26 June, 2013

Somethin Wicked This Way Comes...

For 3 weeks now people have been mentioning to me that I "just have to" try the menu at this food truck in Stittsville called " 'Wiches Cauldron ".  It didn't help that folks kept telling me it was "Witches Cauldron" but, I'm a smart chickie...so, I figured out on my own that "wiches" was a play on sandwiches.  From there finding them was a snap!

I showed up to the truck a bit after the noon hour and there were customers waiting for their food and another in line to order.  Not bad for some of the food truck lines I have seen in my lifetime.  I heard that everything on the menu was great, so it didn't matter what I tried.  I was going to have some happy goin' on in my tummy.  The lady at the register (Chef' Craig's Momma) recommended the special for the day; grilled chicken, maple apples, caramelized onion, brie, red pepper cranberry jelly, roasted garlic mayo and greens.  A mouthful to say and quite the mouthful of a sandwich!!

When they handed me the box in the bag, I took it home like I was carrying a piece of 50 year old depression glass...so careful not to disturb the masterpiece inside.  I was pretty giddy as I went to open this parcel...like it was Christmas!

Sandwich special of the day w/ Chicken, bacon, corn chowder

O emmm gee!!  It smelled amazing and looked like something I would make myself if I wasn't constantly on Sweet Pea duty these days.  (Yeah, 6 week olds don't appreciate you eating...who knew!?)  It just looks hearty, juicy and filling.  Just what I needed on that dreary, rainy afternoon.

Seriously!  C'mon....look at that sandwich and try to tell me that you don't want to hop in the car and drive to Stittsville and devour one right now!  If you say that you don't want to try it, you're either lying or you're vegan...  Either way you're missing out on pure decadence in a box!  Every single bite had every sandwich component in it.  Never once did I not get some cheese or caramelized onion in my bite...  WICKED scrummly I tell you!  

Oh...did I mention that I only paid 7.50 for this awesome sandwich and the accompanying soup??  Yeah, just 7.50.  I am sure I don't need to tell anyone that you'll pay MORE than that for a sandwich at any big name fast food, processed blech of a lunching spot anywhere else in town.  You will.  

Feel free to scroll up to the picture again...I'll wait.

For awesome, locally grown eats prepared with tons of love you need to drive yourself over to Stittsville and have a nosh.  I promise, you'll be glad you went and this food truck will be one of your new faves in town!!   

  'Wiches Cauldron on Urbanspoon

19 June, 2013

Fluffernutter Bars

When I get in the mood for peanut butter there are only a few things that I want.  Reeses Peanut Butter cups (which I am not allowed to eat anymore) or classic, soft peanut butter cookies.  But, for some odd reason today I wanted another texture element to the cookie.  I remembered back to when one of my roommates introduced me to Fluffernutter Sandwiches.  This is a piece of bread with creamy peanut butter on it and another piece of bread with Marshmallow Fluff on it...you slap it together and you have a Fluffernutter sandwich.  To accomplish those flavors with a cookie though....hmmm...  That would be a stretch.  Time to think outside of the box.  Cookie dough can be made into bars....  Hmm....think, think, think....  OKAY!  I had it...peanut butter cookie bars with a mixture of vegan frosting and ricemellow creme piped onto the top and a nice drizzle of chocolate.  Yes, I think I shall.

Dairy-Free Peanut Butter Cookie Bars
3/4 c. organic creamy peanut butter
1/2 c. vegan buttery spread or Butter Flavored Crisco
1 1/4 c. organic brown cane sugar
3 T. unsweetened organic soy milk (I use Silk)
1 T. vanilla paste
1 egg
3/4 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1 3/4 c. all purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350 F

Line a cookie sheet (I doubled the recipe and used a "jelly roll" pan, which people commonly use as a "cookie sheet" now) with a piece of parchment paper and set it aside.

Beat sugar with your butter then add peanut butter, vanilla, milk, egg and salt.  Mix well, until smooth and creamy.  Add flour and soda and do not over mix the dough.

Spread dough evenly from the middle of the cookie sheet to the corners with a rubber spatula.  It won't look like much, but it will work.  Some people who like a thicker cookie bar may wish to double this recipe.  Bake with the rack in the center of the oven for 25 minutes or until the corners of the sheet of cookie dough start to brown a bit.

Remove from oven to cooling rack.  Allow the sheet to completely cool and wait to cut the bars until you have the fluffer frosting completed.  You don't want your bars to dry out!

