Auntie Stacey’s PMS Cookies

2014-06-11 19.34.21 These are the cookies I like when I’m in the throes of PMS every few months of so. It’s an easy cookie to put together in very little time (which is good because I tend to lose my patience when all of this goes down), and the taste is just what I need. Lots of peanut butter, matched by just as much chocolate, and some rolled oats to make me feel better about eating somewhat junky cookies to get me though it all.

This cookie is based off the classic 3-Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookie recipes. Enjoy.

Auntie Stacey’s PMS Cookies:
3/4 C Peanut Butter (smooth of chunky — your choice)
1/2 C Sugar
1 Egg, large and at room temperature
1 C Oats, old fashioned, not quick
3/4 C Chocolate Chips (dark are the best)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix all of the above but the chocolate chips well, then gently fold them in at the very end. Using an ice cream scooper, drop balls on parchment paper with 2″ around each one.

Bake the balls for ten minutes before using a potato masher to flatten them down to about 3/4″ thick, wiping the bottom of the masher off as you go, and place them back in to bake for another six minutes.

Let the cookies cool for 15 minutes before you gently move them off the sheets to cool on racks. These are soft cookies, so they will bend, droop and break up if you don’t wait.

Store in a cookie jar for up to 5 days. (Trust me, they won’t last longer than that.)

Yields: 12 single scoop sized, 24 half scoop sized, and 6 jumbo two scoop sized.

Chocolate Pasta

ChocoPasta-1This is for Olivia, whom I started to tell this story to at work but we got busy and, as always, I forget I even started the story or where I left off, and it never got told or finished. Sorry about that. So, here it is. Because you didn’t seem to believe me.

About a year ago, I stumbled over a pin for chocolate pasta over at Pinterest, and I was immediately struck with curiosity. I HAD to try this at home. It was a strong compulsion. I really, REALLY wanted to make this. And I was so SURE we would fall in love with it. I mean, how could we not?!

ChocolatePasta-DoughMaking-2 ChocolatePasta-DoughMakingI know this looks like I’m making a chocolate cake, but I’m really not. It’s the funniest thing to look at and know I have to convince people this really is a thing, and people do make this, and it starts out looking like a baking project. πŸ™‚ ChocolatePasta-Dough2 ChocolatePasta-RestingSo after making this just like any other yellow egg pasta dough, I let it rest before I start cutting it up into noodles and then eventually boiling it hot salty water. All very straight forward, all very normal so far. ChocoPasta-Strands ChocoPasta-Drying ChocoPasta-Dry ChocoPasta-Cooking And the final product… ChocoPasta-CookedIt was very pretty like this, and it cooked up nicely, but no matter what I paired it with or topped it with, it wasn’t for us. The husband asked me never to make this for him again. Period. End of story. πŸ˜€

Coffee Chatter – Wednesday Edition

cheeseObscene: Using 3/4 of a 500g Jalapeno cheese brick to make a pan of 8 small chicken enchiladas for dinner last night. Whoops. My bad, arteries! πŸ˜€ (Ermine would have said I was being stingy, though. Ha!)

So… I’ve been around but not blogging for two months. I’m not sure how that happened, because I have been cooking, baking and coffee drinking in all that time. I have also been preoccupied with being trained at one job in a different position, relaxing on my downtime, landscaping the front of the house to add curb appeal, and laying my father-in-law to rest this past week. I gave his eulogy. He was the kind of man whom everyone loved to dearly, no one thought they could get through standing up to speak about him without losing it. I volunteered to do the deed, and I almost got through it all without tears till the last three lines. The tears formed, started to roll, and then the ugly crying started. I was a mess by the time I sat down. His void in our lives will be HUGE.

oneshotToday we started the annual Battle Royale Of The Ants in front of the patio door. I can’t recommend a product by Wilson called One Shot Jet Foam more. It’s a fantastic foam that dries up after 20 minutes and coats the cracks ants enter homes from, and like magic, the ants are never to be seen again! Love this product so much. You will, too.

windexI’ve also been trying a few new products out around the house, and another one I will give my seal of approval to is the Windex Touch-Up pump dispenser. It’s super handy. Only one hand is needed to push a cloth down on it and get wiping up your spills and messes off of every surface you can touch with a cloth. And it’s refillable. I bought a large jug of Windex disinfectant cleaner, and I have been able to filled it up over and over. I leave it up on the counter near the sink for the most part but it’s small enough I can drag it around the house as I clean bathrooms on both floors. I loved it so much, I bought one for my sister-in-law when she first moved closer to us, and now that she is pregnant, I can easily see her giving her dispenser quite the workout. πŸ™‚ Give it a whirl.

