Archive for July, 2010

Mango Avocado Pasta

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

On an exceptionally warm day a few weeks ago Sean suggested doing something cool for dinner that had avocados and jalepenos.  I immediately thought of a great salsa I made back in October for Chicken Tostadas and thought, why not toss with some rotini pasta.

Every night when we sit down to dinner I ask Sean what he thinks of the meal since I know he is going to be completely honest with me.  I like to get his opinion because he usually comes up with ways that the dish could be better or in some cases agrees that the dish should not be repeated.  Secretyly though I ask him so that I can hear a compliment when the dish is good, it really makes me feel good about my cooking skills.

When dishes don’t go well I chalk it up to the recipe and make a mental note to either make some major changes or just not make it again.  This dish was different because I had come up with it all by myself.  Sure I got the recipe for the original salsa from someone but the idea of adding a few things and tossing it with pasta was mine so I was anxiously awaiting what Sean thought of it. 

Well he didn’t disappoint and proclaimed, because it really felt like a proclamation to me, that this was one of the best dishes I have made.  I was high as a kite after he said that, who would have thought something as simple as some salsa and pasta would be such a hit.  I completely agree with him though because it really was the perfect meal for a hot day.  It is light and refreshing while still substantial with the pasta.  This is definitely a repeat recipe.

Here’s to taking a chance and finding a new favourite recipe.

Mango Avocado Salsa

1/2 cup diced peeled mango

1/2 cup diced peeled avocado

1/2 cup chopped tomato

1/3 cup chopped onions

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro (I used 1/4 of a cup)

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1 tablespoon minced jalapeno pepper

2 cups uncooked rotini pasta

Toss everything with pasta and serve cold.

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Posted in Chicken, Pasta |

Daring Bakers July Challenge

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010

Swiss Roll Ice Cream Cake

The July 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Sunita of Sunita’s world – life and food. Sunita challenged everyone to make an ice-cream filled Swiss roll that’s then used to make a bombe with hot fudge. Her recipe is based on an ice cream cake recipe from Taste of Home.

It seems as if with all of these challenges I wait until the absolute last possible moment to actually do them.  In this case the challenge is due tonight and I just started on the ice cream last night and the swiss roll and hot fudge when I got home from work tonight.  Is is all going to come together, but not with the same care and attention that I would like for these challenges.

Although it seems as if I am always busy, I have found that if I don’t complete the challenge on a weekend when I am actually home it leads to last minute scrambling to get it done.  But in an effort to be better about this blog I am pushing through this recipe and getting it done in time for the deadline, even if it is just barely under the wire.

Even though I was not wild about the swiss roll part of the challenge, I knew that I would enjoy the ice cream and hot fudge.  I would typically make the ice cream in my ice cream maker, but since the bowl has to freeze between each flavour I didn’t have the time to do that (due to the fact I started last night).  I tried out the method of putting the ice cream base together freezing it and then taking it out to whip it in the mixer a few times to reach the right consistency.  It seemed to work quite well, although in the end I think the ice cream would have been just a bit better with the actually ice cream maker.

Having never made swiss rolls before I was pleasantly surprised to find that they are pretty easy to assemble.  I was always curious why people would roll it up using a towel but I see now that it helps for when you roll it with the filling.  It was fun to try something new and different so although I was reluctant on this challenge I was happy I went through with it.

I was kidding myself though to think that I could assemble and eat this dish in one night.  With all the different layers of ice cream and fudge and the time between each layer it needs in the freezer I am not going to be able to post a final picture tonight.  But I will leave you with a picture of the Swiss Roll Ice Cream Cake in the bowl and update the post tomorrow night once I have had a chance to cut into it.

**Update:  The finished product didn’t look anything like the sample pictures, but it was still yummy.

Swiss Rolls

3 medium eggs

1/2 cup sugar

3 tablespoons all purpose flour

2 1/5 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa

1 tablespoon boiling water


1 cup whipping cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 1/2 tablespoons sugar

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Line baking sheet with grease proof baking paper.

In a large mixing bowel, add the eggs and sugar and beat until stiff peaks form.  Add the flour/cocoa mixture in 3 batches by folding in gently with a spatula.  Fold in the water.  Spread the mixture out evenly into the corner of the pan.  Place pan in preheated centre rack of the oven and bake for 10-12 minutes until the centre is springy to the touch.

