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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Homemade Cereal Snack Mix

Alright, alright. I realizethat most normal people post about cereal snack mixes around Christmas time, and this may seem a little bit weird to you but believe me; cereal mixes are not just for Christmas. They are for every day. Every day that you have to pack lunches for your kids, or want something a bit salty and crunch to nosh on, these mixes are the perfect thing.

I ADORE this snack mix. Over the holidays I made it at LEAST 4 times and each time, we devoured the batch in a few days. It's just buttery enough, with a bit of spice, but not too salty or greasy that you feel guilty. The crunch and the flavour is just perfect.

Kids will love this in their lunch, and I think it's likely FAR better for you than the pre-packed stuff that is full of artificial things and MSG. The cool thing is that you can also limit the salt, if that's an issue for you. It may seem expensive to buy all these different cereals to make the mix, but you'll have enough to make about 2-3 batches which will last for quite awhile.

See, now all this talk about snack mix is a problem. It has me craving more, and now I may have to just go buy some cereal.

(seriously, this stuff is addictive. Make some!)


chexmix

Ingredients:

6 cups Crispex
3 cups plain Cheerios
2 cups Shreddies
1 1/2 cups goldfish crackers
2 cups pretzel rods, broken in half

Butter drizzle:

2/3 cup butter (or about 5 oz)
3 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp garlic powder
3/4 tsp onion powder
1/2 tbsp seasoned salt
3/4 tsp smoked paprika
1/8-1/4 tsp cayenne

Directions:

Heat oven to 250 F.  Position your racks in the middle of the oven as best you can.

In a large bowl, toss together the Crispex, Cheerios, Shreddies, goldfish, and pretzels. Transfer them to a very large 9x13 inch baking dish, if you can.

Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat until smooth. Stir in the worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, onion powder, seasoned salt, paprika and cayenne.

Drizzle the butter mixture over the cereal, tossing and mixing as you go. Try to get things evenly coated-you may even have to get in there with clean hands, tossing away.

Spread the cereal out on two rimmed baking sheets and put them in the oven.

The cereal needs to bake about an hour. Give them both a good stir and swap them between racks every 15 minutes. This will help the mixture to cook evenly. Once they are dry and crisp, remove them from the oven and let them cool.

Store the cereal mix in an airtight container. It will last about a week or so, but I doubt you'll need to worry about it hanging around that long.
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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Gordon Ramsay's Spiced Sausage Rice

spicy sausage rice

This meal hits all the right points-loads of flavour, fast, filling, and so easy to make, it's sure to fit into the regular rotation at your dinner table. Similar to jambalaya, it's one of those things that you can put together and then leave on the stove to simmer away while you toss a salad or tend to something else.

I used mild Italian sausage that I found on sale for only $3 a pound, but you can substitute whatever fresh sausage you like. Want more spice? Use chorizo or hot Italian. Does a local market offer a fantastic homemade sausage? Try that. You really can play around to see what you like best.


Ingredients:

1 red onion, chopped
1 sweet red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced into chips
1 hot chile pepper (optional)
1 lb fresh sausage (I used mild Italian)
1 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 cup long grain white rice
2 1/2 cups low sodium chicken stock  (if you have white wine, substitute 1/2 cup chicken stock for wine)
4 green onions, thinly sliced
1 tomato, chopped
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped

1. In a large, deep skillet over medium heat, saute the onion over medium heat in a little olive oil until translucent. Add the pepper, garlic, and chile, continuing to saute and stir over medium heat while they cook for about 3 minutes.

2. Squeeze the sausage out of the casings into the pan, breaking it up with a spoon into smaller bits. Continue to saute and stir over medium heat until the sausage has some color to it and is no longer pink.

3. Sprinkle the smoked paprika over your sausage and veggies, stirring to incorporate. Add the rice and continue stirring. At this point, you can add the wine if you are using it or pour in the chicken broth. Give the works a stir.

4. Turn the heat to medium high to bring the mixture to a boil, then back down to low and allow it to simmer. Keep it at a low bubble for 15 - 20 min until the moisture is all absorbed.Give it a good stir.

5. Remove the pan from the heat and gently stir in the chopped tomato, scallion, and parsley. Enjoy!

Adapted from Gordon Ramsay
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Sunday, February 22, 2015

Butter Baked Goods' Homemade Chocolate Sandwich Cookies

If I could marry a cookie and have little cookie babies with it, this recipe would be it. Back in October I received the Butter baked goods cookbook at the Food Bloggers of Canada conference, and over the past few months I've had a lot of fun baking out of it as much as possible.

