Chocolate Chip Meringues... if you've got 10 minutes

If there is a better way to celebrate making it to Friday other than changing into the most comfortable pair of track pants that you own and laying on the couch watching 10 minutes of your favourite soap opera while eating one or two of these... then I certainly don't know about it.  For the record, all I can stand watching is 10 minutes of any soap opera.  But I've found that 10 minutes is all I need to catch up.  It might be once a week that I'll get my ten minutes in... it might be once a month... doesn't really matter,  I still get adequately caught up.  10 minutes and the tv goes off.  It's a beautiful thing really.
IF there is a more productive and satisfying way to spend 10 minutes and 3 egg whites than making these cookies... then I certainly don't know about it.

I haven't made meringues before.  The idea never really appealed.  Plus they sound fancy and finicky.  They're not.  They're easy... And FAST.  I couldn't believe how quickly these came together.  Here are some scenarios that came to mind after I found out how easy this recipe is and how few ingredients it needed:
Scenario 1:  You decide - like an idiot - to have people over for dinner.  A last minutes kind of thing.  Instead of making yourself crazy trying to find the perfect cake or sweet for dessert you could make these.  provided you have about 2 hrs to kill before they arrive.
Scenario 2:  You want to have some cookies in the freezer (or not even in the freezer) ready for a 'just in case' people come over occasion.
Scenario 3:  You made ice cream 3 days ago and have been consistently forgetting to put the egg whites left over in the fridge.  What do you do with them now?  Make these of course.
Scenario 4:  You want to prove to your friends and kids that cookies without flour can actually work.  Make these.
You know, I could go on but I won't.  I think you get it.  I'm still in a little bit a shock over the whole experience.

So here I am on friday night, after school, after work, with one kid upstairs throwing a tantrum because she has homework to do on a friday (I'm evil.  Everything you've heard is true.), the other kid is already naked and wrapped up in a blanket (don't ask), I've got two hours to kill before I go out with a couple of friends and leave the 'crazy' that is my house right now, I'm in my track pants, on the couch, watching GH and letting crumbs from two of these cookies drop onto my shirt... like a total friday night bum.

Chunky Chip Meringues adapted from (Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy by Alice Medrich)
made about 20 cookies for me but they were pretty big

4 oz dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup lightly toasted pecan pieces
3 lg egg whites at room temperature (maybe even for a day or two at room temperature)
1/8 tsp cream of tartar
2/3 cup sugar

Line two cookies sheets with parchment.
Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
Combine egg whites and cream of tartar in a stainless steel mixing bowl (absolutely clean and dry).  Beat at med/high speed until the whites are creamy and hold a little shape when you lift the beaters. Continue beating at medium speed and add the sugar a little at a time.  I took about 3 - 4 minutes to do this.  The egg whites should form stiff peaks after this.
Use a spatula to fold in the chocolate chips and the pecans.  Fold in only until everything is combined.
Drop heaping spoonfuls (I used about 2 tbsp at a time - maybe a little more) onto the parchment.  These don't spread so you can place them quite close together.
Bake 10 - 15 minutes (until the cookies begin to look golden at the edges) then turn the oven down to 200 degrees F.  Rotate the pans (I forgot to do this p.s.)  Bake at 200 for another hour and a half (yup 1 1/2 hrs).  Turn off the oven the let the meringues cool completely before storing.   Will keep in an airtight container for up to 2 months (!)

Stuffed Squash

I'm making up for lost time.  It's been a while since I've posted two savoury recipes in a row.  But here it is... number two.

Speaking of number two, let me tell you all a little bit about my third half marathon experience that happened last Sunday.
You see, the night before we had dinner guests which in retrospect might not have been the greatest of ideas but hindsight is always 20/20.  I made this squash stuff.  I also made the baked beans and sweet potatoes in my previous post.  I also made some asian vegetables (remember my Hoisin Sauce fetish of late???)  I was pretty hungry and I also knew that I would be doing this big run the next day.  So I decided to really let myself tuck in.  I ate a lot.  A lot of baked beans.  And squash... which is delicious by the way. Like so good that I had seconds.
I didn't have a good night after that though.  I stayed up too late (I didn't drink too much this time though... learning my lesson there at least).  Kid #2 got up twice during the night.  And I felt awful.  Like I had basically given myself a baked bean enema.  So not cool.
When I got up the next morning... race day... I didn't even feel like eating.  I did though.  I ate two eggs.  Not bad at all.  I also drank my favourite cider vinegar and honey concoction.  I drank too much of it though.  I felt so bad and I thought it would help.
I pee'd a lot before leaving for the race but by the time I got there I had to again.  Well, there was just nowhere to go.  I determined to get through the race fast.  Which I did... for the first 16 km.  But then I really needed to pee.  There were only 3 cans at the place where I stopped... and there was a line-up.  Oh Jeez.  I waited about 4 minutes (maybe more... I was in distress at that point and was having trouble keeping clear).  4 minutes is a long time in a race.  A LONG time.  I really pushed it again after that but I was angry with myself and then I started to feel kinda sick (from pushing it probably) and then I couldn't go on... I hit a wall at about 18 k.  Fortunately, at about 20 k (remember the race is only 21 k) my BFF KT was waiting at the side of the course and was cheering me on.  - How blessed am I?  She was also waiting at the 4k and 6 k mark as well.  THE BEST - If she hadn't been there I just might have walked the rest of the way... or walked straight to the subway station and gone home, who knows.  At the end of the day even though I lost all that time I came in at 2hrs 3 min.  I really wanted to crack the 2 hr mark and I would have if I'd been smarter, if my head had been clearer and if I hadn't been up all night dealing with the baked bean enema.  I'm focussed on keeping going though - next one in May.

