Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Corn Chip Salad

On occasion you need a strange, fun salad.  This one is no exception.  Easy to put together, light, it's kind of a wacky summer salad.

Even if you have to improvise - which I did.

So WHAT if you can't find Chili Cheese Corn Chips?  You could still make it work.

You'll need a bag of corn chips, corn, peas, and mayo.  I don't have a picture of these.  My deepest apologies.

Also, I decided to forgo buying cans of corn because I had a bag of the frozen stuff in the freezer.

Sometimes a girl's gotta be a Frugal Fanny.

Because I couldn't find Chili Cheese Corn Chips, I decided to mix a little taco seasoning into the mayo.

Then stuck that in the fridge.

I threw a couple of cups of corn and 1/2 cup of peas into a pot of boiling water, cooked them for a few minutes, drained and cooled them in the fridge.

Just before you're ready to serve, maybe say - 15 minutes - stir the mayo mixture into the corn chips.  This will make them a little soft, but will keep them super-crunchy.

Then stir in the cooled peas and corn.

And serve!  (Seriously, that bowl could have been so much cleaner for this picture - shame on bowl)

We were actually surprised at how much we enjoyed this strange little salad!  I do think our only recommendation would have been to use unsalted corn chips (Dee says you can get them in the bulk section of the grocery store - or at Bulk Barn) or to use the Chili Cheese Corn Chips, based on the idea that you can find them.

I didn't end up using all the peas and corn called for by the recipe, I just felt like it was too much.  Although the bag I used might have been a little on the light side.

Because Dee wouldn't stop EATING them.

xoxo, the Cane Girl.

Friday, 26 April 2013

Mexican Rice

Waaaaaay back near the beginning of this blog, I made Seafood Enchiladas for my Mom & Dad.  I desperately wanted to make Mexican Rice from scratch, but due to a basically incapacitating migraine, it took everything I had to just make those enchiladas.

And they were worth every single second of blinding pain - I think.  I remember not being able to taste anything.  But Mom and Dad RAVED.

So on to a new fresh day almost two years later and the opportunity to actually make Mexican Rice from SCRATCH!

I couldn't have been more excited.

To start, measure out and rinse the rice in a fine mesh strainer until the water runs clear - you want to get rid of all the excess starch.  Then drain the rice as much as possible.  I rinsed the rice first, shook it like mad, and let it drip dry over a bowl while I prepped everything else.

Next, quarter and scoop out the guts of a couple of "medium-sized" tomatoes.  I used romas and called it a day.

Then, peel and quarter a medium white onion.

Don't put TOO much work into it - because the tomato and onion are going to get pureed together in a food processor.

Then, half the jalapeno peppers and scoop out the seeds and membranes and dice finely. 

Seeds and membranes is where the heat of the pepper comes from - if you're into a whole bunch of heat, leave 'em in.  Also, so you know, the recipe actually calls for THREE jalapenos - two with the insides scooped clean and one left intact - for heating purposes.  I used two. 

Mostly because I'm a wimp.

Next, heat the vegetable (or canola) oil in a pot over medium-high heat and add the rice.

Once the rice starts turning golden brown, reduce the heat to medium and add the jalapenos and the garlic.  Make sure you're stirring it constantly.

I need to apologise now for the blurry pictures - the rice was starting to burn and I was freaking out and in a hurry to NOT burn our dinner.

Then stir in the tomato puree.

Like this.

Then add the chicken broth and the tomato paste and bring the whole works to a boil.

Firstly, in a perfect world, I would have cooked this in a dutch oven on the stove top and then transferred it to the oven, thereby reducing the number of dishes I would have to do.  But I'm not sure if my Corningware is okay for the stove top and I'm not sure if my pots can go in the oven.

Because of my "unsureness", I transferred the rice mixture to a Corningware casserole dish, put the lid on and put THAT in the oven.

Secondly, the recipe says to bake the rice at 350 degrees F for 30 - 35 minutes, but because I was cooking meatloaf in the oven at 375 degrees, I had to adjust my cooking time on the rice. 

So I cooked it in the oven at 375 degrees F, stirring at about 10 minutes.  Then I started checking the rice at about 20 minutes.  I believe I had the rice in the oven for a total of just over 25 minutes.  Because I was just relying on my "tooth-test", I'm not really sure about the actual total time.

Thanks to Dee for the picture!  (Cause I forgot!)

I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this side dish - it wasn't overly complicated but quite flavourful and felt "healthy".  You know, aside from frying the rice in oil. 

You should know that it makes A LOT.  For the three of us it was WAY too much.

I would recommend halving it as you will.

This recipe is going down as the perfect Mexican Rice.  Even though Dee asked me for Soy Sauce.

She did.

I know, I'm appalled too.

xoxo - the Cane Girl.

Monday, 22 April 2013

Mac and Cheese Mondays: Pioneer Woman's Mac & Cheese

The incomparable Annie of Annie's Eats did her own Mac and Cheese comparison a few years ago and she declared Ree Drummond's Mac and Cheese her favorite of that bunch.

Since then, Annie has made a few other Mac and Cheeses that I can't wait to try - but I know (and probably Annie would agree) that Ree Drummond does simple and delicious so wonderfully well.

So I was so excited to try the recipe that Annie called her favorite!

Before I go forward, I must say that even though this recipe called for a full egg, I still desperately wanted to halve the recipe.

