No. 11 – There’s a Rumbly in my Tumbly

I promise, I can talk about more than food and crafts. In fact, you’ll usually find me babbling about things like my dog, the latest book-to-movie I’m excited about (yay! Hunger Games!), and various TV shows I’m watching (there are too many to count; thankfully, I can multi-task). But, it’s been a while since I posted anything, and since I’m waiting on pictures to post about a hike I took a few weeks ago (we’re worried my roommate’s phone ate them!), I guess we’ll all have to settle for some recipes. I know, I know, it’s a tough life we live. :)

First, let’s go back to that coconut shrimp recipe from Weight Watchers I tried. It was great! The only thing I’d say, is that I really need to stock up on some plain bread crumbs or the cornflake crumbs. All I had were panko breadcrumbs, which are great, but didn’t quite coat the whole shrimp. Otherwise, it was nice having a sweet and crispy shrimp recipe that wasn’t fried! I wish I had had apricot preserves to make some dipping sauce. All I had on hand was some Thai sweet chili sauce, which worked fairly well.

Weight Watchers Coconut Shrimp
Ingredients:

1/4 cup(s) fat-free skim milk
3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
24 medium uncooked shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails left on
1/2 cup(s) sweetened coconut flakes, chopped
1/4 cup(s) cornflake crumbs

1. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Spray a 10 x 15-inch jelly-roll pan with nonstick spray.

2. Whisk together the milk and flour in a large bowl. Add the shrimp; toss to coat.

3. Place the coconut and cornflake crumbs in a large zip-close plastic bag. Add the shrimp, a few pieces at a time, and shake to coat. Place the shrimp in the jelly-roll pan in one layer. Lightly spray with nonstick spray. Bake until the shrimp are golden on the outside and opaque in the center, about 5 minutes on each side. Yields 3 shrimp per serving.

Recently, I’ve been indulging in a few of my classic comfort foods. Mostly sweets. lol. I have a weakness for midnight baking sessions. I have a craving, and next thing I know, it’s somewhere between eight and ten pm, and I’m up until at least midnight, baking cookies or bread. So without further adieu, here’s what I’ve been up to, at midnight.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Notes: Okay, I know everyone has a chocolate chip cookie recipe they swear by, and this is mine. It was my first quarter at the Art Institute (but my fourth year in college), and a few of my dorm neighbors made these cookies and brought them around, to say hello. Kind of like the college version of the neighborhood welcoming committee. Anyhow, these girls were very sweet, and when I asked, they handed over the recipe, and it’s been taped up on my fridge door every since. I hope you enjoy.

Ingredients
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 375º. Mix sugars, egg and butter. Add in the flour, soda and salt until mixed thoroughly. Stir in the chips. Drop the cookies on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes.

Banana Walnut Bread

Notes: I don’t ever remember where I got this recipe, but I love it. It makes really moist bread, and after a day of rest, there’s that nice, almost sticky glaze on top. You know, the kind you usually see on a thick slice from Starbucks or the bakery. If you’re looking for a bit of a healthier version, substitute the oil for plain applesauce. I found it took about an hour for it to cook all the way through, but that could just be the oven in my new apartment. It always takes an adjustment period to figure out how a new appliance works. I’ve found that my cupcakes always burn on the bottom, regardless of what rack I put them on, and yet, my cookies are always fine. Curious.

Ingredients
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup oil
1 egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
3 bananas, mashed
1/4 cup chopped walnuts

1. Preheat oven to 350º. Mix together sugar, oil and egg until blended. Stir in bananas. Add flour, salt and baking soda and stir until combined. Stir in walnuts.
2. Pour batter into a greased loaf pan (or lined muffin tins) and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until toothpick comes out of the middle clean.

Cinnamon Sugar Pull-Apart Bread

Notes: I love Joy the Baker. I’ve hardly touched most of the recipes on her site (but I LOVE her peanut butter chocolate chip cookies, which work well for plain peanut butter cookies as well), but all I have to say about this recipe is look at the picture:


Image courtesy of Joy the Baker.

I mean, how could you NOT want that. It bakes up in the scrumptious doughy slices that taste just like a cinnamon roll! The crust is nice and sweet-crisp. It’s amazing. I can’t wait to make more when there’s more than just me eating it. Really. I almost ate the whole thing right away. It was torture waiting for the dough to rise a couple times then bake. TORTURE. Try this one. Really. Then go thank Joy for coming up with this one.

