This Waffle is pretty Corny!

I have a book club that I belong to. We don't actually read books anymore! We used to. Now we get together for lunch once a month and we talk. We talk about anything and everything, nothing is off limits and there are no judgments (well, at least I don't feel any! ;-) One of the other Women in the group is also a foodie - in fact, she's probably more hardcore than I am. I have great respect for Ahea the kitchen goddess. She's a great source of knowledge and inspiration. For example, Ahea is the one who converted me to 'the best' quality vanilla forever... never going back. Ahea is the first person I met who made cookies that weren't just drop cookies (my favourite to date as you can tell by the posts) and hand decorated all of them... they looked perfect! I was in shock!

Today, being a book club day, we were sitting in the resto and I was telling my two friends how much my ridiculous/awesome Wafflemaker has been changing my life. Here's how the conversation continued (paraphrased!)

Ahea - So, how many recipes have you tried so far?

Wanda - One

Ahea - Didn't the wafflemaker come with some recipe ideas?

Wanda - Yeah

Ahea - Why don't you try another one?

Wanda - Because the buttermilk one blew my mind.

Ahea - I've got a couple of really good ones for you. These might blow your mind.

This very afternoon, after I getting home from the resto (and a pit stop at Godiva!) this recipe was waiting in my 'inbox'. The cool thing about this one is that it has cornmeal in it. Ahea has assured my that it won't taste like cornbread because that was my first thought. Admittedly, even cornbread when doused with Maple Syrup couldn't be that bad! The other cool thing about this recipe is that you literally dump every ingredient listed below into a blender and then you turn the blender on for a few minutes and then you make waffles. RIDICULOUSLY easy, m'peeps. I mean, come on - when does that ever happen in the kitchen. Not only was it crazy easy but it tasted great too. I totally got more than 8 waffles (I have written a doubled recipe below so it's totally easy to half this one) and they were crispy on the outside and fluffy an d perfect on the inside... Oh YEAH! These ones aren't going to last long... Thanks Ahea!!!

Blender Cornmeal Waffles
makes about 8 waffles (about 12 if you are me)

2 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil (I'm wondering if I could use melted butter in future)
2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
4 tbsp Cornmeal
4 tbsp baking powder
4 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat Waffle maker (I use '3' on mine).
Place all ingredient in a blender, cover and process at med-hi (I used 'mix' on mine) until dry
ingredients are moistened (I put in all the wet ingredients first and added the dry ingredients last - that way dry stuff wouldn't get caught at the bottom of the blender).
Do not overblend.

I let the batter sit for about 5 - 7 minutes before starting to use it (basically as long as it took for the Waffle Maker to heat up).
Use about a 1/2 cup of batter per waffle.

I'm going back to bread...

Ok folks, so this is it x2. I know that I just did a breaded recipe last week and I really have no excuse. Earlier I was in the process of getting a strudel put together (next post m'peeps!) when *Alas* I discovered that I had no onions. Not anything terrible right... just go out and get one for God's sake! EXCEPT that it's nasty raining outside and I had just gotten back from being out in it and I had determined that I was not going out in it again. SO... it's not happenin' tonight! Left with some chicken and dying Buttermilk, I thought of this little gem that I pull out far less often than I should. Admittedly, I do find that McDonalds has kind of wrecked breaded chicken for me (and this recipe tastes nothing like their 'chicken nuggets' so don't even try that argument on your kids - it doesn't work) because it's so unpleasant. Maybe if I make this more often breaded chicken will become elevated to something almost noble... something to aspire to.

The chips were an after thought. The two go together well and the kids like it. Plus, because they are baked in the oven with a small amount of olive oil AND I leave the potato skins on, it's actually quite nutritious. Really though, it's beyond easy AND this also tastes WAYYYY better than the other 'french fries' that 'you-know-who' gives you (I don't know why I'm raggin' on Ronald tonight).

We thoroughly enjoyed our little pub food at home, although my 9 yr old and I agreed that the breaded chicken needed a little more salt (which I've adjusted in the recipe below) and my 3 yr old wouldn't even have any!!! He'll learn.

Breaded Chicken Strips
(serves 4 easily)

5 med. sized boneless chicken breasts (I actually used a combo of 2 breasts and some boneless thighs as well - the meat is a little more moist)
Buttermilk (enough to cover the chicken once it's cut up)
2 1/2 cups of bread or cracker crumbs
1/2 cup of oatmeal (yes peeps)
1/3 cup sunflower seeds (could use just about anything here)

1/3 cup mixed nuts
1/3 cup parmesan cheese
2 tbsp of lemon or orange zest (I used orange tonight)
1 1/2 tsp salt
3 eggs
1 - 1 1/2 cup flour

Cut up chicken in strips and marinate in the buttermilk for at least a half hour (you could do this overnight if you like)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Get a baking sheet ready, sprinkled with cornmeal (keeps things from sticking).
Mix the crackers, oatmeal, seeds and nuts in a blender until they are all of a similar consistency that's appropriate for breading. Pour into a shallow bowl and mix the rest of the ingredients in.
In another bowl beat the eggs until yolks are blended in. In a third bowl place the flour.
Take each piece of chicken and first dip it entirely in the flour until covered then in the egg mixture until covered and finally in the breading mixture until covered. Place on the baking sheet and repeat until the chicken is done.
Bake the chicken for about 30 min. until edges are crispy.

