February 5 to February 11

This week I had some really complicated items that I wanted to try and make, for example Bread, never made bread from scratch in the oven before so that was interesting. I also made fresh homemade tomato soup, boy was that a long process. I have always wanted to try and make some Cake Mix Cookies, so making cookies from boxed cake mix, I was worried it would be too dense like cake, but actually they were delicious. I finished out this week making an all Greek inspired dish with Chicken Satay, Rice, Potatoes, Greek Orzo Salad, and Na’an Bread.

 

February 5 - Swedish Meatballs

This was my first time making the family recipe of Swedish Meatballs so I had my Dad help me so that I didn’t mess up anything. Making the meatballs is always the worst part because I get beef under my nails and it is such a gross feeling. To make the sauce it is so simple because it is 90% ketchup and tomato soup. Whenever we make Swedish Meatballs we always eat it with Rice, so tonight we tried a different rice and it was not as good as the quick rice. Stick with what you know.

Meatballs:

  • 1 pound hamburger
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp garlic
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper

Sauce:

  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 2 tbsp vinegar
  • 1 can tomato soup
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 3 tbsp mustard
  • 1 tbsp worstershire
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Mix everything for meatballs into a large bowl. Form meatballs and brown in a large saucepan.
  3. Mix everything for sauce in a large bowl. Place meatballs in a large oven safe dish. Pour sauce over meatballs.
  4. Place meatballs in oven and cook for 45 minutes.
  5. Serve with rice.

 

February 6 - White Chocolate Blondies

These are probably the most expensive dessert bar I have ever made. The Macadamia nuts are roughly eleven dollars and then I used Bernard Callebaut chocolate, so over all these bars are probably twenty dollars. They didn’t rise like I would have expected them too, but I guess there isn’t really anything to help them rise. When you pull them out of the oven they smell amazing. Overall they tasted amazing even though I am not a fan of macadamia nuts at all. They were definitely a family favourite though.

  • 3/4 cup macadamia nuts
  • 3-4 oz white chocolate (I used Bernard Callebaut white chocolate chips)
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tsp espresso powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup flour
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8 inch square baking pan.
  2. Coarsely chop the macadamia nuts and white chocolate, aiming for similar sized pieces, set aside separately.
  3. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on high, beat together the butter, brown sugar, espresso powder, and vanilla until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Continue to beat on high, until fluffy, 2 minutes. On low, add the flour and mix until just combined. Fold in the nuts and white chocolate, just blended.
  4. Pour and scrape the batter into the prepared pan and spread the top evenly with a spatula. Baked until a toothpick comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Let cool.
  5. Cut into 24 bars.

 

February 7 - White Bread

I have never made bread before and after the fail of making pasta, I was very nervous making this. After mixing everything in the stand mixer, I was pleased to see it really looked like dough. When I left it in the bowl for a while it rose, it was so exciting that it was really coming together. The last step was separating and making two loaves, I was so excited, it all was working so well. After baking it looked like bread, and when I pulled it out of the loaf pans it even sounded like bread was supposed to sound. Let me just say this was so exciting to see that I was able to make bread. Yay me. 

  • 5-6 cups unbleached flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 pkg. quick-rise yeast
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • canola oil
  • 1 egg yolk beaten with 1 tsp water
  1. In a large bowl, combine 4 cups of the flour, the salt, and yeast. In a saucepan, combine the water, milk, and butter. Heat briefly, stirring often. Slowly stir the water-milk mixture into the flour mixture, incorporating enough to the remaining flour to make a soft dough that holds its shape.
  2. Knead by hand or with a stand mixer, adding flour as necessary; knead by hand until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes; knead by stand mixer with dough hook, roughly 6-7 minutes.
  3. Form the dough into a compact ball and place in a clean, oiled bowl, turning the dough to coat all sides. Cover the boil with oiled plastic wrap and let the dough rise until doubled in volume, 45-60 minutes.
  4. Oil two loaf pans. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and press flat. Cut in half and form each into a ball. Using a rolling pin, roll out into rectangles. Starting from short side, roll up dough like a jelly roll. Pinch the seams and ends to seal and place in prepared pans, seam side down. Cover loosely with oiled plastic, and let rise, 30-45 minutes.
  5. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  6. Brush the loaves with the egg yolk mixture. Bake until golden brown and loaves sound hollow when tapped on the bottoms, 30-40 minutes. Turn loaves out onto wire racks to cool completely.

