The Blog! Archives

Recipes from ‘The Quest’

I’ve been enjoying expanding my horizons by doing the US National Food Day Challenge (see here for more details).  The family has also enjoyed the new recipes I’ve tried … and given constructive criticism when the recipes haven’t turned out quite so well.  So I thought I’d update this website to include some of the favourite recipes from the last couple of months on the quest so you all can enjoy them!  Oh, and there’s some new ones that I’ve just tried because I wanted to, and they turned out really well so wanted to share …

Savoury dishes:

Desserts:

Cookies:

As always, you can comment on any section of this website (PLEASE COMMENT!!), and feel free to share with family and friends if you like any of the recipes I put here.  Also, let me know if there’s anything you’d like me to try to find a good recipe for – I love experimenting in the kitchen!

Until next time, enjoy cooking at home,

Sarah

A pumpkin theme

I tried a whole pile of new recipes this weekend, and had most of them fail majorly!  Maybe I just don’t know what I’m doing with pumpkin puree … and would greatly appreciate any tips you may have for me!  Leave your comments below and I’ll give them a go the next time I feel the urge to cook with pumpkin.

So here’s the run-down of my weekend:

  • I had some pumpkin leftover from when I made pumpkin soup for my lunches (recipe here) last week and I didn’t want to waste it.
  • I had been reading lots of pumpkin-based cookie and slice recipes from my Twitter friends.
  • It was raining and cold – perfect weather for baking.
  • I made too many things, threw out most of them into the trash and ate too many of the things that remained.

Things that worked:

  • Pumpkin soup – always a winner with me, using pumpkin, potatoes and a mixture of veggies – this time I included some almonds as well and ate it either with gluten-free bread, or rice cakes for lunches.  Very tasty!
  • Thai chickpea pumpkin curry – this used an almond butter base, with lite coconut milk, pumpkin and zucchini.  From the bits I tasted while making it, I am going to enjoy my lunches this week!
  • Pumpkin white chocolate oatmeal cookies – I think it was the small amount of pumpkin puree used here, and the white chocolate chips that made this cookie work.  Very moist but very more-ish!

Things that didn’t work:

  • Pumpkin choc chip oatmeal cookies – this used 15 oz pumpkin puree and not that much oats – I added some more oats, but still it was an overpowering taste of pumpkin, and not that nice with the rest of the taste.
  • Healthy pumpkin slice – this was kind of like a pumpkin pie, it needed some Cool Whip, but only sweetened by dates so relatively healthy.  Don’t get me wrong, this was yummy, but it just wasn’t what I was aiming for.

Things that I don’t know whether they worked or not:

  • Henry’s birthday cake – I found a recipe in my new KitchenAid recipe book for a caramel banana torte and showed it to Henry, who immediately requested it for his birthday.  The cake worked well, just the filling didn’t set very well, so all the bananas in the middle kind of squished out while the cake was chilling overnight (tonight) … hopefully tomorrow with a pile of whipped cream on top and around it, no one will notice!
  • Peanut butter banana blondies – Henry requested me to make some stuff for him to take to school for his birthday … specifically something with peanut butter, bananas, choc chips and M&M’s.  I found a recipe and it looked pretty impressive when it came out of the oven, but will have to wait until later this week to find out how they actually went.
  • No-bake chocolate oat cookies – I had this recipe in my folder and we wanted to make something to say thank you to some people around here.  I used normal oats, so I couldn’t taste them, but the family say they worked ok.

 So that’s what’s going on in my life!  Remember, you can always comment on anything you see on this website, tell your friends and family about the website and encourage them to subscribe (that’s if you enjoy getting the updates from me …).  And any tricks or tips you may have for me for cooking with pumpkin, please let me know, otherwise I’ll just go back to making only pumpkin pie and not experimenting any more!

Until next time, enjoy cooking at home,

Sarah

New toys & a new look

It’s been a while since I’ve written a post – not that I haven’t been cooking, as you will notice by the new recipes and updates on my challenge, so I thought I’d just summarise what I’ve been doing since I got my new toys.  You may also notice a change to the website – please (PLEASE) let me know what you think – whether you like it or not!

First of all, the new toys are:

KitchenAid 600 Series 6 Quart Bowl-Lift Stand Mixer, otherwise known as ‘Nigella’, and a Ninja Food Processing System, otherwise known as ‘Ninja’ (sorry, not that inventive!).

