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Archive for January, 2011

 

They say that bad things happen in 3’s.

Case in point when I lost a wallet on 3 different occasions in 2 months. The first time I left my purse (wallet, keys, cell phone, aka my life) on the bus at 11pm. It wasn’t pretty but an incredible friend of mine drove me down to the bus depot at that nasty hour and I got everything back. Not a thing was taken.

Time number two was when I was visiting one of my favorite people in Minnesota. My wallet was left at the IHOP but thankfully turned in by some kid, again everything just as I had left it.

And finally the time I put my Mom’s wallet on the trunk of the car and we drove away. Some nice lady found it in the middle of the road and dropped it off at our house. Amazing right!? 3 wallets lost and 3 wallets returned, nothing ever taken.  Honest people really do exist and I couldn’t be more appreciative.

In other news, I’m currently sitting at baking blunder #2, waiting for #3 to strike at any time. I made Peanut Butter Brownies, followed the instructions to a T, baked them for 40 minutes as suggested, but they ended up being totally overbaked. Not fun.

Then there was this loaf. I baked it for 50 minutes, like the recipe said, the toothpick came out clean in a few places and the top was a nice golden color. After 10 minutes of cooling I attempted to flip the loaf out of the pan and uncooked batter came oozing out of the center. Perfect. Absolutely perfect. Solution…attempt to bake the darn thing again. Fortunately it worked. The top was pretty dark but the inside is delicious. So lemony and moist. I hate the word moist. Mmmmoist. But better moist than dry!

The combinations for this loaf are endless but I would recommend the lemon and blueberry…although come summer and blackberry season you can bet your bottom dollar that I’ll be trying that combo. Until then I’ll be waiting for baking blunder #3 to pass. Wish me luck!

Lemon Yogurt Loaf

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

1 1/2 cups + 1 tbsp flour     2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt                          1 cup vanilla yogurt
1 cup + 1 tbsp sugar           3 eggs
2 tsp grated lemon zest      1/2 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup vegetable oil           1 1/2 cups blueberries (fresh or frozen)

1/3 cup lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Line the bottom of a loaf pan with parchment paper. Grease and flour the pan.

Combine 1 1/2 cups flour, baking powder, and salt.

In another bowl, mix the  yogurt, 1 cup sugar, eggs, lemon zest, vanilla and oil. Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.

Mix the blueberries with the remaining tablespoon of flour and fold into the batter. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 50 (+) minutes, or until a cake tester placed in the center of the loaf comes out clean.

Meanwhile, cook the 1/3 cup lemon juice and remaining 1 tablespoon sugar in a small pan until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear. Set aside.

When the cake is done cool in the pan for 10 minutes before flipping out onto a cooling rack. While the cake is still warm, pour the lemon-sugar mixture over the cake and allow it to soak in (a pastry brush works great for this, or use a toothpick to make tiny holes that draw the syrup in better). Cool.

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Snickers Brownies

I’m not original. I like to copy things.

Grade 1. Ms. Clapham’s class. I got caught for plagiarism. In my defense I really didn’t mean to do it, she didn’t give me the chance to fully explain myself. I started out by copying the cartoon version of the book “The Little Mermaid,” and had every intention of rewriting the ending…but she caught me before I had gotten to my revised edition.

Grade 4. Ms. Henry’s class. I can’t draw to save my life and she knew it too, so I copied my neighbour’s work. Hence the C+ grade on my report card, aka the lowest grade that I ever received and my low self-esteem when it comes to all things art.

Crushing people’s dreams one student at a time. I’m not bitter I swear. And now I’m a teacher, oh the irony!

So maybe I’m not creative. If you are into food blogs like I am you might have already realized this. Most of the recipes that I share come from somewhere else, they aren’t my original creations. What they definitely are though is delicious.

Take these brownies for example. Brownie with pieces of Snickers bars mixed in. Delicious. If I were to do it again though I would add in more Snickers (even though I knew that there were Snickers in there they were a subtle addition).

