I love making bread fromscratch, I love watching it rise, I love the smell wafting through the house as it bakes, and then I love to eat hot bread smothered (and I mean Paula Deen-style smothered) in soft butter. There needs to be enough butter so that when I hold it, melted butter drips down my hand. Ooh, I can't wait for this one to be baked.
There is just something so delicious about fresh-out-of-the-oven bread, that I have been known to eat more than half a loaf at a time, OK, sometimes even more. I just can't help myself. This is one of those breads.
Vegetable Herb Bread adapted from a recipe by Canadian Living Makes 2 loaves
5 & 1/2 cups flour 1 & 3/4 cups warm water (from the tap) 1 tablespoon sugar 2 teaspoons salt 1 & 3/4 teaspoons instant yeast 1/3 cup shredded zucchini 1/3 cup shredded carrot 1/4 cup chopped sun dried tomatoes (oil packed) 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley 1 teaspoon dried oregano 1/2 teaspoon dried basil 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
Heat oil in large pan, add onions and salt and cook over med-low heat until golden brown and caramelized. Remove from heat set aside.
Combine remaining ingredients in bowl of stand mixer fitted with dough hook. Add onions and mix slowly until everything is combined. You may need to add a tablespoon or two more water to make a nice dough. When dough has come together, increase speed to #3 and knead for 8 minutes.
Transfer dough to lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and leave to rise in a warm place for 1 hour.
When doubled in size punch down dough; divide in half. Form each into oval and place parchment lined baking sheets. Cover with plastic wrap and leave to rise for about 1 hour more, or until doubled in bulk. Brush tops with water; with sharp knife cut 3 diagonal slashes on tops.
Bake in 350°F (180°C) oven for 1 hour or until golden brown and loaves sound hollow when tapped on bottom. Remove from pans; let cool on racks. (Make-ahead: Wrap in plastic wrap, overwrap with heavy-duty foil and freeze for up to 1 month.)
I don't do this to myself often, I am catering an event, have it planned down to the last sprinkle of salt, and then WHAM, I forget an important ingredient. This time it was hummus. I couldn't believe it. There was no way I was heading back out to the store in this weather, so I had to make it myself.
I wonder why I have never made it before. It is so easy, and so so so delicious. I cannot get over how good this hummus is - and with so few ingredients. Seriously, if you only have a can of chickpeas on hand, you can make this right now.
Enjoy this hummus straight from the food processor with a spoon (like me), or on a sandwich, or dipped into with fresh bread, carrots or cucumber spears, mix anything into it - sun dried tomatoes, fresh herbs, more garlic, chili. This is just a base recipe, let your imagination run wild!
So Easy Hummus
Makes about 2 cups
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic (more if you prefer)
6 tablespoons oil (I used 4 tablespoons olive oil and 2 tablespoon canola oil - I just find the taste of olive oil sometimes overwhelming)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Place everything into the bowl of your food processor fitted with metal blade, and whizz together. If you like it a little smoother, add more oil a teaspoon at a time, if you like it chunkier, don't add so much oil.
OMG, you won't be able to stop eating it - and it is so much better than the commercially prepared hummus!
Another Delicate Doilies card...I haven't used the die cut doily sheet yet, and every day I go into my craft room, I see it there and I think "I'll save it for a special occasion". Well, that special occasion is today. I don't know why I put off using it. This card is really simple, but striking. The Melon Mambo really stands out against the Wisteria Wonder background. And who doesn't love the new stamp set Occasions Alphabet - every letter has the perfect sentiment!
I decorated the inside too - Whisper White, with a strip of the Flirtatious DSP at the bottom, and some stamped doilies complete my card.
Stamp Sets: Delicate Doilies, Occasions Alphabet
Cardstock: Pretty In Pink, Whisper White
Ink: Melon Mambo, Wisteria Wonder
Other: Wisteria Wonder Ruffled Ribbon, In Colour Brads, Circle & Oval Punches
I have the pickiest eater in my 2 year old son. He doesn't eat any fruit or vegetables, save the occasional piece of peeled apple, tomato sauce on spaghetti, or whatever juice is in a freezie. He only eats sausages, or chicken if it's mashed up with whatever else is on his plate, or we can sneak by his picky little palette.
When I told him the meatloaf was just a big sausage, he ate it without complaint, even saying it was a really yummy sausage and finishing his entire serving. I think from today onwards, everything will be just an odd-shaped "sausage". Now, if only there was a way to get more vegetables in his diet.