Eat this squash.  Squash is good for you and delicata squash is so pretty and the skin is so tender that you can eat everything skin included.  I like the sweetness of the squash being offset by the savouriness of the filling.  It works for me.
The moral of this post... if you are running for an extended period of time (say longer than 10 minutes) then you might want to hold off just a bit on the baked beans, or any beans really and also not drink too much an hour before you start running.  Live and learn and pass it on.

Stuffed Squash
serves about 6

4 squash (I used acorn and delicata) cut in half and de-seeded

4 cups cooked rice (could be brown or white - or even another grain)
4 med pork sausage (I used honey/garlic), casings removed
1 med onion, diced
2 lg cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tbsp bouillion (about 1 cube)
dash of Worcestershire Sauce
1/8 cup each parsley and chive
2 tsp salt (or to taste)
1 med carrot shredded
1 small green pepper diced
1/2 cup cheddar cheese shredded (plus a little extra for the top of each squash)
1/3 cup parmesan cheese shredded

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Place the squash cut side up on a baking sheet.  Slather each piece with some butter.  Bake for about 20 minutes uncovered.
Heat a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat.
Add in some oil (of your choice) and throw in the onion, garlic, green pepper and shredded carrot.  Cook until the onion is just becoming golden (about 5 - 7 minutes).  Add in the sausage and cook until the sausage isn't clumped together anymore.
Add in the bouillon, Worcestershire, parsley, chives and salt.  Mix well.  Add in the cooked rice and stir to combine.  Check the taste and adjust as necessary.  Add in the cheddar and parmesan and mix well.
Fill each squash half with the rice/sausage mixture until it's a little more than filled (I like mine piled just a bit).  Sprinkle some remaining cheddar on the top of each one.
Bake for another 20 minutes.
Remove and cool for about 5 minutes.

Easy unBaked Beans with Baked Sweet Potato

When I was a kid I often bit off more than I could chew.  I don't mean that as a figure of speech.  I really couldn't eat what was in my mouth sometimes.  It was probably glutinous... but I was a kid, right.  There were other times when my eyes were just way too big for my stomach.  Too much food on my plate.  It got me in trouble on many fronts.  First of all, my parents were pretty big on the 'no wasting food' thing.  So leaving back food that you had purposefully put onto your own plate was punishment worthy.  Secondly, if I did eat everything on my plate then I just plain ate too much.  Sometimes I did the same thing with candy or chocolate... and I would feel sick later.  I still have trouble stomaching fig newtons or mint flavour chocolate because of that.
I've scaled back a lot on the eating too much or putting too much on my plate thing.  I'm still really bad at piling too much on my plate in the figure of speech way though.  I have trouble saying no (although I'm getting better/working on it) and I think that I can accomplish way more than I am really comfortable with. Quite simply, sometimes I just try and do too much.  I like to think that it's born out of a healthy self esteem but I suspect otherwise.
Case in point, this weekend.  Every moment of the weekend is booked with something.  Some moments are booked with two somethings.  One of those somethings includes me running for two hours straight.  Not a huge deal in and of itself but when I have to ask my body to continue moving afterwards in any significant way it becomes a huge deal.  So, with all of those somethings happening, we decided that this would also be a good weekend to have some people over for dinner.
Wait... What?
Yeah I can do it (read: NO I can't but now I have to because now that the idea is out there I'm not going to back away from it... and I probably suggested it myself anyway)
So... I'm doin' it.
What do you do for dinner when you don't really have any time to make that dinner?
You make comfort food.

Enter unBaked Beans and Baked Roots (Potato and Sweet Potato).
Make beans in the morning before first something starts.  Let it simmer on very low heat.
Come home after about the third something and heat up the oven.  Rinse off any crap from the potatoes and sweet potatoes.  Poke some holes in them with a fork.  Throw them in the oven.
You get the idea.
They bring some wine and everybody comments on how yummy and rustic and cozy the dinner is.  You're a hero and once again, you've proven to yourself that you can do even more than you thought (cue another self esteem boost).

I won't lie to you, I'm still thinking about all the additional somethings that are coming but I'm not going to hesitate to pat myself on the back for pulling off a winner.

Unbaked Beans (and baked Potato and Sweet Potato) adapted from 'More with Less'
serves 6 - 8

3 cans (384ml size) Navy beans undrained
3/4 cup molasses
1/2 cup ketchup
2 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
2 tbsp mustard (I used dijon)
2 tsp salt (more to taste)
2 lg tbsp brown sugar
dash of pepper sauce
3 slices bacon chopped
1 med onion, sliced thin
2 lg cloves garlic, minced

In a heavy bottomed sauce pan or dutch oven cook the bacon, onion and garlic together over medium heat. Once the onion and garlic are slightly browned then add the beans.  Mix lightly.
Add in the rest of the ingredients.
Heat until it's simmering.   Turn the heat down to med/low (or even low) and cook for about 3 - 4 hours.  Add extra liquid only if and when you need to.  Check the taste and adjust if necessary.

For the last hour of cooking:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Wash and poke about 4 med/lg potatoes and place in the heated oven.
For the last 30 min. of cooking:
Wash and poke about 4 med/lg sweet potatoes and place in the heated oven with the regular potatoes.

After the last hour:
Check that the potatoes are done.
Remove from oven and slice the potatoes open.
Ladle the beans into the baked potatoes.
Serve, placing a bowl of the beans on the table so that people can add extra if they like.
Also serve with sour cream or plain yogurt, cut chives or green onions and extra pepper sauce.

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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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  • Naparima Girls High School Cookbook
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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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