Thursday, February 28, 2008

Baking for the Master, and a Sticky Meme!

Well, let's see if I can kill two birds with one stone today! Since I was not really in any shape to type last night (and still, I struggle!) I just couldn't come up with anything witty or even coherent to put here! But today is another day, and this "other day" brings an event, and a meme!

Events first. Nikki from CrazyDeliciousFood has been just as embroiled in blog events as I have been the past few weeks, and so created one more: Master Baker! The premise of this one is a simple, yet perfect design slightly reminiscent of the DomesticGoddess' SHF: She picks the "star" ingredient, and we bloggers pick whatever baked goods you want. We then make 'em, shoot 'em, and send them in, where she will then pick a favourite! This month's theme is the deliciously classic, warming cinnamon.

So what could be an easier, sweeter way of breaking in this blog event than with a delicious hostess gift: muffins! These vegan, low-fat and fibre-full muffins are a deliciously classic gift that is only made sweeter with a crunchy, home-made "granola" topping! A superb, not-too-rich taste for breakfast or with coffee.

Cinnamon GRANDola Muffins
Serves 12
1 tbsp canola oil
1/2 cup low-fat plain soy milk
2/3 cup applesauce
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tsp cornstarch
2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup rolled oats

1 tbsp brown sugar
3 tbsp rolled oats
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp canola oil
  1. Preheat oven to 400F. Grease 12 muffin cups.
  2. Combine the oil, soymilk, applesauce, sugar and salt with a wire whisk.
  3. In another bowl, whisk together the baking powder, cornstarch, connamon, flours and oats.
  4. Stir the flour into the wet ingredients until all of the dough particles are just moistened.
  5. Do not over mix.
  6. Stir together the brown sugar, oats, cinnamon and oil until crumbly, sprinkle onto tops of muffins.
  7. Bake about 20 minutes.
  8. Remove from the oven and cool 5 minutes before removing gently from pan.

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 149.6
Total Fat: 3.3 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 113.2 mg
Total Carbs: 27.0 g
Dietary Fiber: 2.2 g
Protein: 3.7 g

So now that we're all nice and fed, I'll concentrate on a meme that Sticky, Gooey, Creamy, Chewy tagged me for the other day.

The rules for the meme:
1. Link to your tagger and post these rules.
2. Share 5 facts about yourself.
3. Tag 5 people at the end of your post, and list their names to link to them.
4. Let them know they've been tagged by leaving a comment at their blogs.

Allrighty then. Let's get started!

1. I used to eat pretty much everything and anything that came across my path, none of which was necessarily healthy. I loved food and eating (and still do). I got very sick with a still undiagnosed illness in the middle of my second year at Carleton University, forcing me to drop out and come home. My life has changed pretty much forever: I lost 30 lbs (and struggle to keep what weight I do have!), became exhausted due to insomnia, have almost constant bouts of pain in my right side (just below my ribcage) and have developed severe digestive problems with anything containing more than a few grams of fat: egg yolks, dairy, any meat but white, lean fish and for some odd reason tuna, any oils, and nuts, as well as caffeine and alcohol. Sigh... but enough bitching, I'm still here!

2. I began my university career in Political Science, with a view to become a criminal lawyer. Over my first year I switched my sights onto contract law, then gave up the Poli Sci thing all together and switched my major to Film Studies with an unforseen goal. Now, I'm working on a Bakery Arts certificate from George Brown College, with a goal to open up my own bake shoppe after it's completion and do some food and nutrition writing on the side (thanks to Ivonne and Eric for the inspiration!).

3. I live with my mom and stepdad, as well as with my little sister Teaghan and my stepbrother Dan. I spend as much time as I can with my awesome dad and his girlfriend Martha. I also have a fiance, Andrew, who just completed a Police Foundations diploma at Algonquin College and spoils me absolutely rotten. I have (essentially) two cats and two dogs, though I own none of them. They just happen to live around me: the cats and one dog at home, and my big goofy yellow Lab at my dad's.

4. I love Piers Anthony's Xanth novels. I've read them all and marvel at the under-appreciated art of the pun that he utilizes in every way possible. It doesn't hurt that they have great storylines and fantastic character casts!

5. I was raised through the Montessori system of schooling, beginning at Ellesmere Montessori until I was 7, then completing elementary school at the Montessori Learning Centre of Pickering at age 13 before going to highschool. While I was there I was under the care of one of the most influential people in my life, Verity, who taught me for 6 years. I still go back and visit every so often, along with my sister, and we're always welcomed with open arms!

Ok, so now for the tagging!

Hope to see some awesome responses soon!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Battling Bread

This was the bread that almost wasn't. I miscalculated the time it would take from start to finish, and had to resort to a cold rise at the final stage. Not ideal, but duty (read: chauffeuring Teaghan home from school) calls! Also, because the dough is dense after it's initial mix, kneading it almost killed my little spaghetti arms! This started out as an idea way back in December, blossoming into reality with my bare hands yesterday. I love making breads of all kinds, yet for some odd reason I shy away from the yeasted kinds. I think it has something to do with the whole time thing, waiting for it to rise, kneading for what feels like hours, then shaping and re-proofing before an agonizing stint while it bakes in the oven. But oh, how worth it it is!

Potatoes make this hearty, textured bread tender and wonderfully chewy, while the three risings develop a flavour like no other you’ve ever had. Whether fresh out of the oven or toasted days later for breakfast, I doubt you will regret making this! Andrew had 4 slices for lunch in a grilled cheese and another 2 as garlic bread, and he loved the texture and the fact that it soaks up other flavours like a sponge. He then gave me the awesome idea for making the leftover slices into French toast, which I'm sure would make a more than adequate breakfast!

I also just realized that with this being the International year of the Potato and all, there is an awesome event taking place as well! Culinary Bazaar is hosting a Potato Fe(a)st, celebrating all things spud! The cutoff date is the 29th of Febuary, so get on boiling, baking, grating, mashing and smashing!

Whole Wheat and Potato Corn Bread
Serves 28
1 pkg active dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup warm potato water
¼ cup olive oil
1 tablespoon salt
1 1/2 cups warm potato water
¾ cup mashed potatoes
2 ½ cups flour
3 cups whole-wheat flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
  1. Proof the yeast and sugar in the 1/2 cup warm potato water for 10 minutes.
  2. In a large mixing bowl combine the oil, salt, and water.
  3. Add the potatoes, stir in the yeast mixture, and beat well.
  4. Separately, combine flours and cornmeal.
  5. Add enough flour to the wet ingredients make a stiff dough.
  6. Turn out on a floured board and knead until the dough is no longer sticky, 10 minutes.
  7. Place in a greased bowl, and turn to coat top.
  8. Cover and allow to rise until doubled, about 2 hours.
  9. Punch down the dough and knead another 3 minutes.
  10. Cover, and allow to rise again about 30 minutes.
  11. Place on a floured board and divide into 2 parts.
  12. Cover the dough and let it rest 15 minutes.
  13. Place into well-greased loaf pans.
  14. Cover, and allow to rise in a warm place until the dough appears just above the top of the pans (about 1 hour).
  15. Dust the loaves with flour.
  16. Bake at 400 degrees 20 minutes, reduce the heat to 350.
  17. Bake another 20 to 30 minutes, or until brown and hollow-sounding when tapped.
  18. Immediately turn out of pans and transfer to a rack to cool.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 126.7
Total Fat: 2.6 g
Cholesterol: 0.1 mg
Sodium: 19.5 mg
Total Carbs: 23.0 g
Dietary Fiber: 2.3 g
Protein: 3.7 g

Monday, February 25, 2008

I'm a Gluten - Free, Fat - Free, High - Protein Vegan!

