Making Breakfast Sandwiches — Photos

This week’s cooking projects from my collection of recipes included two batches of blondies, more zucchini with tomato, bacon, and onion sauce, pickled eggs, and the subject of this post and Saturday morning’s breakfast, a yummy breakfast sandwich I like to call “If I make it, will you eat it?”, another family favourite.

Margarine was taken out and some taken up with a knife:

Margarine on a table knife

A frozen slice of bread — not two as called for in my recipe, because the bread I make in a bread machine is tall enough to justify cutting it in half when making sandwiches (see below) — was taken out, and the margarine was spread on it:

Margarine spread on a frozen slice of bread
Margarine spread on a frozen slice of bread

The slice of bread was cut into two halves:

Slicing bread into two halves
Slice of bread with margarine cut into two halves

Two slices of processed cheese (or “American cheese” slices) were taken out and unwrapped, and placed on the counter to warm up to room temperature (note that natural cheese sliced off the block may be used):

Two slices of processed cheese taken out and unwrapped

Every once in a while, I buy a large 2kg case of breakfast sausages, cook them all up at once, and then I keep them in the freezer for future eating. I do the same thing with bacon for my mom. If you don’t do so, at this point and according to your preference, cook up some breakfast sausage(s) and/or some bacon.

I then took out a frozen cooked breakfast sausage, and let it warm up a few minutes on the counter:

Cooked (and frozen) breakfast sausage taken out

The sausage was then sliced into four strips along its length:

Cooked sausage sliced along its length four times

The sausage was put aside for a few moments.

A burner on my stove was turned on to a low to medium heat:

Stove turned on to a low to medium heat

A cast iron skillet was placed on the stove, and a bit of olive oil was poured into the cast iron skillet:

Olive oil poured into the cast iron skillet:

The olive oil was then spread over a part of the cast iron skillet:

Olive oil spread in the cast iron skillet

At this point, I placed the slices of breakfast sausage in the cast iron skillet:

Sausage slices placed in the cast iron skillet

An egg was taken out:

Egg taken out

… and the egg was cracked into the cast iron skillet:

Egg cracked into the cast iron skillet
Egg cracked into the cast iron skillet

The egg was fried, and — I like eggs over — when it was ready to be turned over …

Fried egg ready to be turned over

… the cast iron skillet was somewhat re-positioned, and I lifted the fried egg with a flipper …

Fried egg being lifted up with a flipper

… and the egg was turned over and fried on the other side:

Fried egg turned over in cast iron skillet

When the fried egg was finished cooking, it was transferred to a plate:

Fried egg transferred to a plate

… and the fried sausage slices were also transferred on top of the fried egg:

Fried sausage slices transferred to the top of the fried egg

The free oil and grease in the cast iron skillet were wiped up with a paper towel (watch out, the cast iron skillet is hot!):

Hot oil and grease wiped up with a paper towel

A slice of the bread with the margarine was placed in the hot cast iron skillet, margarine side down:

Slice of bread placed in cast iron skillet, margarine side down

One of the slices of processed cheese was placed on the slice of bread, and “made to fit”:

Slice of processed cheese placed on the slice of bread

The fried egg and sausage were placed on top of the slice of processed cheese:

Fried egg and sausage placed on top of the slice of processed cheese

The second slice of processed cheese was placed on the slice of bread, and “made to fit”:

Slice of processed cheese placed on the slice of fried egg and sausage

… and finally, the second slice of bread with margarine on it was placed on top of the slice of processed cheese, margarine side up:

Slice of bread placed on top of the slice of processed cheese, margarine side up

After a few moments, the sandwich was flipped over, and the bottom side, now the top, had been nicely browned:

Sandwich turned over to brown the other side

After a few more moments, the sandwich was lifted out of the cast iron skillet and served on a plate:

Breakfast is served!

Yummy!!!!

Making Zucchini with a Tomato, Onion, and Bacon Sauce — Photos

Back in the mid 1990’s, my church published a cookbook with recipes from the membership. I began making a zucchini with bacon and onion sauce dish submitted by a fellow parishioner in the mid- to late-2000’s, and, besides finding it tasty, I was pleasantly surprised both at how easy it was to make, and, even more surprisingly, how it immediately came across as a restaurant-quality dish. In fact, shortly after, I happened to be at a restaurant, and ordered a similar dish as an appetizer!

Note that the amounts of some of the ingredients shown below are sometimes greater than listed in the recipe, in order to have some of the sauce leftover.

First, bacon was taken out (in this case, half slices):

Bacon taken out

The bacon was sliced crosswise / diced:

Bacon sliced crosswise / diced

The bacon was then placed in a cast iron skillet:

Bacon placed in a cast iron skillet

Onions were taken out:

Onions taken out

The onions were cleaned and trimmed:

Onions cleaned and trimmed

The onions were quartered:

Onions quartered

The onions were then chopped coarsely:

Onions chopped coarsely

The onions were then placed in the cast iron skillet with the bacon:

Onions placed in cast iron skillet with the bacon

The stove was turned on to a low to medium heat:

Stove turned on to low to medium heat

A pot was filled with water:

Pot filled with water

Salt was measured out:

Salt measured out

The salt was added to the pot of water:

Salt added to the pot of water

The stove under the pot was turned on high to boil the water in the pot:

Stove under the pot of water turned on

The water was brought to a boil, and put aside.

Tomatoes were taken out:

Tomatoes taken out

The tomatoes were cleaned and trimmed:

Tomatoes cleaned and trimmed

The tomatoes were quartered …

Tomatoes quartered

… the tomatoes were further chopped:

Tomatoes further chopped

… and the chopped tomatoes were placed in a mixing bowl:

Tomatoes placed in a mixing bowl

Sugar was measured out:

Sugar measured out

The sugar was added to the mixing bowl with the tomatoes:

Sugar added to tomatoes

More salt was measured out:

Salt measured out

The salt was added to the bowl with the tomatoes and the sugar:

Salt added to tomatoes and sugar

Water was measured out:

Water measured out

The water was added to the bowl with the tomatoes, sugar, and salt:

Water added to the bowl with the tomatoes, sugar, and salt

… and the bowl with the tomatoes, sugar, salt, and water was put aside.

