Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Daring Bakers in Canada

The Olympics this winter are in Canada. So, in honor of that The January 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Lauren of Celiac Teen. Lauren chose Gluten-Free Graham Wafers and Nanaimo Bars as the challenge for the month. The sources she based her recipe on are 101 Cookbooks and had heard of these before but wasn't really sure what they were.  I really liked the picture and was pretty excited at the possibilities.

 I decided that I would try to make the gluten free version of the graham crackers.  HOWEVER, I do not think I succeeded because the gluten free flours (outside of rice flour which I love) were too pricey so I got oat flour, which I think has gluten...oh, well.  At least I didn't use all-purpose flour!  The graham crackers were actually my favorite part!

I did have a bit of trouble getting them off the board to the baking sheet...the first time.  Then I used more flour and it worked better!  Yum!  On to the actual bars.  The filling is SO SWEET!  It's like icing...which is my favorite part of cake, usually.  I honestly didn't care for the texture of the coconut and nuts together, and the graham crackers were lost in the mixture...sadly!

Overall, I liked the bars but some of the elements I would try to change if I did them again.  Check out more bars here

For Gluten-Free Graham Wafers
1 cup (138 g) (4.9 ounces) Sweet rice flour (also known as glutinous rice flour)
3/4 cup (100 g) (3.5 ounces) Tapioca Starch/Flour
1/2 cup (65 g) (2.3 ounces) Sorghum Flour
1 cup (200 g) (7.1 ounces) Dark Brown Sugar, Lightly packed
1 teaspoon (5 mL) Baking soda
3/4 teaspoon (4 mL ) Kosher Salt
7 tablespoons (100 g) (3 ½ ounces) Unsalted Butter (Cut into 1-inch cubes and frozen)
1/3 cup (80 mL) Honey, Mild-flavoured such as clover.
5 tablespoons (75 mL) Whole Milk
2 tablespoons (30 mL) Pure Vanilla Extract

1. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, combine the flours, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt. Pulse on low to incorporate. Add the butter and pulse on and off, until the mixture is the consistency of a coarse meal. If making by hand, combine aforementioned dry ingredients with a whisk, then cut in butter until you have a coarse meal. No chunks of butter should be visible.
2. In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk together the honey, milk and vanilla. Add to the flour mixture until the dough barely comes together. It will be very soft and sticky.
3. Turn the dough onto a surface well-floured with sweet rice flour and pat the dough into a rectangle about 1 inch thick. Wrap in plastic and chill until firm, about 2 hours, or overnight.
4. Divide the dough in half and return one half to the refrigerator. Sift an even layer of sweet rice flour onto the work surface and roll the dough into a long rectangle, about 1/8 inch thick. The dough will be quite sticky, so flour as necessary. Cut into 4 by 4 inch squares. Gather the scraps together and set aside. Place wafers on one or two parchment-lined baking sheets. Chill until firm, about 30 to 45 minutes. Repeat with the second batch of dough.
5. Adjust the rack to the upper and lower positions and preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius).
6. Gather the scraps together into a ball, chill until firm, and reroll. Dust the surface with more sweet rice flour and roll out the dough to get a couple more wafers.
7. Prick the wafers with toothpick or fork, not all the way through, in two or more rows.
8. Bake for 25 minutes, until browned and slightly firm to the touch, rotating sheets halfway through to ensure even baking. Might take less, and the starting location of each sheet may determine its required time. The ones that started on the bottom browned faster.
9. When cooled completely, place enough wafers in food processor to make 1 ¼ cups (300 mL) of crumbs. Another way to do this is to place in a large ziplock bag, force all air out and smash with a rolling pin until wafers are crumbs.

Nanaimo Bars

For Nanaimo Bars — Bottom Layer
1/2 cup (115 g) (4 ounces) Unsalted Butter
1/4 cup (50 g) (1.8 ounces) Granulated Sugar
5 tablespoons (75 mL) Unsweetened Cocoa
1 Large Egg, Beaten
1 1/4 cups (300 mL) (160 g) (5.6 ounces) Gluten Free Graham Wafer Crumbs (See previous recipe)
1/2 cup (55 g) (1.9 ounces) Almonds (Any type, Finely chopped)
1 cup (130 g) (4.5 ounces) Coconut (Shredded, sweetened or unsweetened)

For Nanaimo Bars — Middle Layer
1/2 cup (115 g) (4 ounces) Unsalted Butter
2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons (40 mL) Heavy Cream
2 tablespoons (30 mL) Vanilla Custard Powder (Such as Bird’s. Vanilla pudding mix may be substituted.)
2 cups (254 g) (8.9 ounces) Icing Sugar

For Nanaimo Bars — Top Layer
4 ounces (115 g) Semi-sweet chocolate
2 tablespoons (28 g) (1 ounce) Unsalted Butter

1. For bottom Layer: Melt unsalted butter, sugar and cocoa in top of a double boiler. Add egg and stir to cook and thicken. Remove from heat. Stir in crumbs, nuts and coconut. Press firmly into an ungreased 8 by 8 inch pan.
2. For Middle Layer: Cream butter, cream, custard powder, and icing sugar together well. Beat until light in colour. Spread over bottom layer.
3. For Top Layer: Melt chocolate and unsalted butter over low heat. Cool. Once cool, pour over middle layer and chill.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Would Julie or Julia Make This?

