Freshly baked yum

I have a weakness. It’s something that makes going to grocery stores first thing in the morning tricky. It makes running through neighbourhoods with bakeries or stores tough. It has made me tell Ben that he never has to get me another bouquet of flowers, as long as he brings home this.

It's baaaaath time! :)

Ground flax seeds, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, hemp hearts, sesame seeds, oats…just hanging out in the bath…chillin’…like seed villains

Hullo, sneaky lover. I love your yeastiness. (TMI? Probably.)

Hullo, sneaky lover. I love your yeastiness. (TMI? Probably.)

It’s freshly baked bread.

Good morning!

Good morning!

Well, aren't we pretty in the morning?

Well, aren’t we pretty in the morning?

Oh my gosh. The smell of the yeast and flour warming in the oven. The delicious aroma of the crust being formed. The incredible feel of warm-out-of-the-oven bread. Watching butter (salted…because, you KNOW) melt into the bubbles of newly baked dough and then eating said melted-butter-covered bread? Oh. My. Gosh.

It's getting serious - we're dumping in the flour!

It’s getting serious – we’re dumping in the whole wheat flour!

Yeast. Salt. Flour. The beginnings of something awesome.

Yeast. Salt. Flour. The beginnings of something awesome.

Seriously.

Magic trick step 1 - measure out oil

Magic trick step 1 – measure out oil

Magic trick step 2 - measure honey in same spoon and watch it run right out of the spoon

Magic trick step 2 – measure honey in same spoon and watch it run right out of the spoon

At the Mills house we’re pro-real food. Pro food that we have made from whole foods ourselves. Pro knowing what the heck is in what we are eating. Making our own bread just makes sense. Because if you have ever read the ingredients in your favourite loaf of bread, you may not know what half the stuff in it is. Or what it’s for. But this bread? This bread you’ll know. And that has to be the best part…beside the whole warm bread melted butter thing.

Dear dough hook, We love you. Love, Julia's hands

Dear dough hook, We love you. Love, Julia’s hands

Adding the flavour, baby. Oh, yeah.

Adding the flavourful Biga, baby. Oh, yeah.

When we were searching for a recipe, we wanted it to be whole grain and have lots of grains – the seedier the better. In fact, I’m now on the hunt for a loaf made up entirely of seeds…like a soft cracker. When I track down one, I will totally share it here. Promise.

All mixed up and ready for some rest.

All mixed up and ready for some rest.

You got big!

You got big!

For now, we’ll take a peek at this loaf of bread that starts with oodles of seeds and ends in melted butter. Hallelujah.

Let's do some folding on some flour. Totally normal day.

Let’s do some folding on some flour. Totally normal day.

The biggest issue with freshly baked bread at home is it takes planning. And time. You can’t rush it. You can’t zip past steps. You can’t force it to rise or fall or bake faster than it’s wont to do. You just can’t. It’s one of those things where time is required. And if you don’t make time or plan time, you’re going to be disappointed.

Smooth, elastic, perfect.

Smooth, elastic, perfect.

Now, there are breads out there that require very little babysitting. Like the No-Knead Bread, which we have made a bunch of times. It’s delicious. And perfect if you’re short on time but you want bread the next day. Even the ‘fast’ bread takes time.

Whoa.

Whoa.

This bread starts the night before and is worth every hour. Sometimes I ‘rush’ it, and set it up in the morning to bake it off later in the afternoon or evening. But that’s still not a ‘rush,’ is it?

Two pieces...or a bum. You pick.

Two pieces…or a bum. You pick.

In this world, you soak the seeds and oats, so that they are the most flavourful. I would guess dry-roasting them would also do something similar, but then you wouldn’t have little pockets of moisture, which every bread needs – who wants to eat dry bread?

A square-ish! ;)

A square-ish! 😉

Like a letter, ready to mailed!

Like a letter, ready to mailed!

Tuck up those ends - we don't want everything coming apart, do we?

Tuck up those ends – we don’t want everything coming apart, do we?

You also recreate what professional bakeries do to ensure the most flavour possible – they take a bit of the dough from today’s batches to put in tomorrow’s batches, so that deep, yeasty flavour exists without having to let the dough sit and rise and get happy with itself for days, instead of hours. Since I (and probably you) don’t make bread every day (we’re crazy, but not that crazy, amirite?), you put together a bit of ‘fake’ dough to sit around for hours so that you’re incorporating that flavour in without the time and dough volume required. Sneaky, sneaky.

Well, don't you look familiar! And bread-like!

Well, don’t you look familiar! And bread-like!

A little bit of rest does wonders!

A little bit of rest does wonders!

On top of having way more flavour than a loaf of mass-produced store bread, this bread contains no refined sugar. There are two tablespoons of honey in this recipe. That’s it. That’s the sweet. The rest of the flavour comes from the other ingredients, as it should be. No flavour-boosters or preservatives or additives to make it taste like bread. It tastes like bread because it is bread.

A little bit of heat is a miracle worker!

A little bit of heat is a miracle worker!

This recipe is also perfect for me because I have crappy carpal tunnel (thanks, pregnancies and babies! Your gifts just keep on giving.), so kneading a bunch of bread is not really ideal for me. My fingers go numb typing. Or driving. Or sitting the wrong way (I’m SUCH a gong show!!!). Kneading thick, tricky bread dough?? So not up my alley. This recipe lets me haul out my sexy KitchenAid Mixer and let the dough hook do all the work. Genius, non? I thought so.

Because this is what we came for...this is what we were waiting for.

Because this is what we came for…this is what we were waiting for.

