White Chocolate & Macadamia Nut Cookies

Monday, 25 April 2016

Fun fact: I used to be a Subway Sandwich Artist in university.

I used to sling meatballs, arrange pepperoni, slice onions, tomatoes and green peppers, refill the mayo bottles after some teenager came in and requested extra extra extra extra extra mayo and pickles on their sandwich (I admit sometimes when people did that, I would give their sandwich an extra squeeze, as I was wrapping it up).

I became a connoisseur of what the best sub was...(Just for the record...it is NOT the Cold Cut trio).

Subway is also where I got my start as a cookie connoisseur.

Subway receives their cookies, already mixed and portioned in little, frozen balls. Place those babies on a matted cookie sheet and bake for 8 mins. Not 9, not 7...8 minutes.

It was the perfect length of time to achieve a soft middle, slightly browned bottom.

It is a cardinal sin to bake your cookies too long. For reals.

Well...my favourite cookie at Subway is the white chocolate macadamia nut cookie.

Sometimes, if you worked a morning shift, you had "waste" cookies from the day before.  We weren't supposed to eat them...but, you know we did.

I ate several waste pounds of them that summer.

(Fun fact:  The cookies tasted even better when you wore Satsuma lipbalm from the Body Shop...don't ask my why...but they did).

So recently, I came across Joy the Baker's recipe for the best White Chocolate Macadamia Nut cookie and her blog post of nostalgia.

These cookies are totally nostalgic for me...they remind me of summers in undergrad, when I had to walk to and from work and my apartment in student housing, smelling of deli meat and white cheddar cheese. They remind me of the singing along to the radio to Eminem and Butterfly by Crazy Town, while preparing veggies...and they remind me of the hot ridiculous days of dealing with people's crankiness as they stood in line on their lunch hour demanding deli meat sandwiches and flat pop.

Ah those were the days...(certainly made me realize that I didn't want to work in customer service for the rest of my life!)

So Joy talks about the reason why these cookies are so ridiculous is that they have three forms of fat in them: cream cheese, browned butter and unsalted butter.

The cookie dough itself is remarkable and very edible...

You can find the link to the recipe itself: HERE.

The only thing I did differently was toast the macadamia nuts a bit (and then slightly cooling them) prior to adding them to the dough. This is a risky move.  I realized quickly that they are like pine nuts and burn easily...They also cost way more than a bouquet of cauliflower....So toast at your own risk!

I ate a lot of them...So many, that I didn't eat my supper right away tonight...must have been the protein in the macadamia nuts and cream cheese...right?

Little dough balls...you can see the flecks of the brown butter and the toasted nuts

These went to the Wheelans White crew...bolster the mood...it's crunch time!

So try your hand at baking these babies...grab some milk or flat pop and go to town!


Spring/Summer Bucketlist

Saturday, 23 April 2016

I was raised outside...I made "cabins", popped spruce gum bubbles with sticks, picked wild strawberries in our backyard, made dandelion stem curls, went ice fishing, camping, exploring....

Now...somedays....I go outside, because I know I should. Or because I know Emma, should.

What happened??

1) I think I am a fairweather outdoors person. I dislike extreme temperatures, windiness, drizzle, flat-out rain...wait a minute...I live in Yarmouth....this describes most of our weather...always.

2) I find kids parks relatively boring (did I say that out loud?). I rely on other adults being present to also keep me entertained.

3) I always feel like there is something to complete in the house...laundry, pretend spring cleaning, trying to reduce the "my house is a litter box of toys" feel.

4) Sometimes, I don't feel like moving at all...welcome to full time working and parenting.

So...what to do..the trendy bucketlist of course.

...and make it public so I have some accountability...

1) Go fishing.  Emma and Andrew want to. I will go fishing this year.

2) Take Emma in a canoe or kayak

3) Go seaglass hunting. Emma really sees it as a treasure.

4) Go camping again at Keji (This I really can't wait to do.  We had a ball at Keji last year)

5) Go swimming in a lake. (No ocean swimming for this girl.  I draw the line)

6) Use chalk with Emma on the sidewalk

7) Plant our herb garden again (although we are getting some chives and mint come up already!)

