Monthly Archives: October 2014

Memories of Meals Past: Caramel Corn and Community

Good for gobbling and raising funds. Because community is one of my favourite words.

Good for gobbling and raising funds. Because community is one of my favourite words.

I work in a medical clinic and at this time of year we take part in a fundraising initiative for a charity called The Farley Foundation. This very worthy organization helps provide people who are on a fixed income, such as seniors, or women fleeing abuse, help to pay for veterinary care for beloved furry animal family members.

One of the initiatives that my clinic did this year was to have a bake sale, where staff and clients worked together to create delicious baked goods to raise funds for The Farley Foundation. I myself contributed a number of items, including caramel corn, triple almond sugar cookies, and spice cake (recipe to come in the next post). Which of course, I must immediately blog about! Immediately being later in the week, so it still qualifies for my Memories of Meals Past #tbt feature!

Caramel Corn...mmph gobble gobble munch.

Caramel Corn…mmph gobble gobble munch.

For the caramel corn recipe,  I used this one, from one of my favourite fun websites, where I often cross-post to. I’ve made this recipe many times, for myself, the DH, guests (who always comment on its addictive nature), and to add to a hostess gift basket with a nice wine (hey, sometimes it’s nice to enjoy a nice wine with some caramel corn while watching some absorbing show on TV — it’s great for a treat to get yourself to relax!).

This time, however, I wrapped them all up in little cellophane bags from the local Bulk Barn, and tied them closed with ribbon leftover from my wedding. I think they look so pretty!

I highly recommend this caramel corn recipe. It’s easier than you think, makes a bunch, and tastes, well, addictive, but without artificial colours or artificial flavours or artificial preservatives. And popcorn is high in fibre. I’m sure you could toss in some roasted nuts if you wanted to switch it up a bit, but I love it as is. The only caveat I will say is to NEVER EVER use microwave popcorn. Why? It’s full of nasty chemicals leaching in from the plastic coated bags! Seriously. Do you have any idea how easy it is to pop some corn in oil in a pot with a lid? Easier than pie. Also, it tastes more like movie popcorn. I dare you to try it. Double dog dare, in fact!

If you try it, let me know in the comments if you really do prefer it over the commercial brands! I’m betting that you will!

Next Post: Spice Cake, Another Ex-Boyfriend Story, and Thanksgiving Hikes.

A Ton o’ Hot Fudge Sauce!

Pouring on the chocolate. Love!

Pouring on the chocolate. Love!

I love chocolate. I do. As is evidenced from this post where I write about snacking on chocolate at midnight. The DH also knows that I like chocolate. Recently, I told him that I was craving chocolate, and he came home later that night with a whole BAG of it! Every type of chocolate bar he could find, he bought, along with some fancier types of Lindt bars, and even Haagen-Daas chocolate chip chocolate ice cream! (He knows me well.) He scored major brownie (see, chocolate!) points, I have to say!

And then this weekend we had guests over, so I made some Hot Fudge Sauce from a childhood recipe, to serve a la mode over individual ramekins of chocolate bread pudding. It was de-lic-ious! And our guests were impressed, which is always a bonus! 🙂

This recipe makes quite a bit of sauce, so you can keep it in a jar in the fridge until you finish it up. It’s great to add to milk to make a rich chocolate milk, but don’t use more than 1 tbsp. per 2 cups of milk, or it’ll be too chocolate-y (yes, there is such a thing!) — it’s that rich and dense! I just ate some with some ice cream, and it was so chocolate-y that it made the chocolate ice cream taste like vanilla. True story.

Enough with the descriptions, let’s make some sauce !

Bubble, bubble, toil and...chocolate?

Bubble, bubble, toil and…chocolate?

Best Ever Hot Fudge Sauce

  • 1 c. cocoa
  • 1 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 c. water

Bring all ingredients to boil in a saucepan, and then simmer for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. That’s it, you’re done!

Bubbling chocolate...be still my heart!

