Monday, December 18, 2017

Cookie Butter Treats

One batter of only three ingredients makes two different treats!

  • 1/4 C + 2 Tbsp chocolate cookie butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 C + 1/2 Tbsp flour
1.  Preheat oven to 350.  Combine cookie butter and egg thoroughly, stir in flour until incorporated.
2.  For cookies: spoon onto parchment-lined baking sheet in rounds.  Bake for 8-10 minutes, immediately move to cooling rack.  If desired, frost underside of half the cookies and top with the other half, making sandwich cookies.
3.  For cupcakes: spoon into cupcake liners.  Bake for 15-18 minutes, cool in pan for 2 minutes before moving to cooling rack.  Frost when completely cooled.

Robyn's notes: The cupcakes are pretty dense, so feel free to drop a maraschino cherry into the center, if desired.  Watch me demonstrate this recipe on youtube!

**** 4 Stars: Very Good. Enjoyed by us both, I will make this frequently

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Chocolate Cookie Butter

You don't know what you're missing until you've tried it!

  • 1/2 C milk
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 12oz Oreos (about 30 cookies)
1.  In a large saucepan heat and stir the milk, butter, sugar, and cocoa over medium heat until milk is warm and sugar is dissolved; cool.
2.  Place cookies in a food processor or blender; cover and process or blend until coarsely ground.  With machine running, gradually add milk mixture, stopping to scrape container as needed.

Robyn's notes: this is great over toasty bread or bagels, shortbread, pound cake, fruit, or used as frosting.  Of course, it's also fantastic just on a spoon!  You can use flavored Oreos, such as peanut butter or mint, very successfully.  Watch me demonstrate this recipe on youtube!

**** 4 Stars: Very Good. Enjoyed by us both, I will make this frequently

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Allergy-Free Pancakes

Time for breakfast!
  • 1 1/4 C gluten-free baking flour
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp corn-free baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 C dairy-free milk
  • 1/2 C water
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1.  In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt.  Add milk, water, oil, and vanilla.  Stir until just combined, being careful not to overmix.
2.  Heat a medium skillet over medium-low heat.  Coat with cooking spray or oil.  Add 1/4 C of batter to pan.  Flip pancake when bubbles appear in center and underside is golden brown, repeat on other side.  Continue with remaining batter, serving warm.

Robyn's notes: because of the homemade baking powder, these will not rise as high as standard pancakes, so you're unlikely to get that thick white edge we're all used to seeing.  If corn is not a problem for you, feel free to use store-bought baking powder, and your edges will be less lacy.  These pancakes are best when made small.  Instead of having a short stack of wide pancakes, have a higher stack of petite ones!  Watch me demonstrate this recipe on youtube!

*** 3 Stars: Good. At least one of us liked this enough for me to make it again, but not often


Monday, October 30, 2017

Instant Pot Hard-Cooked Eggs

I'm not breaking any new ground with this one, but having it here will help me remember the adjustments I made for yield and elevation. 
  • 1/2 C water
  • 6 large eggs
1.  Pour water into the inner pot of Instant Pot.  Insert steam rack, handles up, into the pot.  Carefully set eggs, in a single layer, on the rack, and place the inner pot into the cooker.
2.  Close and lock lid of Instant Pot.  Turn the steam release handle to "sealing" position.  Press "Manual" and cook at High Pressure 9 minutes.
3.  While eggs cook, fill a large bowl with cold water.  When time is up, immediately open the cooker using Quick Pressure Release.  Transfer eggs to cold water to stop the cooking process.  Cool completely and store in refrigerator.

Robyn's notes: this is the only way I make hard-cooked eggs anymore, and I've been making tons of them since I started doing it this way.  It's quick, I don't have to stand watching for the water to boil, and they cook exactly the way I want them to.  I've also found that they've been peeling more easily than hard-boiled eggs, but that could be more a function of the eggs themselves than the cooking process.  I fill the bowl with water and place it in the fridge while the eggs are cooking, so I don't have to bother with ice, taking it out just before the time is up.  Remember that 9 minutes is the cooktime for my altitude, sea level will be lower (though not by much).  Experiment to find your perfect time. 

***** 5 Stars: Excellent. A favourite for both of us, I will make this repeatedly

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Allergy-Free Chocolate Cupcakes


Everybody deserves a chance to celebrate with cake, even if that cake has to be friendly to their allergies!  Gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, corn-free, vegan, this should take care of all your eaters.
  • 1/2 Tbsp ground flax seeds (flaxmeal)
  • 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp warm water
  • 1/2 C gluten free flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 rounded tsp xanthan gum
  • 3 Tbsp vegan butter
  • 1/4 C water
  • 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp cocoa powder
  • 1/4 C + 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 Tbsp dairy-free sour cream
1.  Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line four sections of full-size muffin tin with paper or silicone liners.  In a small bowl, whisk together flax and warm water, set aside.  In another small bowl, combine flour, soda, salt, and xanthan gum.  Set aside.
2.  In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, melt butter.  Stir in water, cocoa, sugar, and sour cream.  Remove from heat.  Stir in flax-water mixture; whisk in dry ingredients until combined.
3.  Spoon into prepared pan.  Bake at 350°F for 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let cool completely before frosting with Allergy-Free Peppermint Frosting.

Robyn's notes: my only (minor) complaint about this recipe is that it's not quite as nice to lick the pan as it is with standard cake batter.  It doesn't taste bad--oddly it tasted a bit banana to me--it's just not as rich as the other type.  I really quite enjoyed the finished product, especially once the cupcakes were frosted.  There were no texture issues, and it was light and airy.  You may get 5 cupcakes out of this, I did, but I was using my "heart-shaped" silicone liners, which can't hold as much batter.  The finished product made in them has never once come out heart-shaped, but I needed silicone liners and these were 80% off so I chose them instead of the regular shape.  Watch me demonstrate this recipe on youtube!


**** 4 Stars: Very Good. Enjoyed by us both, I will make this frequently

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Allergy-Free Peppermint Frosting


Easily changed to other flavours, this makes just the right amount for a few cupcakes!
  • 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp vegetable shortening
  • 1/2 C allergy-free powdered sugar
  • 1/2 Tbsp dairy-free milk (almond, rice, soy, etc.)
  • 1/4 tsp peppermint extract
1.  In a small bowl, beat shortening with whisk or fork until light.  Gently mix in powdered sugar until well combined.  Add milk, a bit at a time, and beat together until desired consistency.  Mix extract in completely.

