Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Garlic Cheddar Biscuits (Red Lobster Style) and the final countdown…

Well, last day of July (umm, where did THAT month go!?!) I can tell you this… I’ve had a LOT going on… hopefully all the work…stress…sweat..and tears pay off, and I’ll be dancing on cloud 9…or maybe just the APU dance floor… this coming weekend… we’ll see I guess!  Through it all, a girl’s gotta eat… gotta keep truckin’ on… and in prepping for our Annual Shin-dig up at the Lake *APU*, in true SUPER HERO Style, I’ve recreated the perfect SIDE KICK to any summer BBQ be it Steak, Fish, Lobster.. or whatever.. I won’t judge!  Garlic & Cheddar Biscuits – just like that famous restaurant chain (Red Lobster) serves up as a great, YUMMY sidekick to their meals…

These are quick and easy, have a crunchy crust with a soft, melt in your mouth inside that make up a perfect biscuit!  Why not kick it up a notch and use Tex-Mex cheese… or Mozzarella?! Whatever cheese you use, I’m betting you’ll love em’!
Garlic & Cheddar Biscuits (Red Lobster Style)
·         2 1/2 cups Bisquick baking mix 
·         1 cup Cheddar cheese; finely grated 
·         3/4 cup milk 
·         2 tablespoons Butter 
·         1 tsp teaspoon Garlic powder 
·         1/4 cup Butter 
·         1/2 teaspoon Garlic powder 
·         1/2 teaspoon Dried parsley flakes 
·         Pinch of Salt 
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
- Combine Bisquick with cheddar cheese, milk, 2 tablespoons of butter that has been melted in the microwave, and 1 teaspoon garlic powder in a medium bowl.
- Mix until well-combined.
- Drop approximately 1/4-cup portions of the dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet.
- Combine 1/4 cup butter with 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, parsley flakes and salt. Brush this mixture over the tops of each unbaked biscuit.
- Bake for 14 to 16 minutes or until the tops of the biscuits begin to turn light brown. Serve warm
*I drizzled a little more of the extra butter mixture to give them even more of a flavour boost!*

Being that it’s only 3 more sleeps to our annual APU, the theme is set… the invites are out… this last year was a lil’ Redneck Luau.. I can’t wait to see our close friends and family all spending a fun… LONG WEEKEND together… this year promises to be the best one yet!!
SO… for those that are reading this and are making the trek up... here’s a sneak peek at the weekend to come…


Thursday, July 26, 2012

BBQ Stuffed Jalapenos & Mushrooms..take a walk on the wild side

I am LOVIN' the BBQ Season... Who *needs* to (or wants to for that matter) turn on the oven when you can sit outside..and cook everything on the BBQ.  With the sun shining, glass of vino in hand.. I'm presenting you some BBQ'd Stuff Jalapenos & Mushrooms.  The ingrediant list is small and simple, only minimal time on a stove top and these puppies have just the right amount of KICK to keep it all interesting!
You control a bit of the spice level by choosing which Italian Sausage you put in... for us, I went HOT! YUM! (With a side gulp of vino...as my spice tolerance is a work in progress)  Personally.. I think these add just the perfect pop to any tasty BBQ Meal, I paired it with BBQ Chicken, corn on the cob and a fresh ceasar salad.  Have I mentioned I loved BBQ'ing lately?! that and I love "digital macro"..  I know.. random.. buuuutttt prior to the whole BBQ Dinner thing, we had the dog out for a walk around the lake and I couldn't help but notice all the Wild Flowers in full bloom... even Duke Dog took a walk on the wild side shaking off after a session of sticks/swimming in the lake...
These pictures were taken using my slowly dying Canon Point and Shoot Camera... I know I'm going to have to start shopping for a new one soon... but it's going to be hard to replace such a fun camera...
It's no wonder my allergies have been bad... but I really do love it when everything's in full bloom, such a contrast to the FROST Pictures I posted a few months back... hard to believe it's the same place!
Guess we're practically half way to the cold season already... eeek!!! *happy warm thoughts* *sun shiny days* ...  annnnd back to the BBQ Season....
BBQ'd Stuffed Jalapenos & Mushrooms
  • 1 lb ground Italian Sausage (I used HOT, but any flavour would work)
  • 1 cup shredded Cheddar Cheese
  • 1 brick cream cheese
  • 24 assorted Jalapenos & white mushrooms for stuffing
- Over Med-High Heat fully cook ground Italian Sausage
- Remove from Heat, and set aside
-Place cream cheese in mixer bowl, using paddle attachment, mix until smooth
-Add your shredded Cheese

