Thursday, August 28, 2014

Cooking used to be just another chore, but I told you, I've found a new love for it since we've been here. There are so many good recipes I want to share, but we're usually too hungry to stop and take pictures. Besides, an intimate photo shoot with food is kinda weird for me. I get embarrassed if Jason walks in on me in the corner gettin' all up in the enchilada's bidness. But I took one for the team here. There's no fancy staging, it's all Kmart dishes all day over here. There's also no step by step photo documentation, mostly because that would involve pictures of Maddox eating cheese by the handfuls and me gagging as I remove the fat from the roast. But here you go....

Shredded Beef Enchiladas

Don't be intimidated if this looks like a recipe that takes all day. In reality it is a recipe that takes all day. But it's so worth it. This is hands down the best enchiladas I've ever had. And this coming from a girl who is borderline vegetarian. Just reserve it for special occasions like the missionaries coming for dinner, a birthday, or a celebration of shaving your legs for the first time all winter. (I tweaked the meat recipe from one I found on and the sauce is one I've had forever that I use with chicken enchiladas, I can't remember where I originally got it from).

Shredded Beef Enchiladas
For the meat:
1 chuck roast
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
½ onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
½ Tbs tabasco sauce
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 C beef broth
Add broth to slow cooker then add all ingredients, except for roast and mix together. Add the roast and cook on high for 5-6 hours, remove meat and shred, removing any fat, then return to slow cooker. Reduce heat to Low, and continue cooking for 2 to 4 hours. Transfer the meat to a large skillet and add 1-2 cups of the liquid. Saute on high until all the liquid has been absorbed, adding any necessary seasonings to taste.
For the enchilada sauce:
1 medium onion, chopped fine
1 teaspoon canola oil
3 medium cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
3 teaspoons sugar
2 (8-oz) cans tomato sauce
1 cup water
1 1/2 cup shredded cheese
12 flour tortillas
Preheat oven to 400. Remove meat from skillet and set aside. In skillet combine the onion, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and oil. Cover and cook over medium-low heat, stirring often, until the onions have softened, 8-10 minutes. Stir in the garlic, chili powder, cumin, and sugar, and cook until fragrant, less than 30 seconds. Stir in the tomato sauce and water. Bring to a simmer. Remove about half the sauce and set aside for the top. Stir the shredded beef into the remaining sauce in the pan. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer about 10 minutes. Stack the tortillas on a plate and cover with plastic wrap; Microwave on high about 40-60 seconds. Spoon the meat mixture evenly down the center of each tortilla then tightly roll and lay seam-side down in a greased 9×13 inch baking dish. Pour the reserved sauce evenly over the top of the enchiladas and top with the shredded cheese. Cover dish with foil and bake 20 minutes, or until heated through. Remove foil and bake another 5-10 minutes, until cheese browns. Remove from oven and let stand 10 minutes before serving. Serve with sour cream, shredded lettuce, olives and diced tomatoes.

Glazed Apple Crumb Muffins

Muffins are a staple around here. For breakfast, for after school snacks, for road trips, for Jason to take to work for morning tea. That morning tea is a legit business around here. I've got some pretty great muffin recipes up my sleeve, but this one takes the cake. Or the muffin? (source:

Glazed Apple Crumb Muffins
Crumb topping:
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 Tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup butter, melted
2/3 cup flour
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup yogurt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup milk 
1 1/2 cups peeled, chopped apple (2 small apples)
1 cup confectioners' sugar
3 Tablespoons heavy cream 
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

First, make the crumb topping. In a medium bowl, combine both sugars, the cinnamon, and melted butter then stir in the flour. Set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin tin with paper liners. In a medium bowl beat the butter on high speed until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute. Add the brown sugar and granulated sugar and beat on high until creamed, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs, yogurt, and vanilla extract and mix well. In a large bowl, toss together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and slowly whisk together. Add the milk, gently whisking. Fold in the apples. Fill muffin tins 3/4 full with batter then sprinkle with crumbs (crumble it with your hands to make some big chunks). Bake at 350F  for 15-20 minutes or until just lightly beginning to brown. To make the glaze, whisk all of the ingredients together and drizzle over warm muffins. 