Robyn's notes: change the extract to change the flavour, but be sure to check for hidden allergens in your extract choices: some may contain gluten or corn.  To make vanilla frosting without using extract, scrape the "caviar" from a vanilla bean and stir it into the milk before adding that to the bowl.  If you haven't ground the sugar very well when making your powdered sugar, there might be a slight grainy texture to this frosting, but if you've gotten a nice fine grind this will come out exactly like the standard homemade frostings.  Watch me demonstrate this recipe on youtube!

**** 4 Stars: Very Good. Enjoyed by us both, I will make this frequently

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Allergy-Free Baking Powder


I know, it's astonishing that baking powder is yet another place that corn hides.  But corn starch is there to stop the clumping, so many baked goods are a problem for those with corn allergies. 
  • 2 Tbsp cream of tartar
  • 1 Tbsp baking soda
  • 1 Tbsp tapioca starch
1.  Combine all ingredients, mix together thoroughly.  Store in an airtight container and use as needed.

Robyn's notes: This can be easily sized up, just maintain the ratio of the ingredients.  Give the container a good shake before using, just to be sure it's properly mixed.  Watch me demonstrate this recipe on youtube!

**** 4 Stars: Very Good. Enjoyed by us both, I will make this frequently

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Allergy-Free Powdered Sugar

Corn-free powdered sugar, used just like store-bought, no need to adjust your recipes to use it!
  • 1 C sugar
  • 1 Tbsp tapioca starch
1.  Combine sugar and starch in a blender or spice grinder.  Process for 1-2 minutes, until consistency of light powdered sugar.  Store in an airtight container or zip-top bag.

Robyn's notes: this is very easy and quick.  If using a spice grinder or coffee grinder, it'll have to be done in batches, but in the blender it can all be done at once.  Watch me demonstrate this recipe on youtube!

***** 5 Stars: Excellent. A favourite for both of us, I will make this repeatedly

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Barbecue Chicken Stromboli


Taking advantage of a few of our made-ahead items makes this go quickly!
  • 1 portion Pizza Dough, thawed if frozen
  • 1 portion Shredded Chicken Base, thawed
  • 3/4 C barbecue sauce
  • 1/3 C chopped red onion
  • 1/3 C chopped green pepper
  • 2 Tbsp chopped sweet pickles or banana peppers (optional)
  • 1 C shredded Monterey Jack cheese with peppers
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 Tbsp water
1.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.  Roll Pizza Dough into a 10"x12" rectangle.
2.  For filling, in a medium bowl combine Shredded Chicken Base, barbecue sauce, red onion, green pepper, and pickles if desired.  Spread filling on dough to within 1 inch of the edges.  Sprinkle with cheese.  In a small bowl combine egg and water; brush some of the egg mixture on edges of dough.  Roll up the rectangle; pinch dough to seal seams and ends.
3.  Place loaf, seam side down, on prepared baking sheet.  Brush with more egg mixture.  Cover loosely with cling film.  Let rise in refrigerator overnight.
4.  Preheat oven to 375ºF.  Remove cling film from loaf.  Using a sharp knife, cut a few slits in the top of the loaf for steam to escape.  Bake 30-35 minutes or until golden.  Cool slightly.  Cut into slices to serve.

Robyn's notes: I ought to have put more effort into pressing/rolling the dough into the right size rectangle, this was really bulging to burst.  But it was still tasty, and because of the overnight rest it just went straight into the oven to be served for dinner.  Watch me demonstrate this recipe on YouTube!

*** 3 Stars: Good. At least one of us liked this enough for me to make it again, but not often

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Cajun Chicken Pasta


Not only does this move quickly by using another batch of the chicken and the cheese sauce that we made earlier, but it's another recipe that can be made ahead and frozen, ready to thaw, cook, and serve! 
  • 3 oz dried bow tie pasta
  • 1 portion Cheese Sauce
  • 1 portion Shredded Chicken Base
  • 1/2 C frozen sweet pepper and onion stir-fry vegetables
  • 1/4 C milk
  • 1/3 C chopped roma tomato (one small)
  • 3/4 tsp Cajun seasoning
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme, crushed
  • 1/3 C panko bread crumbs
  • 2 slices bacon, cooked, drained, and crumbled
  • 1 small clove garlic
  • 1/8 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 C shredded Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese
1.  Preheat oven to 350°F.  Cook pasta according to package directions; drain.  Rinse with cold water until cool; drain again.  In a large bowl combine cooked pasta, Cheese Sauce, Shredded Chicken Base, frozen stir-fry vegetables, milk, tomato, Cajun seasoning, 1 clove minced garlic, and thyme.  Transfer pasta mixture to a 1-quart rectangular baking dish.
2.  For crumb topping, in a food processor or blender combine panko, bacon, 1 clove garlic, and paprika.  Cover and process until fine crumbs form.  Sprinkle shredded cheese and crumb topping on casserole.
3.  Bake, covered, for 30-35 minutes.  Uncover and bake 5-10 minutes more, or until heated through and golden.  Let stand 15 minutes before serving.

To make dish ahead: Prepare through Step 1.  Cover dish with foil, place entire dish in resealable freezer bag.  Seal and freeze up to 2 months.  To serve, thaw in refrigerator overnight, Preheat oven, and follow steps 2 and 3.

Robyn's notes: I really quite enjoyed this, and would definitely have it again.  If desired, you can add hot sauce when combining the main ingredients, that would make it too much for my taste.  Watch me demonstrate this recipe on youtube!

**** 4 Stars: Very Good. Enjoyed by us both, I will make this frequently

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Chicken Pot Pies


Since we've made several components ahead of time, this goes together in a blink!
 1.  Preheat oven to 425°F.  For filling, in a large bowl combine frozen mixed vegetables, Shredded Chicken Base, Cheese Sauce, thyme, pepper, and salt.  Divide filling between two 10oz ramekins or custard cups.
2.  Divide Pastry Dough into two portions.  Roll each into a 6-inch circle (or size needed to top your baking dish).  Place pastry circles on filling.  Turn edges under, crimp as desired.  Using a sharp knife, cut a small cutout or a few slits in each pastry top to allow steam to escape.
3.  Place pot pies on a baking sheet and bake at 425°F for 30 minutes or until golden and bubbly.

Robyn's notes:  Nice and quick, and our pastry dough works quite well in this recipe.  Remember to use an unsweetened pastry dough here.  To make pot pies ahead, complete step 1, then cover with cling film and refrigerate until ready to bake.  Remove cling film and follow remaining steps.  Watch me demonstrate this recipe on youtube!