Kitchenaid mixer

‘Nigella’

Ninja

‘Ninja’

 

So I’ve been busy using both of these toys making lots of old favourite recipes, and trying out new ones.  The first one that I made in the KitchenAid was my monster cookies since I’d burnt out a motor in a previous mixer and I wanted to make sure my new mixer could handle what I could throw at it.  And it did … with flying colours!  The first one that I made in the Ninja was my quinoa bars, again since I’d burnt out a motor in a previous one and the Ninja did awesomely!  See below for other favourites I’ve made and try them yourselves!

Again, if you like what you see here on my website, I’d love for you to sign up to receive the e-mail updates (they don’t happen that frequently), or sign up your friends and family.  And I’d also love to hear your comments and suggestions on any of the recipes!

If you’re into more social media-type stuff, you can also follow me on Twitter at @sarahcookathome.

Until next time, enjoy cooking at home!

Sarah

Catering adventures

I’ve been in Canada on vacation for the past 3 weeks, and have been incredibly blessed by my brother and his wife, who have let me invade their kitchen many, MANY times.  Thank you SO much Brian and Briana – your hospitality has been amazing!

But they have also asked me to do some catering (provide desserts and other stuff) for various events they have had during this time, so I thought I’d do a quick recap of all I’ve made (and failed).  The photos aren’t necessarily of the exact things I made, but they contain links to the recipes if any of them catch your eye and you feel like trying it out!

Pecan pie #2

Pecan pie

 

Worms in the mud

Worms in the mud

 

Carrot Cake with pecans

Carrot cake

 

Honey tamari marinade with chicken

Honey tamari marinade with chicken

Cookies & cream cheesecake

Cookies & cream cheesecake

 

Burgers

Burgers

White chocolate berry baked cheesecake

White chocolate berry baked cheesecake

Chocolate crackle cookies

Chocolate crackle cookies

 

Peanut butter mystery cookies

Peanut butter mystery cookies

Lemon polenta cake

Lemon polenta cake

Chickpea peanut butter chocolate chip cookies

Chickpea peanut butter chocolate chip cookies

Quinoa bars

Quinoa bars

 

Creamy bacon and broccoli pasta

Creamy bacon and broccoli pasta

White chocolate flan

White chocolate flan

No-bake energy bites

No-bake energy bites

PS Sorry the photo alignment isn’t perfect – for some reason I couldn’t get this to work after I edited a few things – bear with me as I learn more about this website design thing!

Gee, I did do a lot of baking, didn’t I?  And that’s not all I made during my time in Canada.  I made up a few things for the US National Food Day quest (details here) that were either just for me or didn’t work out so I don’t have the recipes on my website.  But you can follow my adventures in the Quest updates (subscribe with your e-mail address in the right-hand corner here) or on Twitter @sarahcookathome.

Next week I’ll have lots more recipes to share my successes (hopefully) with you as we’re officially moving to the US so I need to use up a whole pile of ingredients, as well as continue the Quest.  Stay tuned!

As always I’d love your comments on anything you see here, and suggestions on how to make the website better, what type of recipes you’d like to see etc.

Until next time, enjoy cooking at home (or wherever you may be!)

Sarah

Comparison – monster cookie recipes

This is the experiment you’ve all been waiting for … the battle of the monster cookie recipes!  Since I found these two recipes, I’ve been wanting to try them out, but since Australian M&Ms contain gluten, I’ve had to wait until I went to North America again to do this.  And then I had the issues with the Canadian gluten-free all-purpose flour blend last week, so now that I’m making my own flour blend, AND I can get gluten-free M&M’s (peanut butter at that), and I had the perfect opportunity to give away the finished product to a great number of people, rather than eating it all myself, I can now let you know the results.

Recipe contender #1: From Sally’s Baking Addiction (recipe here) – Soft-baked monster cookies.

Monster cookie Sally

Soft and chewy, one taster said it was like a shortbread cookie, and they turned out a little ‘puffy’, but no one really seemed to mind that!

Recipe contender #2: From Dessert for Two (recipe here) – 1 dozen monster cookies.

Monster cookie dessert 4 2

These were called the ‘flat’ cookies because they spread so much in the oven.  Sally’s recipe called for chilling of the dough prior to baking, this one didn’t.  I wonder if I had chilled this recipe whether they would have turned out ‘puffy’ as well.

