Super Bowl Sunday: Buffalo Chicken Meatballs

Buffalo Chicken Meatballs

I confess, have no real interest in the Super Bowl. In the past I would watch for the commercials, but a few years ago a Canadian broadcaster picked up the rights to air the game here. So in Canada we see Canadian commercials, no Soup Nazi, no Ferris Bueller, just the same stuff we see every day. Thank goodness for youtube!

Despite not being interested in the game itself I do have a system for picking a team, cutest quarterback will win. Today I believe that to be Tom Brady. Please note these are my personal opinions, if you happen to think Eli Manning is the bees knees I won’t argue with you.

The best part of the Super Bowl has to be the food. This year I decided to make something a little different, but not too different. Buffalo Chicken Meatballs, like wings but in ball form. There are advantages to the meatball over the wing. First, there is the messiness factor. Wings are greasy, slippery, and sticky all at the same time. In meatball form the messiness is no longer an issue, you can use a fork or if the meatballs are small enough toothpicks to pick them up like appetizers. Second, wings are strangely expensive. I really have no idea why they cost as much as they do, but ground chicken is a much less expensive option. Either way, you can’t go wrong with butter and hot sauce!

Just one note on the recipe. The original does not say to fry the meatballs, but when I took mine out of the oven they were a very unappetizing colour. I would call it dusty rose. So I fried them after baking. In my instructions below I’ve written to fry before baking, because that’s what every meatball I’ve ever read says. Feel free to fry afterwards.

Buffalo Chicken Meatballs

(adapted from Bon Appetit)

  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil, divided
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup sriracha
  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 celery stalk, minced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  1. Grease a 9 by 13 inch glass baking dish with 2 tbsp of the vegetable oil, set aside. Preheat the oven to 450 F.
  2. In a medium sauce pan, melt the butter with the sriracha. Set aside to cool.
  3. While the butter is cooling, mix the chicken, breadcrumbs, eggs, celery, salt, pepper, onion and garlic powder together with your hands. Pour in the cooled butter mixture and continue to mix until well combined. Form into 3/4 inch balls.
  4. Pour the remaining oil into a heavy bottomed frying pan over medium heat. Brown the meatballs on all sides, but do not cook through.
  5. Place the meatballs in the prepared baking dish and bake for 15 to 20 minutes until the chicken is cooked through. Serve with BBQ Dipping Sauce.

BBQ Dipping Sauce

  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1 tbsp sriracha
  • 2 tbsp molasses
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • salt and pepper
  1. Pour all the ingredients into a small sauce pan. Simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring to combine. Let cool before serving.

Enjoy!

Spiced Kettle Corn

Spiced Kettle Corn

One of the great pleasures of winter, for me at least, is that it’s an opportunity to curl up on the couch and catch up on some TV/movie watching and general laziness. This weekend has been particularly cold, with windchills bringing the temperature down to minus 25 Celcius (around minus 8 F). Yesterday I braved the cold and got some errands done, my teeth chattering the whole way through. My bravery was rewarded with a great find at a thrift shop; for $40 I picked up a solid wood dresser that with a little love is destined to become a TV stand in my new place (I was channeling my inner Sarah Richardson).

So today I feel zero guilt in my plan to watch super hero movies all day, starting with Thor (how hot is Chris Hemsworth in that movie?) followed by Batman Begins and the Dark Knight.  The fireplace is roaring, and my super cozy wool blanket is waiting for me. As I get carried away into these fantastical worlds where the good guys always win, I will be munching on this Spiced Kettle Corn. Stove top popcorn is really easy to make, and doesn’t take much more time or effort than microwave popcorn. There is also the added bonus of controlling the ingredients that go into your popcorn and knowing there are no random chemicals leaching into your food. In this recipe I added a touch of cayenne and garlic powder to give the popcorn a spicy/savoury kick. I was a little worried about the garlic and sugar together, but in the end I found the flavours really worked together. You can substitute any spices you like in this recipe.

