Week 5 - January 22 to January 28

This week I tried to make different things that I normally would never make. I have never been a fan of Carrot Cake and this week I decided to make one for my family, turned out amazing. The Sesame Noodle Salad was definitely a family favourite this week too, easy to create and I decided that we were going to add some additional ingredients to really make the salad even more delicious. The Turkey Melts were a huge hit as well with us having them the next night since we were really on the go. What didn’t go so well this week was the Pancetta Pizza, since it was a little boring and a little too salty for my liking. As well, the Raspberry Souffle’s didn’t turn out as well as I would have expected, so I am going to try to make a different kind this week as well to redeem myself. 

 

January 22 - Coconut Macaroons

This was a very busy day so I needed something that I could make quickly when I got home at 9:30pm, so that told me Coconut Macaroons since there is only 4 ingredients. Sweetened Coconut, Condensed Milk, Almond Extract and Vanilla extract, nothing more and nothing less. The only thing I would change about these, I would like to try and make them with coconut extract because they were almost too almondy for my liking. They also thinned out so much more than they said they would, so I would probably refrigerate the batter for a little before cooking them in the oven, so they stay more like a macaroon mound than a flat stack. Overall these still were very good and very delicious. 

  • 3 1/2 cups sweetened coconut
  • 1 can condense milk
  • 2 tsp almond extract
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment.
  2. In a bowl, combine the coconut, condensed milk, almond and vanilla extracts. Using a wooden spoon, stir all ingredients until well mixed.
  3. Drop the mixture by scant tablespoons onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing the mound about 1 inch apart. If necessary, wet your fingers with cool water and gently shape and press each mound to make it neat.
  4. Bake the cookies until lightly browned, 10-15 minutes. Let cool completely on the pans on wire racks.

 

January 23 - Sesame Noodle Salad

I used to make something similar to this for lunch all the time and this time I thought I would step it up and add some hot and cold ingredients plus a couple added features to make it that much better. This time I used Angel Hair Pasta which I believe was way better than any other of the pasta’s that I have made this with in the past. I also added chicken to this since I always felt like it was missing a meat of some kind. I sautéed the chicken and cooked it in a Sweet and Sour cooking sauce which I was really nervous since the other flavours were a lot more Asian inspired and I was scared they were going to clash. So I set up an assembly line on how I believe that the favours would not mix and be gross. You grab some of the pasta, add the vinaigrette sauce that you make, place all the different veggies (I added a couple), then you place the chicken on top. If you mixed a little of everything it really tasted delicious. Mixing the favours actually made it taste that much better, which was a huge surprise in my books. 

  • 1 package angel hair pasta
  • 1/2 cup sesame oil
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp hot chili oil
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  1. Fill a large pot with lightly salted water and bring to a rolling boil over high heat. Once the water is boiling, stir in the angel hair pasta, and return to a boil. Cook the pasta uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the pasta has cooked through, but is still firm to the bite, 4 to 5 minutes. Drain well in a colander set in the sink.
  2. Whisk together the sesame oil, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, chili oil, and sugar in a large bowl. Toss the pasta in the dressing, then sprinkle with sesame seeds, green onion, and bell pepper. Serve warm, or cover and refrigerate for a cold salad.

 

January 24 - Turkey Melts

These sandwiches are actually pretty easy to assemble and instead of making them in the oven I made them on a Panini Press. In the oven I was afraid that the bread would have dried out, this way the bread has a nice outer crunch and the inside was still really good. I also decided to add mustard since I believe you cannot have a sandwich without having some kind of mustard on it. I made everyone’s a little different since my brother wanted Dijon mustard and my dad wanted honey mustard, and my mom didn’t want any onion. I think it is nice to be able to customize the sandwiches so that you can still make it your own. Theses sandwiches are so good and quick I could see us making them when we have a lot to do because of how quick and easy they can be made. I believe you can use any kind of bread or even if you wanted to make them into a wrap you could do that too.

  • 4 slices whole-wheat bread
  • 2-3 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 large tomato, sliced
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 8 large slices turkey
  • 8 thin slices of Monterey Jack cheese
  1. Preheat the boiler.
  2. Spread 1 side of the toast slice with mayonnaise. Place slices, mayonnaise side up, on a rimmed baking sheet. Top with tomato, onion, turkey slices, dividing them evenly. Top each sandwich with 2 cheese slices.
  3. Broil the sandwiches until heated through and the cheese melts and begins to brown, about 5 minutes. 

 

January 25 - Carrot Cake

So I do not like Carrot Cake at all, so this was just for my parents since they really like it. It isn’t that difficult to make, but you have to follow the steps otherwise something might over mix and the cake will taste dry. I also used a food processor to shred my carrots instead of buying shredded already. I also made my own cream cheese frosting, since it is actually a pretty easy recipe. I think most people make one cake and then cut in half to make two layers. Since I own a couple different cake pans I decided to split the batter between two different cake pans to make two laters. They cooked so perfectly and amazing. When you bring them out of the oven you need to let them cool completely before working with them. If you start to play with them right out of the oven they will break a part. Leaving in the pans to cool for an hour then bringing them out really makes them stronger. Once they were cool I shaved some cake off the top of one to make a flat surface and then iced that with the frosting. Placing the next later on and then adding the remaining frosting. I also added more frosting on the top to make a design, my cake ended up looking more like a naked cake because I didn’t frost everything everywhere which I think was nice. Everyone loves it. Such a hit, so now I will have to regularly make this cake.