And the results were … (drum-roll):

Out of the 16 taste testers, the result was split.  Some people liked the crunchy texture of the flat ones, others liked the soft and chewiness of the others. 

Me personally, I liked both of them equally, but I can’t go past my standard recipe (here)

Feel free to try all these recipes out for yourself and let me know how you go!  I’d love to hear from you (hint, hint!!)

Until next time, enjoy baking at home (or wherever you are!)

Sarah

Monster cookies

Monster cookies

Comparison – brown vs white rice flour

Travelling to Canada has been an eye-opener for me in terms of gluten-free cooking.  I guess I got a little complacent with a really good gluten-free all purpose flour blend that I could get from Aldi Food Stores in Australia.  I bought a big bag of GF flour the first day I was here, and then proceeded to make very crumbly muffins and cookies for the next few days, even with added xanthan gum.  So I went back to the good ol’ internet and looked up potential other gluten free blends.  I had my standard blend of rice flour / tapioca starch /potato starch / xanthan gum that I used extensively in Chile (conversion here), but wondered if there were any other potential ones.

We often found the above blend to produce rather ‘grainy’ textures, and found a link to a flour blend that used brown rice flour, rather than white rice flour.  In Australia, it’s a little more difficult to get brown rice flour, so I haven’t bothered (and because the Aldi flour blend is so good!).  But here in Canada, we were able to get brown and white rice flour as well as a lot of other starches and other types of flours.  And here begins the experiment.

I made a batch of double chocolate chip cookies (loosely adapted from this recipe), half with brown rice flour and half with white rice flour.  Exactly the same proportions and other ingredients.  And then asked the extended family to tell me which one tasted either better or more grainy.  Out of the 8 people that tested the recipe, none of them could taste any difference.  But then again, this recipe may not have tasted grainy previously either … so I’ll just have to try this again with a different recipe.

Rice flour comparison

On the left is the cookie made with brown rice flour, on the right with white rice flour.  No difference in appearance, texture or taste!

I’d love to hear any suggestions you guys may have with regards to making your own gluten-free flour blends.  Just comment in the section below!  And any other experiments you’d like me to try while I’m on vacation, have full access to the kitchen (with an awesome Kitchen-Aid mixer and food processor) and a bit more time on my hands!

I’m looking forward to hearing from you all …

Until next time – enjoy cooking at home,

Sarah

So much to learn!

I’m currently on vacation (yay!) and I’m visiting my brother and his family.  He’s kindly let me have the run of his kitchen, and as you all know, this makes me very happy!  It took me less than 24 hours before I got stuck into baking here.  But, I didn’t have many things turn out the way I wanted or expected, so me, being me, kept trying recipes until I got one that I was happy with.  I watch the cooking shows on TV and realise I have SO much to learn before I’ll be happy with what I can produce!

So here’s what I’ve learned in the first 24 hours of being here in Canada:

  • Canadian all-purpose gluten-free flour doesn’t have xanthan gum in it, which means anything I cook with it as a 1-for-1 replacement turns into a crumbly mess!
  • My shortcrust pastry recipe (here) probably needs to be blind-baked with some beans or dried rice to weigh it down before using as a crust … and needs to be rolled or patted really thin.  Otherwise it becomes very thick.  Yummy, but very thick.
  • M&Ms in Canada are gluten-free (yay!)
  • Hershey’s instant chocolate pudding works really well in Worms in the Mud (recipe here) and it is gluten-free!
  • I really should just let guys show me how to cook meat … I tried to cook some fried chicken a few days ago for the Quest and it was a failure.  My brother used almost exactly the same ingredients, but knew what he was doing and it turned out perfectly!

Please let me know of any suggestions you may have for me – I really want to learn how to cook things better!

And, as always, please comment on any of the recipes, blog posts or on my Quest – I’d love to hear from you!  And put in your e-mail address to receive any updates to these and other recipes!  You can also follow me on Twitter (@sarahcookathome) … I’m learning more about this social media thing.

Until next time … enjoy cooking at home (or wherever you are!)

