Chasing Tomatoes

Printfriendly

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! 
Read More

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Win a Gift Basket From Real Women Of Philadelphia

As some of you know, I've been spending my time working with The Real Women of Philadelphia as an ambassador. I'm creating recipes using various flavours of cream cheese and writing for their site as well as creating recipes.

You may want to hop on over there and check out some of these oatmeal bacon waffles with cinnamon brown sugar cream cheese and sauteed apples.

bacon waffle

I'm just saying.

Kevin declared those waffles the best thing he's ever eaten and asked me to make them again, preferably as soon as humanly possible.

Part of working with Kraft means that I have some things to give away, and so you lovely people are going to have the chance to win a great gift basket of goodies to use in your kitchen. I'm quite sure that you should get the items that are pictured, which in my case would mean hiding those caramels to eat late at night, and using those Philly coupons for brown sugar cinnamon cream cheese so I could make these waffles. Or you could use that chocolate peanut butter, but it's up to you, really.


This giveaway will go until midnight on September 20, 2014. If you miss out, don't worry-I have three baskets to give away between now and December, so you'll have lots of chances!

This giveaway is only open to Canadians. Sorry, American friends. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Read More

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Thai Steak and Noodle Salad

For years, summer was the same routine; I'd be off work and home with Kevin, where we'd spend lazy days doing everything from picking berries to picnicking at the beach, eating ice cream, and taking off for road trips.

Those days feel like a lifetime ago. Well-they are. We no longer live by the ocean. Kevin, once a small child, is now practically an adult and obviously has his own life, which doesn't include spending every second of his summer with his Mom. This summer, Kevin took off to a city 3 hours away to work and came home only every few weeks. To help us make it through the teacher's dispute here in BC, I found another job and spent my days working. John and I only had enough time to get away to Calgary for a short trip, and then day trips here and there on our motorcycle. We had a serious test of being empty nesters, and with that comes a huge change in the kitchen-mostly that we don't eat nearly as much as our almost adult son.

Cooking became a dance of what was in the fridge or could be made in ridiculously small amounts. The first few weeks, I had so much produce go bad that I stopped shopping weekly and only bought things if we really needed them. By the end of summer, I had cooking for only the two of us nailed, and then Kevin came home and it all changed up again.

Throughout those hot summer days, we ate a lot of salad. It was a perfect meal for two, and I could customize them to our individual tastes. This one became my hands down favourite; tender steak, noodles, a spicy peanut dressing, a tasty drizzle. At first glance there seems to be a lot of components and work, but the reality is it's very easy to put together. I still crave it now, even. I daresay that once you try it, you'll crave it too.


thai beef salad

 Serves 4

Ingredients: 

Steak and marinade:
1 1/2 lb sirloin steak
1/3 cup soy sauce (low sodium)
1/3 cup tomato paste
4 tbsp ginger, peeled and minced
4 tbsp garlic, minced
2 tbsp honey
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp sambal oelek (chili paste)
1 bay leaf

Dressing:
 1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tsp sambal oelek
3 tbsp hot water
2 tbsp fresh lime juice 

Salad:
6 cups mixed greens
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
2 cups soba noodles or other thin Asian noodle
2 carrots, shredded
1 cup sugar snap peas, sliced thinly
1 avocado
4 tbsp chopped cashews

Drizzle topping:
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 tbsp hoisin sauce
1/4 cup sweet chili sauce
1/2 tsp sesame oil

Directions

Start with the marinade by combining all the ingredients in a bowl and pouring over the steak in a glass dish. Cover and chill overnight. The marinade is very thick but don't worry.

When you are ready to start cooking, mix the dressing ingredients together in a blender or food processor until smooth. Pour into a mason jar, put a lid on it and place in the fridge.

Grill the steak until medium rare. I don't have a grill so I cooked it under the broiler in my oven. Since the marinade is so thick it spits and makes a bit of a mess, and it isn't really a good idea to cook it in a fry pan on the stove. I found that the thick marinade then just burns on the pan.

Once the steak is cooked, remove from the grill or broiler and allow to cool to room temperature. When it has rested for about 10 minutes, slice thinly.