8-bread-pan-nonstickl_744_detailI have been test driving are a set of professional size non-stick, textured baking pans my mother-in-law ordered through some catalog. They perfectly match the long meatloaf pan I picked up last year in silver. I already see this being a collection I will keep growing. The pans themselves came in a box without paperwork or even a company name, so my guess is as good as yours about who makes them, but they are wonderful. They bake up perfect loafs in bigger sizes you can only get when you buy fresh bread from bakeries. And that is what I was after. ‘Mmmm… Fresh bread. (drooling)

And with that, I am off to get a few loaves of bread started so I can bake them up before the husband comes home from work.

TTYL

P.S.: I am a part-time blogger, not a professional one that does these product reviews for money, endorsements or even free swag. I pimp products I buy, test and love only. No one asked me, or has ever asked me, to talk about the items I highlight. This is strictly from one consumer to another.

Auntie Stacey’s Tabbouleh

tabbouleh[ Click to embiggen ]

Tabbouleh is a great salad for the summer months when the heat is intense and the stove is ignored in our house. I really love eating it at room temperature, too. I’m weird like that. It makes a wonderful addition to salad bars, so keep this in mind for your next brunch. It’ll be a lovely unexpected surprise for your vegetarian guests. We all get stumped when planning meals for those who have specific eating habits, right? It’s all ok because tabbouleh is here to save the day, and your dinner parties!

Years ago I worked with a chef named Sami. Sami is from Lebanon. Sami’s mother taught him how to cook as a little boy. Many of the recipes she taught him he still uses today at work and at home. He used to make the best tabbouleh I have ever eaten, so one day I begged him to teach me the ways of his magical salad. Surprisingly, he was happy to pass it along to me, imparting some great home cooking philosophy along the way.

Here is a version of his mother’s tabbouleh based on my calculations and ingredient choices. He never gave me increments, just suggestions and steps. His feeling is that tabbouleh should be a free flowing salad that has some basics for structure but lots of freedom for using the freshest ingredients you can get your hands on, so feel free to look at this recipe as I do – as a guideline.

Auntie Stacey’s Tabbouleh:
1/2 C Bulgar
1 C Water, boiled
1 Tea Salt

1/2 Yellow Onion, medium sized, chopped to small dice
1 C Water, very hot
1 C Water, very cold

2 Tomatoes, medium Hot House (or 1 C chopped Grape Tomatoes)
1/4 C Herb of choice, fresh, washed and chopped up, packed down *

1/2 Tea Pepper, fresh cracked
1-2 Tea Lemon or Lime Juice, freshly squeezed
1/4 C Olive Oil

* Note: I have made this salad over the years using the following herbs: parsley (flat or curly – doesn’t much matter except for presentation aesthetics), mint (lovey when in season and the herb Sami liked to add a sprinkling of along with the parsley when it was in season), and cilantro (I love cilantro so I tend to use this a lot). This will be the first year I’m growing sorrel, and with its lemony tinged taste, I will be trying that in this salad as soon as I can, so I’ll report back at a later date about how well it worked, or didn’t.

Place the bulgar and salt (mixed up) into the boiling water for 30 minutes to cook. In the meantime, prep all the other ingredients. In a bowl, place very hot water from the tap over the small diced onion bits and let it sit for 5-10 minutes to take the sting off. Afterward, drain the hot water and cover with very cold tap water. Let it rest the same amount of time before draining and dumping the onion into a large container. Set this aside.