And finally, this makes two good-size loaves. Which means we have bread for around a week…which is perfect. We find we eat less of this bread than we do of store-bough loaves. I think it has a lot to do with the density of the loaf – it’s LOADED with seeds and goodness, and fills you up so much faster and for longer. Unlike store-bread which is light and fluffy and you can eat a few pieces of it and not even feel sated. This bread eliminates that. Which saves money. And time. And the world. You’re welcome.

Because wasting an opportunity for warm bread with melted butter is just nonsense.

Because wasting an opportunity for warm bread with melted butter is just nonsense.

If you’re scared about attempting bread, just know this: every rise of the bread makes it more awesome…and all mistakes can be overcome in these steps. It’s a three-rise bread, so you have opportunity to let the yeast and the water and the honey and the salt and the seeds and the flour do their thing and get you back on track.

Seriously. Try this bread. It’s worth every hour of waiting. I promise.

~ Julia

Multi-Grain Sandwich Bread

  • Servings: 2 loaves
  • Difficulty: easy with a dash of patience
  • Print

Ingredients

Soaker (You can come up with your own combination of seeds. The more seeds, the more water you’ll need).

1/4 cup ground flax seeds
1/4 cup sunflower seeds, raw, hulled
1/4 cup sesame seeds, raw
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds, raw, hulled
1/4 cup whole chia seeds
1/4 cup hemp hearts
1/2 cup large flake oats
1 1/2 cups water

Biga 

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup warm water (NOT hot)
1 tsp salt
pinch of active dry yeast

Dough

Soaker (see above)
3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup warm water (NOT hot)
1 tbsp salt
1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
2 tbsp honey
Biga (see above)
olive oil (around 3 tbsp)

Directions

The night beforein a medium bowl, mix together all the ingredients for the Soaker. Cover bowl and let rest at room temperature for 12 to 16 hours. In another medium bowl, mix together all the ingredients for the Biga. Cover bowl and let rest at room temperature for 12 to 16 hours.

The next day, add the Soaker, flours, warm water, salt, yeast into the bowl of a mixer with a dough hook attachment (if you don’t have one, you can totally do this by hand). Set aside.

Measure a tablespoon of olive oil in your tablespoon measure and pour into a large bowl. Grease the bowl with the oil. Set aside.

Take the oily tablespoon and measure your honey into the mixing bowl – it will just slide out (magic!). Using the dough hook attachment, mix until combined and the dough is pulling away from the sides. Add the Biga and mix again with the dough hook until the seedy dough and the Biga are combined. Dump the dough from the mixer bowl into your greased bowl, turning the dough until it is coated in oil. Cover and let sit at room temperature for at least an hour (or until it has doubled in size).

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and fold it in half several times, until the dough is smooth and elasticky (not sticky). Place the dough back into the oiled bowl, cover, and let sit at room temperature for at least an hour (or until it has doubled in size).

Lightly oil 2- 9×5-inch loaf pans with olive oil. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Separate the dough into 2 equal pieces. Taking the first piece, shape the dough into a 9×9-inch square. Fold the dough like a letter (into thirds), and tuck the ends under the dough. Place the dough, seam-side down, in the prepared loaf pan. Repeat with the second piece. Cover and let sit for at least an hour (or until the loaves have doubled in size), while preheating your oven to 425˚F. Uncover loaves and put in oven, side-by-side, baking for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the loaves sound hollow when you tap them on top. Let sit for 5 minutes in the loaf pans after pulling them out of the oven, then tip them onto baking racks to finish cooling. Feel free to ignore this last piece of advice and cut a loaf while still warm. Serve with butter or jam or eat a hunk naked. Bread will last for up to a week (cover to prevent drying out). ENJOY.

Adapted from Multi-Grain Sandwich Bread recipe on Spiced Blog

Advertisements

Monkey Muffins

Last week I was on vacation with Cody’s family, and man do I need a vacation from that vacation!

It was so relaxing, and I ate everything, and drank…everything.  Driving home on Sunday was hell because we were stuck in traffic for HOURS! And when we finally got home all I wanted to do was make a home cooked meal and hit the hay. After a much needed 12 hour sleep, I woke on Monday refreshed and antsy. I wanted to do something, I needed to do something.

It wasn’t that I didn’t have a to do list – like any one when they come back from vacation, with the unpacking, and the laundry and the mentally preparing for returning to work.  To be honest I was looking forward to getting back to our regular routine. In order to assist with getting back into the rhythm of things, I decided I was going to make muffins for my muffin (aww ?.. no? ew?) to have for breakfast for the next week. I took a traditional recipe and made it my own. They are peanut butter and banana muffins!

Ingredient list: 

2 Cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup lightly packed brown sugar

1 table spoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup of chunky peanut butter

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 eggs

3/4 cup milk

Before you start getting messy pre-heat the oven for 375 degrees F, then go over to your mixer and talk sweet to it. Let it know you are going to use it, but its going to like it. Whoa – did it just get a little spicy in here?

IMG_3540

Look at that bad ass bitch!

In a large bowl add all your dry ingredients starting with the 2 cups flour.

IMG_3541

Then the baking powder (note I used magic baking powder, you can only get this from going to your local witch or wizard, and trade them your magic beans for this! Don’t tell them I told you!)

 IMG_3543

Then the brown sugar. I used dark brown sugar, because Julia bought it for me and it was in my pantry. Also she told me that it has better flavor than the light kind.. who knew? Now you do!

