Sunday, November 19, 2017

Banana Upside Down Cake

I don't make this cake as often as I should. 
I should be making it every day. It's super easy and incredibly tasty. 
Ok.... maybe I shouldn't be eating cake every day but... come on.... wouldn't we all like to? And, to be fair, it has bananas and bananas are healthy.... so, there's that. 
Most of the cakes I make are rather large ones - better for family gatherings and celebrations type of thing. This one makes a single layer so is great for a nice after dinner treat when there aren't a lot of people around. Of course, vanilla ice cream isn't a necessity but... well..... it doesn't hurt. 

Banana Upside Down Cake

Caramel Sauce
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 bananas, sliced

1 3/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
pinch salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
2 bananas, mashed
1 cup salted caramel chips (or butterscotch chips) - optional, but delicious

Preheat oven to 350.
Make caramel sauce - melt together the 1/4 cup butter and 1/2 cup brown sugar and pour into an 8 inch cake pan. 

Place the banana slices in a single layer covering the caramel sauce. Set aside.

Make the cake batter - In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.) In a separate bowl, beat together the butter and brown sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs, sour cream, and mashed bananas. 
Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients along with the salted caramel chips. 

Beat until just mixed. Pour over the bananas in the cake pan.

Bake at 350 until cake is golden brown and toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 35 - 40 minutes.

Remove from oven and let cool for about 5 minutes. Invert the cake onto a serving platter and remove the pan.

Serve warm or room temp. 

Throw on some vanilla ice cream with a little caramel drizzle and *voila* best dessert ever!

Easy enough for every day, fancy enough for company!
My favorite way to eat this is warmed up a little. You can serve it from the oven warm or reheat for a minute in the microwave. 
NOTE - don't let the cake cool for too long before inverting it on to a serving plate. The caramel can start to harden and the sauce and bananas can end up sticking in the pan. FYI - You can always scrape it out but then it won't look nearly as pretty. 

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Pork Stuffed Squash Dinner

I picked up a kabocha squash from our local U-pick farm (Old Airport Gardens, Lillooet, BC) and had no idea what to do with it. I went searching online for ideas and came across a stuffed pumpkin recipe that sounded amazing and looked like it was easy enough to convert to a kabocha. 
This makes quite a large amount and would be great for the holidays. Because I made it for only 4 people I simply froze the leftovers. They reheated quite nicely after freezing. 
While this sounds like a stuffing recipe it really is a complete meal on its own. 

Serve it with a side salad and *voila* dinner full of veggies and protein ready to go. 
If I had to count how many servings this made, I would say probably 10 good sized portions. 

Pork Stuffed Squash Dinner

1 large Kabocha squash, top cut off and seeds scooped out
1 lb pork sausage
1 Tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, diced
3 celery stalks, diced
5 mushrooms, diced
3 carrots, shredded
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp tarragon
1 can (540 ml) lentils, rinsed and drained
1 can (540 ml) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 pears, cored and diced
1/2 cup craisins
1 pkg (120 gr) Stove Top Stuffing
3 cups large dried bread crumbs (ie: croutons)
2 cups chicken broth
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 350. Place scooped out squash on a cookie sheet, set aside. 

In a large frying pan over medium heat, cook the pork until no longer pink. Add in the olive oil, garlic, onion, celery, mushroom and carrots. Cook and stir until veggies are softened - about 5 minutes. 
Add in the spices, lentils, chickpeas, pears, and craisins. Cook and stir for about 5 more minutes. 

Remove from heat and set aside. 
In a mixing bowl, combine Stove Top Stuffing and larger bread crumbs. 

Pour the chicken broth and eggs over the bread and mix well. 
Combine the bread crumb mixture with the cooked pork mixture until well mixed. 
Scrape into the squash. (Note - you may have extra filling. Simply place in an oven safe dish, cover, and bake at the same time as the squash. It will not need as much cooking time as the squash - check after about 30  minutes.)

Place the lid back on the squash and place in preheated oven.

