Monday, May 19, 2014

Cauliflower Tots

When you don’t know what to cook, look in your fridge for inspiration. Ask yourself which items may end up in the trash if you don’t use them soon. I had a huge head of cauliflower in the fridge that was calling my name, so I Googled and Pinned a bunch of cauliflower recipes yesterday. Did you know you can do some really amazing things with cauliflower?! Some of my favourite finds were Cauliflower Crust Breadsticks, Cauliflower Tortillas, General Tso’s Cauliflower, and Buffalo “Chicken” Vegetarian Style. I made Cauliflower Crust Pizza in the past and it was very good, but this time, I decided to make these cauliflower tots.

My 6 year old liked these dipped in ketchup, but my 4 year old didn't want anything to do with them at all. I thought they were good and ate most of them myself.

I started to chop my cauliflower, then I realized it would be so much easier to grate it. I used the large holes on the grater and got the job done in no time. I suppose a food processor would also work, but who wants to wash that? I also used regular sharp cheddar instead of the low fat stuff.

Visit my Cauliflower Pinterest board for more recipes.

See other recipes on Jenny’s Cookbook using cauliflower.

The grater was much faster, but a knife will do too.

Cauliflower Tots
Adapted from Skinnytaste
Makes 32-38 pieces (I got 38)

2 cups cooked cauliflower, grated
1 large egg
1 large egg white
1/2 cup minced onion
3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400F and line a baking sheet with parchment.

I steamed my cauliflower until it was tender but not soft. It should be able to hold together when you grate I and not turn to mush. I also ran it under cold water after steaming because I didn't want the cheese to melt or the egg to cook during mixing. Plus, I didn't want to burn my hands.

Combine all ingredients in a bowl.

I tried to use my hands to make little rolls, but the mixture was falling apart, so I went ahead and used the quenelle technique. That’s the one where you use 2 spoons to make a football shape with the food. I’m sure you've seen them do this on TV. If you’re not sure how it works, click here to see a video. I used teaspoons and got 38 tots. If you don’t mind them being round, you could use a mini cookie scoop, and flatten them slightly with your hand.

Now place your tots gently on the prepared sheet (they don’t spread so they can be fairly close together), and bake for about 20 minutes until golden on all sides (you’ll need to turn them once or twice during baking – a spoon will do).

I served them with ketchup. One day, I’ll make this recipe with potatoes and dip them in sour cream.

Greek Salad Dressing

One of my best friends is Greek and she's very clever. She does something with her dressing that I never thought to do myself. She adds the liquid from the Kalamata olives. Isn't that brilliant? When you buy olives, ask for some of the juice. If you buy your olives in a jar, they already come with juice.

You can make your salad with or without lettuce and top it with tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion, feta and olives. Sometimes I see it with peppers too, but raw peppers are not my favourite. 

I make the dressing in those little 1oz plastic cups and take it to work. So this recipe is enough for 1 salad. You could multiply the ingredients to make however many servings you want.

Greek Salad Dressing
1 serving (good for about 2 cups of salad)

2 tablespoons Kalamata olive liquid
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon olive oil (more if you like, but I prefer my dressing a bit sour)
1/2 teaspoon dried Greek oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Place all ingredients in the cup and put the lid on. Shake it. Shake it again before you drizzle it on your salad.

If you put this in the fridge, the oil will get clumpy. Either leave it out of the fridge until lunch time, or microwave the dressing for about 5 seconds before serving.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Flourless Chocolate Cake - Secret Recipe Club

For this month’s Secret Recipe Club post, I got Shelley’s blog called C Mom Cook. Her Wonton Soup looked delicious, but I wasn't sure if my kids would be crazy about the wontons. Shelley also has a thing for sourdough, which I've never tried to make, but enjoy eating! She is the queen of bread-making!