IMG_3542

 

And finally the salt! (for all those wondering, my nail polish colour is called pool party, I highly recommend this sassy splash of summer)

IMG_3544

Mix the dry ingredients together until blended, and combined. I didn’t take a picture of this because I am only one person, and give me a break. If you need a visual then you don’t belong in the kitchen!

Next add all your wet ingredients into your mixer bowl in order to prepare them to make a delicious baby with the dry ingredients!

First comes your chunky peanut butter. I used chunky because I like a little bit of a surprise when it comes to my PB&J, but please use smooth, regular or which ever kind you would like.

IMG_3545

mmmmm chunky!

Next comes the oil, vegetable oil. Nothing fancy.

IMG_3546

Dos eggs (dos means two, I learned this from my grade 10 Spanish class where I was named Eva – but according to  my niece, Dora is a great Espanol tutor)

IMG_3547

Add your milk. Fun fact: Cody is lactose in tolerant, so we never have milk in the house. We do however have cream, so I used 1/2 a cup of milk and then the rest of the required amount I used water. Which you could totally use cream for the whole amount if you are not worried about calories. (Also how about we agree on not telling him that I used milk in this recipe…K? K!)

IMG_3548

Then your ripe banana’s.  I got mine out of the freezer so they look especially delicious. Why did I get them out of the freezer you ask? Well because when I buy Banana’s I always buy enough that some will go ripe, and then I freeze them so when Cody or I have a craving for Banana bread I can bust out these bad boys and be a freaking super hero!

IMG_3549

Once all your wet ingredients are combined, then slowly add your dry! I did get a picture of this, because I became a photographer for a moment, and then pulled a muscle, and cut that shit out!

IMG_3550

Once everything is combined, add your liners to your muffin/cupcake pan. I like to tell my muffin mixture it is about to get thrust into adulthood so its not a surprise when they are put into the fiery inferno that is your oven, but hey – to each their own! Just don’t blame me when your muffins are all dry and not delicious because you decided not to give them a little warning.

IMG_3551

Pay no attention to the messy oven…

Now set your timer for 25 mins and relax… I like to crochet or annoy my dog with my love and affection. Or you could clean up the mess you made, but cleaning is for chumps!

After your lovely timer rings and sings the songs of peanut butter choir – run, don’t walk to your oven. GET AN OVEN MIT FOR THE LOVE OF GOD and take out your Monkey Muffins!

Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm….. 

IMG_3553

Now… the secret to ANY good muffin is…Nutella! Mmmmmmm and enjoy!

IMG_3555

~ Jacqui

Instructions:

In a large bow, mix together the flour, brown sugar, baking power and salt.

In a separate bowl beat together the peanut butter, oil, eggs, milk and bananas.

Combine the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients until just moistened.

spoon the batter into 12 large muffin tins. Bake for 20-25 mins, use a tooth pic in order to confirm that they are cooked all the way through.

Mmm-mussels

With all this lovely (read: disgusting – winter can eff off now) cold weather we’re having, I thought a yummy, satisfying and simple recipe was just the ticket for this post.

While I am no chef, my mussels do have my household’s stamp of approved foods we crave often and have been a hit with many of our friends.

Personally, I love seafood, shellfish in particular, which is an issue for anyone who doesn’t live on a coastal town with fresh catch being brought in daily – it’s often pricey due to transport and shelf life tends to be iffy. I’ve found I can usually count on Caudle’s Catch in Kitchener for a decent price and fresh product; however the live mussels from Costco are hard to beat in both price and freshness and that is where I end up purchasing them the majority of the time.

Source: awesome Costco sale blog www.adventuresinnevyland.com

Source: awesome Ontario Costco sale blog www.adventuresinnevyland.com

Live mussels are easy to prepare for cooking and can be whipped up in 20-30 minutes once you’ve got a solid recipe down pat.

To start, you will need to clean and debeard the mussels as well as check them for quality. To do this I place the mussels into a colander in the sink and tap the slightly open ones to make sure they’re alive and good to eat – if they are, the shell will slowly seal shut; if they’re not, the shell will stay open. Throw out the mussels that stay open. The mussels from Costco don’t usually need a lot of cleaning or scrubbing and very little debearding, so I give them a good rinse and then debeard the few that may need it.

Source:  www.noshon.it

Debearding – Source: www.noshon.it

Once the mussels are clean, I set them aside either in the fridge or add in some loosely packed bags of ice to the colander to keep them cool.

IMG_0465

Depending on your personal taste buds, the next part is subject to your liking – the basic requirements are the same, though with a liquid for steaming and vegetables and/spices for flavour. Personally, I love to keep it simple with white wine, fresh cherry or canned tomatoes (side note: to speed up the flavour I’ve noticed a bolder presence with canned, diced tomatoes and the juice from the can), garlic, onion, fresh parsley and sometimes a bit of celery if I’ve got it.

To the ratio of two-packages (they come attached) of Canadian Cove farmed live blue mussels, which works out to be roughly 5.6lbs, add:

  • 1 large onion, (I prefer Sweet or a Spanish onion), chopped
  • 5 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 3-4 cups of white wine (keep some extra on hand for ‘taste testing’ *wink* *wink*)
  • 1 large can of diced tomatoes with juice
  • 1 tbsp of finely chopped fresh parsley

Because when I cook I have to feed an army, this usually feeds 3-4 adults comfortably and then some if it’s being served as a main. As a side, halve the recipe and mussels.