Oven Chips
(serves 4)

4 - 6 potatoes cut into strips (or however you like your french fries)
olive oil
coarse salt

I've done away with the pre-boiling unless I just don't have much time at all.

If you want to pre-boil. Place the cut potatoes in boiling water for a maximum of 5 min (they absolutely can't get mushy at all). Remove from boiling water and dry off ( I just use a dish towel).

Otherwise, place the uncooked potatoes on a baking sheet. Pour olive oil over top (let's say a 1/4 cup or so) and mix around so that all the potato strips are covered. Sprinkle with salt. Bake for 15 min. Remove from oven and turn things over a bit and bake for another 10 min or so. Once they are out of the oven, sprinkle with a little more salt.

People, you could make a quick plum sauce for the chicken, it's not something that we are in the habit of doing here but it would be a really nice addition. I'm not into all the additional additive crap in the store bought stuff but if you find something good and organic - go for it!!!

A Lotta Balls in the air

There is always that one meal that you reserve for when guests come over. That one thing that your kids request for their birthday meal over and over again. It's labour intensive (well minimally) but it's always so worth it. And you've found ways over time to make it less laboured. For our family that meal is Sweet and Sour Meatballs. This stuff almost tops dessert for us!

I got this recipe from another former roommate of mine in Montreal, Pat Lytle. I don't know where she is now - last I heard she was in the Ottawa area - and I'm sorry that we've gotten out of touch. However, this means that ultimately I have no clue where she got the recipe. It's a classic really. The recipe she used called for making the meatballs and then frying them all. Trust me, this is a time consuming and dirty endeavour. I've tweaked things a bit. I discovered that it's much easier if I make the meatballs and place them on a baking sheet,baking them until they are just cooked through. When I discovered how well this worked it was like the heavens opened. I no longer had to wait for a day when I had nothing else to do but stand over a stove and get greased... meatballs could now happen anytime! Awesome.

I love to have this with buttered egg noodles and some kind of steamed vegetable but my husband loves it with rice and my kids really don't care... they just like it. This stuff is ol' skool peeps - we use ketchup in this one and I'm not apologising for it. The ketchup makes the recipe, completes it ;-) I also use Crix. These are THE BEST crackers in the world bar none. They are made in Trinidad and nowhere else AND we've been known to bring back kilo's of them on the plane... that was before we realised that we could get them here!!! Now they are available even at regular old Loblaws! Awesome... try them, you won't be disappointed.

Sweet and Sour Meatballs
makes about 30 meatballs

about 1.5 kilo's of ground beef -what's the conversion on that? just under 3 lbs?
1 1/2 cups bread crumbs or cracker crumbs (I used Crix)
1/2 an onion chopped fine
3 cloves garlic crushed
1 egg
1 or 2 packets of beef bouillion
1 tbsp dried parsley and oregano (or any mixture that you feel like that day - get crazy!)
1 tbsp pepper sauce (you know that I never miss an opportunity)
1 tsp salt


2 - 2 1/2 cups of ketchup
1/4 cup of Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup of white vinegar (yes, the plain old white vinegar kind - the same stuff you can clean your house with!)
2 tbsp mustard powder (to be honest, I've used regular dijon and it works just fine)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp pepper sauce or 1/4 tsp cayenne powder
2 cups of water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

Get a large baking dish or even a cookie sheet ready for the meatballs. In a large bowl put all the meat ingredients. Get ready now and roll up those sleeves because you need to get your hands in there and mix it all together. - I guess that you could wear rubber gloves if you were totally grossed out, but please! It's actually fun, like getting caught in the rain. Sure, you get soaked but it's a lot of fun in the process - just lose yourself in the gooey moment. Once all the ingredients are thoroughly mixed, start rolling them into little balls. I tend to do rather big ones but think about 1 1/2 tbsp size. Place each meatball in the baking dish. Once the dish is filled (if you need more than one dish, no worries) place it in the oven for about 30 min (might need less time if you've made small balls).

In the meantime, mix all the sauce ingredients (save the water) in a large mixing bowl. Be sure to taste this stuff to make sure things are to your liking. Also, remember that it is going to be watered down a little bit so if it's too strong adjust accordingly.