At least for today's snack, which is actually a "baker's treat" left over from a treat I made Andrew today. Why? Well, I still feel bad from yesterday's b*tchfest (which continued through this morning...) and I wanted to try my hand at gluten-free baking while actually, intentionally keeping it gluten-free and not just as a fluke. Luckily, I had a great starting block: Susan from FatFree Vegan's Gluten-Free Chickpea Crackers.

The only changes I made to the recipe (which actually started out as pancakes for Susan) were that I omitted the small amount of oil (I wanted to taste too!), and used rice flour to dust everything (several times!) before finally giving up on the whole rolling thing and just smashing the dough onto the counter with the heel of my hand. Hey, I never said I was patient, but by God I was not about to toss out ingredients! Definite kudos to all the GF bakers out there, you are some strong chefs! I guess it's like me and the whole fat / meat / dairy / egg intolerance thing... you do what you can with what you've got, eh?

The verdict on these beaten disks? Well, I'm not too sure about the taste myself. Nutritional yeast and my tastebuds aren't always the best of friends, so next time I'll probably cut back (though I'm posting what I did today). However, they're still mighty fine goodies, and even though it is redundant I bet they'd be very happy alongside some garlicky hummus! I'm sending these off to the Bread Baking Day round-up over at Chili und Ciabatta (the theme of which is flatbread), since these crackers are definitely flat!

Herby Chickpea Crackers
Serves 41/2 cup chickpea flour, sifted before measuring
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1/2 tbsp pepper
1 tsp oregano
3-5 tablespoons water (it really depends on your kitchen... I think I added too much)
  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Mix all dry ingredients together well.
  3. Begin stirring in water one tablespoon at a time. When the dough can be formed into a ball, you have added enough water.
  4. Knead the dough several times to distribute the ingredients, and then roll it in plastic wrap and let rest 15-20 minutes (I stuck mine in the fridge with my soymilk and pickles haha).
  5. Dust your work area and rolling pin well with gluten-free flour (or, you know, drench everything... I didn't realize how sticky gluten-free is!).
  6. Divide dough in half, put half on the floured surface, and sprinkle the top with flour.
  7. Pat out into thin rounds.
  8. Bake for 15 minutes, then turn off oven and allow them to cool inside about 1 hour.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 59.5
Total Fat: 1.0 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 8.5 mg
Total Carbs: 8.5 g
Dietary Fiber: 2.2 g
Protein: 4.7 g

The rest of these crackers went into a container (after they had cooled, of course) for Andrew to snack on tomorrow. Between these and a rather delicious smelling loaf of bread that just emerged from the oven, I don't think he'll miss the cream puffs from school that are going to his dad and brother. Since he doesn't like them anyway, I doubt he'd miss them regardless! Here's the photo I promised yesterday, of half the load I carted home on the train. Baked goods need to transport easier!!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Sass, Stabbage and Spectacular Cupcakes

I'm in an admittedly grumpy mood today... I don't know why, but it's just one of those times where the whole world seems to be filled with dumb comments and people who should know things that suddenly forget them, or who seem to talk for no reason at all when they know that nobody cares what's coming out of their mouths. Sigh. I have to say I'm ashamed I took it out today partially on Andrew too, who was only calling me to say hi after kicking butt at his CPR course. I'm really sorry hon, and I'll try my best to make it up to you!

Maybe it has something to do with gashing the crap out of my finger and thumb yesterday in class. We made cream puffs and eclairs (photos of which I will post tomorrow, when I get off my lazy butt to go downstairs where I'm hoarding them), and since part of the process is slicing the pastries in half for the "cream" filling (and I say "cream" since it was very clearly not a dairy product whipping in those machines) I got to use my crazy-sharp scalloped slicer for the first time. All I can say is it's a damn good thing that knife comes with a guard... I can't imagine what would happen if I ever reached into my toolkit and it wasn't on! That would not be a pretty sight. Seeing as shortening - laden choux paste does not bode well for my system (does anything in this class? Maybe the unadorned fruit from the flans...) I get to figure out a way to pawn off a couple dozen goodies on my assorted victims... oops, I mean friends and family.
One batch of yummy sweets that I don't need to worry about disposing of is my entry for my latest blog event discovery from HomeMadeS - Cupcakes Spectacular 2008. I say that for two reasons: 1. they were for a bakery order and 2. they are way too darn good, not to mention pretty!

Adapted from Rebecca Rather's recipe, these are heady with cinnamon and good vanilla and deliciously tender with the buttermilk. The oats give these cakes a great texture, and the pepper gives them just that extra zap without being overwhelming. Any garnish works well with this cake, I used a plain buttercream, tinted sky blue, and swirled it on up for effect!

Mexi - Late Cupcakes
Makes 12
1/3 cup butter
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/3 cup water
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup buttermilk
2 T vanilla
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch cayenne pepper
pinch salt
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease 12 muffin cups.
  2. Melt butter and whisk in the cocoa.
  3. Add water, stirring until smooth then remove from heat.
  4. Stir sugar, eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla in until thoroughly blended.
  5. Mix together flour, oats, baking soda, cinnamon, cayenne and salt.
  6. Stir into the cocoa mixture and whisk until just combined (it will be a little bit lumpy).
  7. Fill tins almost all the way full.
  8. Bake for 20 minutes.

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 171.8
Total Fat: 5.7 g
Cholesterol: 30.3 mg
Sodium: 47.3 mg
Total Carbs: 28.1 g
Dietary Fiber: 1.4 g
Protein: 3.2 g

There's lots of time left to join in the fun on this event too, March 15 at 12AM Auckland, NZ Time is the cutoff! My my, I'll have many many cakes on my hands by that time, won't I!

Friday, February 22, 2008

ARF, With a Sweet n' Sour Twist

I'm probably the last person in the food blogger world to have discovered Cate's secret that she hid so well these past few months... but I have to say one more congratulations on the birth of her daughter Madeline Olivia, and add my virtual gift basket to the pile!

Like any parent (and especially new parents on the block!) energy is in short supply, as is free time! It mystifies me that the queen of Sweetnick's only took one week off - I cannot even contemplate a life without maternity (or paternity) leave! Hopefully, these bites of delicious greenery for this go-round of ARF / 5-A-Day are both nutritious and fast enough for everyone's schedules, since Brussels sprouts are one of my favourite foods, especially when they're made like this!

Sprouts are probably one of the most bashed vegetables on Earth. It's really too bad too, seeing as they are both insanely hardy (storing for periods as long as 30 days if kept at about 32F) and so full of good stuff! Add to that the wide variety of uses they have and recipes you can add them to, and... voila - superfood! Folate, vitamin A, manganese, dietary fiber, potassium, vitamin B6 & B1 all find a home in these mini-cabbages, and they even have omega-3 fatty acids inside! But, if you still think sprouts are the bane of your existence... think again. These are awesome beyond belief, and healthy too!

Sweet, Spicy n' Sour Sprouts
Serves 4
1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut in half
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon vegetable broth or water
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  1. In a medium saucepan, cook Brussels sprouts in 2/3 cup boiling water until crisp-tender, about 8 minutes. Drain and return to pot.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine oil, broth, syrup, vinegar, and mustard until well combined.
  3. Drizzle over the sprouts in the pan, toss thoroughly to combine and serve.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 110.0
Total Fat: 3.7 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 61.8 mg
Total Carbs: 17.9 g
Dietary Fiber: 4.3 g
Protein: 3.8 g

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Inebriated, Yet Sweet Heroism

Methinks I am one of the slower foodies on the uptake these days! I just stumbled onto the Cupcake Hero Event at Quirky Cupcake, and co-hosted this time around by Tempered Woman, and was somewhat posessed to make something!!

