Friday, November 26, 2010

Orange Cranberry Loaf

Before this recipe, I thought I didn't like cranberry loaf. The cranberries were always too tart and often bakers would try to cover up this tartness with glazes that were too sweet. Then I tried this recipe! It was a eureka moment in my cranberry loaf life. You see, the cranberries are put into the blender (or processor) before you add them to the batter. The little pieces mean no big cranberries to make my taste buds cringe. There is also no need to add a glaze. The orange juice in the batter adds a layer of subtle sweetness. Try this recipe if you like cranberry loaf and especially if you don't. Enjoy!

1 cup cranberries
1-3/4 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg
3/4 orange juice
1/4 cup vegetable oil

What to do
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease 8-1/2x4-1/2x3-inch loaf pan.
  3. In a blender coarsely chop cranberries.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  5. In another bowl, beat together egg, orange juice and oil.
  6. Add the oil mixture to the dry ingredients and beat for 30 seconds.
  7. Stir in berries.
  8. Pour into prepared pan.
  9. Bake for 60-65 minutes until toothpick comes out clean.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Creamy Caramel Dip with Fruit Skewers

I have been making this fruit dip for quite a few years and it always gets rave reviews from adults and kids alike. It's quick and easy to prepare and when you're in a rush, just buy a Costco size fruit platter to go along with the dip and you're ready for your holiday potluck!

1 8oz package of cream cheese, room temperature
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 cup milk
1 package (3.4 oz) vanilla (or butterscotch  or chocolate) pudding

What to do:
In large bowl, beat together cream cheese and sugar until smooth.
Beating well after each addition, add sour creadding. m, vanilla, lemon juice, milk and pudding.
Cover dip and refrigerate for at least 60 minutes.

Makes about 3.5 cups.

Great with fruit salad or skewers of fruit...or for older kids offer tooth picks to dip larger chunks of fruit and pound cake.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Orange Juice Cake with Pecan Caramel Glaze

I know using shortening isn't really popular in baking anymore but I recommend trying this lovely orange juice cake. I found the recipe the first cookbook my mother gave me - it was 1st published in the 70s by a flour company.

The cake itself has a faint orange taste but the glaze has the intense orange flavour that makes this dessert. My family says it tastes even better on the 2nd and 3rd day.

Notes: When broiling the topping don't take your eyes off of it! It burns quickly and I think 90 seconds was perfect - caramelly but still gooey. Also, I would wait at least 30 minutes until you remove it from the pan as the cake is quite delicate. In fact, I would leave it in the pan next time.

1.5 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup shortening
2/3 cup milk
3 tbsp frozen orange concentrate, thawed
2 eggs

1/2 cup lightly packed brown sugar
2 tbsp flour
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 tbsp frozen orange concentrate, thawed
1/2 cup chopped nuts (whatever you like), optional

What to do:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease and flour a 8x8 cake pan.
Sift flour, baking powder, salt and sugar into medium mixing bowl.
Add shortening and milk.
Beat for 1 minute at low speed.
Add 3 tbsp OJ concentrate and eggs.
Beat for 2 minutes at low speed.
Pour batter into pan and bake for 40-45 minutes, until golden.
Just before cake is done, mix all of topping ingredients together.
Spread on top of cake.
Broil cake for 2 or 3 minutes till topping is golden.
Cool about 15 minutes.
Invert cake on wax paper, then turn again so topping side is "up" on serving plate.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Prime Rib Hash

Prime Rib or Standing Rib Roast was on sale last week at my local grocery store. To be honest, I find Prime Rib too fatty for my taste but I thought it might be good in hash. I was right! This is an easy and delicious recipe for left over prime rib!

3 cups cooked and cubed prime rib
3 cups cubed baked or boiled potatoes (preferably ones baked with the roast!)
1 large onion, diced
1 red pepper, diced
1 small turnip, diced and steamed or boiled
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 inch piece of ginger, minced
1 sweet potato, cooked and diced
1 tbsp butter
smoked paprika
1 tbsp savory, chopped

What to do

In large nonstick skillet, melt 1 tbsp of the butter over medium heat; cook onion and pepper until softened, about 3 minutes. Add potatoes, beef, garlic, ginger, turnip, smoked paprika, salt and pepper; heat, stirring, until heated through, about 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat; mix in savory. Enjoy!
Makes 4-6 servings.


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Drivin' Me Nuts Granola

This is my second granola recipe. I've adapted this one from one of Chef Michael Smith's. I think homemade granola is infinitely better than anything we can buy. Even more important? It's waaaaay cheaper to make it at home. In fact, if you have oats then you can probably whip  up a batch today with ingredients already in your cupboard. Nuts, dried fruit, a little oil, some form of sweetener - honey, maple syrup, or aguave syrup all work.

This version has maple and aguave syrups as well as pecans, almonds, bran and milled flax. The aroma while it baked was heavenly! Granola also makes a great hostess gift over the holidays and a little bit more healthy than a batch of cookies or box of chocolates (not that there is anything wrong with either of those!)