Hawaiian Grilled Cheese

Jason and Kylie are devoted hawaiian pizza fans. Every weekend we get pizza hut. A cheese for me and all three boys and a hawaiian one for Kylie and Jason to have all to themselves. For our anniversary I wanted to venture outside the grilled cheese and tomato sandwich box and do something a little special for lunch. And special it was. This was a huge hit and immediately made it into the recipe archives. (the bacon only comes in strips here, it would be much easier to flip if it were in slices) (source:

Hawaiian Grilled Cheese
Bread slices
Jack cheese
Pineapple rings
Canadian bacon
Parsley flakes
Soften butter, mix in parsley, oregano and parmesan then spread on to one side of each slice. Place in skillet, add cheese slices, Canadian bacon and pineapple (use paper towel to absorb juice before putting on sandwich) then add more cheese slices and top with other slice of bread. Cook over low heat until lightly browned then flip and cook on the other side.

Creamy Rotisserie Chicken Soup with Bread Bowls 

And you get a two-fer on this one. The absolute best chicken soup (and this is coming from Jason who is most definitely not a soup person), and these bread bowls that my friend Chelsea introduced into my life and I have never been the same. It is the perfect comfort food that has gotten me through many long cold dreary winter nights. Be sure to use Rotisserie chicken and not just shredded chicken breasts, it makes all the difference. (source:

Creamy Rotisserie Chicken Soup
      For the roux:
      4 T flour
      2 T olive oil
      2 T butter
      make the roux by heating the oil and butter in pot then sprinkling the flour on top. Whisk together for a few minutes.Take off the heat and set aside while combining other ingredients. 
      For the soup:
      2 T butter
      2 T olive oil
      2 large carrots, peeled and sliced
      1 C frozen corn
      2 potatoes, diced
      1 yellow onion - diced
      4 cups chicken stock or broth
      3 cups milk or cream or half & half, or a combination
      2tsp chicken base granules
      1 t fresh cracked pepper
      1 tsp kosher or sea salt
      1 T dried parsley or 2 T fresh parsley
     3 bay leaves
     1½ t dried basil
      2 cloves garlic, minced
      1 deli rotisserie chicken, shredded
      shredded cheese to sprinkle on top

      Start by making the roux. In a large pot, saute the potatoes, carrots and onions in 2 T olive oil and 2 T butter until softened (add the onions at the end). Add all other ingredients including the roux, stir well. Bring to a boil then turn down the heat to low and let simmer 20-30 minutes until the soup thickens to the desired consistency, stirring every few minutes. If you need to thicken the soup a little, mix together some cornstarch with milk then stir into the soup. Before ready to serve, take out the bay leaves, pour into bowls and sprinkle with shredded cheese.

       Bread Bowls 
      2 Tbs yeast
        2 Tbs sugar
       3/4 Tbs salt
        2 C warm water
        2 Tbs olive oil
        5 C flour
        Cornmeal (optional)

      Preheat oven to 400. Mix water, yeast and sugar in a small bowl and let sit for 5-10 minutes. Mix remaining ingredients, then add water and yeast mixture. Knead together, adding more flour until no longer sticky. Cover and let the dough rise until doubles in size (about 30 minutes). Grease 2 cookie sheets and sprinkle with corn meal. Punch down the dough and make 6 tennis ball size dough balls. Place on cookie sheet (don't let them touch). Let them rise for another 30 minutes. Bake at 400 for 18 minutes. Cut off the top and scoop out the inside then fill with your favorite soup.

French Toast Sticks

I remember it was such a treat when my mom would buy french toast sticks for us. I can still taste the maple flavoring and remember the film it would leave in my mouth. The kids inherited my love for them and could inhale a Costco sized box in no time at all. When I came across this recipe it was one of those "duh, why didn't I think of that?" moments. We make regular french toast all the time, but turning them into french toast dippers has upped the ante and opened new doors for breakfasts on the go and after school snacks. We take our after school snacks very seriously around these parts. (source:

French Toast Sticks
8 slices white Texas Toast bread
5 eggs
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 Tablespoon vanilla extract
¼ C brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 Tablespoons butter
Powdered sugar
Maple syrup
Cut each slice of bread into 4 equal strips.  Set aside.  In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, whipping cream, vanilla, brown sugar and cinnamon.  In a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter. Dip each piece of bread in egg mixture, let excess drip off and place in skillet.  Once one side is golden brown, flip over and cook the other side until golden brown and crispy on the outside (add more butter between batches if necessary).  Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve with maple syrup.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

From scratch

Moving here to New Zealand has forced me to think outside the Betty Crocker box. And I like it. I've had to modify some of my recipes to swap out the processed ingredients that aren't available, and I ain't mad at it.  Let's just assume every recipe is from, unless otherwise noted.  And let's just assume I'm not a professional food photographer, most of these were snapped while the kids were sitting at the table starving and I'm all like, hold up, mom has to take a picture of a crouton.

