Sunday, December 31, 2017

Cranberry-Orange Tea Bread

Having neither shame nor pride, Im well beyond the point of making (and keeping) New Year’s resolutions to eat less, drink less, spend less, work less, or dislike Trump less,
Cranberry-Orange Tea Bread
but I shall try. Not the 
Trump part, but the “work less” part. (1) So this is the part where I promote slow cookers. I have two - one, big as a Buick; the other, the size of a toaster oven. 

I never use either. Sad, but true. Each languishes at the back of the kitchen cupboard, rarely used or thought about. Mea culpa, Dollinks! (2) So this is the part where I promise to repent, which is as close to a New Year’s resolution as I’m ever going to getHar-rumph! 

(3) So this is the part where I introduce this spectacular little Cranberry-Orange Tea Bread, telling you how effortless (true) and delicious (also true) it is, and that you will need to yank your own slow cooker out of the attic or the basement or from whichever dark, dank place you’ve stashed it. 

You already know the benefits of slow cookers; I’m not going to preach. (4) So this is the part where I give you the recipe and urge you to make it pronto, just as I’ve done. This is also the part where I admit that working less = less time in the kitchen = more time cuddling my slow cooker (or “crock pot,” as these handy gadgets were once known).

This recipe requires a slow cooker

Cranberry-Orange Tea Bread:

To Prepare the Tea Bread:

3 c. (700 mL) all-purpose flour, divided
3/4 c. (180 mL) dried cranberries (also known as “Craisins”)
1-1/3 (330 mL) granulated sugar
1 tbsp. (15 mL) baking powder
1/4 tsp. (1.25 mL) baking soda
1/4 tsp. (1.25 mL) salt
2/3 c. (160 mL) skim milk powder
2 c. (500 mL) warm water
1 large egg
1/4 c. (60 mL) canola oil
2 tsp. (10 mL) finely grated orange peel 

Preheat and cover spray-greased 4 qt. (4 L) slow cooker on high setting. Combine 1/2 c. (125 mL) flour with dried cranberries. Set aside. In large mixing bowl, combine remaining flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. In medium bowl, dissolve skim milk powder in warm water. Add egg, oil, and orange peel, beating well with electric mixer. Briefly set electric mixer aside. 

Hand-stirring with spoon or spatula, add combined liquid to dry ingredients, just until moistened. Hand-stir in remaining flour-cranberry mixture until smooth. Beat with electric mixer, 2 min. on low, until mixture is smooth throughout. Pour batter into slow cooker. Cover and cook about 2-1/4 hr., testing for doneness with thin skewer. 

When loaf is done, remove slow cooker insert from metal casing, cooling loaf inside insert 20-to-30 min. As loaf begins to cool, loosen sides of loaf from insert by running blunt knife around loaf’s edges, being sure knife penetrates to bottom of insert and loaf. Repeat as loaf cools further, this time gently lifting loaf from bottom of insert as you work around the edges. Turn loaf onto wire rack to cool more fully. 

(5) So this is the part where we eat it. It’s wonderful! Makes 15-to-20 tall slices - double that, if you cut them in half.

To Prepare the Icing Sugar Glaze (optional): 

Standing round and tall, this particularly showy bread deserves special treatment. Drizzle the top and edges with about 1/2 c. (125 mL) sifted icing sugar combined with just enough light cream and a few drops of pure orange extract to produce a runny white glaze. Using a funnel, let the glaze run over the top and sides of the bread. Let glaze set at least 30 min. before cutting and transferring to serving plate. 

Note: This tea cake freezes wonderfully. Cut into slices, separating with waxed paper.

Further Note: You’re a tea bread fan? Among of the best of the best is Yukon Orange Bread. Youll find it at: 

Friday, December 29, 2017

Chocolate Trifle (Non-Alcoholic)

I served this delicious Chocolate Trifle for Christmas dinner - but it’s also a showy finale for New Year’s Eve. I’ve posted the recipe before, but am bringing it back with a non-alcoholic twist. Rather than soak the dried cake cubes in the coffee liqueur the recipe calls for, try substituting 1/4 c. (60 mL) espresso and 1/4 tsp. (1.25 mL) pure orange extract. I did that for Christmas, with superb results!

Making this special trifle one day ahead blends the flavors perfectly as well as allowing a little extra time for your New Year’s Eve preparations.