4 cups large flake oats
1/2 cup milled flax
1/2 cup wheat bran
1 cup pecan bits
1/2  chopped almonds
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup aguave syrup
1 tbsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1 cup dried cranberries

What to do
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix in large bowl, oats, flax, bran, salt, pecans and almonds.
  3. Heat the oil, both syrups, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger in a small sauce pan until quite warm/hot - NOT BOILING OR EVEN SIMMERING - just hot in order to bring out flavours.
  4. Remove from heat.
  5. Add oil mixture to dry ingredients and mix until well distributed.
  6. Spread granola on large pan lined with a silpat.
  7. Bake for 40 minutes but every 10 minutes remove from oven and stir granola to ensure even cooking and browning.
  8. Cool completely after baking is complete.
  9. Add cranberries.
  10. Store in airtight container.
  11. Enjoy!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Orzo "Risotto"

As promised here is "orzo" risotto. When I first considered this recipe, I was worried the orzo pasta would be too mushy but it comes out perfectly in this recipe, adapted from Mark Bittman's Kitchen Express.

This recipe goes well with Spicy Grilled Shrimp Kabobs.

2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp oil
1/2 cup of your favorite herb - cilantro, basil, chives etc
1 lb orzo
6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup grated Parmesan
2 tbsp butter

What to do
  1. Heat stock until simmering.
  2. Heat oil and 2 tbsp butter in large saute pan or pot until foamy (medium heat).
  3. Add herbs and saute for one minute.
  4. Add orzo and cook and stir until orzo is translucent (3-5 minutes).
  5. Stir in stock, one ladleful at a time, waiting for liquid to be absorbed by pasta before adding another ladle of stock.
  6. Repeat until the pasta is al dente and liquid is mostly absorbed (8 minutes).
  7. Add cheese and remaining butter. Stir until creamy. If needed add a little bit of extra stock. Enjoy!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Spicy Grilled Shrimp Kabobs

This recipe is based on Mark Bittman's "Famous Spicy Shrimp". It's quick and easy. Even better than quick and easy, it's delicious. I used prawns, not shrimp - which in Canada are the bigger version of little shrimps.

1 lb prawns
1 tbsp smoked paprika
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp cayenne

What to do
  • Using a mortar and pestle or a small food processor, make a paste of paprika, oil, cayenne, oil, lemon juice, and pinch of salt.
  • Rub the paste over the prawns.
  • Using wooden skewers that have been soaked for about 1/2 hour in water, spear 3-4 prawns per skewer.
  • Grill for 2 minutes per side over medium heat.
  • Enjoy!
Delicious with orzo risotto...recipe to come this week.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Blueberry Maple Scones

Scones are sweet biscuits that originated in Scotland. Even though I am half Scottish, I don't have any family scone recipes but what I do have is a great recipe from "Nova Scotia Cooking" by Charles Lief and Heather Mackenzie. I made these this morning and using very cold butter. The scones came out nice and flaky because of that. I also made them on the small side so they are perfect for kid snacks (and mine!). Enjoy!

1/4 cup castor sugar
3 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, cold
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup maple syrup
3/4 cup half and half
1 cup blueberries

What to do:
Yield is between 18-24 scones depending on size.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

1. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in large bowl. Whisk together.
2. Add butter to flour bowl and using a pastry blender (or two knives) mix together until it resembles course crumbs.
3. In another bowl, add egg, syrup, and half and half.
4. Add blueberries to DRY ingredients, gently.
5. Make a well in the dry ingredients and add liquid bowl in one go.
6. Combine gently with a fork until dough starts to come together.
7. Turn dough onto lightly floured surface and knead 8 times.
8. Roll or pat dough into a square that is approximately 1 cm thick.
9. Cut into squares about 3 cm or so wide. Cut these squares in half to form triangles. (A pizza cutter works well.)
10. Place triangles on an ungreased baking sheet.
11. Bake for 10-14 minutes, until golden.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Marbled Chocolate Banana Bread

This is my "go to" recipe for chocolate swirl banana bread. It is from one of my Cooking Light magazines. That issue has many variations of banana bread. This is my favorite and is dog-earred and splattered with ingredients to prove it!

Adapted from Cooking Light Magazine

Yield: 1 loaf, 16 slices (serving size: 1 slice)
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups mashed ripe banana (about 3 bananas)
1/2 cup egg substitute or 2 large eggs
1/3 cup low-fat yogurt
1/2 cup chocolate chips
Cooking spray

What to Do

Preheat oven to 350°.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt with a whisk.

Place sugar and butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended (about 2 minute). Add banana, vanilla, eggs or egg substitute, and yogurt; beat until blended. Add flour mixture; mix until just moist.

Place chocolate chips in a medium microwave-safe bowl, and microwave at HIGH 1 minute or until almost melted, stirring until smooth. Cool slightly. Add 1 cup batter to chocolate, stirring until well combined. Spoon chocolate batter alternately with plain batter into an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Swirl batters together using a knife. Bake at 350° for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack; remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack.

Nutritional Information (using egg substitute)
Calories:183 (23% from fat)