Not Crocker

A food blog for bakers, cooks, and those curious folks.


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Sausage and Egg Casserole

The weather has been rather crummy the last few days, leaving me uninspired! I was happy to get out of the apartment to spend the day with my good friend Heather as we worked away on our project reports, but I returned home with soaking boots and a general feeling of dampness. I love Vancouver, but being unemployed AND stuck in an apartment while it rains definitely isn’t my favourite. I do have to say, I’d be a lot less happy in a snow-blanketed city, so there is that!

Hospice Yukon approached my mom about writing a piece for their newsletter about how our family celebrated dad’s life without having a typical service. Mom wasn’t comfortable writing it but asked if me and Kel would be able to. So we are going to start working on that tomorrow and I am going to check with them about the right to post it here as well. I know that there is a growing trend towards non-religious celebrations for both good and tragic things, so I am excited to share our experience and what the gathering of friends meant for us and our father’s memory. So, hopefully more on that later!

SausageandEggCasserole

This casserole is awesome comfort food! With all the crap rain in Vancouver, it is nice for me to be able to whip something up the night before and just have to slide it into the oven the next morning. The flavours are adaptable to your tastes and this dish keeps really well in the fridge for a few days. It is also incredibly filling, I thought it would serve just 4 but it ended up being 6 very satisfying servings, and could be even more if served with something else (steamed veggies for dinner, or a salad).

I made the terrible mistake of buying apple-y sausages to make this the first time. I thought they were typical breakfast sausages, but they were apple, turkey, something something (I was in a bit of a haze it seems). Anyway, the flavour of the sausages was OK, but this dish is much better with the typical breakfast sausage flavours (with pork, turkey, or TVP).

Sausage & Egg Casserole

INGREDIENTS

  • 8 breakfast sausage, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 tbsp butter or coconut oil
  • 1-2 jalapeños, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 cup mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 10 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cup dry-curd cottage cheese (can use wet cottage cheese, just reduce the salt and butter added)
  • 1 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 3 tbsp coconut flour *optional
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a large pan over medium-high heat, cooking the sausage bites until browned. Drain, and set aside.
  2. Melt the tablespoon of butter in pan, add the mushrooms, garlic, and jalapeños. Cook just until the mushrooms are tender. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in with the sausages. Allow this mixture to cool.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, cottage cheese, and cheddar cheese.
  4. Stir the sausage mixture into the egg and cheese mixture.  Cover with plastic, and refrigerate in the bowl overnight.
  5. Heat oven to 350° F. Lightly grease a casserole dish. I baked this in a smaller, deeper dish that gave me thick slices, but it can be made in a 9- x 13-inch dish for thinner slices. If you opt for the large dish, the baking time will be less.
  6. In a small bowl, stir together the coconut flour and butter. Quickly whisk the flour mixture into the egg mixture, removing any lumps.
  7. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish, making sure that the sausages are distributed evenly. If you want, you can top the casserole with another 1/2 cup of shredded cheddar.
  8. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until lightly brown and no longer liquid in the centre.
  9. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.
A bowl of goodness.

A bowl of goodness.

Ready for baking!

Ready for baking!


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Salted Dark Chocolatey Cookies

One thing I love about Vancouver, particularly our location in the middle of downtown, is that you encounter such a variety of people all the time. Yesterday I popped into Marketplace IGA, I was standing in front of the dairy case, making world-ending decisions about whether I should or shouldn’t buy cottage cheese when a man with a walker insisted on moving me from my place to do the same. It was clear that his cottage cheese needs were more urgent so I wandered off to ponder other purchases. When I meandered back to the dairy case, mind made up, I was approached by an older lady. I quickly moved out of her way, assuming that she too couldn’t wait for cottage cheese, when she lightly grabbed my elbow. I turned around and she, in the sweetest, most elderly, heavily-French accented voice asked for my assistance. She guided me over to the yogurts and asked if I could help her. She was gazing hopefully up to the top shelf, and I realized, she can’t reach! This sweet, petite French woman really wanted the strawberry yogurt but she was about a foot short of laying her hands on it. I snagged her a tub and she enthusiastically thanked me. Day made. I got to be a friendly giant!
Then, as I wandered home from the store, enjoying the sunlight and mild weather that the few-blocks walk afforded me, I decided to take the alley behind our apartment instead of wandering up past the construction site and around the corner. This is regularly a busy alley, with a restaurant and bank on one end and a business and two apartment buildings making up the rest, so I’ve never felt worried about it. Well low and behold, in the middle of the day in a nice part of town(‘s alley… okay makes sense), I come across two flanneled gentlemen clearly exchanging drugs, money, and whatever else. Curses Vancouver, from sweet little French lady to nefarious flanneled gentlemen in the span of 20 minutes! Anyway, I nonchalantly cruised past them, glancing back only to check for cars while crossing the alley to my building. What can you do, not everyone is content to be outside in the sun, some people just need to flannel up and make mischief.