Well, I hope I’ve sufficiently made you love and hate me at the same time. Let me know if you try any of these. I really need to break out a decent camera when I’m baking and get some good pics.

Happy baking!

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No. 8 – I’ve Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts…

Okay, so I’ve been a little OBSESSED with coconut recently. I blame work. We just got a new ice cream vendor, and they have these all natural fruit bars by La Michoacana, and one of them is coconut. And it is amazing. Super creamy, lightly sweet, and lots of coconut bits.

I currently don’t have the luxury to hunt these down at a retail outlet, and I had all this coconut milk in my pantry (I have no idea, why, by the way), so I thought… WHY NOT MAKE MY OWN COCONUT ICE CREAM???

I don’t have a ice cream maker, though, but I remember back in middle school, making vanilla ice cream in a bag, along with root beer. Awesome chemistry learnin’ FTW!

So, here’s the recipe I used to make the ice cream (courtesy of David Lebovitz):

Ingredients:

2/3 cup (160 ml) heavy cream
1 cup (250 ml) coconut milk
2 ounces (60 gr) palm sugar, or 1/4 cup white or unrefined cane sugar

(The original recipe also calls for saffron threads, but I don’t have any, and I was looking for a specific flavour, so I omitted it. I also used white sugar.)

1. In a medium-sized saucepan, bring all the ingredients to a boil.

2. Reduce the heat and simmer gently for ten minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, and chill the mixture thoroughly.

3. Once chilled, freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions.

As I mentioned before, I don’t have an ice cream machine, or hand-churner, but thankfully, David Lebovitz has some directions for making ice cream the low-tech way (not even any rock salt or bags are involved) !

Here’s another recipe for coconut ice cream which is custard-based that sounds yummy!

The ice cream I made turned out really well! It tastes JUST like the bars we have at work. Maybe not quite as rich, but the flavour is there. The only issue I had was with the texture – I started it a bit late, and since I was doing it the low-tech way, I wasn’t able to stay up as late as I would have needed to keep stirring it every half hour. So it’s a bit stiff, but still very tasty! :)

Here are some pics:

Coconut ice cream!

Paired with chocolate ice cream!

Also, I bought some jumbo shrimp, and I fully intend to make use of this Weight Watchers coconut shrimp recipe:

Ingredients:

1/4 cup(s) fat-free skim milk
3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
24 medium uncooked shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails left on
1/2 cup(s) sweetened coconut flakes, chopped
1/4 cup(s) cornflake crumbs

1. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Spray a 10 x 15-inch jelly-roll pan with nonstick spray.

2. Whisk together the milk and flour in a large bowl. Add the shrimp; toss to coat.

3. Place the coconut and cornflake crumbs in a large zip-close plastic bag. Add the shrimp, a few pieces at a time, and shake to coat. Place the shrimp in the jelly-roll pan in one layer. Lightly spray with nonstick spray. Bake until the shrimp are golden on the outside and opaque in the center, about 5 minutes on each side. Yields 3 shrimp per serving.

I hope to try that recipe in a few days. Tomorrow, a friend I haven’t seen in ages is coming over, and I’m making herb-almond crusted halibut! So I’ll share that once I’ve had a chance to try it.

And now I leave you with the scene from “The Lion King” that I’ve had stuck in my head for days:

No. 04 – Let the Wild Rumpus Start!

Okay, so my Halloween party wasn’t themed after Maurice Sendak’s “Where the Wild Things Are” (one of my favourite books as a kid, by the way) But there were a few odd looking folk attending, and it went off pretty well, so I say – success! Everyone had fun – that’s in important part. And, I got LOTS of compliments on the food and decor, so YAY!

Most of the pictures I have are of people, so I will probably be blurring out some faces to protect the innocent *wink* but there are a few of the decor and food! Oh, and my dog. :D

Decor from above.

Fuzzy decor.

The beginnings of a party…

The Secret Society’s Past Members

Ghost Wine

Ghostly Libations

Bloody punch.

Fossil Cookies

Bleeding cakes.

Graveyard dirt.

Vampire Cookies. Courtesy of Clair Drake.

An apocalypse is coming.