This is hands down the best baking cookbook I've ever owned. Everything turns out not just good, but AMAZING, including these cookies. I've made homemade versions of that popular sandwich cookie before and they were good, but not fantastic. There was something missing. I was never quite sure what, but they still didn't capture the flavour I was looking for. Sometime the texture of the cookies wasn't quite what I wanted either. It seemed as though a homemade Oreo that competed with those little bites of heaven in a package was just out of reach.

Well, I don't need to search any longer because Butter Baked Goods has totally nailed this recipe. If you need a reason to run out and buy their cookbook, these cookies alone are it. Normally, I can resist baked goods but after taking photos I grabbed one and took a nibble, which is where my self restraint ended entirely.

That nibble resulted in me being completely transfixed, savouring each and every bite, stopping only to blissfully lick buttercream from my fingers. Do you know I don't even like buttercream? Somehow here it works and captures of the flavour of those packaged cookies so beautifully! In fact, these are BETTER than those packaged cookies. There's no weird or obscure ingredients either, just good wholesome stuff that you probably have in your cupboard.

The only change I would make is that they are so large I'd likely make them a little smaller next time. But really that's up to you. I haven't adapted much from this recipe-let me encourage you to run, not walk to the store and buy this cookbook. There's so many delicious things in there you'll thank me.

butter oreos



Ingredients:

Cookies:

3 cups flour
3/4 cup unsweetened, dark cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 cups butter, softened to room temperature
2 cups sugar, plus extra for the tops
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla

Filling

1 cup butter, softened to room temperature
2 cups icing sugar
1 tbsp vanilla

Directions:

1. Pre-heat your oven to 350 F and line the cookie sheets with parchment paper.

2. Cream the butter and sugar together with a mixer on medium or high speed until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the eggs, blending after each to make sure they are well mixed in. Scrape down the bowl again. Add the vanilla, and beat a bit to blend.

3. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt, and baking powder. Give them a stir and then add to the butter mixture. Mix on low until they are combined.

4. Scoop the dough out with an ice cream scoop into 24 equal sized portions. Set them about 2 inches apart on your cookie sheet. Flatten a cookie slightly with the bottom of a drinking glass (this makes the glass a bit sticky) by pressing down, then give the glass a twist and remove. Dip the glass in sugar to coat and gently press down on the dough again to coat it with sugar, giving it a twist before removing. Continue with the rest of the cookies-flattening them, and coating the tops with sugar.

5. Bake the cookies about 15-17 minutes. They will spread, but the edges will firm up and the middles will be soft. Remove them from the pan to a wire rack to cool. Once the cookies have cooled, fill with buttercream.

6. To make the buttercream, beat the butter on low with the icing sugar until smooth. Add the vanilla and turn the mixer to high, beating well until the mixture is light and fluffy. Fill the cookies by spreading about 2 tbsp of butter cream on the bottom of one right to the edges, then topping with another, smooshing the bottoms together.

7. Store the cookies at room temperature in an airtight container. Makes about 12-18 large sandwich cookies.

Want more awesome recipes? Go get Butter Baked Goods' cookbook. I'm not being paid to tell you this-I did get the book for free at a conference, but it has easily become my favourite.

butter cookbook
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Friday, January 2, 2015

Apple Mint Salad with Candied Walnuts

salad

Inspired by a salad recipe from Chef Michael Smith's Family Meals cookbook, this take was brought about by my family's tastes. The original doesn't have romaine or dried cranberries, and uses pumpkin seeds instead of the candied walnuts. John isn't fond of too many carrots, and Kevin doesn't like raisins in salad so I thought the changes would make them more inclined to eat it. With a little tinkering, it's become our family's very favorite salad. I love the addition of big candied walnuts with a bit of cinnamon and pepper, and the sweetness from dried cranberries adds a nice touch. The best part is the dressing, which I haven't changed at all. I never would have thought to add cinnamon to a dressing, but this works so well with the other salad ingredients I wouldn't change a thing. I can eat this for lunch, dinner, or even snacks with a soft dinner bun and a few pieces of cheese.

While you're at it, I highly recommend Family Meals-there are all kinds of wonderfully easy, family friendly dishes in there to try!

Salad

3 cups of chopped romaine lettuce
1 carrot, peeled and then shaved
1 apple, sliced into sticks or very thin wedges
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
1/3 cup of dried cranberries
3/4 cup of walnuts
1 tbsp honey
1/4 tsp cinnamon
cracked black pepper

Dressing (adapted from Chef Michael Smith)

2 tbsp cider vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp honey
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt

1. In a large bowl, toss together the lettuce, apple, carrot, cranberries, and mint. I like to cut around the apple core and slice the halves into thin pieces as pictured. Peel the carrot and then shave it in thin pieces with a vegetable peeler. I cut the peels in half.

carrot apple walnut

2. Heat the walnuts in a dry pan, shaking and watching closely until they are fragrant and lightly browned. Once they are slightly toasted, add the honey. It will sizzle and bubble. Toss the nuts in it until they are well coated, then sprinkle with cinnamon and pepper and toss some more until they are completely coated. Continue to cook and toss for about 1 minute. Remove the walnuts from the pan to a plate or cutting board to cool so they don't cool and become a big sticky clump in the pan. Chop them a bit if needed.

candied walnuts


3. Toss the chopped walnuts in the salad once they are cooled to room temperature.

4. Measure all the dressing ingredients into a 1 cup Mason jar. Screw on a lid and give it all a good shake until it's emulsified.  Serve with the salad to drizzle over top. The dressing will keep a day or so but will eventually get goopy.