IMG_0466

Broth before steamy pre-boil

I place all of the above ingredients, minus the mussels, into my trusty Starfrit 6qt deep pan with a vented glass lid and slowly bring to a steamy temperature, just before any signs of a boil then add in the mussels using a slotted spoon. I give the dish a good stir in, ensuring the mussels are well coated in sauce and then replace the lid, allowing the steam to build and the liquid to boil without getting out of hand (a gentle simmer, not a hard boil). I let it cook for about 10 minutes, making sure to stir the mussels into the broth every once in a while to even cooking and flavour infusion. You will know the mussels are done and ready for serving when the shells open.

Slowly starting to open, indicating 'ready' status!

Slowly starting to open, indicating ‘ready’ status!

Be sure to not overcook them or they will become rubbery and, while still edible, not nearly as enjoyable.

I like to serve them in deep bowls with a bit of broth and some nice crusty french bread for dipping. To up the ante, I whip up some garlic butter, give the bread a good spread then light toasting in the oven…mmm…I’m drooling at the thought.

IMG_0460

Looks like I know what’s for dinner tonight at my place!

~ Toni

Childhood comfort

People generally have those comfort foods they turn to. I don’t have a lot of them as I’m more prone on a bad day to just go with a cup of hot canned soup.

I do have a couple, however, and although I don’t follow most cooking recipes, I usually follow baking recipes. Usually.
We have a childhood favourite, and they are our mom’s ‘Uncooked Cookie’ recipe.

She has different variations, and we each use those different variations, but because I am in her house, I have her original recipe!

So you will need some milk…
DSC_4222
…and butter and sugar. Throw that on the heat ’til it melts, and then let it boil for about a minute. Longer than that it tends to burn.
DSC_4208On the side, combine your rolled oats and cocoa!

DSC_4209Mix it well!
DSC_4210When the butter, sugar and milk are boiled, mix in your oats and cocoa mixture. Add some vanilla. Be sure to add more oats if it is a little too moist.
DSC_4211Be careful NOT to burn yourself. Like I did.
DSC_4216Put down some waxed paper, and spoon it out with some tablespoons!
DSC_4213Nice neat rows.
DSC_4212Let sit until they are good and solid, but still gooey.

Then EAT and enjoy. I recommend with some milk.

I remember helping our mom with this recipe when I was a bit shorter, so it’s always a sweet experience in more ways than one whenever I make it.

Like mom our moms awesome decor? Inspiring right!?

Like our mom’s awesome decor? Inspiring right!?

Mom's Uncooked Cookies

  • Servings: 2 dozen cookies
  • Difficulty: easy-peasy
  • Print

Ingredients

3 cups rolled oats
6-8 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup butter
2 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Directions

Lay long sheets of wax paper on a flat, cool surface (this is where your cookies will set, so make sure tiny fingers or helpful pets can’t get to them). Combine oats and cocoa in a bowl, mixing well. Set aside. In large sauce pot, combine milk, butter and sugar. Stirring constantly, heat on medium-high heat. Bring to a boil. Let boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and immediately add vanilla and dry mixture to the pot. Stir until combined. Using tablespoons, gently place mounds of dough on the prepared wax paper. Let the cookies sit until they are set. Enjoy with a glass of milk!

~ Andreah

‘Tis the Season to Indulge

It’s no secret that I love food.

All things food.

I love it so much that while cresting the hill of 25 and preparing to face the inevitable metabolic slow down that was about the rear its ugly head, I began working out religiously just so I could maintain my eating habits – for the most part. Of course I’m wiser with what types of foods I injest for my overall health’s sake, I’ve just managed to make sure when I do indulge it is at least a little less guilt free.

As all good food lover’s know, the best foods seem to be more delectable, more delicious and more sinful around the holidays – especially at Christmas time. I am pretty sure the increased enjoyment stems from being surrounded with people that you love (for the most part), the indulgent tendancies of the season of the adult juice type variety and the magic of the lights dancing off the tree.

There are even some foods that just don’t seem right to be caught enjoying at any other season or time throughout the year and some that just don’t taste the same when not reserved for the holidays. Some of my favourite foods, flavours and treats include:

1. Gingerbread: this goes for men, houses, stars, snowmen and the flavour in general – especially whilst being enjoyed in a hot beverage. Gingerbread is exclusively a Christmas taste and is not transferable to any other season or combinable with any other offers.

Source: Deviant Art

Source: Deviant Art

2. Coquilles Saint-Jacques: this is a dish that we traditionally eat during our Christmas dinner with Michael’s family and if you have not had it, I suggest you find a way to experience it soon. Michael’s mom makes the best version I’ve ever had and as with the majority of her dishes, has ruined it for me everywhere else, ensuring I only eat hers. It’s SO good. Mashed potatoes? Yum. Scallops? Yum. Lobster? Yum. Shrimp? Yum. (Sorry, JQ). It’s is literally my favourite things baked together in a decorative shell. Don’t believe me? Here’s a recipe that is closer to Pina’s then I have traditionally seen.

IMG_0394

3. Eggnog: Seriously, only good at Christmas. It doesn’t matter who you are, you cannot drink the stuff after December leaves us. I’m pretty sure there is a clause somewhere that changes the taste of all eggnog served outside of the last month of the year.

Yum.

Yum.

4. Chestnuts: I know, I know – a Portuguese that loves roasting chestnuts, how original. However, chestnuts, especially roasted are only enjoyable near Christmas. I am sure some crazy person once decided to roast chestnuts in July, but I’m also pretty sure the reason you’ve never heard a song about them in the summer is because they’re not nearly as enjoyable or even required at any other occasion.