Dobby and Yoda have a conversation.

Cruella Deville.

Me, a Gypsy.

I wish my camera were better quality, but some pictures turned out really well, considering. :) I wish I had gotten more pictures of some of the details, but I hope you all enjoyed this little taste of my very successful Halloween party. Happy Halloween to you!

No. 02 – I’ve got…the Monster Munchies

So…let’s talk about food. Specifically, Halloween Food. Now, yes, there’s all that candy, but, well, being someone that’s not as big on candy as I used to be, I was trying to think, “What other food can I have at my Halloween party that isn’t specifically designed to make your teeth hurt and make you fall into a sugar coma by the end of the night?”

So I started hunting. On the internet, that is. Of course, while hunting, I did find some sweet treats that are to die for that I will also be making (I do have quite a few sweet-toothed friends), but I figured people should probably be eating something substantial with all that alcohol, so I needed some savory things too. I also want to make only finger foods, or foods easily eaten without the aid of a lot of utensils.

Here’s my menu for the party:

Sweet

Vampire Cookies

Pumpkin Pie Bites

Candy Corn Parfaits

Mini Candy Apples

Gory Cupcakes

Fossilized bug cookies

Savory

Pigs-in-Blankets (baby finger sandwiches)

Mummy Pizzas

Fresh Veggies (carrot fingers, cauliflower brain bits, celery zombie bones, etc)

Deviled Eggs

Garlic Herb Pinwheels

Meat Kebabs (werewolf kebabs)

 

Some of these things I am just DYING to make. Right now. Days before the party. Naturally so there’s none left for the party, which is really the only downside to not waiting. lol. I’ve already done a test run of the mini caramel apples…I had never before made caramel from scratch, and I’m always up for trying new things in the kitchen! And I’m not talking about melting caramels down into a sauce. I mean honest, boiling-sugar-and-water caramel. Turned out pretty good! I’m excited. I’m going to dye the caramel red so it looks like the apples (I’m using Golden Delicious) look like they’re covered in blood. I will post pictures after the party, of course.

One of the things I think I’m going to have the most fun creating is the Gory Cupcakes. Just look at this:

Don’t those just look AMAZING? There isn’t a recipe to accompany the pic, as it’s created by a bakery in London called Lilly Vanilli. But here’s MY recipe:

  • 1 box white cake mix (or your own by-scratch recipe – I’m using a box cake mix in the interest of saving prep time before my party)
  • 1 can white cake frosting (again, or use your own recipe)
  • raspberry puree recipe
  • candy glass recipe

This is my game plan for these bloody cakes: After baking the cupcakes and letting them cool, I will core out the middle, put some of the raspberry puree in the the middle with a squeeze bottle, then frost the top, stick in a piece of candy glass and use more raspberry puree on the top to make it look like the cupcake is bleeding.  I will let you all know how it goes. :) Another idea for the cake is to use red velvet with cream cheese frosting. The color of the cake might keep bleeding of the raspberry puree through the cake to the wrapper from showing as much, though that might have a pretty neat effect. We shall see…

Also, I might not need all of the raspberry puree, but I will most likely use some of it for my vampire cookies! (Pictured below.)

Don’t these look YUMMY? I wish I had a whole TARDIS-full of them right now. (If you don’t know what a TARDIS is, it’s a reference to Dr. Who’s time and space machine, which is bigger on the inside than the outside. It’s also a reference to my TARDIS-shaped cookie jar.) These are going to be fun to make. :)

But now on to some of that savory stuff I was talking about. I found this recipe for Garlic Herb Pinwheels on MarthaStewart.com (have I mentioned I love the ideas on that site?) and have decided to add a little Parmesan cheese to the recipe.

I’m calling them “Deadly Pinwheels”. Well, deadly to your traditional vampire, maybe. :P I think these are going to be really tasty.

My friends love pizza. Like, REALLY love it. So why not make miniature pizzas out of English muffins, tomato sauce, and string cheese? And I can make them to order, too, so they don’t sit out and get all cold and gross. Another option is to make the dough with pita bread (or any type of flat bread) or cut out smaller circles of pre-made pizza dough if you don’t like English muffins. I’m looking forward to these.

So those are just a few of the ideas I’m working on for the party menu. I can’t wait to take pictures at my party and see how it all turns out!