Friday, March 29, 2013

Hashbrown Waffles

Mention waffles at my house, and you get a bunch of excited humans.  Mention hashbrown waffles?  Look out!   I've never had much success with homemade shredded hashbrowns before, they always seem to turn into a grey glob.  I usually stick to chunky or sliced potatoes, if I'm going all out for breakfast.    

The family digs those hashbrown patties you can buy frozen, probably because they're similar to something you might get at a major fast food chain.  The frozen hashbrown are probably filled with extra fat and chemicals, and I dislike purchasing anything I feel I can make myself at a lesser cost, and greater health.  This recipe seemed relatively easy, and they were...I just recommend really greasing the waffle maker well, I did it well for the first batch, and they came off super clean, but my second batch I got lazy, and they were more like a  hashbrown haystack, but still super yum!

Hashbrown Waffles

5 large Potatoes (peeled and shredded)
1 cup Onion (grated)
2 large Eggs
1/2 cup Sour Cream
3 tablespoons Butter (melted; divided)
Salt and Pepper

My waffle maker only has two temperatures: Off and On, maybe your waffle maker has different settings?
Turn On your waffle maker, using a medium/high heat if applicable.
Liberally season the potatoes with salt, toss, and let sit for about 10 minutes. The salt helps the potatoes release water, so I recommend placing them in a colander and putting over the sink to drain. Add the grated onions to the poatoes and ring out excess moisture using a clean kitchen towel.
Transfer the mixture to a large bowl add the eggs and sour cream. Season with pepper.
Brush the hot waffle maker with melted butter. Evenly spread potato mixture around the waffle maker. Close and cook until the potatoes are crispy and brown, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Special Sprinkles Pancakes

Game changer pancakes!  I have been making my pancakes the same old way for YEARS!  I think it was my mom's recipe(?), I can throw them together in minutes.  I saw this recipe recently and thought the sprinkles would be great as a special pancake for Easter brunch...but the batter!  So. Delish.  This will be my new go to pancake recipe. It's just as simple, and takes no extra time than my regular recipe, but the addition of buttermilk made them so light and fluffy.  I don't keep buttermilk on hand, I just use milk and lemon juice whenever it's called for, here's my trick:
add 2 tablespoons lemon juice to 1 cup regular milk (I use 2%), let it stand for about 5-10 minutes to curdle, stir...aaaand Buttermilk!  See?  So easy!

Double your batch if your feeding a large crew, or if you want to make ahead to refrigerate or freeze for busy weekday mornings.   Serve with your favorite pancake toppings like: maple syrup, whip cream, yogurt, and fruit galore!

Special Sprinkles (Buttermilk) Pancakes
Recipe Adapted From: Averie Cooks

1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
pinch salt
1 cup buttermilk more, if necessary
1 large egg
2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a medium mixing bowl, add flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and whisk to combine; set bowl aside.
I like to use a large measuring cup, then I can pour the batter directly from it into the pan, not making more dishes using ladles or smaller measuring cups.  So, to the measuring cup add buttermilk, egg, oil, vanilla, and whisk to combine. Add wet and dry ingredients and mix until just moistened. If it seems too thick for your liking, add some more buttermilk, but this batter will be thick, and lumpy, it’s okay!
Spray a large, non-stick skillet with cooking spray, and use medium heat. Once skillet is hot, pour a generous amount of batter into pan, roughly ¼ cup if you're wanting to make huge extra special pancakes, and add less batter for smaller pancakes!
Cook until bubbles appear in the center of the pancakes, and add a generous amount of sprinkles right before you're ready to flip.  Flip carefully (they’re kinda floppy), and cook second side until done and golden. 


Monday, March 25, 2013

Sausage n' Spinach Pasta

This is an easy family fave I can throw together on a busy week night with little prep, other than making certain I have the ingredients on hand.  This week though, I didn't quite have enough of any one kind of pasta, so I used the remaining amounts of practically every pasta in my pantry...rigatoni, penne, cavatappi, and fuscili.  Funny looking, but practical!