IMG_0396

Delicious

5. Candy cane: small, medium or large, cane, stick or crumbled, traditional candy cane flavour or flavour shot of peppermint in your hot coacoa – candy canes are not a year round item. They are a short lived item on the store shelf, which is good news for people like me that get headaches when they injest too much of the candy cane’s sugar.

IMG_0397

Pretty

Whatever your favourite foods, tastes and treats are this Christmas, I hope you enjoy every delightful bite you may take, drink you may sip and embrace you may steal. Merry Christmas, everyone!

~Toni

Spaghetti alla Carbonara

An absolute favourite in our home, Spaghetti alla Carbonara originated in Italy – Rome to be specific and is a pasta dish traditionally consisting of egg, cheese and bacon.

I was first introduced to this recipe by Michael. It was his go-to dish to impress me with when we first started dating long before I knew how simple it was to whip together, as its richness in flavour would make you think it took ages to assemble. Over time it has become one of my personal favourites to whip up and Michael assures me that he’s met his match in the Carbonara game – an accolade I am proud to have earned.

Michael’s mom, Pina was the first to share with me the origins of the dish, explaining that the village would feed the Charcoal workers this hearty meal as it was filling,  easy to cook in large batches and fairly inexpensive to make as pork based meats, cheese and pasta are in abundance in Italy.

While there are many variations and versions of Carbonara – including the cream based sauce, chicken and garlic additions of the western world, and Michael’s and my very own mushroom and onion versions – the best in my opinion is the basic, traditional version.

To start you will need:

A good cut of bacon – if I’m not able to get to our local butcher, I prefer President’s Choice, naturally smoked bacon. You can also swap the bacon out for pancetta, or add in chicken breast in addition to the bacon.

Parmigiano Reggiano – not Kraft Parmesan (aka salt), REAL Parmigiano Reggiano, wax case and all. As this is a staple in our home, I usually buy a fair size piece and then grate it myself – however if I’m tight for time I cheat and buy the pre-grated container at the local butcher, Dipietros. You can also request to have it grated at most meat/deli counters in your local grocery store.

Parmigiano Regiano

Parmigiano Regiano

Eggs – the rule for quantity required is one egg per serving or person eating, plus one. So if I am making enough pasta for 4 people, I would need five eggs for the sauce base.

Pasta – traditionally a spaghetti dish, however many types of pasta can be used in this recipe and it works well with fettuccine or linguine. I however prefer tradition and usually use spaghetti.

IMG_0361

To begin, you will need to cut your bacon into roughly one inch chunks and then separate the slices onto a plate.

I use kitchen scissors as I find it a bit easier and faster

I use kitchen scissors as I find it a bit easier and faster

IMG_0364

Once this is complete, cook your bacon until it is the perfect texture of almost crunchy, but with a little bit of flex to it still. I use a deep pan for this to avoid splatter.

A tip for dealing with the bacon grease: line a bowl with tin foil and drain off the grease into the bowl. When the grease is cooled, you can wrap it up in the tinfoil and throw it away, minimizing the mess and clean up.

Mmmmm bacon

Mmmmm bacon

I drain off the grease as I go to avoid 'boiling' the bacon in its own fat and to cut down on splatter

I drain off the grease as I go to avoid ‘boiling’ the bacon in its own fat and to cut down on splatter

Perfect!

Perfect!

Once the bacon is done cooking, drain off any excess grease and pat dry with paper towel, setting it aside. This is where I start the pasta, bringing the water to a boil, adding in the spaghetti, a pinch of salt and about a teaspoon of olive oil to avoid sticky noodles.

Once the pasta is started, I grate the Parmigiano using a hand grater.

A gift from Piña, my favourite grater.

My favourite grater.

You will need enough cheese for the sauce - one scoop per serving - as well as to garnish/ taste once plated.

You will need enough cheese for the sauce – one scoop per serving – as well as to garnish/ taste once plated.

Now, for the base of the sauce! In a separate bowl, crack your eggs using the rule of one egg per person/serving, plus one.

A serving for four = five eggs

A serving for four = five eggs

To keep the eggs from congealing from the heat of the pasta, add a small splash of extra virgin olive oil – less than a teaspoon.

Just a splash!

Just a splash!

Using a fork, beat your eggs with the olive oil until combined.

The blur is my hand and the fork - I'm so fast!

The blur is my hand and the fork – I’m so fast!

Once the egg and olive oil is ready, add in your Parmigiano using the same rule as the egg. As I am a Parmigiano addict, I make sure mine are heaping scoops.

Mmmmm Parm...

Mmmmm Parm…

To finish the sauce, add in your bacon and stir.

Mmmmm bacon...

Mmmmm bacon…

Ready for the pasta

Ready for the pasta

When your pasta is ready, drain, rinse and return it to the pot. Pour in your sauce and stir – based on the type of pasta I use, I usually use a pair of tongs to turn over the noodles in the sauce to avoid ruining the integrity of the noodle. The heat of the noodle will slightly cook the eggs, with the oil keeping it creamy and rich.

Your pasta is now ready for plating! Be sure to garnish with a few more scoops of Parm and a bit of cracked pepper to taste.

Voila!

Buon appetito!

 

Baking adventures with Andreah

I am not a great baker.

I once wanted to be a chef, but I never liked baking all that much. That, and whenever I think about baking I think of the mess I have to clean up after…not pretty.

But I do have a few choice recipes in my repertoire that I like, and a good, simple applesauce cake is one of the best things I can bake.

This one has no eggs and I also made a lot of it as a quick breakfast for Joe, because apparently he doesn’t like cooking in the morning (silly man).

Baking!_001

I made my own applesauce out of a jar of homemade pie filling my Elena gave me. But any applesauce can be used.

