Home-made hot chocolate and cookies

I’ve recently started volunteering for a non profit organization called Live Local Alberta. They are amazing because they offer the option of living as local as possible in Edmonton, something that is very difficult to do when you’re trying to figure it out all on your own. They offer many living local options, called appropriately, dine localshop localwork local, and (my personal favourite) eat local (stay tuned for play local!). I’ve been working with great folks at eat local first, because as you can imagine, I LOVE local food!!! I’ve been working with them to get their new website up, so that it is even more easy for Edmontonians to live local. As part of this project, I have been charged with the awesome opportunity to try a few products, and write about them (What an amazing opportunity! I am so privileged to be able to take part in such an amazing experience. Thank you Live Local!)

This week’s feature product is vital greens certified organic, non-homoginezed, delicious whole milk. Check out this video for more info about vital greens and their organic farm.

As a non-homogenized milk, you have to shake the container to get all of the milky goodness (It can separate if it stands there for a while). There is debate as to whether non-homogenized milk is better for you, given that there is less factory tampering of the product. Justin and I couldn’t really tell the difference, but we could, however, taste the creamier fullness of this milk, compared to regular store-bought milk. What we noticed the most, was that you didn’t get that sticky milky taste at the back of your mouth with this milk, as you normally do with store bought milk.

With delicious organic milk being the feature product this week, I thought it would be fun to make home made hot chocolate out of it, to accompany the “best ever chocolate chip cookies” (courtesy of words to eat by) that I had made earlier on in the week as a last minute birthday gift for my co-worker.

Making home made hot chocolate is so easy, and it tastes a lot better than the powdery stuff too! All you do it take a handful of your favourite chocolate chips (we used white chocolate chips), and melt them in a sauce-pan with the milk until all is incorporated.

Serve with your favourite chocolate chip cookies and enjoy on a snowy Friday evening!


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jacquie’s home made hot chocolate

1.5 cups of milk (we use vital green’s organic whole milk)

1/2 cup of chocolate chips

 

In a saucepan, combine milk and chocolate chips. Heat, stiring constantly, until fully incorporated. Enjoy!

 

The best ever chocolate chip cookies (courtesy of words to eat by)

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ t. baking soda
½ t. salt
¼ pound (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (I used 1/2 cup of margarine)
½ cup sugar
¾ cup tightly packed light brown sugar
1 ½ t. vanilla extract
1 large egg, at room temperature, lightly beaten
1 cup of your favourite chocolate chips

1) Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl and set aside.

2) Using a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or a hand mixer, cream the butter and sugars on low speed until it is smooth and lump free, about 3 minutes. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle.

3) Add the vanilla and egg and beat on low speed for 15 seconds, or until fully incorporated. Do not overbeat. Stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle.

4) On low speed, add the flour mixture. Beat until just incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the chocolate chunks and mix until they are just incorporated. If using a hand mixer, use a wooden spoon to stir them in. Refrigerate dough for at least an hour, and preferably 24-36 hours. (I didn’t do this part, and the cookies turned out fine!)

5) Preheat oven to 350. Adjust racks to lower and upper thirds of the oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpats. Spoon the dough using a cookie scooper 2 inches apart onto the prepared baking sheets. (makes about 23 3-inch round cookies)

6) Bake for 11-13 minutes [it’s 13 in my oven] or until golden brown around the edges but still soft, almost underdone-looking, in the center. Turn the sheets front to back and switch racks halfway through.

Remove the sheet from the oven and carefully slide the parchment or Silpats directly onto a work surface. When cookies are set, remove them to a cooling rack. Wait at least 5 minutes before serving or 20 minutes before storing in an airtight container for up to 3 days at room temperature.


Local Bison Chili!

With winter hanging on ferociously, I thought it might be a good time to make some chili. I also thought I’d try and make chili that was a little different from your run of the mill regular beef chili. I used local ground Bison from the Old Strathcona Farmer’s Market. (Are you surprised? heh heh). I’ve recently read up on the many benefits of Bison, including the rich flavor, while still being lean, the added nutritional value, and it’s environmental sustainability and, best reason yet, it’s local!!! For tips on how to cook Bison, check this link out.

For the chili, I started out by browning the ground Bison in a pan, and adding my favourite spices. (I used garlic, paprika, Italian seasoning, and oregano.) You’ll notice that the meat looks a little red. Something I’ve read about Bison is that it is very lean, and so the ground meat is more red, with less white fat flecks in it. It also tasted a tad sweeter than regular ground beef. Justin and I really liked it! Try it! It just might surprise you! You can use ground bison in any recipe that you normally would use any ground meat, in subsitute of ground turkey, pork or beef. Check out these awesome Bison recipe ideas!

