Sunday, September 30, 2012

Cream of Chicken Soup

Now I'm not sure if this is technically cream of chicken soup - it doesn't actually have cream in it, but it is still very creamy. Plus it's packed full of chicken and vegetables and was delicious. Exactly what I needed after catching a cold last weekend. I had nearly a full can of evaporated milk in the fridge after using some for a brownie I baked, so it needed to be used. I also had celery in the freezer, waiting to be added to a soup, because I don't like celery but it's bearable when it has been boiled to a mushy consistency and taken on the flavour of a yummy soup. The result was a moderately thick soup with lots of flavour and hopefully not too much fat, on account of using evaporated milk instead of cream. Unfortunately I once again forgot to take photos, but here is the recipe anyway:

Friday, September 28, 2012

Apple Crumble

It's been years since I have made apple crumble - partly because I have no crowd to feed it to and party because I like my mum's apple crumble best, and that one was made in a food processor. I haven't had a food processor that works in all my student years and that's a lot - nearly 8 years now! The food processor is neccessary to cut the oats up, so that they are not chewy. It's just not the same when you use whole oats. Finally I decided to have a go at processing the oats with my hand blender and it worked! I had to guess at the proportions because it had been so long, but the end product was just right. Then I proceeded to eat far too much of it, with a generous serving of custard.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Potato and Leek Soup

This weeks soup is an old classic, but a classic that I had never bothered with in the past. I mean, how exciting can potato soup be? And it surely can't be that good for you? Well, first of all, it turns out that potato and leek soup is really yummy, and if you want it to have the little something extra, you could always stir in some bacon. Secondly, it's not really that bad for you. I mean, like everything, too much of it will probably make you a bit fatter. But potatoes are good for you just like all vegetables, especially if you leave the skin on like I do. Leeks are green so they must have good stuff in them. Plus instead of using cream to make the soup creamy I used buttermilk, which gave it a slight tang as well as reducing the amount of fat in it (also, I had buttermilk in the fridge, and no cream, and I don't like cream anyway, so it was a win-win situation). Yet even without the added dairy, I was amazed at how creamy the soup got after blending together just the potatoes and leeks. This is definitely comfort food at it's best and when I look out the window and see driving rain I am very glad that I made so much of this and stored lots in the freezer for later.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Birthday Cake!

This weekend just past I got to go away for the weekend and arrange a birthday party - a children's birthday party for a bunch of adults. The masterpiece of the day was the cake:

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Zucchini Improv Challenge

This is the second version of Amish Friendship bread that I have posted now and each time I make it I like it more. It is just so easy to make and it turns out so nicely all the time. The initial effort of making the starter was definitely worth it, especially seeing as it was hardly any effort at all. I just need more people to give it to so that I always have an excuse to make it. This time around I have included grated zucchini and switched the sugar to brown to make it richer and also to fit in with the Improv challenge. At first when I saw the challenge I was a bit worried about what to make, because while I have been meaning to have a go at zucchini chocolate cake or brownies, I figured other people would surely be doing that and I like to be different. Hopefully this is different and interesting enough. If it's not, that's OK too, because I have a yummy loaf of zucchini bread to eat.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Red Wine Cake-Cookies

This recipe is based on a cake I made way back at the start of the year, for the chocolate cake cooking challenge. One Friday night I had friends over for dinner and at the end of the night there was some red wine left over. I don't actually like red wine so I certainly wasn't going to drink it, but tipping it out would have been a huge waste. I considered making a beef stew, but then I was trying to figure out what sort of cookies to make for that week and I remembered that amazing red wine chocolate cake. So, could I turn that recipe into a cookie recipe? Well, the product was definitely cookies, but they had a sort of soft, cake-like texture, which is why I'm calling them cake-cookies. I have a couple of other recipes that also make cake-like cookies so I reckon it's definitely an apt term. These cookies were rich and the red wine added a bit of extra sweetness. They could have done with some crunch but I don't know how to fix that, so instead I'll recommend that you bake them at a time when you actually want to eat them, and serve them up warm and fresh with a glass of milk. That way the softness will really be appreciated. Leaving them to cool and eating them the next day sort of took away some of the goodness - they were still good, but not quite as good as they had been fresh. Another great thing about this recipe it will take people ages to guess that there is red wine in them, and guessing games are always fun.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Apple Swirl Bread

A while ago I decided to have a go at Amish friendship bread. I'd heard about it along time ago and then recently it came up again somehow, maybe I saw it on a blog or something. Anyway, I found a recipe and over two weeks made the starter (see how here) and then began experimenting with making the bread. First I tried the simple cinnamon bread as laid out in the recipe that goes with the starter. Then I tried it again, but after freezing my starter. It still worked just fine. So then I began mixing it up. First I made it into banana bread, which I will put instructions for below but really isn't the point of this post. It was quite good. However, this post is about my second adaptation of friendship bread, apple cinnamon bread, and it is amazing. It just gets better and better, three days after baking it's still soft and moist and the flavour is even better, it that's possible. At four days it finally started to dry out a bit so definitely share it around before then.