Three zucchinis (in this case, grey zucchinis) were taken out:

Zucchinis taken out

The zucchinis were cleaned and trimmed:

Zucchinis cleaned and trimmed

The zucchinis were cut in half along their length:

Zucchinis cut in half along their lengths

… and the zucchinis were put aside.

Soon, the bacon and onions were beginning to be cooked and caramelized:

Cooked bacon and caramelized onions

… and the tomato mix was added to the bacon and onions in the cast iron skillet:

Tomato mix added to the cast iron skillet
Tomato mix added to the cast iron skillet

… and the ingredients in the cast iron skillet were mixed together:

Ingredients mixed together in the cast iron skillet

The ingredients were brought to a simmer:

Ingredients brought to a simmer

The ingredients were reduced, during which the tomatoes also disintegrated into the sauce

Sauce reduced

At this point, the salted water was brought back to a boil:

Salted water brought back to a boil

… and the zucchini halves were added to the boiling water …

Zucchini halves added to the boiling water

… and the zucchini halves were boiled for ten minutes (obviously, the photo was taken about eight seconds after the timer was set):

Timer set to 10 minutes
Zucchini being boiled for ten minutes

At this point, the sauce had sufficiently reduced to my liking, and was ready for serving:

Sauce ready for serving

The zucchini were served onto two plates:

Boiled zucchini served on a plate, with sliced baguette bread

And finally, sauce was spooned onto the zucchini:

Sauce spooned onto the zucchini

Supper was yummy, with a nice, tangey sauce!

Making Chicken Pot Pies — Photos

I made chicken pot pies (a family favourite) this past weekend, along with crisped rice squares, two batches of bran muffins for mom, and some cooked ground beef and onions frozen in ice cube trays in the freezer. The chicken pot pies I make are more chicken cottage pies than what most people consider to be chicken pot pies, because there is a potato topping instead of a flaky crust; additionally, the sauce in the filling is somewhat less liquid than most people would expect from a chicken pot pie.

This recipe was added to my collection of recipes in the mid to late 2000’s as another making-a-lot-in-advance freezer food project, based on a recipe I’d found on the internet and adjusted for amounts to make freezer quantities, and using commercial chicken broth instead of making my own.

Note that below, while there may appear to be a distinct sequence of steps to be taken, presented as such for the sake of the narrative, many steps were actually performed simultaneously and / or overlapping with each other as given steps were finished and new steps begun. Also, note that I was again cooking at the cottage, using water from containers, because the water system is turned off during the winter.

First, water was put in a large pot:

Water poured into a large pot

Then, ten pounds of potatoes were taken out …

Ten pound bag of potatoes taken out

The potatoes were peeled …

Peeling potatoes

… and the peeled potatoes were placed in the pot with the water:

Peeled potatoes in the pot of water

Four peeled potatoes were put aside for later use in the filling:

Four potatoes put aside for later use in the filling

The rest of the potatoes were quartered …

Potatoes quartered

… and placed back in the pot of water:

Quartered potatoes placed in pot of water

The water was drained from the pot, and fresh water was added to the pot, covering the potatoes:

Fresh water being added to the drained pot of quartered potatoes
Quartered potatoes covered with fresh water

Salt was measured out:

Salt measured out

… and the salt was poured into the pot with the quartered potatoes:

Salt poured into the pot with the quartered potatoes

The stove was turned on for boiling the potatoes (rear burner), as well as frying the chicken breasts (front burner) (see next section):

Front and rear burners on stove turned on

… and the potatoes were brought to a boil …

Potatoes brought to a boil

… and kept boiling for twenty (20) minutes:

Timer set to about 20 minutes

In the meantime, chicken breasts were taken out …

Chicken breasts taken out

Olive oil was lightly poured into a cast iron skillet …

Olive oil poured lightly into a cast iron skillet

… salt was added to the cast iron skillet …

Salt added to the cast iron skillet

… and the chicken breasts were placed in the cast iron skillet and salted, to be slowly pan fried:

Chicken breasts added to the skillet

While the chicken breasts were cooking, occasionally being turned over several times in order to avoid burning on the outside while leaving the centres under-cooked, vegetables were prepared.

Carrots were taken out:

Carrots taken out

The carrots were cleaned and trimmed:

Carrots taken out

The carrots were then cut along their length twice, quartering them and creating spears:

Carrots sliced into spears

The carrots were then chopped coarsely:

Carrots chopped coarsely

… and finally, the chopped carrots were placed in an electric skillet, and put aside:

Chopped carrots in electric skillet

Onions were taken out:

Onions taken out

The onions were cleaned and trimmed:

Cleaned and trimmed onions

The onions were roughly quartered:

Quartered onions

… and then the onions were chopped coarsely:

Coarsely chopped onions

… and finally, the chopped onions were placed in the electric skillet with the carrots, and put aside:

Chopped onions placed in electric skillet

The peeled potatoes put aside earlier were taken out:

Peeled potatoes from earlier taken out

The potatoes were sliced along their length:

Potatoes sliced along their length

The potatoes were again sliced along their lengths, crosswise, in order to make spears:

Potatoes sliced into spears

The potatoes were sliced into small cubes, about half an inch:

Potatoes sliced into cubes

… and finally, the cubed potatoes were placed in the electric skillet with the carrots and onions:

Potatoes added to carrots and onions

Olive oil was added to the carrots, onions, and potatoes in the electric skillet:

Olive oil added to the vegetables

Salt was added to the vegetables and olive oil:

Salt added to vegetables and olive oil

The vegetables, olive oil, and salt, were mixed together:

Mixing vegetables, olive oil, and salt
Vegetables, olive oil, and salt thoroughly mixed

The vegetable mix and electric skillet were put aside until after the next step (mashing potatoes).