Or maybe I’d use another kind of chocolate bar, the opportunities are endless. Looks like I could be creative after all…

Snickers Brownies

Adapted from How To: Simplify

3/4 cup butter     1 1/2 cups sugar

3 eggs                 1 1/2 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup cocoa      3/4 cup flour

1/3 tsp salt          1/3 tsp baking powder

2 Snickers bars, chopped

Preheat oven to 350F.

Melt butter in a pot. Remove from heat and add sugar and vanilla.

Let cool for 2 minutes and add the eggs. Stir until combined.

Mix in cocoa powder, flour, salt and baking powder, stirring until incorporated.

Pour 2/3rds of the mixture into a greased 8-inch square pan. Spread chopped Snickers pieces on top of the batter. Pour the remaining batter on the previous layer.

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

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Grandma turned 97 the other day. I think it’s safe to say that she’s pretty old.

What you should also know is that Grandma is hands down one of my favorite people. She still lives on her own, does all of her cooking and has the memory of an elephant (they never forget things, right?). Absolutely amazing. 

I’ve decided that I want to be just like her when I grow up. I want to send my grandchildren cards for their birthdays and Christmas, I want to be a fabulous baker, be willing to play card games anytime anywhere, be able to tell great stories about my life, have a killer sense of

humour and be surrounded by friends and family who love and adore me.

I think it’s one of my life goals to live to be 100 years old. Get a letter from the Queen and have my name mentioned on Global TV’s evening newscast? Sign me up!

Our family recently gathered to celebrate another birthday for Grandma. I wanted to make the birthday cakes but realized that it would be easier to let the professionals do what they do best. If I’d have had time maybe I would have made this cake again.

Chocolate cake with caramel sauce in the middle and Bailey’s icing to top it all off. The cake itself is quite dense and thick so ice cream is a must in my opinion. The icing is delicious but if I were to make it again I would probably add more Bailey’s (I found that the recipe was not fluffy enough for my liking). Nonetheless the cake was still delicious.

Happy Birthday Grandma, here’s to, at the very least, 3 more!

Chocolate Caramel Cake with Bailey’s Icing

Recipe from Betty Crocker’s Cookbook

Chocolate Cake

2 1/4 cups flour                   1 2/3 cups sugar

3/4 cup butter                     2/3 cup cocoa

1 1/4 cups water                 1 1/4 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt                             1 tsp vanilla

 1/4 tsp baking powder       2 eggs

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease two 9″ round pans with shortening and lightly flour.

Beat all ingredients together on low speed until fully combined. Be sure to scrape the bowl a number of times.

Pour into pans and bake 30 – 35 minutes.

Caramel Filling

1 package Caramel pudding

Make the caramel pudding by following the instructions on the packaging. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or until set.

Spread the pudding over one of the chocolate cake layers. Place the second layer of cake on top and ice when ready.

Bailey’s Icing

1/2 cup butter             2 tbsp Bailey’s Irish Cream

2/3 cups icing sugar

Beat the butter with an electric mixture until creamy and smooth.

Add the Bailey’s and half of the icing sugar. Beat until smooth. Add the remaining icing sugar and beat again.

Ice the prepared cake.

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January is a dumb month. Other than the NFL playoffs nothing good happens. It’s cold. It’s dark. And I don’t like that combination.

I don’t even know what to bake. What is January appropriate baking? It’s not like May when I can make delicious rhubarb desserts, or the summer when there is so much fresh fruit on hand to create with, or the fall when apples and pumpkin take center stage, let alone Christmas time with sweets galore.

January just sits there and drags on. It’s kind of like a conversation with an old person at church. They just keep talking and talking, while you sit there “listening,” plotting how to get out asap. Are you done yet? Your dentures are causing you gum pain? Lord have mercy!

Sorry. Back on topic. Are you allowed to make gingerbread in January? Or is that only a Christmas thing? What about gingerbread muffins with lots of other deliciousness found inside? I’ve decided yes. My apologies if you don’t agree, but these are real good. The perfect amount of spices, mixed with the already winning combination of chocolate chips and banana.