Baking!_002
Really simply done, you just boil it down and mash it/blend it.

Baking!_003
Mix together the butter and sugar and applesauce.

Baking!_004
Flour!

Baking!_005
It looks more like dough than a batter; strange, but at least you can see it will be spongy!

Baking!_006
See? Spongy!

Baking!_007
After 40 minutes you have deliciousness.

Baking!_008
So yummy and moist!

I’m a basic baker, but this one has minimal cleaning, so it’s one I don’t mind.

I hope, dear readers, you get to eat cake!

~ Andreah

Simple Applesauce Cake

  • Servings: however many pieces you'd like!
  • Difficulty: easy-peasy
  • Print

Ingredients

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 and 1/2 cups chilled applesauce
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 /2 tsp of allspice
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350˚ F. Grease and flour a 6×13 inch or 8×8 in pan. Cream butter and sugar together. Add applesauce and mix well. Stir in flour, baking soda and spices. If you’re using nuts, fold them in gently. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 40 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Enjoy hot or cold!

Adapted from Joanna’s Applesauce Cake I 

Salt cod and potatoes or Bacalhau à Gomes De Sà – WVS style

The youngest of the sisters had a recent birthday, and, for said birthday, requested a family favourite – salt cod and potatoes. Now, I have only known this recipe to be made the way that it was passed down from our Dad – and it seems he put his own twist on a Portuguese tradition.

We the sisters whose birthday it was not, decided to make a night out of making it – and a blog post. Please be warned we were all tired and on a sugar high. We do not suggest you do the same. Maybe make the dinner while sipping a gorgeous glass of wine – that would be what Maria would want!

Ingredients:

Salt cod   Salt cod is cod that has been preserved by drying and salting. We purchased it from a local grocery store that had a seafood department. The cod was sitting in a basket in front of the seafood counter. 

Potatoes – You can use any kind; we used the yellow fleshed potatoes. These just give it a nicer colour as you shove the delicious meal into your mouth.

Onions – Regular cooking onions will do. Be careful, though – your eyes will BURN for a lifetime afterwards.  

Paprika, Salt, Pepper, Garlic, EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)

We were making this recipe for an army – literally – so I am going to ask you to use your own discretion in regards to how much of each you use.

Step 1 – Salt cod needs to be soaked and drained in water in order to remove the salting process. Seems kinda silly since you are going to be adding salt back into the recipe, but trust me, you NEED to drain it. We suggest 24-48 hours, draining 3-4 times within that time frame, just depending on how salty you like it!

Salt Cod after it has been drained - YUMMMM

Salt cod after it has been drained – YUMMMM

TWO DAYS LATER  – I know I know, it seems like such a long time, but it is SOOOO worth it!

Step 2 – Prepare your ingredients by slicing the onions and the potatoes into rounds. We used a mandolin – not the small guitar-like instrument, but the vegetable slicer – there is a difference. I suggest you not go to Target like we did and run around the store making comments about the ridiculous price of some mandolins and the difference between the slicers and the guitars. Actually, scratch that. Don’t go to Target with two deliriously tired sisters while you yourself are tired and try to purchase anything. You will buy candy, pizza…and make friends with mean ladies in Echos…but I digress…back to the cod!

Mandolin - another tool on the list of tools Julia is not allowed to use.... oye

Mandolin – another tool on the list of tools Julia is not allowed to use…oy.

Our onions and potatoes

Our onions and potatoes…pay no attention to the large amount of candy…focus on the potatoes and onions.

FUN FACT – Onions make you cry. I know it’s not that fun and you all probably know about it, but what I bet you didn’t know is that those damn onions and their potent stench and burn TRAVEL!!! YEAH, that’s right, TRAVEL! Travel between rooms and across tables…seriously.

Tears... not happy ones, even though we look happy!

Tears…not happy ones, even though we look happy!

delirious...  they BURN people!!!

Delirious…they BURN people!!!

When you are cutting up all of your ingredients, you should probably have some kind of muscle around. We had Ben 🙂 He attacked our garlic, helped with the onion, listened to our insane midnight babble and tried to ignore the fact that he is stuck in this family and willingly married into it. MWAHAHAHAHAHA!

Ben - our muscle..

Ben – our resident muscle

Step 3 – Now that you have all your ingredients, it’s time to put them in the pan. You can use a glass casserole dish, which we would normally use, but since we were cooking for three families, we used a large portable oven. At this point you should probably preheat your oven to 350 F.

Now to create the deliciousness!!! Drizzle some EVOO on the bottom of the pan in order to try and stop any potatoes from burning.

EVOO - Extra virgin olive oil

EVOO – Extra virgin olive oil

Next take some potatoes and line the dish with the sliced potatoes standing up, then adding some onion, then a hunk of cod. Once you get in the groove, it gets easier. Just repeat the pattern. Try to put one side of the salt cod against onion, so that the flavours infuse…oooo I’m getting fancy!

Cod, onion, potato, cod, onion potato, cod, onion, potato.... and so on

Cod, onion, potato, cod, onion potato, cod, onion, potato…and so on

Continue the pattern until you have no more room! YUM YUM YUM!!!!!

Chop up your garlic. We used a whole head, but you only need about three to four cloves. Sprinkle them over the dish, trying to spread them out as much as possible.

Garlic - another Laurentino favorite

Garlic – another Laurentino favourite

Drizzle more of the golden juice from the olive gods all over pretty liberally. However, if you are using a glass dish, make sure you have some kind of drip tray under the dish when you put in into the oven, or else your oven will start to smoke, and you will have to explain to Cody that it was an accident, and it’s being taken care of as smoke billows out of the oven behind you. You will have to open up all the windows, and at this time of year, it’s not ideal!