*** 3 Stars: Good. At least one of us liked this enough for me to make it again, but not often

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Chicken Enchiladas


Once you've prepared by making the chicken base and cheese sauce, assembling these tasty enchiladas takes no time at all!
  • 1/2 of a 15oz can navy beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 portion Shredded Chicken Base
  • 1 portion Cheese Sauce
  • 1 C shredded 4 cheese Mexican blend
  • 1/2 of a 4oz can diced green chile peppers, drained
  • 4 flour tortillas, 8inch
1.  Preheat oven to 375°F.  Coat rectangular baking dish with cooking spray.  For filling, in a medium bowl combine beans and chicken.  Stir in half of cheese sauce, half of the cheese, and the green chiles.
2.  To assemble enchiladas, place about 1/2 C of filling on each tortilla.  Roll tortillas and place, seam side down, in baking dish.  Top enchiladas with the remaining cheese sauce and sprinkle with remaining cheese.
3.  Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until heated through.  If needed, cover loosely with foil the last 10 minutes, to prevent overbrowning.  If desired, serve with chopped tomato, fresh cilantro, and/or sour cream.

Robyn's notes: to make these ahead, follow instructions through step 2.  Then cover baking dish with foil or cling film, and place entire dish into a resealable freezer bag.  Seal and freeze up to 3 months.  To serve, thaw in the fridge overnight.  Preheat oven, remove bag, cling film/foil, and follow instructions in step 3.  These were pretty good, though I'm not giving them 4 stars because I can't eat beans or chiles, so I had to do a lot of picking things out.  Watch me demonstrate this recipe on youtube!

*** 3 Stars: Good. At least one of us liked this enough for me to make it again, but not often

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Cheese Sauce


After making a batch of this, several other recipes will go like lightning!
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1/4 C finely chopped onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • 1 1/2 C milk
  • 1 1/2 C shredded 3-cheese blend
 1.  In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat.  Add onion and garlic; cook 4-5 minutes or until onion is tender, stirring occasionally.  Stir in flour and pepper; cook and stir for 1 minute.  Gradually stir in milk.  Cook until sauce is thickened and bubbly, stirring frequently.  Add cheese, stirring until melted.
2.  Place cheese sauce in 1 Cup portions in airtight containers.  Cover and store in the refrigerator up to 3 days.

Robyn's notes: a simple and straightforward cheese sauce, made particularly nice by the addition of garlic.  This sauce makes Chicken Enchiladas, Chicken PotPies, and Cajun Chicken Pasta go much faster on those days you don't have time, and can easily be used to make mac n cheese just by stirring cooked pasta into it and baking.  Watch me demonstrate this recipe on youtube!

*** 3 Stars: Good. At least one of us liked this enough for me to make it again, but not often

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Shredded Chicken Base


Keep portions of this in the freezer, and you'll have endless options for last-minute meals!
  • 7 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1/4 C lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp dried thyme, crushed
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
1.  Preheat oven to 400°F.  Line two large baking pans with foil, and place chicken thighs in prepared pans.  Drizzle with lemon juice and oil.  In a small bowl, stir together salt, thyme, paprika, and pepper.  Sprinkle seasoning blend over chicken.
2.  Roast, uncovered, for 25-30 minutes, or until chicken is no longer pink in center.  Remove from oven and let cool 10-15 minutes.  Using two forks, pull chicken apart into shreds.
3.  To store, place shredded chicken in 1 Cup portions in airtight containers or freezer bags.  Cover and store in refrigerator up to 3 days or freeze up to 3 months.  If frozen, thaw in the fridge overnight before using.

Robyn's notes: an easy way to keep the freezer stocked, using chicken thighs keeps the meat from drying out the way chicken breasts can.  If preferred, you can use bone-in chicken thighs, but if so, you'll need to remove the skin before starting, and remove the bones after roasting (before shredding).  Bone-in chicken will also need another 5-10 minutes in the oven.  Use this prepped chicken for multiple other recipes on the site, and watch me demonstrate this recipe on youtube!

**** 4 Stars: Very Good. Enjoyed by us both, I will make this frequently

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Make-Ahead Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole

Utilize leftovers and spend a little bit of time prepping ahead, and you can have this casserole in the freezer, ready and waiting for you to throw it into the oven on one of those too-busy nights! 
  • 2 C cooked chicken, diced or shredded
  • 2 large slices deli ham, roughly chopped or torn
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp flour
  • 1/4 tsp ground mustard (see note, below)
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • dash pepper
  • 3/4 C milk
  • 3 large slices deli swiss cheese
  • 1/2 C breadcrumbs
1.  Spray inside of small oven-safe casserole dishes or cocottes with cooking spray.  Spread chicken evenly along bottom of each.  Sprinkle ham evenly over tops. 
2.  In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium-high heat until just bubbling.  Add flour and seasonings, whisk until fully incorporated, being careful not to burn.  Add milk all at once.  Continue whisking until flour is fully incorporated and sauce has thickened, about 3-4 minutes. 
3.  Pour white sauce over chicken-ham mixture in each casserole dish.  Top with slices of cheese, tearing or cutting to shape if necessary. 
4.  Cover with container lid or foil.  Casseroles can be refrigerated for a day or frozen for a few weeks.  To bake: remove from fridge or freezer and place on counter to start thaw.  Preheat oven to 350°F.  Remove lid from dish and top casserole with breadcrumbs.  Bake at 350°F for 25-30 minutes, or until heated through (if starting from frozen, this may take longer).  

Robyn's notes: if I were making this again, I would change the white sauce a bit.  I would leave out the ground mustard and after adding the milk would stir in a Tablespoon of Dijon mustard.  I felt like the finished dish was simply missing something, and I find that Dijon in chicken cordon bleu helps add the needed depth.  Italian breadcrumbs will taste best, if you only have plain you can add Italian seasoning and some dessicated grated Parmesan cheese (in the green plastic container, you know what I mean).  Watch me demonstrate this recipe on youtube!

*** 3 Stars: Good. At least one of us liked this enough for me to make it again, but not often

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Fast Fruit Pie


If you've kept a batch of our make-ahead pie/tart dough in the freezer, you can use it to throw together this quick pie, using frozen fruit! 
  • 1 C frozen sliced peaches, unsweetened
  • 1/4 C frozen raspberries, unsweetened
  • 1/4 C sugar
  • 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp tapioca starch (tapioca flour)
  • 1 batch pie dough
1.  Preheat oven to 400°F.  In a medium bowl, combine raspberries, peaches, sugar, and tapioca starch.  Fruit does not need to be thawed ahead of time.  Set aside. 
2.  On a lightly-floured surface, roll one portion of dough to fit inside of 7-inch pie pan.  Gently place into pan, pressing into place carefully.  Roll second portion of dough to the same thickness as the first.  Use small cookie cutters to cut out sections of dough, set aside. 
3.  Transfer fruit mixture to dough-lined pie pan.  Top with cut-out dough pieces.  Bake at 400°F for 20-25 minutes, or until dough is golden and fruit is cooked through inside.  Allow to cool on a rack for several minutes before serving. 
You can change up the fruit used in this pie to your preference, as long as it totals about 1-1 1/4 C.

