Monday, September 29, 2014

Chinese Macaroni Salad

I think I may have found macaroni salad nirvana.
Oh sure, our mom's macaroni salad is still the best on the planet BUT this Chinese inspired version is simply ridiculous.
Tons of crisp veggies, squishy pasta, and a sesame soy dressing that will have you wondering why you make macaroni salad any other way.
Consider me addicted. 
Like I need another reason to eat pasta......

Chinese Macaroni Salad

1 Tbsp mayo, light
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp Sweet Red Chili Sauce
1 pkg Stevia
1 tsp rice wine vinegar
1 tsp sesame seeds

4 oz macaroni (approx 3/4 cup)
1/2 cup carrots, sliced thinly
1/2 cup purple cabbage, shredded
2 green onion, diced
1/2 cup snap peas, cut in half
1/2 cup red pepper, sliced thinly
1 Chinese style pork sausage, cooked and sliced

In a small bowl place all of the dressing ingredients.

Whisk until smooth.

Set aside while prepping veggies.
Cook the pasta according to package directions. Rinse with cool water to stop the cooking process once pasta is done.
Place veggies in a large mixing bowl.

Add in the cooked and sliced Chinese sausage.

Add in pasta.
Drizzle with dressing and toss gently to combine.

Serve immediately. 
This tastes okay after being dressed and sitting in the fridge BUT is much better if you dress it just before serving it. If you wanted to make it ahead of time you could just toss the pasta, sausage, and veggies together and leave the dressing separate and chill in the fridge until ready to serve. 
 According to Myfitnesspal a serving of this (recipe makes 3 generous servings) it is - 268 calories, 32 carbs, 12 fat, 9 protein. (If you were serving this as a side dish with a meal you would get 6 - 8 servings)

We're sharing over at Carole's Chatter!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Snickerdoodles (Small Batch)

I can eat cookies like nobody's business. 
All day.
Every day.
Not exactly healthy though, right?
Okay, my solution is to make small batches so even if I might be tempted to go all "Cookie Monster" on the batch then I can't do too much damage. 
This batch makes just over a dozen small to medium cookies and only takes about 20 minutes from start to finish. (Another bonus of making small batches - no waiting in between baking, they all fit on one cookie sheet!)

Snickerdoodles (Small Batch)

2 Tbsp butter, room temp
3 Tbsp sugar
1 egg yolk
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp cream of tartar

1//2 Tbsp sugar
1/8 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, set aside.
In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in egg yolk and vanilla. 
In a separate small bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup flour, baking soda, and cream of tartar. 
Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. If dough is still quite sticky then stir in a bit more flour, a tablespoon at a time, until desired consistency is reached. (I ended up using 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp for mine)
In a small bowl, stir together 1/2 Tbsp sugar and cinnamon, set aside.

Using a small cookie scoop (about 1 Tbsp), scoop out dough onto prepared cookie sheet. 
Take each ball and roll it in the cinnamon sugar and place back on the cookie sheet about 2  inches apart. 

Bake at 350 until bottoms are lightly browned, about 8 minutes.
Remove from oven and let cool about 5 minutes on cookie sheet before moving to wire rack to cool completely. 


You can, of course, use a bigger cookie scoop and get less (but bigger) cookies. You may just have to add a minute or two to your cooking time. 
That photo above is the entire batch - minus about 3 that didn't  make it past the taste testing phase. 
These are soft and chewy and just cinnamon-y enough.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Double Chocolate Raspberry Cookies

Sue here today!
If you know me then you know I am crazy about Disneyland. My hubby and daughter and I have gone several times and always have soooo much fun. Everything about Disneyland is my favorite.
Especially the food.
Oh. My. Gosh.
You can check out our last two trips to Disneyland HERE (2011) and HERE (2013)
Anyways, I stumbled across this recipe over at Bakerlady and decided to give them a try. She tweaked them from someone else who developed the recipe to try and mimic the Disneyland's White Chocolate Raspberry Cookies. I made a few teeny changes and came up with this version.
They are an interesting combination of flavors so don't be afraid. 
So good when you want something different. 

Double Chocolate Raspberry Cookies
(Slightly adapted from Bakerlady)

1/2 cup butter, room temp
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 up brown sugar
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
2/3 cup white chocolate chips
2/3 cup dark chocolate chips
1/4 cup raspberry jam

Preheat oven to 350. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugars until fluffy. Beat in egg and yolk and vanilla. 
In a smaller bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and cream of tartar. Stir in the chocolate chips.
Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until well combined.

Take out about 1/4 of the dough and place in the smaller mixing bowl. Top with 1/4 of the raspberry jam. 