At this point, I turned my attention back to the potatoes, which were almost finished boiling.

Milk was taken out and measured:

Milk measured out

The boiled potatoes were drained:

Drained potatoes

… and the milk was poured into the pot of still steaming boiled potatoes:

Milk poured into the pot of boiled potatoes

Margarine was taken out, and a couple of dollops of margarine were measured out:

Dollops of margarine measured out

… and the margarine was added to the potatoes and milk:

Margarine added to the potatoes and milk

Salt was measured out again:

Salt measured out

… and the salt was added to the pot of boiled potatoes, milk, and margarine:

Salt added to boiled potatoes, milk, and margarine

The potatoes were mashed with a hand-held masher:

Mashing the potatoes, milk, margarine, and salt together
Mashed potatoes

The mashed potatoes were covered and put aside for later.

Back to the mixed chopped vegetables, the electric skillet was turned on …

Electric skillet turned on

… and the mixed chopped vegetables were fried.

In the meantime, the chicken breasts had become nicely cooked and browned:

Cooked and browned chicken breasts

The chicken was removed from the cast iron skillet, and put aside on a plate for a few moments.

Water was poured into the cast iron skillet to deglaze the pan:

Water added to pan to deglaze it

The cast iron skillet with the deglazing liquid were put aside for a few moments.

During this time, the vegetables began frying nicely:

Frying chopped vegetables

A box of commercial chicken broth was taken out …

Chicken broth taken out

… and the chicken broth was poured over the frying vegetables:

Chicken broth poured over frying vegetables

The deglazing liquid from the cast iron skillet was poured into the electric skillet with the vegetables and chicken broth:

Pouring deglazing liquid from the cast iron skillet into the electric skillet

The liquid in the electric skillet was brought to a boil:

Liquid in the electric skillet brought to a boil

The vegetables and liquid were covered and simmered for about 20 minutes.

In the meantime, back to the cooked chicken breasts, the chicken breasts were cut into rough cubes and smaller:

Cooked chicken breasts cut into small pieces

The chopped cooked chicken was then placed in a bowl, and put aside for a few moments:

Chopped cooked chicken

A cup of flour was measured out …

Flour measured out

… and poured into a mixing bowl:

Flour poured into a mixing bowl

Two more cups of milk were measured out:

Milk measured out

… and poured over the flour in the mixing bowl:

Milk poured over flour in mixing bowl

The flour and milk were thoroughly mixed with a fork:

Mixing flour and milk with a fork
Flour and milk thoroughly mixed

At this point, the vegetables and broth had been simmering for 20 minutes, and the chopped chicken was transferred to the electric skillet with the chopped vegetables and broth:

Chopped chicken being added to the electric skillet
Chopped chicken added to the electric skillet

The ingredients were mixed together with a large serving spoon:

Ingredients mixed with a large serving spoon

At this point, timing becomes important in order to mix things properly, before heat thickens the milk and flour mixture too much, making proper mixing more difficult.

The flour and milk mixture was added to the rest of the ingredients in the electric skillet:

Flour and milk mixture being added to the ingredients in the electric skillet

The electric skillet was unplugged, and quickly, the ingredients were all mixed together, fully mixing all the liquids as well as the rest of the ingredients:

All ingredients fully mixed

Previously, a number of baking containers were laid out:

Baking containers laid out

The filling was spooned into the baking pans, to about half the depth of the baking pans:

Filling spooned into baking pans
Baking pans filled with chicken / vegetable / sauce filling

The still warm mashed potatoes were spread on top of the chicken / vegetable / sauce filling in the baking pans:

Mashed potatoes were spread on top of the chicken / vegetable / sauce filling
All baking pans with mashed potato topping and filling

Sealable freezer bags were identified:

Identified freezer bags

The chicken pot pies were placed in individual bags:

Chicken pot pies in individual bags

And finally, the chicken pot pies were placed in the freezer for freezing, and of course future eating!

Chicken pot pies in the freezer

Yummy!

Making Three (or Five) Ingredient Cheese Biscuits — Photos

This week’s cooking projects from my collection of recipes included more chocolate buttercrunch (mostly) for mom, shortbread cookies for my brother, chicken soup, and, the subject of this post, three (or five) ingredient cheese biscuits. (The ambiguity about the number of ingredients lies in the recipe calling for self-rising flour, which you may or may not have on hand. If you don’t have any self-rising flour, you can easily make some yourself by adding two ingredients to regular flour; see below.)

These cheese biscuits are quite easy to make, such as for a light Saturday morning breakfast, or for afternoon tea. They are so tasty that six of the eight cheese biscuits I made this morning were eaten, while the other two frozen for another day, long before I started organizing and putting together this blog post. 🙂

First, I took out some parchment paper and lined a baking tray with a couple of stray pieces of parchment paper I had:

Lining a baking pan with parchment paper

Normally, the recipe calls for self-rising flour; I didn’t have any, so a cup of flour was measured out:

Flour measured out

The measuring cup with the flour was kept at hand.

A teaspoon and a half of baking powder was measured out:

Baking powder measured out

… and placed in the measuring cup with the flour:

Baking powder placed into the measuring cup with the flour

The measuring cup with the flour and baking powder was again kept at hand.

A quarter teaspoon of salt was measured out:

Salt measured out

… and the salt was added to the measuring cup with the flour and the baking powder:

Salt added to flour and baking powder

The flour, baking powder, and salt were mixed in the measuring cup with a fork:

Mixing flour, baking powder, and salt with a fork

And, because the measuring cup I was using has a two cup capacity, the measuring cup with the flour, baking powder, and salt was again kept at hand (see the next part.)