 

February 8 - Spaghetti and Meatballs

Got to love homemade meatballs so much. These ones were made from ground veal and ground pork. It brings such a great flavour with the added spices. I feel like next time I would used crushed tomatoes instead of diced, so that they would be more like a sauce than being chunky. The flavour with everything mixed together was delicious. Tonight I used my bread that I made yesterday for the garlic bread, it was so good. I was pleased to see that my bread was great with garlic everywhere. I was going to attempt to make fresh pasta, but I was really worried about making fresh pasta, so I was pleased to just use boxed pasta. Overall this was a very delicious meal. 

For the Meatballs:

  • 1/2 lb ground veal
  • 1/2 lb ground pork
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 small yellow onion, minced
  • 1/2 cup fine bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 tbsp parsley
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds, crushed (I used powdered, just as good)
  • salt and pepper

For the Sauce:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced (I used 6 cloves, minced)
  • 1 tbsp parsley
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1 can roma tomatoes (I used crushed tomatoes)
  • salt
  • 1 lb spaghetti
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  1. To make the meatballs, in a large bowl, combine the ground meats, eggs, onions, bread crumbs, cheese, parsley, oregano, fennel seeds, 1 1/2 tsp salt, and several grinds of pepper. Mix gently with your hands until blended. Shape the mixture into 24 meatballs, working gently and dipping your hands in cold water. Put the meatballs in a single layer on a large plate and refrigerate. 
  2. To make the tomato sauce, in a large saute pan over medium heat, warm the oil. Add the garlic, parsley, and red pepper flakes and saute for 1 minutes. Add the tomatoes and simmer, uncovered, until the flavours are blended, about 15 minutes. Pass the sauce through a puree in a food processor, then return to the pan. Season with salt and bring to a simmer.
  3. Add the meatballs to the sauce, cover, and adjust the heat so the sauce simmers gently. cook the meatballs, turning them once about halfway through cooking, until cooked, about 15 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile bring a large pot three-fourths fill of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta, stir well, and cook al dente. Drain and return to a warm pot. Add the meatballs and sauce and toss gently. Divide among warmed plates. Top each serving with a little of the cheese and serve right away.

 

February 9 - Tomato Soup

Never made homemade soup before, so immediately I was very nervous. I prepared my tomatoes in the morning so they were ready in the afternoon. Once it was time to start making dinner I literally just threw everything in a pot and allowed it to simmer for 40 minutes so everything was soft and amazing. Then the best part, I got to use our Vitamix which is such an amazing tool. It is really just a high powered blender. You blend everything and then throw it back in the same pot and reheat it to serve. Tonight I added Grilled Cheeses because you can’t just have Tomato Soup without some Grilled Cheeses. Overall, it was a very good soup, but I didn’t like texture at all. Next time I would try and peel the tomatoes because the I found that there was little pieces of skin throughout the soup. It wasn’t awful, it was still good, but I didn’t like it as much as I thought I would. 

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, minced
  • 1 carrot, peeled and grated
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped (I used 6 cloves)
  • cayenne pepper (I used 1/4 tsp and it was pretty spicy)
  • 3 lb tomatoes, chopped (I would peel next time)
  • 1 1/3 cup chicken broth
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/4 cup fresh dill
  1. In a saucepan over medium heat, warm the oil. Add the onion and carrot and saute until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cayenne pepper and saute until garlic has softened, 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes and broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, until flavours are blended, 20 minutes or up to 45 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.
  2. Working in batches, transfer soup into a blender, and process until smooth. Return to saucepan and season with salt and pepper. Heat to serving temperature.
  3. Ladle into bowls and top with a dollop of yogurt and a sprinkle of dill.