Cut the jam in using a butter knife. (Be careful not to over mix. You want there to be chunks of jam visible!)

Using a small (or medium) cookie scoop, place scoops of dough on prepared cookie sheet and flatten slightly. Repeat steps with remaining dough. (You want to do this in 1/4's and not all at once because doing it all at once results in the jam being too mixed in.)

Bake at 350 for approx 10 - 15 minutes, depending on size of cookie. Bottoms will be lightly browned.
Remove from heat and let cool on wire cooling racks.


When you are looking for something a little fancier than "the usual" chocolate chip cookie, give these a try.
The fruit and chocolate can be a little strange but in a good way!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Fraser Valley Food Truck Festival Fall 2014

We were pretty excited to hear that the Fraser Valley Food Truck Festival was happening again. 
We went for the very first time in April 2014 - see HERE for our write up about that visit
Sue and I cleared our schedule and rounded up a group of volunteers to come with us to help sample all the delicious food. Needless to say we had no trouble finding volunteers.
Sue's hubby, Rob, joined us again and then our nephew, Nick, friend, Steph, and other sister, Orra, hopped in the van and headed to the Chilliwack Heritage Park to check things out. 
We were the first ones in line, first ones through the gates, and first ones to get to the deliciousness. 
Wasn't hard to tell we were a little excited. 
Can you blame us though? In the spring there was 14 trucks in the line up.... this time there was 21 that we counted. Some of our favorites from last time that we visited again and some new and exciting trucks that definitely will have us coming back.

This was the first round of our sampling.
Yeah.... we tried a lot of food.
I think we managed to try 13 of the trucks there this time. Unfortunately a couple of the trucks we wanted to sample from weren't ready until we were leaving. Hopefully next time we will be able to try The Reef Runner and Garbanzo's. 
Let's get to the trucks we tried this time!!

The Bannock Wagon

We had the cinnamon sugar bannock. They had several savory versions to try as well such as salmon or cheese.
The taste was really good but we found the bannock to be a little tough. This may be because we were raised in Lillooet and have a lot of First Nations friends that make super-amazing bannock. 

Hot Grandma's Kitchen

We visited this truck last year and tried their Bavarian Hot Dog and Deep Fried Corn Dogs. 
This year we tried the Deep Fried Ravioli. 
Holy heck. So good. We got a mix of spinach and cheese and chicken and mushroom ravioli fried to crispy perfection. Definitely would get those again. 

Poomba's Smokehouse

We missed Poomba's in the spring so knew we had to give it a go this trip.
We tried the Mini Pulled Pork Sliders with a side of potato chips and the Pulled Pork with Coleslaw.
The sliders were very tasty and were pretty cute to boot. The pulled pork was okay but not our favorite. I think we are a little biased when eating pulled pork because Sue makes an amazing slow cooker pulled pork that we tend to measure everything against. 
Overall, we enjoyed it but just felt like it was missing a little something.

Big Red's Poutine

In the spring we tried Big Red's Bacon Poutine. This time we tried the sausage poutine.
It was tasty. We preferred the bacon poutine from last visit because, as you can probably tell from Sue's shirt, we love our bacon.
Verdict: delicious but we still like bacon better.

Super Thai Foods

I think the Super Thai Foods truck was our nephew, Nick's, favorite.
He got the Pad Thai. We all sampled it and thought it was tasty (Sue didn't like the texture of the noodles) but it was very spicy. Nick loves the heat from jalapenos but I'm a bit of a wimp so a couple of bites were all I could handle!

Varinicey Pakoras

One of the highlights of our visit this year!
The Pakoras were AMAZING. We had to get 2 orders to share as we didn't want to stop eating them!
If you see Varinicey's Pakoras out and about - definitely check them out.
Soooooo worth it!

Old Country Pierogi

Pierogies are one of my all time favorite foods. 
In the spring we sampled the Holy Perogy Stompin' Tom Pierogies and just about died from the deliciousness. This visit Old Country Pierogies was there. Their pierogies were also tasty (I thought just as tasty as Holy Perogy but Sue thought they weren't quite as good)
You can see in the photo we experienced our first (and only) casualty of the day. That poor little pierogy slipped off my fork and fell into the gravel. *Sigh* 
That made me sad. 

Uncle Kebab

When we first saw the Uncle Kebab's truck we thought it must be kebabs.
Turns out no. It's not kebabs. It's Lebanese cuisine.
Tasty, tasty, tasty Lebanese cuisine. We tried the mixed box of Taouk and Keefta (chicken and beef) on rice with a salad and hummus. We all gave this 2 thumbs up. It was very mild but had a unique flavor that was nice for something different.