Please don’t take away from the story above that I am against flannel. I support flannel in the appropriate time and place, though really those gentlemen weren’t helping flannel’s cause.

SaltedChocolateCookies

Once home from my brief adventure, I set about making these delicious dark chocolatey cookies. I know, I know, salting sweet things is super trendy right now, but for good reason, it is delicious! The little bites of saltiness contrast and compliment the chocolate sweetness and the bittersweet chunks. These cookies have a fudgy flavour that is enhanced by the bittersweet chocolate throughout, making these an ultimate chocolate cookie. To top things off they are crispy, crunchy around the edges and tender in the centre, fllaaarrrgghhhh so good! Also, let it be known that this post, these cookies are dedicated to John, a plucky Irishman who, though impossible to understand, is a wonderful fellow! I will be bake-battling him the first chance I make it to London to visit my beautiful friend, Caelin!

Salted Dark Chocolate Cookies

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp coarse salt
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • coarse salt for topping

DIRECTIONS

  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper, set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt.
  3. In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.
  4. Add the eggs and vanilla, beating until well combined.
  5. Add the flour mixture in three parts, mixing until well combined. Stir in chocolate and mix through.
  6. Scoop tablespoons of dough onto the prepared cookie sheets and press down lightly with a fork. Sprinkle with coarse salt.
  7. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until they have flattened and have set on top (they will look wet if they are not fully cooked).
  8. Carefully move cookies to wire rack to cool. Enjoy!
Chopped chocolate!

Chopped chocolate!

A sprinkling of salt.

A sprinkling of salt.


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Almond Butter Cookies

The weather in Vancouver has been really wonderful. We had two gorgeous days on sunshine throughout the week and then yesterday started crummy with a straight 5-6 hours of rain but wrapped up on a blue-skied, sunny note. Today is another sunny one, so I am going to have to wander outside for some vitamin D and fresh air. I love being able to wander outside in the middle of February in just a sweater. No boots, hat, mitts, or scarf needed! I certainly don’t miss the snow and will be sad to leave Vancouver if ever needed. The snow that comes with practically every other city in Canada is not something I embraced. I’ve paid my snow dues, 18 years in the Yukon and 6 in Calgary! I deserve a little West Coast weather pampering, and have made sure to take full advantage.

All that said, I am looking at some Toronto positions that would be worth the move back into the big white. If they come around to be the real thing, I am going to have to mentally prepare for a winter unlike any I’ve experienced with snow AND humidity.

Anyway, I felt the other day like I needed to make something. I kind of neglected Not Crocker last week as I picked up a couple temp assignments that required me to bus it out to Richmond. By the time I got home I kind of flopped on  the couch in a trance-like daze and Gen kindly made up some dinner for me. I did attempt a pork and rapini dish yesterday to very little success as the rapini over-powered the pork. I choked a bowl down and thankfully Gen finished up the rest. We all have our cooking failures!

Almondbuttercookies
Yesterday I was pondering what I could make this weekend for Not Crocker and Gen suggested cookies. Of course! I haven’t made cookies since… Christmas?! So I whipped up something pretty interesting, if I do say so myself. I was thinking of making something similar to almond crescents, but, though I have almond extract, I wanted to use this rich, roasted almond butter we have in the cupboard. So, I did some jumbling of the fats and flours to come up with a really interesting cookie that is like an adult version of a peanut butter cookie. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely think peanut butter cookies are for adults, but these take that same type of cookie to another level. They are tender on the inside and packed full of intense nut flavour. They are also fairly delicate, and I managed to bust one on it’s way out of the tray, so be careful! The firm up once they’ve cooled though, so don’t be afraid of them!