Bubbling chocolate…be still my heart!

After serving 7 servings of this, I still have a standard canning jar of syrup left. And since the DH doesn’t like chocolate, it’s mine, all mine! Bwahahaha! *composes self* *smiles angelically* And now to have a glass of chocolate milk before bed!

Next Post: Caramel Corn and Fundraising with Baked Goods.

Family-Sized Eggplant Parmesan and Italian Kitchens

The magic step that makes it tasty!

The magic step that makes it tasty!

Are you one of those people who don’t like eggplant? Probably because it tastes bitter and just kind of nasty, right? That’s because it’s been cooked without taking away the bitter juices! That one step can make the difference between bitter and delicious. Want to know how? Read on!

I had some houseguests over on the weekend and so I was cooking some larger-sized meals than I usually do. I had put an Eggplant Parmesan recipe on the menu when planning the weekend, but didn’t get around to making it — too busy catching up with friends! So I made it tonight. I’ve already eaten a serving, and packed one for the DH’s lunch tomorrow, and he had another serving as an evening snack. And I’m tempted to eat some more as a midnight snack! It’s healthy. Virtuous, even. In fact, I’d probably be doing myself a favour eating it, given that eggplant is high in fibre. It’s settled. *interruption to eat eggplant parm*

*returns, smacking lips*  Tasty! This makes a lasagna pan full of Eggplant Parmesan, so you can serve it as a main dish for dinner, or do what a lot of second-generation Italians do, and eat it on a dense bun for lunch the next day. Randomly, did you know that a lot of Italians who have moved to Canada have two kitchens? The regular kitchen, usually on the first floor, kept nice and clean and looking up-to-date, and then the second kitchen in the basement, where the real cooking gets done. Really. I think it evolved as a lot of Italians moved to Canada after the second world war, often in the building trades, and worked on improving their lives and standard of living. I think it’s mostly gone by the wayside, but it was definitely a thing!

Ok, on with the recipe!

Breading the Eggplant. Sort of like making schnitzel!

Breading the Eggplant. Sort of like making schnitzel!

Family-Sized Eggplant Parmesan

  • 2 large eggplants
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/2 c. flour
  • 2 tsp. oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • salt to sprinkle over each eggplant slice
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 c. milk
  • 1 c. oil
  • 1 large jar of classic tomato spaghetti sauce
  • 1 c. mozzarella cheese, grated
  • 1/3 c. parmesan cheese, grated

Ok, first things first: slice up that eggplant into 1/2 cm thick slices. Place on a plate and sprinkle both sides with salt. Let sit for half an hour. You’ll notice that brownish water starts beading up on the slices — those are the bitter juices. After half an hour, rinse the salt and bitter juices off the eggplant. Now your eggplant will taste sweet after cooking!

Mix the flour, pepper, salt, breadcrumbs, and oregano and put in one bowl. Mix egg and milk and put in another bowl. Heat oil in a skillet on medium to medium high heat. Dip each slice of eggplant in the egg/milk mixture, then into the breadcrumb mixture, and then fry in the oil until golden on each side. Set aside.

Now we layer the dish! Place a layer of fried eggplant in a lasagna pan. Cover with half the sauce and half the cheese (mozzarella AND parmesan). Repeat.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for half an hour, or until the eggplant slices are fully cooked through.

Mangia! Mangia! (And gesticulate emphatically about how delicious this dish is!)

Plated for easy gobbling down. Mangia!

Plated for easy gobbling down. Mangia!

I served this dish with some greens beans from our freezer, picked and preserved by little ol’ me! You can definitely taste the different between these green beans and your standard frozen-in-a-plastic-bag kind! Any other suggestions for side dishes? Let me know in the comments!

Next Post: Hot Fudge Sauce. Best Ever.

Memories of Meals Past: Pizza Pie…with Yoghurt?

Two ingredient dough with two ingredients on top. And...dinner is done!

Two ingredient dough with two ingredients on top. And…dinner is done!