- Add Cooked Sausage
- Mix on med-low speed until well combined

- Carefully (use gloves) slices jalapenos in half, and remove seeds
- Clean mushrooms, and pop off stems

-Using a small spoon, stuff jalapeno's and mushrooms and place on a foil tray (or pan that is ok on the bbq)
- Place tray on BBQ, and over low heat with cover closed - bbq peppers/mushrooms until the bottoms are slightly browned and the cheese is melted with a hint of a golden brown tops
-Remove from BBQ, and let sit for 5 mins!  YUM YUM!
BBQ'd Stuffed Jalapeno's
BBQ'd Stuffed Mushroom's
You can stuff just about any pepper/mushroom with just about any combination of fillings you'd like and toss em' on the grill!  How about a Neptune Stuffed Jalapeno- crab meat, cream cheese, shrimps  or a Feta, Spinach, Mozzarella, ricotta mushrooms...  play a little and enjoy!!! 
Have a Great Weekend!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Nectarine-Mango Jam...a taste of SUMMER!

Well, I can honestly say.. Summer is here.  I'm a little sun-kissed...temperatures are heating up, boating in full season - AND local farmer's markets are popping up everywhere!  Yippee!!!  It's one of "those" things I find most difficult - Trying to balance between work-life-health-getting everything you'd LIKE to do checked off your list.  2 weeks ago already I had bought a bunch of delicious, frangrant nectarines and mangos at a Farmers Market that was just full to the brim of fresh local fruit. *heaven*!!  Cherries made it home too.. but those are long gone! *yum yum* ANYWAYS... my goal was to make a small batch of No-Pectin Added Jam, using reduced amount of sugar (I wanna taste the fruit..not added sugar), and the mango's & nectarines.  Well.. finally.. I did...
 The jam bursts with fresh fruit flavour, practically SCREAMS Summer!  (or ICECREAM for that matter! mmmmm nectarine-mango jam over icecream... mmmmm)  Super easy to make (following same guidelines as my No-Pectin Added Blueberry Jam from last year) no special equiptment required.  I had some half pint sized jars, and left over lids, so used those - but even those freezer jam plastic containers - or any airtight container will work!  You *can* continue to process these with the regular suggested canning methods, BUT, I figured cause' this is such a small batch, I'd just flip the hot jars/jam over once filled - and will keep in the fridge.  I'm positive it won't last long! (If you use a freezable container, this is good for up to a year!)

No-Pectin Added Nectarine Mango Jam

  • 3 cups TOTAL Nectarines / Mangos - fairly ripe (see below for tips on amount of fruit needed*)
  • 1 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 table spoons lemon juice
**You've got choices when you make this jam.  My household prefers "no chunks" in jams, so, I used a combination of nectarines/mangos that when pureed in food processor made up the 3 cups.

- Chop up peeled fruit, enough to equal 3 cups. (I used my food process to blend)

- If you are blending, pulse it on/off to ensure an even pureed and get rid of all the big chunks of fruit

- Pour 3 cups of fruit into a medium size pot
-Add Sugar / Lemon juice, and turn on to medium-high heat
- Stir mixture so everything combines well
- Bring fruit mixutre to a slow simmer, stirring frequently so you do not burn the bottom.
-Jam should be reduced to almost half - about 30 or so minutes.
- There are several ways to test in the no-pectin jam has jelled enough. The 2 method's I've been using, are as follows:
1 - using a candy thermometer, stick in the middle of jam, not touch bottom.  Jam is ready when it hits 220F
2 - Using a clean, cool metal spoon, dip spoon in jam, lift, and if the mixture drops off 2 drops at a time, it's ready.  (when you first put jam on stove, try it with the spoon, you'll see the mixture oozes right off, when the jam is ready - it'll just drip off 2 drops at a time)

- Once Jam is ready, remove from heat, and ladle into the containers you are wishing to store the jam in.  Make sure they are clean and dry. 
- Let cool on the counter, and if keeping it as fresh jam - place in fridge once cool!

This jam is perfect on toast - english muffins - you name it!  Also delicous as mention, warmed up a little and drizzled over ice cream...crepes... muffins... or insert a spoon and eat right out of the jar!! It's lilke Summer in a Jar!