The inspiration for this came from a blog hop, called Chocolate Party, which this month requires a recipe that uses apple and chocolate. I already have recipes for apple cake, cookies and muffins and I was wondering what to make. Then it hit me (not literally) - make bread! But how to include chocolate? In my opinion dark and milk chocolate just don't really go with apple that well. I wanted to use white chocolate. But I didn't want too much because I wanted it to be bread-like. Ages ago I made this pumpkin swirl cake, so I decided to do the same thing, only add melted chocolate to the cream cheese before swirling it on top. The result was amazing! I could eat it all day. Everybody at work loved it, and hopefully the technicians will remember it next time I need a favour (which is most days at the moment). So the hardest part about this recipe is the starter, but that's not hard at all, you just have to get around to making it (all you have to do really is stir it once a day for 2 weeks), and then store cup-fulls in the freezer, then bring them back to room temperature and go on with the recipe.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Butter Bean & Vege Soup

I have had this particular soup sitting in my recipes list (it's a very long list) for ages because I'm always looking for ways to turn soup into full meals. This soup, with vegetables and beans, has pretty much everything you need on a cold evening, especially if you eat it with some yummy bread rolls. It is quite simple, thick and stew-like, and just what you need after trudging home in the rain. By which statement perhaps you can tell that in Galway the weather is already turning foul again, so soup is definitely called for. It's time to start increasing the intake of fluids and vitamins in order to keep colds and the flu at bay. Or perhaps I am just too lazy to cook properly and the ease of making a bit pot of soup appeals to me.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Almond Chai Tea Cookies

So here is a new and very interesting sort of cookie to share. I found it on a blog-hop and was immediately drawn to the use of interesting ingredietns. The blog is called Mike's Baking and the cookies feature chai tea and almonds. Seeing as I am not a tea drinker I had to buy chai tea especially for these cookies, so it's lucky that they are yummy enough to want to make again. The flavour is subtle and interesting - the spices are not overwhelming and if you didn't know what was in the cookies you definitely wouldn't be able to guess it. Personally, I prefer to not reveal what is in my cookies, because it amuses me to make people guess when I know that the ingredient is so obscure that nobody will get it. The original recipe called for only wholemeal flour, but I used half and half. Next time I will use just white flour and one whole egg instead of two yolks, just to see how they turn out. As always, I added chocolate chips, but not too many because I could already see that they wouldn't really be necessary. I was so happy with my new cookie recipe that I could not stop eating them for long enough to take any nice photos. Sorry. You'll just have to imagine delicious, golden-brown, crispy cookies, or make some yourself.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Sweet Corn Muffins

After last month's improv challenge I decided that before fixing that recipe I had to make some plain corn muffins, just to see what they were like. Most corn muffin recipes that I saw included a little bit of sugar, but it turns out that even that small amount is enough to make them quite sweet and cake-like. So what we have here today are small, sweet, cakey muffins with a lovely yellow colour from the cornmeal. The recipe is easily adaptable and I will be adding all sorts of ingredients to it in the future. For now, all I would like to say about this is be very careful not to mix it too much, as the cornmeal already adds a bit of density to the muffin so you want to keep as much air in the mixture as possible.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Cauliflower Soup

Soup is a great way to get lots of vegetables that you otherwise wouldn't go near. For me cauliflower is one of those vegetables. I really just can't stand it at all and I absolutely never eat it. So when I saw a recipe for a soup that disguises cauliflower with carrot in a soup. I was wary at first, but it actually worked. The soup mostly tasted like carrot, albeit diluted carrot. It was a little watery, so I have modified the recipe slightly, and added a couple of potatoes to make it thicker and smoother. It's really quick to make, incredibly simple, and it tastes good.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Toffee Apple Cookies

For the last week I was racking my brains trying to think of a new secret ingredient for cookies. Every week I take a batch along to my rugby match and make the team guess what is in them, but it's not easy to have out-of-the-ordinary cookies every single week. I didn't mean for it to get so out of hand, but after the first couple of weeks they began to expect a secret ingredient, so I try to live up to their expectations as much as possible. The last couple of weeks I have been using drinks as the secret ingredient - first chai-tea cookies and then red wine chocolate cookies (both of which I haven't posted yet, I've gotten really behind!). I was going to settle for plain apple and toffee cookies this week, but then I saw the perfect recipe that would compliment my apple idea and continue on the drinks in cookies idea. It's all thanks to joining twitter (follow me maybe?) and following random bakers who also have blogs - there is an apple and chocolate cooking challenge happening this month and one of the entries was cookies with apple cider in them. I absolutely had to try it. And I'm so glad I did. I really can't tell what effect the cider syrup has in the cookies, but the cider glaze on top absolutely makes them. They are sweet, chewy, oaty cookies with a crunch that comes from the hard glaze. My glaze didn't stay as white and drizzled looking as the recipe that I was following, it sort of spread more and sunk into the cookies. But I think I like them better that way.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Sour Cream Chicken

The best way to end a long day at work, that perhaps ends with rugby and rain and being soaked to the bone, is with a quick pasta meal. Today's quick pasta is something like a carbonara, with a mixture of egg and cheese tossed through hot pasta to become a sauce right before your eyes. Add to that some chicken and sour cream and you have a creamy, cheesy, chickeny pile of pasta to warm you up from the inside out. It's not really the healthiest of meals - in fact, it's not very healthy at all. That's sort of what's so good about it.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Mmm, cupcakes! This is the second red velvet recipe that I have put in this blog - the first, for halloween, was very dense and cake-like (and delicious). So I wanted something a little lighter and fluffier, as cupcakes should be. Plus I wanted to make use of my new paste food colouring to make them really bright red. Only, for all the colour I put in them, they were still just a milk red colour. Which was disappointing. But the cream cheese frosting made up for it, and the cake sparkles. They were a big hit on a Monday morning when everybody needs a bit of a a sugar hit. And they make for a very pretty post to tweet about, because I am now on twitter! After a determined effort to avoid yet another variety of online social networking I decided to get on board the twitter bandwagon, for the sake of my blog and sharing the cupcake-love, however I put my foot down (for now) at making a facebook page. Isn't a blog page enough? Why does everything on the internet have to be repeated a million times? Besides, it looks to me like twitter is more popular. So now, on to the recipe! Oh, and please follow me on twitter...