 

February 10 - Cake Mix Cookies

Since we were heading to Edmonton, I got up early and made Cake Mix Cookies. Thankfully they take two minutes to mix together and 12 minutes to cook. So I was pleased that I could throw something quick together before leaving, since I knew it would be late coming home. To up this recipe I decided to add Bernard Callebaut white chocolate chips which I believe made them taste amazing. Bernard Callebaut chocolate has a distinct flavour and I think it really make the cookies taste like cookies instead of cake. Using a cake mix for the base was very strange to me since I have never used a cake mix for a cookie before. I have had friends make a similar cookie before and they said it was vary dense like cake and they were quite gross. Mine were delicious and amazing. 

  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup butter melted and cooled
  • 1/4 cup sprinkles
  • 1 and 1/4 cup white chocolate chips
  1. In a large mixing bowl, mix cake mix, eggs and butter with an electric mixer until well combined. Cover with saran wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes. 
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 
  3. Scoop dough with a medium cookie scoop (1 and 1/2 tablespoon size) and place 2" apart on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. 
  4. Bake cookies for 10 to 12 minutes (11 minutes was the magic number for me). Cool on baking sheet for 2 minutes, then transfer onto a cooling rack. 
  5. Store in air-tight container with a piece of bread to prevent drying out. 

 

February 11 - Chicken Satay and Greek Orzo Salad

It has been pretty cold in Calgary this past week so I had planned on baking this instead of barbecuing, but my Dad said he would take one for the team and barbecue the chicken for me. (Love you Dad). I got to use the Vitamix again to make the marinade for the chicken skewers, got to love when you can throw everything in and it will make a smooth sauce. I let in marinade all day just to find out that chicken does not really take on any of the flavours, so it was kind of sad, but I continued on. For tonights meal I also made a Greek Orzo Salad, which is just like a Greek Salad but made with Orzo pasta and artichokes added. Delicious. To make it a real Greek meal I also made roasted potatoes, rice, and added some na’an too. So it was like we were eating OPA! at home, it was great. Overall it was very very good and I would maybe make a different marinade to put with the chicken. 

Chicken Satay

  • 2 shallots, halved
  • 2 cloves garlic, halved
  • 1 red serrano chili, halved (I didn't use)
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped lemongrass (I didn't use since I didn't want to buy a huge one)
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • salt
  • 2 tbsp coconut cream
  • 8 chicken thighs, cut into pieces (I used chicken breast instead)
  1. In a blender, combine the shallots, garlic, chile, and lemongrass. Process until finely chopped. Add the coriander, sugar, cumin, 1 tsp salt, and 2 tbsp water, or just enough to blend. Process until a smooth paste forms. Pour into a bowl, add the coconut cream, and mix thoroughly. Add the chicken, turn to coat evenly, cover, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
  2. Prepare a gas grill to cook. At the same time, soak 6 skewers in water.
  3. Remove the chicken from marinade and discard the marinade. Drain the skewers and thread the chicken piece onto them, dividing the pieces evenly. Place on the grill for 8-10 minutes.

Greek Orzo Salad

  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked orzo pasta
  • 2 cans artichoke hearts
  • 1 tomato, seeded and chopped
  • 1 cucumber, seeded and chopped
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper
  1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain. Drain artichoke hearts, reserving liquid.
  2. In large bowl combine pasta, artichoke hearts, tomato, cucumber, onion, feta, parsley, lemon juice, oregano and lemon pepper. Toss and chill for 1 hour in refrigerator.
  3. Just before serving, drizzle reserved artichoke marinade over salad.