Robyn's notes: by fluting the edges of the crust or using a lattice top instead of cut-outs, you can make this pie very pretty.  My intent here was to show a fast, delicious pie, not one for presentation, but feel free to go wild with the look.  Watch me demonstrate this recipe (and the dough!) on youtube!

*** 3 Stars: Good. At least one of us liked this enough for me to make it again, but not often

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Make-Ahead Pizza Dough & Frozen Pizzas

With these in the freezer, you'll never be at a loss for a meal when you're in a rush!
  • 1 packet (0.25oz or 2 1/4 tsp) yeast
  • 1 1/2 C warm water, divided
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 3/4 C flour
  • 1 1/4 C whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
1.  In a small bowl, stir the yeast into 1/2 C of the warm water.  Let sit for 5 minutes until dissolved.
2.  Combine the remaining 1 C warm water with olive oil.  Set aside.
3.  Combine the flours and salt in the bowl of stand mixer with dough hook attached, and mix to combine.  With the mixer running, add the yeast mixture and water-olive oil mixture to the flour.  Mix until a ball forms, stopping to scrape down sides of bowl if needed.  Mix for another minute to knead.
4.   Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and knead by hand until dough is satiny and smooth, dusting with more flour if needed, for about 3 minutes.
5.  Place dough in an oiled container or bowl, cover, and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
6.  Turn dough out onto floured surface and divide into 5 equal pieces.  Round the dough into tight balls, cover with a clean towel, and let sit for 20-30 minutes.
7.  The dough can be baked now, or may be wrapped tightly and stored in the refrigerator for 8 hours or the freezer for about 2 months.  To thaw frozen dough, move to refrigerator still wrapped, for 8 hours.
8.  To make frozen pizza, preheat oven to 500°F.  Press dough into 8-inch cast iron skillet.  Add preferred toppings and bake pizza until the crust is set but not browned, 5-6 minutes.  Let pizza cool to room temperature, wrap well, and freeze.  Bake directly from the freezer for about 12 minutes.

Robyn's notes: this is quite easy and makes a good pizza dough with the right texture and bite.  Use it to make Cast Iron Pizza.  Watch me demonstrate this recipe on youtube!

*** 3 Stars: Good. At least one of us liked this enough for me to make it again, but not often

Friday, June 23, 2017

Cast Iron Butter-Basted Steak

What a simple way to make a delicious steak dinner for two!  I've made this for a Valentine's Day meal a few years back, and it's been a success then and now. 
  • 1 (2-inch thick) boneless rib-eye steak
  • kosher salt
  • 8 Tbsp butter
1. Two hours before cooking, remove steak from refrigerator and salt heavily on both sides.
2. When ready to cook, heat 8-10 inch cast iron skillet over medium-high until hot.  Pat steak dry, and place the steak on one of its edges in the pan. Cook for one minute, then rotate to another edge. Continue until the entire outside edge of the steak is seared.
3. Remove the steak from the pan and place on a plate. Reduce heat to medium-low. Wait one minute, then add butter and let it melt.
4. Return the steak to the pan, laying it flat on one side.  Cook for one minute, basting the steak with the melted butter in the pan. Flip and cook for another minute, still basting. Repeat this five times, then use a meat thermometer to check the temperature.  Medium-rare would be a reading of 120° F.  If the meat has not reached the target internal temperature, keep flipping and basting.  It may take as many as ten or a dozen flips.
5. Remove the steak to a rack and let rest for ten minutes. Slice into 3/8-thick slices and serve.

Robyn's notes: very straightforward, just can't walk away from it at all once you start cooking.  Nice crisp sear on the outside, but tender within.  A two-inch thick steak may be too much for two people, depending on how hungry you are, but it needs to be that thick to cook properly.  If there are leftovers they make a nice sandwich for lunch.  Watch me demonstrate this recipe on youtube!

**** 4 Stars: Very Good. Enjoyed by us both, I will make this frequently

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Cast Iron Skillet Mac n Cheese

If you really want nice crunchy browned cheese bits around the edges of your mac n cheese, a cast iron skillet is the way to go!
  • 1 C small elbow pasta
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp flour
  • 3/4 C milk
  • 1 C shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese, divided
  • 1/4 C bread crumbs
1.  Preheat oven to 350°F.  Cook pasta until not quite cooked through, about 5 minutes.
2.  In 8 inch cast iron skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat.  Add flour and whisk constantly until combined and just starting to brown.  Do not overcook flour.  Add milk all at once, whisking constantly.  Continue whisking until thickened.
3.  In small bowl, combine 1/4 C of cheese with breadcrumbs.  Set aside.  Add cheese to white sauce and stir through to combine.  Stir pasta into sauce, top with breadcrumb mixture.  Bake at 350°F for 18-20 minutes until hot throughout and browned on top.

Robyn's notes: if desired, the pasta can be cooked in the skillet first, instead of in a separate pan.  For me, the weight of the cast iron, combined with how shallow it is, makes me nervous about carrying it full of boiling water and pasta to the sink to drain.  But I have done it, so I can promise it's possible.  I got mostly set up to do this and only then realized I was out of regular elbow mac, so instead of going back to the store I used gluten-free.  Barilla brand gluten-free elbow mac, while oddly translucent in the box, tastes the same in this recipe as regular pasta.  Watch me demonstrate this recipe on youtube!

*** 3 Stars: Good. At least one of us liked this enough for me to make it again, but not often

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Cast Iron Pizza





I'm always stumbling across recipes for pizza that start with heating the stone in the oven, but no matter how often I see tips for getting a makeshift pizza stone at the hardware store, I don't have one (for one thing, my oven's coils are on the bottom, so I couldn't put the stone on the floor of the oven and would have to place it on the rack, which would mean taking it out when I'm cooking something else, and storage space is limited).  This recipe will make a great pizza without fancy equipment!

  • 1 portion pizza dough (about 6oz)
  • pizza sauce and toppings as desired
1.  Preheat oven to 500°F.  Press dough into base of 8-inch cast iron skillet, being sure not to make any sections too thin.  Add preferred toppings (see note, below).
2.  Cook over medium-high heat on a burner for 2-4 minutes, or until pizza has puffed up and bottom is spotty brown.  Transfer skillet to preheated oven and cook an additional 7-10 minutes or until cooked through.  Allow to cool for 2-3 minutes before eating.