Vegan Buttercream Frosting
1/4 c. vegan buttery spread (half stick)
2 c. organic powdered sugar
1/4 c. unsweetened soy milk
1 tsp. vanilla paste

Whip your butter for a bit in your bowl to make sure it is smooth.  Add powdered sugar in, 1 cup at a time, incorporating each cup before adding more.  Drizzle in milk as needed (to keep frosting from seizing as you are mixing) until you reach the consistency of frosting that YOU like.  Whip in the vanilla paste when you have completed the frosting.

Set the bowl aside and grab your Ricemellow Creme and follow recipe below. 

Fluffer Frosting
1/2 recipe of Vegan Buttercream Frosting
1 10 ounce tub of Ricemellow Creme

FOLD the buttercream frosting into the ricemellow creme 1/4 of a cup at a time until you have a good pipable consistency.  Normally I would give an actual measurement, but considering that each person will come up with a different level of desired consistency, it will be hard to give an exact measurement of when you should stop adding frosting.  

**Bottom line, you want what you pipe onto the bars to be a bit MORE ricemellow creme than frosting.  It should be lighter than the buttercream frosting and slightly "airy".**

Slice up your peanut butter cookie bars.  I usually do no larger than 2 x 2 inch bars.  It depends on what they are for.  A potluck....they will be a little smaller, 1 x 1 inch.  For a smaller party at home where there is no other competition on the dessert scene I give my peeps a nice 2 inch x 2 inch bar.  

Pipe little puffs of the fluffer frosting onto each of your completely cooled bars.  Set them aside so the puffs of frosting can set a bit before drizzling the chocolate on top.  Warm chocolate needs to go onto MOSTLY set frosting.

The chocolate drizzle is simply chocolate chips of your choosing and a small amount of vegan butter spread or shortening to help it melt and stay shiny and keep it from getting too hard when it sets.  I typically do 1 T. of vegan buttery spread for every 5 ounces of melted chocolate I have.

Do you see the tiny little flecks of black in the white goo??  That the is the vanilla paste from the buttercream frosting that I mixed with the ricemellow creme.  So...peanut butter, marshmallow frosting with a hint of vanilla and chocolate drizzle on top...  These bars are fanBLOODYtastic!  All of these flavors mooshin' around in your mouth at once are almost the closest thing to Heaven you can get in one bite.  You have to try these at LEAST once..and I say that with a tinge of sarcasm.  You will make these either out of your own desire or because you keep getting requests for them.

This is the kind of junk food a pregnant woman can come up with on the fly...you can thank me later.

12 June, 2013

I'm Not Dead Yet!!

Used to be that most of the time I was just LOOKING for a reason to get into the kitchen and cook or bake...  These days, with a 5 week old secured tightly to me via Baby Bjorn, I am looking for a nap more than anything else.  Yeah, it's like that in this house already...hence, you haven't seen any restaurant reviews in a millenium.  Sorry 'bout that...not sure when I'll be able to get back to that part.

Tonight I didn't want to mess with a last minute anything.  I wanted to make dinner and toss it in the oven.  That doesn't leave a whole lot of options these days without me possibly repeating something I did a week ago.  Then I remembered something...a Minnesota (probably everywhere, really...) staple in a pinch.  Creamy Funeral Potatoes.  I've had SO many versions of this in my lifetime, I could make a cookbook just out of "Funeral Potato" recipes.  If you think I am exaggerating, email me....I'll give you my Grandma's phone number.  She has 35 recipes of her own.

Creamy Funeral Potatoes
3 lbs of potatoes, diced (6ish c.)
1 can of cream of chicken soup (or homemade...it is easy!)
1/2 c. sour cream
3 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 T. butter, melted
1 c. shredded cheddar cheese (I used Aged Vermont Cheddar)
1/4 c. green onion
1/4 c. milk
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 F

In a large saucepan cook the potatoes for 10-12 minutes or until fork tender.  Drain, rinse them with cold water and then rinse again.  Set aside.

In a large bowl stir together the soup, sour cream, cream cheese, and butter.  Stir in 1/4 c. of the cheddar cheese, the green onion, milk, garlic powder, and pepper.  Stir in the cooked potatoes.  Transfer the mixture to a 2 qt. rectangular dish (as you can see by the picture below, I didn't bother with it.  I used a huge metal kettle to cook the potatoes and I decided to bake the potatoes in that...it worked...).

Bake for 25-30 minutes and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.  Let it bake for another 5 minutes or until the cheese is melted.  Give it a couple minutes and then serve it up!