Serves four!

carrot apple salad
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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

LAST Giveaway: Gift Basket From Real Women of Philadelphia

This is the very last give basket I'm giving away from Kraft as per my contract with them, and you are all welcome to join in and see if you can snag it for the holidays!

Only Canadian readers can enter and one will be picked at random to win the basket below. This contest will be open until December 13 th, 2014. I'd like to know what you've been baking! 


Have fun!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Saturday, October 25, 2014

Homemade Veggie Burgers with my Blendtec Blender

For years, my family has loved veggie burgers but we've never found one that we absolutely adore and stick with. There was the one that was made with nuts, which was good but kind of expensive to make, pre-made ones from the freezer section that we found salty, and some that seemed tasteless.

A good veggie burger can be hard to find, friends. I'm not the kind of girl who seeks a veggie burger that tastes like meat-if I want that, I'll just make a hamburger. Once John and I went to a restaurant where the veggie burgers tasted SO close to actual meat that we had to check to see if our order was wrong. I like my veggie burger to taste like beans or veggies. Weird? Maybe. But we enjoy the different flavours. Before I go any further, let me do a bit of disclosure here: I was sent a Blendtec blender to try, but was not asked to blog this or paid in any way. I was not asked to blog a number of posts about the blender. I am doing so because I genuinely love the product. As in, love so much that if mine disappeared I'd save my cash to buy another. It really does the work of a blender and food processor in one.

When my Blendtec blender arrived and I leafed through the little cookbook that came with it, I was delighted to find a veggie burger recipe. We have  made it a few times and were really happy with it even though I offered my own tweaks and suggestions. The recipe is actually great for using up bits of veggies in your fridge and a tasty alternative to meat. They are definitely softer than your regular burger and tend to fall apart a bit, so you need to use a light hand. Sandwiched in ciabatta buns and topped with a good mayo, crispy lettuce, tomato and a good cheese, they make a wonderful dinner. I even top mine with bacon so they aren't a true veggie burger, but then again-I'm not vegetarian so does it matter?

vegburger2

Another great thing about these burgers is that  you can freeze them before you cook them. They'll hang out, as insurance for a day when you don't want to cook, and to fire those babies up all you do is thaw them a bit in your microwave and then toss them in a pan to cook.  With all the great healthy ingredients in them, you'll be able to have a burger and not feel like you are indulging too much. Well. Unless you really slather on the cheese and bacon, but who am I to judge?

Servings: four
Time to prepare: 20-30 minutes
Time to cook:  10 minutes

Ingredients:

1/2 cup mushrooms, chopped (you can use white but I like crimini because they are meatier and have less moisture)
1/2 cup roasted corn kernels (see note below)
1/4 cup sweet bell pepper, chopped finely
1/4 cup onion, chopped finely
1 cup fresh chopped spinach, lightly packed
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp fresh cracked pepper
1/4 tsp paprika .. I like smoked but you can use plain
pinch cayenne pepper
2 Tbsp rolled oats
2 tsp flax seeds (optional-I've left them out with no issues)
3/4 cup black beans
1/3 cup cooked brown rice
2 tbsp corn flour

Directions:

1. Roast your corn and get the rice going so that it's cooked when you need it. Get all your ingredients chopped and ready to go. I'm a bit nerdy about that, I even put them all in prep bowls.

veg burger ingredients


A thing of beauty, yes?

2. Saute up your onions in a frypan with a little oil until they are clear and cooked through. Add the mushrooms and pepper, sauteing gently until they are cooked through. Add the spinach at the end and stir around until it wilts. Stir in the salt, pepper, garlic powder, cayenne, and paprika. Set it aside to cool slightly.

3. When you ingredients are all assembled and ready, get your blender/food processor ready to go. For the Blendtec, I use the twister jar. It's a smaller jar that is better for thicker mixtures. In goes the oatmeal and flax if you are using it, and I pulse it a few times to break it up and make it finer.

vegburgers blendtec

4. Add the beans and rice to your blender.  Pulse some more. You want it a chunky paste, not a totally smooth one. You may need to add a little water to moisten. Using a long spatula or wooden spoon, move the mixture around so that the stuff on the bottom that has become a paste is mixed with the bigger pieces.  Pulse a bit again, so that you have a chunky paste. Add the cooked veggies and roasted corn. Give it a good stir and pulse, then stir and pulse again.