I’m reprinting this terrific recipe today so you’ll have time to buy the ingredients and get busy drying the cubed chocolate cake in a low oven. I set mine to its “dehydrate” function - use the lowest temperature you can. Drying the cubed cake takes about 2 hr., but the rest of the preparation is quick and easy.

I served this trifle in a large crystal bowl, but the recipe is so versatile that it can easily be cut in half or prepared in individual goblets. Serves 8. If you prefer, here’s the boozy version:

One more important thing, Dollinks: Happy New Year!

xox Nicole

Monday, December 25, 2017

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Happy American Thanksgiving!

Table Grace:

For food in a world where many walk in hunger;

For faith in a world where many walk in fear;

For friends in a world where many walk alone;

We give thanks.

- Modified from the Chemainus, BC Theatre Family

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Thanksgiving Zebra Cake

I’ve been thinking of a dessert suitable for a small Thanksgiving celebration for one person or two. This one literally “takes the cake”! (The sweet young things with a gelled green Mohawk hairstyle, an eyebrow piercing, and a skull tattooed on their arms won’t know what that phrase means, and nor will their male friends. Live with it! I’m struttin’ my advancing years, Dollinks.)

I’ve been writing about small Thanksgiving celebrations, this week. Not everyone has a large family - and if they do, not everyone is able to visit. This dessert is ideal for your small celebration! It’s also inexpensive and very, very easy to make. It requires just three  ingredients: Whipped cream, confectioners sugar, and chocolate wafers. Important! Prepare this cake at least three hours ahead so the whipped cream softens the wafers, turning them into cake. 

A tip: Because it’s Thanksgiving, use thin, plain ginger cookies instead of the chocolate ones. 

Another tip: Whip the cream in the kitchen sink to minimize splashing. I’ve done that for years, with the result that my kitchen’s semi-clean.

I’ve published this excellent recipe, before. You can make it large, or you can make it small. Treat yourself: Don’t use a whipping cream substitute when you make this outstanding little cake! Here’s where you’ll find it on my blog:

Just before serving, garnish the cake with one or two finely crumbled wafers. As the hair-color ads used to say: You’re worth it! Even if you do wear a gelled green Mohawk and celebrate Thanksgiving on your own.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Party Nugget Potatoes

 These potatoes are an excellent choice for a small Thanksgiving dinner for one person or two. The cooking time varies with the size of potato. In my opinion, smaller nuggets are preferable to larger ones. While my recipe serves more than two, it’s terrific to have leftover nugget potatoes with bacon and eggs the next morning. 

Naturally, vegetables and cranberry sauce are a huge part of a traditional Thanksgiving meal. If you don’t care for cooking and there’s just you, or you and a friend, don’t feel embarrassed to serve frozen mixed veggies and canned cranberry sauce with these easy potatoes. And check out the Cranberry-Orange Chicken Breasts I blogged yesterday!

Because these chicken breasts use a few cranberries, you’ll have plenty extra on hand … C’mon, go ahead and make that Cranberry Sauce! Click on the Index under Cranberries: Sauces. You’ll find some great recipes there!

Party Nugget Potatoes:

1 lb. (454 g) nugget potatoes (about 20 small), unpeeled 
1 tbsp. (15 mL) olive oil
1-1/2 tsp. (7 mL) garlic salt
1/4 tsp. (1 mL) dried onion
1/4 tsp. (1 mL) dried leaf-style thyme (not powdered)
1/2 tsp. (2 mL) dried leaf-style marjoram (not powdered)
Scant grinding of pepper

Preheat oven to 450 deg. F. (See Note) Select approximately 10 red and 20 white nugget potatoes. Wash potatoes, blotting dry. Add potatoes and oil to a small work bowl, stirring until potatoes are well coated. 

To a very small bowl, add garlic salt, dried onion, thyme, marjoram, and freshly ground pepper, combining well. Sprinkle over potatoes, stirring gently until evenly coated. Turn into small, ungreased oven-proof dish. Bake 30-to-40 min., depending on size of potatoes. Turn potatoes over halfway through baking time. Potatoes should be nicely browned, slightly shriveled, and soft inside. Test with a sharp paring knife to ensure doneness.

Note: I baked these super-simple potatoes in a toaster oven. 

Combine nuggets with olive oil and salted herb mixture.

Pop into an oven or taster oven.
Ready for my close-up, CB!
Done! Not the best shot, but it is a glass baking dish!