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Bacon Wrapped Beer Can Chicken & Bacon Corn-on-the-Cob

Everything's better with BACON...That appears to be a trending statement in the Foodie World.  Me, I've been saying this for years!  Now it's just "cool" to say! With the temperatures a soaring, Patios are hopping... and BBQ's are grilling!  One of my favorite things to cook on the BBQ is the famous "Beer Can Chicken", served with a side of freshly grilled Corn-on-the-Cob, and little glass (or 2) of vino.  That being said... even I like to mix things up a bit...add a little fun into the mix, and personally... the flavour trend of bacon on anything and everything - well... I just had to hop onto that band wagon! 

YUP, after being on the water all day, the last thing I wanted to do was turn on the oven/stove and make the house even hotter!  This is where the Bacon, Grill, Chicken, Beer, and Wine comes in, wanting to kick it up a notch, and after seeing a picture Graham Elliot posted on twitter of a Roasting Chicken, wrapped in bacon... I figured.. HEY... I can do that!  OH BOY, did I ever,...YUM.
The addition of bacon appears to lock in the moisture of the chicken and add a perfect smokey flavour...  The Beer adds flavour and moisture from the inside... perfection to say the least.... AND in keeping with the theme of the evening... I even wrapped  semi-cooked corn on the cobs in bacon..and tossed that on the grill to finish too... why not right?!
Not to miss something... I then tried a new wine (Skinny Grape Wine - Pino Grigio), which was the perfect addition to sip on the patio while the Bacon Beer Can Chicken is roasting slowly on the grill. Have now added this wine (which happens to be a "lighter" option of vino... coming in at 8%, and "only" 80cal) to my shopping list for this patio season!  Light, crisp and very refreshing.  Fruity notes of pears, apples, plum and just a hint of citrus come through perfectly.
 There is no over night marinating... no major prep work here folks... I was able to enjoy my weekend outside to the fullest extent.  The only "work" really is allowing time for the BBQ to roast the chicken slowly to ensure a perfect-fall off the bone-juicy cooked chicken!  For me, it was about 1 1/2 hours on the grill, low, indirect heat.   If anything it gave me time to relax and reflect how lucky I am to live in such a beautiful province!
Pitt Lake, BC

We are lucky enough to have 2 beautiful lakes practically in our back yard.  Allouette Lake and Pitt Lake.  Both unique in their own ways - Pitt Lake being tidal!

YEEEUUUUP, and not to mention that we are a short drive from the Ocean!  Love it!!  ANYWAYS... before the sun sets AGAIN... I'll get on to the recipe!
Bacon Wrapped Beer Can Chicken
  • 1 roasting chicken
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon BBQ Seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon SMOKED Sea Salt (regular sea salt would work too)
  • 1 lb bacon
  • 1 Can beer  (I used GIB Brockton IPA )
- Open up can of beer, take a big swig (or if you're a lady like I am *ahem*, 2 big sips) , place on foil tray (not needed, but I find removal from grill and clean up easier with one)

- Rinse off raw roasting chicken with cold water, and dab dry with paper towel.  Place chicken ontop of can, so it sits as evenly as possible.

- In a small bowl, combine olive oil, BBQ Seasoning and Sea Salt

- Using a brush, or fingers...  rub the seasoning mix over entire chicken.

-Wrap bacon around chicken, securing if needed with toothpicks.  I tucked in the bacon slices at the top opening of the chicken, and wrapped bacon around the legs

-Place a half cup of water in the bottom of the foil pan (if using)
-Carefully place on Grill, on indirect heat - turning half turns, every 15 mins or so to ensure an even cook

For the Bacon wrapped Corn on the Cob
  • corn on the cob enough for 1 cob for each person serving
  • 2-3 slices of bacon per cob
- Cook Corn for 10 mins in boiling water

- Let cool slightly, and wrap 2-3 slices of bacon around the corn, securing if required with a couple of toothpicks
- About 10 mins prior to chicken being ready, toss on the bacon wrapped corn on grill, over low heat, and cook until bacon is fully cooked to your preference (turn frequently to allow an even cook)

- Remove Cooked chicken from grill, and allow to stand for 10 mins. (tent with foil if you'd like)  Check to ensure chicken is fully cooked, juices should run clear, and chicken should have an internal temp of 165F.