This meatloaf is pretty simple, made with ingredients I am sure you have in your pantries, or have really easy access to. Trust me, I didn't go out of my way to purchase anything fancy.
I like to wrap my meatloaf in foil, like a big sausage, I get a bit tired of the loaf pan look. Just remember to spary the inside of the foil with cooking spray (or a light brush of vegetable oil will work too) and wrap tightly. I also cook my meatloaf on a parchment lined pan and the only reason is to make clean-up easier. You can do it without and still get the same results.
To be honest, I haven't left my house in three days because it is just too hot to go out. Then my husband suggested he cook dinner, and I had to get that idea out of his head ASAP. I adore that he wants to cook, but I want to eat, and sometimes those two ideas don't exactly mesh!
Makes 4-6 serves
2 tablespoosn vegetable oil
1 onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1 slice bread
3 tablespoons milk
1 lb ground beef (lean or medium)
1/2 teaspoon salt, extra
1/4 teaspoon pepper
4 sun dried tomatoes, chopped (if packed in oil, drain well)
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon ketchup
1 teaspoon yellow mustard
1 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/4 - 1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs
Preheat oven to 350F.
In a small frying pan, heat oil and cook onion with garlic and 1 teaspoon salt until softened and just beginning to colour. Set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, place slice of bread on deep plate and pour over milk. Leave to absorb.
Combine remaining ingredients in large bowl, adding cooled onion mixture and milk soaked bread. Mix well with your hands.
Form into log shape (see photos) and wrap in aluminum foil. Place on baking sheet and cook for 40-45 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches a minimum of 160F (see Health Canada website for more info).
Remove from oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes before unwrapping and slicing.
And then, to top off the wedding weekend, my girlfriend had her bridal shower and I made the cupcakes.
Her wedding colour is fuschia, which explains the cupcake liner, and fuschia butter cream is not really something I think I would like to eat (too much colour), so I went with a white chocolate cream cheese frosting - soooo good, and topped with a fresh raspberry. The cake itself, was a raspberry vanilla cake.
Everyone seemed very happy, I know I enjoyed them - I think I ate two :)
Another project for the wedding show were these Wedding Cake cake pops. Aren't they just gorgeous!
I had some trouble with the bases cracking on me though (you can see in the picture, the cake pop on the right is cracked), so for this technique, where the cake mixture is formed by pressing into a cookie cutter, I may have to alter the recipe I use.
I will be at a wedding show in April, here in the Ottawa area, and guaranteed, by then, I will have this recipe perfected.
What a busy weekend I have had - creating these cake pops for a Wedding Show. Thanks again to Bakerella for the inspiration on her website, and to the numerous other blogs and sites with helpful hints on how to make them.
The insides were a yellow butter cake mixed together with vanilla frosting - I figured if it was chocolate, I might be able to see through the white chocolate to the cake, and my "brides" may not be as white as they could be. Same with the white part of the "grooms" tuxedo jacket.
I am always so stressed about making something new, specific to a client's request. Something I thought about this weekend was that I should do a test run to make sure it all goes according to plan. These cake pops all turned out quite nicely though, but to ease the stress-factor, I should plan a little bit further ahead.
These cake pops are available to order from my website, if you like.
Oh giant sour cream coffee cake muffin, how I love you!
There is nothing better than the smell of brown sugar and cinnamon baking in the oven, and the smell wafting through the entire house. So comforting and so delicious, and brings back so many childhood memories.
A real treat used to be to have hot buttered toast sprinkled with white sugar and cinnamon (might be a treat tomorrow, now that I am thinking of it). My step-mother used to, and probably still does, make an apple tea cake that was laced with cinnamon. I remember coming home from school to a warm slice of that cake. Maybe I will do that one next week.
This recipe comes from a friend of mine, Sharilee. I worked with her for about 4 years, in two different locations and man, that girl could cook. I am positive she is still a wonderful Chef, but she departed our industry when she started her family, about 5 years ago. I am sure there are lots of people who miss her cooking, and one of them is me.
My first attempt with this recipe turned to disaster. The cake smelled wonderful, rose like a dream, and then I turned it out and the top fell off. I mean, the freaking top fell off - the top half was on the cooling rack, and the bottom was still stuck like glue in the pan! I still ate it. It looked horrible and tasted great.
My second attempt was much better. I really greased those giant muffin cups (the PAM lingered in the air for everyone to breathe), and even lined them with parchment tabs for easy removal. No way was my cake staying in the pan for my husband to dig out with a fork.
My only change to Sharilee's wonderful recipe was to add icing to the top - not for sweetness, just for prettiness.