 I'm sure you're drooling right now...  So, I won't waste your precious time verbally puking out all the highlights and loveliness of these potatoes.  I'll let you judge for yourself.  Creamy, cheesy and just the right amount of flavor.  None of the components overpowered or outshone the other.  I chose to have this with some breaded haddock and green peas, they were the perfect accompaniment to the potatoes.  I hope you enjoy these potatoes as much as my family and I did.  There are variations that can be done with them, just like any other dish.  Potatoes are generally a "blank slate" type of ingredient.  Look through your fridge and your cupboard and use what you've got.  Have fun with it!       

05 June, 2013

Double Berry-Rhubarb Upside Down Cake

Summer just kind of crept up on us here in Ottawa.  One day it was in the 30's for a high, then a week later for a couple of days it was in the 50's for a high.  Then...Saturday, I get in the truck and the temp read 93.  Yeah, you saw that right.  90 frickin 3!  I HATE heat and I loathe humidity...so I haven't been looking forward to summer at all.  But, I digress...  Where I grew up, when summer shows...rhubarb hits the table.  In sweet dishes, savory dishes and canned into jams and chutneys...there are folk that eat it raw with table salt.  I've never tried it but they swear it tastes fabulous.  I'll leave them to it.  

One of my favorite things to eat in the summer is a piece of rhubarb upside down cake.  It doesn't even matter what kind of berry you put it with or if you have it alone, it is a fabulous pairing with a slice of cake.  It is just like if you opened a can of pie filling and put it on top, except...this is homemade and fabulous.  Most canned pie fillings SUCK.  Let's get started, shall we?

Double Berry-Rhubarb Upside Down Cake

1 c. unsweetened soy milk
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
1 1/4 c. cake flour (I use King Arthur's)
2 T. cornstarch
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 c. oil
3/4 c. organic cane sugar
2 1/4 tsp. vanilla

Double Berry-Rhubarb Goop
2 c. diced rhubarb
1 c. diced strawberries
1 c. fresh raspberries
1/4 c. organic cane sugar
2 T. cornstarch

Preheat oven to 350 F

For the berry-rhubarb goop, mix together the sugar and the cornstarch in a small container.  Then, in a medium sized saucepan on medium heat stir all of your fruit together with the sugar cornstarch mixture.  *Mixing the sugar and cornstarch together will prevent clumps of cornstarch and ensure a smooth texture to the goop.  The sugar and heat will break down the fruit, causing the juice to come out.  When the goop has become thick and reached the consistency of pie filling, remove from the heat and set aside while you mix up the cake batter.

For the cake, whisk together your soy milk and vinegar.  (This is what I have called "sour your soymilk" in previous posts and what I refer to when I say " soy "buttermilk" ".)  Set it aside for a couple minutes and stir when you notice that it seems to be curdling.

Sift the flour, baking soda, salt, baking powder and cornstarch together into a bowl and set them aside.  In a large mixing bowl beat together oil, sugar and vanilla.  Gradually mix the dry ingredients into the wet.

Before baking, spray just the sides of your 15 x 10 x 3 inch cake pan with cooking spray.  I use Baker's Joy...and it works every time.

After you spray the pan, pour your goop in the bottom and very quickly, working from the edges in, pour your cake batter over the top of the fruit goop.  Spread it to the edges of the pan and into the middle with a rubber spatula.

Bake for 35-45 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Every oven is different.  Your cake could take more or LESS time.  Watch it closely.

When you serve the cake, cut your slices and get them out with a cooking spatula.  Flip the cake onto your plate so the berry side is up and the cake side is down on the plate.  Voila!  Upside down cake!  You can do this with almost ANY fruit and it will taste wonderful!  If you go cherry on the bottom, I recommend a chocolate cake on the top.  It can be a quick version of Black Forest Cake.  Yum!!

This cake is just the perfect ending to any summertime dinner.  Of course, the warmer it is outside the better it will taste if you chill it before serving.  I served it with a bit of whipped topping because that's how the Mister enjoys it.  But, I love mine without.  Nothin' but the berries and the cake, that's just how I roll.  Either way it is wonderful.  The Mister eats a piece every time he walks into the kitchen!  He has eaten half of the cake himself so you can trust me when I tell you this cake will be a HIT with your family or even at the next neighborhood picnic or church potluck.  People will be begging for the recipe.  Oh...and wait until they ask before you tell them...this is a totally VEGAN recipe.  BAM!  Yeah....vegan CAN taste awesome.  Enjoy!