Serve with the Bacon Wrapped Corn on the Cob... dont' forget the wine... and enjoy!!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Strawberry Poppers to you from Canada...

Being as though our Country's birthday happened to fall on a weekend this year... we of course had to Celebrate in True Canadian Fashion over the whole LONG WEEKEND.  Living up to some of the typical stereo types (Ok, well some, as there was no SNOW..oops.. there was on the mountain pass to get to the lake) UMMM ok.. no Igloos... HA.. there... no igloos.. BUUUT there was Beer.. Good Friends.. Fresh Mountain Air... annnd more Good BEER.. just a bit of lumberjack plaid... and of course.. Good Food!  Keeping with our Red & White theme... I made a quick and easy snack for around the fire... Strawberry Poppers - kind of like those Strawberry Cheesecake thingies you see all over Pinterest *love*, but with my own twist....
They are light, easy to "pop" into your mouth... and any left over filling makes a YUMMY fruit dip! Just saying... this is one of those lick the spoon kinda fillings.... 

This looooong weekend is one for the memory books. With all the curve balls that life throws at us, it's great to be able to turn that cell phone off (not like there's cell service there anyways) gather up good friends and enjoy some fun outdoor times!  The weather.. while it was rainy on the Coast... the sun shined...and the moon shone even brighter up at the lake!

We spent the day out on the water...most coming in a little *sun kissed*, while evenings were spent around the fire... even tossed a little beer tasting in! (As what would a Canadian Celebration be without a little beer drinking!) Thanks to our good friend and neighbour Eric for putting on a good spread of some great craft beers!  My favorites, and just "had to mentions" are one that was made by Howe Sound Brewing  - the 4 Way Fruit Ale , hints of mango, passion fruit..among others...  YUM.  Then there's the "talk" of the afternoon.. some liked it, others went "what the....?!?!" me... how can you go wrong with a BACON Maple Ale - from Rogue Ales ...  not sure I could drink it all night, but with the bottle bright pink, and a unique trendy flavour profile.. count me in for the tasting!

For those attending APU3... a little foreshadowing perhaps?! ....  details to be announced and confirmed.. just sayin'!!  :)

Of course as the sun went down... we had to stop and snack... put on a layer... and then... continue the festivities! Homemade BBQ Pizza made the menu, as well as some awesome Canada Cupcakes...
ANNNND a little nightime shenanigans....
haha...again another idea from Pinterest ... do you follow me yet?!  The "L" ... I had to get creative.. but it works right?! haha  Coooooooooool EH!?

Over all - great weekend... was able to "switch off" reality for a bit, and kick back and enjoy!  Now on to the reason why you're probably (hopefully?!) reading this....

Strawberry Poppers
  • 2  bricks of cream cheese (8oz each)
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream (plus tad more to adjust filling consistency if needed)
  • 1/2 cup icing sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extra
  • pinch of Vanilla Sea Salt (regular sea salt works in a pinch)
  • 2 lbs fresh strawberries
  • 8 graham crackers, crushed
- Using your mixer with the paddle attachment on, add cream cheese and whipping cream and mix until smooth in consistency (no chunks of cream cheese left!)
- Add in icing sugar, continue to mix
- Add in Vanilla, Sea Salt, and MIX until it nice and smooth - and had a thick, but still able to slowly drizzle off a spoon
- The key here is to have the mixture as smooth as possible...
- Washing strawberries first, carefully hull out the centres

- Then slice a thin amount off the bottom of the berry so it sits upright on a plate
- Using a piping bag (ziplock bag with a corner cut off works perfect as well) , pipe filling into the hulled strawberries
- Stand them up on your serving plate as you go
- Using the crush graham crackers, either carefully dip the filled strawberry into the bowl, or, take a pinch of the crushed crackers and sprinkle over the top of the filled berries
- That's IT!  Just POP em' into your mouth and enjoy!! 

*If you are making these ahead, my suggestion is to follow instructions up to filling the berries.  Just cover them, and place in the fridge until ready to actually serve.  Just before serving, sprinkle the crushed graham crackers, as this will ensure they stay nice and crisp...adding a perfect texture to the smooth berry filling!*

Any leftover filling, put into a small bowl, and use as a fruit dip!  I served the leftover filling the next morning with some more berries and grapes... YUM YUM! 

Once again - Thank you to all who drove the couple hours and spent the weekend up with us...  you guys mean the world to me!