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Archive for January, 2015

Vanilla Mug Cake

If you’ve been following my blog for any amount of time, you’ll probably remember that I went through a phase where I was completely addicted to Brownie in a Cup! It started way back when I was dairy-free and yummy dairy-free baked goods were hard to come by. It continued because it’s a delicious brownie that can be made in 60 seconds with ingredients I pretty much always have on hand.

Well last night I wanted cake. But I was home alone with a sleeping toddler. So I thought to myself “If someone was genius enough to figure out a way to make a brownie in a cup in the microwave, I’m sure someone has figured out a way to do the same with cake!” A quick google search revealed that OF COURSE people have figured out how to make cake in a mug in the microwave! Pretty much any variety of cake you could want!

I picked the first one listed here!

2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 large egg
2 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup granulated sugar
6 tbsp self-rising flour
pinch of salt

Place the butter in a large mug and microwave it for 20-30 seconds until melted. Add the egg and whisk it in with a fork. Stir in the milk, vanilla, and sugar. Add the flour and salt. Beat the batter until smooth. Divide the batter between two mugs. Microwave separately for 1.5-2.5 minutes each until risen and firm.

I didn’t need two cakes (well, let’s be honest – I didn’t need one cake, haha!), so I just made half the recipe. I had some liquid egg on hand, so it was easy for me to get half an egg. If you only want one cake but don’t have liquid egg, I wouldn’t recommend making one cake with a whole egg. Instead, I’d beat the egg in a separate mug/bowl before adding it to the melted butter and just pour in half.

I also didn’t have any self-rising flour. So I used all purpose flour and 1/4 tsp baking powder. My cake rose up wonderfully.

When my cake was done and had cooled for a minute or so, I used a butter knife to loosen it up and popped it out of the mug to cool because I don’t like warm cake. While waiting for it to cool, I made a makeshift icing by smushing together some butter, icing sugar, and milk. No measuring – I just played with it until it looked/tasted right.

And voila! Cake!

It was a little tougher than regular cake. But it served the purpose of being cake when I wanted cake. And it had a great vanilla flavour. I’d definitely make it again!

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Mmmmm!

Probably the best thing about getting back on track with making meals according to a meal plan is finding a new recipe that is just yummy! And tonight I did exactly that!

Garlic Parmesan Chicken Lasagna

INGREDIENTS

For the lasagna:
10-15 no-boil lasagna noodles
3 cups cooked, shredded chicken (use rotisserie chicken for lots of yummy flavor)
12 ounces frozen peas
½ cup Parmesan cheese
½ cup Swiss cheese
1 cup water
¼ cup seasoned breadcrumbs
fresh herbs for topping

For the sauce:
6 tablespoons butter
1½ tablespoons minced garlic
6 tablespoons flour
½ teaspoon poultry seasoning
¾ teaspoon salt
5 cups milk

INSTRUCTIONS

Make the sauce: Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium high heat. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant – stir continuously to avoid burning because burnt garlic will taste bitter. Add the flour, poultry seasoning, and salt. Whisk and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the milk, one cup at a time, whisking after each addition and allowing it to thicken slightly each time before adding the next cup. When the sauce is smooth and thick, remove from heat and set aside.

Layer the lasagna: Grease a 9×13 pan and preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cover the bottom of the pan with (about 5) broken lasagna noodles, half of the chicken, half of the peas, ¼ cup Parmesan, ⅓ cup water, and 1½ cups sauce. Repeat this layer once more. Top with a layer of broken noodles, ⅓ cup water, 1½ cups sauce, and ½ cup Swiss cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 40 minutes.

Making it pretty: Remove the foil, sprinkle evenly with breadcrumbs, and bake for an additional 5-10 minutes until the top is golden brown and bubbly. Sprinkle with fresh herbs like parsley and thyme. Let stand 10 minutes or more before cutting and serving.

I did make a few minor adjustments.

I didn’t crumble the noodles and use broken pieces because I made it as a regular lasagna instead of a “bake”.

I only prepared about half the chicken and sauce because I didn’t make a full-sized lasagna. Being my first time making it, I wasn’t sure how it would turn out. So I opted for a smaller size. If I had known how yummy it would be, I would have doubled the recipe instead. 😉 But the proportions given would have been perfect if I had made the full amount and done a 9×13 pan.

I didn’t use rotisserie chicken. So I tossed my shredded chicken in a little garlic powder, onion powder, paprika and black pepper to add some more flavour to the chicken itself.