Everybody has their preferences in my house, but even though it's a one dish meal, I'm still able to cater to everyone's tastes.   I'm following the Paleo philosophy (no pasta), but usually Sloane doesn't eat the sausage, so I help her out, and Presley wants his noodles plain, so I just separate his before I add them to the skillet.  I serve it with garlic bread, and a  big ol' salad, making the salad meal sized for myself - and everybody's happy!

Creamy Sausage and Spinach Pasta
2-3 cups pasta  - Rigatoni or Penne work best
5 uncooked Italian sausages
1 small onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 cup milk - I use 2%
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 - 2 Tbsp flour
6 cups spinach about 1/2 of a bag
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender, but not mushy or overcooked.
While the pasta is cooking, remove the sausage meat from the casings, and in a large deep skillet break into clumps, and cook until no longer pink.  Add the onion, garlic, salt and pepper (add more/less to taste), and cook until the onions go translucent.  Sprinkle the flour on to the sausage mixture, stir a little to incorporate, and then add both the milk and chicken broth, stirring until it comes to a boil, and you have your sauce.  Lower your heat - If you would like a thicker sauce add more flour, or add more milk for a thinner sauce.
When pasta is cooked drain and add to the skillet, add spinach and toss, then add parmesan cheese and mix well.  Serve immediately with extra parm, if you wish!


Sunday, March 24, 2013

Sunday Funday - Sloane's First Brownies

Both Sloane and Presley were all over attempting a recipe all on their own, from a Cookbook they had recently picked out at the library titled Usborne Farmyard Tales: Children's Cookbook.

And so we agreed that would be our Sunday Funday activity, but shortly after this picture was taken, Presley lost all interest, and was playing cars while Sloane took this on all on her own. Boys.

The recipes in this book are laid out step-by-step, with easy to follow instructions, and she was able to gather her ingredients and figure out the measurements, with very little assistance.  And for my stubborn girl who struggles with math as much as her mom, this was a perfect chance to show why you need to know fractions for real life!

Unfortunately the recipe turned out really dry, I'm sure they'll still be great with ice cream for tonight's dessert though!  But the experience was what counted;  Sloane was SO proud of herself, and now has another recipe to add to her ever-expanding repertoire!

Chocolate Brownies
Recipe adapted from: Usborne Farm Tales: Children's Cookbook

3/4 cup margarine
1 2/3 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
3 eggs
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup cocoa
1/2 cup peanuts

Preheat oven to 350 F.  In medium mixing bowl add melted margarine to sugar and vanilla.  Beat eggs in small dish, and then slowly add to sugar and vanilla mixture a little at a time, beat them in well. Add flour, baking powder, and cocoa to sugar bowl, and stir everything together. Chop up nuts, and add to the mixture, and stir it well again.  
Use an 8 x 8 baking dish and greased parchment paper, pour mixture into prepared dish, and smooth it down with your fingers or back of spoon.
Bake it for about 40 min, and leave in the pan to cool, then cut into squares.


Friday, March 22, 2013

Blueberry Honey Sticky Biscuits

Are you trolling the interwebs right now looking for the perfect weekend breakfast?  Look no further! 
I know I just recently posted something similar to this recipe, but that is what was demanded requested last weekend by my husband, kinda.  "Can you please make those yummy blueberry things you made that one time"?  There are a few different blueberry things that I make, to say the least.  And I was pretty sure that these biscuits were them, after listing off the ones I could recall...apparently these weren't the blueberry things that he was referring to, but they got gobbled up anyways!

The biscuit dough used in this recipe is really fast to throw together, and requires no kneading, or rising, making it super easy - but it is also very versatile!  I've filled this same dough with cheese and garlic butter, and cheese with dill, any number of fruits/berries would also be yum.  I've never tried chocolate before, but imagine nutella and raspberries together!   Gonna try that soon, for sure!

Make your sticky...

