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Megans Cookin: January 2010

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Chocolate and Rose: A Valentine Nanaimo Bar Recipe

First, let’s get the required verbiage out of the way, shall we? Here it goes!

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

BUT!nanaoima bars 012 copy

I’m a naughty girl.

I didn’t follow the rules.

I didn't make my own Gluten Free Graham crackers.

But, in my defense,

I didn't want to miss out on all the fun. I have wanted to make these bars since I first saw them on our trip to Victoria Canada. It’s been 2 years! So I couldn’t let life, time and a batch of Celtic free cracker stand in my way.

Could I?

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I used store bought graham crackers that were sitting in the cupboard!. It made it easy to whip up this batch!

And with Valentine’s Day right around the corner, how could I resist trying a rose and chocolate combo?  I couldn’t!

So I made a batch trying to incorporate Rose Water into the middle cream layer. I never seem to use enough of this flavoring. I’m always afraid I’ll use too much, and it will taste perfumed. So again, my flavoring went undetected. I used 2 capfuls which was about 1/2 a teaspoon. O-well, it was a nice try, don't you think?

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I also had difficulty with the top layer. As you can see, it wasn’t the prettiest. I really think if I had used the right pan, an 8x8 inch pan, it would have worked out better for me.

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The pan I used was a little bit bigger resulting in not enough topping to spread evenly and my layer's were a little thin. But I wanted to use this flower shaped pan so I could it into hearts and give them away. Sweet deal!

I told Barbara they looked better upside down. She told me to be daring and present them that way.

So I did!

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 These are a delicious, no-bake bar that is fast and simple.

In my so humble opinion, one of life’s “Must Try”!

Nanaimo Bars

(Printable Recipe)

 Bottom Layer

1/2 cup (4 ounces) Unsalted Butter
1/4 cup Granulated Sugar
5 tablespoons Unsweetened Cocoa
1 Large Egg, Beaten
1 1/4 cups Graham Wafer Crumbs
1/2 cup) Almonds (Any type, Finely chopped)
1 cup Coconut (Shredded, sweetened or unsweetened)

Middle Layer
1/2 cup (4 ounces) Unsalted Butter
2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons Heavy Cream
2 tablespoons  Vanilla Custard Powder (Such as Bird’s. Vanilla pudding mix may be substituted.)
2 cups  Icing Sugar                                                                1 teaspoon Rose Water (Optional)

Top Layer
4 ounces Semi-sweet chocolate
2 tablespoons (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.

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Monday, January 25, 2010

Martha’s Maple Granola Recipe

It’s time for Martha Monday!

Maple Granola

This weeks recipe was chosen by MaryAnn of Stirring It Up With Meg and she choose Martha’s Maple Granola. What a great choice!

This stuff is delicious.

I’m mean serious delicious.

Maple Granola

I wasn’t big on granola, except for maybe a little on my breakfast yogurt, but this is a real treat. An addiction if you must know. It makes me excited for breakfast.

It’s a good thing!


Maple Granola

Martha’s Maple Granola

(printable Recipe)

  • 3 Cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup dried unsweetened coconut
  • 1 cup pecans or walnuts, quartered
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds
  • 1 teaspoon course sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together all ingredients except raisins. Spread granola in an even layer on rimmed baking sheet. Bake, stirring every 10 minutes for 40 minutes.Add raisins and bake till toasted, about 10 minutes more. Let cool completely.

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Saturday, January 23, 2010

Lemon and Basil Eggs Over Foccacia Bread


 Did you know Valentines Day falls on the weekend this year?

Ahh, but don’t you fret, I have a sexy little recipe that’s perfect for a Valentine’s Weekend, orany weekend!

Lemon and Basil Eggs over Foccacia Bread

It’s eggs, basil, cheese and milk, mixed with bread cubes and baked in a hollowed out loaf of bread! Brushed with a little lemon and oil, it’s


I’ve made this many times, for many people, and it’s always been a winner. The family gets pretty excited when I pull this recipe out.

I like the smiles!


Lemon and Basil Eggs over Foccacia Bread

Fresh from the oven!

Lemon and Basil Eggs over Foccacia Bread

Ok, So I have quite a few pictures to share. I've been playing with my camera, trying to learn to take decent pictures.

I’m also trying to convince myself that I don’t need a new camera, while convincing The Hubby that I do! ;-)

Lemon and Basil Eggs over Foccacia Bread

Would you like a slice?