First, I had my eye on a recipes for a Chicken Taco Braid and a Savory Pot Pie, but then I decided I was in the mood for something sweet (this is nothing new). I decided to try this flourless chocolate cake, because it sounded quick and easy. It's very rich though, and should definitely be served with fresh berries. Add a berry to every bite for a little burst of sour and it's perfect. The texture of the cake is fudgy in case you were wondering.

My 6 year old loved it, but my 4 year old doesn't care for sweets, and only ate a few bites. Sometimes I wonder if she's really mine.

Flourless Chocolate Cake
Makes 12 slices
Adapted from C Mom Cook

4 ounces chopped chocolate, (I used semi-sweet chocolate chips)
1/2 cup of butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375F and prepare an 8" round pan (I used aluminum in case I didn't feel like doing dishes later). I sprayed mine but you can line yours if you like. The cake popped right out with just a quick spray.

Place the butter and chocolate chips in a bowl and microwave for about 45-60 seconds. You should be able to stir them together until they're smooth after that. Stir in the sugar.

Beat the eggs in one at a time until incorporated, then add the vanilla.

Sift in the cocoa powder and cinnamon (because cocoa can be lumpy), and stir until well combined.

Pour batter into the pan and bake for 25 minutes. I turned the oven off and left it another 10 minutes because I was busy making spaghetti, and the middle wasn't perfectly set after 25.

Allow the cake to cool (I just left it in the pan) before slicing. Don't forget the berries!

Secret Recipe Club

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Double Crunch Honey Garlic Chicken

Here's a delicious chicken recipe from Rock Recipes that I pinned about a year ago.

Now, there are a few reasons why I rarely fry anything. The first is that I hate the smell it leaves in my apartment. The second is that I have to mop the kitchen floor immediately afterward. And the third, is that fried food tastes good, and I don't want to be eating it all the time. But mostly I hate mopping.

I read some of the comments before I made it and desperately wanted to try using half flour and half cornstarch as someone suggested, to see if it would be extra crispy, but I was out of cornstarch. Next time!

Someone also suggested letting the chicken sit for 1/2 an hour after coating to let it get a bit gloopy, would make it even crispier. I tried it, but couldn't really tell the difference between the pieces that were gloopy and the ones that were less gloopy. They were both equally as crisp in the end.

I decided to cut my chicken into nugget and strip shapes, rather than just slicing the breasts in half. You could do that of course, but kids like smaller pieces and they can just pick them up and dip them.

I also adjusted the spices a bit, and will add even less sage next time. It was just too overpowering. I made less of the sauce and I drizzled it on top instead of dipping the chicken in, which turned out to be a good move, because this sauce is sweet! It was delicious and I loved it, but not so much that I wanted my chicken completely coated in it. My kids were not fond of the sauce and ate their chicken dipped in ketchup instead, and my husband doesn't like sweet sauces, which is the reason why I made less to begin with. Honey is expensive and I didn't want to waste it. For him, I placed the chicken on a toasted roll and mixed together some mayo with buffalo chicken sauce. Add lettuce and tomato and you end up with a crispy chicken sandwich that's so much better than take-out!

You could serve these with rice or whatever starch you want, but since the chicken is fried, I went with something a bit healthier for a side. My kids don't notice if I don't serve a starchy side. They don't mind eating fruit and veg. I tried serving the chicken with the sauce for dipping, but it didn't go over well. They preferred ketchup.

Double Crunch Honey Garlic Chicken
4 servings
Adapted from Rock Recipes

2 large boneless skinless chicken breast halves, cut up as you wish
1 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground thyme
1 teaspoon ground sage (or less)
1 tablespoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 eggs
4 tbsp 2% milk
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
canola oil for frying

In a shallow dish, combine the flour with all the herbs and spices and mix very well.

In another dish, beat the eggs with milk.

Coat the chicken pieces with the flour mixture, then with the egg mixture, and back into the flour mixture. The second time, press the flour into the chicken so it sticks well.

Set the chicken pieces aside while you make your sauce. They will get a bit gloopy, but as I said above, it made no difference to me.