Just a warning though, these don’t take long to bake. I was surprised when mine were done after 18 minutes. No complaints though, the shorter baking time meant that I could indulge a little earlier than expected…and have even more time to cheer on my victorious Packers.

Banana Chocolate Chip Gingerbread Muffins

Adapted from Baking and Boys

1/4 cup butter          1/3 cup sugar

1 egg                       1 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup molasses     2 bananas, mashed

2 1/4 cups flour        1 1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt              2 tsps ginger

1 tsp cinnamon        1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp all spice

1 cup buttermilk (1 tbsp vinegar, the rest milk)

Mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line muffin cups with paper liners. 

Mix flour, salt, baking soda and spices in a bowl.

In another bowl cream butter and sugar together. Add egg and vanilla, and mix with a blender until smooth, about 3 minutes. Stir in molasses and mashed bananas.

Add half of the dry ingredients, mixing until just combined, then add buttermilk and beat. Add remaining dry ingredients just until combined. Fold in chocolate chips.

Spoon batter into each cup. Bake for 15-18 minutes.  Remove from oven and allow to cool.

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Mini Cheesecakes

I wouldn’t really consider myself to be a superstitious person. I could care less about black cats, walking under a ladder and Friday the 13th. Seven years bad luck for opening up an umbrella inside? Please, bring it! Besides, at the rate that I’m going that would mean that I’ll probably have bad luck for the rest of my life.

But when it comes to sports, logic sometimes takes a back seat. For instance, that time in high school when I would only wear a certain pair of socks for my basketball games (yes they were clean), head band on, or off, on, or off…what did I do last game and how did I play? Even last year when my Canucks were in the playoffs and I was in Detroit and South Carolina I still had to be wearing my Team Canada Roberto Luongo shirt for the games. Turns out that one didn’t work as well as I was hoping…maybe this year?

Who would have thought that post-game mini cheesecakes would be the newest superstition?

This weekend the basketball team that I help coach was hosting a tournament. I had received a request for cheesecake from one of the players and figured that I could fulfill my promise. Our first game was against a team that we had previously lost to by 40 points but we knew that this wasn’t a true reflection of our abilities. The girls came out with huge intensity and energy and we ended up winning the game. Post game cheesecake was the perfect celebration.

The following day, when I failed to bring seconds, we lost. I decided that we couldn’t take any chances on the final day of games and sure enough we ended up winning and celebrated our 3rd place finish with more cheesecake.

Coincidence? I think not.

That’s okay right? Cheesecake after a basketball game? Cream cheese = dairy = good for your muscles? Good. I feel much better about myself already!

Chocolate or plain cheesecake, whichever way you go, these little numbers hit the spot anytime, anywhere.

 

Mini Cheesecakes

Adapted from Brown Eyed Baker

Plain Cheesecake

About 45 Nilla wafers          2 (8-oz) packages cream cheese

½ cup granulated sugar      2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla                         Cherry pie filling

Chocolate Cheesecake

Same ingredients as above plus:

3 tbsp cocoa         1 1/2 tbsp butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Line a muffin pan with paper liners. Place one Nilla wafer in the bottom of each liner.

Cream together the cream cheese and sugar with a mixer until light and fluffy.

Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until well combined. Mix in the vanilla.

*If making chocolate cheesecake: Melt the butter in a pan and stir in the cocoa. Stir into the cheesecake mixture*

Divide the batter evenly among each cup. Bake for about 15 minutes or until the edges and top appear set. (I baked mine for 14 minutes)

Cool completely and then chill. Top with a small amount of cherry pie filling. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

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Time for something sweet? Yes please!

The pains of Christmas sweets and over eating have faded and I’m ready to dive back into baking full fledge. I just wish that I had more time to do so. Please? That would be nice. Thanks.

Sunday means baking day in my parents house. First it’s the batches of breakfast muffins and then sweets for the week. The smell of chocolate chip cookies baking and the taste of a warm cookie straight out of the oven are childhood memories that I will never forget. What else won’t I forget? Eating spoonfuls of dough. Cookie dough, how could you ever turn that down!? Oh right, when you have eaten so much dough that you have a stomach ache. That’s when you know that you’ve gone a bit far. But who can blame a 7 year old? Or maybe even a 24 year old?