Lemon and Basil Eggs over Foccacia Bread

Lemon and Basil Eggs over Foccacia Bread

  Recipe by Giada de-laurentiis


  • 1 large loaf foccacia bread (I used 2  small Pugula loafs)
  • 2 tablespoons Meyer lemon olive oil, or 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil combined with 1 teaspoon lemon juice (I used 3 TBSP oil and 1 1/2 TBSP lemon juice)
  • 3 eggs (I used 4)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves (Sometimes I use Italian Seasoning, if I don't have fresh basil)
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup milk


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Cut the top off the foccacia and hollow out the bread inside. Tear the top of the foccacia and the inside bread into 1-inch pieces and save for the egg mixture. Brush the inside of the foccacia with the Meyer lemon olive oil. Place on a baking sheet and toast for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk the eggs. Add the basil, cheese, salt, pepper, and milk. Whisk lightly. Stir in up to 4 cups of the bread pieces.

Carefully pour the egg mixture into the toasted foccacia bottom. Return to the oven and bake until the eggs have cooked, about 35 to 40 minutes.

Cut the baked foccacia into 6 to 8 pieces and serve immediately


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Monday, January 18, 2010

Recipe for Mandarin Orange Chicken with Garlic and Thyme

Trying to keep it healthy when one has a huge sweet tooth is not an easy task. I keep dreaming of that Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake and all those Christmas cookies. Liqueur Soaked Pound Cakes and Macarons keep clouding my head.

Manderan Chicken w/Garlic and Thyme

But with the new decade upon us, along with those unwanted extra holiday pounds, I have been gathering delicious healthy dinner recipes instead of bookmarking all the fabulous goodies that I’ve seen floating around.    It’s a tough job…

but one I’ll gladly do for you.

BTW, you look like you lost weight! Yes?

Your looking good!

Manderan Chicken w/Garlic and Thyme

Today’s healthy choice is a delicious Mandarin Orange Chicken that I made in the Crockpot.  It was so tender that it just fell a part. (As seen in photo) I had a few extra cans of oranges and a lot of garlic hanging around so I just dumped and cook. It was a winner with my family, which to tell you the truth, surprised me. My kind of weekday meal!

Manderan Chicken w/Garlic and Thyme

I served it with the Lemon Green Beans and Shallots that I found at Maria’s site, Two Peas and Their Pod. Thank you Maria for rounding out my dinner perfectly. It made for a snappy dinner that tantalized my taste buds!

Mandarin Orange Chicken

(Printable Recipe)


  • 1 lb - chicken breast, skinless & boneless (Thighs would be good here too!)
  • 1 - 8oz can - mandarin oranges,
  • 1 tbsp - Ginger, ground
  • 1 tsp – Salt
  • 5 cloves - garlic (minced)
  • 1/2 cup - orange juice
  • 1 tsp fresh Thyme
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch


Place chicken in Crockpot. Add the rest of the ingredients, except the cornstarch, to the Crockpot.

Cook on high for about 4 hours or on low for about 8 hours. Note: Times and temps will vary. I think I might have even started with frozen chicken.

Remove chicken and put orange sauce in a small sauce pan. Stir a little water into the cornstarch to make a this paste. Add to orange sauce and cook on medium heat till thickened. Spoon over chicken and enjoy!

Find the Green bean recipe on Maria’s site by clicking here!

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Friday, January 15, 2010

HBin5: A Whole Grain Artesian Free Form Loaf

 Today's post is the official start to the new bread baking club that is baking their way through the new cookbook Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes a Day. You may remember that back in November and December, we were given the bonus recipes of Pumpkin Pie Brioche and Cranberry Orange Challah breads to wet our whistle. Except remember, my challah was made with chocolate chips. Ooh, the warm memories!

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Anyway, were starting off the year with the Whole Grain Master Recipe. With this basic dough, we were to make a regular free form loaf of bread, an Epi, (a shaped loaf to resemble a wheat stalk), and Spicy Whole Grain Crackers.

Whole Grain Bread

 Can I first tell you how easy this is? It literally took me 5 minutes to mix some flour, yeast, salt, vital wheat gluten, and water in my dough bucket, Then you leave it for a couple of hours to grow.

Whole Grain Bread

 At this point you can use it right away or refrigerate it for up to 14 days. I choose to refrigerate it because it makes the dough easier to handle. Then you just form your loaf and bake. Bread baking does not have to be intimidating anymore!

Whole Grain Bread

 This was my first loaf. Basic but beautiful!

Whole Grain Bread

My next loaf I topped with a mixture of poppy, sesame, flax, and sunflower seeds. I really like the way this one looked and tasted with the seeds on top.

Whole Grain Bread

My third loaf was made for a friend as part of her Christmas present. Since she cant have seeds and nuts due to dietary restrictions, I sprinkled her favorite Italian seasoning on top. This is her first loaf in the bread of the month club that she will be receiving. I gotta share that bread baking love!


I didn’t make the epi, but I did manage to get the crackers baked. These were habit forming. Impressive yet easy, if I may say so myself!


I topped my crackers with an assortment of toppings.

