Battle of Ingredients #2: Maple Syrup

Welcome to Round 2 of Battle of Ingredients!
If you missed the first round, you can find it here. I will be putting something on the side or above so that it’ll be easier to track soon.

This month’s Battle of Ingredients is all about maple syrup! Why? Because here in our lovely province of Quebec, we have the cabane a sucre (aka sugar shack) tradition. Maple syrup is a big deal around this parts (and apparently also in Riverdale according to the new TV series). It was a no brainer for myself and Phoebe that it would be our choice ingredient as well as trying out a new formula of doing a collaborated full course meal. All our dishes had maple syrup so lets just say, we were in for a sugar rush.

Let’s check out our menu, along with the wines we used to pair with it (although one of them we didn’t end up drinking…yet).

Wine

Wine

We drank the Kung Fu Girl which is one of my favorite wines. Apparently, it has somewhat of a sour taste which I never really thought about but always found it smooth. Regardless, hopefully we’ll keep the Fetzer in our fridge till the next Battle.

Appetizer – Kim

Bourbon Maple Glazed Chicken Wings

Bourbon Maple Glazed Chicken Wings

Recipe via Pinterest: http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/bourbon_maple_glazed_chicken_wings/

A very simple recipe to put together in general although you do need to simmer the sauce before putting it on the chicken wings and then have to simmer again to thicken it. I somehow managed to get it thicker the first time so that it wasn’t necessary to simmer again. I did have extra sauce however it was covered enough so I put it to the side in case anyone wanted anymore. This one was delicious and definitely a hit. Perhaps it had to do with the fact that I used our good bourbon without knowing it. Whatever the reason, these turned out much better than I expected and honestly, I kind of want to make another batch already.

From our friends: Not dry at all with the sauce, and it matched well. No extra sauce needed for me!

Main Meal + Side – Phoebe

Prosciutto Maple Salmon

Prosciutto Maple Salmon

Recipe via Pinterest: http://gardeninthekitchen.com/prosciutto-maple-salmon/

Phoebe chose this recipe off Pinterest. We don’t usually get the chance to use prosciutto frequently and never had thought to use to wrap around fish and yet, it came together really nicely. She hadn’t worked with dill before and I haven’t been a fan either, however we do have dill lovers at the table. This came together really nicely. Phoebe was a little nervous about the whole grilling part before baking it and we timed it all very nice to serve this and the sides, which we will talk about below.

From our friends: I personally find the dill to match well with the fish. Again, not dry the way it was made, the only slight annoyance was that the prociutto is hard to cut through, so putting any sort of pressure would crush the salmon under… But with patience of sliding your knife back and forth, it’s perfect.

Maple Syrup Roasted Brussel Sprouts

Maple Syrup Roasted Brussel Sprouts

Recipe via Pinterest: http://www.thewholesomedish.com/maple-syrup-roasted-brussels-sprouts/

Huge fan of brussel sprouts here, I found this recipe for Phoebe and she was totally into it, which is great. I’ve always wondered how maple syrup in Brussel Sprouts would work and actually it was the one the absorbed the maple syrup enough to actually taste it the most. It was much more subtle in the salmon for example. However, in the balance of the meal, it worked well.

Dessert

Chewy Maple Cookies

Chewy Maple Cookies

Recipe via Pinterest: http://www.cleverlysimple.com/chewy-maple-cookies/

I decided on making these cookies very last minute. Like an hour before our cooking meet-up. Fact is, I was going to make Maple Ice but that needed Maple Water and Ice Cream Maker, both things that I don’t have or haven’t figured out how to use yet. Then there was the idea of making little maple syrup tarts but that was really complex with heating the pizza stone plate in the oven beforehand and the worry that it would just fail because I was changing this complicated tart recipe from a pie pan to little tarts. Anyways, point is cookies are the safe bet and thankfully, it worked well to not hog up the oven and we were able to get everything we needed done and ready on track.

From our friends: Cookies were good! Wasn’t dry, but wasn’t butter fest either! Maybe it would be even better with some nut in it like cashew, but then again, might alter the taste… But it was great.

Maple Flavored Popcorn (Bad Monkey)

Bad Monkey Maple Flavored Popcorn

In addition, Phoebe brought this Bad Monkey brand Maple Syrup flavored popcorn to match with the theme. I don’t eat a lot of popcorn for health issues but I did try a few and it was pretty delicious. Phoebe did find it a little on the sweet side however our friends did like this one as well. they actually put the popcorn and the cookie together and apparently, it went well together particularly because of the contrast in textures.