Sour Cream Coffee Cake
Makes one cake in a bundt pan, or 6 giant muffins
Filling & Topping:
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup chopped walnuts
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons melted butter
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Mix well and set aside.
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sour cream
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease & flour a bundt pan (remember, mine stuck - so grease & flour really well) or large 6-cup muffin pan.
Cream sugar & butter, add vanilla and mix well. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well between each addition.
Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl, mix well to combine. Add flour mixture alternating with sour cream.
Scrape half of batter into prepared pan, sprinkle with half the walnut mixture. Cover with remaining cake batter, and sprinkle the rest of the walnut mixture evenly over the top of the cake.
Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.
Leave to cool in pan for 10 minutes, then carefully, turn out onto a wire rack to cool.
Remember Orchid Opulence? Hmm...it seems I have quite a stash, and nowhere to use it - until now, that is. I also had some retired pretty DSP (spring themed, but can't remember the name) which I must have bought to match. I seem to remember that Orchid Opulence was one of my favourite colours. I am not so sure now that Wisteria Wonder and Perfect Plum are contenders for favourite purple. It is so cold today, we survived a weather watch winter storm last night, and now it's a clear blue day, but absolutely freezing. Anyway, I need a burst of springtime, so here it is. Seems I am also on a butterfly roll...
Stamp Set: Easter Blossom
Cardstock: Orchid Opulence (retired), Pink Pirouette, Certainly Celery, Whisper White
Other: Butterfly Punch (notice the change on the front), Basic Rhinestones, Beautiful Wings Embosslit, Sticky Strip, Snail.
The inside of this card, just done vertically instead of horizontally - gives a different vibe, especially with the stripes on the DSP. Completing the inside is another way of using up all those off-cuts too. Don't discount the little pieces, they can add just as much punch as a big piece.
I am in LOVE with this Designer Series Papaer and this design - totally stolen from Laurie at Laurie's Stampin' Spot. I only changed the size of the card and the sentiment.
Generally when I am inspired be a card, I love certain things, change others, but then there's the days where I come across a design so striking that I can't bear to change a thing, hence the total steal of this idea.
The inside echoes the front, I used the butterfly embosslit from Stampin Up with black cardstock. Tomorrow I will post a version using the Twitterpated DSP from the new Occasions Mini. It's lovely, just different - you'll see.
I just mailed this card to a friend who is making some life changes - hopefully the sentiment inspires her to keep going and keep strong! And, the ladies at my stamp club will be making this on Monday night.
Stamp Set: Word Play
Cardstock: Crumb Cake, Basic Black
DSP: Mocha Morning
Ink: Basic Black (but I should have used Stayz On)
Other: Beautiful Butterflies Bigz Die, Big Shot, Basic Pearls, Sticky Strip (to adhere butterflies to front), Beautiful Butterflies Embosslit.
There's a chill in the air, and by chill, I mean the temperature was -29C. OK, so I exaggerate, the actual temperature was -18C, but there was a windchill of -29C. I like to use the extremes. It makes me feel good that I have survived the deep freeze of winter. Back home, in Australia, we can't even imagine a temperature like this exists, let alone live in it.
My brother is planning a visit in March, so I sent him an email with the news of how cold it was, just to scare him. I can't wait to see his response.
In honour of this absolutely freezing day, I made chili in my slow cooker. One of my New Years resolutions was to use my slow cooker more, and while browsing the bookstore, I came across a magazine-book* called Slow Cooker Revolution by America's Test Kitchen (who I love and trust because everything always works). I also think that slow cooking does need a revolution. Perhaps the reason I haven't made much in my slow cookers is because of horrible first time results.
I have toned down their recipe for Three-Alarm Beef Chili, it's way too spicy for me. Here is my version, based on theirs.
Chilly Day Chili
Makes a lot more than the 4 serves they say, maybe serves 6-8.
2 slices light rye bread
2 tablespoons milk
1 pound lean ground beef
salt & pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 onions, minced
1 teaspoon chili sambal (just crushed chili and salt from Chinatown or Loblaws)
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons tomato paste
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 (15oz) can tomato sauce
1 (14.5oz) can diced tomatoes
1 (15oz) can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons minced canned chipotle chili (you can add more if you like it hotter)
Mash bread and milk into paste in large bowl using fork. Mix in ground beef, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper using hands.
Heat oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onions, chili sambal, chili powder, tomato paste, garlic, cumin, oregano and red pepper flakes and cook until vegetables are softened and lightly browned, 8-10 minutes.