I used;

  • Chili powder and kosher salt
  • Johnny’s Garlic Spread Seasoning
  • Grill Mates Montreal Steak Seasoning
  • Black Hawaiian Sea Salt
  • Salish Alder Smoked Sea Salt

A great big thank you to Michelle from Big Black Dogs for hosting our bread baking adventure. You can check out her blog for all the information and for a list of participants.

You can also check out the Artesian Bread in 5 Minutes A Day blog where you can find step by step instructions and the Whole Grain Master Recipe. They also have a lot of good recipes and ideas so take a look around. I want to make the Pizza Lollipops!


To order your own HBin5 Cookbook, Click on the above cookbook!

To win a free copy of this book,

go to Simply Daily Recipes! Jill has 4 more copies to giveaway. Winner of the second book will be announced January 22. Good Luck!

I hope you enjoyed my adventure in bread. Wait till you see what we have cookin’ for the end or the month. Something tells me your gonna like it. Just a little tease!

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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Easy Chinese Stir Fry with Chicken

 Easy Chinese Chicken Stir Fry

 When I was in my early forties, my girlfriend and I were starting a new exercise program. Since we hadn’t been to the gym in awhile, we decided to take the class that was geared toward the 50 and over crowd, called Young at Heart.

We showed up on this particular day, feeling playful and goofy, laughing and having a good time. This older gentleman came up to us and said, “When you hit 50, it’s not so funny anymore.”


Those words have stuck with me for years now and guess what? I’m 50 years old and it’s not funny anymore. It’s time for some changes!


I have joined Lori AKA Recipe Girl in her 10in10 challenge. It’s building a better you in the first 10 weeks of 2010. Whether you want to lose weight, start exercising, eat healthy, quit smoking, what ever it is that you want to change, now is the time. And it’s not to late to sign up! It’s a new decade, a new year, a new you. Because apparently when you hit 50, it’s not so funny anymore!aerobicsga7

My goals for 2010 are to eat healthier, yes shed a few of those unwanted pounds, and exercise more. I’m starting with baby steps here because I don't want to set myself up for failure. I’m aiming for walking the nearby 3 mile trail at least 3 days a week, and eating healthier meals. I want to cut back on the butter and the white stuff (flour and sugar). I just want to stretch my body, build endurance, and feel better.Easy Chinese Chicken Stir Fry

This quick and easy Chinese stir fry fit into this plan perfectly. It was a light and tasty dinner and I was excited to have the leftovers for lunch the next day. I always know a dish is a winner if it can get me excited for lunch the next day!

Easy Chinese Stir Fry

(Printable Recipe)

Inspired by Kraft

  • 1 tsp. oil
  • 1 lb.  chicken
  • 3 carrots, sliced
  • 1/3 cup   Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing
  • 2 Tbsp. hoisin sauce
  • 2   green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup sugar snap peas
  • 3 ounces Udon noodles (1 bundle)

HEAT oil in large skillet on medium-high heat. Add meat and carrots; cook and stir 5 min.

STIR in dressing and hoisin sauce; stir-fry 7 min. or until carrots are crisp-tender, stirring frequently.


Boil noodles in boiling water for 4 minutes. drain and add noodles right to stir fry.

ADD onions;and pea, cook 1 min.

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Monday, January 11, 2010

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake

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Yesterday was my daughters 15th birthday! I had grand plans for her birthday cake but I was pretty much shot down at every corner.

“Just make cupcakes, mom” is what I kept hearing. Doesn’t she know I’m a food blogger who loves to bake the sweet treats?

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I was thinking of a Zebra Cake  to look like this or maybe this cute little hand bag purse cake. But, it didn’t go my way.

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When I first saw this sweet little cake at Bakerella, I knew I had to make it someday. I guess I got lucky, the brat  darling daughter agreed to it. A six inch  Chocolate Buttermilk Cake with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups chopped up in the batter with a Chocolate Peanut Butter Ganache for the frosting. And of course another umpteen PB cups to cover the whole shebang!  Now that was a cake!PB cake 010

And we got baby cakes too!

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It was one of the easiest cakes I ever made!

Want to know why?

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It all starts with a Devils Food cake mix!

Ohh…  you could make a scratch cake,

but I didn’t.


Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake

1 Devil’s food cake mix
3 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 cups chopped peanut butter cups (plus more for garnishing)
8 oz. dark chocolate, chopped
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup peanut butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat two 9-inch cake pans with non-stick cooking spray. Line with wax paper and coat paper.

In a large bowl, beat cake mix, eggs, buttermilk and vegetable oil on low for 30 seconds. Increase speed to medium-high and beat for 2 minutes. Scrape down sides after 1 minute. Fold in 2 cups of the chopped peanut butter cups.

Pour batter into pans and bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Cool cakes completely.

Place chopped dark chocolate in a medium bowl. Bring cream just to a boil and then pour over chocolate. Whisk until chocolate melts. Add peanut butter and whisk until smooth.

