Archive for September 12th, 2011

Back to school, crisp Fall mornings, smell of baking wafting throughout the house – time for muffins.  I like to convert regular size muffin recipes into mini muffins because they fit easier into little hands.  You can make them with liners or without (just remember to spray your muffin tin if you do not use liners). 

This classic recipe calls for brown sugar, which adds moisture and a caramel flavor. It’s a great basic muffin recipe – once you get the hang of it, try stirring in other fresh or frozen fruit (peaches, rhubarb, cranberries, apples), dried fruit and/or grated cheese.

Recipe Source: Dinner with Julie

Brown Sugar Blueberry Muffins

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/3 cup canola oil
1/3 cup milk
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups fresh or frozen (don’t thaw them) blueberries
Sprinkle of cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 375F and line muffin pan with paper liners.

In a large bowl, stir together the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, milk, eggs and vanilla. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and fold gently until almost combined; add the berries and stir just until blended.

Divide the batter among the muffin cups. Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden and springy to the touch. Makes about 1 dozen muffins.

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I grew up eating roasts that had been over cooked and had absolutely no flavour.  I remember covering it with HP Sauce and trying to choke it down since I was “made” to eat it.   Two things came from this, A) I am not a huge Roast Beef fan and B) I will never force my kids to eat something they don’t like!!

I am however someone who loves to cook and is married to a Carnivore of English decent (think beef & potatoes).    Plus I want my kids to grow up enjoying a wide range of foods.  And so we/I cook Roasts several different ways (indirect grilling, rotisserie, slow cooker, dutch oven) and it always has to have a ton of flavour!

I came across this recipe awhile ago and have adapted it for our family making both with vodka and also red wine.   If you can not find shiitake mushrooms use white or brown button mushrooms…they work just as well!   

Tip.  You can make this recipe and/or any crockpot recipe the night before…get everything ready the night before and put the covered stoneware right into your fridge.  The next morning pull it out..plop it into it’s home, plug it in and get on with your day knowing supper will be ready when you get home.  I did this alot when I worked outside of the house and my first born was in a dayhome!

The flavour in this recipe is supurb.

Adapted from: The 150 Best Slow Cooker Recipes, Judith Finlayson

East-West Pot Roast With Shiitake Mushroom Gravy

1 package dried shiitake mushrooms
1 cup boiling water
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 beef pot roast (blade), approx 3-4lbs
4 large french shallots, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp gingerroot, minced
salt & pepper (1 tsp each)
8 oz fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems removed
1/3 cup vodka
1.5 cup beef broth
2 tbsp soya sauce
2 tbsp oyster sauce
2 tbsp hoisin sauce
2 tbsp cornstarch dissolved in 2 tbsp water

1. Soak shiitake mushrooms in a hot tub (boiling water) for 30 minutes to plump.  Strain through a sieve or colander reserving liquid.  Pat mushrooms lightly to dry and finely chop.  Set aside.

2. While the shiitake mushrooms are in their hot tub brown your roast over med-high heat in a pan with oil (make sure oil has been pre-heated and is sizzling).  Once all sides on roast are brown deposit into your crockpot.

3. In same pan with oil and roast drippings saute your shallots and cook until soft.  Add garlic, gingerroot, salt, pepper and reserved plump mushrooms.  Cook 1 minute (stirring) then add fresh mushrooms and cook 1 minute (stirring).  Add your vodka and cook 1 minute.  Finally add reserved mushroom soaking liquid and beef broth bringing to a boil.

Tip. If you do not have dried shiitake mushrooms simply mince 4 button mushrooms and use in place of dried ones in recipe.  I also add a splash of worchestershire sauce to the beef broth to give it another flavour boost.

4. Once boiling pour entire mixture over roast in crockpot and cook on Low for 8 hours or High for 4-5 hours.  Once roast is tender transfer to a plate and using a slotted spoon, remove solids from cooking liquid and arrange around roast.   Cover with foil to keep warm.

5. Almost done….in a pan over medium heat, bring cooking liquid (you get this from the crockpot) to a boil.  Add soya sauce (careful here depending the type of soya sauce it can make it salty), oyster sauce, hoisin sauce.  Cook approx. 5 minutes to reduce and concentrate flavours.  Stir in cornstarch mixture and cook a minute or two until it thickens. 

Serve gravy with roast & mushrooms.  Sides with this dish would be rice, mashed potatoes or buttered egg noodles and your choice of veg or salad.

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