 For my chili, I used a mixed bag of dried beans that I found in the pantry, which was given to us when we first moved in. I’ve recently read about the benefits of using dry beans instead of canned beans. Although they take slightly more time to prepare (I soaked them overnight in cool water in the crockpot – keep it off though!), the benefits are worth it. Next time, I wouldn’t use a mix of dried beans. The texture was interesting, with all those different types of beans in my tasty chili, but the cooking time varried for each type of bean, making some crunchy after the crockpot cooking, and some overcooked. Next time, I will use only 1 or 2 types of beans.

Many of the recipes I looked at for traditional crock pot chili asked for canned tomatoes. I figured, why can’t I use fresh, local tomatoes from Old Strathcona? Justin and I chopped them up roughly and mashed them a bit, to make sure we got the most out of the juices. Tasty!

I then added fresh onions and mushrooms to the mix. These are my favourite veggies, but feel free to add any of your favourites to the mix! (Some recipes recommend carrots or different types of squash.)

For the base, I used ketchup and a tiny bit of our favourtie BBQ sauce. It made for a tasty combo, with just enough liquid.

Serve with shredded cheddar cheese and a fresh roll. Tasty! Enjoy!

Jacquie’s Tasty Local Bison Crock Pot Chili

I pound of local ground bison, (from Old Strathcona or Eat Local First)

1.5 pound of dried beans, soaked overnight, drained and rinsed

1 medium local onion

6-7 medium sized mushrooms

8 small-medium fresh tomatoes, chopped roughly and mashed a bit

1/2 cup of frozen corn bits

1 cup of ketchup

2 tablespoons of your favourtie BBQ sauce

(If needed for extra liquid) Tomato pasta sauce that you have laying around in your pantry (as needed)

4 L crockpot

Begin by browning ground Bison in a frying pan, with a little bit of butter or cooking oil. Season with your favourite spices, (Garlic, tumeric, paprika, chili flakes… whatever!). When cooking Bison, it is recommended to cook on low heat, as the meat is extra lean and can burn easily. Throw the ground bison in the crockpot, along with the beans that have been soaking all night.

Chop up fresh tomatoes, onion and mushrooms (and any other veggies that you like in yoru chili). Add to crockpot with frozen corn. Add ketchup, BBQ sauce, and pasta sauce, as needed. Mix all ingredients well, and cook on low for 8-10 hours or longer (The beans were still a little crunchy when I got home from work, after the chili had been cooking for 8 hrs, so I turned it on high for 2 more hrs after.)

Sprinkle with grated cheddar, and serve with a toasted whole wheat bun. Tasty!

*Tip! You can make ahead by browning the bison and chopping the veggies and storing in the fridge overnight, while soaking the beans, so that you can just chuck everything into the crockpot in the morning, turn it on and leave for work. This works rather well when you’re working for 10 hrs a day at the legislature. :)


Turning leftovers into awesome meals!

Don’t you just love when you’re able to turn leftovers into new and exciting meals? It’s so simple! Leftovers always give me new ideas on meals I’d like to make. Plus, if you make a new meal out of leftovers, then you’re not eating the same thing over and over!

This is what I did for my Valentine’s day dinner gift for Justin (sorry for the lateness in the post). I had some leftover pesto from my Roasted Vegetable weekend, I had some muffins that had gone stale in the fridge (recipe courtesy of The Girl Who Ate Everything). These two items inspired a tasty meal!

For the muffins, I had decided to turn them into bread pudding. (The inspiration for this was from Edmonton’s amazing High Level Diner. They turn their old cinnamon buns into bread pudding with the most amazing brown sugar bourbon sauce that I have ever tasted!! Unbelievably decadent. So good. You need to try them for yourself. Or you could try and replicate them like I did!)

These muffins were pretty tasty. The recipe that I used made too many though, and they went stale and hard before we were able to eat them all. I started by chopping them up into squares, and placing them into a well greased pan. I then poured the sugary egg mixture over it and baked it until “set”. It turned out like this:

Tasty looking, no? Oh, it so was! I served it with a milky brown sugar sauce for desert. hmm was it every good!

For the main dinner, I made baked pesto chicken with a side of creamy pesto broccoli pasta. FYI, the pesto was from Pasta Delight at the Old Strathcona Farmer’s Market. Truly, it is quite amazing stuff. They also make and sell fresh pasta! I recently bought some for our trip to Canmore. Look forward to a post about that coming up!

Now for the recipe for the bread pudding!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Best Bread Pudding (Recipe courtesy of Paula Deen and the Foodnetwork.com)

For the pudding:

2 cups granulated sugar

5 large beaten eggs

2 cups milk

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

3 cups cubed Italian Bread, allow to stale overnight (Or you can use any stale baking that you have around the house!)

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease a baking pan.