Robyn's notes: this is, in my opinion, the best way to make a pizza.  The dough is just properly crispy on the outside but soft inside, the cheese comes out just right...in the absence of a pizza oven I don't think it gets better.  The photo above (and the video) are a simple cheese pizza, with tomato-based sauce, mozzarella, and Parmesan.  But the technique works for any pizza toppings.  Mozzarella and basil leaves, alfredo, sausage, whatever you like.  Just remember that you probably want less sauce than you think.  Too much sauce makes the dough soggy.  Watch me demonstrate this recipe on youtube!

**** 4 Stars: Very Good. Enjoyed by us both, I will make this frequently

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Skillet Chocolate Chip Cookies


In my opinion, every birthday needs a sweet treat.  Today's mine, so here's something to celebrate! 
  • 2 Tbsp clarified butter, melted, hot
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 Tbsp packed brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 C + 3 Tbsp flour
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • pinch salt
  • 1/4 C chocolate chips
1.  Preheat oven to 375°F.  Place clarified butter in a medium bowl and stir in softened butter until completely melted.  Whisking constantly, add both sugars, egg yolk, and vanilla.  Continue whisking about 1 minute.  Set aside.
2.  In a small bowl, combine flour, soda, and salt.  Set aside.  Return to butter mixture and whisk again, about 1 minute.  Allow to rest and then whisk one more time.
3.  Stir flour mixture into butter mixture.  Fold in chocolate chips.  
4.  Press half of mixture into bottom of each mini skillet.  Smooth top.  Bake at 375°F for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through.  Allow to cool in pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes.  Top with ice cream and serve. 

Robyn's notes: while I did enjoy this quite a bit, it will be more of a special occasion dish.  Earlier this year we made a couple recipes that called for clarified butter.  If any is left from that, go ahead and use it, otherwise just start this recipe by clarifying some butter.  It only takes a short time.  Watch me demonstrate this birthday recipe on youtube!

**** 4 Stars: Very Good. Enjoyed by us both, I will make this frequently

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Bacon Cheddar Bread

  • 3 slices bacon
  • 3/4 C plus 2 Tbsp unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • pinch pepper
  • 2oz extra-sharp cheddar cheese, cut into 1/4-inch cubes (about 1/2 C)
  • 1/4 C whole milk
  • 3 Tbsp sour cream
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus extra for greasing pan
  • 1 large egg
  • 1oz Parmesan cheese, shredded on large holes of box grater (about 1/3 C)
1.  In a cast iron skillet, cook bacon well.  Crumble and spread out to cool on paper towels.  Drain off excess bacon grease but do not wipe out or clean skillet.
2.  When bacon is completely cool and all grease is gone from it, preheat oven to 350°F.
3. Whisk flour, baking powder, salt, cayenne, and pepper together in medium bowl. Fold in cheddar, breaking up clumps, until it is coated with flour mixture. In separate bowl, whisk milk, sour cream, melted butter, and egg together until smooth. Gently fold milk mixture into flour mixture with rubber spatula until just combined (do not overmix). Batter will be heavy and thick.
4. Scrape batter into skillet and smooth top. Sprinkle remaining 3 Tbsp Parmesan cheese evenly over top of batter. Bake until golden brown and toothpick inserted into center comes out with few crumbs attached, 25-30 minutes.
5. Let bread cool in pan for 5 minutes, then turn it out onto wire rack and let cool completely before serving.

Robyn's notes: I had originally envisioned these as biscuits, but the batter was quite loose and ran together in the oven.  I cut the finished bread into four quarters along the lines where the biscuits had been dropped in.  Really good.  Watch me demonstrate this recipe on youtube!

**** 4 Stars: Very Good. Enjoyed by us both, I will make this frequently

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Cherry Garcia Bread


I made ice cream bread a few years ago, when it was making its way across the web like lightning.  It was fine, it definitely was bread, but it just wasn't very interesting.  My very first thought at the time was that it needed dark cherries.  So when I noticed that Ben & Jerry's pints were on sale recently, I decided that Cherry Garcia® would make a good experiment. 
  • 1 C Cherry Garcia® ice cream, softened
  • 3/4 C self-rising flour (see notes, below)
1.  Preheat oven to 350ºF.  Grease and flour a mini loaf pan.  
2.  Stir together ice cream and flour until flour is just moistened.  Do not overmix.  Spoon into prepared loaf pan.  
3.  Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.  Cool in pan for several minutes before transferring to a wire rack.

Robyn's notes: if you don't have self-rising flour on hand and don't want to buy it just for this purpose, you can make your own.  Self-rising just means the leavening is already mixed into the flour.  To make, combine 1 C all-purpose flour, 1 1/2 tsp baking powder and 1/4 tsp salt, then measure what the recipe calls for from the mixture.  I bake at high altitude, so this took more than 35 minutes to get properly done in the center, but closer to sea level the shorter time may work best.

*** 3 Stars: Good. At least one of us liked this enough for me to make it again, but not often
 

Friday, May 5, 2017

Mini Hash Brown Pies


These can be made as one pie in a single, larger skillet, but I do enjoy individual servings and don't get a lot of opportunities to use my mini skillets. 
  • 4 strips bacon, diced
  • 1/2 C frozen shredded hash browns, thawed and drained
  • 3 eggs
  • dash pepper
  • 1/2 C shredded cheddar cheese (or blend)
  • 1/2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1.  Divide bacon between two mini cast iron skillets, cook over medium-high heat about 2 minutes.  Add half of potatoes to each skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, 3-4 minutes.
2.  In a medium bowl, beat eggs together with pepper until fluffy.  Stir in cheese.  Pour half into another bowl.
3.  Add bacon-potato mixture from each skillet into each bowl of egg.  Stir well.
4.  Pour oil into now-empty skillets.  Add mixtures to skillets and cook over medium-high heat until bottom is golden brown and top is lightly set.
5.  Loosen edges with heat-resistant spatula and slide each pie onto a plate.  Place another plate upside down on top of pie, and flip, holding the plates together.  Slide the now-inverted pie back into the skillet, tucking in the edges.
6.  Cook for a few more minutes, until egg is completely set.

Robyn's notes: to thaw the potatoes quickly, microwave them for a couple minutes, stirring halfway through.  Squeeze thawed potatoes in a paper towel to get all moisture out.  Watch me demonstrate this recipe on youtube!

*** 3 Stars: Good. At least one of us liked this enough for me to make it again, but not often

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Cheesy Eggs in a CrockPot Lunch Warmer


I won a CrockPot Lunch Warmer in a raffle and have been trying it out.  Works great for its intended purpose, which is to warm up leftovers or canned food over a few hours, to avoid sad desk lunches in places where a microwave isn't available or isn't convenient.  While it is not to be used to cook food, uncooked meat should never be heated in a lunch warmer, I was able to make this successful from-scratch dish for one.
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 Tbsp milk
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 C shredded cheese
1.  In a small bowl, whisk together eggs and milk until well combined.  Add remaining ingredients and stir.
2.  Pour into lunch warmer insert.  Plug in and cook for 90 minutes, stirring after 45 minutes.