I know making cupcakes from scratch is old news, but when I had .79 Duncan Heinz cake mix at my finger tips I just never bothered to try. Things are different here and I don't know if I can go back to the boxed mix after I've seen the light.  Jason requested lemon cupcakes for his birthday (we've been married for 14 years and I am just now learning that lemon is his favorite. I'm not sure exactly what that says...)

Lemon cupcakes with lemon cream icing
3 cups self-rising flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, at room temperature
2 cups white sugar
4 eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons lemon zest
1 cup whole milk, divided
2 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice,
Lemon Cream Icing
2 cups chilled heavy cream
3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
*yield 30 cupcakes
Preheat oven to 375. Sift flour and salt together in a bowl. In another bowl, beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Mix in the vanilla and lemon zest. Gently beat the flour mixture into the butter mixture, one third at a time, alternating with half the milk and half the lemon juice after each of the first 2 additions of flour. Beat until just combined; do not over mix. Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full, and bake for about 17 minutes. To make the icing, beat the cream with an electric mixer set on Low until it begins to thicken. Add the confectioners' sugar and lemon juice, a little at a time. Increase the mixer speed to High, and beat until the icing forms soft peaks, about 5 minutes. Spread on the cooled cupcakes. Refrigerate leftovers.

After all these years of buying Rothbury Farms croutons (a walmart delicacy), it just never dawned on me that you could actually make croutons and that it was actually super easy, super cheap and super yummy. So this is not so much a recipe as it is a wake up call.

Bread slices (we have the best bread here, so point 1 goes to team New Zealand)
Olive oil
Garlic salt
Dried parsley
Preheat oven to 450. Cut bread into cubes, put in a bowl and toss with olive oil, season with garlic salt and parsley.  Mix well then spread onto cooking sheet and bake 7-10 min or until lightly toasted, stirring occasionally.

My morning breakfast used to consist of greek yogurt, Special K granola, some sort of fruit and a side of facebook. I still check for crucial social networking updates while eating breakfast, but my Special K which come to find out isn't really all that special has been replaced with the homemade version. They do have muesli here (not granola. If you ask for granola they look at you like you're speaking greek. I love hearing Maddox ask for muesli bars or correct me when I call it a jacket and not a jersey or snack time instead of tea time, and I especially like when he uses kiwi phrases, like "I'll come straightaway". Still working on the accent, though).  As I was saying...they have muesli but it's expensive and I figured now was as good of a time as ever to put to use all 32 homemade granola pins taking up space on my pinterest board. Here's a combination of about 12 of them.

8 Cups whole grain oats 
2 cups of rice krispies (or "rice bubbles" as the kiwis affectionately call them)
1 cup wheat bran
1 cup ground flax meal (they don't have this so I use ground linseed, but anything along those lines would work)
1/2 Tbs cinnamon
1/2 cup honey 1/2 cup brown sugar

½ cup peanut butter
1/2 cup applesauce (I didn't realize that applesauce wasn't an international language, instead I use mashed bananas)
1 tbsp vanilla
Throw all dry ingredients in a bowl. Combine remaining ingredients and cook over medium heat until just starting to boil. Pour over dry ingredients and stir well to incorporate all dry ingredients. Cook at 250 for 40-60 min.  Serve over yogurt, with milk or plain by the handfuls. I especially like tossing in some pretzels, nuts, dried fruit, chocolate chips, etc for a trail mix to take with us when we go hiking.
*just so you know, I had to stop mid typing to go and make a batch because just talking about it made me crave it. It's that good. 

I didn't know life existed beyond the Hungry Jack pancake mix. But making it from scratch is almost just as easy and oh soooooo worth it.  Important note: it is critical that you can the cooking spray can and instead spread butter on the griddle before each batch if you want to achieve the highest level of crunchy buttery perfection.

Pancakes with buttermilk syrup
3/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
2 tablespoons butter, melted
Combine milk with vinegar in a medium bowl and set aside for 5 minutes to "sour".
Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Whisk egg and butter into "soured" milk. Pour the flour mixture into the wet ingredients and whisk until lumps are gone.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat, and coat with butter. Pour 1/4 cupfuls of batter onto the skillet, and cook until bubbles appear on the surface. Flip with a spatula, and cook until browned on the other side. 

Buttermilk Syrup
1 1/2 cups white sugar
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup butter (real)
2 tablespoons corn syrup (I substituted maple syrup)
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
In a saucepan, stir together the sugar, buttermilk, butter, corn syrup, and baking soda. Bring to a boil, and cook for 7 minutes. Remove from the heat, and stir in the vanilla. And try to refrain from drinking it straight out of the pan. This is pure evil but so good. Consider yourself warned.