...make dough, roll out, and add slightly cooled blueberry and honey filling....


                                           ...bake, and enjoy!


Blueberry Honey Sticky Biscuits
Recipe Adapted from: DinnerwithJulie                                              
1 cup blueberries
1/4 cup honey

a pinch (or more) of ginger is delish too!

2 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. packed brown sugar
3 Tbsp. honey

2 cups flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 Tbsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup canola oil

To make the filling, simmer the berries and honey in a small saucepan over medium heat until the berries burst. Set aside to cool slightly.

Put the butter, brown sugar and honey into an 8”x8” pan that has been sprayed with non-stick spray, put it in the oven and turn it on to 350°F. leave it in the oven for about 10 mins, until butter is melted.

In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Add the milk and canola oil and stir by hand just until you have a soft dough.
On a lightly floured surface, pat or roll the dough into a 9” x 14” rectangle. Spread with the cooled blueberry/honey mixture. Roll tightly jellyroll style into a log. Cut into 9 biscuits using a serrated knife, and place cut side down in the pan.

Bake for 20 minutes, until golden and bubbly. Turn upside down onto a platter while still warm, so your sticky side is up!


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Cookies for Monsters!

Anytime I ask my four year old what cookies we should make, he will shout as loud as he can "MONSTER COOKIES" while throwing a triumphant fist in the air!  I should know this answer by now, but it's fun to watch his excited face...even if is not so much for the making of the cookies, but the eating of the candies as we make them.  Who can blame him, really?...Candy! 

After we finished making these cookies, and I was cleaning up the kitchen, I could sense Mr. P was in the kitchen, but he was being very quiet.  Which as all mothers know, is not a good sign.  So I asked him "what are you doing"?  With a sly little smile on his face, he held up a blue marker!  "Want to see"? he said proudly.  Presley recently discovered his ability to draw happy faces, and he had drawn one on the dinning table, one on the kitchen island, one on the stools at the island, and one on the wall.  Thank goodness they all washed out, and Presley learned the lesson about markers being for paper only!  Some what ironic after making Monster Cookies, aka Cookies for Monsters...monsters meant in the most lovingly way possible, of course!

Monster Cookies
Recipe adapted from:One Smart Cookie Cookbook

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg white
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla
2 3/4 cups quick oats
1/4 cup ground flax seeds/meal
1/2 cup M&Ms, Smarties, or chocolate chips - I like lots of chocolate, so I usually add 1/2    
                                                                                 cup smarties, AND 1/4 cup chocolate chips!

Drop spoonfuls of cookie dough onto cookie sheet, make them spaced-out, as these cookies spread out quite a bit.  Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes, less time for soft cookies, more time for crunchy!  Transfer to a wire rack to cool.


Sunday, March 17, 2013

Sunday Funday - Doughboys!

It's another cold Sunday in Calgary, the kind of winter day you want to stay in your jammies all day, keeping the house warm from the heat of the oven.  A perfect day to share another one of my favorite childhood activities with my own littles.  

Of course it revolves around mom making loaves of bread.  We always made our own growing up - no store bought bread in our house growing up - imagine that!  My mom is super resourceful, I remember she would even bake the bread in old coffee tins! We lived in the boonies, vegetables from the garden, fruit from the trees, handmade clothes, before the internet, and with no cable TV - gasp!

So with me and my sister in and out of the kitchen, and probably more likely driving her crazy, she would always give us our own pile of dough to keep us busy and we could make our own doughboy creations.

We would use chocolate chips for eyes, and raisins for buttons - but my kids don't enjoy raisins, so I gave them some coloured chips I had on hand, and then let them use their imagination!

Presley wanted arms and legs first - so much fun to eat!   The dough recipe I used made enough for two HUGE doughboys and a loaf of bread we can enjoy with Sunday dinner!