While the onion is bathing in the hot and cold baths, wash and chop up the fresh herb and measure it out to a packed 1/4 cup. Top the onion with it. Cut and seed the tomatoes. Dice them to a small but not too small size. Top the herbs and onions with the diced tomatoes. Crack the pepper over top and pour the juice of half a lemon (about 1-2 teaspoons) and olive oil over that.

When the bulgar is finished cooking, fluff it up and dump it over the other ingredients in the large container. Using a spatula or gloved hands, till all of the ingredients well in the container, until everything is sure to be covered by the citrus juice and cracked pepper. Taste the overall flavour, and adjust the amount of salt and pepper as desired at this point.

Cover and chill this salad for at least 24 hours before serving. It will be hard (I know!), but the ingredients need time to rest and marry with each other. Trust me, the wait will be worth the time and resistance.

Auntie Stacey’s Waffle Mix

waffles

These are some yummy waffles I make most Sunday mornings for the husband (below). He loves them! And I find kids really love these waffles, too. A lot. I know one little boy who ate so many, even the adults were stunned. I, of course, sent him home with leftover waffles in his pants and jacket pockets. You know, for the road trip home. That 17 minute ride can be soooo long when all you’re thinking about is your next waffle fix. πŸ˜‰

FYI: Sometimes I sub out the milk for water or whatever juice we have on hand each Sunday morning. We can taste the fruit in the waffles, and they even seem a bit more moist. Plus, you can’t beat an orange hued waffle. Oh, and we also use this batter to make our pancakes when we’re not in the mood for waffles.

You can also use this batter to dip your Texas Toast in if you’re in the mood for french toast hot off the griddle. Just mix it up the night before, cover it and refrigerate, until you need it the next morning. It may need to be thinned out a touch more after a night of chilling. I add a few dribbles of water when I do.

Waffle Mix in a Bag:
2 cups all-purpose flour
5 teaspoons baking powder
4 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt

2 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine contents of jar with eggs, oil and milk. Pour dry mix into a large bowl. Add eggs, oil and milk. Stir until well combined, but no more than that. Don’t over mix.

Allow the bowl of batter to sit in the refrigerator for 5 minutes to thicken up as the baking soda does its thing.

The pancakes can be frozen after frying. Store each separately in plastic wrap and place in a large freezer-safe plastic bag. Reheat in microwave.

Coffee Chatter – Friday Edition

PhoKingGoodToday was a fried noodle day. Pan fried, not deep fried. I’d never do that. Gross. But noodles that were quickly boiled, rolled in sesame and soy sauce, and then pan fried? I’m all over it. Why? It’s comfort food for me. It reminds me of being a kid, when things were simpler and the weather was nicer. And of Ellen.

This weather. It’s killing my knees. The warping? I can’t even begin to explain it to you. It hurts. And the neck compression trapping my nerves is worse. I tried to sleep in our bed both laying down and sitting up, but the searing pain in my hands and forearms were too much, so I tried to sleep a bit on the couch where I wouldn’t bother anyone with constant rolling around, writhing in pain and sitting up rather abruptly on the edge to rock back and forth for 20 minutes till the pain abated. I’m so tired. So pho king tired.

I’m near my end with this b.s. None of my usual tricks are working anymore, and funny enough, I think it’s using the tablet to surf and type at night that’s causing it, not the reaching and straining I do with my arms at work and at home. Funny that. Modern technology. No wonder so many hate it. :-\

Today I’ll abstain, using this laptop instead, all day. Let’s see if that doesn’t help. I bet it will, too. I have loads of house chores and little jobs to tackle this weekend, so I really need this to be the solution I’ve been looking for.

*crossing fingers*

Okay, that bed isn’t going to change sheets on its own, so off I go. Have a great weekend, everyone. Try to forget about the called for snow next week if you can. If you can’t, I suggest picking a vice and rocking it hard till we get through it. πŸ˜€

TTYL

Coffee Chatter – Sunday Edition

calendarFour years ago as of four days ago, we picked up the keys to our first, and current, house. We love being homeowners. I’m not a fan of the house layout with its L shape bleeding our small living room into our spacious dining room, but I can’t imagine us moving any time soon. We’re too settled in, and one of us is change adverse (I’ll let you guess which one of us it is), so we’re putting some roots down in this little hovel of ours. πŸ™‚

A year ago this weekend, we closed our retail store. I see a LOT of our old regular customers at my new job, and I’m asked all the time if we miss the store, the work, and owning our own business. For the most part, hell no we don’t miss the headaches, the constant money pie dipping by everyone under the sun, and the customers who treated us like dry cleaners expecting their stuff fixed and returned in under an hour.