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Cranberry-Orange Chicken Breasts

The traditional image of Thanksgiving is one of huge families, all of whom exercise the boarding house reach in search of more potatoes, more cranberries, more turkey … Life doesn’t always match that image.  Sometimes, Thanksgiving is very small - dinner for one or two. No matter who you are or where you are, what’s important is to give thanks.
So here’s a simple recipe I invented a couple of days ago, with a small Thanksgiving dinner in mind. I’m printing it well in advance of the occasion, so you can be sure to have the ingredients on hand.
You’ll love these deliciously low-calorie Cranberry-Orange Chicken Breasts. Trust me, Dollinks! 
This dish is a keeper! I know its a disappointment not to have a

a photo, but (blush!) this chicken 
was so good that we gobbled it up fast! Only this dirty skillet remained.

Cranberry-Orange Chicken Breasts:

2 chicken breasts, about 10 oz. (285 g) each, fresh or thawed (See Note)
1/3 c. (80 mL) orange juice, preferably without pulp 
1/3 c. (80 mL) water
2-to-2-1/2 tsp. (10-to-12.5 mL) all-purpose flour
2 tsp. (10 mL) orange-flavored liqueur such as Grande Marnier (optional)
7 or 8 whole cranberries, fresh or frozen
Dusting of dried parsley or leaf-style dried marjoram or thyme  

Add orange juice, water, and chicken breasts to a medium-sized skillet. Place chicken in skillet, best side up. Cover, bringing liquids just to a boil. Reduce heat, simmering 20-to-25 min. Chicken is done when no pink remains at center. Remove chicken from skillet; set aside. Gradually whisk flour into liquids on low heat as orange sauce. Return chicken to thickened liquid, stirring in liqueur. Do not boil. Drop in cranberries, simmering 1 min. Nap sauce over chicken, dusting lightly with marjoram, thyme, or dried parsley. Serve hot. Makes 2 servings.

Note: Choose firm, high breasts, 
 as per the photo.

Focus, men, focus! Stop thinking about Pamela Anderson! If they’re fresh from the farm, you may want to wash them in cold water, blotting them dry with a paper towel. Again … Stop thinking about Pamela Anderson!

Monday, October 9, 2017

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving!

Give from the heart. Share with love. Be grateful. That is the message from our house to yours, this Thanksgiving Day. 

What to do with Turkey Lurkey? Check the Index for the word on the bird - ideas for some delicious dishes made with the leftovers! See Main Dish: Poultry (Turkey) for a number of excellent recipes.

This Autumn-themed tablecloth needs no ironing - ideal!

You'll feel and be more organized with dessert plates at the ready.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Sambuca Prawns

This excellent stove-top recipe looks complex, but isnt. Be sure to use prawns about 1-1/2 inches
Colorfully exotic: Sambuca Prawns
(38 mm) long - not shrimp. Prepare and assemble all ingredients before starting.

Sambuca Prawns:

3 slices bacon, in medium dice
2 cloves garlic, finely diced
2 tbsp. (30 mL) finely diced ginger
4 green onions, finely sliced
1 jalapeño pepper, finely sliced, seeds removed
2 tbsp. (30 mL) olive oil
Fresh or thawed raw prawns, peeled or unpeeled
1/2 c. (125 mL) white Sambuca liqueur (see Note)
Fresh baby Romaine lettuce, chopped in 1/2 in. (13 mm) pieces, as needed on serving plate (see Further Note)
1 medium mango, peeled, stone removed, in medium dice
1 medium tomato, peeled, sectioned in eighths

In skillet on medium-high heat, fry bacon until crisp. Drain and blot dry. Set aside. With a paper towel, wipe out skillet until no fat remains. Using same skillet on medium-high heat, sauté garlic, ginger, green onions, and jalapeño pepper 2-to-3 min. in olive oil. 

Add prawns, sautéeing until prawns turn pink and are lightly cooked, about 1 min. on each sideStir in Sambuca, simmering about 2 min., until flavors blend and some of the Sambuca is absorbed. 

In small bowl,
combine reserved bacon, mango and tomato as prawn mixture simmers. Spread Romaine over serving platter. spooning with hot prawn mixture. Immediately decorate with bacon, mango and tomato. Serve at once.

Note: Sambuca is a strongly flavored anise-based liqueur. Any quality brand will do: Ouzo works well.

Further Note: Substitute uncooked baby spinach, stems removed, if you prefer. 