Greek yoghurt was taken out:

Greek yoghurt taken out

… and the greek yoghurt was spooned out of the container …

Spooning greek yoghurt out of the container

… and greek yoghurt was transferred into the measuring cup with the flour mixture until there was a cup’s worth of greek yoghurt added:

Greek yoghurt measured out

The measured out flour mixture and greek yoghurt were transferred to a mixing bowl:

Flour mixture and greek yoghurt transferred to a mixing bowl

The mixing bowl was put aside for a moment.

Cheese was taken out, along with a grater and bowl:

Cheese, grater, and bowl taken out

Cheese was grated:

Cheese being grated
Grated cheese

… and half a cup of the grated cheese was measured out:

Grated cheese measured out

The grated cheese was transferred to the mixing bowl with the flour mixture and the greek yoghurt:

Grated cheese transferred to the mixing bowl with the flour mixture and the greek yoghurt
Grated cheese transferred to the mixing bowl with the flour mixture and the greek yoghurt

At this point, I remembered that I needed to preheat my countertop convection oven to 425F:

Countertop convection oven preheated to 425F

I continued by mixing the flour mixture, greek yoghurt, and grated cheese in the bowl with a fork to make a stiff (and sticky!) dough:

Ingredients completely mixed with a fork

Balls of dough about the size of golfballs, without any further handling (nor any flattening out) were scooped out of the mixing bowl and placed on the baking tray:

Dough ball placed on the baking tray

… and the rest of the dough was portioned out to make a total of eight rough balls about the size of golfballs:

Dough balls placed on the baking tray

The baking tray with the biscuit dough was placed in the preheated countertop convection oven:

Biscuits placed in a preheated countertop convection oven

… and a timer was set to 18 minutes (obviously, the photo was taken about 10 seconds later!)

Timer set to 18 minutes

At the 16 minute mark, a couple of the cheese biscuits were taken out for mom, who likes the biscuits slightly less well baked than I do:

A couple of biscuits taken out at 16 minutes

… and the rest of the cheese biscuits were taken out at 18 minutes, and placed on a cooling rack:

Baked cheese biscuits on a cooling rack (mom’s biscuits on the right)

Regarding how tasty they are … as mentioned at the beginning of this post: “They are so tasty that six of the eight cheese biscuits I made this morning were eaten, while the other two frozen for another day, long before I started organizing and putting together this blog post. :)”

Making Lemon Squares — Photos

This week’s cooking projects from my collection of recipes included making bran muffins for my mom, more blondies, more chocolate buttercrunch, and the subject of this post, lemon squares. I started making them to have another dessert to add to my collection of recipes, and so I found a recipe on the Martha Stewart website, which I then converted to my format and whose measures I adjusted down by half. However, you may notice that in this recipe, the full amounts of the original recipe are also listed, since you may wish to make enough of these squares for a party; unfortunately, since the recipe does not freeze too well, I found that the full recipe was big enough that my mom and I started to get tired of them after eating them every day for a week!

UPDATE 20210608: This post is based on my “old” lemon squares recipe, which I have updated, replacing the base with appropriately adjusted amounts of my aunt’s shortbread cookie recipe.

There are two parts to these lemon squares: A shortbread base, and a lemon curd topping.

The base is made first:

First, in order to bring the margarine to room temperature, I took out margarine:

Margarine taken out of the fridge

… then margarine was measured out:

Margarine measured out

… and the margarine was put aside for a bit to warm up to room temperature.

In the meantime, I took out some parchment paper and an 8″ x 8″ baking pan …

Parchment paper and a baking pan

… and the baking pan was lined with parchment paper:

Baking pan lined with parchment paper

When the margarine had warmed up to room temperature, I placed it in a mixing bowl:

Margarine placed in a mixing bowl

Flour was taken out …

Flour container

… then the flour was measured out …

Flour measured out

… and the flour was poured into the mixing bowl with the margarine:

Pouring flour into mixing bowl with margarine
Flour in mixing bowl with margarine

Icing sugar was taken out …

Icing sugar

… measured out …

Icing sugar measured out

… and poured into the mixing bowl

Icing sugar poured into mixing bowl with flour and margarine
Icing sugar in mixing bowl with flour and margarine

Salt was taken out and measured …

Salt taken out and measured

… and added to the mixing bowl with the icing sugar, flour, and margarine:

Adding salt to the mixing bowl with icing sugar, flour, and margarine

A fork was used …

Using a fork to break the margarine into pieces the size of a pea

… to break up the margarine into pieces about the size of peas, mixing the icing sugar, flour, and margarine together in the process:

Margarine broken into pieces the size of peas

The mixed ingredients were transferred to the lined baking pan:

Transferring the mixed ingredients to the lined baking pan
Mixed ingredients transferred to the lined baking pan

The mixed ingredients were pressed down by hand:

Mixed ingredients were pressed down by hand
Mixed ingredients were pressed down by hand

A countertop convection oven was preheated to 350F:

Countertop convection oven preheated to 350F

… into which the baking pan was placed …

Baking pan placed in a countertop convection oven

… and a timer was set to 16 minutes (obviously, the photo was taken about 20 seconds later!)

Timer set to 16 minutes

Making the topping:

Eggs were taken out …

Eggs taken out

… two eggs were chosen ..

Two eggs taken out

… which were then cracked into a mixing bowl …

Egg cracked into mixing bowl
Two eggs cracked into a bowl

Ooops, I forgot to lightly beat the eggs.