We also don’t miss answering phone calls. Our store phone would ring constantly every day by someone looking to sell us services we didn’t need (think debit/credit terminals, search engine optimization/website work, and advertising in things like phone books that no one uses anymore), or it was a random gov’t body calling to say we need to pay this or that because we had employees – the bookkeeper, and me. (Mostly it was the workman’s comp board drumming up business but we’d politely end the calls and shake our heads since it’s only suppose to apply to businesses that have more than something like 15 employees.)

Oh, and I also don’t miss the constant calls and walk-ins asking us for donations to private school fundraisers. *LOL* Sure, I’d love to been poorer than I already am by giving you our products and time services for FREE. Sure. Whatever, soccer moms. (And stop sending your precious kids into stores to beg while you stand outside talking on your cellphone as you lean up against your $160K SUV tank of a vehicle. We can see you through the windows. It’s embarrassing for everyone involved.)

Of course we really did enjoy helping the best customers a business could ever hope to have in our vast customer pool, but it was time for us to do something new. Plus now we get benefits at our jobs, and perks that we could never give ourselves as we struggled to make even the slimmest of margins on our goods and services. Honestly, so many people thought we should have been swimming in profit given our business and industry, but the opposite was the norm for owners like us.

There are a few downsides to not working for yourselves (the autonomy, the working together, the making our lunches daily in the back of the store, the baking cookies when the mood struck me or when I was really PMS’ing, the getting to say no to certain customer requests because they were beyond ridiculous and/or offensive, and the carpooling to name but a few), but they were never enough to make us change our minds about closing our doors.

A lot can happen in 365 days. A lot of good things. Don’t ever believe otherwise, kids.

Auntie Stacey’s Chickpea Salad

chickpeasalad1 1/2 – 2 C Chickpeas, brine drained and rinsed
1 Shallot, halved and thinly chopped
1/8 C Roasted Red Peppers, brine sopped off with paper towels
1/4 C Cilantro, leaves washed and dried
Salt & Black Pepper, freshly cracked
1/8 C Oil
White Vinegar, generous splash

Assembled the ingredients in a medium bowl and lightly toss. Top with the seasonings, and mix well. Store in the fridge for at least an hour so the flavours have time to marry.

Coffee Chatter – Sunday Edition

[ After I cleaned out the fridge, I realized I had many mason jars that I really should sterilize instead of simply hand washing them, so I pulled out my big stock pot and did just that because we don't have a dishwasher ]

    [ After I cleaned out the fridge, I realized I had many mason jars that I really should sterilize instead of simply hand washing them, so I pulled out my big stock pot and did just that because we don't have a dishwasher ]

[ After I cleaned out the fridge, I realized I had many mason jars that I really should sterilize instead of simply hand washing, so I pulled out my big stock pot and channelled my grandmother. ]

[ Korean Beef ]

[ Korean Beef ]

[ Mongolian Beef I made a few weeks back that was too salty for human consumption, but was lovely otherwise. Will have to make this again revising the salt and soy sauce. ]

[ Mongolian Beef I made a few weeks back that was too salty for human consumption, but was lovely otherwise. Will have to make this again revising the salt and soy sauce. ]

Yesterday I spent the day puttering around in the kitchen, cleaning mostly (the oven, the stove top, mason jars, dishes, the floor, etc.) but also making a big portion of dinner (Korean Beef) and setting up lunches for the husband since he’s working a lot this week to cover a co-worker who went home to visit her family for the first time in at least 5 years. And luckily since I tired myself out yesterday in the kitchen and at work, we were finally able to go to bed early for the first time in a long time. In fact, I was so tired, I tried to start this post in bed but I fell asleep shortly after logging into the website. (snort)

[ Sushi / maki roll mold ]

[ Sushi / maki roll mold ]

2014-03-22 22.11.36I also found sometime to play a bit with food, and a new gimmicky tool I bought on clearance. I was drawn to this trough looking toy that purports to help make the best rolled rice and filling for maki versus hand rolling, so I figured it was worth $3 to find out. All in the name of science. Tasty, delicious science. ‘Mmm… Ahem.