Bake at 350 until completed heated through and cooked well - about two hours. Remove the lid at the one hour mark and give the stuffing a bit of a stir to see how hot it is. Leave the lid off for the remaining cook time. (If you poke the outside of the squash with a fork it should be soft when it is cooked). 

Let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Simply slice and serve. The filling may be a bit crumbly but you can just use a spoon to place it by the slice of squash. 

So good. And with all those lentils and chickpeas and veggies and pork it is soooooo filling. 
Any leftovers will last for a couple of days in the fridge OR, as I mentioned above, you can freeze leftovers for later. I use the microwave to reheat them. 
What is your favorite way to eat a kabocha? 

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Vegan Sausages

I am by no means a vegetarian or vegan. I do, however, like to enjoy vegan and/or vegetarian dishes every now and again. We have posted several veggie burger and meatball recipes on our blog but have not posted any sausages until today. 
Sausages and wieners are pretty hard to replicate as far as texture goes - in my opinion. They are usually just too funky for me. This recipe though.... I really like the texture and the flavor is pretty tasty too. I made them a bit smaller - like breakfast sausage size - but when I make then again I'm going to make them the size of a hot dog wiener so I can try it on a bun like a hot dog. 
This recipe makes a good amount - I believe 21 smallish sausages - and, once steamed, they freeze beautifully.

Vegan Sausages

2 cans (540 ml each) chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
2 Tbsp tomato paste
3/4 cup potato starch
3 Tbsp vegetable bouillon powder
1/4 cup water
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp liquid smoke
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic granules (or 2 cloves minced garlic)
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp black pepper

In a food processor or blender, process chickpeas until smooth paste. Note - this can take some time as you have to keep stopping and scraping the sides, just be patient. :)
When smooth, scrape into a mixing bowl. Add in the tomato paste and potato starch.
In another mixing bowl, mix together the remaining ingredients. 

Stir all the ingredients together in one bowl. Pinch off some of the mixture and form into a sausage shape. I made mine about the size of a large finger. Repeat until all the mixture is used up. 

Take a piece of plastic wrap and wrap each sausage - leaving enough on each end to twist up like a candy wrapper. (See photo below for clarity) 

Place sausages in a double boiler (or steamer) and steam for 20 minutes. Be sure to only cook them in a single layer at a time - I had to do 3 separate steaming batches. (FYI - remember to check the double boiler/steamer that the water in the bottom has not evaporated off in between cooking the sausages)
After 20 minutes, remove from the double boiler (or steamer) and let cool. When cool enough to handle, gently remove the plastic wrap. 

Place in fridge until ready to eat. They are good in the fridge for 3 or 4 days BUT can be frozen in an airtight container for much longer. 
When ready to eat - you can BBQ them or fry them in a pan. They hold together wonderfully. 
I fried a big pan of onions and mushrooms first......

Then cooked my sausages in a nonstick pan until heated through. I didn't add any extra oil but you certainly can add a little if you like.  

Then I served the sausages on top of the caramelized onions.

They look like "real" sausages, don't you think? (FYI - the larger sausages on the end are another experiment of mine. They are vegetarian sausages, not vegan, and I will post the recipe for those once I tweak the recipe a bit!)

Even the inside looks sausage-y. 
I would love to hear your opinion if you give these a try. I made my office coworkers who are vegetarian taste them and give me feedback. Overall I think they were a hit. 
I really enjoyed them and will definitely add them to my "Meatless Monday" rotation. 
FYI - I believe these are also gluten free! (Just make sure your soy sauce is marked as such.) 
According to MyFitnessPal, the nutritional counts are: 76 calories, 12 carbs, 2 fat, 2 protein, 2 fiber, 0 sugar (5 sugar in the whole recipe). This is per sausage if you make 21 sausages. 