I probably wouldn't do this for a cake or any baked good like that - but I think that perhaps for a recipe like this I can be a little less stringent.

If you beat one whole egg it would measure out to about 3 tablespoons-ful.  That is if you use a large egg - although I've read that you could use a small egg in place of a large egg and that would be okay.  But because I use large eggs for all of my baking and cooking - I'm not about to run out and buy a dozen small eggs.

Anyway - I measured out 1 and 1/2 Tablespoons and pitched the rest.  I suppose if you wanted to make the tiniest omelet in the world, you could use the rest to do so. 

I couldn't have been bothered.

Start out by melting butter in a pot over medium-low heat.

 Add the flour and whisk until smooth.

Then add the milk.

And the dry mustard.  And cook until thickened.

Now here's where things can get a little dicey.

Take about 1/4 cup of the hot milk mixture,

And slowly whisk it into the egg - I like to pour down the inside of the bowl so as to both temper the egg and cool the milk mixture a little.

You don't want scrambled eggs, just warm ones.

Then, once the eggs have been tempered, add them back to the main pot with the rest of the milk mixture.

Then start adding the cheese.  Annie used all cheddar - and I just happened to have enough - so I did too!

Then add the salt.

Then the spices.

And the other spices.

Add the in the cooked macaroni (did I mention that you needed to cook and drain macaroni?  Oops).

Pour the mixture into a casserole dish, top with grated cheddar and bake for 20 - 25 minutes, until the sauce is bubbling.

And eat.

And eat.

This mac and cheese was fine for it's cheesiness and creaminess, but I felt like it had too much going on.  I probably could have cooled it on the amount of pepper that was going in, or I could have pulled the optional spices... 

I have no idea.

But it was a fairly satisfying meal on a cool Spring evening.

And when I say Spring.  I mean Still Winter.

This is the Cane girl - signing off.

Friday, 19 April 2013

Texas Trash Dip

I love recipes that have weird names. 

Seriously.  The weirder the better.

Weird names always create excitement and anticipation.

Plus - if you think about your old family recipes - they always have weird names.

So, Texas Trash Dip.

I've been watching it pop up on Pinterest and I could hardly control my curiosity.  I finally got a chance to make it and I was totally thrilled.

There are a couple different versions rolling around, and I decided to use the one from Bogards Best Dishes.

I wanted the mixture to be as smooth as possible, so I combined everything with my stand mixer.

Or perhaps that's just laziness.

Mix together the cream cheese.

Sour cream and taco seasoning.

Then stir in the refried beans.

Combine the two types of cheese. 

Mix half of the cheese into the bean mixture.

Spread the mixture into a 9 x 13 pan.

Spread the remaining cheese over top of the bean mixture.

Bake for 25 - 30 minutes.

Serve with tortilla chips.  I like Scoops.

I wondered how it would turn out....  It smelled really good while it was baking.

The dip turned out smooth and creamy and yummy, yummy. 

And it makes a LOT.  But I think it could be easily halved and baked in an 8 x 8 inch pan.

Whip this one out for your next movie night - I'll wait for the thank-yous.

The Cane girl.

Friday, 12 April 2013

Cadbury Creme Egg Tarts

You know how I feel about Cadbury Creme Eggs.

I professed my undying love to these little eggie treats last year, and with their return to the shelves of my local grocery store, my wee little heart could barely stand the excitement.

My first large purchase of Creme Eggs were totally earmarked for baked goods.....  They didn't make it there.

So back to the store I went. 

And it has been taking all the will-power I possess to resist chowing down on the second purchase.

On to the tarts!!!

I bookmarked this eons ago, but haven't gotten around to making it because it somewhat confounded me.  I have no idea why - but for some reason I couldn't wrap my head around the fondant part of the dessert. 

Sometimes I hit a brick wall.

But on this day, I decided to tackle it and hope for the best.

To make the base, melt unsalted butter and add in crushed cookies. 

Divide the cookie crumb mixture between the two tart pans and press into the bottom and up the sides of the pans.  Put in the refrigerator to chill.

Cut the Creme Eggs along the seams.  Scoop out the fondant filling and put into the top pan of a double boiler.

Add the heavy cream to a double boiler pot and start heating through.

Chop the empty chocolate shells and add to the heavy cream.

Let the chocolate ganache cool slightly, then divide evenly between the chilled tart bases.

Refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours until set.

When the chocolate has set, gently heat the fondant until it melts together - but don't stir, just shake the pan occasionally. 

When the fondant has melted together, divide between the two tart shells.

Now.  According to the REALLY pretty picture on the website - the fondant is supposed to spread all the way across the chocolate.

And possibly I did something wrong.  But I can't seem to figure out what it was.  Maybe I didn't heat the fondant enough?

But there's only so much fondant inside those eggs!

I think these definitely have the potential to be way more impressive - and I think I have something in mind.  But I'll have to come back to it at a later date.

If you're of the mind to try these out for yourself one of these days, let me know how it goes!  I'd be interested to hear if you had better luck than I.

Update!  Apparently I failed to mention what I thought of these confounding little tarts.  From me to you - if you don't happen to have digestive biscuits around, use graham crackers.  They'll work out fine.  The chocolate was creamy and perfect.  I found the fondant ended up being on the hard/chewy side.  With just the tiniest tweaking to the fondant I think these could be a delightful, show-stopper of a dessert!

All the best of luck - the Cane girl.