I tend to make it a habit when I go to any one of my myriad appointments to take a little token of the culinary nature along with me. I mean, who doesn't love goodies appearing in the middle of the day? Seeing my wonderful (and very understanding, all things considered!) physician is on my to-do list for tomorrow morning, and so I was looking for something delicious that I could bring her and the staff, seeing as they now know me by name, on sight, when I walk in the door! Mom's still sick too, so maybe I'll save one of these as a pick-me-up for her when she's feeling better.

The theme for this edition of Cupcake Hero is liquor, and these quaint, light pink cupcakes are touched with a wee bit of Grand Marnier! Strawberry jam also finds a home in these low-fat, whole grain treats, and they are made wonderfully tender with a bit of ricotta cheese. It's like your favourite summer cocktail all in a delicious bite!

Strawberry Cocktail Cakes
Makes 6
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup rolled oats
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cornstarch
2 tbsp cup raw sugar
1 tbsp agave nectar
1 tbsp full-fat ricotta cheese
1 tbsp strawberry jam
2 tbsp orange juice
1 tbsp Grand Marnier
2 tbsp water
  1. Preheat oven to 400F, and grease 6 muffin cups.
  2. In a bowl, whisk together flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, cornstarch and sugar.
  3. Seperately, blend together nectar, ricotta, jam, orange juice, liqueur and water.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir just until blended. Some lumps are OK.
  5. Disperse batter into tins and bake 17-18 minutes.
  6. Glaze with an orange juice and powdered sugar glaze if desired.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 119.3
Total Fat: 0.7 g
Cholesterol: 1.3 mg
Sodium: 37.4 mg
Total Carbs: 24.6 g
Dietary Fiber: 0.8 g
Protein: 2.5 g

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Decisions, Decisions...

My dear readers, I come to you today with a dilemma! I have a rather fast succession of birthdays coming up in the next few months, beginning with Andrew's mother at the end of Febuary, continuing along to my mom's a week into March, followed by Martha and my dad's birthdays one after the other. I also get to look forward to my birthday in April and the little sister's birthday 8 days later! Whew, I think I covered them all!

Unfortunately, I'm at a loss as to what I can make for Andrew's mom for her celebration... she's diabetic (which I easily handle, having experience with my stepfather and grandfather) but she is afraid of consuming anything sweet for fear that her stomach won't agree with it. Then of course you have me, with proven stomach issues, who will gorge herself on sushi any chance she gets. Go figure. My mom's birthday party is a large one this year (she's turning 18 again this year, so it's important!) but since some of the Italian attendees are a bit *ahem* basic in their palates, I've been rendered to my (still delicious) but plain Buttermilk Vanilla Cake. With a measured *read: huge* amount of effort, I think I've managed to obtain permission to make a lasagne as well as an alternate to the catered, underwhelming but over-oiled concoction that is part of that afternoon's offerings. We shall see, I have one other sweet treat up my sleeve for the afternoon to do as well for those who like their cakes dark, decadent and pretty much insane, so at any rate the kitchen will still look like a disaster!

Where I'm caught is in my decision for my dad's and Martha's birthday cake. My dad's a banana man (that much I know), but I'm not sure if I should take his birthday as an excuse to have a balls-out caking explosion in my kitchen with an untried (yet undeniably decadent) recipe adapted from a trusted Canadian FoodTV personality, or if I stick to the basics with the cake I made him last year. I'm going to post both of the recipes here for open critique and input, and you... yes you there with the coffee cup and bleary eyes!!... will help me decide the Yummy Smell that marks my dad and Martha's birthday! Let me know in an e-mail or in the comments below!!

So, without further ado...

An adapted version of a decadent Anna Olson recipe (photo of which is below), this first cake is Boston Cream Pie at it’s utmost, filled with nutty flavour and creamy custard and drenched in a chocolate-nut ganache. The custard needs to chill and the cake needs to stand overnight before assembly, so this is a two day affair.

Peanut Butter Banana Boston Cream Pie
Serves 12
2 cups evaporated skim milk
¾ cup low-fat creamy peanut butter
4 egg yolks
¼ cup light brown sugar
1 tsp cornstarch
1 tbsp vanilla extract
½ tsp ground nutmeg
½ cup 1% milk
¼ cup unsalted butter
1 egg
1 medium, overripe banana, mashed
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp banana extract (optional)
½ cup cake flour
½ cup brown rice flour
½ tbsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
2/3 cup low-fat, sweetened condensed milk
3 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 oz peanut butter chips
  1. Preheat oven to 350 °F. Grease a 9-inch pie plate and place in a deep baking dish.
  2. Beat peanut butter, yolks, brown sugar, cornstarch, vanilla and nutmeg until thick and creamy.
  3. Heat evaporated milk to just below a simmer, and pour into peanut butter mixture.
  4. Pour into prepared pie plate and pour boiling water around it.
  5. Bake for 25 minutes.
  6. Let cool to room temperature and chill custard in pie plate completely.
  7. Grease bottom and sides of a 9-inch spring-form pan, line the bottom with parchment, then grease again and dust lightly with flour.
  8. Heat milk and butter until butter is melted, and keep warm.
  9. Whip egg, banana and sugar until very thick and pale yellow.
  10. Add extracts and beat smooth.
  11. Sift flours, baking powder and salt, and add to egg mixture, mixing only until blended.
  12. Carefully pour in hot butter and milk, and mix again until barely blended.
  13. Scrape into prepared pan and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until a tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
  14. Let cool for 15 minutes, then turn out onto a plate, peel off parchment, then invert (so top is up) onto a rack to cool completely. Chill in fridge 8 hours or overnight.
  15. To assemble, slice cake into 2 layers.
  16. Stir chilled custard smooth, and spread over bottom layer.
  17. Top with second layer and chill while preparing glaze.
  18. Stir condensed milk, chocolate and peanut butter chips over medium-low heat until melted and shiny.
  19. Spread glaze over cake and chill until ready to serve.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 381.5
Total Fat: 16.6 g
Cholesterol: 100.7 mg
Sodium: 209.8 mg
Total Carbs: 50.0 g
Dietary Fiber: 1.7 g
Protein: 12.1 g

This second dessert was what I put together for last year's birthday party - a rich, buttery yellow cake that is fragrant with ripe bananas, and topped with a sweet, yet tangy, thick glaze draped over it, this is some seriously delicious cake! Don’t be put off by the low baking temperature or the freezer step, both things keep this cake as wonderful as it is! After glazing, keep this sucker in the fridge, if you can wait that long!