That’s it for this Battle!
Maple Syrup was a fun adventure and on all fronts this was a win.
We learned some new recipes and had a great time with friends.
Next month’s Battle is still deciding what will be the star(s) of the show! 

Perhaps this will be the structure from now on as it is easier to get together an acceptable meal but we will shift the courses around to who is responsible next time.
We will see…like I said in the first round, a work in progress. If you have any suggestions, do share with us. 🙂

Baking: Chewy Ginger Cookie

Holiday season is here! That means its time for me to bake up a storm. This year, I went mostly with easy solutions ranging from festive Rice Krispies Treats to Chocolate Bark (which are both no bake recipes) and then made vanilla cupcakes with store bought icing. However, I did get a little inspired and tried a new recipe from Butter Baked Goods book called “The Gingerstamp” which are chewy ginger cookies.

Ginger Cookie
Makes 24 cookies

Ginger Cookies

Ingredient

4 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup butter, room temperature
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 cup fancy molasses
1 tsp pure vanilla

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  2. Sift together the flour, baking soda, ground ginger, cinnamon, ground cloves and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and 2 cups of the sugar on medium to high speed until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  4. Add the eggs one at a time and beat briefly after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the molasses and vanilla. Continue to mix on high until the molasses and vanilla are well combined and the mixture is pale in color. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  5. Turn the mixer to low and add the dry ingredients and mix until fully combined.
  6. In a small bowl add the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar. Use the ice cream scoop to drop 24 equally sized portions of dough, one at a time, into the sugar. Use your fingers to roll the dough around to coat on all the sides, then place the cookies on the prepared cookie sheets about 1 1/2 inches apart. Use the palm of your hand to press down lightly on the top of each portion to flatten slightly.
  7. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 to 17 minutes or until the cookies are firm around the edges but still slightly soft in the center.
  8. Remove fromt he oven and transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool.

As usual, there were minor omissions. This time, it was because I ran out of the ingredient. Those were the baking soda amd vanilla extract. However, I do know that these two don’t make a huge difference to the taste, but maybe the texture.

Cookies are about one of the easiest things to bake. Plus, I have those mini ice cream scoops so I actually have left over cookie batter to make another 12 cookies at least after making the 24.

With that said, these cookies were a crowd pleaser. I do find it a little bit of a debate whenever I make ginger anything for baked goods because not everyone likes it as much as I do. I am glad to see that everything worked out.

What have you been baking/cooking?

Baking: Sugar Cookies (with 4 different toppings)!

The holidays are fantastic.  We take turns spending time with our friends and this year, we had a few friends drop by for a little potluck and game night to ring in the New Year’s.  Some of you know that I’m in absolutely love with baking.  With My Weekly Adventures post, before rambling about recaps and updates, I gave a quick look of some Boxing Day finds and the one I’m most proud of is finally getting the standing mixer.  For New Year’s Eve, I put it to the test and after much debate between various recipes, I decided to go with Sugar Cookies.  It does sound kind of familiar since I did do Chocolate Sugar Cookies on the baking date with my friend right before Christmas. Except, I’ve been eyeing this recipe in Butter Baked Goods, one of the cookbooks I own.

Here it is!

“Big” Sugar Cookies
(from Butter Baked Goods by Rosie Daykins)

Sugar Cookies

Sprinkled with icing sugar

Makes 24 cookies

Ingredients

4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup butter, room temperature
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla
coarse sanding sugar, for sprinkling

Sugar Cookies

2nd batch: With Sliced Almonds

 1. Preheat the oven to 350F.

2. Onto a large piece of parchment paper, sift together the flour, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.

3. In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and oil on medium to high heat until fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

4. Add the sugar and mix until well combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.  Add the eggs one at a time and beat briefly after each addition.  Add the vanilla and beat again to combine.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

5. Turn the mixer to low and add the dry ingredients and mix until fully combined.

6. Use the ice cream scoop to drop 24 equally sized portions of dough onto the prepared cookie sheets, about 1 1/2 inches apart.  Use the palm of your hand to press down lightly on the top of each dough portion to flatten slightly, then sprinkle with a little sanding sugar.