Just before serving, assemble the salads. Toss the greens and mint with some of the dressing until lightly coated and mound on plates. Top with about 1/4 cup of noodles, and then some of the steak, grated carrots, avocado, and sliced sugar snap peas. Lastly, sprinkle with cashews.

Whisk up the drizzle ingredients in a small bowl and spoon over top of the salads. You may not need it all, but put it on the table in case people want to add their own.

Adapted from Whitewater Cooks with Friends
Read More

Friday, August 15, 2014

The Canadian Cheese Rolling Festival

I love cheese. If there is something competes with my love of chocolate or coffee, it would be cheese. Creamy brie, sharp cheddar, spicy pepper jack; I love them all! Well, good cheese. I've been known to call processed cheese 'plastic' and refuse to eat it.

Yesterday I ventured into Vancouver for lunch at Forage in the Listel Hotel on Robson Street, where I got to visit with the people from BC Dairy, sample some delicious cheeses and meet with other bloggers. We learned about how cheese is made and heard about the Canadian cheese rolling festival  that is going to be happening up at Whistler Blackcomb this Saturday August 16 from noon until 4 pm.

What's a cheese rolling festival, you ask? Well. Let me show you.


The Cheese Rolling Festival is an annual event in Whistler, hosted by the Dairy Farmers of Canada and great fun for the whole family. An 11 lb wheel of Courtenay Cheddar cheese from BC Cheesemaker Natural Pastures rolls down a hill and people chase it. The first to the bottom of the hill gets to keep the cheese, along with a Whistler season ski pass for two. It may not sound like a dangerous undertaking, but running full speed down a hill after a wheel of cheese requires some safety equipment like a helmet, and maybe some pads to protect your knees.

cheese
Courtenay Cheddar from Natural Pastures

Chasing cheese may sound a bit.. strange to some, but I had the chance to eat some Courtenay Cheddar, and trust me, it's delicious. Natural Pastures hails from Courtenay, BC and the interesting thing is I remember seeing their products years ago at the Comox Valley Farmers market when Kevin was just a little guy and we would check out the market for fun. It's so great to see how much they have grown over the years! The cheese is creamy and mild, perfect for snacking on with a good bread and sipping wine. We got to hold the 11 lb wheel of cheese that gets rolled down the hill and part of me wanted to slip it into my bag, whispering, "It's okay precious. I'll save you. No bumps and rolling through the grass and rocks for you, dear cheesy goodness."

I think that an 11 lb wheel of cheese may have been a bit much to haul on Skytrain back home.

dip

We tried a few different dishes; a cheddar, sundried tomato and artichoke dip that I could've eaten with a spoon  (and did) right there, a very tasty fennel, arugula, cheddar and pecan salad,  then some tasty little hazelnut and cheddar shortbreads. There were also kale chips with smoked paprika and cheddar, which surprised me-I've never been a fan of kale, but these were actually quite tasty. I may have to make some for snacks!  I'm thrilled that we were given the recipes because I can't wait to try them, especially the dip!

Enjoying the cheese market
 Wait, where was I? Oh yes. The festival. The Cheese Rolling Festival is loads of great fun for the family, with some races for small kids, lots of cheese tasting, a costume contest, activities for the kids, cheesemakers to talk to, and lots of cheese to buy. Best of all, it's free! We love taking a ride up to the village along the Sea to Sky highway and looking at the spectacular scenery. There's a lot to do in Whistler during the summer, and hotel rooms are pretty reasonable this time of year so you can even go and spend an evening with the family, take a wander around the village, and check things out.

You don't have to chase cheese to have fun, you can wander by and watch the action-from the looks of it, the races are very entertaining to watch-and if you're wearing a costume, there's some really fantastic prizes to be had! There's a little something for everyone at the Canadian cheese rolling festival-especially lots of really tasty Canadian cheese.

Can't go? Follow the action live on twitter with the hashtag #cdncheeserolling

You'll find more details about the event at the Canadian Cheese Rolling Festival website.

Love cheese? Follow @BCMilk and  @100CanadianMilk 







Read More

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Eating my Words

I owe you all an apology. Seriously. If ever you have read my blog and thought I was out of touch with reality a bit (or even a lot), by making loads of from scratch meals every single night of the week and saying if you really wanted you could too (oh dear, I cringe at this), I'm so sorry.