Buttery Banana Cake with a Buttermilk Glaze
Serves 16
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 ½ cups mashed ripe bananas (about 5)
¾ cup cultured, European-style butter
1 ¾ cups sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1 cup whole wheat cake flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
½ tbsp cornstarch
1 ½ cups buttermilk
¾ cup sugar
½ cup buttermilk
½ cup butter
1 tablespoon corn syrup
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
  1. Preheat oven to 275°F. Grease and flour one 9 x 13 pan or two 9” round pans.
  2. In a small bowl, mix mashed banana with the lemon juice; set aside.
  3. Mix flours, baking soda and salt; set aside.
  4. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  5. Whisk cornstarch with 3 tbsp cold water until smooth, then whisk into the egg along with the vanilla
  6. Beat this slurry into the creamed mixture.
  7. Beat in banana mixture alternately with the buttermilk.
  8. Bake for 1 – 1 ¼ hours, or until tests done.
  9. Remove from oven and place directly into the freezer for 45 minutes.
  10. For glaze, combine all remaining ingredients but vanilla in a small pot.
  11. Bring to a boil, and cook for 5-6 minutes until thick and syrupy; add vanilla and allow it to cool slightly.
  12. Turn out cake onto a rack, placing it over a cookie sheet (to catch glaze drips!)
  13. Pour the thickened, cool(ish) glaze over the entire cake (or 1 of the 2 rounds, then stack them and glaze everything).
  14. Allow to set completely before serving.

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 377.2
Total Fat: 15.3 g
Cholesterol: 53.3 mg
Sodium: 40.2 mg
Total Carbs: 57.5 g
Dietary Fiber: 1.9 g
Protein: 4.1 g Thanks in advance for your thoughts!!!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Cats n' Coffee Cups

Oh, winter afternoons, how many more of you are there till spring??? It is a drab looking Family Day out there for us, complete with grey skies and sleet! Of course, that isn't going to get in the way of a couple of us sickies like us! Instead of the bowling I mentioned yesterday, we've decided to hit the (mini) golf course to warm ourselves up for the new season! If only the real courses were as meticulously groomed as the felt floors at Putting Edge (haha). Well, it's been a while since I've done any sort of golfing so I'll have to see how my one-handed putts keep me going this afternoon. Yes, I putt one-handed. And chip that way too. I'm lazy, but damn am I good at doing it!

For now we're all holing up (including Bitties, who enjoys the colour scheme in my bedroom, apparently) while we wait for our tee time to come around (being a new holiday and all we couldn't get a spot until 4:40!), which includes gratuitous cups of tea (decaf herbal or green for me, Orange Pekoe for the Schmee) or coffee (for the "adults"). It isn't that we aren't allowed coffee (since I used to be quite the addict myself), but Teaghan doesn't like it and my system eschews any sort of caffeinated goodies - including caffeinated pop, tea, coffee and their variations. But like I said, I was quite the addict way back when, and it was back then that I was given the recipes to these yummy drinks that I'm sharing today. I know the mixes came from assorted Home Ec classes at MLCP, and probably the Parisan Hot Chocolate one too, but for the life of me I can't remember the origin of this first one. At any rate, these'll warm up your stomach and your winter days!

Sinfully Delicious Hot Chocolate
Serves 2
2 cups evaporated 2% milk
4 tsp sugar
1 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 tsp salted butter
1 tbsp honey
½ tsp vanilla or hazelnut extract
  1. Heat everything in a saucepan, except the extract, until chocolates and butter melt and honey dissolves.
  2. Pour half into a blender, or use an immersion blender, and mix until foamy.
  3. Return to the saucepan, and add vanilla. Stir briefly then serve.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 556.3
Total Fat: 32.4 g
Cholesterol: 77.7 mg
Sodium: 284.8 mg
Total Carbs: 55.5 g
Dietary Fiber: 3.2 g
Protein: 19.6 g

No need for spices or other flavours in this next recipe... not when you have real chocolate and heavy cream! Uh oh, am I sounding a bit, erm, Deenish? Maybe with a little bit of Ina thrown in? Run for the hills!

Parisan Warm Chocolate
Serves 4
1 cup whole milk
1/3 heavy cream
¼ cup sugar
5 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped

  1. Simmer the milk, cream and sugar together until just below boiling.
  2. Stir in the chocolate until melted.
  3. Serve warm in demitasse cups.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 316.3
Total Fat: 19.2 g
Cholesterol: 30.6 mg
Sodium: 35.1 mg
Total Carbs: 38.1 g
Dietary Fiber: 2.1 g
Protein: 3.8 g
These last two mixes are definitely lighter on the waistline, and they are a definite bonus since you can keep them in your office or your pantry for ages, mixing em up whenever you need a boost. They'd probably make great gifts too, if you're willing to part with them!

Cafe Swiss Mocha Mix
1/3 cup sugar
¼ cup instant espresso powder (or coffee)
2 tbsp cocoa
  1. Place all dry ingredients in a blender or food processor and mix until they have the consistency of a very fine powder.
  2. Use 1 to 2 teaspoons of the dry mix to one coffee mug of hot water.
  3. Store in air-tight container.

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 3.3
Total Fat: 0.2 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 1.0 mg
Total Carbs: 0.4 g
Dietary Fiber: 0.1 g
Protein: 0.1 g

Café Rue d'Madelaine
1 cup instant dry coffee
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 ½ cups dry non-dairy creamer
1 ½ cups nonfat dry milk
4 Tablespoons cocoa

  1. Place all dry ingredients in a blender or food processor and mix until they have the consistency of a very fine powder.
  2. Use 1 to 2 teaspoons of the dry mix to one coffee mug of hot water.
  3. Store in air-tight container.

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 16.4
Total Fat: 0.4 g
Cholesterol: 0.3 mg
Sodium: 7.8 mg
Total Carbs: 2.8 g
Dietary Fiber: 0.1 g
Protein: 0.5 g

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Sick Days and Soups

I hate, hate, hate when the rounds of flu strike. Pretty much everyone in my house is sick right now, including me, which explains the lack of posting the past couple of days. My poor mom's been pretty much knocked to the couch for the day. I guess it doesn't help much when you spend every day doting on your husband and stepson (who are out somewhere for the day spreading the germs and ditching us at home) and going out to assorted parties until 2 AM only to get up at 6 or 7 the next morning. Sigh. Teaghan is down with the worst case of sinusitis I have ever seen in man, child or beast - she's had it for over 2 weeks now, missed a few days of school, and has been to the clinic twice and scored a doctor's appointment this Wednesday.

As for me? Well, I've been "officially" sick going on, what, 14 months now, but this latest bout of whateveritis is really starting to take it's toll on me. It sucks being a foodie who can't stand the sight of food half the time but who's stomach rumblings continuously force you to nibble bits and pieces of stuff. I wouldn't mind all the nausea business or the pain (seeing as that's a constant so far) if I wasn't so gosh darn dizzy. I mean, how the heck am I supposed to cook anything or even attend school when the act of sitting upright causes you to see spots? Yes, I missed my breads-shaping class yesterday at George Brown which sucks the big one, and we may all be out of comission for our pre-planned games of bowling for tomorrow's Family Day! Ah well, what says family more than communal bacteria?

Even though there hasn't been much by the way of cooking these days, the quintessential food to help any illness leave does seem to be soup, and I have three of them presented for you today (and I am seriously craving one of these with it). If I ever manage to stand up for more than 30 seconds today I may luck out enough to fix myself one of these for dinner instead of resulting to a canned soup. Granted, this one isn't bad, but home made is always better (of course!).

These are healthy, nutrient packed bowls of comfort, perfect for Sweetnick's ARF / 5-A-Day event being rounded up this Tuesday. Check out Cate's site for more healthful goodies, both from her repetoire and other blogger's brains.

NRG Bowl
Serves 4
1 large onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
6 cups vegetable broth
3 tbsp pearl barley
3 tbsp brown rice
2 large carrots, peeled and diced
¼ cup peeled and diced butternut squash
2 celery stalks, diced
½ cup chopped green beans
¼ cup chopped red pepper
½ cup broccoli florets
½ cup cauliflower florets
19 oz can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
2 tsp dried basil
1 tbsp dried oregano
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp dried parsley
½ tsp dried dillweed
  1. Cook onion in a saucepan coated with vegetable spray over medium heat for about 5 minutes or until soft.
  2. Add garlic, broth, barley, rice, carrots and squash; bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
  4. Add celery, green beans, red pepper, broccoli, cauliflower, red kidney beans, basil, oregano, cayenne, parsley and dill.
  5. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes or until vegetables and grains are tender.

