Saturday, April 9, 2011

I think spring might be here...

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Happy Birthday K!

A few photos from K's postponed birthday party.  (We have a couple of fevers and some pink eye to thank for the altered date.)
Dino cake as requested.
Cupcakes iced with the leftover cake icing.  There were 2 orange, 2 yellow, 7 white and 5 pink.
Pretty pink rose.  I don't think it's been eaten yet.  Please excuse me for a minute....
 As the icing was the biggest hit of the night, I thought I should share the recipe.  This is for you ck!

Taken from How To Be A Domestic Goddess by Nigella Lawson (I heart her. That is all.)

1 1lb butter
1 1kg bag of icing sugar (Sieved if you have the patience.  I don't.)
2 t vanilla extract
3 T milk

Using a stand mixer (with the paddle attachment) or a hand mixer cream the butter.  Slowly add icing sugar to butter  to blend.  Add vanilla and milk.  Continue to blend until smooth.

(This is actually 1.5 times the original recipe but the measurements are easier to remember and it never hurts to have extra icing lying around.  It's a well documented fact.  Really.)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Cheesecake-Swirled Brownies

If ever there were a dessert to bring back this abandoned blog it is these brownies.  I read about these over on Chasing Tomatoes and decided that I must make them so I starred the recipe (Thank you Google Reader) and went on about my business.
And here we are but a day later, brownies made.  Decadent and delicious.
I suggest you check out the recipe on Smitten Kitchen.  If you haven't ever been to her site, you really should.  Everything is mouthwatering.

Both Smitten Kitchen and Chasing Tomatoes suggest chilling the brownies before cutting them.  Should you choose to ignore this excellent advice, say because a 4 year old and a 2 year old are pestering you for their dessert, be warned that they will be eating the warm mush with a spoon.  Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Grandma's Chicken Soup

My grandmother was a fantastic cook.  She loved to read cookbooks like novels, cover to cover.  (Sound familiar?)  She loved to experiment in the kitchen though not always successfully.  It was from her that I learned to love food, cooking, and baking.

There's no way to be sure that this is exactly my grandmother's soup; she rarely made the same thing twice.  Let's pretend it's her soup even if it's only the alphabet noodles that evoked memories of many meals eaten at her dining room table.

Grandma's Soup

extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 large carrots, diced
2 celery sticks, diced
1/2 lb mushrooms, chopped (optional - I'm not sure I'd put these in again.  They were good but not great.)
2 cooked chicken breasts, diced (I used a roast chicken so I didn't have to cook these)
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
8 - 10 c chicken stock
1/2 lb pasta, I used alphabet pasta

Heat some over olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat.  Sauté the veggies until they soft.  It usually takes me 10 or 15 minutes.  Don't worry if the bottom starts to get brown, that's just more flavour.  If your flavour is looking like the burnt variety, please turn down the heat!

Add the remaining ingredients, save the pasta, and bring to a boil.  Lower the heat and let the soup simmer for 10 - 20 minutes or as long as you have.  Longer isn't bad but you may want to cover it so you don't loose too much liquid.

About 10 minutes before you're ready to serve, bring the pot up to a rolling boil and add your pasta.  Cook until you think it was done.  It's not for me to say if you like it crunchy, al dente or mushy.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Mr & Mrs R's Wedding

M & I made a whirlwind trip to New Jersey this weekend for a friend's wedding.  What fun!  The drive was long but scenic and the wedding was fantastic.  I loved everything about it.  They put their own spin on both the wedding and the reception and it paid off!  A fantastic time was had by all.
The Madison Hotel - Morristown, NJ

The reception was held in The Conservatory.

Our table.  Number 7 if you're interested.
Cocktail Hour, Food Table 1: olive tapenade, bruschetta, hummus,
foccacia, breadsticks and assorted crackers.
Cocktail Hour, more food tables: there was a meat and antipasto table on the left.
My apologies to the gentleman in the midst of eating for taking, and posting, this picture.
Cocktail Hour, hot food table: shrimp and baby scallops (I think) in a
creamy sauce of goodness and something I no longer remember.
There was another hot food table with crepes, and jambalaya.
Also not pictured was a table with assorted cheeses.
Also not pictured were all of the wait staff circulating with trays of appetizers.
The menu.