You’d hope that I would have learned my lesson by now, but no. Cookie dough is still one of my favorite things. And chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream, even better. Wait, what’s that, home-made chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream cake? That’s a doozie. Or how about these, chocolate chip cookie dough truffles. The second that I saw these I knew that they were a must make.

Remember when I went to that wine and cheese party and took these babies, I also made this recipe. There is no way that I could not be invited back again. They were delicious…and that’s an understatment.

I have no problem admitting it, I hit the jackpot with this combination.  

 

 

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles

Adapted from Love and Olive Oil

Dough

2 1/2 cups flour      1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda   1 cup butter

3/4 cup sugar     3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla      1/3 cup milk

1 cup mini chocolate chips

Coating

6 tbsp cocoa           1 tbsp butter

1 tbsp shortening

Beat butter and sugars and in large bowl on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add milk and vanilla.

Stir in flour, baking soda and salt and mix on low speed (or by hand) until incorporated. Stir in chocolate chips.

Cover and chill dough for 1 hour.

When dough is firm roll the dough into 1″ balls and arrange on a baking sheet lined with waxed paper.

Place sheets in freezer and let chill for 30 minutes.

Melt butter and shortening in a pot and add the cocoa. (You may have to make more than 1 batch). Using a forks or a dipping tool (I used toothpicks), dip cookie balls into chocolate to cover. Remove excess coating and return to waxed paper-lined baking sheets. Chill until set.

Store, chilled, in an airtight container.

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Egg Nog Bread Pudding

This is the last time that I talk about egg nog. I promise.

Ever since starting this blog back in November I’ve noticed that I know what I like, I like it a lot, and I do my best to bake with that favorite thing non-stop. Does that count as being obsessive-compulsive? Maybe just obsessive? Or maybe it’s plain annoying. Remember pumpkin November? Sorry.

Anyways…when I was going through university I had the privilege of living with the same roommate for 4 years. And she was the best roommate probably in the history of room mates. For real for real. She would sometimes do my dishes, she introduced me to homemade ice cream cakes, she’d force me to exercise, would go for nature walks with me, carve pumpkins, build snowmen and gingerbread houses, and one time she even made my bed for me. Seriously, it doesn’t get much better than that.

One year we began the tradition of Sunday brunch where we’d alternate making brunch for each other. A true win-win situation. I’d make your run of the mill scones, pancakes, etc but she’d go all out whipping up things such as apple streusel and my absolute favorite, challah bread pudding. I could never get enough of the stuff, and thank goodness it lasted a few days after the fact.

What was I thinking moving out of that living situation? Thank fricken goodness we still live in the same city!

This weekend I felt it necessary to recreate Sunday brunch and I happened to have some egg nog on hand that needed to be used up. Naturally egg nog bread pudding was where my thoughts roamed. Good decision. Gooey bread, raisins, chocolate chips, and oh right…egg nog.

Perfection in a baking dish? Without a doubt.

Egg Nog Bread Pudding

2 cups egg nog                              1/2 cup milk

4 tbsp melted butter                      3/4 cup sugar

3 eggs                                            1/2 tsp vanilla

1/2 loaf French Bread or Challah    1/4 cup raisins

1/2 cup chocolate chips

Combine egg nog, milk and butter with the sugar, eggs and vanilla.

Line a large baking dish with 1 layer of the sliced bread (1 inch slices). Sprinkle with half of the chocolate chips and raisins.

Pour a quarter of the liquid mixture over the first layer.

Top with remaining bread, chocolate chips and raisins. Pour the remaining liquid mixture over top.

Cover with aluminium foil and let stand for at least 30 minutes. (I always leave my to sit in the fridge overnight. The longer it sits the more the bread absorbs the liquids.)

Preheat oven to 325F. Bake for 50 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for 20 more minutes (or until the bread is puffy and golden brown).

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