7. Baking in the preheated oven for 15 to 17 minutes or until the cookies are lightly golden around the edges and cracked in the center.

8. Remove from the oven and transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool.

Sugar Cookies

3rd batch: with Dark Chocolate (Lindt 70% Cocao)

Notes:

  • I ended up with double the batch (48 cookies) with probably smaller size cookies.
  • Replaced vegetable oil with olive oil
  • Sprinkled with icing sugar for first batch but then used, sliced almonds, dark chocolate and snowflakes sugar decorations
Sugar Cookies

4th batch: with sugared snowflakes

These sugar cookies were pretty good. There was a good crunchy consistency.  I put the batches for 15 minutes in the oven. Suffice to say that the snowflakes was a true experiment and they ended up melting so that isn’t a great idea. The dark chocolate toppings were the big hit and ended the night with most of them eaten. Sugar cookies are a very easy solution.  I did these without a sifter and a proper ice cream scoop or parchment paper.  My new home needs some improvement in the supplies portion but that is on our shopping list. To be honest, cookies are my go-to whenever I need a quick fix for baking.  Preparation is usually quite minimal (unless you need to use cookies cutters which adds a step and maybe some kneading the dough depending on what you make) and the bake time is usually under 20 minutes (unless its biscotti which needs to baking sessions). I love quick solutions.  Sometimes life is about enjoying the simple things and sugar cookies definitely fits that category.

On a side note, the promise I made (to my husband and myself) with the new mixer purchase was that it would be the motivation to step back into my favorite activity ever: Baking and work towards improving this year.  Consider these sugar cookies to be the first step back in the kitchen.  For the record, there should be another recipe up soon for the Baking Through Disney.

How do you like to top your Sugar Cookies? Are you fan of cookies? What type do you like?

Baking: “Giant” Chocolate Sugar Cookies

This year for the holidays, I did something a little different.  For the first time, one of my really great friends and I got together for a baking date.  Both of our recipes are from one of the cookbooks she has which is Martha Stewart’s Cookies.  Today we will start with the first one we chose: Giant Chocolate Sugar Cookies. Except ours are many times smaller because this recipe should make 8 but we ended up with 28 (approximately).

Chocolate Sugar Cookies

Makes 8

Chocolate Sugar Cookies

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup vegetable shortening (or 1/2 cup unsalted butter), melted and cooled
1 large egg
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 375F.  Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt in a bowl.
2. Put butter and sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Mix on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy.  Mix in melted shortening (or butter).  Add egg and vanilla extract; mix until creamy.  Reduce speed to low.  Gradually add flour mixture, and mix until just combined.
3. Using a 2 1/2-inch ice cream scoop, drop dough onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper, spacing about 4 inches apart.  Bake until edges are firm, 18 to 20 minutes.  Let cool on sheets on wire racks.  Cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to 2 days.

I had been thinking about chocolate sugar cookies since forever.  The best part is that because its made with cocoa powder, it has no milk meaning that I can eat it.  If you aren’t aware, I used to not be able to even digest cocoa but somehow in the past few months, I gave it shot and its all good now.  I don’t abuse the privilege my stomach has given me but these cookies are delicious! For sugar cookies, the balance of the chocolate taste and the sugar level is pretty awesome.  They were a little chewy with a little crunch on the edges.  It reminds me of why I love making cookies so much.

Plus, my friend has this fantastic standing mixer from Kitchenaid that has totally convinced me of why I should dish out the money to invest into one 🙂 And, the fact that I need those lovely ice cream scoops so that I make these perfectly sized cookies.

Baking is fun but baking with friends is even better! 🙂

Do you like sugar cookies? What types of cookies are your favorite?

Baking: Nutella Cookies

I’m finally back in the kitchen and baking. Nothing brings me back quite like baking some goods for events.  This time around its for Father’s Day and for my boyfriend’s dad. I may not know a lot of stuff but I do know that he loves chocolate.  After looking through my Pinterest boards for a long time and thinking thinking and thinking some more, I finally decided on this Nutella Cookies.

Nutella Cookies

I love simple, quick and efficient recipes, especially when my indecisiveness causes me to have a lack of time and I need to do this quickly.  These “One Bowl Nutella Cookies” are from Chew Out Loud.  You can find the recipe HERE!