MORRRREEE More EVOO

MORRRREEE more EVOO

IMG_2117[1]

President’s Choice Smoked Paprika

Now, to season this dish! We used sea salt and pepper. Shake and sprinkle and season to your own liking. We also used smoked paprika, President’s Choice brand! Again, use it liberally, but to your own taste!

IMG_2130[1]

Cover your dish in tin foil – this will help make the onions and the potatoes go soft and melt together. Throw it in the oven…okay, don’t actually throw it…place it in the oven for about 45 minutes to an hour. Check after an hour with a fork and push it into the potatoes – you want them to just fall apart. If there is any tension while poking them, cook them another 15 minutes.

Serve with a sprinkle of vinegar and you are good to ENJOY! Seriously soooo good!

Try it and let us know how you like it! From our kitchen to yours with love – Happy cooking!

Happy cooking, ladies!

Happy cooking, ladies!

~ Jacqui

Salt cod and potatoes (Bacalhau à Gomes De Sà) - WVS Style

  • Servings: 1 glass 9x13 casserole dish, or 1 roaster oven, your choice!
  • Difficulty: worth the effort
  • Print

Ingredients

salt cod
potatoes
onions
garlic
salt and pepper to taste
EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
smoked paprika

Directions

Soak salt cod in cold water in a bowl in the fridge for 24 to 48 hours, changing out water 3 to 4 times. Drain and set aside in a bowl. Wash and peel potatoes, then slice using a mandolin to make rounds. Set aside in another bowl. Peel onions, then slice using a mandolin to make rounds. Set aside in another bowl. Chop garlic and place into a fourth bowl. Cut salt cod into chunks about the same size as the potato pieces. Put back in its bowl. Preheat oven to 350°F. Drizzle EVOO over the bottom of the cooking dish. Arrange potatoes, onions, and cod pieces into dish, standing them up on one end, creating rows of a repeating pattern. If possible, put onion pieces on either side of potatoes and cod. Sprinkle garlic pieces all over the casserole. Drizzle with more EVOO. Season with salt, pepper and smoked paprika, to taste. Cover with foil and put in oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Casserole is finished when potatoes are fork tender. Serve with a bit of vinegar, if you’d like. Enjoy!

Brownie-licious

Here’s the thing about a house FULL of girls…chocolate is a must.

Elixir of life...with butter, which is also the elixir of life...so elixir of life SQUARED.

Elixir of life…with butter…which is also the elixir of life…so elixir of life SQUARED.

It’s there for you when you break up.

It's getting hot in here...so take off all your clothes...wait, wrong post.

It’s getting hot in here…so take off all your clothes…wait, wrong post.

It’s there for you when you birthday up.

Smoooooth

Smoooooth

It’s there for you to eat with coffee (or tea…or milk).

Way more than a spoonful, Ms. Poppins...WAY more.

Way more than a spoonful, Ms. Poppins…WAY more.

It’s there for you to spruce up your banana bread.

Chocolate, sugar, butter...what could go wrong?

Chocolate, sugar, butter…what could go wrong?

It can turn the greyest day to pure sunshine.

 

Chicken or egg? Who cares?! BROWNIES!

Chicken or egg? Who cares?! BROWNIES!

And apparently, if you eat the right kind, it’s GOOD for you (HOW AWESOME).

Vanilla and salt...ying and yang...yum and yummier

Vanilla and salt…ying and yang…yum and yummier

Chocolate is never that far out of reach in the Sisterhood and for good reason – it’s delicious and it’s delicious. Not to mention, delicious.

And the glue...flour...to keep everything together.

And the glue…flour…to keep everything together.

Before I got married and had babies, I found this delectable, decadent, fantastic brownie recipe that made the most delicious brownies of all time.

Are you ready, baby?

Are you ready, baby?

They became “The Brownies”, requested almost as much as my famous chocolate chip cookies (another recipe for another day), and reserved for the most special of occasions.

Oh....

Oh….

They are moist, not cakey, fully chocolatey, and absolutely unhealthy (no, seriously). They are also kind of expensive to make (8 eggs! 10 ounces of chocolate! 4 cups of sugar!)

...YEAH.

…YEAH.

They are best saved for that milestone celebration, for that fancy party, or for that much-needed, long-neglected, took-forever-to-schedule-and-now-we’re-here-6-months-later girls night.

Have a good sleep, dear brownie pan. We'll EAT you soon!

Have a good sleep, dear brownie pan. We’ll EAT you soon!

It is not a recipe to be taken lightly…but it is heavenly and worth every chop, stir, and patient waiting while they set in the oven.

Oookay...we're going to need a minute here. *DROOL*

Oookay…we’re going to need a minute here. *DROOL*

These are The Brownies. And they are the ones you’ve been waiting for. Now, excuse me while I have one with my morning coffee (just don’t tell Toni…).

Suggested serving. Trust me.

Suggested serving. Trust me.