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 237.2
Total Fat: 1.1 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 1,931.2 mg
Total Carbs: 50.1 g
Dietary Fiber: 13.6 g
Protein: 11.8 g

Lentil-Vegetable Soup
Serves 4
1 medium-sized white onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 carrots, peeled and diced
1 parsnip, peeled and diced
1 lb celery root, peeled and diced
1 ¼ cups dry lentils, rinsed
4 cups vegetable stock
2 cups water
1 tbsp soy sauce
black pepper
2 cups fresh baby spinach, chopped
  1. Heat a splash of water in a 6-quart pot over medium heat.
  2. Add onion and garlic. Cover, and cook 5 minutes to soften.
  3. Add carrots, parsnip, celery root, lentils, stock, soy sauce and pepper.
  4. Reduce heat to low.
  5. Cover, and cook, stirring from time to time, until lentils and vegetables are tender, 1 to 1 ½ hours.
  6. Stir in the baby spinach and cook 2-3 minutes, until just wilted, and serve.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 316.3
Total Fat: 1.2 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 1,273.7 mg
Total Carbs: 59.2 g
Dietary Fiber: 22.9 g
Protein: 18.3 g

In this final dish (which invokes memories of my 18th birthday dinner at Montreal's Maison Hantee), if you choose red lentils, note that they cook faster than brown lentils - so watch them closely. If this soup seems to dry out, add a little more water. It is a very thick and rich soup, however, so don't add too much.

Rich Potage de Lentilles
Serves 8 as a main dish
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 large stalks celery, chopped
2 tablespoons minced fresh garlic
1 1/2 cups dry lentils (brown, green or red)
8 cups water
6 vegetable bouillon cubes
Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Heat the oil in a large pot. Add the onion, celery and garlic.
  2. Sautè until the onion is transluscent.
  3. Add the lentils, water and bouillon cubes.
  4. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer over medium heat for about 45 minutes.

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 165.7
Total Fat: 2.1 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 51.3 mg
Total Carbs: 26.6 g
Dietary Fiber: 11.9 g
Protein: 9.9 g

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Some Sweets for Your Valentine (Or, How to Make Cupid Fat)

Before I get into the culinary side of things, I just had to show you these gorgeous roses that my beloved gave to me yesterday (since we did the whole V-day thing yesterday because he worked this AM). They are so so so pretty I just can't get over it! My sister is supremely jealous, but I think I'll pick her up a rose or some sort of "funky flower" (her words, not mine) since she is kind of left out this holiday, being the only one without a partner for now and all. Maybe birds of paradise? I'll have to see.

This other photo is Andrew's tired grin that he gave me while we were out at our sushi lunch yesterday. We had an agreement that we would pay for each other, which worked out well since we both ordered lunch sets (the same price too, haha!). I have to say I was disappointed with the quality of my fish yesterday, it was a little, shall we say, mushy. Ah well, some day I'll get him down to Gonoe Sushi for some extraordinarily wonderful rolls!

No other real stories today, just 4 easy, super-sweet desserts that are perfect for sharing with that special someone, a group of your best friends, or if it's been that kind of a day, eating all by yourself while watching "hater" movies. Don't forget the Ben & Jerry's, either!

Hope everyone's Valentine's Days were sweet, or at least bearable (as my sister whines about the stupidity of holidays like these, created by Hallmark). Give your loved ones, no matter who they are, a hug today and let them know they're special!

Nutty for Valentine’s Squares
Serves 9
¼ c butter
¼ c Nutella (chocolate-hazelnut spread)
1 c + 2 tbsp whole-wheat flour
Pinch salt
1 c brown sugar
¼ c corn syrup
2 ½ tbsp whole-wheat flour
½ tsp baking powder
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla or cherry extract
2/3 c sliced, pitted cherries
¼ c chopped hazelnuts

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Combine butter, Nutella, flour and salt.
  3. Spread into the bottom of a 9” pan.
  4. Bake 10 minutes and let cool.
  5. Combine remaining ingredients in order given, folding in cherries and hazelnuts last.
  6. Bake 30 minutes and cool completely.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 307.7
Total Fat: 10.9 g
Cholesterol: 60.9 mg
Sodium: 39.4 mg
Total Carbs: 50.6 g
Dietary Fiber: 3.0 g
Protein: 4.8 g

Cupid’s Pillows
Makes 32
1 pkg. (17.3 oz.) puff pastry sheets (2 sheets), thawed
1 egg white
3/4 cup good-quality semi-sweet chocolate chunks
2 cups fresh or frozen raspberries, pitted cherries, or chopped strawberries (or a mixture)
  1. Roll a single puff pastry sheet into about a 16" square, and brush lightly with egg white.
  2. Cut pastry sheet into sixteen 4"x4" squares.
  3. Place about 1 tsp. chocolate and one or two berries in center of each square.
  4. Fold to form a triangle and press firmly on both edges with a fork or pastry crimper to seal.
  5. Prick the centre of the pastry with a fork.
  6. Repeat with remaining pastry sheet, chocolate and raspberries.
  7. Put filled pastries onto large un-greased sheets, and freeze for a minimum of 30 minutes.
  8. Pastries can be fully frozen individually at this point and sealed in a heavy-duty bag for later use.
  9. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  10. Bake 17 min. or until puffed and golden.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 168.9
Total Fat: 10.4 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 148.5 mg
Total Carbs: 16.8 g
Dietary Fiber: 1.7 g
Protein: 2.9 g

Chocolate Macadamia Decadence
Serves 12
3 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 1/4 cups macadamia nuts, toasted
1/3 cup unsalted butter, room temp
2/3 cup sugar
1 egg
½ cup low-fat raspberry or strawberry yogurt
2 tbsp all-fruit raspberry or strawberry jam
½ tbsp vanilla

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F, grease a 9” round pan.
  2. Stir chopped chocolates in top of double boiler over simmering water until melted and smooth. Cool slightly.
  3. Process macadamia nuts in a food processor or blender until finely ground. Transfer to a small bowl.
  4. Add butter and sugar to processor (no need to clean) and blend using on/off turns until mixture is smooth.
  5. Add egg, yogurt, jam and vanilla, process until smooth.
  6. Add melted chocolate and process, add nuts and mix until just combined.
  7. Bake 40 minutes, or until tests done.
  8. Cool cake in pan on rack 30 minutes. Invert cake onto rack and cool completely.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 236.0
Total Fat: 17.6 g
Cholesterol: 31.8 mg
Sodium: 49.0 mg
Total Carbs: 21.2 g
Dietary Fiber: 2.0 g
Protein: 3.0 g

Cherry Divinity Cake
Serves 16
1 cup dried cherries
¼ cup fresh orange juice
5 ounces semisweet chocolate
¼ cup cultured butter
3 eggs
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
¼ cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
¼ teaspoon almond extract
½ cup cake flour