Really sorry.

This summer I got a new job. It's something I haven't done for a very long time and required me to work all hours and so much harder physically than I ever have in a very long time. The only comparable thing would be when I was working in grade 8-10 PE classes and had to actually DO PE with the kids 4 hrs a day. I'm up at 4am, juggling changing shifts and trying to figure out how I'm going to do dinner when I'm either so tired I'd rather nap than eat, or I'm working through dinner.

I've eaten more cafe/restaurant/take out food than ever and my cooking has dwindled to salads, wraps, or just not at all. You could say that my family is ready for this; it's a great time for John and Kevin (now 18), to learn to fed for themselves more. Fortunately Kevin is away for the summer so I don't have to worry about feeding him so much, and John likes peanut butter sandwiches. I like to eat, though. I just need to make myself have the time to DO it. I'm starting to think I'm going to have to take a page from my friend Lexi's playbook, where she cooks all the things she needs on one day off and stashes them away.

When school eventually starts again in BC I'll be juggling two jobs, plus free lancing. I'm not going to lie-it's going to be a challenge, but I think I'm up to it. I've longed for something else to do, and I think moving forward with something different than I'm used to and working hard is really going to pay off in the long run. Now, if I can just juggle dinner? I'd be set.

I really don't know how you all do it. All you working Mamas with little ones, throwing in all those extra curricular activities and then crazy hours, trying to get dinner on the table. I am in awe of you.

Please accept my white flag flying and cries of, "UNCLE!" while I try to find some semblance of a routine and figure out how to do all of this, AND bring you some things I've discovered. Chasing Tomatoes is going to be a lot of quick, healthy food that I'm serving here at home with the occasional weekend meal you can take more time on. Or batch cooking.

Any tips? I really could use some.

Read More

Monday, July 28, 2014

Lime Chili Corn

Out in Chilliwack, the fields are full of corn all in various stages of growth. Some are short, some look ready to harvest, but regardless-as a local, you get used to watching the fields being sown and later on, the little corn shacks popping up all over town as the farms sell off bags and bags of the sweet stuff.

Even before we lived here, we knew the corn grown in the Fraser Valley was the best.

Maan Farms had a special on corn that was unheard of in these parts-$5/dozen, so John and took a drive to Abbotsford for some and brought home 24 cobs to share with friends and our neighbor. Corn for everyone! What can I say? We know a good deal when we see it.

With some baked beans in the fridge ready to be warmed up for supper, chili lime corn seemed to be just the thing to serve alongside. The best part is, you can just toss the corn (husks and all) into the oven to roast alongside whatever else you have going. It's perfect. This recipe isn't really a recipe-more like a guideline to making some really tasty topped corn for yourself! Basically just slather it all with melted butter, then shower it with toppings and serve.

Or you can just tackle one like I did, cave-woman style, right over my kitchen sink.

Ingredients:

1 lime, zested
2 tbsp (more or less) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
fresh cracked pepper
1 tbsp salted butter
1/2 tsp chili powder
6 cobs of corn

Directions:

Pre-heat your oven to 350 F. Toss the corn, still in the husks, into the oven and let it roast for about 30-35 minutes, until tender.

roasted corn

Remove the corn from the oven and allow it cool enough so you can handle it. Strip the husks off, and then brush them all over with melted butter. Place the buttered corn on a platter and shower with pepper, chili powder, lime zest, Parmesan cheese, and then cut the lime in half and squeeze the juice over top. Make sure to get some of each of the toppings on each cob of corn.

lime chili corn

Serve immediately!
Read More

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Raspberry Picking at Maan Farms

The very first piece I ever wrote and sent to in to a national magazine was after Kevin and I spent a day on the beach near Campbell River, BC. Walking along the sea wall, we found a huge blackberry bush and picked the juicy, sweet fruit until our fingers were purple-his more because he ate the berries instead of placing them in the bucket. It was a bittersweet moment that day, mostly because we had become serious about moving to California and were putting gears in motion. I went home and wrote about the sea, my blonde haired little boy, and how picking blackberries was something we loved. That piece was just the beginning of my journey into blogging when it was published.