Robyn's notes: obviously not the most efficient way to scramble eggs, but it certainly does work well when the lunch warmer is the only heating method available.  Watch me demonstrate this recipe and discuss the warmer generally on youtube!

*** 3 Stars: Good. At least one of us liked this enough for me to make it again, but not often

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Somali Xalwo


Massively popular in Somalia, I understand that xalwo (pronounced halwa) was originally for special occasions only--weddings and greater Eid, for example--but has in the last few years become available less expensively and is now eaten far more often.
  • 1/4 C butter
  • 1/2 Tbsp cardamom
  • 3 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 C vegetable oil
  • 1/4 C cornstarch
  • 1 3/4 C water, divided
  • orange and yellow food colouring, if desired
  • 1/4 C brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 C sugar
 1.  In a skillet over medium heat, melt butter and lightly brown it.  When foam subsides, turn off heat and stir in cardamom, nutmeg, and oil.  Set aside.
2.  In a small bowl, stir together cornstarch, 1/4 C water, and a drop of each food colouring (see notes, below).
3.  In a deep pot over high heat, combine sugars and 1 1/2 C water.  When this comes to a boil, carefully stir in cornstarch mixture.  Reduce heat to medium-high and cover for 2-3 minutes.
4.  Start adding the butter mixture, a spoonful about every 2 minutes, and stir well with each addition, until all butter is incorporated.
5.  Continue cooking and stirring gently until the xalwo starts releasing oil.  Use a ladle or baster to remove oil and discard.  Repeat this step, stirring and removing oil, until the xalwo comes together into a mass.
6.  Transfer to a bowl, carefully, and cool 30 minutes before cutting and serving.

Robyn's notes: This was ok, but I had a weird experience with the flavour.  The candy didn't seem to smell like anything at all, but once I put it in my mouth it felt more like I was smelling spices than tasting them.  That was sort of off-putting, so I can't go above 3 stars.  I didn't use food colouring, I went traditional in that respect and used saffron.  For instructions on doing so, watch the video linked below.  Gotta be patient with step 5.  I was so worried that I would overcook and crystallize the whole batch that I thought no oil was being released.  I kept turning the heat down and then inching it back up because of that worry.  In the end I could have just cooked it merrily along, the oil did release at the end, though it wasn't easy to scoop out.  Once cooled, I found it easiest to cut with a pizza cutter.  Watch me demonstrate this recipe on youtube!

*** 3 Stars: Good. At least one of us liked this enough for me to make it again, but not often

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Syrian-Style Falafel


This is a shortened, at-home version, which takes advantage of canned chickpeas.  The true traditional falafel wouldn't stoop to such a convenience food.  Remember not to discard the rest of the chickpeas, there are other recipes here on the site that use the other half can, and the liquid they're canned in--aquafaba--is a great vegan egg replacement in things like meringue, mayonnaise, and some frostings.
  • 1/2 can chickpeas, drained
  • 1/4 C chopped onion
  • 1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2-3 Tbsp flour
  • olive oil
1.   Combine chickpeas, onion, parsley, garlic, salt, cumin, and coriander in food processor bowl.  Pulse until blended but not pureed.
2.  Add baking soda and 2 Tbsp of flour, and pulse.  The dough should form a ball but not stick to your hands.  Pulse in additional flour if necessary.  Turn into a bowl and refrigerate, covered, for 2-3 hours. 
3.  Form into walnut-size balls and flatten gently.  Heat oil in a deep skillet over medium-high heat and fry for 1-2 minutes per side, or until golden brown.  Drain on paper towels. 

Robyn's notes: I folded these into flatbread, with sliced tomato and cucumber, and some Tahini Dipping Sauce.  The baking soda is used because I use canned chickpeas.  Without it, the finished product would be mushy and unpleasant.  Watch me demonstrate this recipe on youtube!

*** 3 Stars: Good. At least one of us liked this enough for me to make it again, but not often

Tahini Dipping Sauce

  • 3 Tbsp tahini
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
1.  Whisk together tahini and water.  Add lemon juice and continue mixing, adding salt to taste.

Robyn's notes: added a needed touch to the flatbread sandwiches I made using Syrian-Style Falafel, but not exciting.  I didn't use the full amount of salt, didn't feel it was needed.  Made about 1/4 C total.

*** 3 Stars: Good. At least one of us liked this enough for me to make it again, but not often

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Zurbian


This is a quick home version of the Yemeni dish, reduced to serve two people.  It really hits the spot and makes the whole house smell amazing!  This will also help use up leftover lamb from last week's video recipe.
  • 1/2 lb lamb shoulder, diced
  •  2 C water
  • 1/2 tsp chicken bouillon
  • 2/3 C basmati rice
  • 1/2 Tbsp clarified butter (see notes)
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 1/4 C plain yogurt
  • 1 small tomato, diced
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp coriander
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
1.  In a medium saucepan, bring lamb and water to a boil.  Add bouillon, reduce heat to low; cover, and simmer for about 15 minutes.
2.  Remove lamb from pan, set aside.  Add rice to the liquid and boil for 10 minutes.  Drain rice and set aside.
3.  Melt butter over medium-high heat, add onions, and cook until golden brown.  Add cooked lamb, stir gently to mix.
4.  In a medium bowl, combine yogurt, tomato, spices, and garlic.  Pour mixture over lamb in pan.  Add rice on top, do not stir.  Cover and cook on low for 25 minutes or until rice is fully cooked. 

Robyn's notes: In the video I pour saffron water over the top of the rice before leaving it at the last step of cooking.  Saffron is not cheap, so I wouldn't buy it just for this recipe, but if you have some in the house you should use it!  Don't hoard it until it dries up and isn't worth using anymore.  To make saffron water, grind saffron threads to a powder.  Place 1/4 tsp powder in a small bowl and pour 1/4 C hot water over them.  Allow to sit and steep for about 10 minutes.  That's it! 
Clarified butter is just butter that's had the milk solids and water cooked out.  This makes it more concentrated and also makes it shelf-stable for awhile, it does not need to be kept in the fridge.  In a medium saucepan, melt 1/2 lb of unsalted butter over low heat and slowly cook until the bubbling ceases and the liquid turns clear, about 30 minutes.  Strain and cool, leaving any solids that have formed in the bottom of the pan.
This was quite good, though I didn't have quite as much lamb as I should have, so it did get a touch overcooked.  Watch me demonstrate this recipe on youtube!