Stir in beef mixture and cook, breaking up any large pieces with wooden spoon, until no longer pink, about 3 minutes. Stir in tomato sauce, scraping up any browned bits; transfer to slow cooker.
Stir diced tomatoes with juice, beans, soy sauce, sugar and chipotle chili into slow cooker. Cover and cook until beef is tender, 6-8 hours on low or 3-5 hours on high.
Let chili settle for 5 minutes, then remove fat from surface using large spoon. Break up any remaining large pieces of beef with spoon. Season with salt, hot sauce and additional chipotles to taste, and serve.
*What do you call those cookbooks in the magazine rack? Who knows? Do I even need another cookbook? Probably not, but I do like looking at all the pictures and dreaming of the things I could do.
Hmm...my first attempt at a card challenge from Andrea Walford's Sunny Stamping website. Actually, my first attempt at a card challenge, ever. I think this is a great card, and it kind of follows the guidelines, which is to use inspiration from a posted card on her website, and make it your own.
I made a square card, 5" x 5", and used supplies from my ever lasting Taylored Expressions kit subscription. I do love to receive a surprise in the mail every month, not that I have much time to stamp. But, I will make the time this year.
Co-ordinating paper and supplies from Stampin Up are Very Vanilla and Cherry Cobbler, and I used the stamps from Artistic Etchings and I Heart Hearts - seeing as this card will be the card for my true love on Valentine's Day.
I love to finish off the cards by doing a little something on the insides too. You will notice that this is just something I started recently, after wondering what to do on a dark card base, a single piece of white cardstock wasn't going to do it for me. Now, it seems, I do it to all my cards. It just adds a little extra.
This recipe is for a hearty tomato-based vegetable soup filled with quinoa. I created this recipe trying to cram as much protein as I could into my diet, and as you know, quinoa is the grain with the highest form of vegetable protein.
I like to eat this grain, and I should probably eat more of it. I don't love it though. I eat it because it's good for me, and it feels in this soup as if it's a good substitute for carbs that I am continually craving in this cold weather we have been having lately.
Quinoa is available in almost every grocery store and health food store. It is even available at Costco. It keeps forever, as long as you keep it dry and stored in a coolish place.
Passata is just pureed tomatoes, generally Italian tomatoes, but I like it because it's thick and rich, and already pureed (one less dish for me to wash). Oh, and the seeds are strained out too. Plus, I prefer tomatoes in glass - remember that story going around a while ago about BPA in the lining of tomato cans?? Anyway, when I can, I buy tomatoes in glass. Just one of those things. If you can't get a bottle of passata, just use a 28oz can of whole Italian-style tomatoes and puree it yourself, or buy a can of crushed tomatoes.
The soup is suprisingly delicious, even my husband liked it, so that's an accomplishment too. It's super easy to make, and everyone who likes tomato soup will enjoy this. To be honest, if you had your eyes closed, you wouldn't even be able to tell there was quinoa in this soup. Your kids will eat it too, a bonus any time.
Quinoa Vegetable Soup
makes 4-6 serves
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 onions, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup quinoa
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 bottle (720ml) passata
4 cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
1 & 1/2 cups frozen peas
Heat oil in a large saucepan, add onions, celery, carrot, galric, quiona, thyme and salt. Cook gently until vegetables are softened, and onion is translucent.
Add passata and chicken stock, bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer about 20 minutes until quinoa is cooked. Stir through frozen peas, season to taste with salt & pepper.
Out of all the cupcakes I sold over the holiday season, it turns out that this gorgeous Candied Cranberry Lime Cupcake was the best seller. I really thought that the Vanilla Snowflake or the Candy Cane would top the list, but no, it seems everyone loves cranberries.
Actually, I had so many positive comments on the cranberry cupcake that I have decided to carry it on my menu through the winter season.
It's basically a moist vanilla cupcake base studded with fresh cranberries, glazed with a cranberry syrup and topped with a lime buttercream and candied cranberries. It's so good, the mix of sweet and sour, with a little crunch on the top from the candied cranberries.
It seems this is the year of the baby, well, in my life, anyway. In the past 12 months I think there have been over eight babies born in our circle of friends. It started last February when we had our twins, and almost every month, someone has had a baby, or announced they are expecting. I guess I am through the "wedding" stage of my life - you know where for a few years you go to multiple weddings each summer, and now we are into the "baby" stage.