Milk was taken out:

Milk taken out

Milk was measured out:

Milk measured out

The milk was poured into the mixing bowl with the eggs:

Milk poured into mixing bowl with eggs
Milk poured into mixing bowl with eggs

A bit of flour was measured out and added to the mixing bowl with the milk and eggs:

Adding flour to the milk and eggs
Flour added to the milk and eggs

Sugar was taken out:

Sugar taken out

Sugar was measured out:

Sugar measured out

The sugar was poured into the mixing bowl with the flour, milk, and eggs:

Sugar poured into the mixing bowl with the flour, milk, and eggs
Sugar poured into the mixing bowl with the flour, milk, and eggs

Salt was measured out:

Salt measured out

… and the salt was added to the mixing bowl with the sugar, flour, milk, and eggs:

Salt added to the mixing bowl with the sugar, flour, milk, and eggs
Mixing bowl with salt, sugar, flour, milk, and eggs

A fork was taken out …

Using a fork to mix the salt, sugar, flour, milk, and eggs

… to mix the salt, sugar, flour, milk, and eggs:

Salt, sugar, flour, milk, and eggs mixed with a fork

Lemon juice was taken out:

Lemon juice taken out

Lemon juice was measured out:

Lemon juice measured out

The lemon juice was poured into the mixing bowl:

Lemon juice poured into the mixing bowl
Lemon juice poured into the mixing bowl

… and the ingredients were mixed together with a fork:

Ingredients mixed with a fork

By this time, the base had finished baking, and was taken out of the countertop convection oven:

Baked base taken out of countertop convection oven

The topping was poured over the still hot base:

Topping poured over still hot base
Topping poured over still hot base

The temperature of the countertop convection oven was reduced to 325F:

Countertop convection oven preheated to 325F

The baking pan was placed again in the countertop convection oven:

Baking pan placed again in the countertop convection oven

… and a timer was set to 20 minutes (obviously, the photo was taken about 11 seconds later!)

Timer set to 20 minutes

A cooling rack was taken out for when the cooking was done:

Cooling rack taken out

When the baking was completed, the baking pan was taken out of the oven, and placed on the cooling rack:

Baking pan placed on a cooling rack

After a bit of cooling, the lemon squares were lifted out of the baking pan, and placed back on the cooling rack:

Lemon squares lifted out of the baking pan

I started slicing the whole dessert in half:

Slicing the dessert

… and I sliced the whole dessert into 16 pieces:

Dessert sliced into 16 pieces

Icing sugar was sprinkled on the top:

Icing sugar sprinkled on the top of the lemon squares

… and of course served!

Lemon squares served

Mom liked them; she also suggested that I try using my aunt’s shortbread recipe for the base, which I will try the next time I make lemon squares.

Making Vegetable Soup (Big Batch) — Photos

I started making vegetable soup in large quantities several years ago at my church to serve after services, and this weekend I made some for myself to have in the freezer.

Making the vegetable soup instead of another recipe from my recipe collection that I had planned was a bit of a last minute decision, given that the decision to go to the cottage this past weekend was made at the last minute. As such, being at the cottage, I was cooking in a different kitchen using different equipment from usual while making the soup (see pictures).

My 16 quart pot was placed on the stove:

Large pot on stove

A can each of crushed tomatoes and diced tomatoes were taken out:

28 oz cans of crushed tomatoes and diced tomatoes

The crushed tomatoes were poured into the pot:

Crushed tomatoes poured into a pot

The can with crushed tomatoes was rinsed with water, which was poured into the pot:

Rinsing crushed tomatoes can with water, and poured into the pot

The diced tomatoes were then poured into the pot:

Diced tomatoes poured into pot

A can of kidney beans was taken out …

19 oz can of kidney beans

… poured into the pot …

Kidney beans poured into the pot

… and the kidney beans can was rinsed with water, which was then poured into the pot as well:

Kidney bean can rinsed with water and poured into the pot

A 32 ounce (900 mL) box of vegetable broth was taken out …

A roughly 32 ounce (900 mL) box of vegetable broth

… and was poured into the pot:

Vegetable broth poured into the pot

About a kilogram (a bit over two pounds) of mixed frozen vegetables were taken out …

About 1kg of mixed frozen vegetables

… and poured into the pot:

Mixed vegetables poured into the pot

At this point, I started mixing the ingredients:

Ingredients in pot mixed

A 32 ounce (945mL) bottle of multi-vegetable cocktail was taken out …

32 oz (945mL) bottle of vegetable cocktail

… and poured into the pot:

32 oz (945mL) bottle of vegetable cocktail poured into the pot

At this point, the burner on the stove was turned on to start heating up the soup:

Stove under pot turned on

Throughout the following steps, I kept on mixing the soup in the pot to keep it from burning on the bottom of the pot.

Next, a couple of onions were taken out …

Two onions

… then the onions were cleaned and trimmed …

Onions cleaned and trimmed

… then the onions were sliced …

Sliced onions

… then the onions were chopped …

Chopped onions

… and the chopped onions were placed in a mixing bowl:

Chopped onions placed in mixing bow

A potato was taken out …

A potato

… and the potato was cleaned and trimmed:

Potato cleaned and trimmed

The potato was sliced along its length …

Potato sliced along its length

… the potato was then sliced into spears …

Potato sliced into spears

… then the potato was sliced into cubes …

Potatoes sliced into cubes

… and the potato cubes were placed into the mixing bowl with the chopped onions:

Potato cubes placed in mixing bowl with chopped onions

Two carrots were taken out …

Two carrots

… the carrots were cleaned and trimmed …

Carrots cleaned and trimmed

… then the carrots were quartered to make spears …

Carrots sliced into spears

… then the carrots were then chopped coarsely …

Carrots chopped coarsely

… and the chopped carrots were placed in the bowl with the potato cubes and chopped onions:

Chopped carrots placed in mixing bowl with potatoes and onions

Throughout all the vegetable chopping, I mixed the ingredients already in the pot while it was heating up, in order to avoid burning on the bottom of the pot.

