January 21, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookie Buttons

During my last foray down in LA county, I was spending a lot of time tagging recipes to try out at a later date.  I originally had an organization system under my Favourites tab, but I must sadly report that it no longer works and now my Favourites is just one big heaping collection of everything under the sun. If you have any recommendations on how to organize tagged recipes, please please tell me!!

 During my tagging expedition I was exploring Food Buzz and found that one of my Food Buzz friends' chocolate chip cookie recipe was featured on Food Buzz's Top 9 recipes of the day. Sprinkle of Parsley's pictures and a quick poll on Facebook led me into the kitchen to try and make these beauties.

 Luckily I had everything on hand otherwise I would have to walk on over to my neighbourhood Ralph's.  I did make a few simple changes to the ingredients and I didn't flatten them out prior to baking which resulted in a cute button-like cookie.

One thing I have realized with the adaptations is that you don't necessarily get the same ingredients that I used in the US here in Canada.  I wanted to make these again now that I'm here in Toronto again, but I couldn't find the white wholewheat flour. After visiting 3 different groccery stores, I realized that the white wholewheat flour equivalent is Robin Hood's NutriBlend Flour.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Buttons

2 cups white wholewheat flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp instant espresso powder
3/4 cup butter, melted
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 1/4 cup of 60% dark chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Sift the flour (if you're using the nutriblend flour, don't sift it, just run your spoon through it to get rid of any clumps), baking soda and salt into a medium sized bowl.  Melt the butter and then combine it with the brown and white sugars.  The original recipe called for the creaming of the sugars and butter using a mixer, but I used a wooden spoon and it worked just fine. Add the egg, egg yolk and vanilla extract to the mixture and stir until the ingredients are all combined and you have a creamy texture.  Slowly add in the flour mixture in a few batches so you have more control. This goes for hand mixing or using an electric mixer. Mix until ingredients are just combined. Add in the chocolate chips until they are evenly distributed.

Using a small ice cream/cookie scoop, scoop out the dough and drop it onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet.  In LA I have some disposable foil cookie sheets (I reuse them over and over again) and what I like about these is that they have pre-made cookie shapes on the trays so you can evenly space out the cookies without having to eye-ball it. And because the parchment is semi-transparent, you can see the individualized spots pretty easily. Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes until the edges are lightly golden. Let the cookies cool on the cookie sheet for a few minutes before you gently transfer them to a cooling rack.

January 11, 2011

Chicken Tacos

Pasadena City Hall

Today I decided to take it easy and take a long walk around the Playhouse District and Old Town Pasadena.  I love walking around these neighbourhoods because you never know when you will come across a cobble stoned path leading you to an interesting restaurant or a tranquil water garden in a old church courtyard.

 I ended up walking down Union Street and came across the Pacific Asia Museum. I didn't get a chance to go inside, but now that I know where it's located, it's on my list of things to do when I take another walking tour of this neighbourhood. Pasadena is a beautiful city and I am glad that I have had the opportunity to spend some time here. 

To have an easy and relaxing day it is important not to spend too much time slaving over a hot stove.  This taco recipe is a very simple meal that only requires about 30 minutes of your time. While you cook the chicken stuffing on the stove, you can prep the other ingredients. This meal is great to serve in an assembly line style as it allows everyone to individualize their tacos.  The chicken recipe I used is from a previous post with one small change. The original recipe asks you to add tomatoes, in this case I did not add the tomatoes because I didn't want to have a saucy chicken stuffing for my tacos.

Chicken Fajita Tacos

Chicken Fajita recipe - don't add the tomatoes
1 small yellow onion, finely diced
2 Roma tomatoes, washed and diced
1/2- 1 cup of Romaine lettuce, washed and and cut into small pieces
1/2 cup of sharp cheddar cheese, finely grated on a box grater
pickled jalapeno slices, drained (optional)
taco sauce (optional)
1 box of hard corn tacos

Cook the chicken according to the recipe linked above. While the chicken is cooking, prepare the other ingredients.  When the chicken mixture is cooked, cook slightly in the pan and assemble all of the other ingredients in small bowls. 
Warm the taco shells in a toaster or in a microwave for 20-30 seconds. 
Create an assembly line starting off with the chicken and then the onions and tomatoes.  Add the jalapeno slices and lettuce. Top the tacos with cheese and taco sauce and get ready to enjoy.

January 10, 2011

Cornmeal tart

The past few weeks have been a world wind of activity which have resulted in me neglecting my poor blog.  I've been creating/making/baking behind the scenes and hope to share some recipes with you in the next few days and weeks to come.

I was in LA for some time in December, but then returned back to Canada to spend the winter break attending the Reviving the Islamic Spirit Conference and visiting family and friends. My family and I usually attend the conference to listen to Islamic scholars from around the world speak on a variety of topics and gain what you would call some "spiritual food" for the soul. This conference was especially uplifting because it occurred around the 1 year mark of my father's passing. The past few years have been challenging for me and I finally feel that I have gained insight into the challenges and am now at peace in my life. Attending these sorts of conferences and lectures have made this possible for me.

One of the promises I made to myself after my dad passed away was to try to stick to a healthy lifestyle.  I increased my level of physical activity from 3 days to 6 days a week and cut out a lot of the high fat, high carb foods that I ate.  It was at that point that I started this blog with the hopes of tracking the healthier foods that I made and sharing it with others.  Here is a recipe that I think fits the bill.

This recipe comes from the Post Science website under their ThinkFood cookbook project. This is the first time I've ever used cornmeal. At first I was a bit apprehensive because I wasn't sure if I would like the flavour, but I found it to be neutral in taste and a great backdrop to other flavours. 

Caramelized Onion and Spinach Cornmeal Tart

1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 cup cold water
3/4 cup cornmeal
1 tsp fine-grain sea salt
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 package of frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
6 oz fat free cream cheese, softened
2 large eggs
1/3 cup 1 % milk
red chili flakes, salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

In a medium bowl, mix the flour, cornmeal, cayenne pepper and salt together. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil while mixing with a fork.  Slowly add in the 1/2 cup of cold water, stirring continuously until absorbed. With your hands, work the dough until it comes together in a ball. Dust a surface with cornmeal and place the ball of dough onto it and roll out into a large circle, large enough to line a 9" tart pan. Press the dough into the pan and remove the dough from the edges.  Put the tart shell on a baking sheet and refrigerate while the filling is prepared.

In a large pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the sliced onion and cook the onions until caramelized, about 20 minutes. Add the garlic and chopped spinach leaves. Cook down the spinach and add the red chili flakes, salt and pepper to taste.
In a food processor, mix together the cream cheese, eggs and milk. 

Spread the onion-spinach mixture over the bottom of the tart and pour the milk and cream cheese mixture on top. Sprinkle the top of the tart with red  chili flakes.  Bake until the egg is set and the top is a light golden brown colour. Remove from heat and let the tart set for 5-10 minutes before serving.