Wild Cat Express

The Wild Cat Express was another of our favorites from our visit in the spring.
This time we went with the Deep Fried Mac & Cheese. 
Yeah. It's as delicious as it sounds. 
You gotta try it!

The Place Next Door Canteen

Rob decided to get the Chicken Caesar Salad from The Place Next Door Canteen. 
I think next time I would try their Montreal Smoked Meat, it sounded really interesting.
The Chicken Caesar was really good but we were a little disappointed they didn't make their own salad dressing - it was Kraft packages. 

Slavic Rolls

The Slavic Rolls were probably my favorite from our first visit to the Fraser Valley Food Truck Festival. Of course we had to pay them a visit this time too!
We tried the Strawberry and Bavarian Cream and an Apple and Bavarian Cream. 
Would it be wrong to have one of these trucks park all year round in my backyard?

Hottie's Mobile Pasta bar

We took a vote and Hottie's was the number one highlight of our Food Truck Festival experience this time.
Rob got the ravioli topped with whipped ricotta cheese and a side of garlic bread. Holy heck - melted in your mouth!
And, can we just take a second to admire how beautiful the Pan-crepes are... 

I'm going to request these be served at every family gathering for the next century.
A cross between a pancake and a crepe they are ridiculously amazing. Ours was filled with cheesecake but you could also choose Nutella or fruit to fill them.
Be sure to visit Hottie's if you are lucky enough to see them.
And... lastly....


This wasn't really a food truck but rather a little stand.
Freshly squeezed lemonade that was sooooo addicting. We must have sent Nicholas back to this stand about a million times for refills. 
I'm still craving it....
Oh, yeah, I just wanted to share a cool treat we found on the car ride down to Chilliwack...

Spicy masala masti corn chips.
Did you know that was a thing? I wish I had known it was a thing.
They are sooooo good. If I am able to find them again I am going to stock up!

Like I said, we were the first ones through the gate. This is what it looks like before the crowds arrive.
Speaking of crowds - this time the Fraser Valley Food Truck Festival was over 2 days instead of 1 and I think that helped with the crowds. The lines for the trucks started building as we were leaving but didn't seem as bad as last year. 
The live music was fun and lively and had us dancing - much to Nicholas' embarrassment - several times. We didn't visit the beer gardens as we were there pretty early but I think if you planned to go for dinner then it would be a fun way to spend the evening.
We had to drive 3 hours from Lillooet to get to the Chilliwack Heritage Park for the festival and it is totally worth the drive. 
A very fun and tasty way to spend a Saturday (or Sunday) afternoon with family and friends. 

Friday, September 19, 2014

Browned Butter Oatmeal Coconut and Caramel Cookies

Have you tried browned butter yet?
Because if you haven't yet, you reeeeeally, reeeeeally need to. 
You can turn a regular ol' oatmeal cookie into something to write home about simply by browning the butter and throwing in a little coconut and caramel bits. 
(If you want to check out our other browned butter recipes then simply search "browned butter" in the little search bar in the top left corner of your screen!)
You can have these cookies made - from start to finish - in under an hour, including time for the browned butter to chill!

Browned Butter Oatmeal Coconut & Caramel Cookies

1 cup butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/3 cup Skor caramel baking bits
1/2 cup flaked coconut
2 3/4 cup Quaker Quick Cooking Oats

Preheat oven to 350. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, set aside.
In a medium large saucepan over medium heat, cook butter - stirring often - until butter starts to turn brown. As soon as the butter is a light golden brown, remove it from the heat and pour the butter out of the pan into a heat safe bowl. (Keep an eye on it once it starts to turn brown as it can burn very quickly!!)
Chill the browned butter until it starts to solidify again  - about 30 minutes or so in the fridge, stirring every so often.
Once butter has chilled a bit, beat it with the brown sugar until creamy. Beat in the eggs until smooth.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, Skor bits, and coconut.
Beat the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until well mixed. Stir in the oats until stiff dough forms.
Using a medium cookie scoop (about 2 Tbsp), scoop dough onto prepared cookies sheet, about 2 inches apart. Lightly press down cookies with the palm of your hand to flatten slightly.

Bake at 350 for 13 - 15 minutes, until edges/bottoms of cookies are lightly browned.

Let cool on cookie sheet for 5 minutes before moving to wire rack to cool completely.

I believe I got 36 or so cookies using the medium cookie scoop. (If you don't have a cookie scoop you can just use a large tablespoon to scoop up the dough and lightly roll it into a ball.) 

They may not look like anything terribly fancy but the browned butter lends a nutty taste the cookies that you just can't get from anything else. They are super addicting!
Stop by these fabulous linky parties for tons more links - The Chicken Chick, Ms. enPlace,