5. Turn the mixture out into a bowl and give it a good stir. I have found that at this stage it's often pretty wet, so I stir in a few tbsp of corn flour to firm it up a bit. If it's not, don't bother. Divide the mixture into four balls and shape into patties.

vegburgers1

4. Fry up the patties in a non stick skillet with a little oil over medium heat. Be careful-they aren't substantial like a meat patty and will fall apart if you are too overzealous with them. Even when they are cooked, they are pretty soft and a bit squishy. We love to tuck them into good ciabatta buns, then then top with cheese, lettuce, tomato, and even bacon. Even the meat loving teen gets very excited about these burgers, which says a lot!

*roasted corn is awesome not just here but on it's own. You can use fresh by cutting it off the cob, but you can also use frozen if it's all you have. Thaw the corn and dry it well with paper towel. Toss the kernels with a bit of olive oil to coat. Spread onto a baking sheet and sprinkle with salt, pepper and a bit of paprika, then roast in a pre-heated 375 F oven for 10 minutes. Stir often to prevent them from burning. Allow to cool before proceeding with recipe.

Adapted from Blendtec 


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Friday, October 10, 2014

Peanut Butter Cookies with Nordic Ware Products!

 I've never really liked peanut butter cookies. Their dry, crumbly texture has never been appealing to me and I hardly ever bake them-that is, until I discovered this recipe. Moist, chewy, and with a crunchy sugar coating, these cookies are absolutely delicious. You could skip rolling them in sugar and try drizzling or dipping them in chocolate, but whatever you do I'm sure you'll love these. We have a hard time not eating them all!

Next weekend I'm off to downtown Vancouver to the Food Bloggers of Canada Conference, and I'm so excited to be part of this awesome event! One of the sponsors is Nordic ware, who had sent me a bunch of really great stuff just in time for my day of cookie baking.

nordicware

In the box were prep bowls, cookie stamps, a cookie sheet, and super cool pinata cake pan that I can't wait to try out some day. It was so awesome that they arrived JUST before my planned baking day, which was super timing. I haven't bought a new cookie sheet in years, and as far as I'm concerned, you can never have too many, right?

I have baked cookies every week for about 20 years and from experience I've discovered that a good cookie sheet gives you evenly baked, tender cookies that come off the pan easily whereas an old, cheap cookie sheet can make your cookies stick and burn. My new cookie sheet from Nordic ware is amazing-the cookies came out absolutely perfect. This pan was amazing and I have now vowed to find another one to replace my older cookie sheets!

cookie stamps

Cookie stamps are a fun way to dress up your baking to make them look a little more interesting. I love these ones-metal with a wooden handle, they are far nicer to use than plastic ones- they are fun for making cookies for gifts, and with holidays coming they dress up your baking a little. Kids can help with them too, because stamping would be loads of fun! The prep bowls really come in handy too, whether you are baking or cooking. I like cracking my eggs into them.


prepbowls

Now, onto the cookies! These are by far the best peanut butter cookies I've ever made. I love how rolling them in sugar gives a little extra crunch on the outside, and the bonus is that they don't stick to the cookie stamps that way either. If you use cookie stamps it's a good idea to flour them a little first.

Ingredients:

1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup each packed brown sugar and white sugar
1 cup peanut butter
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla (for a twist, try maple extract)
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp each baking soda and baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2-3/4 cup sugar in the raw for rolling, optional)

Directions: 

1. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat together the butter, sugars, and peanut butter until smooth. Add the eggs, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla and beat well.

2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add to the butter mixture in two additions and beat on low until combined. Put the dough into an airtight container and chill for about 30 minutes. This makes it easier to handle.

cookie stamppeanut butter

3. Shape the dough by scooping it out into rounded tablespoons and rolling into balls. Roll the balls of dough in sugar if you want, and then place them about 2 inches apart on a cookie sheet.You can either squash them with a cookie stamp or fork. If you choose not to roll them in sugar, make sure to flour the cookie stamp or fork so you don't have a problem with them sticking.

4. Bake one sheet at a time in the enter of a 350 F oven for 10-12 minutes.

peanutbutter cookies

Makes about 3 dozen cookies. You can store them in an airtight container for about 5 days or freeze them for about a month.

Adapted from Canadian Living Cooks

Disclosure: attendees of FBC 2014 were sent a package from Nordic Ware and blogging about the products entered you in a contest to win more products. I LOVE the items sent to me, will be seeking out another cookie sheet for Christmas! 
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