*** 3 Stars: Good. At least one of us liked this enough for me to make it again, but not often

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Shorba Libya

This warm and filling lamb stew from Libya will fill the whole house with a heavenly aroma that will bring both of you to the table at top speed! 
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1/2 lb lamb shoulder, diced
  • 1/2 of a 14oz can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp tomato puree
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • salt to taste
  • 2 C water
  • 1/2 Tbsp dried mint
  • 1/2 tsp lemon juice
1.  Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat, add onions, and cook until tender.  Add lamb, chickpeas, tomato puree, spices, and salt, and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
2.  Pour in water, stir through, and simmer for 30-40 minutes or until lamb is cooked through.
3.  About 10 minutes before the end of cooking, stir in mint.  Add lemon juice just before serving.

Robyn's notes: Leftover chickpeas can be used to make hummus, or falafel.  In my market tomato puree only comes in huge cans, so the leftover can be used to make pizza sauce or if preferred, tomato paste can be watered down to approximate tomato puree.  I served this with some naan alongside.  Watch me demonstrate this recipe on youtube!  

*** 3 Stars: Good. At least one of us liked this enough for me to make it again, but not often


Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Iranian Cinnamon-Date Omelette



Persian cooks have a lot of fabulous dishes in their repertoire, but if you had to focus on one thing they do particularly well, it's the way they combine sweet with savoury.  If you really want to start your day off right, this omelette for one is the way to go!  This recipe is courtesy Yasmin Khan, and her book The Saffron Tales.
  • 4 pitted Medjool dates, halved
  • a couple pinches of ground cinnamon
  • a good pinch of ground ginger
  • 3 Tbsp water
  • 2 eggs
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 2 tsp milk
  • 1 Tbsp butter
1.  Place dates, cinnamon, ginger, and water in a small pan.  Stir well, cover, and cook on low for 5 minutes, or until dates have softened.
2.  Meanwhile, crack eggs into a small bowl with sea salt and milk.  Beat until fluffy.
3.  Heat a skillet over low heat, add butter.  When butter has melted and is bubbling, add dates and cook for 2 minutes.  Space the dates out evenly in the pan and pour in the beaten eggs, giving the pan a gentle shake to even out the eggs.
4.  Cook until the omelette is almost set, then fold in half and lightly press closed.  Serve with a dusting of additional cinnamon.

Robyn's notes: this was good, though I'm picky about my eggs and like them very cooked through.  The sugar in the dates, of course, starts to crystallize fairly quickly, so the underside of the omelette in the pan got darker than I wanted it before the top was as set as I like.  Still enjoyable and great for those who like the traditional omelette that's still a bit wet in the center.  Watch me demonstrate this recipe on youtube!

*** 3 Stars: Good. At least one of us liked this enough for me to make it again, but not often

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Ful Medames


This is originally an Egyptian dish (going way, way back), which has become popular in other countries as well, such as Sudan and Syria.  In those places it would be cooked long and slow, from dried beans instead of canned.  It's often sold as street food, and in some neighborhoods shop owners will all gather together at mid-morning and have a shared meal from one large pot of Ful.  It's pronounced "fool" and has various spellings.  This is a very streamlined version, to work well in a small home kitchen.

  • 1 can (14 oz) fava beans (broad beans)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • fresh parsley
1.  In a medium saucepan, bring beans with their liquid to a boil, reduce heat to low, simmer for 10 minutes.
2.  Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine garlic, cumin, paprika, lemon juice, and salt.
3.  With a slotted spoon, remove fava beans from their cooking liquid to a mixing bowl.  Partially mash the beans, leaving most intact.  Gently stir in the lemon juice mixture.  If necessary, add some of the cooking liquid to keep the mixture wet, but not soupy.
4.  Transfer to a shallow serving dish, drizzle with olive oil, and top with tomato and parsley.  Serve with flatbread.

Robyn's notes: other traditional accompaniments include lemon wedges, hard-cooked eggs, crumbled feta, and cucumber slices.  I was surprised at how hard it was to find fava beans in my area.  I did eventually get a couple cans at an independent market a few towns away that specializes in "world cuisine".  More urban areas will likely find it less difficult.  They can be purchased online, but I chose not to go that way because I could only buy them by the case.  Watch me demonstrate this recipe on youtube!

*** 3 Stars: Good. At least one of us liked this enough for me to make it again, but not often

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Marbled Mint Brownies

With a handful of ingredients and one quick trick, a delicious dessert for any romantic occasion, effortlessly!
  • 1/4 C butter, cubed
  • 1 oz unsweetened chocolate
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 C sugar
  • 1/4 C flour
  • 2 Tbsp chocolate chips (optional)
  • 2/3 C Andes brand Peppermint Crunch baking chips
1.  In a small saucepan, melt butter and chocolate over low heat, stirring until smooth.  Remove from the heat; cool.
2.  Preheat oven to 350°F.  Beat egg and vanilla into cooled chocolate mixture.  Combine sugar and flour; stir to combine.  Fold in chocolate chips, if using.
3.  Spread into a 8"x4" loaf pan lined with parchment paper.  Bake at 350°F for 25-27 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean, rotating pan halfway through baking time.
4.  Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool.  Immediately sprinkle mint chips over surface of hot brownies, and allow to stand for 5 minutes.  Once chips have melted onto brownies, use a knife or metal spatula to gently swirl together melted mint chips to cover the entire surface of brownies.  Cool 2 hours or until slightly set.  Do not cool in refrigerator.

Robyn's notes: this is a take-off of brownies my mom made when I was growing up.  She used Camp Fire mint patties (Brown & Hailey brand), but it's hard to get those anymore, so I experimented with various mint toppings until I found one that works.  If the Peppermint Crunch chips aren't available, Andes brand Creme de Menthe baking chips work just as well, and if even those can't be found, chopping up some Andes mints will do in a pinch.  If you have heart-shaped cookie cutters that can make a nice presentation for the holiday.  Watch me demonstrate this recipe on youtube!.

**** 4 Stars: Very Good. Enjoyed by us both, I will make this frequently

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Pomegranate-Honey Cornish Game Hens

If you're looking for a special occasion dinner for two (maybe for Valentine's Day?), look no further.  With a roast bird for each of you, this is delicious and filling, with a fancy presentation.  And while it does take some time, it's actually very simple to accomplish.
  • 1/4 C sugar
  • 3/4 C kosher salt
  • 1 gallon water (see notes)
  • 2 Cornish game hens (giblets removed if necessary)
  • 1 C honey
  • 2 Tbsp pomegranate juice
  • pomegranate seeds (optional)
1.  In a large zip-top or brining bag, combine sugar, salt, and water.  Stir or agitate to help sugar and salt dissolve.  Add hens, ensuring they are completely covered.  Seal and refrigerate for 2 hours.
2.  Preheat oven to 400°F.  Remove hens from bag and discard brine.  Completely rinse hens, including cavity, in cool water, and pat dry. 
3.  Stir honey and juice together until well combined (see notes).
4.  Tie the legs of each hen together with kitchen twine.  Glaze both sides of hens with approximately 2 Tbsp honey mixture per bird.  Place hens breast side down on an elevated rack in a roasting pan.  Roast at 400°F for 1 hour, re-glazing birds with more honey mixture every 15 minutes and rotating the pan each time.  After the first 30 minutes, flip hens over in the pan. 
5.  After a total of 1 hour of cooking, or when meat thermometer reads 160-165°F, remove birds from pan and allow to rest.  Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, reduce any remaining honey mixture over medium heat for 3-5 minutes. 
6.  Pour reduced sauce over hens and sprinkle with pomegranate seeds if desired. 

