Saturday, January 30, 2016

Chocolate Crepes

Black Forest Crepes 
So one of my daughters favourite breakfast foods (or well any time foods are crepes).  I came home from driving the husband to work early in the morning and it just hit me that I wanted to make her a special breakfast - (I had made cream of wheat earlier in the week and she didn't really like it). So I figured I would do crepes because honestly they are SO easy to make.

Basically the batter is 5 ingredients (usually) the trick to making them is letting the batter rest and then the right technique for getting the batter even across the frying pan.

But then I pulled out my new cookbook... (props to the husband)  He bought me the Canadian Living - The Ultimate Cook Book for Christmas. Honestly, I looked at the outside and was wondering what the heck he was thinking - I have a ok collection of cookbooks and this one didn't seem to be on the same page of books I had been looking at recently. Frankly I wrote it off as a basic cookbook nothing special. Then I started flipping through it - the recipes in there are amazing and such a variety with a lot of good tips and tricks and information.  I would HIGHLY recommend the book. 

I found the basic crepe recipe and was going to do that - but then I saw the modification for chocolate crepes and decided to go for it!  They were amazing.  They were filled with some homemade bumble berry jam (Blueberries, strawberry and raspberry) while some Chantilly Cream and then rolled up.  They tasted like a black forest cake for breakfast!  The review from the Monkey was a huge hug and massive kiss. 

Black Forest Crepes 
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
3 tbsp granulated sugar
1/4 tsp salt
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
2 tbsp melted butter
2 tbsp melted butter (reserved)
  1. In a bowl, whisk flour with salt. Wish together eggs, milk and half of the butter (2 tbsp); pour over the flour mixture and whisk until smooth. (The book suggests straining it through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean bowl - I didn't bother) Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour (I skipped this step each time and ended up with a more rubbery crepe - it would be good for it to rest.
  2. Heat 10-inch nonstick skillet or crepe pan over medium heat. Brush the skillet with some of the remaining butter (I have it melted in a bowl with the pastry brush and keep it close on hand). Pour a not entirely full 1/3 cup of the batter into the centre of the skillet, then tilt and swirl to coat the bottom. I basically tilt the pan until the batter reaches one corner of the pan and then begin to change the tilt angle so that the entire bottom is coated. 
  3. Cook, flip when the edges begins to curl away from the skillet, until set and the edge is lightly golden - about 90 seconds. 
  4. Transfer to plate, cover to keep warm. Repeat starting with brushing the skillet with butter. 

My Crepe Station Set up
Basic Crepes 
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
2 tbsp melted butter
2 tbsp melted butter (reserved)
I made basic crepes for supper tonight - as my husband likes savoury food vs. sweet food.  Instead of using regular salt I used curry salt (I'll have to post the recipe latter for that!).  I started with just a little bit of the salt but then didn't find the batter flavourful enough so I kept going until had a good taste of the seasoning in it - because the curry salt is only part salt it didn't over pour the batter.  I then filled with ham or chicken with cheese and folded up - YUM!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Proof that I'm really just ordinary and the cost of hotdogs

So I have taken some recent offline ribbing about my cooking - right because most of the stuff that I blog or post is "impressive" or shall I classify as fancy food items like my Beef Wellington.

This has also lead to a few questions about if my every day cooking is like that and honestly I refer you back to the meal planning post - it's not. I love to cook and try new things but frankly sometimes it is just too much work or effort or time consuming depending on the day.  (I mean my home made lasagna from scratch took about 2 hours to prep and make - there may have been a lot of breaks in that 2 hours - but still it wasn't quick).  Also, let's be honest I do want to make croissants from scratch and contemplated that until I read the recipe and figured I'd save that for another day!

So alas after a long day and equally long night because of swimming lessons we arrive home around 7:30 and still have to get supper prepared, cooked and down the gullet within a reasonable amount of time.  Enter Hot Dog Roll ups - yes hot dogs baked in dough.  No you could just make hot dogs and serve them in buns but that's not as fun and frankly as tasty as the excused to eat what basically amounts to croissant filled with hot dogs and cheese. 

As a side note - I haven't bought hot dogs I'm going to say probably in a couple of years (I prefer cheddar smokies for the effort) but MAN were hot dogs expensive in the store the other day - I got mine on SALE for $2.50 most other packages were $5 - I remember when they were under $2 on sale and under $3 regular price and I'm not that old. 

I will have to delve in my recipe collection to find the "I'm not lazy" version of these - meaning where you actually make the dough (honestly not that hard) but because these are for particularly lazy or busy days here is the basics:

Hot Dog Roll ups a-la-lazy
1 package hot-dogs (don't care brand or type - but usually the cheapest ones that have 12 in the pkg).
2 package tubes of croissants (you could use Wiener wraps but I find them not large enough, or frankly enough in a package to justify buying them especially when the croissant tubes are cheaper)
12 slices approximately 1/4" wide about 1" shorter than the length of the hot dog. 

  1. Preheat the oven to 375F. 
  2. Cut a strip in to the hot dogs - try not to go all the way through the dog but don't worry if you do. 
  3. Run your finger down the length of the cut in the hot dog to open it slightly and then place one of the cheese slices or sticks in the the hot dog.
  4. Wrap with the croissant dough - I usually use 1 croissant per hot dog and just bake the extra dough as normal. The key here is really having to stretch, squish, or pull the dough until the entire hot dog is covered evenly with the dough. Sometimes just rolling it like a cigar in your hands does the trick - but you want to avoid holes as that tends to let the cheese escape.
  5. Place the dough covered dogs onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet (if you don't have parchment paper - don't worry just follow the directions for the croissants on greased vs. non-greased cookie sheets - I use the paper so that I don't have to do much if any cleaning of the cookie sheets - score for the lazy factor!)
  6. Bake the hot dog roll ups for about 10-12 minutes - until brown on top.
  7. Let cool 2 or 3 minutes then serve with ketchup, mustard and/or mayonnaise or frankly any other dipping stuff. 