Over my New Years break I went to TN just lounge around with my parents. I took some good crusty bread with me with the plans of making French Toast. Growing up, we always made French toast with "normal" sandwich bread. It was always really good...but after using this bread, my mom said "Man, we've been messing up all these years using sandwich bread for French toast." The thick crust of the bread gave a good substance to the dish and held up well to the soaking. I also changed up my soaking mixture just a bit. Usually, I use just a splash of milk. However, somewhere I remember seeing that you should use more milk to egg. So, I tried that this time. It seemed to work well. I topped mine with strawberries and a bit of syrup. 'Twas a yummy breakfast! So what do YOU this, would Julie or Julia have made this? Somehow, I think they both would...though it's probably not found in "Mastering the Art of French Cooking!"

French Toast
several slices of crusty (even old) bread
2 eggs
1 cup milk

Heat a griddle to medium heat. In a wide based, short bowl or baking dish (the baking dish allows more bread slices per soak) whisk together the egg, milk, cinnamon and vanilla. Soak slices of bread for at least one minute per side. The longer they soak, the better the mixture penetrates the bread and the more decadent your completed dish will be. Spray the griddle with cooking spray OR spread a little butter on it (the butter makes it more decadent and probably give a better brown color). Place soaked bread on the griddle. Cook until each side is slightly browned (about five minutes depending on how hot your griddle is). Serve with fruit and syrup. Enjoy!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Is Nutter Butter Better?

Nutter Butter was a treat
Everybody liked to eat
Add cream cheese it makes them Nutter Better!

Over Christmas I worked. In my department, we have a holiday schedule that allows everybody to get six days off...either at Christmas or New Years. I decided that since I don't have my own family and my brother would be here anyway to be with his fiance, that I would work Christmas. It was a busy six days...I was on call (overnight at the hospital) every other day for six days! I did, however, continue to take on call snacks! The first day I took nutter butter truffles, a take-off of oreo truffles. I love peanut butter, prefer it actually over chocolate. So, I thought I'd try the well known oreo truffle with nutter butters. Well, they were good but not quite as gooey (a good thing) as the oreo truffles. I think the cream in the middle of oreos is moister that the peanut butter stuff in the middle of nutter butters. I ended up adding about 1-2 tablespoons of cream cheese icing to the mixture and that helped a lot! In the end, I still got compliments on them and they were gone before the day was over (with only about half of the number of residents as normal!). Nutter Butter Truffles
1 package Nutter Butter cookies
1 package cream cheese (I use the Nufschatel)
1/2 package chocolate bark - use what you need (the melting chocolate that comes in rectangular containers)

Crush cookies in a food processor or a bag using a rolling pin. Soften cream cheese and stir into the cookies. Roll mixture into walnut sized balls. Place in refrigerator or freezer to firm. Melt chocoate bark. Roll balls in the chocolate to coat. Allow to set and enjoy!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

A Casserole for the New Year

When I was at home over New Years, my parents had a party to attend and gave me the task of making dinner. Mama suggested pizza but I had seen a recipe from Kraft that I thought looked good, so I made that instead. It was really good and could be made with left-over chicken (that's what I used). I don't think I quite used the full amount of chicken (probably would have been 3-4 breasts and I used about 2-3). Even at that, I would have preferred more veggies/beans and less chicken. However, the flavor is really good and the tortilla, which gets very soft, adds a nice change in texture. This recipe has cream cheese mixed in, which probably serves to soften the spice from the salsa and to thicken the sauce but you don't really taste, and cheddar cheese on top. I honestly did not taste the cheese at all; so, you could probably leave it off without a decrease in taste, though it wouldn't look as pretty! This is a rare casserole that is healthy and zesty at the same time. I'd likely make it again, maybe with a few minor changes. I think it could be kid-friendly as well, especially if you use mild salsa.
3/4 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces (or any leftover chicken you have)
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 green pepper, chopped
1-1/2 cups Thick 'N Chunky Salsa
2 oz. (1/4 of 8-oz. pkg.) Neufchatel Cheese, cubed
1 can (15 oz.) no-salt-added black beans, drained, rinsed
1 tomato, chopped (I did not add this)
2 whole wheat tortillas (6 inch - mine was a full tortilla)
1/2 cup Mexican Style 2% Milk Finely Shredded Four Cheese, divided (or cheddar - whatever cheese you have if you decide to use cheese)

HEAT oven to 375ºF.

COOK and stir chicken and cumin in nonstick skillet sprayed with cooking spray on medium heat 2 min. Add peppers; cook 2 min., stirring occasionally. Stir in salsa; cook 2 min. Add Neufchatel; cook 2 min. or until melted. Stir in beans and tomatoes. (If using leftover chicken, cook the peppers and then stir in the chicken and cumin until warm)

SPOON 1/3 of chicken mixture into 8-inch square baking dish; cover with 1 tortilla and half each of the remaining chicken mixture and shredded cheese. Top with remaining tortilla and chicken mixture; cover.

