Friday, February 24, 2012

Pizza Rolls

Pizza Rolls
Pinterest is full of so many great ideas. I decided to try out these Pizza Rolls that looked super delicious and I knew my boys would love them. I made my own pizza dough and added some fresh chopped up rosemary to the dough (about a teaspoon). After the dough was done rising, I cut it in half to put in the freezer. The other half I rolled out on some flour and made it into a rectangle shape. Then added some Italian seasonings, Parmesan cheese, some shredded marble cheese, turkey pepperoni, and some more cheeses. Then rolled it up and put some olive oil over it and rolled in into some cornmeal. Then made slices and put them on a baking sheet. Preheat oven to about 400 degrees and let them cook for about 20 minutes. I didn't add any sauce to mine because you can dip it into any sauce when they are done! We had some creamy garlic sauce and it tasted so good. The toppings are endless that you can put on your pizza so be creative! Here is the recipe for the pizza rolls: 

  • 1 (13.8 ounce) can Pillsbury® refrigerated classic pizza crust
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup sliced pepperoni, chopped
  • 1 cup marinara or pizza sauce

Cinnamon Swirl Banana Bread

Cinnamon Swirl Banana Bread
Every time I'm out getting my groceries I always pick up ripe bananas. We eat a lot of bananas in this house but I especially like being able to cook with them too. Bananas are also great to stick in the freezer if you don't get around to using them up. Just let them unthaw for a bit before peeling off the skins and then you're good to go! Here is a great banana bread recipe I came across on Pinterest and had to try it out! It is beyond the best banana bread I have ever made. The cinnamon swirl middle and topping are amazing. Here is the recipe... it makes one loaf but I always double up to make two... I also found that 50 minutes was the perfect time!

For the bread:
  • 3 over-ripe bananas, smashed up
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • dash of salt
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
For the swirl:
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbs cinnamon
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Butter and four a loaf pan. Mine was 9 x 5, but you could use any sort, I suppose. Just keep a close eye on it in the oven, and adjust the time as needed
  2. Mix bananas, butter, sugar, egg, and vanilla together. sprinkle baking soda and salt around on top of the banana mixture. Then gently stir in flour. Be careful not to over-mix!
  3. In a small dish, mix together the 1/3 cup sugar and 1 Tbs cinnamon.
  4. Add 1/2 of the batter to the loaf pan and then sprinkle half, or a little more than half of the cinnamon-sugar mixture all over the batter in the pan. Add the rest of the batter, and then sprinkle the leftover cinnamon-sugar on top.
  5. Bake for 50-60 minutes, but remember, if you’re using a different-sized loaf pan, be careful and keep a close eyeball on it!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

My 'Recipe to Riches Season 2' Journey... so far.

The infamous Golden Ticket!
I wanted to share with you my recent experience of submitting a recipe for Recipe to Riches Season 2. My best friend and I really wanted to enter the second season after we watched the first. Soon as we found out a second season was announced back in December/January, we both were scrounging for recipes and creations we could do. My first initial thought was to create a frozen souffle but changed my mind after talking with my hubby and my mom. They both suggested something easy and my mom reminded me of some homemade soft pretzels she once had at our house while babysitting one night. She said she could have eaten the whole bag! I decided to play with that idea and my hubby also suggested doing them 'bite size'.

Before tackling the challenge, I scoured the grocery store to see if there were any soft pretzels to be found. You have to be able to market your product if it were to become a grocery item. I didn't see anything except for the hard pretzel type of snacks. Now, my planning and creating can begin. I picked up some thick cut bacon, fresh rosemary, thyme, sharp cheddar cheese, and Parmesan. I should also note that the category I chose to enter was for the 'savoury snacks'.

With some tweaking and measurement fixing, I came up with the perfect combo of herbs to bacon and cheese. I decided to call them 'Canadian Bacon Bites'. Here is the YouTube video I submitted along with my application.

By looking and reading through my food blog 'Meals with Michelle', you'll notice that I am always trying to come up with new creations 'in my own kitchen' either through tweaking current favourites or by using up leftovers. Being a stay at home mom has allowed my creative juices to flow since I enjoy feeding my family and trying out new things. Grocery shopping and menu planning are hobbies of mine and I can literally relax while shopping on a tight budget. I enjoy the thrill of couponing and finding great deals and always want to share my finds on my facebook page called Maritime Couponing. It's great to be able to share with others whether it's recipes, coupons, great sales, or free samples.

So after my best friend and I submitted our applications, we waited patiently. We found out the auditions for our area would be in Halifax on Feb. 11th. This was perfect because my best friend lives in Halifax, but I live about 4.5 hours away and knew we were going to have a great 'girls weekend' if we happened to get an audition. We both ended up getting 'over the phone' interviews from the Recipe to Riches reps but they still informed us we would get another call telling us whether or not we'd get audition times.