Whats better than a recipe with 6 ingredients, right? You probably have most of the items at home.  Plus, 8 minutes in the oven ONLY!! Nothing like a simple recipe to boost my motivation and confidence in the kitchen!

Nutella Cookies

However, I did make slight changes:

  • Replace all-purpose flour with (Cloud 9) Gluten-Free Flour
  • Chocolate chips are semi-sweet

Another success for this one is that I managed to control dividing the dough to be a smaller portion so that it would not expand and merge into one big cookie while it baked.  I’m usually really bad with that but I’m quite proud of being able to take the extra time to get that right.

Nutella Cookies

I can’t eat Nutella due to dietary restrictions but the feedback from my boyfriend and his parents were great.  They really liked it and I could actually see them enjoy it.  That’s what its all about 🙂 Plus, they didn’t taste the gluten-free flour which is great.  I’m still the happiest with my baking experience with Cloud 9.

Easy, efficient, Nutella, chocolate, quick and delicious! This one is a definite winner 🙂

Do you like Nutella? Chocolate? All of the above?

Rhubarb season is officially upon us so expect some recipes coming up.  I’ll be baking up a storm this week (hopefully)!

Happy Monday!! 🙂

Thick & Chewy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies!

Its been tough getting in time to bake but the past Tuesday was my boyfriend’s birthday, so the least I could do was bake him some goodies. His favorite is Chocolate Chip Oatmeal cookies.  All my cookbooks are at my new place so I dug around in my Pinterest and remembered that I had pinned this recipe from a blog that I’ve followed for quite some time called Chew Out Loud.  I still have a ton of recipes to try from this blog but these looked like quite the winner.  As usual, I made a few changes to it but this one is not gluten-free as my boyfriend isn’t so I don’t make him eat GF flour unless necessary 😉

Thick n Chewy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Thick & Chewy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

The recipe I used was this one: http://www.chewoutloud.com/2014/12/21/thick-n-chewy-oatmeal-dark-chocolate-cookies/

Makes 24 cookies

Suffice to say these aren’t quite Thick & Chewy and I only managed to get half the batter used.  My mom ended up transforming the second half the next day into muffins after adding in some cashew milk or something.  The cookies were quite good. My boyfriend seemed to enjoy it. Still, my issue was also that I forgot to flatten it and just kept it in a rolled up batter. Rushing to baking when I don’t do it frequent enough is hurting my little skills that I have.

oatmeal chocolate chip cookies

Lets start with the changes:

  • Omit cinnamon: ran out
  • Unsalted butter instead of salted and less than required: I used the only bit left, maybe 14 tbsp, I just estimated.
  • Semi-sweet chocolate chips instead of chopped semi-sweet chocolate

The cookies was pretty easy to make.  Cookies usually are and that’s why I love making them.  Plus, the oven time is usually around 15 minutes so its quick as well.  Efficiency is definitely a plus for this recipe. I felt like there was a lot of sugar for this one but my boyfriend felt it was good. I can’t eat chocolate so I didn’t get a taste.  The looks are really good as well.  I could’ve waited for it to cool a little more because it would have settled a little more (as the recipe suggests).

This is definitely an easy and efficient recipe to try.  My boyfriend liked it quite a bit.  I absolutely love the smell of chocolate swirl around the air as it bakes.

Do you like chocolate chip and/or oatmeal cookies? 

Almond Cookies

Chinese New Year is one of the biggest celebrations for us.  With lack of family living near us, its quieted down a lot.  My mom has never stopped her traditions though. A week of celebrations is what it seems like.  We have plenty of food all the time: Chicken, Duck, Shrimps, Veggies, Fish, etc.  Also, my mom makes turnip, taro and chestnut cakes (which to me, are the best in the world).  No restaurant has ever compared.  My mom usually does everything for the celebrations every year.  This year my mom made New Year Cake and it was delicious

This year, I decided to contribute a bit on my own.  I made some pretty good almond cookies. I found the recipe at here: http://chinesefood.about.com/od/dessertcookies/r/almondcookies.htm   The only ingredient that I didn’t have was the actual almond to put on the top of each cookie.  I believe it was still a decent cookie.  Everyone who tried it liked it.

This is how it turned out:

There will definitely be a second batch where I will add the almond on top.  It would probably made the overall appearance look nicer and at the same time, it would probably not only smell like almonds but rather taste a bit of the almond flavor as well.