And once again Prego gets knocked clean out of the water.  There's no competition when it comes to homemade vs. store bought.

Meat Lover's Spaghetti Sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 small onions, chopped
1/2 pound Italian sausage
1/2 pound ground beef
1 teaspoon dried Italian herb seasoning
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 (29 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
1 (14.5 ounce) can Italian-style diced tomatoes
1 (14.5 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 C beef broth
½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
2 tsp thyme
¼ c chopped basil
¼ c chopped parsley
¼ c chopped oregano
1 tablespoon white sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat; cook and stir onions and Italian sausage until the sausage is browned, about 10 minutes. Transfer the sausage and onions to a slow cooker. In the same skillet, cook and stir the ground beef, Italian seasoning and 1 teaspoon of garlic powder until the meat is browned, about 10 minutes. Transfer the ground beef into the slow cooker. Stir in the tomato sauce, tomato paste, diced tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, beef broth, thyme, basil, oregano, parsley, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Set the cooker on Low, and cook the sauce for 8 hours. About 15 minutes before serving, stir in the sugar. Serve hot

It's no secret, Mexican food is my vice. I've been having some serious withdrawals. They have a very slim selection of salsa here and not only is it expensive, but with a brand name like "Pam's" you know you're just asking for disappointment. I've been on the hunt for a salsa recipe but since they don't carry jalapenos or tomatillos and the red chili peppers cost $49/kg, I figured it was a hopeless cause. Then I came across this gem and my life has never been the same.

Garden fresh salsa

8 tomatoes
1/2 onion, chopped
½ green bell pepper, chopped
1 (4 ounce) can diced green chilies (which they don't have here)
1/4 cup white vinegar
2 Tbs lime juice
1 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
¼ C chopped oregano
½ C chopped cilantro
1/8-1/4 tsp ground chili (different then chili powder, this is the straight up hard kind that sends smoke coming out of your ears like the cartoons if you use too much)
salt to taste

Submerge tomatoes in boiling water for a few minutes until the skin starts to peel off, then remove skins and coarsely chop. Add all ingredients to the crock pot and cook on low for about 3-4 hours. Store in refrigerator until using. *you could stick it in a blender if you prefer it less chunky. I don't have a blender so I tried sticking my beaters in the crock pot and to this day I'm still cleaning salsa off the walls.

I used to always just use Rhodes Rolls dough to make calzones, but this is so much cheaper and in my opinion so much better.

Calzones with a slow cooker marinara sauce

2 Tbs dry yeast
1 cup warm water
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 C ricotta
3 C shredded cheese
olives, pepperoni, mushrooms, peppers etc.
To Make Dough: In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in water. Add the oil, sugar and salt; mix in 1 cup of the flour until smooth. Gradually stir in the rest of the flour, until dough is smooth and workable. Knead dough on a lightly floured surface for about 5 minutes, or until it is elastic. Lay dough in a bowl containing 1 teaspoon olive oil, then flip the dough, cover and let rise for 40 minutes, or until almost doubled. When dough is ready, punch it down and separate it into 4 equal parts. Roll parts out into thin circles on a lightly floured surface. Mix filling ingredients then spoon onto on half of the dough circle, fold over, securing edges by folding in and pressing with a fork. Brush the top of each calzone with beaten egg and place on a lightly greased cookie sheet.  Bake at 375 for 30 min.  Serve with marinara sauce for dipping.
Marinara sauce 
2 28oz cans crushed tomatoes  
1 6oz can tomato paste
1/2 onion, chopped  
1/2 Tbs minced garlic  
2 tsp bay leaves  
1/2 C water  
1/4 C chopped basil  
1/4 C chopped oregano  
1/4 C chopped parsley  
1 Tbs brown sugar  
1 Tbs balsamic vinegar 
salt and pepper to taste 
Add all ingredients to the crock pot and simmer on low for 8 hrs

Once again, I thought Bisquick was the holy grail of biscuit mixes and once again I was proven wrong.

Cheddar Biscuits
2 C flour
1 Tbs baking powder

2 tsp sugar
¼ tsp salt
½ C butter, melted

1 C milk

¾ C shredded cheddar cheese (oddly enough they don't have regular cheddar cheese, it's called "Tasty cheese" which I'm a little leary of, so I use colby)

Preheat oven to 450.  Mix dry ingredients. Mix butter and milk then add to dry ingredients an stir until blended then drop by tablespoon fulls onto greased cookie sheet. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until edges are just starting to brown.