Almond Butter Cookies

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup almond butter
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup ground almonds
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom
  • 2 cups flour
  • icing sugar for dusting

DIRECTIONS

  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine butter and almond butter until smooth. Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy.
  3. Add the vanilla and beat until combined.
  4. Using a food processor or coffee grinder in batches, grind up whole almonds until they are fine as possible (without going so far as to make your own almond butter).
  5. Add the ground almonds and flour a little at a time until a dough forms. This is a crumbly dough but it will hold together to form balls. If you are finding your dough is too dry to shape, drizzle a tablespoon of water over the dough and work through.
  6. Form dough into 1 inch balls. At this point you can attempt forming crescents, press down slightly into discs, or leave as balls. Keep in mind that flattening the balls will result in a shorter cooking time.
  7. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until lightly golden brown, and just beginning to crack.
  8. Carefully move the cookies to a wire rack and dust with icing sugar while still warm.
What a little beating will do, the butter, almond butter, and sugar really come together and get light and fluffy. I stepped away for a few minutes while mixing and could actually see the difference, I quickly scraped that into the rest of the batter.

What a little beating will do, the butter, almond butter, and sugar really come together and get light and fluffy. I stepped away for a few minutes while mixing and could actually see the difference, I quickly scraped that into the rest of the batter.

Almonds and flour at the ready.

Almonds and flour at the ready.

I attempted crescents, gave up and went with the balls. The crescents were a little overcooked in the end.

I attempted crescents, gave up and went with the balls. The crescents were a little overcooked in the end.

Nicely dusted, cooling down.

Nicely dusted, cooling down.


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Breakfast Soufflé for two!

As I said before, Gen and I decided to do Valentines Day a little late so that we could spend the whole day together, as he regularly works evenings. We both got up late, I meandered into the kitchen and Gen set up the Die Hard marathon for us to settle into for the day. Huzzah!

BreakfastSouffle

Today’s the day! I woke up this morning inspired to make some delicious breakfast soufflés that could satisfy our taste for eggs but in an absolutely spectacular way! These were really easy to create and so different and delicious that they will become a breakfast regular for sure. We ate them with some bacon and finished feeling cozy and satisfied. I used three eggs, giving Gen the extra yolk. If you want, you can just use two eggs for slightly less voluminous soufflés.

Breakfast Soufflé

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 3 eggs
  • pinch of cream of tartar
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of pepper
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 2 tbsp whipping cream
  • 1 1/2 tbsp Parmesan, grated

DIRECTIONS

  1. Heat oven to 350°F, butter two ramekins and set aside.
  2. Separate your eggs, placing the yolks into a bowl of cool water. Place the whites into a large, clean bowl.
  3. Whip your egg whites with the cream of tartar, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Bring the whites to stiff peaks.
  4. Spoon the whites into the ramekins, reserving a few spoonfuls to cover. Use the spoon to work out a well in the centre of the whites, not to the bottom of the ramekin.
  5. Gently scoop the yolks out of the water with your fingers, placing one in each of the wells (add the extra yolk to one).
  6. Cover each yolk with a tablespoon of whipping cream and half of the parmesan cheese.
  7. Dollop the last of the whites over the yolks, smoothing it into the rest of the whites to seal. If you have extra parmesan, you can sprinkle a pinch on top.
  8. Place ramekins on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes for soft yolks, 12 minutes for firm yolks. The tops should be golden and the whites will have puffed up a little more. Enjoy!
Separated yolks and butter ramekins, ready for magic.

Separated yolks and butter ramekins, ready for magic.

Yolks in the clouds.

Yolks in the clouds.

Filled with yolky, cheese goodness.

Filled with yolky, cheese goodness.

Browned and ready for munching.

Browned and ready for munching.


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Jalapeño Almond Bread

First thing’s first. I just received my fourth wedding invitation for this year. I know I am coming to the age where everyone I know is getting married but I never expected to have four weddings for eight wonderful people just this year! I can’t believe it! The problem is that Genesis and I are under or straight-up unemployed. We have my cousin’s wedding in April, my childhood friend Helen’s in June in the Yukon, my dearest friend Katie’s wedding in Banff in July, and my high-school twin is getting married to her long-time amazing partner in August in Saskatoon. I wish I could attend them all, but that would require one of us to be on Air Canada’s payroll. Alas, we will figure it out, but I am fairly sure I am going to miss a few important events this year.