Once the meatballs are done, take them out of the oven (you could at this point cool the meatballs and freeze them for later use!) and place them in a baking dish large enough to hold them and also the sauce. Pour the sauce over the meatballs and then add enough of the water to cover everything. (I also save any leftover water just in case the sauce thickens too much the next day) Bake everything for another half hour or until everything is looking adequately bubbly.

As I said earlier, this works well with egg noodles, rice or even mashed potato. I also like to add some kind of green vegetable (nobody eats raw leaves here so the salad idea is out for me but would be great here on the side). As you can see from the pic, I've simply roasted some Aspargus (literally take the ends off the asparagus throw them onto a shallow baking dish, put about 2 tbsp of olive oil or butter - melted - over top and sprinkle with coarse salt. Roast for 10 min. at 350 degrees F) The dish also makes for great leftovers... Oh yeah... AND it will really impress your guests (provided they aren't vegetarian...then, maybe not so impressed! They'll like the asparagus though)

We'll be Blue without You!

We've had a house guest for the past few weeks. She has been the easiest house guest ever. She didn't ask to be fed (although we tried), bathed, taken anywhere, she didn't complain when the house was a mess (and that's sayin' something!) or when we forgot and left her at home by herself. In short, the BEST.

Flat J, as we've come to call her, is part of a class project that my Gr. 1 neice is doing in Calgary. It's based on the book called Flat Stanley by Jeff Brown. Every kid in the class sends out a flat version of themselves to some friend or family in another town and the recipients treat the paper version like it's a house guest, tourist. Well, it's time now for us to say 'Goodbye' to our Bestest Guest. So, I decided to bake a cake in honour of her flying away (via Canada Post tomorrow a.m.). Since we will miss her and we'll be 'blue' when she is gone, we thought that something with blueberries would be best (plus I had them on the cusp of rotting in the fridge! AND I'd had my eye on this recipe for a while now).

This recipe for blueberry coffee cake originally came from by newly beloved 'Magnolia Bakery Cookbook'. I love the simplicity of the Blueberry coffee cake thing but I've got some dying lemons that need using. 'Hmmm', I think. Can I add some lemony crap to this? Well folks we're gonna try. I discovered that there isn't a lot out there (in internet land) that combine these two flavours. Is it because they suck together? Anyway, to Flat J, the Real J and her Gr 1 class... this is for you!

Blueberry/Lemon Coffee Cake
(inspired by The Complete Magnolia Cookbook)
2 cups all-purpose flour (unbleached)
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2/3 cup vegetable oil (preferably canola which is what I used)
2 lg eggs (it says at room temp. I didn't do that so we'll see what we get!)
1 1/2 tbsp lemon zest grated
1 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup blueberries, lightly coated with flour

2 cups icing sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream or lemon juice
1/2 tsp vanilla (if using the cream)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F

Grease and flour a Tube Pan.
Sift the flour, baking powder and salt togethe r in a small bowl (Mmmk - I totally missed the sifting part when I was doing this - let's see how it goes).
In a large bowl mix together the oil, sugar and eggs until light and thick (about 3 min if using an electric gadget and if not - just do it 'til it feels well mixed and light).
Add dry ingredients in three parts, alternating with the milk and vanilla (which I mixed together) and beginning and ending with the flour.
I have to tell you here that the batter felt very wet at this point. I'm crossing my fingers that this turns out b/c it was disturbingly watery.
Fold in the blueberries. I also placed some additional blueberries in the bottom of the tube pan. Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 60 - 70 min. Test and see if the tester comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 1 hr.

Place a bowl over some lightly simmering water if you are using cream. Combine the sugar, cream and vanilla in the bowl over the water and blend until everything is creamy. Allow to cool slightly and drizzle over the cake.
If using Lemon juice: Warm the Lemon juice slight and blend with the sugar until everything is creamy. Cool just slightly and drizzle over the cake.

The cake came out beautifully, all my glitches notwithstanding and despite the weirdly watery batter.
We thoroughly enjoyed our little send-off. Flat J was thrilled and everyone shed a little tear before she got into her envelop. The cake topped topped the whole thing off. Thanks to Real J and to her class for involving us in such a fun project!!!

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St Michael's Choir School is celebrating it's 75th anniversary year of service to St Michael's Cathedral. Part of the school celebration is a trip to Italy where our boys from Grades 5 - 12 will be performing and celebrating Mass. This blog will be chronicling our adventures. Wanda Thorne is the Vocal Coach at St Michael's Choir School. Gerard Lewis is the Grade 7/8 Homeroom teacher at the Choir School.

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Wanda Thorne
St Michael's Choir School is celebrating it's 75th anniversary year of service to St Michael's Cathedral. Part of the school celebration is a trip to Italy where our boys from Grades 5 - 12 will be performing and celebrating Mass. This blog will be chronicling our adventures. Wanda Thorne is the Vocal Coach at St Michael's Choir School. Gerard Lewis is the Grade 7/8 Homeroom teacher at the Choir School.
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