Robyn's notes: brining can be skipped if desired, but will help keep roasted birds juicy.  The brining liquid can be all water, all chicken or vegetable broth, or a combination, as long as it totals 1 gallon.  Birds start breast side down so that the juices will move down into the breast and help to keep it from drying out as the darker meat cooks.  Even though the birds cook for 1 hour, it takes a few minutes to do each of the three glazes, rotate the pan, and flip the hens.  With that and resting time, plan to serve about 90 minutes after the birds first go into the oven.  I seeded a pomegranate and used fresh juice, but store-bought juice can be substituted.  The amount of juice added to the honey is by taste.  Start with 2 Tbsp, and if the pomegranate flavour isn't strong enough, add more.  I used a strong local honey that required quite a bit more juice to balance the flavour.  After the sauce is reduced, it will harden very quickly if left in the pan or in a bowl, so pour it over the birds right away and set everything to soak while you enjoy dinner.  Watch me demonstrate this recipe on youtube!

***** 5 Stars: Excellent. A favourite for both of us, I will make this repeatedly

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Slow-Cooker Gooey Brownie Cake

Ok, so it doesn't look great in a photograph.  But it tastes fabulous! 
  • 4 Tbsp butter, melted
  • 1/2 C sugar
  • 3 Tbsp + 1 1/2 tsp cocoa powder
  • 1 Tbsp + 1 1/4 tsp flour
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • dash salt
  • 2 Tbsp + 2 tsp chocolate chips
1.  Line insert of 1 1/2 quart slow cooker with foil, then lightly grease foil.
2.  Whisk together melted butter, sugar, cocoa powder, flour, egg, vanilla, and salt in a medium bowl.  Fold in chocolate chips. Scrape batter into prepared insert in even layer.
3.  Cover and cook on LOW for 3.5 hours or HIGH for 2 hours.  Cake should be set around edges and gooey in center.

Robyn's notes: ok, it tasted quite good, but it wasn't the consistency I was hoping for.  I had a hard time getting it to set fully, and the lining seems unnecessary.  Watch me demonstrate this recipe on youtube!

*** 3 Stars: Good. At least one of us liked this enough for me to make it again, but not often


Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Slow-Cooker Swiss Steak


There are few dishes easier than this one, with prep about 2 minutes before it goes into the slow cooker to be ready for dinner!
  • 1 Tbsp flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • 3/4 lb beef top round steak
  • 1/2 medium onion, sliced
  • 1/3 C chopped celery
  • 1 can (8oz) tomato sauce
1.  In a large zip-top bag, combine flour, salt, and pepper.  Cut beef into two portions; add to bag and shake to coat.
2.  Spray slow cooker insert with nonstick spray.  Place onion inside, layer with beef, celery, and tomato sauce.  Cover and cook on LOW for 6-8 hours or until meat is tender.

Robyn's notes: this cooked the meat through nicely and smelled fabulous, but wasn't hugely exciting.  That was partly because I wasn't really in the mood for beef, so I have to be fair and mention it.  I served it over rice.  If desired, giving a quick sear to the meat in a skillet before putting it in the slow cooker would add some depth of flavor.  Watch me demonstrate this recipe and talk a little about slow cookers generally on youtube!

*** 3 Stars: Good. At least one of us liked this enough for me to make it again, but not often

Friday, January 13, 2017

Slow-Cooker Chicken Noodle Soup


For cold and flu season, for a cold winter day, or just because, this makes a great soup and the noodles cook right in the broth at the end!

  • 6 oz boneless skinless chicken
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 C chicken broth
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp diced onion
  • 1 carrot, peeled and diced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 1/8 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/8 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 small bay leaf
  • 2 oz spaghetti noodles, broken into thirds
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
1.  Season chicken with salt and pepper, place into 1 1/2 qt slow cooker.
2.  Stir in broth, garlic, onion, carrot, celery, and seasonings. Cover and cook on LOW for 6-8 hours.
3.  Remove chicken and shred, using two forks.  Remove and discard bay leaf.
4.  Stir pasta and chicken into slow cooker.  Cover and cook on LOW for an additional 20-30 minutes, or until pasta is tender.
5.  Stir in lemon juice and serve.

Robyn's notes: the seasoning was just a tad strong, so don't overdo it.  I might add a pinch of cayenne next time.  This was very simple and straightforward.  Can use all chicken breast, all thigh, or a combination.  Thigh holds up better in the slow cooker, but I'm partial to breast, so I used both.  Watch me demonstrate this recipe on youtube! 

*** 3 Stars: Good. At least one of us liked this enough for me to make it again, but not often

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Slow-Cooker Breakfast Bake


I'm someone who enjoys traditional breakfast foods at any time of the day, but if you prefer not to have breakfast for dinner, this makes a great weekend brunch.  Just start it when you first get up, and in a couple hours it'll be ready! 
  • 1 C frozen hash brown potatoes
  • 1 C shredded cheddar cheese
  • 3 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 Tbsp milk
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
1.  Spray the inside of a 1 1/2 quart slow cooker with cooking spray.  Pour potatoes, cheese, and bacon into slow cooker, stir briefly to combine.
2.  Beat together eggs, milk, salt, and pepper until well mixed.  Pour over mixture in slow cooker, stir briefly to distribute potatoes, cheese, and bacon throughout eggs.
3.  Cover slow cooker and cook on HIGH for 2-3 hours or on LOW for 4-5 hours, until well set.

Robyn's notes: I used Southern-style hash brown potatoes, because it was what I had on hand, but the shredded will also work just as well.  I also used a four-cheese Mexican cheese blend because again it was what I had on hand.  If desired, add chopped green onions when combining potatoes, cheese, and bacon.  I thought this would be only ok, but I actually enjoyed it quite a bit.  Watch me demonstrate this recipe on youtube!

**** 4 Stars: Very Good. Enjoyed by us both, I will make this frequently