  1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine dried cherries and orange juice. Simmer for 5 minutes and set aside.
  2. Combine chocolate and butter, and cook until melted. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, beat eggs and sugar with an electric mixer on high speed about 5 minutes or until thick.
  4. Beat in chocolate mixture, milk, and vanilla.
  5. Beat in flour. Stir in un-drained cherries.
  6. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  7. Pour into a greased and floured 9-inch spring-form pan and place on a baking sheet.
  8. Bake until a toothpick inserted near center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes.
  9. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan. Cool completely.
Amount Per Serving
298 Calories
14g Fat
5g Protein
43g Carbohydrate
3g Dietary Fibre
58mg Cholesterol
68mg Sodium

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

A Valentine's Eve Dinner

Well, it's Valentine's Eve, and I'm sure many of you are secure in the fact that you've booked a table at your favourite restaurant, maybe picked up some tickets for a special event (on a Thursday? Never mind...), and you've got the sitter all lined up. But what if, like me and many other poor students, you just can't afford the big show and dance this year? Well, since you're reading a food blog and all, maybe I can help you out. Yes, the ingredients in this meal are still on the indulgent and slightly pricey side, but all told they are still a heck of a lot cheaper than springing for a steak and lobster meal at a place like The Keg (and don't even get me started on the higher-end establishments... chances are you're not getting in there unless you give up your first-born for collateral and leave your second and third children as a tip). Dim the lights, swing by the Superstore, and get ready to open up your own steakhouse, Chez Toi!

I mean, come on, this is the ultimate in Surf n' Turf indulgence (which for some odd reason is always on the Valentine's menus these days). Filet mignon is stuffed with a luscious lemon-garlic butter and lobster combination and roasted to perfection.

Neptune's Delight
Serves 2, generously!
12 oz Filet Mignon, whole
1 lobster tail, steamed and cooled
1/2 tablespoon butter, melted
1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 tablespoon garlic powder

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Remove lobster shell by snipping up the center with scissors, and peeling away the sides.
  3. Slice a large pocket into the side of the roast.
  4. Stuff chunks of lobster into the pocket.
  5. Combine butter, lemon juice and garlic powder; pour into pocket.
  6. Close the pockets, and tie the roast closed with cotton string.
  7. Place in a shallow roasting pan and bake for about 35 minutes in the preheated oven.
  8. The internal temperature of the filets should be at least 145F (for rare, and I don't reccomend any more than medium-rare).
  9. Slice the roast into two steaks and serve

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 549.0
Total Fat: 37.3 g
Cholesterol: 173.3 mg
Sodium: 445.5 mg
Total Carbs: 3.5 g
Dietary Fiber: 0.0 g
Protein: 48.0 g

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Bouquet of Breadsticks and a Complex Cookie

Well, have you all squirreled away your assorted flower arrangements, boxes of chocolate and shiny jewels for Thursday? I myself was scrambling a little bit for ideas, seeing as I'm a poor (part-time) student and Andrew is like every other man I try to shop for in the fact that he is impossible to deal with in that department! Even though I'm sure he'd love anything I got him, I'm a little pickier in that respect. I don't want to give him just anything, and I have some big shoes to fill if I ever want to live up to his past habits of gift giving (on our first Valentine's Day (just over a month into our relationship), he gave me a 14 K gold heart necklace, my birthday following, a pair of diamond earrings!). Yeah. Holy crap is right. I'm marrying a god.

So I turned to my forte: the kitchen. He had been hinting (read: begging) for me to make him the breadsticks that I had done for him before, and so bake them I did. I added paprika for a beautiful rosy colour, and shaped them into swirly flower stems. I'm planning on tying them up with a little ribbon and giving them as a breadstick bouquet. Add that to this cake, a chocolate Bavarian Cream (on the right) and a Creme Caramel that I made in class, a sushi lunch (on me!) and a few of the cookies I'm sharing with you today, and I think he may be a happy camper.

But enough sappy stuff. These are some seriously crazy cookies. I was given one of my favourite orders to fill for the bakery on my last visit to my chiropractor - a free-for-all creativity outlet! The only criteria: 12 muffins, 24 cookies, Valentine's theme, no nuts. Excellent. The first thing I cranked out was a batch of cookies strawberry-vanilla sugar cookie pinwheels (which I forgot to photograph) that I dubbed "Rosebuds". Next came a batch of red velvet muffins that I will fill and frost with a buttercream a la Hostess, followed by some strawberry-banana oatmeal muffins, each topped with a strawberry half.
The dilemma lay in the final 12 cookies. I knew that for kids, chocolate generally rules, but chocolate chip cookies didn't seem festive enough to me. So taking a "brownie-like" chocolate cookie recipe, I threw in chocolate chips, Smarties and a few dried cherries. Now they're colourful pieces of decadence, like gem-studded earth, or rock in a way. Now how is that for gorgeous imagery? In fact, this photo of the seriously rich cookies is on it's way over to Jugalbandi's event CLICK, which is focusing this month on all things flour.
Complex Cookies
Serves 24
1/2 cup stick margarine, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 tsp cornstarch
3 tbsp cold water
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup Nestle Smarties or M&Ms
1/4 cup chopped dried cherries
  1. Cream margarine and sugars until fluffy.
  2. Whisk together vanilla, cornstarch and water until well combined, stir into creamed mixture.
  3. Whisk together flours, cocoa, baking soda and salt.
  4. Add to creamed mixture and blend in.
  5. Fold in chips, M&Ms and cherries.
  6. Wrap securely in cling wrap, refrigerate 4 hours or overnight.
  7. Preheat oven to 350F, lightly grease 2 baking sheets or preferably line with parchment paper.
  8. Shape into balls and place 1 1/2" apart on sheets.
  9. Bake 12 minutes, cool on sheets 2-3 minutes then remove to wire rack to cool completely.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 140.9
Total Fat: 5.6 g
Cholesterol: 0.4 mg
Sodium: 49.5 mg
Total Carbs: 22.5 g
Dietary Fiber: 1.6 g
Protein: 1.9 g
For more amazing (and sweet) Valentine's Day ideas check out Farmgirl Fare and her Valentine's Day Treats Recipe Roundup on FoodieView. I was one of the lucky ones featured this go-around, and I feel so special! Thanks Susan!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Breakfast - for - Snack Days

Ever had one of those days where nothing feels real? I've been floating around in a fog for most of today, and not because of any drug influence (though I'm sure that would actually help at this point). I've just been in a weird, off kind of mood, one that turns the world as you know it on it's head and shoves you out into the spotlight wearing nothing but a baggy pair of granny panties and a crop-top that you bought when you were 12 (yeah, sorry for that visual).

Anyways, here's a snack for days like this. I say snack, but you know, it works as a meal too, or breakfast... yeah... Oh! And it's healthy - you know, whole grains and organic yogurt and cranberries and a little twist of honey, I think it's a good add in to any type of day. Definitely good for when you're feeling in the limbo-ness between well and sick, when you aren't really sure what will agree with you. For more healthy inspiration, I'm sure that the ARF / 5-A-Day round-up at Sweetnick's will provide plenty of insight!

Limbo Oatmeal
Serves 1
2 tbsp whole-berry cranberry sauce (I make my own, adding a little blood orange zest)
1/2 tbsp honey, or to taste
2 tbsp "yogurt cheese" (preferably made with non-fat, organic yogurt)
1 packet plain instant oatmeal (your favourite brand, I use Quaker)
  1. In a small cup, mix together cranberry sauce, honey and yogurt cheese.
  2. Prepare oatmeal as directed, using a little less water than called for.
  3. Stir in cranberry mixture and eat.

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 216.9
Total Fat: 1.7 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 326.6 mg
Total Carbs: 44.7 g
Dietary Fiber: 4.2 g
Protein: 7.0 g

Easy, cheap, flavourful and healthy. Delicious!