Anyway, on this beautiful sunny day I decided to make som hearty chili and a really tasty jalapeño almond bread that has all the characteristics of cornbread but with a bit more texture. The meal was super filling and I know it would satisfy even the most carby of carb lovers. I munched down a ton of the chili and happily munched on the almond bread between/with bites. I am going to experiment with a few different versions of this because it came out so beautifully. I suspect I could make a sweeter version of it that uses cream cheese and some cinnamon, maybe even a swirl of chocolate. Hmm weekend-testing ideas!

Jalapenoalmondbread

Give it a try and let me know if you make any tweaks. Feel free to add or reduce the number of jalapeños as needed, I would’ve been happy with another one in there because at this time in the season, jalapeños are on the mild side. If you are not a fan of the spice, sub in a few chopped green onions, some finely chopped red peppers, or even some diced ham!

Jalapeño Almond Bread

Recipe very lightly adapted from Reddit user grossitsrachel (who I can only assume is not actually gross)

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups almond flour
  • 2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 2 jalapeños, finely diced
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted

DIRECTIONS

  1. Heat your oven to 350°F. Grease a 9- x 13-inch glass baking dish. You can also halve the recipe and prepare an 8- x 8-inch baking dish.
  2. In a large bowl toss together the cheese, almond flour, jalapeños, baking powder, and salt.
  3. In another bowl whisk together the wet ingredients.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry, stirring until well combined.
  5. Pour (or glob) the batter into the baking dish, spreading evenly.
  6. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the edges begin to brown.
  7. Allow to cool for a couple minutes before cutting and serving.
Dry and wet, ready to mingle.

Dry and wet, ready to mingle.

Prebaking, smoothed into the dish.

Prebaking, smoothed into the dish.

Golden.

Golden.


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Beef and Spinach Casserole: Greek spanakopita flavours in a hearty dinner dish

I’ve been watching a lot of Harry Potter. The movies are great to watch but also good background noise for when I’m trying to do really important stuff. I’ve also been watching Dexter on Netflix because I was really into the first season and then it fell off my radar, well there is a lot of catching up to do. So, much like before, watching shows, applying for jobs, and working on my paper has been my life. I had an interview yesterday for a great new position at an exciting firm, but we’ll see if anything comes of it. I am keeping my eye on the market and have been seriously looking into jobs in the UK (yaaaay Caelin), Toronto (yaaaay Heidi, Lauren, and Andreé) and the states (yaaaaay Trader Joe’s)! I am so incredibly tired of the never-ending weekend, but trust that something will come along soon. I am enjoying the search so far, I am definitely getting a feel for the job market in Vancouver.

OH! And also, happy Valentine’s Day! Gen and I aren’t celebrating today because he’s working all night. We are postponing our festivities until Sunday when we can spend the day together. The plans? We are having a Die Hard marathon (at my request, I haven’t seen them) and I am making us a series of delicious meals that are sure to be feature on Not Crocker! But for all of you lovers out there, happy love day! To all those without someone special to smooch on today, make some Scotch Truffles or Rum Cupkrakes and know that someone, somewhere thinks you’re awesome!

BeefandSpinachCasserole

I always forget about my leafy greens. I love kale but it can be expensive, so instead of buying a cheaper option I tend to forgo the leafy greens altogether. Well I had some ground beef left over from some meatballs yesterday and was thinking about how delicious a spinachy, feta-y, garlic-y, spanakopita-like dish would be. This meal is totally hearty with rich flavours. In lieu of pastry I just made up a walnut crust for the bottom that adds a nice buttery contrast to the main dish. Add in your own veggie favourites and certainly add more cheese if you want, I think more is better! This dish can be made vegetarian by swapping out the beef for boiled lentils, to make it vegan you will need to swap out the dairies for non-dairy versions and omit the eggs (add a little water to the dish in this case to keep the moisture).