Honey Wheat Bread

2 1/2 cups warm water
1/2 cup honey
1Tbsp butter
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/4 tsp dry instant yeast
2 cups whole wheat flour
4 cups all purpose flour - plus 1/2 cup extra for kneading

Whisk warm water, honey, butter, salt, and yeast until ingredients dissolved.  Gradually add the flours into the bowl, stirring with a whisk to combine.  Place the dough on floured work surface and knead for 10 minutes, or until dough is smooth.  Place dough in oiled bowl, cover with tea towel, and put in warm area (I use top of stove) for 1 1/2 hours to rise - should double.  After the dough has risen, divide into two, one section for dough boys, and one for a loaf.  Let the kids play with their dough, and place second section into loaf pan, cover again with tea towel allowing to rise for second time.  Brush the dough with melted butter before placing in oven.

Bake in a preheated oven at 375.  The doughboys took approximately 30 minutes - but they were huge!
And the loaf, I baked after the doughboys took about 40 minutes.


Friday, March 15, 2013

Raw Honeyed Coconut Macaroons

The first time I tried these Coconut Macaroons, the first thing that came to my mind was "mmmmmmm honeyeyed"!  Honeyeyed? Honeyed? Honied?  Is that a real word that you could use to describe a food, even?!  Is it a real word?  This is seriously what I pondered for a good 20 minutes as I walked the dog on a sunny winter day, and when I returned home, I immediately grabbed a dictionary to try to solve this quandry!

hon·eyed  (hnd)
A past tense and a past participle of honey.
adj. also hon·ied
1. Containing, full of, or sweetened with honey.
2. Ingratiating; sugary: honeyed words.
3. Sweet; dulcet: a honeyed voice.

It certainly isn't a word I would normally almost sounds like a word they might use in the Southern States... Maybe I read it in a book?  But for some reason, these magical creations are perfectly suited to this name!

Raw Honeyed Coconut Macaroons
Recipe Adapted From The Nutritional Epiphany

1 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup almond flour/meal
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup honey
1/4 tsp salt

Add all dry ingredients together in a bowl.  Melt coconut oil on your stove top  or in microwave, and stir honey into coconut oil.  Pour oil and honey mixture over dry ingredients, mixing/mashing as you go.  The mix may still look loose but will hold well when squeezed together.  Roll/squeeze into balls, and place balls in seal-able container, and place container in fridge to firm up.


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup & Trusting Your Mommy Instincts

Have you ever had on of those days?  2013 has so far been non-stop with those days, seriously. 

Since Christmas we have been battling one bug or another one after the other - it's like we've been cursed!  Chest cold, Stomach bugs, Norwalk, Strep Throat...and then yesterday my son's dayhome called in the afternoon...he had gotten sick in the van on the way to the park. Great.  This is also, a new to them (the dayhome) van they had just purchased on Friday. Super.
So I got out of work for the afternoon, and got him from the dayhome, cleaned him up and put on a load of laundry.  Meanwhile, he's so hyper I have to send him outside to play!  All better, yay!

And then at 2:00 am the next morning, my daughter comes into our room crying in pain - she thinks her ear drum is about to explode!  I tried to give her pain meds, and a warm compress, but an hour later I wasn't back to sleep and neither was she.  I hate hospitals, and I'm pretty sure they're not going to be able to do anything to help her.  But my husband started making me paranoid about her going deaf and or some godforsaken thing, so off to the Emergency Room we go. ugh.  So, we end up waiting for 3 hours, for them to tell us she just needs to ride it out, and let her body fight off the infection.  Kinda wish they could have given her something for the pain, but glad she's not going deaf, and that we can go home!

6:30 am - crash for a couple hours? or stay up and do dinner prep? Sleeeeeeep!

Buuuuut ,we will still need something for dinner at the end of a long sleep deprived work day, and normally I go home and walk the dog on my lunch break, instead today I threw all of this in the slow cooker in approximately 15 mins, and it turned out delish!