~ Julia

The Brownies

  • Servings: 1-9x13 pan of fudgy goodness (however many squares you'd like!)
  • Difficulty: worth the effort
  • Print

Ingredients

10 oz unsweetened Baker’s chocolate
1 1/2 cups butter
8 eggs
4 cups sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup flour

Directions

Grease 9×13 baking pan. Preheat oven to 350°F. Coarsely chop chocolate. Cut butter into cubes. Place both butter and chocolate in a large saucepan set over medium-low heat. Stir constantly until chocolate is almost melted and there are still a few lumps. Remove from heat and stir until smooth. Set aside. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs until evenly blended. Set aside. Stir sugar into warm chocolate mixture until combined. Add eggs, stirring constantly until smooth. Stir in salt and vanilla. Gradually add flour and stir until just mixed. Pour the liquid heaven mixture (i.e. brownie batter) into prepared pan and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in the middle comes out with moist crumbs but not with raw batter. Cool before cutting. Cut into as many squares as you’d like, or grab a fork and a friend. YUM.

Adapted from Chatelaine Speedy Fudge Brownie recipe

Banana bread baking bonanza!

There are certain foods, desserts, breads, dishes that invoke memories. Some of childhood, others of your fiance and one of his friends making banana bread in your oven and almost starting a fire because the two of them have never baked before and therefore were not aware that banana BREAD rises (Needless to say, the mix ran over the side, and all over the bottom of my oven. Thank GOODNESS for self-cleaning ovens! That being said it was some pretty amazing banana bread). I couldn’t tell you what provoked them to bake, but now whenever I have bananas left over from the bunch, I remember the smoke…the horrible smell…my smoking oven… and how good that banana bread was.  If you ask Cody, bananas should only be bought to turn old and to then be put in the freezer to await the great baking of banana bread. So I thought I would share with you the adventure that our latest batch of bananas took.

There are some key components to making anything… first, it’s always more fun if you have people to bake with – I enlisted my sisters (duh) except Dee, as that trip would be ridiculous to just make banana bread and then have her go home…so we thought of her in spirit!

Toni arrived late…shockingly enough…but she came with about 20 bananas, and there is this thing called unconditional love!

Better late then never ...

Better late then never …

You can’t stay mad at that face – she was in charge of taking pictures for this extravaganza

First we peeled our bananas – we doubled our recipe, this way one pan would have chocolate chips…dark chocolate chips…and the other plain Jane for Cody who is lactose intolerant.

They look gross... but it will taste GREAT!

They look gross… but it will taste GREAT!

They look more slimy than normal because they were still slightly frozen.

We added our eggs, our oil, and the sugar

Banana, Eggs, Oil, Sugar ...

Banana, eggs, oil, sugar…

Combine your ingredients so they are still lumpy.  When I combined them, I used a fork and mushed the banana chunks a bit because they were still a little frozen.

Mushy and chunky!

Mushy and chunky!

In a separate bowl, add your dry ingredients, other than the sugar which was previously added with your banana and oil mixture – flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt cinnamon and nutmeg – and combine them together.

"No honey's no jam's .... just  dry" Ingredients that is

“No honeys, no jams, just dry”…ingredients that is!

I should tell you that at this point you should ensure that your “photographer” isn’t taking selfies…and that they are PAYING ATTENTION!

PAY ATTENTION!

PAY ATTENTION!

You are going to pour the wet ingredients into the dry! Normally it’s the other way around – banana bread can be a sneaky bitch!

Look at that action shot!

Look at that action shot!

Stir your wet and dry together just to combine them – you want this mixture to still be lumpy like pancake batter.

Lumpy yummy-ness!

Lumpy yummy-ness!

Toni and Julia at this point were delusional with giddiness – and constantly taking pictures of themselves, instead of the master pieces we were making!

Our resident baker and resident picture taker!

Our resident baker and resident picture-taker!

Back to business – grease two (because we doubled the recipe)  bread pans so your delicious-ness will sliddddeee right out!

We used butter ... mmmmm butter!

We used butter…mmmmm butter!

Pour your mixture into both pans about halfway. If you fill them to the brim then they will over flow, and make the biggest smokiest mess EVER! So half way… (Editor’s note: if you just make a single batch, put all of the batter in one pan. It’ll be fine. I promise. And if it’s not, just offer the firemen some banana bread. They’ll LOVE it.)

Half way! Take heed!  Half  Way

Half way! Take heed!
Half
Way

 

They looked SO Yummy!!!

They are going to be so yummy!

We added a 1/2 cup of dark chocolate chips to one of our pans, and mixed it without disturbing the mojo of the mixture!

Adding our sweetness!

Adding our sweetness!

Pop those bad boys into the oven and let them cook to delicious perfection!

Two buns in the oven!

Two buns in the oven!

Let them bake for 55-60 minutes, which is just enough time to plan a little something something! Which you should stay tuned for a little later on this year!

Shhhh it's an EXCITING secret!!!!!

Shhhh it’s an EXCITING secret!!!!!

Okay, so 60 minutes have passed, the secret has been planned and now it’s time to take out those delicious treats we made!

Yum yum yum!

Yum yum yum!

I would suggest eating it warm – the chocolate chips are ooey and gooey, the top is crispy and there is nothing like a fresh out of the oven treat! YUM. Pair it with a cup of coffee and you have yourself pure morning bliss!

IMG_1403[1]

And enjoy!

~ Jacqui

Yummy Banana Bread

  • Servings: 16/1 loaf
  • Difficulty: easy-peasy
  • Print

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
2 beaten eggs
5 very ripe bananas, mashed
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup chocolate chips or walnuts (optional)

Directions

Grease loaf pan with butter. Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine all dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre. Set aside. Combine the rest of the ingredients, minus the chocolate chips or walnuts, in a medium bowl and mix until blended. Add egg mixture all at once to flour mixture. Stir until just moistened (batter should be lumpy). Fold in chocolate chips or walnuts. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes until a wooden toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan. Enjoy!

Adapted from Better Home and Gardens Best Banana Bread Recipe