Spiced Kettle Corn

  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne (or to taste)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup unpopped popcorn kernels
  • salt to taste
  1. Mix the sugar, garlic powder and cayenne together. Set aside.
  2. In a large heave bottomed pot that has a lid, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat. Add the popcorn and cover. When you hear the oil start to sizzle, stir in the sugar mixture then cover again. Shake the pot constantly to keep the sugar from burning. When the pops slow to once every two to three seconds remove the pot from the heat, keep shaking until the popping stops completely.
  3. Pour the popcorn into a serving bowl and season with salt.

Enjoy!

Oatmeal Cherry Cookies

Oatmeal Cherry Cookies

I discovered something this weekend, something I probably should have known. It turns out I can no longer stay out till 4 AM without suffering any consequences.

I was out for my friend Steph’s bachelorette party. I had a great time, and I hope she enjoyed her “last night of freedom”.

Unfortunately, even though I didn’t have much to drink, I was completely exhausted the next day. I had a busy day planned to so forced myself to get up early. The people at Eat In Eat Out Magazine have been kind enough to include I’ll Have What She’s Having in their Holiday edition. I need to submit two holiday recipes to them, so I planned to make at least one dish last weekend. But I was tired and cranky and really not in the mood for a holiday style dish.

I wanted something easy and comforting. I wanted a cookie. And a glass of milk.

So that’s what I made. A simple oatmeal cookie, the kind of cookie that brings back memories of childhood and makes everything better. These cookies are crispy on the outside with a chewy center. The sour cherries are a great contrast to the sweet cookie, and the cardamom adds a touch of warmth.  I had them with a glass of milk, and then I took a nice long nap.

Oatmeal Cherry Cookies

Oatmeal Cherry Cookies

  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup dried sour cherries
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom
  • 6 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F
  2. In a medium bowl, stir the oats, flour, cherries, baking soda, salt and cardamom together. In a separate bowl, beat the butter and sugars together with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg, followed by the vanilla. With a wooden spoon, stir in the flour mixture until well combined.
  3. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Using about a tablespoon of dough per cookie, and drop them two inches apart on the baking sheets. Bake for 12 to 16 minutes. Let cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Enjoy!

Apricot Scones

If you’re interested in molecular gastronomy, you need look no further than baking. When cooking the results can be spectacular, but they almost always resemble the original ingredients; a raw steak and cooked steak both look like steak. But when baking flour, sugar, butter and eggs come together to form something that is much more than the some of its parts. I believe that the first person to mix these together and bake a cake was a genius.

Baking is about about proportions; the right combination of ingredients will lead to something magical. Each ingredient plays a part. The flour mixed with liquids form gluten that traps air bubbles and gives baked goods their texture. The sugar sweetens but it also adds air to the batter, contributes to browning and stops the gluten from getting too tough. Butter tenderizes and moistens.

I know all these things.

Yet somehow I still manage to mess things up.

On Sunday I decided to make banana bread. I’ve made banana bread so many times I no longer even look at a recipe. I mixed up all my ingredients put them in the oven and waited. And waited. And waited. The bread never rose, the top never browned. After about an hour and a half (the bread should only have taken an hour) I thought back on my steps and realized I had forgotten the sugar. I kept baking because I thought maybe the sugars in the bananas would somehow save it. They didn’t. When the bread wasn’t cooked through after two hours I gave up.

I’ve made this mistake before and I’m sure I’ll make it again. I wasn’t fazed, just upset at the wasted ingredients.

This morning I got up with the intention of making scones. I found a recipe from a reputable source and gave it a try. I tried even though the voice in my head said it was off. “There’s too much sugar, too much flour, not enough butter” the voice said; I ignored it. “The oven isn’t hot enough” she told me; I didn’t listen. I added more liquid to compensate for the dryness, popped them in the oven and waited. When they came out of the oven they were like overly sweetened hockey pucks.

Another failure. Had a I lost my baking mojo?

I couldn’t let this second failure get to me.

I went through my boxes and found the scone recipe I’ve always used in a pile of papers. As I read it knew this was right. Just enough flour; very little sugar; and a hot, hot oven. I started again.