Beef and Spinach Casserole

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/2 cup walnut halves
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1-2 tbsp coconut oil (or other oil of choice)
  • 2.5 lbs ground beef (or lentils)
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 1 cup mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 cup zucchini, chopped
  • 5 cups of frozen spinach (I used a single 500g bag)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp coarse salt
  • 2 cups crumbled feta
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • 1 cup marble cheese (or mozzarella), shredded

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a food processor, grind the walnuts until they are a coarse meal.
  2. Add the butter and process until the mixture becomes pea-sized clumps.
  3. Spread the mixture evenly in the bottom of a 9- x 13-inch glass baking dish. Press down and refrigerate while you make the filling.
  4. Heat the oven to 350°F.
  5. In a large pan, sauté the beef in the coconut oil over medium-high heat. Cook until browned. Drain the meat and set aside.
  6. Back in the same pan, adding a little more coconut oil if necessary, sauté the onions until translucent.
  7. Add the mushrooms to the pan with onions and a tablespoon of water. Sauté both for a couple of minutes.
  8. Add the garlic, salt and pepper (more if needed), zucchini, and spinach. Cover and let cook over medium-high heat for 8 minutes.
  9. Add the beef back to the pan and stir well to combine. Add the eggs and feta and stir to evenly distribute.
  10. Spoon the meat mixture over the walnut base. Sprinkle with parmesan and then marble cheese.
  11. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until the cheese on top is browned and the mixture is bubbling. Allow the dish to sit for 10 minutes, to allow ease of serving.
  12. Serve with a dollop of sour cream.
Walnut crust.

Walnut crust.

Gorgeous veg, sautéed and full of fiber, vitamins, and other healthy things!

Gorgeous veg, sautéed and full of fiber, vitamins, and other healthy things!

Topped, ready for the baking.

Topped, ready for the baking.

LOOK at it! Frigging delicious.

LOOK at it! Frigging delicious.


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Flourless Pancakes: Cream Cheese pancakes spiced with cinnamon and cardamon

I am a week into unemployment (or uninternshipness) and have been slowly but surely working on my paper, moseying about my apartment, and applying for a stack of really great job opportunities. I’ve finally opened my mind to the possibility of moving away from Vancouver, somewhere like Toronto, if I am able to find something great out there. I’ve just applied for a really wonderful position at a progressive company that I’ve had my eye on for the last year, so it would be wonderful to work with them. It will be a very sad thing if we have to leave Vancouver, we’ve certainly felt like we belong here, but sometimes you have to do what’s best for your career and Gen is on board. So, we’ll see where all this goes.

FlourlessPancakes

In other news, I’ve made a very tasty pancake that is low in carbs, high in tasty, and totally satisfying for a breakfast any day of the week. I tend not to make myself up anything too fancy for breakfasts but today felt like a pancake-y day (it is gloomy out). There are a lot of suggestions about how to create bread-like option with cream cheese and eggs, and I took my experimental skills and went about it in the only way I know how, crepé-like fashion. My rule of thumb for crepés is equal parts flour and milk, plus more milk. I know, it isn’t scientific, but I have found that it is a good place to start. So I went equal parts cream cheese and eggs, plus more egg if I needed it. I didn’t. This recipe makes a thin, nicely-textured pancake that is rich in flavour with crispy edges and a tender middle. I served them with some plain ol’whipped cream, but they would taste lovely with berries, jam, or syrup. I just like mine on the mild side of sweet. I would say that these could easily be used for a breakfast wrap or sandwich. They hold together well and the sweetener can easily be omitted.

Flourless Pancakes

INGREDIENTS

  • 4oz cream cheese (1/2 block or about 4 1-inch cubes), softened
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tbsp coconut flour (*optional)
  • 3/4 tsp of a sweetener of your choice (I used Truvia, but sugar would work here)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp cardamon
  • butter or coconut oil

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a medium bowl combine all ingredients. Mix with a handblender until smooth. You can also add all the ingredients to a regular blender.
  2. Allow the mixture to sit while you heat a medium pan over medium-high heat.
  3. Add the butter or oil to the pan. If using butter, letting it brown for a minute adds a nice nutty flavour to the pancakes, but be careful not to let it burn, just darken slightly.
  4. Pour the batter into the pan with a ladle.
  5. Cook for 1-2 minutes on the first side, until you are able to flip it carefully with a spatula. Let cook for another minute on the second side.
  6. Slide the pancake onto a plate and ladle another one into the pan. Add more butter as needed.
  7. Serve with whipping cream, jam, syrup, or straight up.
Simple ingredients.

Simple ingredients.

Bubbly batter.

Bubbly batter.

Pancakes!

Pancakes!

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