Next, olive oil was added to the bowl of chopped vegetables …

Olive oil added to the chopped vegetables

… then the chopped vegetables and olive oil were mixed together to fully coat the chopped vegetables:

Mixed vegetables and olive oil mixed together

A cast iron skillet was preheated on the stove:

Cast iron skillet preheated on the stove

… and the mixed chopped vegetables and olive oil were transferred to the skillet:

Transferring mixed chopped vegetables and olive oil to the cast iron skillet
Mixed chopped vegetables and olive oil in the cast iron skillet

Salt was added to the frying chopped vegetables:

Salt added to the frying chopped vegetables

Once the chopped vegetables started to brown in the skillet, they were transferred to the soup pot that was continuing to be heated up:

Fried vegetables transferred to the soup pot

The skillet was deglazed with water …

Deglazing hot skillet

… and the deglazing liquid was added to the soup pot:

Deglazing liquid added to the soup pot

Half a cup of rice was measured out:

Half a cup of rice measured out

… and the rice was added to the soup.

Rice added to the soup

Water was added to the soup pot to bring the liquid level up to the eight quart mark:

Water added to soup pot to bring it to eight quart mark

The soup was continued to be heated:

Soup heating up

… and brought to a boil:

Boiling soup

The heat was reduced and the soup was simmered for over half an hour:

Simmering soup

I continued adjusting the salt level in the soup until it was to my taste.

While the soup was simmering, plastic containers (in this case, reused yoghurt containers) were laid out:

Plastic containers laid out

Once the soup had simmered for over half an hour (probably coming on to an hour), the soup was taken off the stove, and transferred to the containers with a ladle (the golden sheen is the olive oil reflecting the camera flash):

Soup transferred to plastic containers

And the containers were covered, and placed in the freezer:

Containers of soup placed in the freezer

Of course the soup is tasty!

Making Mini Meat Loaves — Photos

This week’s cooking projects from my recipe collection was to make my mini meat loaves, the subject of this post, plus, earlier in the week, blondies and bran muffins. My recipe for meat loaf is another example of one of my easy recipes whose formal existence lies in simply documenting rough amounts of ingredients required to make the dish, as well as filling the freezer with convenient prepared-in-advance foods in portions convenient for one to two people; admittedly, the recipe hardly describes a particularly technical, involved, or challenging dish.

First, I checked my container in which I collect and save bread crumbs and bread pieces to see if I’d had enough dried bread crumbs and bread pieces:

My container of dried bread crumbs and bread pieces

Although I did have a sufficient supply, I decided to add to it, by taking out a bread heel …

Bread heel

… which was sliced into spears …

Bread sliced into spears

… and then sliced again into cubes:

Bread cut into cubes

The bread was placed into a countertop convection oven in order to dry the bread cubes:

Bread cubes drying in a countertop convection oven

When dried (and perhaps slightly over-browned), the bread cubes were taken out of the countertop oven, and allowed to cool:

Dried bread cubes

The cooled bread cubes, and some of my existing supply, were placed in a measuring cup and put aside:

Dried bread put aside

Two onions were taken out …

Two onions

… trimmed …

Trimmed onions

… chopped somewhere between coarsely and finely …

Chopped onions

… and placed in a bowl, to be put aside for later use:

Chopped onions placed in a bowl

A serving plate was placed on a kitchen scale, which was set to imperial units, and set to zero:

Plate, and kitchen scale set to zero

Four pounds of ground beef were measured out …

Four pounds of ground beef

… and placed in a large mixing bowl (well in this case, a large salad bowl):

Ground beef placed in a mixing bowl

The dried bread cubes and bread crumbs were added to the mixing bowl:

Dried bread cubes and bread crumbs added to the mixing bowl

The chopped onions were added to the mixing bowl:

Chopped onions being added to the mixing bowl
Chopped onions added to the mixing bowl

A large egg was cracked and added to the mixing bowl:

Large egg added to the mixing bowl

A teaspoon of salt was added to the mixing bowl:

A teaspoon of salt was added to the mixing bowl

And pepper was added to the mixing bowl:

Pepper added to the mixing bowl

Here is the mixing bowl with all the ingredients in it:

Mixing bowl with all the ingredients

All ingredients were thoroughly mixed by hand:

Ingredients mixed by hand

The meat mix was formed into six individual mini loaves, and three mini loaves were placed in each of two loaf pans:

Meat mix formed into individual loaves and placed in loaf pans

The meat loaves were placed in a countertop oven preheated to 350F:

Meat loaves placed in countertop oven

Partway through the cooking, the meat loaves were removed from the oven, and basted with the drippings from the bottom of the baking pans:

Basting the meatloaves with drippings from the baking pan

At the end of the cooking, the meat loaves were removed from the countertop oven:

Fully cooked meat loaves

The drippings were transferred to a bowl …

Drippings from the pan were transferred to a bowl

… and the grease was cooled solid in a refrigerator:

Solidified grease

The solidified fat was separated from the other drippings, which were saved in a container and frozen for use in some future soup not yet otherwise planned; the solidified fat was wrapped in paper towelling, and placed in the curbside brown box for municipal composting.

In the meantime, the meat loaves were placed on a tray, to be placed in the freezer to quickly cool down:

Meat loaves placed on a tray to place in the freezer to cool down

Sealable sandwich bags were identified with the intended contents and the date:

Sandwich bags identified with the intended contents and the date

The now partially frozen meat loaves were placed in the sandwich bags:

Meat loaves placed in sandwich bags

Finally, the meat loaves were placed in the freezer again, for when I will be eating them.

They are really convenient to take out for last minute supper plans for two, and / or to have leftovers for lunches.

Making Chocolate Buttercrunch — Photos

This weekend’s cooking projects from my collection of recipes included a plain cake with lemon sauce, more pickled eggs (darn those sales on eggs! 🙂 ), and the subject of this post, chocolate buttercrunch. As with previous posts on making pickled eggs and making bran muffins, while I have already made a previous post with some pictures on the subject of chocolate buttercrunch, this post is all about the photos taken while making the chocolate buttercrunch.

