Cover and refrigerate for at least two hours or until firm.




In the meantime, toast the pecans by spreading out on a sheet pan and baking in a preheated 350°F oven until lightly toasted and fragrant, for 7 to 10 minutes. Allow pecans to cool and finely chop them. 




Roll chilled cheese balls in chopped pecans, pressing nuts so that they adhere. Keep cheese balls refrigerated until ready to serve. Just before serving, skewer each cheese ball with a pretzel stick.