Monday, October 2, 2017

Spicy BBQ Peppers, Zucchini, and Mushrooms

Husband Ron has been making this outstanding recipe for many years. I finally asked him how he does it!

Spicy BBQ Peppers, Zucchini, and Mushrooms:

Assorted sweet bell peppers, seeded and quartered, as needed
One zucchini, unpeeled, 10-to-12 in. (254-to-305 mm) long and cut into thirds, as needed 
Large white button mushrooms or brown crimini mushrooms, whole, as needed
Olive oil, as needed
Chili oil, as needed
Seasoning salt, as needed

Preheat barbecue to 375-to-400 deg. F. Place prepared fresh vegetables into plastic bag. Add just enough olive oil to coat vegetables, shaking gently. Drizzle on just enough chili oil to season vegetables, shaking gently. Sprinkle on just enough seasoning salt to flavor, shaking gently. 

Place vegetables directly on grill at the same time. Barbecue mushrooms 10 min., turning occasionally. Barbecue bell peppers and zucchini, skin-side down, about 6 min. Turn and barbecue a further 4 min. Transfer to heated serving plate.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Nicole’s Plum Pie

This is a fantastic dessert! To make it, I adapted one of my favorite cake recipes (Company Plum Cake, indexed under Desserts: Cakes (Company Plum)

I increased the ingredients by 1-1/2 times, omitting the cakes glaze. Why did I do this? The cake is small, which means that much of it is an edge piece.

The pie is generous, with only a small amount of edge and plenty of moist, delicious plums. Judging by my taste testers’ comments, the idea to switch up the cake to a pie worked! Even though I’ve made and enjoyed this cake for four decades, I found the pie superior. 

Nicole’s Plum Pie:

To Prepare the Streusel Topping for the Pie:

3/4 c. (180 mL) brown sugar, packed
1-1/2 (7 mL) tsp. cinnamon
1/3 c. (80 mL) butter or margarine, softened

In small bowl, combine brown sugar and cinnamon until thoroughly mixed. Using a fork, cut in butter or margarine until well-mixed and crumbly. Set aside.

To Prepare the Pie:

¼ c. + 2 tbsp. (90 mL) butter or margarine, softened
1-1/2 c. (375 mL) granulated sugar
3 large eggs, separated
2-1/4 c. (560 mL) all-purpose flour
1-1/2 tsp. (7 mL) baking powder
3/4 c. (180 mL) milk
About 15 prune plums, halved and pitted

Preheat oven to 350 deg. F. Spray-grease 10-in. glass pie dish. Cream butter and sugar until no grainy texture remains when you rub creamed mixture between thumb and index finger. Add egg yolks, continuing to beat well. Combine flour and baking powder in a separate bowl. Add flour mixture into butter-egg mixture in alternate thirds with milk. In another bowl, whip egg whites until stiff, gently folding into batter. 

Pour batter into pie dish, smoothing with spatula. Place halved prune plums lightly onto batter. Sprinkle Streusel Topping over plums. Bake 45-to-55 min. Best served warm. Makes 8-to-10 servings.

Note: This pie is very moist. It may slop over its dish during baking. Place foil or another oven protector over rack before baking. 

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Triple-Chocolate Chocolate Cookies

If you don’t eat cookies often, you may as well have outstanding ones when you do. These are soft and chewy and really quite extraordinary. 

Triple Chocolate Chocolate Cookies:
Excellent in every way!

Triple-Chocolate Chocolate Cookies:

1-1/4 c. (300 mL) butter or margarine, softened
2 c. (500 mL) granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 tsp. (10 mL) vanilla extract
2 c. (500 mL) all-purpose flour
1 tsp. (5 mL) baking soda
1/2 tsp. (2 mL) salt
3/4 c. (175 mL) cocoa powder, sifted
1 c. (250 mL) semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 c. (250 mL) white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 deg. F. Line ungreased cookie sheet with parchment paper. 

In large mixing bowl, beat butter or margarine, adding granulated sugar a little at a time until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla, mixing well. In small bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt, cocoa powder. Gradually add to mixer bowl, beating well after each addition. Stir in chocolate chips.

Drop by teaspoonsful onto large cookie sheet. Bake 8 or 9 min. Cookies will be soft, rising during baking and flattening as they cool. Makes 4-1/2 dozen. 

Monday, May 22, 2017

World’s Best Window Cleaner

Wow! You’ve got to try this!