First, a bowl was placed on a kitchen scale and the scale weight was set to zero:

Kitchen scale set to zero after placing a bowl on it

Then semi-sweet chocolate chips and milk chocolate buttons (as well as a few rosettes) were taken out …

Semi-sweet chocolate chips and milk chocolate buttons

… and 150 grams of each were weighed out in the bowl, for a total of 300 grams:

300 grams of semi sweet chocolate chips and milk chocolate buttons and rosettes

The chocolates were then put aside for later.

Then, two 13″ x 9″ baking pans were lined with parchment paper, and put aside for later:

Two 13″ x 9″ baking pans lined with parchment paper

To begin making the buttercrunch part, margarine was scooped up in a paper towel …

Margarine on a paper towel

… and a heavy pot was coated with the margarine:

Heavy pot coated with the margarine

A pound of butter was taken out …

A package of butter

… and half a pound of butter was cut off to be used in the recipe, while the remaining portion was put away:

Half a pound of butter was cut off

The butter was placed in the greased, heavy pot, and the stove turned on low:

Butter placed in the greased pot

On a low heat, the butter was completely melted:

Melted butter

A cup and a quarter of granulated white sugar was added to the melted butter …

A cup and a quarter of granulated white sugar added to the melted butter

… along with roughly two tablespoons of maple syrup …

Two tablespoons of maple syrup added

… and roughly two tablespoons of water:

Two tablespoons of water added

The melted butter, sugar, maple syrup, and water were mixed together …

Melted butter, sugar, maple syrup, and water mixed together

… and then stove burner was turned up from a low setting to a medium setting:

Stove raised to medium heat

And the mixture was heated, while constantly being stirred, and the temperature being monitored with a candy thermometer:

Mixture being heated, while constantly being stirred, and the temperature being monitored

Once the mixture reached 300F, it was transferred to the baking pans lined with the parchment paper …

Hot buttercrunch mixture transferred to baking pans lined with parchment paper

… and immediately spread out using a stiff spatula:

Buttercrunch mixture spread out in the baking pans

As a cautionary mention, be careful not to overheat the buttercrunch mixture, since shortly after 300F, the pan will scorch (this picture is normal, but it is at the point at which the candy would scorch if the buttercrunch were left in the pot any longer):

Scorching pot bottom

The chocolate prepared earlier was placed in a microwave oven for two and a half minutes to melt, and partway through, I took it out to blend it so as to help with even melting and to avoid hot spots which would promote burning:

Partially melted chocolates

And then the fully melted chocolate was taken out of the microwave, and fully blended (Note that this photo is from a previous batch some months ago):

Fully melted and blended chocolate

The fully melted and blended chocolate was poured onto the still-warm buttercrunch …

Melted chocolate poured onto the still-warm buttercrunch

… and then the chocolate was promptly spread over the buttercrunch with a stiff spatula:

Chocolate spread over the buttercrunch

The chocolate was allowed to just about fully cool to room temperature, and hence once the chocolate was congealed, a table knife was use to break the buttercrunch into rough pieces:

Chocolate buttercrunch broken into rough pieces with a table knife

The trays of chocolate buttercrunch were then placed in a fridge to completely cool and solidify the candy, and then the pieces were gingerly broken apart by hand (be careful, too much effort or enthusiasm in doing so will separate the chocolate from the buttercrunch):

Pieces of chocolate buttercrunch separated from each other

And finally, the candy was separated into bags:

Chocolate buttercrunch pieces separated into bags

Of course, mom received the largest bag, while my brother will get one of the other two bags.

Yummy!!!

Making Plain Cake (With Lemon Sauce) — Photos

This weekend’s cooking projects from my collection of recipes included more chocolate buttecrunch, more bran muffins, and the subject of this post, plain cake, with the addition of a lemon sauce as an experiment.

I came about to learning to make plain cake from scratch after I attempted to make a New York crumble cake I’d seen being made on a Martha Stewart cooking show. Not only was the cake not as expected — we were expecting mostly cake with a modest but tasty crumble crust, instead of the actual small amount of cake and a sizable crumble crust — the cake did not bake well, and I was very disinclined to try it again. The next day, I looked for a plain cake recipe on the internet and found one, which I adapted to my format.

First, two cups of flour were placed in a mixing bowl:

Two cups of flour added to a mixing bowl

… to which two teaspoons of baking powder were added:

Baking powder added to the flour

… as well as a quarter teaspoon of salt:

Quarter teaspoon salt added to flour and baking powder

The flour, baking powder, and salt were blended with a fork:

Blending flour, baking powder, and salt

The bowl was then put aside until later.

Margarine was picked up on a piece of paper towelling:

Margarine on a piece of paper towel

… in order to coat the interior surfaces of the baking pan:

Inner surfaces of baking pan coated with margarine

Then, a bit of flour was put in the pan …

Flour put into pan

… and spread around to coat the margarine:

Baking pan coated with flour and margarine

The baking pan was also put aside until later.

In another mixing bowl, a quarter cup of shortening was added:

A quarter cup of shortening in a mixing bowl

The shortening was creamed with an electric mixer:

Creamed shortening

A cup of sugar was added to the creamed shortening:

Adding a cup of sugar to the creamed shortening

… and the sugar and shortening were blended:

Sugar and shortening blended

An egg was added to the mixing bowl:

Egg added to mixing bowl

… and the ingredients were again blended:

Egg, sugar, and shortening blended

A teaspoon of vanilla extract was added to the mix:

A teaspoon of vanilla extract being added to the mix
A teaspoon of vanilla extract added to the mix

… and again, the ingredients were blended.

About a third of the flour mix prepared earlier, and about a third of a cup of milk, were added to the ingredients:

A third of the flour mix and a third of a cup of milk added to the ingredients

… and completely blended:

Cake batter thoroughly mixed

The previous two steps were repeated twice until all the milk and flour mix were blended into the batter.