Life sure had other plans in store for us; not only did we never make it to California, but we were to move three more times until finally settling here in Chilliwack, where we never plan to leave. Kevin will legally be an adult in less than 6 months and is working in a city about three hours away. He comes home on the weekends, ready to do laundry, sleep in and be fed by his Mama-who now that she has no growing boy to cook for, rarely cooks in the giant batches that I did only 2 short years ago. Remember when I'd make huge batches of soup, biscuits, cookies, and other things all at once on a Saturday? That kind of cooking is a distant memory, now.  These days it's all salads and downsized portions for only one or two, with little baking since nobody else eats it and my waistline doesn't need a bunch of cookies on a daily basis. Some days, I feel at loose ends with nobody to feed and at first it took some major adjustments. I was constantly having to re-calibrate how much to cook until now, I think I have the amounts down to where I don't need to invite half the neighborhood over for dinner.

Last weekend when Kevin came home, we went berry picking out at Maan Farms. Located in Abbotsford on Vye road, we had driven by Maan farms many times with the intention to eventually stop. I had followed Maan Farms for some time on Facebook, and had read about the fantastic cafe, winery, berries, and more. We were ready to go for lunch, pick up some wine, and browse the market.

Until the place burned down only days before we had planned to go.

firefire damage

Undeterred, Maan Farms continues to sell berries and other produce from a stand in their parking lot, also offering u-pick berries-and in the spirit of supporting a local family, Kevin and I waited for the rain clouds to clear one morning and arrived at the farm, ready to pick just like the old days. We wandered up and down long rows of berries, searching for the ripe ones, and re-living the days of when we fended off wasps, spiders, and long thorns when he was a small child.

When he was around 6, he'd sit in the middle of the blackberry patch while I picked, petting and talking to Marmalade, an orange tabby cat who would come and visit us. His face and clothes would be purple from eating as many berries as his tummy would hold, the cat purring and rubbing against his knees.

This time we talked and picked, catching up on his time away, his new job, what life is like for my almost adult son. We talked about hopes and dreams-his and mine, and before you know it, the box was full.
raspberry picking

This time, he didn't eat any. Okay he may have eaten a few, but they were the ones that we so ripe that they fell apart in his hand the second he touched them.

raspberries

"Mom, you know what's cool? It doesn't look like there's any berries here, but if you sit on the ground and just look up, there's tons. Seriously. Just look up." There they were, fat and juicy, just hiding behind the leaves out of sight-some as big as strawberries.

picking

Maan farms is open every day, selling U-Pick berries, already picked berries, and other farm produce such as corn, zucchini, and beans in their parking lot. Drop by and pick up a bit to support the family as they rebuild. Our raspberries were SO delicious-we've been eating them by the handful, on ice cream, in smoothies, and I've tucked most of them in the freezer for another day to make into pies or jam later. Blueberries are also available!

If you go, wear old shoes and clothes, you'll get a bit dirty and likely get berry juice on yourself. A water bottle and hat is helpful, as it gets very warm in the fields. Kids under 5 are subject to a $2 admission fee, likely because they will eat more than they will pick. Containers are available for $1 each, but you can also bring your own.  They accept debit and there's plenty of parking. Also, there's a Starbucks not far from the farm if after picking you need a cold drink to refresh yourself again. I'm not really sure about bathrooms; there was an outhouse when we went, but it's probably best to go before you hit the fields.

Above all, enjoy. Berry picking is a great way to hang out with your kids and teach them about where food comes from, and support a local family at the same time. If you can't find anything that looks good in your day, just remember what Kevin said about the berries-occasionally, the good stuff is hiding. All you have got to do is look up.


Follow Maan Farms on Facebook for updates

Follow Maan Farms on Twitter

Disclosure: This post is not sponsored. In fact, the folks at Maan Farms don't even know I have written it, as I put this together. I firmly believe that it's even more important to support local businesses when they suffer a loss such as this one has, and wish them well. We'll continue to visit the farm throughout the summer, and look forward to hopefully sharing better news as they rebuild!

Read More
© 2005-2014 all written and photographic content by Scattered Mom (unless otherwise specified) and may not be reproduced or used in any manner without consent. All rights reserved.

© 2014 Chasing Tomatoes, AllRightsReserved.

Designed by ScreenWritersArena