Friday, February 8, 2008

Randomly Un-Food

I stumbled across this cutesy little activity at a new food blogger that I found today: Overflowing With Awesome. This discovery (I love finding new blogs to read, and add to the ever-growing blogroll!) was a happy accident facilitated by GroupRecipes, where I was hovering today while flat on my back after a day filled with 4 banana breads and one (of 3) cheesecakes. Not a lot of work, you say, whipping off some quickbreads and a stand-mixer made cheesecake? Well, that may be true if you are able to spend hours on your feet (or, you know, lucid) without the aid of drugs or a nap, which I apparently am not. Yes, I am in a downward position today as far as feeling healthy goes, but that won't stop me from having some fun with this internet discovery thing.
So, here's what you do:
  1. Go to The first random Wikipedia article you get is the name of your band.
  2. Go to The last four words of the very last quote of the page is the title of your first album.
  3. Go to The third picture, no matter what it is, will be your album cover.
  4. Put it all together (I used the oh-so-fancy MS Paint), and that's your first album.

I invite anyone reading this to have a go at this, whenever you're feeling bored, down, or in the mood to discover something new and totally random, and not necessarily food-related in the least.

I'll be back, but not tomorrow (school beckons), with a new recipe and with luck, a story! School stories may soon turn out to be in short supply though, since the George Brown Con Ed site is giving me the impression that the &*@$#ng school has cancelled the courses I've signed up for. Sigh. At least there's only 1 hour left of today!

P.S. ---> I've joined a new great group started by Simple Daily Recipes: The GreatCooks Blogroll. If you haven't already taken a look-see over there, it's a great resource for all foodie-minded people to come together!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

New Moons and Muffins

Well, the Chinese Lunar New Year is here! We seem to be having a lot of holidays this time of year, don't we? I guess the best part about the holidays (at least, the ones this week) is that we don't have to give into the Hallmark-yness of the season. That is, until the 14th when we become innundated by flowers, candy, and heart shaped everything for 24 hours. Not that it's necessarily a bad thing, mind you, as Andrew knows - I love my quirky flowers (vibrant orange tiger lilies are my ultimate favourite flowers, followed by deep red or orange Calla lilies, but when it comes to roses I'll take buttery, cheerful yellow or the rosy peach colours. No classic red for me, haha!).

So, holidays aside, I've been in a huge muffin-y mood lately. Not eating them (that's a bit tricky for me, you see), but rather baking them. All kinds, and new flavour blends... whatever tickles my fancy and uses up things like leftover frosting, flavourings and assorted dairy. And I'm still using up that frosting!! Sheesh, who'd have thought? Ah well, I guess another baked doughnut will be next to pop out of the old oven. I'm considering giving the poor beast a name, it's been very loyal in it's service to me and it seems unfair that I don't mention it often enough, haha. It will be getting a thorough workout in the next few days, in any case, seeing as my seminar garnered a rash of orders, followed by a secret special request that will be blogged about soon (if I ever get the e-mail reply from the potential customer, that is!).

So anyways, three muffins coming your way, each with a rather chocolate focus, and since two of them found their way quickly into my sister's hands (and subsequently stomach), and the remaining (and fruity) cakelette safe and sound with my ever willing to eat my stuff dad (and I thank him for it), I think my muffin skills are pretty well-established and my muffin pans are beginning to cry uncle.

I made these to satisfy a craving my sister (who's pet name is Schmee) was having for the jumbo double-chocolate-chip muffins that Costco sells. While they aren't AS big, they are still intensely chocolate, and sure to please any fiend out there when they're warm or cold! They also freeze well, and are delicious microwaved for a few seconds to warm em up.

Schmee Cakes
Makes 2
1/4 cup buttermilk pancake mix
1 tsp custard powder
1 tbsp icing sugar
1/2 tbsp cocoa powder
3 tbsp chocolate chips, divided
1/2 tsp salted butter
3 tbsp 1% milk
2 tsp chocolate syrup

  1. Preheat oven to 400F. Grease 2 muffin cups and the rims around the cups.
  2. Sift together dry ingredients.
  3. Melt 1 tbsp chocolate chips with the butter, stir in milk and chocolate syrup.
  4. Add the melted ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until just blended. Fold in chocolate chips.
  5. Bake 15 minutes, turn out immediately and cool on wire racks for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 204.3
Total Fat: 8.5 g
Cholesterol: 12.5 mg
Sodium: 225.3 mg
Total Carbs: 31.9 g
Dietary Fiber: 1.9 g
Protein: 3.4 g

One Mondo Muffin!
Serves 2, technically
1/3 cup flour
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
2 tbsp 1% milk
1 tbsp low-fat sour cream
1 tbsp part-skim ricotta cheese
1 tbsp vanilla
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp vinegar
3 tbsp chocolate chips

  1. Preheat oven to 375F, and grease a jumbo muffin cup.
  2. Combine the dry ingredients in a small bowl.
  3. Seperately, whisk together all the wet ingredients.
  4. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry mixture.
  5. Fold in chocolate chips.
  6. Bake 30 minutes, or until tests done.
  7. Best served warm, or keep in the fridge one day unless freezing. Keeps in freezer 3-4 months.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 291.1
Total Fat: 7.6 g
Cholesterol: 5.9 mg
Sodium: 32.7 mg
Total Carbs: 56.1 g
Dietary Fiber: 3.3 g
Protein: 5.2 g

A note for this last muffin / cupcake: it would probably have been better if I had used a jumbo muffin cup for this sucker, but since a) I'm too cheap to buy one for now and b) there was no way in heck I was going outside again after slipping and sliding on the snow and ice this morning, a very muffin-toppy looking cakelette is what I got. I doubt the taste changed, though!

Banana Cakelette with Nutty Chocolate Frosting
Makes 1 very large muffin
1/3 cup oatmeal muffin mix
pinch nutmeg
1/4 tsp baking soda
3 tbsp light sour cream
1-2 tbsp water
1 tsp banana extract
Hazelnut-Espresso Frosting, as needed

  1. Preheat oven to 400F, grease a muffin cup.
  2. Combine dry ingredients in a small bowl.
  3. Stir in the sour cream, water and banana extract until just combined but still lumpy.
  4. Bake 15 minutes or until tests done. Cool completely.
  5. Using a piping bag, fill with frosting. Spread as much remaining frosting as you care to over the top of the cakelette, and dig in!
Amount per Serving (muffin only)
Calories: 220.8
Total Fat: 9.9 g
Cholesterol: 17.6 mg
Sodium: 188.5 mg
Total Carbs: 29.9 g
Dietary Fiber: 0.0 g
Protein: 4.3 g

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Ashes, Ashes...

Can I fall down now? I mean, happy Ash Wednesday!

Seriously, today was awesome, but exhausting. Never could I have thought that an hour of talking in front of a group would drain me like that! But no matter, it's over for now, and I may even have another chance to do it again! Since the weather was sooo bad today, a lot of the people slated to attend my little seminar couldn't make it into the office. That meant a LOT of leftover food, and leftover note booklets that will be hanging around my mom's cubicle until we can book the room and projector again. I did feel very know-it-allish today, but in a good way, like I was able to help people out in a new way of thinking about food. If I accomplished nothing else, at least I got more word out about my bakery and my blog, and I was taken out for a late sushi lunch by my wonderful friends afterwards (BIG thanks out to you!).