Trim each cake layer so the tops are flat. Place one layer on a cooling rack and pour 1 cup frosting on top. Spread evenly with a spatula. Add second layer and pour remaining frosting over top and sides of cake. Smooth out with spatula.

Allow frosting to set for about 5-10 minutes and gently press remaining chopped peanut butter cup pieces all over top and sides of cake. Place in refrigerator for about an hour to set. Remove and serve.

Megan’s Notes-I used 1 bag of the Reese’s Dark Chocolate PB cups in the batter and  1 container of Trader Joe’s tiny PB cups for the garnish.


Thursday, January 7, 2010

Coconut Rum and Amaretto Liqueur Pound Cakes

Liquor Cake

During the holidays, I participated in a Secret Santa gift exchange. It was hosted by the magnificent Joy, author of Gourmeted,  Thank you Joy!!!

She sent everyone a “Santa Baby” name and address so we could send something fabulous, whether  it be homemade or bought,  And in true Christmas style, it wasn’t about the money, it was about the thought!

I received my package from the lovely Lindsey who writes the blog Scoop: Adventures in Ice Cream. It’s all about ice cream and she has some good looking scoops that I’ll be trying during the hot days of summer.

She sent me some delicious homemade Cowboy Cookies that didn’t last long in my house. My daughter even said, :You should get the recipe for these mom!” So Lindsey, if you wouldn’t mind? :)

Cowboy Cookies

She also sent me some killer candied nuts that had a hint of orange and pepper. They were good right out of hand but I managed to sprinkle some on a salad for a light killer lunch.

Candied Nuts

And look at this adorable apron! 

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Yep!!! She sent me that too.

Thank you Lindsey for being my Secret Santa and for  the wonderful things you sent. I loved them all.


Who and what did I send my Secret Santa Baby you ask?

My package went to the talented Amy of She Wears Many Hats.

Among with some other things, I sent her a pound cake!

And not just any pound cake!Liquor Cake

It was Coconut Rum Soaked Liqueur Pound Cake!

It’s a rich and delicious cake soaked in liqueur. Because they store well unrefrigerated, they make perfect gifts to leave under the tree or to send to friends far and near.

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I made  Coconut Rum and Amaretto Pound cakes.

But they would be equally delicious if you used an orange liqueur or hazelnut. You can even make chocolate ones and use a coffee liqueur. So many options!

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You could even make them now. Then you could have a few little loaves for Super Bowl and save some for Valentines Day. Trust me, it would be a  a win win situation!

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Liqueur Pound Cakes

  • 1 1/2 cups butter, at room temp.
  • 1 pound powdered sugar
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 3/4 cups cake flour
  • Liqueur Syrup (recipe follows)

In a large bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter till creamy. Sift powdered sugar, gradually, add to creamed butter beating untill mixture is light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Gradually mix flour into creamed mixture.

Scrape batter into four 3 1/2 x7 inch loaf pans. Smooth top of batter.

Bake at 300 degrees until a wooden toothpick inserted into center comes out clean (about 50 minutes). Let cool in pans on a rack for 5 minutes. Run a knife around the edges of each pan and turn cake out; immediately return cake to pan. With a wooden skewer or a fork, poke 1 inch deep holes all over the top of the cakes. Immediately pour equal amounts of liqueur syrup over each cake. Let cool on rack for about 30 minutes.

Liqueur Syrup

In a 2 to 3 quart pan, combine 2 cups sugar, 1/2 cup corn syrup, and 3/4 cup water. Stir over medium heat until mixture comes to a simmer. Continue heating, without stirring, until mixture comes to a boil. Cover and continue to boil until sugar is dissolved and liquid is clear-about 1 minute. (If you don't cover the pan and if you stir while syrup boils, crunchy sugar crystals will form in the finished cake)

Remove from heat, uncover, and let stand until it’s slightly cooled (about 5 minutes). Stir in 1 1/4 cups rum or almond, hazelnut, or orange flavored liqueur. Use; or let cool, then cover and let stand at room temperature till the next day. Makes 3 1/2 cups.

Chocolate Liqueur Cakes

Follow directions for Liqueur Pound Cake, but decrease powdered sugar to 3 cups. Combine butter and sugar, then add 5 ounces melted semi-sweet chocolate. Cakes will develop a thin crisp top crust as they bake.

Prepare Liqueur Syrup as directed, but decrease water to 1/2 cup and increase rum or liqueur to 1 1/2 cups. Options include almond, hazelnut, orange, coffee, or chocolate flavored liqueurs. As syrup soaks through cake, top crust will soften. 


Note: Wrapped and stored in a cool area, they will last for up to 2 weeks. In the refrigerator, up to 1 month, or in the freezer for up to 6 months.

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