Thankfully, my baking mojo is not lost. I needed to trust myself, that’s all.

This recipe is a little different than the typical scone recipe, in that it has eggs. This makes them a little more cakey, less biscuit like, but still a little flaky and layered. I used dried apricot in the scones, but anything could be added, raisins, nuts, chocolate chips. They can also be flavoured any way you’d like; spices, lemon zest, rose water.. the possibilities are endless!

Apricot Scones

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar (plus more for sprinkling on tops)
  • 6 tbsp butter, cold and cut into cubes
  • 1 cup roughly chopped dried apricots
  1. Preheat the oven to 450 F
  2. In a small bowl whisk the eggs and milk together. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Add the butter to the dry ingredients, then using your fingertips rub the butter into the flour until there a few pea sized pieces of butter.
  4. Pour the milk into the flour and stir together with a fork until just combined, then stir in the dried apricots. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and shape into a disk, about 1 inch thick. Using a round cookie cutter or a glass, cut circles of dough and place them on parchment paper lined baking sheet.
  5. Sprinkle the tops of the scones with sugar. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until the tops are browned.
  6. Serve with your favourite jam or fruit butter.
Enjoy!

Almond Butter & Apple Sandwich

I’m moving in two weeks. I thought that once I had sold the condo my stress level would go back to normal, but that hasn’t been the case. I’m a giant ball of nerves right now. I haven’t been sleeping well, and my eating habits have been less than ideal. I have a feeling I won’t really relax until all the papers are signed. Until then, I think the best I can do is watch what I eat, and try and get as much sleep as I can.

This is an attempt at healthy eating. It’s nothing special, just some toast with almond butter, apple slices and a drizzle of honey, but it’s better for me than eating the entire box of chocolates I was actually craving. I don’t think I’ll be able to post much in the next couple of weeks. My days are filled with work, organizing, and packing. There’s not much time to cook, and there’s no space for pictures. Once I’m settled in I’ll be back with some new posts.

In the mean time, if anyone wants to do a guest post let me know!

Bacon Jam


Yesterday was a beautiful day. For the first time this year I was convinced that winter will end soon. It was also the first time in weeks that I didn’t have a visit scheduled for my condo. I was really looking forward to spending the day in my kitchen, cooking and baking up a storm, but the weather had me conflicted. How could I waste such a beautiful day inside? This internal debate raged for most of the morning. And then a compromise was reached. I would walk to the grocery store to pick up everything I need. The walk would satisfy my need for time outside, and then I would get to create something wonderful in my kitchen.

This really was something wonderful. I had never heard of bacon jam until I started reading this months Food and Wine. As soon as I saw it, I knew something had been missing from my life. I had to have some. They recommend a brand available in the U.S only. In general, I  think jam is one of the easiest things to make at home, so I set out trying to find a recipe. I wasn’t going to let where I live keep me from my bacon jam!

I found several recipes, but the one that appealed to me the most was this one from Not Quite Nigella. I liked its simplicity; there are only a few ingredients, but each of them packs a punch. As with most jams, this one is quite easy to make, although a little time consuming (two hours, largely unattended). While you’re making it, your entire home and everything in it will smell like bacon. No need for bacon perfume. For step by step pictures, check out the original post from Not Quite Nigella.

The end result is a sweet yet savory jam, with a hint of smokiness to it. It was definitely worth the time to make it.

Once your bacon jam is done, you’re going to eat some of it with a spoon. That’s ok. Then you’re going to wonder what else to do with it. I suggest putting it in sandwiches or making this Bacon Jam Bruschetta. It’s just cream cheese (or goat cheese), bacon jam, and greens dressed with oil and lemon juice. The tanginess of cheese and the sweet smokiness of the bacon jam compliment each other perfectly.