8) Plant some perennials (I wrote that initially, so that autocorrect changed it to perineums)

9) Do a hike...maybe one without Emma. (I did Gros Morne a couple years ago and it was an awesome experience)

10) Do all of the above without getting a sunburn (SPF for the win)

What outdoor adventures am I missing?


Chicken Tikka Masala + Garam Masala

Sunday, 17 April 2016

I went to an Indian wedding reception once. It was aaaahh-maaay-ziing. It was probably my first real intro to Indian food (it set the bar high). Andrew's cousin married a girl from PEI, but her immediate and extended family came from India. They were married in India, but had a reception in PEI.

The reception was an education.

Everyone was blindingly beautiful in their intricate, jewel-toned, embellished saris and delicate, but stacked, gold jewelry. If we had attended the real deal in India, all the women's appendages would have been showcasing carefully applied henna and the bride and groom decked out in flowers.

I was well underdressed in my floral dress from Smart Set.

We received an Indian dancing tutorial at the beginning of the night. We were told that all we needed to do was to follow three simple moves and we would look like a Bollywood dancer: pretend to turn a door knob with two hands, while moving your shoulders...pretend to screw in a lightbulb with two hands...again, while moving your shoulders....(try it......really......now you know what I am talking 'bout)..and finally pretend to rub a dogs back with two hands...again while moving your shoulders....it's all about the shoulders..

Food is a big darn deal at Indian weddings (and every wedding really). But according to Indian customs...us Westerners are doing it wrong.

They fill us with tons of skewers of kebabs, indian candy, and many other appetizers that I don't even remember due to the flow of alcohol that we sucked back, while dancing.

Then just when you are at the point of bursting....a midnight Indian meal with all the fixings: curries, stews, grilled meats, veggies and flatbreads of every shape, size and flavour.

This is the tradition: basically you save the best for last...and if you are a westerner, you are already drunk as a skunk and filled to the brim with Indian appetizers...and then you eat a full supper.

Tradition cites that after the supper, everyone goes home. So that's when every Westerner is left on the dance floor and everyone else goes home to sleep.  (It's really a good plan if you think about it...naan bread really does cause carb coma) So yeah...us Westerners kinda do it backwards.

I would never claim to be a great cook, let alone a great cooker of Indian food. But I do like what we make. So I wanted to share a recipe we have been making a lot lately: Chicken Tikka Masala.

Just like I have said before, patience is key, especially when it comes to Indian food. The more time this dish has time to sit and stew, the better it is.

Also, look for ways that you can really use the freshest ingredients (which I try to do in this case, except for the chili paste that I use).....and hands down...you have to make your garam masala. Don't buy a premade one. If you can grind some of the spices yourself, the brighter and more flavourful the dish will be.

We use a garam masala recipe from a rand-o website (allrecipes.com). But it's still pretty awesome.

We have a mortar and pestle that we use to grind the spices...which is a pain but I refuse to use my coffee grinder (I really should buy one that we only use for spices). You could also buy pre-ground stuff too.

1 tablespoon cumin (ground or self-ground cumin seed)
1 1/2 teaspoon of coriander (same as above)
1 1/2 teaspoon of cardamon (ya gotta grind this one yourself...I insist...even though the seeds from inside the shell pods, kinda look like little mouse poops)
1 1/2 teaspoons of black pepper (buy a pepper grinder)
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of ground cloves (these are also good to grind fresh)
1/2 teaspoon of ground nutmeg (you could grate some fresh stuff)

Cardamon pods and the seeds (adds a bright citrus flavour)

Clove grinding with a mortar and pestle
Fresh Garam Masala

You obviously don't use as much in the recipe, that this batch would make.  You can store it in a tupperware container in the cupboard, but I do find that it loses it's potency after a few days. You might have to add additional spice to whatever you use it in, the older it is.

So here is my make-shift tikka masala...

I don't marinate the chicken as some recipes call for. I like to tenderize the chicken by cooking it low and slow for some time, instead.