  • butter for pans
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt 
  • 1/2 tsp all spice
  • 4 eggs, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup canola oil
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 3 cups shredded carrots
  • cream cheese frosting (homemade or not)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour two 9 inch cake pans.
  2. In a bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, and allspice. In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, oil, sugars, and buttermilk until well blended. Stir the flour mixture into the egg mixture just until combined. Fold in the carrots. Divide the batter evenly between the two pans.
  3. Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, 40 minutes. Let cool in pans on wire racks for 15 minutes. Invert cakes onto the racks, turn right side up, let cool completely.
  4. Place 1 cake layer, top side down, on a plate. Spread 1 1/4 cup frosting. Place the second cake later, top side down, on top. Spread remaining frosting over the top and sides of the cake. Serve right away.

 

January 26 - Stuffed Shells

There is so much work that goes into this very delicious meal. Cooking the shells like normal and having them open enough so you can stuff them later is the hardest part. So once the shells are cooked to your liking you throw them into cold water to stop the cooking process. Then you stuff them with the filling that you already made. This is what I found quite difficult since I had a couple shells that didn't want to stay open so I could stuff them. Plus with the shells being wet they slipped out of my fingers and back into the water, luckily there was never filling in them when they fell back in. Once they were all cooked and beautiful, they tasted delicious. I decided to add some beef to this recipe since it added something new to the recipe. It would be a great vegetarian dish, but garlic beef really added something extra. 

  • 1 package jumbo pasta shells
  • 4 cups large curd cottage cheese
  • 12 onc. mozza cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 pinch garlic powder
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 jar spaghetti sauce
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  1. Cook shells according to package directions. Place in cold water to stop cooking. Drain.
  2. Mix together cottage cheese, mozzarella cheese, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, eggs, and garlic powder. Rub the dried herbs in the palms of your hands to pulverize them, and stir into the cheese mixture. Stuff mixture into the shells.
  3. Spread 1/3 of spaghetti sauce in the bottom of a 15 x 10 inch pan. Place shells open side up, and close together in pan. Spread remaining sauce over top, and sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 25 to 35 minutes, or until bubbly. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

 

January 27 - Pancetta Pizza

I have made pizza before, but never my own dough and this was not the time to try and make it. Not yet anyway. This pizza was very quite simple to make since there was not that many ingredients that were to go on this pizza. So since this was super simple, I decided to make a second small pizza with some of my favourite ingredients. After they were cooked, they both looked amazing. The pancetta pizza was very salty, even more than I expected it to be. The pancetta and the fontina cheese together was quite good, but there was a lot of salt between the two of them. After this was cooked, the pizza ended up being a very thin thin pizza. It was a fun meal idea to since my brothers friend came over and we all made a bunch of different pizza’s and had a pizza party. It was pretty awesome.

  • Basic Pizza Dough
  • 12-16 thin pancetta slices
  • 6-8 plum tomatoes, halved
  • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 generous pinches red pepper flakes
  • 6 oz goat cheese
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 cup shredded Fontina cheese
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup shredded basil leaves
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Fold over the outer 1/2 inch edge of each dough round to make a rim. Prick dough with a fork.
  3. In a large frying pan over medium heat, fry the pancetta slices, turning occasionally, until crisp, 6 minutes. Transfer to paper towel to drain. When the pancetta is cool, crumble and set aside. In a bowl, toss together the tomatoes, vinegar, and red pepper flakes.
  4. Transfer the pizza crusts to the oven and bake for 5 minutes to crisp slightly, then remove from the oven. Spread each crust with half the goat cheese, then top with half tomato mixture. Sprinkle with half the pancetta, dried basil, oregano, and Fontina cheese. Drizzle with the oil.
  5. Return the topped pizzas to the oven and bake until the cheese melts and crusts are crisp, 5-8 minutes. Remove the baked pizzas and sprinkle with 2 tbsp of the fresh basil. Cut into wedges.

 

January 28 - Raspberry Soufflés

This was the recipe that I was most nervous for since I have never made a soufflé before. The mixture looked like it was going to work so well, until I realized that there was a lot of liquid under the egg mixture. After placing the mixture in the ramekins and placing them into the oven, I was so worried. After sitting in front of the oven watching it slowly rise it looked amazing, although I expected it to rise a lot higher than it did tho. Mine only raised an inch or so, others I had seen raised a couple inches. So I think I didn’t mix the mixture correctly. If I would have only used the egg mixture with the mixed raspberry inside than it would have tasted and raised a lot more than they did. Although I have never had a soufflé before, I think it would have helped if I had one before making this. Even though it didn't work out the way I thought it should, it still tasted amazing. Next time I would only use the egg mixture and none of the liquid below. I do plan on trying to make another one this week so if I make it better. 

  • cooking spray
  • 1 1/2 cups raspberries 
  • 2 1/2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 pkg frozen raspberries in syrup
  • 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 4 egg whites
  • pinch of cream of tartar
  • 1 tbsp orange liqueur (cointreau)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Coat six 2/3 cup soufflés moulds with cooking spray. Then coat the moulds with sugar. Divide fresh raspberries among the soufflés moulds, each should have 10-12 raspberries. 
  2. Place the thawed raspberries in a blender until smooth. Pass the berries through a sieve. Transfer the puree to a small saucepan, add the sugar and lemon juice, and place over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar, and simmer 3 minutes.
  3. In a bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat together the egg whites and cream of tartar until stiff peaks.
  4. Remove the puree from the heat and stir in the liqueur and vanilla. Immediately pour the hot puree into the egg whites. Continue to beat until puree is incorporated.
  5. Spoon the puree mixture into the soufflés moulds, dividing evenly filling them to the top. Run a thumb around the outside of the mould.
  6. Bake until puffed and golden brown on top, about 12 minutes.