Monday, November 6, 2017

Crunchy Cookie Butter and Coconut Biscotti

Sue and I received 2 jars from Penotti Canada the other day as a gift - one was Duo Penotti Cookies and Milk Spread, the other was Cookie Notti Crunchy Cookie Butter (click here to see Penotti products)
We used the Cookies and Milk Spread to make some adorable Halloween no bake cookies. (Check back for that link!) But.... the Cookie Notti Crunchy Cookie Butter sat on my counter while I debated what to make with it. I then made the mistake of taking a spoon to sample it. Needless to say I have no self control when it comes to delicious treats and had to have Sue wrestle it from my hands. 
I did save enough to make these tasty biscotti though. Thank goodness. 
The world needs these cookies. #TrueStory
The flavor of the cookie butter lends itself very well to a biscotti cookie. Perfect for dipping in coffee, tea, or (in my case) hot chocolate!

Crunchy Cookie Butter and Coconut Biscotti

1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup Cookie Notti Crunchy Cookie Butter  (or original would work too)
1 tsp coconut extract
1 tsp vanilla
pinch salt
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup toasted coconut
2 cups flour
1/2 cup Skor bits

Preheat oven to 350. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, set aside. 
In a mixing bowl, beat together melted butter, sugar, eggs, Cookie Notti Crunchy Cookie Butter, coconut extract, and vanilla extract. 

Beat in salt, baking powder, and coconut until well combined.
Beat in flour and Skor bits until no flour streaks are visible. 
Take the cookie dough and divide it in half. Form each half into a log about 12 inches by 4 inches. (Note - it helps to make little measurement marks on your parchment paper so you know how big the logs should be.)

Bake at 350 for 25 minutes.
Remove from oven and let cool 10 minutes. Slice the logs into 1 inch slices. (Note - a serrated knife works best.) You should get 12 slices per log.

Place the the slices, cut side down, back on the cookie sheet. When all the slices are back on the tray, return to 350 oven for 10 minutes. Flip all the slices over, then bake 10 more minutes.  
Remove tray from oven and let sit for 5 minutes, then remove biscotti to a wire rack to cool completely. 

To store, place in an airtight container, they do not need to be refrigerated. 

Biscotti are also a great choice for gifts! Tie them up in a see-through bag and tie with a pretty ribbon. Package them up and they ship very well. Need an idea for a Christmas cookie exchange? Look no further - the cookie butter flavor with the coconut is lovely for the holidays. 

My favorite cookies are soft and squishy but every now and again a good crunchy biscotti with some hot chocolate (or chai tea!) just can't be beat. 

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Pear Cobbler

One of the many reasons I love the fall is the abundance of pears. I wait all year to be able to pick our trees clean and then come up with tasty pear recipes. This year I was going to make my favorite pear crisp but decided to change it up a bit and make a cobbler topping instead of the usual crumbly one.
I think I may like this even more so than the crisp.
That cobbler topping is just sooooo crunchy and chewy and full of autumn spices, it's pretty hard to beat. Plus, you can have this ready to eat in under an hour. 
You could whip it up now and be enjoying it for dessert tonight! What are you waiting for?

Pear Cobbler

3 Tbsp butter
5 medium pears, peeled, cored, and chopped
3/4 cup sugar
3 Tbsp flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
pinch salt
1 tsp vanilla

1 cup flour
1/2 cup oats
1/2 packed brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cardamom
1/4 tsp ginger
1/8 tsp nutmeg
pinch salt
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350. 
Prepare the filling - Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add in the pears, sugar, flour, cinnamon, and salt. 

Continue cooking, stirring often, until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is bubbling. Allow to bubble for 3 minutes, or until thickened.
Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Transfer the filling to a large baking dish (approximately 1 quart dish) - I used a 10 inch, deep dish pie pan.
Prepare the topping - In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, oats, brown sugar, baking powder, and spices. 

Add the butter and cut in with a pastry blender or 2 knives - until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add in the milk, about 3 Tbsps at a time, and continue mixing until dough comes together. (You may not need to add the entire half a cup, or you may need a spoonful or two more).
Drop the dough by the spoonful over the top of the pear filling. 