[ Typical maki roll hand rolling produced by moi. ]

[ Typical hand rolled maki produced by moi. ]

Well, they aren’t lying. Check out this tight maki roll I made using jasmine rice (rinsed two times to keep some of the starch needed to stick the filling together) and carrot sticks. All I did was wet the nori sheet at the ends and a bit in the middle as I went along, and it pulled it tight with the bamboo mat as I rolled it over. And I didn’t have get my hands dirty and tacky at all?? I’m impressed.

In other news, we’re on the hunt for a new oven. I dislike this old cheap version that came with the house, and it now only cooks and bakes on the left side of the oven. I mean… I just can’t even begin to figure that one out other than it’s the broiler or the main element going and simply needs to be replaced, but no matter because we’re taking the opportunity to get something different.

By the way, this same model of old school stove is still sold in stores for less than $400. Good dogs!

All I know is, this stove is making baking quick and yeast breads a nightmare. I have to practically sit beside the oven and watch the action like a hawk as they bake lest they burn or take an extra half hour to cook all the way through. Who has time for that crap? Not me!

[ A Cinnamon Raisin Bread recipe idea I'm experimenting with for the husband ]

[ A Cinnamon Raisin Bread recipe idea I’m experimenting with for the husband ]

What type and brand this new stove will be, I don’t know. We don’t have gas lines on our street, and the kitchen is located too far inside the house to even consider a propane hookup for a gas stove, so I have been researching and reading up on new electric range models. I’m sufficiently frightened by how shoddy new appliances seem to be these days. Worse than when I first starting hearing horror stories 17 years ago from an old boss, if you can believe that.

I get that major appliances will never be built to last ever again, but this seems ridiculous. I don’t have a job where I can take X number of random days off to wait for repair people to come fix or replace parts in a NEW stove just because something like the self cleaning feature runs at a high temperature and burns out the convection electronics, or the dashboard circuit blows on its own a month into owning the damn thing.

Honestly, I should just keep the old stove, but I am loathe to do so. Did I mention the wonky, uneven burner elements on top? No? Well imagine trying to pan fry something and the liquid rolls off to one side of the pan instead of staying in the middle where it’s supposed to be. (It’s my personal nightmare holding the handle as I tilt the pan so food cooks properly because that further compresses the nerves in my neck, which makes the hand I’m using go all pins and needles numb.) At first I thought the floor was uneven and that made the whole stove uneven, but my husband proved it wasn’t using a level. Oy ve. So after bending down and looking at the elements, and pulling each one out and putting them back in, I have concluded these burners have been through hell and back. Enough!

Anyway, back to shopping. I hate Samsung anything (they make good appliances on the whole, but they keep repeating known design flaws for YEARS, over many of their models, so forget that nonsense. I’ve already broken the middle freezer drawer because they use the same weight distribution design flaw that causes the drawer to stick and stall as you pull it in and out of the unit.), and I’m leery of the now crap reputation Bosch has. Moving on, the next three players are: Maytag, Whirlpool and Kitchenaid (all owned by Maytag) who also have their own design flaw — the self cleaning feature that never seems to work. At this point, I’m not even looking for a stove with that feature. I’m happy to hand clean my oven every so often as required.

So that leaves me with a small brand name pool of: Frigidaire, LG and two others I can’t recall right now. All have their detractors online and known past issues with certain models. So far I can’t find one stove, or even one brand of stoves, that stands above the pack. It’s like we’re left to decide between poop and diarrhea. Greaaaat…

And then there is the issue of range surfaces. There are great reasons to go with induction, but my understanding is it requires new pans that work with the magnet attracted elements. I don’t want to replace my pots and pans if I can help it, and I’d really love to continue using my big ole cast iron Dutch pot up top if I can, so that leaves us with an enamel tops but good luck finding one. I’ve looked around and so far came up empty. I suppose I could go back to coil burners but they’d have to be in a certain arrangement that I like (two big elements up front, two small ones in the back) that won’t lead to more neck compression leading to more nerve compression leading to more pain in the ulnar nerves causing me loss of hand use – all because stoves tops are set at 36″ tall and I’m barely 5′ 2″. I just need some KISS platform boots to work at my stove, right? πŸ˜‰

(sigh)

I’m starting to give myself a headache just typing this all out. Hahaha. Ok, that’s enough for now.