I had mentioned in an earlier post that I had some left-over frosting from the cupcakes I whipped up, and yesterday I put it to good use in a double-whammy of caffeine type of snack for Andrew. Oaty, whole-grain and coffee flavoured brown sugar cookies made with rich, decadent butter were filled with this sweet, thick frosting and stuck in the fridge, where the cookies softened up just an itty bit, allowing for easy chewing. Andrew enjoyed the blend, though he did say the frosting was a bit too sweet for him. That said, he admitted that he isn't really a sweets kind of guy (though he is very sweet himself, haha), so those of us out there who do like out-of-the-can or "bakery-style" frosting will probably find it just right. You'll notice I didn't add the chocolate sprinkles in the version I recently made, but the frosting kind of negates that. Feel free to go all-out though, if you love your sugar!

Coffee-Spice Slice Cookies
Makes about 4 dozen
1/4 cup shortening
1/4 cup salted butter
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon instant espresso, dissolved in 1 teaspoon hot water
3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup rolled quick oats (NOT instant)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup chocolate sprinkles (optional)
  1. In large mixing bowl beat shortening, brown sugar until light and fluffy.
  2. Beat in egg, vanilla and coffee mixture.
  3. Beat in flours, oats, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.
  4. Divide dough into two equal parts, and shape each half into a roll about 1 1/2" wide.
  5. Roll in chocolate sprinkles (if using), pressing lightly.
  6. Wrap tightly, and refrigerate at least 12 hours, or freeze for 2-3. For make-ahead variation, you can freeze logs up to 6 months before proceeding.
  7. Heat oven to 375ºF.
  8. Cut rolls into 1/4" slices, and place 1" apart on ungreased baking sheet.
  9. Bake 6 to 8 minutes (12 min if frozen solid). Cool on rack.
  10. I filled mine once cooled with Hazelnut - Espresso Frosting.
Amount Per Serving (Cookies Only)
Calories: 52.0
Total Fat: 2.4 g
Cholesterol: 7.6 mg
Sodium: 19.9 mg
Total Carbs: 7.0 g
Dietary Fiber: 0.3 g
Protein: 0.7 g

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

A Shrove Tuesday Cheat

Happy Fat Tuesday / Shrove Tuesday / Mardi Gras everyone! While I didn't choose to partake in the whole pancake noshing today (the whole mass intake of fat and eggs that marks the tradition of today makes it a wee bit tough on my system), I did get to make some pancakes! This time, they were for Teaghan and Andrew, who came over today (on one of his few days off of work, no less) to help me run through my presentation for tomorrow. It was a great help, but God knows with the weather forecast calling for some 20cm of snow overnight I may not even get a chance to perform :(. Hopefully Mother Nature will hold off long enough for me to get out to North York and back, with time for a spot of sushi!

So yes, pancakes. The Golden Griddles in the area were giving out free pancake breakfasts this morning until 9AM, followed by $3 dishes the rest of service, but since Teag was at school and Andrew was with me neither of them got the fluffy disks for breakfast. No matter, that's where Aunt Jemima, some milk, and a hot frypan step in! Teaghan's a pure buttermilk gal, while Andrew likes his on the buckwheat side (and here's the recipe I use as a base when I make those). We only had buttermilk mix in the cupboard (which I used before to make these doughnuts), but I had some buckwheat flour left from a batch of my squashcakes and I tossed in about 1/4 cup of that with Andrew's batch. I think I had the pan up a bit too high heat-wise near the end since Teaghan's last mondo-pancake turned out a bit on the scorched side, but she didn't seem to notice at all once she covered it in chocolate chips and margarine! Andrew declared my "cheater's pancakes" a hit, and gobbled them down with a side of leftover, extra-lean ham and a lot of "mmmm's". I guess that gives me the freedom to make them again one day!

Cheater's Buckwheat Buttermilk Pancakes
Makes 1 large serving
1/3 cup buttermilk pancake mix (the add milk / egg kind)
1/4 cup buckwheat flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/3 - 1/2 cup 1% milk
1 egg white, beaten until frothy

  1. Whisk together the pancake mix, flour, and baking powder.
  2. Combine milk and egg white, then beat into the flour mixture until just combined but still lumpy.
  3. Let sit 5-10 minutes while preheating a fry-pan over medium-high heat.
  4. Fry in batches in a small spritz of PAM until batter is finished.
  5. Serve with maple syrup or fresh blueberries for a great treat.

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 257.7
Total Fat: 2.2 g
Cholesterol: 3.7 mg
Sodium: 567.2 mg
Total Carbs: 47.7 g
Dietary Fiber: 5.0 g
Protein: 14.5 g

Monday, February 4, 2008

Me, Teaching... Now THAT's Scary!

As of this Wednesday, I'll be able to say I taught a class! Granted, it's a group of 30 or so of my mom's co-workers, but still, it's a class! I've spent the past month or so prepping all my notes, baking test batches of stuff, and taking photos, and it will all come down to one hour. Hopefully, I'm able to keep my mouth shut enough to get through all my information without going over my time limit, I mean these people at Exxon do have oil to ship!

I want to thank my mom for giving me the opportunity though, since it's giving me a great sense of accomplishment in my daily activities! Plus, it gives me a great chance to play around in the kitchen... I have mini-muffin versions of these two recipes going in, some silver-dollar sized versions of these cookies, and the cupcakes and frosting that I'm posting today all packaged up and ready to go!

Anyways, enjoy these delicious, tiny, and healthy mini-cupcakes, which are a great, tofu-nated variation on the red velvet cake I've made before for my sister. The frosting for these is particularly delicious, it isn't too sweet, or thick (it's actually easiest to dip the cupcakes into a bowl of it rather than spread it overtop). In fact, I could probably eat it (without the butter, for my own messed up health reasons) as a pudding! If you don't care for the strictly caffeinated espresso flavour that this particular frosting gives, feel free to try this nutty frosting out instead. It uses the same base, but is a little thicker.

Red Velvet Puffs with Espresso Frosting
Serves 24
2 ¾ oz soft tofu
½ tbsp vanilla extract
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup Splenda Granular
2 tbsp shortening
2 tbsp apple butter
1 ½ tbsp cocoa
1 ½ tbsp red food colouring
2 tbsp hot water
¾ cup flour
½ cup whole-wheat flour
1/3 cup low-fat sour cream
4 tbsp 1% milk
½ tbsp cider vinegar
1 tsp baking soda
2 oz soft tofu
2 tbsp fat-free cream cheese
1 oz butter, softened
1 tsp instant espresso powder (or to taste)
3 tbsp powdered sugar
1 tbsp raw sugar

  1. Preheat oven to 350F, grease 24 mini-muffin cups.
  2. Puree tofu and vanilla extract, set aside.
  3. Cream sugar, Splenda, shortening and apple butter.
  4. Add tofu puree and blend well.
  5. Make a paste of the cocoa, food colouring, and hot water, add to above mixture.
  6. Combine flours in another small bowl, as well as combining sour cream and milk in yet another bowl.
  7. Add flour and sour cream mixtures, alternating, to form a smooth batter.
  8. Combine vinegar and baking soda, quickly fold into batter.
  9. Portion cupcakes into prepared tins.
  10. Bake 15 minutes and turn out immediately onto wire racks to cool completely.
  11. In a food processor or blender, puree tofu, cream cheese, butter, espresso powder and powdered sugar until smooth and fluffy.
  12. Ice cupcakes, and decorate each with a sprinkle of the raw sugar.
  13. Keep in the refrigerator until serving.

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 64.1
Total Fat: 2.2 g
Cholesterol: 2.7 mg
Sodium: 13.5 mg
Total Carbs: 9.9 g
Dietary Fiber: 0.6 g
Protein: 1.6 g