 You may want to place on a pizza pan or cookie sheet to catch any spillage. Place dish in preheated oven and cook for 30 - 35 minutes, until topping is browned and filling is bubbling.
Remove to wire rack.

Serve warm or room temp.

Enjoy how wonderful your house now smells. 

Of course, a scoop of vanilla ice cream is always a good choice. 

You can store leftovers, covered, in the fridge for a day or two and just pop into the microwave to reheat. You can eat it chilled but I much prefer it warmed up!
So addicting. 

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Halloween 2017

Halloween has come around once again and, once again, Sue and I have celebrated by making some fun and spooky Halloween food. We kept it pretty low key this year. We've both been super busy so decided not to throw a big party and just have a smaller dinner. 
We will be sharing our photos from our dinner in this post, and of some of the treats I made for the Seniors Center our mom goes to. If we have a post with a recipe and how-to then we will post the link below the photo. If you have any questions about what we are sharing, please feel free to comment below and let us know. 
The above appetizer was created by Sue, modeled after Pinhead from the movie Hellraiser. Pepperoni with mozzarella and olive eyes. 

Of course, you can't have meat with cheese, am I right?
I made this Brie mummy covered in flaky puff pastry and stuffed with spicy red pepper jelly. (Stay tuned for that link. We will post a recipe and how-to soon!)

Sue attempted to make brain deviled eggs but the little bits of onion kept blocking the piping tip. They still turned out pretty creepy though. 

And while we're still on appetizers..... this terrifying looking guy is the vegetable man I made for the Seniors center. #Terrorific

Moving on to the main dishes - Sue created this meatless meatloaf Frankenstein's monster. (Recipe for the meatless meatloaf HERE.) She simply baked it in a rectangle pan then covered it with mashed potatoes dyed with green food coloring, chopped olives for hair, mozza and olives for eyes, a green olive for a nose, a ketchup smile, and whole black olive bolts. 

Sue's spooooooky lasagna is a favorite of ours. Sue has made it a few times. It is a super easy way to Halloween-up your meal without too much effort. It definitely makes a big impact on the dinner table. 

And with lasagna, of course, garlic toast goes superb. Especially mummy garlic toast with olive eyes and mozza wraps. We also had Caesar salad (but I forgot to click some pics of that!)

Before we move on to desserts.... we tried a Pinterest recipe for a Vampire's Kiss. It's 3 parts cranberry juice, 1 part Fireball. Sue said it tasted more like Christmas than Halloween. I agreed. It wasn't bad... but it wasn't great either. It sure looked lovely in Sue's spooktacular skull mugs though. 

For the senior's center I made 2 cute pull apart cupcake cakes. The first one, above, was an adorable ghost. (Check back soon for link to recipe and how-to).

The second was a grinning Jack-o-lantern that was also a big hit. 

For our dinner party I went with some Hand Pies. Literally. 
I made some cherry pies that looked like severed hands. Loved the way they turned out! (Click HERE for recipe and How-to!)

Penotti Canada had sent us a few jars of their tasty product to try out. I used the jar of Duo Penotti Cookies and Milk (See HERE for product detail) to create this super easy, super adorable no bake monster cookies. From start to finish in about 15 minutes. (Check back soon for recipe and how-to)

And last, but not least, was these creepy looking zombie cookies. These might have been my favorite of the night (other than Sue's Pinhead creation). They just looked soooooo creepy. My only complaint about these is that they took a long time to create. There was a lot of shaping and cutting and painting and frosting involved. Total worth it in the end though! (Check back soon for recipe and how-to)

Sue's daughter, Kenzie, and the little one she babysits went as unicorns. I just had to share a pic as they were so adorable! 
Our Halloween celebrations were a little smaller this year due to life getting in the way, as it were, but we still had a lot of fun coming up with these tasty treats. 
Be sure to search "Halloween" in the search bar at the top left hand of the page for more of our Halloween creations OR you can look at the top of the page under "Holidays" for a list of them as well. 
What was your favorite from this year?