The batter was then transferred to the floured baking pan:

Batter transferred to baking pan

… and placed in a countertop convection oven preheated to 350F:

Cake pan in countertop convection oven

At this point, I was getting rather thirsty, so I poured myself some iced tea, and a bottle of my homebrew, a Belgian-style brown ale, made with water from filtered, melted ice from the lake at my cottage:

Some of my homebrew, and some iced tea
Aaahhhhh …

Since my mom suggested that a lemon drizzle be added to the cake, first a few tablespoons of icing sugar were placed in a bowl:

Icing sugar added to a bowl

… to which half the number of teaspoons of lemon juice were added:

Lemon juice added to the icing sugar

… and the ingredients were mixed, then put aside for later:

Icing sugar and lemon juice mixed together

Soon, the cake in the oven was puffing up and browning:

Cake baking in the oven

… and was taken out of the oven after 55 minutes of baking:

Fully baked cake

The cake was pricked multiple times with a thick needle …

Pricking the cake

… to allow for some absorption of the lemon sauce which was poured over the cake with a small plastic scoop:

Pouring the lemon sauce on the cake

… at which point, the cake looked like follows:

Baked cake with lemon sauce

When cooled, a knife was used to loosen the cake around its edges in the baking pan, and the cake was taken out of the baking pan:

Cake removed from baking pan

A few slices of cake were cut from the cake:

Cake with some pieces sliced off

And, of course, the cake was yummy! And mom said “Delicious!”

Making Chicken Soup — Photos

This week’s cooking project from my collection of recipes is my recipe for chicken soup. Originally, I put together the recipe to make soup on one of the occasions I did so for the coffee and social hour at my church (a different kind of soup from the vegetable soup I initially, and usually, make on such occasions), hence a volume of eight quarts; normally at home, I make four quarts of this soup. However, today I decided I would make the full eight quart recipe and test out how well it freezes, never having tried to freeze this soup before. (Update 20210407: I have since made another eight quarts of the soup, it having been gobbled up rather quickly, and for both batches, it froze and defrosted quite nicely.)

First, I emptied six 900ml boxes of store-bought chicken broth …

Six – 900mL boxes of chicken broth

… into my 16 quart stock pot:

Chicken broth transferred to a pot

Then, four pounds of chicken pieces …

Four pounds of chicken

… were placed into the chicken broth …

Chicken pieces placed in the chicken broth

… and brought to a boil:

Broth and chicken brought to a boil

While the broth and chicken were heating up and boiling for about 30 minutes, carrots were taken out (yes, these were a bit on the old side):

Carrots taken out

The carrots were cleaned and trimmed:

Cleaned and trimmed carrots

Then, they were quartered, length-wise:

Quartered carrots

… and then the carrots were chopped coarsely:

Chopped carrots

The chopped carrots were placed in a bowl, and put aside for later:

Chopped carrots in a bowl and put aside

Then, celery (a bit more than called for in my recipe) was taken out and cleaned:

Cleaned celery sticks

The celery stalks were trimmed:

Trimmed celery stalks

Then the celery stalks were were sliced lengthwise:

Celery stalks sliced lengthwise

… and then the celery stalks were chopped coarsely:

Chopping the celery

The chopped celery was placed in a bowl, and put aside for later:

Chopped celery in a bowl and put aside

About two pounds of onions were then taken out …

About two pounds of onions

… trimmed …

Trimmed onions

… quartered …

Quartered onions

… and chopped coarsely:

Chopped onions

The chopped onions were placed in a bowl, and put aside for later:

Chopped onions in a bowl and put aside

At this point, the chicken and broth had been boiling for about 30 minutes:

Cooked chicken after boiling for 30 minutes

… and the chicken pieces were taken out of the broth, and placed on a cutting board:

Cooked chicken taken out of the broth and placed on a cutting board

The heat under the broth was turned off for the time being, and the chicken put aside for a few moments to allow some cooling.

In the meantime, the chicken fat was skimmed off the top of the broth and placed in a fat separator:

Skimmed chicken fat in a fat separator

The soup fraction at the bottom was transferred back to the soup pot, and the fat was transferred to a bowl to solidify:

Liquid chicken fat transferred to a bowl

Should one not have a fat separator, the skimmed fat can be placed in a large bowl or pot, and ice can be added to more quickly solidify the fat, allowing for its easy removal so that the (now diluted) soup fraction underneath can be returned to the soup pot:

Ice added to the chicken fat to solidify it and recover the liquid soup underneath

Returning to the soup ingredients, I separated the somewhat cooled chicken meat …

Chicken meat separated from bones, skin, and cartilage

… from the bones, skin, and cartilage:

Bones, skin, and cartilage separated from the chicken meat

The bones, skin, and cartilage were wrapped up in paper along with the solidified chicken fat, and the trimmings from the carrots, celery, and onions, to be placed in my curbside brown box for pickup for municipal composting.

The chicken meat was placed back on the cleaned cutting board:

Chicken meat placed back on the cutting board

… and the chicken meat was chopped coarsely:

Coarsely chopped chicken

The chopped chicken was placed in a bowl, and put aside for later:

Chopped chicken

At this point, I started “assembling” the soup, by adding the chopped celery to the still-hot broth:

Adding chopped celery to the chicken broth

… then the chopped carrots:

Adding chopped carrots to the chicken broth

… then the chopped onions:

Adding chopped onions to the chicken broth

… and finally the chopped chicken meat:

Adding chopped chicken to the chicken broth

Given that the commercial broth purchased for today’s cooking had sufficient salt content for my liking, barely a shake of extra salt was added to the pot.

The soup was brought to a boil again, and boiled for another thirty minutes:

Soup boiling again

Here’s the soup after boiling all the ingredients together for thirty minutes:

Cooked chicken soup. Yummy!

The cooked chicken soup was transferred to ten used yoghurt containers for freezing, and two more slightly larger containers (on the right) to put in the fridge for supper later on in the day:

Ten containers of soup for freezing, and two more slightly larger containers for supper

The soup for supper was great, and the individual containers are already in the freezer for future eating.