Tag Archives: easy

Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts: Review and interview!

Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts

If I had to name one of the most influential people in my baking life, it would be Alice Medrich. Before her I didn’t know how to cook, let alone bake something edible. So when I had the chance to meet and interview her, I was afraid I came off as a creepy fan girl when I gushed about how instrumental she was in changing my life.

Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts would have been a great book for me to start my baking journey. Baking is all about precision and technique and the recipes here are more forgiving for those who are more carefree in their cooking style. If you’re a more experienced baker, don’t let the title put you off from buying it. It’s not just about composing different ingredients together, the book dives into more complicated recipes like souffles and tarts.

Note: You have a chance to win a copy of this book!

Continue reading

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Sweet and Salty Crunchy Nut Bars

Sweet and Salty Crunchy Nut Bars

I had agreed with my friend that we would do an Easter dinner together. I would make a fabulous dessert and there would be a grand turkey with all the fixings. The Easter dinner turned into a fondue party and the fabulous dessert? Well I just moved to a new place and didn’t have a mixer and most of my baking equipment available.

I lamented to R that I probably wouldn’t be able to bake anything.

“There is stuff all on our counters. I have no counterspace!”
“I’ve seen you bake in worse situations.” he said reassuringly.
“We have no groceries! I can’t make anything!”
“The grocery store is right beside us. As long as you don’t need quail eggs from South America, you’ll be fine.”

Ok, maybe I was making up excuses. The truth is, the place is such a mess and hardly room to do anything, I felt uninspired with no motivation.

I decided on a dead simple Nigella recipe (from Nigella Kitchen) that she describes as the kitchen equivalent of crack cocaine. After getting the ingredients at the grocery store where it’d look like I’d gone on a sugar binge (8 chocolate bars were in my shopping basket), I got home and went to work.

If you are looking for an easy recipe that’s no-bake, this is it. If you are looking for a dessert that can be put together in mere minutes, then this is it. It’s so easy that I can hardly classify as “making” it.

The ingredients are simple: butter, chocolate, salted peanuts, corn syrup and Crunchie bars. The longest part of this recipe is waiting for the chocolate to set (about 4 hours) and after that the next hardest part is crushing the Crunchie bars with your hands. If you crush them into bigger pieces, you’ll get more of that texture in your dessert.

Recipe here.

Notes:
- I used all milk chocolate and it tasted well-balanced. I don’t know if I’d go with a dark chocolate.
- I’d also make this in a rectangular pan and cut it into small slices as a whole slice is a bit too rich for most people.

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Quick and Easy: Quinoa, black bean and tomatoes

Quinoa with tomatoes, black beans and scallions

I’m a little (okay…a lot) late to jump on the quinoa bandwagon. I wasn’t interested in eating healthier so this little superfood was never really on my radar as something to try.

My co-worker is a quinoa lover and kept urging me to try it. I caved into the peer pressure.

The first time I tried cooking it, I put in too much water. I still find it more finicky than rice to cook with all those little faux grains sticking everywhere.

I love The Kitchn’s quinoa, black bean and heirloom recipe. It’s become a weekly ritual for me to make this because it was just so simple and flavourful. I love using cherry tomatoes instead of cutting up heirlooms because of the tiny bursts of flavour you get once you bite down on them. If I don’t scarf the entire thing for dinner it makes for a great light but filling lunch.

How do you cook quinoa? I once tried it in the rice cooker to cook it ahead of time and it became mush. What is your favourite quinoa recipe?

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Quick and Easy: Spinach and Chickpea Curry

Spinach and Chickpea Curry

Feeling the time crunch, I’ve needed to re-evaluate my meal strategies. Before I could spend a few hours in the kitchen on a weeknight, but I just don’t have the time and energy for that. I save my elaborate meals for the weekend when I can play in the kitchen all day.

People think that because I have a food blog and have an inclination to make elaborate meals, that daily dinners are a gourmet affair. The truth? When people ask what I had for dinner I feel slight shame and embarrassment when I respond with my usual stand-by meals: toast, crackers or cereal.

This spinach and chickpea dinner is for those who just don’t have enough time or effort in their day to cook something up. It relies on pantry staples like canned chickpeas and frozen spinach.

