Friday, May 31, 2013

Strawberries and Cream Chinese Bakery-Style Chiffon Sponge Cake, Gluten-free or not

We had some guests come for dinner the other night.  Hubby ordered Chinese take-out, so all I had to do was add a nice green salad (you can never get enough veggies!) and make a dessert.  

To keep with the Chinese food theme, what is a typical Chinese dessert?  For special occasions, my mother would either bake or order a beautiful vanilla chiffon sponge cake decorated with fresh fruit and whipped cream from a local Chinese bakery.   

You can use your favourite sponge cake with whipped cream and fruit.  I made 2 tube sponge cakes with this vanilla chiffon sponge cake recipe.  I decorated one cake and froze the second one to enjoy at another time for a quick dessert.   For those who are on a gluten-free diet, you can try this gluten-free vanilla chiffon sponge cake.  

Pressed for time?  Ready-made angel food cakes can be decorated fresh whipped cream and fruit.  

I usually fill and decorate these cakes with canned fruit cocktail that has been drained and blotted dry.  I have also made a "Strawberries and Cream" cake with fresh strawberries and  "Peaches and Cream" with canned peaches.  

This time, I used fresh strawberries and canned mandarin orange segments to fill and decorate the cake.  Make sure to blot dry the excess moisture from the fruit on a paper towel or napkin. 

Strawberries and Cream Chinese Bakery-Style Chiffon Sponge Cake, Gluten-free or not

1 - 8" vanilla chiffon sponge cakegluten-free vanilla sponge cake or ready-made angel food cake
1.5 cups heavy cream
4.5 Tbsp confectioner's sugar 
1.5 tsp vanilla 
chocolate shavings, with a vegetable peeler
selection of fresh/canned fruit for decorating and filling (possibilities are endless!)
  - strawberries, kiwi, grapes, melon balls, etc
  - canned fruit (must be drained and blotted dry):  peaches, pears, mandarin oranges, cherries, etc.

Prepare chiffon cake and cool completely.

Whip 1.5 cups heavy cream with 4.5 Tbsp confectioner's sugar and 1.5 tsp vanilla for at least 3 minutes on high until the cream is stiff.  Be careful not to overwhip the cream (mixture will separate and become butter!).  If you would like extra whipped cream for piping or for serving, use 2 cups heavy cream, 6 Tbsp confectioner's sugar and 2 tsp vanilla.  

Dice about 1 cup (I forgot to measure, chop enough fruit to fill the cake layer) fresh or canned fruit for filling and blot dry on paper napkin/towel.  Set aside.

Cut cake in 2 layers.  Place one cake layer on a cake plate.  Spread the cake with whipped cream and place chopped fruit pieces (blotted dry) on top of the cream. Place the top layer on the fruit filling.  

Frost and decorate the cake as desired with the whipped cream.  

The cake didn't last long!  Of course, the kiddies had leftover cake dolloped with extra whipped cream for breakfast the next day!

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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Easy Pan Fried Frozen Chicken Breasts with Your Favourite Seasonings

When I am feeling lazy, this is my favourite way to cook chicken breasts.  Sometimes, I buy chicken breasts on sale and freeze them individually for easy cooking.  Usually, boxes of frozen chicken breasts are on sale, so I get those instead.  

At first, I didn't plan on blogging this recipe as everyone has their own method to pan-fry chicken breasts.  Then I thought this would be good for my kiddies to see how "mommy cooks chicken breasts".   Maybe when they are older, they can make these for dinner!  

I packed McDreamy's lunch today:  seasoned herb chicken breast, red & white quinoa and spring mix/spinach salad greens topped with light marble cheddar, chopped cucumbers and red & yellow bell peppers.  Dressing:  extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  

This is not really a recipe, mainly a method that I have created for those "quick and easy" dinners and lunches.  I usually pack these leftover chicken breasts for hubby's lunch.  (And yes, my man eats salad!).  

Individually frozen chicken breasts are easy to grab and cook.

Preheat frying pan to medium-high heat.  Lightly coat the bottom of pan with your favourite cooking oil.  I use extra virgin olive oil and drizzle lightly.  It doesn't have to fully coat the pan since some water will be added later to steam/poach the chicken. 

Place frozen chicken breasts on lightly oiled, preheated frying pan.  

Sprinkle your favourite seasonings onto the frozen chicken breasts.  I used dried Italian Seasoning (I think it is a blend of oregano, basil, rosemary and other herbs).  You can use whatever like.  Herbs de Provence would be yummy too!  No amounts here, I just sprinkled until it looked good!  