To make the sauce, combine the garlic and oil and cook over medium heat for about 2 minutes until the garlic starts to cook. Don't let it brown though. Stir in the honey, soy sauce and pepper and simmer over medium low for about 10 minutes. I will thicken up. Stir it though, because it will bubble up.

Heat about 1/4" of oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Check to make sure the oil's hot enough by dropping a little bit of flour in. See if it bubbles.

Place the chicken pieces into the oil and cook for about 5 minutes per side or until crispy and cooked through. This will depend on the thickness of your pieces. I did 3 batches as all the pieces wouldn't fit into the pan at once. Set them on a rack to let any excess oil drip off between batches.

Serve with a drizzle of sauce.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Banana Split Bars

I was on the hunt (once again) for something to make with ripe bananas, besides banana bread. I came across a recipe for Banana Split Bars and I was expecting them to be like granola bars, but they're not. They're more like baked oatmeal bars. They're chewy, but not in the granola bar way. I didn't add the nuts because we were bringing these on a school field trip, but I would recommend adding them if you can, because these bars need a little crunch.

This recipe is interesting because it uses oats (which I will try toasting next time) and quinoa. It called for dried cherries, but I didn't have any, so I used maraschino cherries. I didn't have any coconut oil either, so I used olive oil. I figured since it was such a small amount, that it wouldn't make any difference. 

Wrap them up and take them with you for breakfast or snacks.

Ready to go into the oven.

Banana Split Bars
Makes 12-16 bars
Adapted from

1/3 cup quinoa, rinsed
1/2 cup water
2 cups large oats (gluten free if necessary)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 ripe mashed bananas
1 large egg, beaten
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon olive (or coconut) oil
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup maraschino cherries, chopped (or dried cherries/cranberries)
1/2 cup chocolate chips of choice
1/3 cup toasted nuts (optional)

Preheat the oven to 325F and line a 9x13" glass dish with foil. Spray the foil with cooking spray.

Bring the quinoa and water up to a boil over medium-high heat and cook for about 10 minutes, then, remove from the heat, cover and let it sit for another 5 minutes. Remove the lid and fluff with a fork. Allow to cool while you prepare the rest of the recipe (it'll cool faster if you spread it out on a plate).

Combine the oats, cinnamon, baking soda and salt in a bowl.

In another bowl, combine the bananas, egg, syrup, oil, vanilla and quinoa. Add this to the dry mixture and stir to combine. Now add the cherries, chocolate chips and nuts. Stir once more, then, spread the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake for 30 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. Allow them to cool before cutting with a sharp knife. I got 12, but you could probably get 15 or 16 if you sliced them a bit thinner.

These can be refrigerated for up to a week, or wrapped individually in plastic and frozen for up to 3 months.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Bal's No-Butter Chicken

I love butter chicken don't you? It's my number one choice when we get Indian food for lunch at work. Each restaurant makes it differently too. There's one place nearby that makes it a little bit sweet, and really saucy. But all that cream ... yikes!

This version is made without cream, and it was so easy to prepare. It was also pretty delicious. Even my 6 year old loved it. You can serve it with rice, but I prefer to eat it with naan. I'm not the biggest fan of rice.

Still saucy without all the cream.

I love this little grater. It's perfect for ginger and garlic.

Bal's No Butter Chicken
Makes 4 servings
Adapted from Cooking Channel

2 tablespoons canola oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 tablespoons grated fresh garlic
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon garam masala
1 teaspoon red chile flakes (optional)
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
1/4 cup plain yogurt (I used Balkan style)
1/2 cup water

Heat the oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Saute the onion, garlic and ginger for about 4 minutes or until the onions start to turn golden.

Add the tomato paste, brown sugar and all the spices. Mix well and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the chicken and stir well to coat with the tomato paste mixture.

Stir in the yogurt and water and simmer for about 8 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce has thickened.

Serve with rice or naan.