Worlds Best Window Cleaner:

5 qt. (4.7 L) water
5 c. (1.2 L) white vinegar
5 tsp. liquid dish detergent

Pour into bucket. Slosh it on. Hose it down. Squeegie dry. 

You’d better boost your accident insurance because youll be smashing into the windows like crazy because they’re so clean. This is amazing! 

Goodbye, high-priced commercial brand! Goodbye, streaks! 

Friday, May 19, 2017

Classic Beef Stroganoff

I recently found this recipe - once a family favorite - tucked away in my files. I’ve made it twice in the past few weeks, never quite quick enough to leap up and grab the camera. A couple of tips based on personal preference: 

Don’t substitute Greek yogurt for the sour cream this recipe calls for. Yogurt has a slightly acidic under-taste - not the soft, creamy taste that makes Beef Stroganoff so delicious. Do use broad noodles and no other pasta. They feel exactly right on the palate for this dish. I like every type of pasta - but strongly prefer broad noodles in this recipe. 

And Dollinks … While you certainly can use dried parsley flakes, I greatly prefer garnishing this with fresh, chopped parsley for its color, taste, and micronutrients. Parsley is easy to grow inside or out. Read this and parsley will soon become your favorite herb!

Classic Beef Stroganoff:

1 medium onion, sliced
1 c. (250 mL) sliced mushrooms
1 large garlic clove, crushed
3 tbsp. (45 mL) butter or margarine, divided
1/2 lb. (250 g) boneless sirloin, divided (see Economy Note)
Seasoned flour, as needed
One 10-oz. (284 mL) can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 tsp. (5 mL) Worcestershire sauce
1 c. (250 mL) dairy sour cream
Salt and pepper, to taste
Hot broad noodles, as needed, cooked and drained according to package directions 
Chopped fresh parsley, as garnish

In a deep skillet, sauté onion, mushrooms, and garlic until soft and golden in 1 tbsp. (15 mL) butter or margarine. Remove from skillet and set aside.

Cut sirloin into thin strips. In a plastic bag, shake meat together with seasoned flour. Brown in the remaining 2 tbsp. (30 mL) butter or margarine for about 5 min., turning often. Add soup, Worcestershire sauce, and reserved onion mixture. Simmer, covered, 7-to-10 min., or until meat is cooked through and tender.

Over low heat, blend in sour cream, stirring occasionally. Do not boil. Season to taste. Pour over hot cooked noodles. Garnish with fresh parsley. Serves 6.

Economy Note: Or ... slice leftover roast beef into strips, cooking just until heated through.

For Beef Stroganoff “Stew, check the recipe immediately below, on today’s date.

Beef Stroganoff “Stew”

This oven-baked Stroganoff is a departure from the usual. It’s easy, quick, and inexpensive.

Beef Stroganoff “Stew”:

2 tsp. (10 mL) canola oil
1-1/2 lb. (0.7 kg) lean stewing beef, in bite-sized chunks
Seasoned flour, as needed
4 tbsp. (60 mL) butter or margarine, divided
2 onions, sliced
2 c. (500 mL) fresh mushrooms, halved
1 large garlic clove, crushed
2 tbsp. (30 mL) margarine
Salt and pepper
1 c. (250 mL) beef broth
1 tbsp. (15 mL) cornstarch
1 tbsp. (15 mL) tomato paste
1 c. (250 mL) sour cream
Hot broad noodles, as needed, cooked and drained according to package directions
Chopped fresh parsley, as garnish

Preheat oven to 325 deg. F. Heat oil in skillet until almost sizzling. In a plastic bag, shake meat together with seasoned flour. Add floured beef to skillet, turning often, just until browned. Remove to ovenproof casserole. 

In 2 tbsp. (30 mL) margarine, sauté onion, mushrooms, and garlic until soft and golden. Season to taste.

In small bowl, whisk together beef broth, cornstarch, and tomato paste. Over medium heat in skillet, stir into onions, mushrooms, and garlic. Remove from heat, slowly stirring in sour cream until well blended. 

Pour sauce over meat. Cover and bake 1 hr. Lower heat to 200 deg. F. With casserole still covered, continue baking 2 hr. until meat is tender. If sauce reduces too much, add 1/2 c. (125 mL) water in final hour. Serve over hot broad noodles. Garnish with fresh parsley. Serves 6.

Note: Also see the Classic Beef Stroganoff recipe immediately above, on today’s date.