Sarah

Savoury foods

Most of you would be aware by now that most of my time in the kitchen is spent making sweet things.  But I do enjoy trying (being the operative word) to make delicious main-course dishes as well.  Trying to make them from scratch, rather than relying on packet or jar mixes, and I’ve had some successes.  Many failures though!  But here’s some successes that I’ve had recently – check out the recipes by clicking on the pictures, try them, and let me know how you fare with them!

Crustless ham and veggie quiche

Crustless ham and veggie quiche

 

Pseudo-Bircher Muesli
Pseudo-Bircher Muesli

 

Thai coconut curry

Thai coconut curry

 

 

Honey tamari marinade with chicken

Honey tamari marinade with chicken

Creamy bacon and broccoli pasta

Creamy bacon and broccoli pasta

Burgers

Burgers

 

Last week Grant and I were blessed to be asked to cater for the local youth group.  We had heaps of fun, pretending I was ‘head chef’ and Grant was my ‘sous chef’ (or however you spell it!).  We made chilli con carne with sides of gluten-free cornbread (recipe here), corn chips and the option of sour cream.  Even though the main chilli seasoning was from a packet, we fancied it up with other spices, beef stock, tomato paste and beans, onions and celery.  The 20 people that were there thought it was great – one guy came back for about 4 servings of it!  Sorry for the quality of the photo, but I forgot the camera and this was taken from my phone … 

Catering chilli con carne

As always, I’d love to hear from you so PLEASE write comments on any recipes that you find interesting, or have tried, or just want to encourage me in my quest to relax and have adventures in the kitchen.  And if you want to be kept up to date with the new things I put on the website, sign up with your e-mail in the box up the top of every page.  I don’t send many e-mails, maybe one or two a week, so it shouldn’t clog up your inbox too much!

And remember, my Quest of making/eating foods according to the US National Food Day calendar is ongoing.  Check out my adventures under ‘The Quest’ or through Twitter @sarahcookathome.

Until next time, enjoy cooking at home!

Sarah

Trying new recipes

Along with my National Food Day quest (follow my adventures here), I’m still trying some new recipes.   However, this hasn’t been without dramas either .  This weekend I’ve managed to:

  • Break our food processor, affectionately known as ‘The Wazzer’, meaning we needed to buy a new one …
  • Burn the filling for a special dessert for Grant, meaning we had to make an emergency dash to the shops to get more supplies …
  • Realise that egg whites can’t be whipped with a ‘slender blender’ (see the first point above!) – it needs a whisk, either electronic (much easier) or the hand-held variety – only realised after trying to obtain soft peaks after using the slender blender – they ended down the sink …
  • Realise that pineapple can (and should) be used in baking cookies …

 And again, you get the opportunity to have a say as to which of the following you’d like me to put on this website (after I make sure they’re good enough and reproducible enough for success!):

So add your thoughts in the comments below … I’d love to hear from you!  And if you like the recipes you see here on the website, please subscribe so you keep up to date with the new recipes I add.  Or sign up your friends and family …

I’ve just signed myself up for a Twitter account, so if you’re on Twitter, please follow me @sarahcookathome … and you’ll get all the adventures as I cook my way through the US National Food Day calendar!

Until next time, enjoy cooking at home!

Sarah

 

 

June 12 is National Peanut Butter Cookie day in the US.  So, in honour of this holiday, I am giving you a summary of all the recipes for peanut butter cookies I have tried with success … Feel free to try these and let me know which one(s) you like the best.

Recipes can be found by clicking on the links below:

Chickpea peanut butter chocolate chip cookies

Flourless peanut butter cookies

Flourless chocolate peanut butter cookies

Gordon’s peanut butter and jam cookies

Monster cookies

Sally’s peanut butter cookies

Sally’s peanut butter chocolate cookies

 

And for the quest:

I recently found a website that detailed all the national food holidays in the US.  I have also recently watched the movie ‘Julie and Julia’, where Julie challenged herself to make every recipe in Julia Child’s cookbook over the course of a year.  So, I am challenging myself to the following:

  • Follow the national food holidays guide and make/eat at least 4 out of 7 of the foods every week.
  • Ensure everything is gluten-free – whether I buy it (in the case of something like sushi) or whether I make it
  • Take photos wherever possible
  • Update The Blog with my experiences to share with you all!

And so the quest begins … I’ve updated the website format a little so there’s a dedicated section for this quest here.  Please follow along, add comments to support me and enjoy my journey!!

Until next time, enjoy cooking at home.

Sarah

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