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Cadence's Birthday Request

My name is Cassandra, and I am the very proud mom of a 9 - almost 10 year old named Cadence, aka Monkey.  (Grade 4) 

Cadence has an amazing spirit in life and I refer to her as my eternal optimist.  Her birthday is coming up on February 10th - her champagne birthday - which I have explained to her as a magical birthday because you turn the same age as the day you were born on. 

For the last two years Cadence has had a birthday tradition of asking for donations in lieu of birthday presents from her friends. The last two years the donations have been given to the Winnipeg Humane Society.  This year in preparation for her birthday I had a discussion with Cadence on what she would like to do - say nothing and maybe be lucky and get birthday presents as usual or support a charity.  Of course, her first response was that she has enough stuff and she wants to help. I asked her if she wanted to donate to the Winnipeg Humane Society again and she said no. Cadence had made the decision that she wants to help people.  She listens to the radio every morning on the way to school. She is a very socially aware little girl and she said that she wants to help people this year.  She was presented with many options and we discussed and reviewed different options - after some intense discussions she choose that she would like to make a donation to Winnipeg Harvest. She felt it would help the largest amount of people and with the increase in grocery prices it might help the most people (yes this was the thought process of the 9-year old).

At every opportunity possible she has taken the ability to help other people. In addition to the birthday donations she has been actively involved in helping many people. (December 2013) Two years ago I was instructor and found out one of my students got left off of the hamper list - she knew that I had just received by Christmas bonus and had suggested that we use the money to help the student and her family who were really in need. So she helped shop and select hamper items and gifts for the kids, wrap and deliver them.  Last Christmas (December 2014) I was working for a company that was having a hamper drive for the Christmas Cheer Board. Again, as soon as Cadence heard she wanted to help - we would shop the sales and use points to stock up on items and essentially filled two hampers - all from her thoughts and ingenuity. She was responsible for selecting the items from the list, finding deals and then delivering the goods to the the hamper board at my work. 

This year her birthday request is to try and make as big as an impact as possible with her donation to Winnipeg Harvest - because if everyone helps each other just a little bit there would be a lot of good and happiness spread in the world. So as requested by her I am reaching out asking for help to make her birthday wish come true. I am not sure how you can help but I figured you might be able to.

We have spoken with her principal at school who is going to try and hook her up with her Social Justice Committee (usually reserved for those in Grade 6).

Thank you in advance for your support and help!

Monday, January 25, 2016

Keeping organized - kind of ... or at least trying to

The Spice Rack
So when we bought our house we bought it because I was getting very sick of the kitchen in the apartment. 

Side track - Now I will state from the very outset I have been spoiled somewhat in this aspect. The last home I owned before this I was able to have my kitchen redone - not entirely to my satisfaction or ideas but it was ok. When of the things that I didn't manage to keep in the divorce was the spice rack in the kitchen. At first I thought it was a pretty cool spice rack, it screwed onto the shelf and then you could pull it down out of the cupboard - which FYI would be fantastic if you are vertically challenged. I thankfully am not; however, I am organization crazy. I like being able to find things and have other people able to find things. 

The Spice List
Back on track now - so the husband and I bought the current house knowing that the kitchen ... sucked - we didn't fully realize how bad until we took possession but it sucked. We we took possession we found out that cupboards and countertops hadn't actually been fastened or secured properly at all. Anyways the organize of the utensils and spices and other commonly used things I knew was going to be imperative. So when I started unpacking the spices I had several spice racks I tried out. I tried ones that turned (sucks because you can't get at the stuff at the centre). I tried stacking turning ones - same problem but really an issue for the centre. Plus then you have a space that is not really well utilized. Entered the stacked spice shelfs that go around the edge of the cabinet and it was like heavens doors opened and the light appeared on the solution to my problems. It works fantastically and as you can see (this is ONE set of the racks) it holds a LOT of spices.  I will also acknowledge that I have another drawer below this cabinet that is also full of large spice containers (salt, kosher salt, sea salt, Costco size spices etc.) I then also invested in spice jars (Bulk barn for $0.69 each - with black or white lids is the cheapest place I have found them) and a label maker (thank you Walmart).  I then organized all of my spices and thought I was in heaven. 

The spice list stuck to the door
Then my next problem came down to running out of spices or not being sure of what exactly I had on hand (same problems applies for the pantry, fridge and freezer). So I started with a simple excel spreadsheet and made a list that shows which spices I have and if I have extra on hand.  I then simply printed the list out and put it in a page protector. I wanted to make sure I kept the list somewhere handy so that if I need to find something I could easily tell if it was something in my extra spice boxes or a trip to the grocery store. I also keep a pen, sharpie and whiteboard marker in the spice cabinet for labelling things and/or adding to the list as I realize I might need things.

I have plans to implement a similar system for the rest of my pantry and freezer - basically like a running inventory to make it easy to keep track of what I have on hand, what I need to pick up and then when someone - who shall remain nameless - takes my last and needed can of corn and doesn't tell me..... I can easily tell what I need for grocery shopping.

The Cupboard of Goodness (note the tequila)
Here is a picture of the entire cabinet. I have stored the extra spices in the boxes above the spices in plastic boxes. Everything is also sealed in ziplock bags. However after much of my reading and investigating I've vowed to stop buying bags of spices from the grocery store and will from now on be buying them from places like Bulk Barn (which FYI I have found to have incredibly good prices and variety on spices which allows me to maintain only what I need with very little extra to ensure no spoilage or wasting.