Spread a kitchen towel on the counter and sprinkle with sugar.  Turn the cake onto the towel and peel away the baking paper.  Trim away any crisp edges.  Starting from one of the shorter sides, start to make a roll with the towel going inside. Cool the wrapped roll on a rack, seam side down.

For the filling:  In a large bowl, add the cream vanilla and sugar and beat till very thick.  Open the rolls and spread the cream mixture, making sure it does not go right to the edges (a border of ½ an inch should be fine).  Roll the cakes up again, this time without the towel. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge till needed, seam side down.

Vanilla Ice Cream

1 1/4 cups whipping cream

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup granulated sugar

In a mixing bowl, add the cream, vanilla and sugar and whisk lightly till everything is mixed together.  Pour into a freezer friendly container and freeze till firm around the edges. Remove from the freezer, beat till smooth and return to the freezer. Do this 3-4 times and then set completely.

Chocolate Ice Cream

2 cups whipping cream

1 cup sugar

3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

In a saucepan, add all the ingredients and whisk lightly.  Place the pan over heat and keep stirring till it begins to bubble around the edges.  Remove from heat and cool completely before transferring to a freezer friendly container till firm around the edges. Remove from the freezer, beat till smooth and return to the freezer. Do this 3-4 times and then set completely.

Hot Fudge

1 cup sugar

3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 and ½ cups water

1 tablespoons  butter

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a small saucepan, whisk together the sugar, cocoa powder, cornflour and water.  Place the pan over heat, and stir constantly, till it begins to thicken and is smooth (for about 2 minutes).  Remove from heat and mix in the butter and vanilla. Keep aside to cool .

Assembly of Dessert

Cut the Swiss rolls into equal slices ( approximately 2 cms each ).  Cover the bottom and sides of the bowl in which you are going to set the dessert with cling film/plastic wrap. Arrange two slices at the bottom of the pan, with their seam sides facing each other. Arrange the Swiss roll slices up the bowl, with the seam sides facing away from the bottom, to cover the sides of the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and freeze till the slices are firm (at least 30 minutes).

Soften the vanilla ice cream. Take the bowl out of the freezer, remove the cling film cover and add the ice cream on top of the cake slices. Spread it out to cover the bottom and sides of the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and freeze till firm ( at least 1 hour)

Add the fudge sauce over the vanilla ice cream, cover and freeze till firm . ( at least an hour)

Soften the chocolate ice cream and spread it over the fudge sauce. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze for at least 4-5 hours till completely set.

Remove the plastic cover, and place the serving plate on top of the bowl. Turn it upside down and remove the bowl and the plastic lining. If the bowl does not come away easily, wipe the outsides of the bowl with a kitchen towel dampened with hot water. The bowl will come away easily. Keep the cake out of the freezer for at least 10 minutes before slicing, depending on how hot your region is. Slice with a sharp knife, dipped in hot water.


Taco Macaroni and Cheese

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

As I have mentioned before on this blog I am a huge fan of mexican food.  So whenever I come across a recipe that has a mexican flair to it the recipe immediately goes on my meal list.  Mexican restaurants and few and far between here in Vancouver so I try and slip it in a good mexican recipe as often as possible.

The recipe that I was working from had a good base but I felt there was a few things I could do to make it even just a little bit more to my tastes.  Since I made chicken dishes almost every night I thought I would go ahead and put ground beef instead.  I also had to substitute cheddar for the queso fresco in the sauce and added some taco seasoning to give it that mexican taste.

Mac and cheese is not the same if it doesn’t have a crunchy topping so I sprinkled panko on the top before popping it in the oven.  When it was ready to serve I put a healthy dash of tabasco to give it the kick it was missing and some slices of avocado.

The end result of this dish was lacking in one major area, the lack of sauce after baking.  I typically go for mac and cheese because of the creamy sauce so I was disappointed that it wasn’t creamier.  That is such a quick and easy fix that I will definitely make this dish again but with double the sauce.

This recipe will be added to my list of rotating mexican dishes since the only convenient mexican found here in Vancouver is the stuff I make at home.