I gave this card away just today to great friends of ours who have the tiniest, cutest 2 month old girl. My friend gave birth only two weeks early to a 4lb something baby...so tiny. She is now over 8lbs, which is great, but it makes my kids look like giants. At 11 months, they both weigh in at a hefty 25lbs. I know, they are the fattest kids in the world, but as always, I look for the bright side and the bright side of this is that they couldn't pull down our Christmas tree or pull on the multiple decorations, or rip open presents under the tree because they are so fat, they can't move. They are pretty cute though.
The finished size of this card is 6.25" x 3", and will slide into a Small Open End Envelope from Stampin Up.
Stamp Sets: Fox & Friends, Button Buddies, Petit Pairs (inside greeting), Tiny Tags (outside greeting).
Cardstock: Pretty in Pink, Rose Red, Silver Glimmer Paper
At 10pm on New Years Eve, when we did our "Happy New Year" for all the kids, I headed home with our three and put them to bed, and then got started on these cake pops. Thanks to Bakerella's website, I hope I made a little 4 year old client happy on January 1.
I got up at 6am the next morning just to put the finishing touches on. I think they turned out kind of cute.
They are not difficult to make, but you really have to only work with a couple at a time. Otherwise, the balls of cake warm up, and because the tops are so heavy, off falls the head. I lost a couple like this. I had to really slow down and take things easy.
I didn't find any black food colour either, well, the one without water as an ingredient, so I looked for the darkest chocolate I could find. I think it was a 72%, and even if it was not so sweet on the outside, the inside of sweet chocolate cake and frosting would balance it out nicely.
And, I was really challenged at piping miniature hearts out of pink candy chocolate for the bows at 6am, so the Valentine quins had to do, and worked really well - the perfect shade of Minnie Mouse pink.
Head over to Bakerella's site and see her other wonderful creations.
Yet again, a new year is upon us, and even though I try not to make resolutions, there's always a part of me that thinks a new year means a new start, and hopefully a better starting point for the rest of the year, and maybe the rest of my life.
Too often, March rolls around and I have fallen off the wagon - only disappointing myself, and why do I have to disappoint myself...ever? So, even though I say no more resolutions, here are my challenges for the New Year, and hopefully the rest of my life:
#1 Be a better wife - I try so hard to be a good person, but somehow my husband always seems to get the raw end of the deal. I am going to try to put him first this year, and think of how what I do every day might impact his day. I am going to be thankful to be married to such a wonderful person, and appreciate all he does for me and our family. I will welcome him home each night with a smile and ask about his day, and not complain about mine. Really, I have nothing to complain about.
#2 Better organize my business paperwork - kind of tied into #1, it turns out my husband keeps the books for my growing catering company, and I don't write down mileage, I don't properly file receipts or records - everything is just a pile of papers. It's time to clean up the office and begin thinking of the additional work I create from pure laziness.
#3 Finish projects - I am tired of so many unfinished projects tucked away in cupboards, baskets and drawers. This is the year I finish all projects that I start, and finish up half-done projects from years past.
#4 Use my slow cooker(s) - I have two slow cookers, yes, I know, who has two? But this year, I will use them at least once a week, and post the recipes. I also have a pressure cooker (bought in a weak moment from TSC) which I will learn how to use.
#5 Remember friends and family members birthdays - This is a recurring one, in which I strive, strrive, strive to do each year. I almost made it last year, but some people fell through the cracks. It was a busy year, last year, with the arrival of the twins in early February, and then adjusting to make it all work on about 3 hours of sleep a day. I apologise to the friends and family I forgot, but I hope you understand that last year was just plain busy.
#6 Not spend so much - This ties in with #1 too, I do spend a lot on just "stuff". Stuff that I need, stuff that I don't and stuff that I wonder why I ever thought I needed that in the first place. And, I am sure, stuff that annoys my husband when it comes time to pay the bills.
#7 Build my businesses - catering and stamping. An odd combination, but both creative. Keep an eye on my website for more news and special events.
I do need to lose 10lbs, who doesn't, but it's not a resolution. I am not going to stress out over that - there's too many other important things going on to be worried about 10lbs.
But to you, I wish only the best for 2012. I hope you meet all of your challenges, I hope you have a healthy new year and I hope you are happy - with family, with friends, with work and with life in general. I hope you enjoy every moment of 2012 and create wonderful memories.
I guess keeping up with my blog should be a challenge, but I will tuck it in with #7.
Welcome to my love of food blog! I am a stay-at-home mom right now (staying home and going crazy should be the correct term) so I started this blog to share with you my love of food. I try to make everything myself, but occasionally, I will find something interesting in the stores or at the market that I will feel compelled to share.
I love to experiment, but most of all I love to make delicious and beautiful food. I hope you will be inspired.