Bacon Jam

Recipe from Not Quite Nigella

  • 500 g bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 cup strong brewed coffee
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • Tabasco sauce to taste
  1. In a large, heavy bottomed pan, fry the bacon in batches. Remove the bacon from the pan, and pour off all but 1 tbps of the bacon fat (bacon fat can be reserved for other purposes, like a pie crust)
  2. Turn the pan heat to medium high. Add the onion to the pan and fry until translucent. Add the minced garlic, frying until fragrant.
  3. Return the bacon to the pan, along with the rest of the ingredients. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 2 hours. Stir occasionally, and add 1/4 cup of water every 25 minutes or so.
  4. Once cooked down, puree the jam in a food processor until it reaches your desired consistency (more or less chunky).

(Note: the original recipe called for 3 tbsp brown sugar, I forgot to add it and still found the jam delicious)

Bacon Jam Bruschetta

  • Bacon Jam
  • Baguette, sliced
  • Cream cheese or goat cheese
  • Salad greens
  • Olive oil
  • Lemon juice
  1. Spread the cream cheese on the baguette slices. Top with bacon jam.
  2. Dress the greens with olive oil, lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Place a small amount on the bread.

Enjoy!

Cranberry Almond Granola Bars

I did something stupid last week. My cousin and I have been discussing going on a trip this summer. I haven’t booked anything yet because my condo is still not sold. On Wednesday I was having a bad day so I decided to pretend that I actually am going away, and I went bikini shopping.

It’s been a few years since I bought a bikini; I know I’ve gained some weight in those years, so I tried one size bigger than what I used to buy. Disaster. I was popping out and bulging over all over the place. It really was horrifying to see.

I did not buy a bikini that day.

The experience did have a positive side. It motivated me to start going to the gym again. Because of my commute to the office, it’s easiest for me to go early in the morning. I get up around 5:45 and I’m at the gym by 6:30. After my workout I hope on the bus and head to the office.

To keep myself going after my workout, I need a snack I can eat easily on the bus. I used to buy granola bars, but the amount of sugar in them defeats the purpose of working out. Instead I’ve started making my own.

The recipe still needs some perfecting, the bars sometimes break apart when I’m cutting them, but I decided to share the recipe anyway. If any of you have made granola bars, I’d appreciate any tips you might have.

Cranberry Almond Granola Bars

  • 1 ¼ cup oats
  • ¼ cup bran flakes
  • 1 tbsp flax seeds
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • ½ cup chopped almonds
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • ¼ cup almond butter
  • ½ cup maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  1. Preheat the oven to 325. Line an 8 x 8 in pan with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the oats, salt, bran flakes, flax, chia, cranberries and almonds together.
  3. In a small saucepan, melt the butter then add the maple syrup, almond butter and vanilla. Stir until combined.
  4. Pour the butter mixture over the oat mixture. Stir until all the oats are covered.
  5. Pour the oat mixture into the prepared pan, spreading the oat evenly.
  6. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until browned.
  7. Let cool completely. Using the overhang from the parchment paper, pull the granola out, and cut into bars.

Enjoy!

Indian Spiced Popcorn

I’m finding the sugar-free/gluten-free challenge to be a little tougher this time. I’m having more sugar cravings than I did the first time around. My nutritionist would say I’m missing protein, but I think it’s because I don’t have the support group I had last time. Those of us doing the challenge would get together and compare notes, and since I was doing the challenge with Janice we had daily chats comparing menus and sharing ideas. This time it’s just me and my blog (although Janice is still hearing about, thanks for listening!)

So I decided to make myself some popcorn as a treat. Popping my own kernels made this totally within the rules, and to make it a little more interesting I added some curry powder and chili powder to the melted butter. The spice gave the popcorn a really nice kick. I could have eaten it all day.

Indian Spiced Popcorn

  • 1/2 cup popcorn kernels
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 2 tbsp butter, melted
  • curry powder, chili powder and salt to taste
  1. Coat the bottom of a large pot (make sure you use one with a lid) with the oil. Add the kernels, cover and turn on heat to medium high.
  2. Let the pan heat till you start to hear kernels popping, then lower the temp to medium. Shake the pot occasionally until you don’t hear kernels popping anymore. The whole process takes 5 to 8 minutes.
  3. Transfer popcorn to a large bowl.
  4. Add spices to butter then drizzled over popcorn. I like the layering method to ensure even popcorn coverage.