As life would have it, we had an unexpected death in our family. My hubby's twin brother Steve suddenly passed away from a gas leak in his apartment where he lived while serving as a missionary in Central Asia. He had only been in that country for a little over a month and had been raising his support funds so he could go the past few years. There is always a risk involved when going into another country, this was an environmental risk due to the frigid cold temperatures in that country which normally do not occur and caused people to turn their heat source on which is 'odourless' gas. His passing has been a shock to the whole family, but in our Faith we have been able to be strong and many people have prayed for us and still are. We know that Steve is in a much better place than we can ever imagine, even though we miss him terribly.

My brother in law and I, rest in peace Steve. xo
A few days after finding out about the death, I got a phone call. It was a phone call that I had totally forgotten about. The lady on the phone congratulated me for getting an audition for my recipe to present to the celebrity judges in Halifax. I was a bit confused and unexcited because I wasn't sure how to feel. A part of me felt guilty over being excited for such an opportunity and the other part was still very upset and I knew my family needed me here. The lady on the phone was super nice after I had told her a bit of my situation, she said she would email me all the information and if I decided to come that would be great. All I have to say is that I have one amazing family because after calling and talking to them they encouraged me to go and have a good time and that it would be a good distraction since the funeral was still days away (due to getting all the flight arrangements to get Steve back on Canadian soil). My hubby and my boys stayed the weekend with my brother and sister in law while I stayed with my best friend in Halifax.

Somer and I heading to the Delta Halifax for our auditions.

I was able to make my 'Canadian Bacon Bites' fresh that morning before we went. I had some red Chinese take out boxes done up for each judge knowing presentation was key. We arrived and waited patiently in the 'Quiet Zone' before getting to see the judges. We both made some friends and laughed lots which I think put us all at ease. I got to meet (and get my picture) with Chef Dave Burnett. He was all embarrassed to get his picture done which was so funny cause in my eyes he's a celebrity!

Hangin' with Chef Dave Burnett!

Canadian Bacon Bites
Once I was all mic'ed up and ready to go see the judges, my nerves started to kick in a little. I'm really a quiet type of person but the director told me before heading out to be 'compassionate about your product, really show them you believe in it and give them some excitement'. Ha! Well, I certainly didn't travel all the way there to say nothing and get rejected. I had seen four other people before me get a golden ticket and I surely wanted one too! I stepped out into the bright white lights and stood on a sticker and was spitting distance from the three beautiful judges. Dana asked me a bit about myself and I jabbered on a bit about being a busy mom and then Laura asked me what was in the 'cute little boxes' and from there my confidence grew. I explained in every detail exactly what I had made. Then some a bit of critisim came as Dana said she could probably 'find these in a local bakery' in which I explained to her that there was nothing like this on the groceries shelves. Then Laura had some issues with the texture perhaps being a bit on the chewy side (although I did make them in the morning and they weren't eaten till the afternoon which would explain that). I told her about how I enjoy to dip my pretzel bites and that they might pair up great with the winner of the condiment/dip category offered this season. But Tony surprised me. He said he saw potential and that they were a unique creation and could see them being marketed. Then all three of them talked amongst themselves and came to a final conclusion when Laura whipped out and handed me a golden ticket! It happened all so fast and it felt amazing. I was so excited to make that phone call home to my family and tell I had gotten the golden ticket! Although it means I can still be eliminated after all the rest of the other city audition are done, I can be proud of what I did and someday get to share this experience with my two boys! My bestie came out empty handed but we both had a great time meeting new people and sharing our love of cooking together. I wouldn't want to have done it with anyone else.

So now more waiting will happen. But I am alright with that. I have been at home enjoying my hubby on his time off and we have been keeping busy with the boys. Hopefully soon I may have more news, but right now I am the biggest winner of all because I have been able to share this with my family and their support has been incredible. For now, I will keep spoiling them all with all kinds of yummy meals and desserts. Canadian Bacon Bites will be a hit in my kitchen and that's the only place that matters to me!

Baked Ravioli Bites

Baked Ravioli Bites
Boston Pizza used to carry 'baked ravioli' on their appetizer menu back many moons ago and they were my favourite! But now, I found a way to make my own and they are just as delicious! All you need is some prepared ravioli, Parmesan, Italian breadcrumbs, Panko crumbs, flour, an egg, baking sheet lined with some tin foil, and a wire rack. Here's the recipe:

Preheat oven to 375 - 400 degrees.
Line a baking sheet with tin foil and place a wire rack on top. Spray the wire rack with cooking oil. 
Combine in a bowl - 1/2 cup of Italian bread crumbs, 1 cup of Panko, 2 TB of flour.
With a fork whisk 1 egg in another bowl.
Dip ravioli into egg mixture then into bread crumbs and place on the wire rack.
Grate or sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. 
Bake in the oven for about 10-15 minutes or until golden brown. 

The best part about these crispy beauties is dipping them into a sauce! We had ours with some pasta sauce heated up but they would be great with ranch dressing, hot sauce, salsa, the options are endless. They make a great appetizer when you are expecting some company. They'll think you slaved in the kitchen all day. Enjoy!