We’re not big fans of Swiss cheese. So I used some Monterey Jack I had on hand instead. I also shredded a little extra and included a sprinkle in between each layer. You can never have too much cheese. 😉

It was absolutely delicious. Hubby was skeptical because “it’s not lasagna without meat”, but he loved it. Even the toddler ate it. And he’s getting a little more picky lately. So that’s definitely a success.

I’ll be adding it into our meal rotation!

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This past week has been such a whirlwind. Hubby’s grandfather, who has been in a nursing home for a year and a half with progressing dementia, took a physical turn for the worse and passed away on Saturday. The couple of days leading up to it were hectic and busy, and the days following were even more so. And, before I knew it, January was nearly over.

So meal planning and grocery shopping went out the window for at least a week. We’re only now starting to get back on track.

But I’m not going to let it get me down. Life happens. Circumstances get in the way. We had a crappy week. Time to get back on track and move on.

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January goals!

A few years ago, instead of doing a New Years resolution, I did monthly goals. At the beginning of each month, I’d set a goal (or goals) that I wanted to work on for the month. Every month, there were some things I’d continue from the previous month and I’d add something new in. This year I’ve decided to do the same, because taking it a month at a time is a lot more reasonable than planning to do something for an entire year. And you can change things up as necessary as circumstances change.

January is almost half over. But I’ve been doing really well with my goal for January. So it’s time to put it in writing!

My goal for January has been to make a meal plan and stick to it. I get hubby’s schedule well in advance and mine usually a week or two in advance. So when I get my schedule, I’ve been sitting down and planning our meals. Right now, I’m planned up until about the 24th. And we’ve been sticking to it every day so far. 🙂

Along with this goal are a couple of sub-goals: to use the meal planning to be better prepared with lunches for work so we don’t end up buying unhealthy takeout, and to try some new recipes instead of eating the same things over and over. Those have been going well too! Neither of us has resorted to buying lunch any day this month yet. And tonight marks new recipe #2, along with the awesome muffin recipe I posted a few days ago!

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My life has been forever changed!

There are a handful of recipes I make the call for shredded chicken and I dread shredding the chicken every.single.time. When I first started shredding chicken, I did it the old school way – chicken and two forks. And it took forever. Then I got a little more high tech and began shredding it in my magic bullet. Easier than shredding it by hand. But still not ideal. You still have to chop the chicken into little cubes, and you can only do half a dozen cubes at a time. And the chicken becomes basically minced instead of shredded. But it works. For any recipe I’ve ever needed shredded chicken for, it’s fine.

But now I have found the easiest way possible to get perfectly shredded chicken in next to no time.

The Kitchenaid. (Or, I assume, any stand mixer.)

Toss still-hot, cooked chicken into the bowl. No need to cut it. Throw in the whole pieces. Use the paddle attachment and, BAM!, chicken is shredded and life is changed.

Happy shredding!

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Hello 2015 readers!

I’ll spare you the long drawn out “it’s a new year and I’m going to blog more and eat healthier” post because I say it every year, and I never follow through. Instead I’m going to skip straight to a fabulously delicious recipe I made this morning and let you question my sanity when I tell you that these bran muffins are actually AMAZING. They’re seriously so good!

Let’s give credit where credit is due. I found the recipe on Pinterest, and it seems to have originated here on a page called “The Recipe Rebel”. And I definitely plan on perusing through the page some more because this recipe was such a hit! Hopefully the rest of the recipes on the page are as impressive!

Anyway, enough with the suspense!

INGREDIENTS
1¼ cups All-Bran Original cereal
¾ cup milk
3 large overripe bananas
1 egg
¼ cup unsweetened applesauce
½ cup packed brown sugar
1 cup whole wheat flour
¼ cup cocoa
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
½ cup chocolate chips, plus additional for top if desired

INSTRUCTIONS
In a large bowl, combine cereal and milk. Let sit 3-4 minutes until soft.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line muffin pans with about 16 paper liners.
Add bananas to bowl and mash with a whisk. Whisk in egg, applesauce and brown sugar.
Add flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt to the bowl. Stir in with a spatula. Stir in chocolate chips.
Ladle into prepared muffin pans and bake at 350 degrees F for 15-20 minutes (Mine baked exactly 19 minutes) until a toothpick comes out clean or mostly clean.
Let cool to room temperature (you can dive in before that, but the paper liners are difficult to remove from warm muffins!).

Yield: 16 muffins

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Surprisingly enough, this recipe actually did yield 16 muffins. Sometimes I find that muffin/cookie/cupcake recipes are very unrealistic with their predicted yield. But I used large size muffin pan liners, and this turned out spot on!

And they’re delicious.

Seriously, go make them!

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