I tried a new pizza dough recipe yesterday. I saw it on a “news” site, and though it sounded cool. Two ingredient pizza dough? I’m there! I figured it must have self-rising flour in it (flour with salt and baking powder already mixed in), and I was right, but I was curious as to what the other ingredient would be. Are you curious now too? It was…wait for it…yoghurt!

My reaction: a combo of “Eww” and “That makes sense!

Ew because I don’t like hearty meals with yoghurt. Unless it’s a cucumber yoghurt salad, made by my mum. Or a drained yoghurt dish, made by my dad, which ends up being very cream cheese like. Hmm. I should make that soon. I think the DH would like it. But I digress. So, yoghurt in a main dish, ew. Or so I thought.

The other half of my reaction (that makes sense!) because yoghurt is liquid dairy, and pizza dough is a type of bread, and breads often use liquids and dairy, so yes, I could see it being an ingredient in a pizza dough.

How did it turn out? Surprisingly well! It made for a relatively light dough, very different in raw texture from my favourite Easiest Pizza Dough in the History of Ever recipe. And because I used some vanilla Greek yoghurt (all I had in the house), it smelled slightly…fruity while it was baking. The DH even asked if I had put sugar in the dough. He liked it though, and had no idea there was yoghurt in it. It would be a great dough for other purposes. Maybe sprinkle some cinnamon sugar on it for a breakfast focaccia? Roll it up for cinnamon buns? Turn it into a proper olive oil and rosemary focaccia? I think I like that idea best!

Would I recommend it? Yup! It’s great in a pinch, and there’s no rising needed, and frankly, I skipped the kneading part, because eh. I do prefer my favourite pizza dough recipe though, because I like a classic yeast dough for pizza. It’s all about personal preference, I guess!

If you try one or both recipes, let me know what you think!

Next Post: Family-Sized Eggplant Parm, or A Ton O’ Fudge Sauce. I’m expecting house guests so I’m increasing my recipe quantities!

Waste Not, Want Not: Chocolate Bread Pudding

Missing the most important ingredient -- chocolate!

Missing the most important ingredient — chocolate!

I’m starting a new series today, Waste Not Want Not, because I realized that I often make recipes based on wanting to use up leftovers. Case in point, yesterday’s Single Serving Eggplant Parm.

The DH and I celebrated (Canadian) Thanksgiving with my family over the long weekend, and my mum made her super delicious homemade stuffing. The recipe that she follows uses a mixture of whole wheat and white bread, and recommends cutting the crusts off. So she had about 6 cups worth of bread crusts leftover. What to do?

Margaret to the rescue! With the Amazing Chocolate Bread Pudding of Deliciousness! Read on for the choco-licious recipe!

Chocolate Custard Base: Good Enough To Glug!

Chocolate Custard Base: Good Enough To Glug!

Chocolate Bread Pudding

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 9 tbsp. cocoa powder
  • 3/4 c. brown sugar
  • 3 cups milk
  • 5 cups bread crusts, approx.

Mix everything but bread crusts together. Place bread crust in 9 by 9 baking tray. Pour chocolate custard mixture over crusts, pressing down crusts to make sure all the crusts soak up the custard mixture. Bake in 350 degree oven for 30 minutes, or until top is puffed and dark brown. Enjoy the delicious comfort food that is chocolate bread pudding!

This would be great with chocolate chips sprinkled in. Perhaps with some dried cherries too? Or served a la mode? The bread pudding is baking as I type this, and I can’t wait to pull it out of the oven and eat it! I shall probably burn my tongue in my eagerness.

Not the prettiest photo, but it tastes AWESOME!

Not the prettiest photo, but it tastes AWESOME!

Edit, after eating pudding: Is delicious. And yes, I burnt my tongue. But it was worth it! It has a very rich chocolate taste, and reminded me the baked fudge pudding with sauce that I grew up with. Not bad for pudding made with leftover bread crusts, if I say so myself!

Next Post: Memories of Pizza Dough Past.