I might be running on empty, and may have lost my mind at this point, but I'm pretty sure you can still trust my taste buds(?!).   And, If I can throw this together like a maniac, I'm sure you can do it at a more leisurely pace, and have a loverly dinner waiting for you at the end of the day.  Aaaand for all the mommy's out there... trust your instincts, and get your sleep!

Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup 

3 Chicken boneless skinless breasts
3 cups chicken broth
1 can (796ml) whole tomatoes
1 can (540ml) black beans
1/2 cup frozen corn
1 onion, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, diced
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 Tbsp chipotle hot sauce - I used President's Choice brand
1Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp paprika
1Tbsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
salt and pepper to taste

Serve with:
shredded cheese; cheddar or monterrey jack would work well.
fresh sliced/diced Avocado, or Guacamole
sour cream
fresh squeezed lime
chopped cilantro
tortilla chips

In slow cooker, stir together chicken broth, onions, garlic, black bean, corn, spices, and canned tomatoes - I squeezed the whole tomatoes in my fist to break them up - if your family prefers a less chunky soup you could blender them.  Add raw chicken breasts cover and cook on high for 4 hours, or low for 7-8 hours.
Remove chicken breast and shred in a bowl with a fork.  Return shredded chicken to slow cooker, salt and pepper to taste.
Serve with your favorite toppings.  For an even more substantial meal you could serve on top of rice.


Sunday, March 10, 2013

Sunday Funday! Bird Feeders & Firestarters

Who hasn't made a bird feeder when they were a kid?!  It's a fond childhood memory for me, and I can't deny my littles the same experience, plus it's a BEAutiful day outside!

Have Ready:
Toilet paper rolls -  or paper towel rolls cut in half
Peanut butter - if your kids have allergies you could also you almond butter, peabutter, etc.
Birdseed - I bought mine at Dollerama, save your $$!
Butter knife, or spoon for spreading the peanut butter
...and of course a few handy helpers :)

Have the Birdseed poured onto a plate or shallow dish.  Something with edges is probably a better idea to keep the seeds from escaping and making a mess.

Spread the peanut butter onto the toilet paper roll and roll in birdseed.
If your littles are super young, maybe do the pb spreading for them, and then have them do the rolling.

Hang or slide the bird feeder onto a branch and observe...maybe borrow a book of local bird species from your local library and make it a learning experience too!

Aaaand if you (like me!) have a tonne of toilet paper rolls to make use of, check out this cool idea for Firestarters for summer camping trips or backyard fire pits!  All you need toilet paper rolls and dryer lint!


Friday, March 8, 2013

Mocha Chip Oaty Balls - No Bake!

 I don't feel overly guitly if I have one (or three) of these yummers as they are pretty healthy for a sweet treat, and contain no white sugar or flour, yay!   Because they have the coffee in them I keep them secret from the littles, hidden away in the fridge just for me!

They take almost no time to throw together, and you'll need only one bowl.  First mix up all dry ingredients...
...adding next all the wet ingredients, mixing until it comes together.  Then using your hands squeeze into balls, and place in sealable container, and transfer to fridge for firming...

...aaand then eating!

No Bake Mocha Chip Oaty Balls
Recipe adapted from: chocolatecoveredkatie

2 Tbsp cocoa/cacao powder
3/4 cup quick oats
1/4 cup oat flour  make your own by blending oats in a blender/food processor until they become powder. Measure after blending
2 Tbsp ground flax seeds/flax meal
1/4 tsp salt
3 Tbsp agave nectar or honey 
1 1/2 tsp instant coffee/espresso granules (I used Starbucks singles)
1/4 cup carob/chocolate/cacao chips
1/4 cup coconut oil
2 Tbsp water
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

In a mixing bowl, combine all dry ingredients and stir.
In measuring cup melt coconut oil, and add remaining liquid ingredients, then pour wet into dry and stir until fully incorporated.
Now you can roll or squeeze into balls and place in fridge to firm up. (because we're using coconut oil, these cookies will harden when chilled, but they go back to being soft if left out.) 

 For gluten-free use certified-gf oats and oat flour.