Since the chicken breasts I am using are previously frozen and pre-seasoned (already has salt in it), I added a "no-salt seasoning" (a blend of dried onions, garlic, red bell pepper and other spices) and paprika.  

Again, no amounts, just sprinkled the herbs and spices! 

Add 1/2 cup water around the chicken breasts.  The excess salt from the chicken will go into the water as it cooks.  When adding water, make sure the water does not wash away the herbs and spices. 

Cover the frying pan with a lid and cook on medium heat (simmer) for 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes, flip over the chicken breasts.  I use a fork to loosen the chicken off the pan.  

I make 2-3 slits halfway down the chicken breast to speed up the cooking time.  Cover and cook for another 15 minutes. 

After 15 minutes, flip the chicken breasts over.   Note that most of the seasonings have stuck onto the chicken, even when immersed in water while cooking.  Ready to serve!

Pan Fried Frozen Chicken Breasts with Your Favourite Seasonings

  • Frozen chicken breasts (enough to fill your frying pan)
  • Cooking oil (I use extra virgin olive oil)
  • 1/2 cup water (adjust, depending on your frying pan.  I use 1/2 cup for 10" frying pan)
  • Herb and spices of your choice: (here are some ideas... the possibilities are endless!)
    • Italian seasoning
    • no-salt seasoning
    • Herbs de Provence
    • basil, oregano
    • garlic powder
    • onion powder
    • paprika
    • Montreal steak spice (Note:  contains salt, use if your chicken breasts are unseasoned)

Preheat frying pan on medium-high heat.  Lightly coat pan with olive oil.  Place frozen chicken breasts on the pan and sprinkle with the herbs and seasonings of your choice.  Add 1/2 cup water, cover and let simmer on medium for 20 minutes. 

After 20 minutes, flip chicken breasts over and cut 2-3 slits across the chicken breast half-way.  Cover and cook another 15 minutes or until done.  Serve hot or cold.  

I reused a McDonald's salad entree container.  I'm so glad I kept it so hubby can bring a nice salad for lunch.  This will be my lunch with dried cranberries instead of cheese!  And yes, I make 4 lunches every morning for the kiddies and hubby.  I guess my mornings can get pretty hectic.  
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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Maple Yogurt Banana Muffins

It has been too long since I posted a recipe!   We had a huge change in routine ever since we started karate and violin lessons for all 3 children and mommy!  On top of that, I have been getting my flower beds and veggie patches ready for our short and late growing season.  No wonder I'm tired these days...  


I had a craving to make banana muffins.  Is that an odd notion? Even with my sudden food allergies, I still like to bake things I cannot eat.  It's the act of baking that makes me happy.  I pray that one day, my body will heal itself and I can enjoy the same foods as my family.  In the meantime, it hasn't stopped me from making their favourite classics, like banana muffins. 

I used my Honey Whole Wheat Banana Muffins recipe and used maple syrup and plain yogurt instead of honey and buttermilk.  Hubby had the difficult task of tasting these muffins and he declared them "good".  The children enjoyed them too with a glass of milk after school snack.  They were also convenient for a quick and easy breakfast.   

Maple Yogurt Banana Muffins
makes 12 regular sized muffins 

1 ½ cups whole wheat flour
½ cup wheat germ
2 Tbsp ground flax seed
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 large egg
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup plain yogurt
1 tsp vanilla extract
¼ cup canola oil, melted butter or coconut oil, melted (I used melted butter)
4 bananas, mashed (between 1-2 cups, it's a flexible recipe!)

Preheat oven to 400F

Mix all dry ingredients together.  Add egg, maple syrup, yogurt and vanilla to the dry ingredients.   Add bananas and melted butter.  Mix until the ingredients are well blended together. 
Scoop batter in 12 greased or lined muffin tins, each about ¾ full. 
Bake about 15 min or until until done. Check the muffins around 10-12 minutes.  Mini-muffins were done around 10-12 minutes, so check accordingly.

 - Adapted from 100 Days of Real Food:  Whole Wheat Banana Bread

My kiddies prefer the "mini" muffin size for their little hands.  I filled each greased mini muffin cavity up to the top.  I was able to make 24 mini muffins and 2 regular sized muffins in paper lined ramekins.  The mini-muffins were done baking around 10-12 minutes.  


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