Mix together granualted sugar, eggs, and milk in a bowl; add vanilla. Pour over cubed bread and let sit for 10 minutes. (I should suggest letting stand even longer. maybe up to 2 hrs, just to make sure the bread soaks up the eggs mixture really well. I only let stand for 10 minutes, and there were alot of muffin chucks that hadn’t absorbed any of the mixture).

Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until set. Remove from oven and enjoy!!

 

For the Brown Sugar Bourbon Sauce:

1/4 cup of butter

3 tbsp all purpose flour

2/3 cup of brown sugar packed

1 cup of cold milk

1/4 cup of brandy (We didn’t have any brandy, so we just didn’t put any. It turned out quite nicely without it!)

1/4 tsp vanilla

Over medium heat, melt the butter in a small saucepan. In a medium size bowl, stir flour with sugar.Then whisk into the melted butter mixture until the mixture is moistened. Stir in the milk until smooth. Cook, whisking frequently, until thickened and smooth, about 5 minutes. Stir in brandy and vanilla. Remove from heat and serve immediately on top of tasty bread pudding!



Roasted Vegetable Weekend

We’ve been having unseasonably warm weather here this weekend, which is making me think of summer and the delicious roasted vegetable bakes I like to make all summer long. These roasted veggies are great for just about anything you can think of: sandwich fillers, salad toppers, side dishes, or full meals to themselves. They are just so delicious that I had to make two this weekend, in honour of the unnatural amount of Vitamin D I’ve been able to get over the past 2 days.

I’ve decided to begin attaching actual recipes to these blog posts for my reader’s sake, but I warn you – they may be vague and completely adaptable. You have been warned, so if you ever need any clarification on a recipe, just ask!


For this recipe, I would recommend adding a mix of your favourite vegetables. Mine are mushrooms, sweet peppers, onions, and zucchini. If any of these don’t float your boat, you can substitute for cherry tomatoes, eggplant, green beans… whatever! Let your ingredients be your inspiration!

I made two bakes this weekend, one as a side dish with potatoes and onions from Riverbend Garndens, and Old Strathcona Farmer’s Market Garlic and sweet peppers (unfortunately not local).

The second bake was for roasted vegetable slider sandwiches I planned on making as my contribution to a potluck and board game night. For this one I used my classic mix of zucchini, sweet peppers, mushrooms, and onion. Friends and family have raved about these, so I thought it would be a perfect edition to a night of scrabble and clue!

For both versions, chop up all ingredients into bite size pieces and place them in a baking dish. I lined mine with tin foil, because this dish is impossible to clean once baked in, I don’t know why. I then covered the veggies in about a tablespoon or two of olive oil (or until all veggies in the dish are well covered), and then doused them in my favourite herbs. For these two bakes, I used garlic (of course!!), italian seasoning, and oregano. You can season with salt and pepper if you like, but I tend to shy away from using table salt in any recipe, if I can avoid it. Apparently Canadians eat far too much salt, and so I’m trying to reduce my consumption.

Roast, uncovered, in the oven at 350 for about a half hour, 45 minutes, or until veggies have reached your desired texture of cooked-ness. If you like a little more crunch to your veggies, cook them less. They should be ready to eat right away, so you can serve then as a side dish while still hot! (This is what I did for the potatoes). The roasted veggie slider sandwiches took a little assembly, but with help from friends, they turned out the be unbelievably delicious additions to board game night.

Each slider was first layered with pesto cream cheese from the pesto man at Old Strathcona, and topped with local and delicious applewood smoked cheddar from the cheese factory. I then put them in the oven to melt the cheese and crisp the buns a little. They came out mouth-wateringly delicious!

Serve while hot and enjoy! hmm…

Jacquie’s Famous Roasted Vegetables

You will need:

2 small zuchinnis

1 medium onion (red or white)

2 sweet bell peppers

6-7 medium size mushrooms

Any other vegetable you love!

1-2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp each of (preferably fresh) garlic, italian seasoning, oregano (& any of your other favourite seasonings!)

 

Preheat oven to 350. Wash and dry all veggies. Chop into bite size pieces. Place all veggies in a roasting pan, sprinkle with 1-2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Next, springle with all of the spices, and mix well to ensure that all veggies are well coated.

Roast in oven for 1/2 hr to 45 mins, or until veggies are cooked to your liking. (Check on them regularly so that they do not get overcooked by accident. I’ve done this many times!) Serve immediately when ready, as a side dish, as a filler in a sandwich, or as a salad topper. Enjoy! this truly is a delicious and healthy recipe.

*Note! You will be able to make both of these recipes using 100% local ingredients come spring. As of now, Old Strathcona doesn’t cary all essentials for this recipe, but it is just as easy to make a local and seasonal veggie bake using ingredients that are available that time of year. Be creative! Incorporate seasonal squash, cabbage, potatoes and cherry tomatoes. Or, if you’re somewhat picky with your tastes, like me, you can wait until summer for Old Strathcona to carry the summer veggies to make this delicious bake!