Appetizer: Salad of Baby Greens, Poached Pears, Crispy Pancetta & Ricotta Salata
Sherry Shallot Vinaigrette.
Intermezzo: Melon Sorbet
Entrée: Pan Seared Filet of Salmon
Citrus Sauce with Roasted Peppers, Capers and Basil
Dessert: Wedding Cake
Dessert: Chocolate-lined Waffle Cup with Vanilla Ice Cream and Banana's Flambe
Thanks again to the new Mr & Mrs R for including us in your day!  Congratulations!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!

What a weekend this has been!  M & I had a whirlwind trip to New Jersey to celebrate a friend's wedding.  It was a lot of fun and I couldn't be happier for my high school friend.  Congratulations to the new Mr & Mrs R!  Thanks for including us in your celebration.
Much of the drive was just stunning.  I don't think the pictures are doing it justice.
We returned home late Saturday night only to get up early Sunday and start our Turkey Day preparations.
Medjool dates stuffed with Parmesan cheese and wrapped in bacon.
Nigella's Sweet Potato Casserole.
Also on the table, though not pictured because it wasn't pretty, was a moist and flavourful brined turkey and my favourite brussel sprouts.  The turkey was gorgeous...before we started to carve it at which point I remembered I should have taken a picture.  Oh well.  I won't subject you to a photo the half carved carcass.  You're welcome!  And, while delicious, the brussel sprouts were not terribly photogenic.  Over the years we've adapted a Nigella Lawson recipe and made brussel sprouts a favourite holiday side dish.  Hopefully I'll get to posting that soon.

I almost forgot, we also had these buns.  Yum!

For dessert we had pumpkin pie and apple crisp.  Both were beautiful and would have photographed well had I remembered to take pictures before we devoured them.  Oops.  Live and learn.

Whether celebrating Canadian Thanksgiving or Columbus Day in The States or just a regular Monday, have a good one!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

First Weekend of Fall

I am the first to admit that summer is my favourite season.  I love the heat, the humidity and the fresh produce.  Having said that, this is the first year I can remember looking forward to fall.  I was in a bit of a cooking rut; the kids were eating crackers, tofu spread, cucumbers and grape tomatoes for lunch almost everyday.  Sometimes it was hummus and not tofu spread, and a baguette instead of crackers but basically the same thing every day.  They enjoyed it but I was frustrated.  And then came fall.  Bring on the soups and stews.

Since the arrival of fall I've made & frozen 2 batches of chicken stock in my crockpot, pureed & frozen 4 large-ish pie pumpkins, made a double batch of taco soup & frozen a batch, and made at least two batches of buns and frozen half of each batch.  It would seem that there's something about fall that makes me want to stock my freezer!
M's Buns

1 T yeast
1/2 c lukewarm water
2 t sugar
1/4 c oil
1/4 c white sugar
1 egg
1 t salt
1 1/2 c water
5 c all-purpose flour

  1. Mix together yeast, water and sugar in a bowl.  Let rise 10 minutes.
  2. While the yeast is getting it's groove on, mix together the rest of the ingredients.  This is a very very sticky dough so I usually do the mixing in my stand mixer.
  3. Add the yeast mixture and curse the stickiness.
  4. Transfer to a greased bowel, cover loosely with plastic wrap or the like, and then rise until doubled in bulk.  On a normal day in my kitchen this takes about 2 hours.  The last time I made these it was freakishly warm and took just over an hour.  If you're not sure, poked a floured finger into to the dough; if it stays indented, you're good to go.
  5. Ready to make the buns?  Flour hands and a sharp knife.  Cut off small portions of the dough and roll into balls.  Place onto a cookie sheet.  Re-flour your hands and your knife and make another bun.  Continue until you're out of dough.
  6. Cover the cookie sheet with greased plastic wrap and leave to rise until doubled in bulk.  Again, probably 2 - 2.5 hours unless you're yeast is particularly frisky.  Test with a floured finger.  If it stays indented, they're ready!
  7. Remove the plastic wrap.
  8. Bake at 375F for 18 - 20 min.