[ My knock-off Tim Horton's tangerine-yogurt smoothie. ]

[ My knock-off Tim Horton’s tangerine-yogurt smoothie. ]

Moving along, I have been testing a few new drinks to add to my Summer Drinks category. The first up was a promising banana latte, but it turned into something that my taste buds rejected outright, and the next one was my attempt at coming up with a Tim Horton’s tangerine-yogurt smoothie knock-off, and this one proved easy to do, and it was tasty! I’ll post that one soon.

Until next weekend, ttyl.

Erin Go Braugh!

2014-03-16 18.44.58I made us a dinner of typical Irish fare on Sunday. It was the only time we’ll have dinner together for at least four nights, so I bumped it up one day. I couldn’t get my hands on a brisket or even a basic beef roast (all sold out), so I used a pork roast instead. If I wanted to do it up right, I would have made a bi-fold cut in it so I could stuff and roll it up, but I bought it already trussed. I’m also lazy at times. Hee.

2014-03-16 13.07.33So, from around the plate above in a clockwise direction: pork roast slices that were cut thinly but still held onto a bit of the meat rubbed crust I created, and they’re sitting beside heaps of Carrie’s mom’s fantastic colcannon I made with Nappa cabbage instead of standard green variety. Finally, there is some green beans I boiled then pan fried with shallots, a splash of white vinegar, salt and a few dribbles of hoisen sauce to give it a deep earthy, umami flavour to complete the whole meal.

This meal was amazing. Oh, I almost forgot! I made up the shamrock shake knock-offs to wash it all down with. The boy didn’t like it but I thought it was fairly close to what I remember McDonald’s version tasting like.

2014-03-16 18.52.50After all of the dishes, I sat down and immediately food coma crashed for a quick 25 minute nap on the couch. Whoops. πŸ™‚

Anyway, here is the recipe for the colcannon. I subbed out the mace for cardamom because I never stock mace. I haven’t found a use for it the 45 yrs I have been alive outside of this one recipe, so forget that. My spice stash is already out of control. πŸ˜€

2014-03-16 19.22.08Carrie’s Mum’s Colcannon:
1 1/4 lbs Russet or Yellow Potatoes, peeled and quartered
1 C Leeks (the whites only) or Yellow Onions, thinly sliced
1 C Whole Milk
1/2 C Butter, unsalted
1/2 Tea Ground Mace (or any other suitable substitute)
1 1/4 lbs Cabbage
1 Tbsp Oil
Sea Salt & Freshly Cracked Pepper
1 Tbsp Fresh Herb (parsley, basil or cilantro – whichever you prefer)

Cook cabbage in water and oil until tender, drain, chop fine, set aside and keep warm.

Cook potatoes until tender, drain and mash by hand.

Simmer the leeks in milk for 10 minutes, keep warm and do not drain.

Add the leeks and milk and the cooked cabbage to the mashed potatoes. Season with mace and salt and pepper to taste and beat by hand until well mixed yet still fluffy.

Plop into a bowl or on a platter, top with butter and parsley and serve immediately.

2014-03-16 09.48.17AND! As a bonus, here are two shots of the Apple Strudel I created on Saturday night out of boredom when the husband was busy at work. It’s lovely looking, and tasty. The cinnamon flavoured Kahlua really pops in this dish. This is definitely an adults’ version you’d serve with strong coffee or a dessert wine.

2014-03-16 09.52.00It made a tasty and somewhat unusual breakfast choice for us today, I’ll tell you that. But, we both liked it. We even cracked open the French Vanilla ice cream to enjoy it with. What? Like none of you would have done the same thing? Please! Don’t lie. πŸ˜‰