Sidewalk Squashed Soup!

Now I know the title of this post doesn’t sound all that appealing, but trust me. It is honestly delicious!

If you’re anything like me and you try to live local at any chance you get, you will realize how unbelievable difficult that is to do in Edmonton, especially in February. On my weekly trek to the Old Strathcona Farmer’s Market I began to peruse my usual booths for veggie essentials, only to quickly realize that supplies have slowly begun to dwindle. There was no more spinach or lettuce from Peas on Earth or even any sweet peppers from Riverbend Gardens. In fact, all I could find was a lot of potatoes, onion and cabbage… Slim picking. I guess that’s what you get when you try and live and eat local in Edmonton in February. *sigh*

That’s when I came across this beautiful buttercup squash. Realizing there was only about a week or two in the season left, I bought the biggest one I could find, and had big plans to turn it into yummy buttercup squash soup. I had made buttercup squash soup once during prime squash season in Alberta and Justin went ape-shit over it. He loved the simple yet hearty flavor, and so I endeavored to keep up locally healthy by pumping us full for squashy goodness for the week! Hmm!

Ok, first things first: You have to get the squash open. I remember the last time I tried to cut open a buttercup squash, I struggled over it for quite some time. Not this time! I recently watch a video on how to easily and painlessly break open a squash, unfortunately, because I can’t find the link, I will demonstrate in a series of photos!

Step 1: Find a baggie for your squash

Step 2: Put your Squash in the baggie.

Step 3: Go outside and smash it on the sidewalk.

Result: Perfect roasting size pieces, with little to no effort!

Next, scoop out all of the squash gunk, drizzle with a little olive oil and some of your favorite spices (I put paprika and of course… garlic!)

Now, roast it in the oven until the meat is begging to come off the skin (this took me about an hour – hour and a half)

While the squash is cooling, begin boiling your water for the stock (I used vegetable stock cubes. Super easy, but unfortunately, very salty. I always water the cubes down. Better yet, go and splurge and get the sodium reduced stock!) I used about 4 cups of watered down stock for this soup, but it really depends on how big your squash is. There is never any harm on eyeballing it!

When your stock is ready, scrape off the squash meat from the skin, and put it in the pot, let it bubble and boil for about 10-15 minds, then take it off the burner so that you can let it cool a bit. Then, using your trusty hand-blender, go at it until it is silky smooth! (A regular blender works too, in batches.)

We had this delicious soup for lunch with a local bagel from the farmer’s market. Delicious!

*Note: the larger the squash, the more leftovers you get. Justin was so happy at how much soup that poor squash made! :)


Classic – Eggies in a Basket

Welcome to my first recipe post! – Ouh, this is getting exciting!

This morning, I woke up wanting to make something special, rather than the regular, run-of-the-mill cereal for breakfast as usual. This was because last night, Justin and I celebrated our 4-year anniversary. It was a lot of fun! We went out to the Keg and ate A LOT. (Merci encore a grand-mama, grand-papa et MaTant Diane pour les certificat cadeaux!) Continuing on the celebratory tasty food indulgences, and focusing on the local foodie ingredients I had in the fridge this morning, I decided to make my family’s classic “special” breakfast dish – eggies in a basket.

You may begin to notice a pattern with me – I don’t follow any strict recipes. As the great Chef Michael Smith says: “Let your ingredients be your inspiration.” And that’s exactly that I did! I found some delicious multi grain Gramma Bear’s Bread from the Old Strathcona Farmer’s Market in the freezer, some free range local eggs (also from OSFM) in the fridge, and went to work! Begin by cutting a hole in the toast with a cookie cutter (we used heart shaped ones, to continue with the theme from last night), then butter the outisdes of the hole with margarine or butter. Then crack the egg in the middle, sprinkle with a little salt, pepper (or in my case, garlic powder… hmmm… garlic!!), let cook a bit, then flip it over! Meanwhile, let the little heart shape toast bits brown up beside the eggies.

I served them with some strawberries (unfortunately not local), but any local fruit works!


Welcome to my Garneau Home Kitchen

Welcome to my Blog! I am very new to this, so please bear with me!

I have always wanted to start a blog and contribute to the online community, but I have always been hesitant. I began to ask myself: What would I write about? Politics? (My best friend once told me that I am made up of 90% Politics. I wholeheartedly agree with her!) Travel? (I am somewhat of a travel junkie, however, I do not have near enough time to travel to turn into a worthwhile blog.) A random mix of things? (Nah – If those types of blogs can’t keep me interested, why would I subject others to them?)

And so I have settled on writing a blog on my culinary adventures in my 1940s kitchen in Garneau, Edmonton, Alberta, where I try to live local at every opportunity, albeit on a modest budget. I hope you enjoy the ride! I know that I will have fun posting.


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