Taco Macaroni and Cheese

Adapted from Naturally Ella’s Fajita Mac and Cheese

1 medium onion

1 green pepper

1 fresno pepper

1 pound ground beef

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

2 tablespoons butter*

2 tablespoons flour*

1 cup milk*

1 tablespoon taco seasoning*

1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese*

8 ounces macaroni pasta

1 avocado for topping

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Prepare pasta according to packaging.

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat and add peppers and onions.  Once they begin to soften add ground beef and cook until brown.

In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium low heat.  Whisk in flour, salt and pepper and taco seasoning to create a paste.  Whisk in milk and continue to whisk until sauce begins to thicken.  Remove from heat and stir in cheese.

Mix the meat, noodles and sauce together in the dish and sprinkle with cheese and panko and place in the oven to bake until cheese melts.  Garnish with avocado and a dash of tabasco.

* Double these ingredients for a creamier dish


Daring Cooks July Challenge

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

Nut Butter

The July 2010 Daring Cooks’ Challenge was hosted by Margie of More Please and Natashya of Living in the Kitchen with Puppies. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make their own nut butter from scratch, and use the nut butter in a recipe.

Who ever realized that making your own nut butter could be so easy.  For my first challenge in quite a few months I was happy to see that it was for something that I could see myself making on a normal day.  Although I do like the challenge of trying things that are completely new and foreign to me for these challenges, sometimes it is nice to make something that is similar to my non-Daring Cooks meals.

The dish I chose to make with my almond butter instantly sounded to me like the butter chicken recipe that continues to elude me.  You see, for close to a year I have been making butter chicken whenever I come across a new recipe and it always lacks something.  As the ingredients were simmering away I could tell this was going to definitely be a repeat recipe.

I never would have thought to use a nut butter to give the sauce that thick consistence the many other recipes had been lacking.  But once the almond butter went into the sauce I was delighted to see that the sauce was nice and thick.  So thick in fact that the recipe calls for the use of water or chicken broth to thin it out.  I was scared to thin it out too much for fear it would resemble my runny butter chickens of the past so I used the liquid sparingly.

When making this dish again I would change a few things like thinning out the sauce a bit more and add some spice with either some green chillies or chili powder.  This recipe was beyond yummy and with those few tweaks next time I am sure to have the perfect chicken dish.

Chicken with Curried Tomato Almond Sauce

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1.5 tablespoons garam masala

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

4 tablespoons butter

1 large onion, diced

2 cloves garlic

1 15 ounce can tomato sauce

1/3 cup almond butter

1/3 cup milk

1/2 to 3/4 cup chicken broth or water

Stir garam masala, ginger, cinnamon, and pepper together in a small bowl. Set aside.

Melt the butter in large nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onion and cook gently for several minutes to infuse the butter with onion flavor. Keep the heat low to avoid burning the butter; a little color is fine. Add the spice blend and garlic and cook for 1 minute or till fragrant, stirring constantly. Add the tomato sauce, stir well, and bring to boil. Reduce heat to simmer. Whisk in almond butter and milk until thoroughly combined with tomato sauce. The almond butter is thick so it takes a while to make a smooth sauce.  Add chicken breast to sauce and return to simmer. Add broth (or water) to sauce to reach desired consistency; return to simmer.

Serve over rice.


Back to the World of Blogging

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

This blog has been badly neglected over the last 6 months.  I went from posting multiple times a week to once every few months.  I found that I was just not inspired by the things I was cooking and that I was becoming lazy with taking pictures.  Also since starting a blog to chronical my pregnancy I have been so focused on that I just didn’t have the energy to update here.  But that is changing, I am going to jump back in the saddle and start this blog back up. 

The funny thing is that I am still trying new and different recipes almost every night for dinner, so it isn’t like I don’t have an abundance of opportunites to get some pictures taken.  So I am going to go through the archive of pictures that have been taken off and on since starting this blog and write up the ones that were forgotten.  So be prepared for some long overdue posts that so deserved to be mentioned here, which includes a food blog photography class I got for Christmas but never wrote up.

So without further adieu there is a new post going up later for the Daring Cooks July challenge, which I will be cooking tonight.  Just a little sneak peak…it involves homemade almond butter and a yummy indian inspired dish.

Posted in Daring Cooks |