BAKE 20 min. or until heated through. Sprinkle with remaining shredded cheese; bake, uncovered, 5 min. or until melted.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

The Dangers of the Pediatric ER

Monday I began my first month in the ER. It's a pretty good rotation as you work 14 or 15 12-hour shifts. Some of these go quickly and some (specifically 7p-7a and likely 2p-2a) go very slowly. My day was pretty quick. It wasn't too busy and I didn't see anything unusual. We had a string of lacerations and broken extremities. I didn't see any of, unfortunately...I saw the scabies, well restrained child s/p MVC, walking pneumonia, and, my bane, TWO gastroenteritis! I even specifically and carefully washed my hands after seeing those patients! Guess it didn't work (unless that asparagus was bad)! Felt fine yesterday until around 4 then just didn't feel normal...definitely wasn't normal all night! Today, I'm feeling better, just resting up before I return for two days of 2p-2a shifts. What's your favorite thing to eat when your tummy is upset? I like chicken noodle soup and popsicles! I'm about to go make some soup (from the can...just something about that sodium laden liquid) but here's some soup my family and I made right after Christmas. I got a Le Creuset pot for Christmas and wanted to use it, so I found a yummy looking lentil soup. It was REALLY good, though I wished that the lentils were more part of the soup rather than being mushed within the soup. I changed the cooking process just a little bit and have made those changes in the directions.

Winter Lentil Veggie Soup from
  • 1/2 cup red or green lentils
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 2 cups shredded cabbage
  • 1 (28 ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon curry powder


  1. Place the lentils into a stockpot or a Dutch oven and add 2 cups water. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and let simmer for about 15 minutes. Drain and rinse lentils.
  2. Meanwhile, place onion, celery, cabbage, tomatoes, chicken broth, carrots and garlic to a large pot. Cook on medium heat until lentil are done. Add lentils and season with salt, pepper, sugar, basil, thyme and curry. Cook, simmering for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until desired tenderness is achieved.

Sunday, January 03, 2010


Six months down, two and a half years to go! Really, I love my job, but after 3 calls in a row and not getting much sleep, I was ready for a break...and it was wonderful! My Christmas was spent at the hospital taking care of sick babies. My last call was especially harried. I don't think I stopped from 2 until 10, when I finally got some "supper." Then I was up basically the rest of the night. I had to walk to the adult hospital to see a kid (who was sleeping peacefully with NO problems) in the bone marrow unit, dealt with a family who was freaking out because their child was "vomiting" uncontrollably, and checked on a kid on albuterol nebs. I did end up having one really sick kid. The reason I was called to the floor was to see a child who was "fussy!" I went up there begrudgingly but when I got there, the kid was really working to breathe and had oxygen saturations of 54% on 5L of oxygen (supposed to be 95+% on room air!). My goodness...I spend two hours working with that kid and ended up talking to the PICU about taking the kid down there. It was a busy night. Looking back on it, I realized that I am learning but I also realized that I am brittle. When I was getting some of those calls, I got so frustrated. I probably didn't respond initially in a tone that I should have. I found myself constantly praying as I walked from floor to floor. Praying for my patients and their parents, for friends who are going through a horrible experience, for friends seeking what they should do next year, for myself as I try to take care of patients. I cannot do this without help...I am brittle, weak. But my God is strong. He who keeps me does not slumber (when I need sleep), He will not allow my foot to slip (when I stumble on my own everyday), He is able (when I am not on my own). Why am I brittle? I sin. We all sin. But God wants us to be with Him, to be near Him; yet, we can't because of sin. So, He sent the perfect sacrifice, Jesus, His own Son, to pay the price for our make us righteous (no longer broken or brittle) in His eyes. How can we be made whole, made righteous? The only way is through faith in Christ...nothing we do, no matter how "good" we are, can save us. It is only through faith in Christ that we are made righteous. How thankful I am that He has given me the most precious gift of all through His sacrifice! I pray that He makes me whole day by day and that my brittleness only drives me to seek Him more!
While I was working over Christmas, my parents were in town, staying of a BRAND NEW matress. They brought lots of holiday treats, including my Granny's peanut brittle. Oh, so good...and the perfect tide-me-over for those little afternoon grumbles! One thing you have to be sure of is that you get RAW peanuts. My dad even showed me the bag before I came home yesterday. His bag said blanched raw peanuts. This is definitely a wonderful treat for the holidays, but I'm going to have to make it sometime soon (maybe Valentines day?) with almonds...sounds like a fun little change! So, try out THIS's the good kind! Peanut Brittle
2 cups raw peanuts (or other nut you'd like to use)
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup white Karo
1 tsp bakind soda

Cook until peanuts begin to pop (if they still have the skins on) and syrup seems almost scorched (it will be VERY dark). Remove from heat and add 1 tsp baking soda. Pour out onto greased cookie sheet (or I'm sure Sil-pat would work well). Break into pieces when cool. ENJOY!