So you need:

4-5 chicken breasts
2 tablespoons of red curry paste (I use Patak's)
1 large white or yellow onion
a healthy dose of garlic (5 or 6 cloves, minced or pressed)
1 inch of ginger, minced
2-3 tsp of garam masala (2 tsp if it is freshly ground, 3 tsp if it is pre ground)
2 large cans of salt free diced tomatoes (undrained)
1 cup of plain yogurt (I like greek yogurt cuz it's thicker)
1/3 cup of cream (you can really work with what you have here...whipping cream, blend cream, whole milk etc.)
salt and pepper to taste
chopped fresh cilantro

My new garlic press!! So much better than my last one.
Grab a large stewing, heavy bottomed pot. Heat a tablespoon of oil in the pot, on medium heat (I use canola cuz it has a high smoking point). Chop the chicken into bite size pieces and add to heated oil. Brown chicken and remove from pot. Add onions, then garlic and ginger to the same pot. Cook and stir until softened. Add chicken back to the pot and then add garam masala, curry paste. Stir until spices and curry paste have mixed with the chicken and aromatics. Add the tomatoes. Bring to a boil, then reduce to minimum heat. Simmer for 2-3 hours with the lid on, checking and stirring every so often to ensure it is not sticking to the bottom. Add yogurt and simmer another hour. Add cream and salt and pepper to taste at the end of the cooking process. Top with cilantro.

Yogurt going in the tub

Serve with naan bread and rice...and lots of wine or beer.  Add a dash of door-knob-turning dancing and you are all set.

Grilled Naan Bread!  A recipe for another day!

Not too shabby I think....

Have a great week!


Cooking with Emma (minus an iPad)

Sunday, 10 April 2016

I am sure that it's not surprising that I am not the perfect parent. I swear regularly in front of Emma. I lose my patience with her. I rely on the digital babysitter (aka the iPad + Netflix) when I need to get something done....like make supper...or powernapping.

A while back, it was apparent that Emma was spending a bulk of her screen time in the "after daycare-pick-up time" of 4-4:30pm and into the evening. In my defense....ahem....Andrew works til at least 6 or 6:30 during tax season and Emma gets super whiny when she has to play by herself.  Sometimes I trick her into playing by herself...but most nights I am so tired of playing (since I do it a lot at work) that I am not that into playing plus try to get supper together. Everyone has parenting flaws and this is definitely one of mine (All hail the iPad!).

So recently, we decided to make a rule: No screen time until after supper, on weekdays. This limits her screen time to an hour to an hour and a half a day. More on weekends, less on the nights we have an extra-curricular activity.

It's hard.

She still whines about this rule when we get home and wants me to entertain her (hello only-child syndrome).

I have found a way to at least pass the time with her that is productive: get her involved in the supper-making process.

The first time I suggested it, she was gung-ho. Other nights she was luke-warm on it, but usually if I assign her a task, she gets into it. (Please realize that we are approximately 1 week and a half into this...)

I am really pleased with this decision to get her to help with supper for a couple of reasons:

1) It helps instill making our food from scratch, in her mind, early....making it "normal"

2) It keeps her entertained and away from the iPad.

3) If things keep going...I will be pouring myself some wine and watching her cook by the time she is 10.


We are starting with keeping the tasks simple.  Emma likes to grind pepper, sprinkle seasonings on meat and roasting veggies, juicing lemons, peeling carrots, pulling stems off of beans, pouring out cans of tomatoes and corn and mixing sauces.

We have done some hand-over-hand chopping of potatoes and veggies.  We also talk about food safety stuff...like washing our hands after handling meat and washing veggies.

It gives an opportunity to talk about composting and putting stuff in the dishwasher as well!

So over all, a positive experience.  Still not as easy as plunking her in front of the iPad....but way more "feel good", while teaching her some life skills and values.

Hopefully, as the weather warms up we will also start to have her do things like pick herbs, carry stuff to the barbecue and maybe grow a vegetable to eat.

Wish we luck...if you follow the blog...you know my plant-killing skills are epic.

Do you involve your kids in cooking? Have any tips or neat kid-friendly tools for me?

Emma cooking waffles with bedhead. Sunglasses were not optional. (See the "Napnanny" behind her)