I was given a voucher for Cookin’ Greens to test out their flash frozen veggie products. I have never been a veggie person. I will buy fresh vegetables with good intentions of eating them and they end up rotting in my fridge. Having frozen veggies in my freezer offers me the convenience of using it when I can. They try to keep the product as fresh as possible by freezing it after 6 hours of harvesting it.

I threw the spinach in and it cooked up easily. You can use it straight from the freezer without thawing and I like how it doesn’t all come out in a big clump. I can’t really comment on the taste because it tastes like spinach (and it should).

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I was able to cook this and still have time to go to my yoga class. To bump up the flavour a bit I would add a couple of more spices (maybe mustard seed?) and some diced tomatoes.

Recipe over at Real Simple here.

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No Fail Chicken Parmesan

No Fail Chicken Parmesan

“Was I a good cook when you first met me?” I ask R.
“I wouldn’t say you were really a cook then baby, you ate chicken.”
“I make chicken now.”
“I mean just chicken.”
“I made a pork chop.” (Note singular. I had 2, but in the flipping process the other one fell to the floor.)

I’ve come a long way since then. After venturing out on my own and buying beginner cookbooks (something I still love doing now), I didn’t really get into cooking. I cooked to survive. Most of my staples back then involved a lot of canned soup and frozen foods.

I was really clueless in the kitchen. At one point I asked my friend how to cook canned soup.

I wanted to be able to make a dish. Something that didn’t involve cooking chicken on my George Foreman grill. My friend took pity on me and taught me how to make chicken parmesan, her family’s recipe. I was able to make this recipe without her help many times and it’s never turned out bad for me. I haven’t made it in years, but I had a craving for it so I decided to make it for dinner when the in-laws were over. I looked at the recipe and didn’t realize how vague the instructions were. Considering how measurement crazy I am now I’m surprised I always had tasty results when I made it back then. I’m certain you cannot go wrong no matter what you do with this recipe.

So here is my version of it (with measurements in case you’re nervous about winging it).

No Fail Chicken Parmesan (serves 4)

Ingredients:
Soaking solution
- 1 cup milk
- 3 eggs
- 4 chicken breasts
- pinch of salt
- pinch of pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder

Breadcrumb mix
- 1 1/2 cups breadcrumbs
- pinch of salt
- pinch of pepper
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons onion powder

Sauce
- 1 can of crushed tomatoes
- 1 can of tomato paste
- water
- salt
- pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 Tablespoon sugar
- 3 cloves of garlic finely minced or with a garlic presser
- 1 yellow onion

Other ingredients:
- mozarella, grated (2 cups or so)
- parmesan

Directions
1. Combine ingredients for soaking mixture (except chicken) and mix together. Put chicken in mixture and let soak 4-6 hours in the refrigerator. Make sure mixture covers the chicken. (Note: I was once told that this may be a safety risk, but I haven’t died yet and can’t seem to find out if this is true through Googling. If it makes you feel uneasy, omit the eggs or just don’t soak it and immediately bread it and fry it.)

2. Make Sauce. On medium heat, put enough oil to just cover the bottom of the saucepan. Dice the onion and add to saucepan. Cook until onion is translucent. Add garlic and stir it around for about a minute before adding the crushed tomatoes and tomato paste. Add 1/2 can of water from the crushed tomatoes. Stir. Add onion and garlic powder and sugar. Stir and reduce heat. You want a nice thick sauce. Taste sauce and adjust seasonings to taste.

3. Preheat oven to 325F.

4. Bread chicken. Combine breadcrumb mixture and make sure chicken is well coated on both sides. In a frying pan over medium-high heat, add oil and fry chicken on both sides. You want a nice golden brown colour. The chicken doesn’t have to be completely cooked as it’ll be going in the oven.

5. In a baking pan or casserole dish (I used a 9×13 Pyrex), pour enough sauce to cover the bottom. Add the chicken pieces making sure they don’t overlap. Pour the rest of the sauce all over the chicken and grate parmesan all over the pieces.

6. Bake for 20-35 minutes. Sprinkle the grated mozarella on the chicken and bake for 10 minutes more.

Note:
- These seasonings can be played around with. I usually just put how much I think should go in.
- I didn’t have garlic or onion powder on hand so I used garlic granules and onion flakes. When I used to make this I used to give a few shakes of garlic powder and onion powder.
- Pre-foodie days I used to use the grated parmesan that came in a can. You can use that too, I won’t judge.

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