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Classic Holiday Gingerbread House

6 Jan

Merry Orthodox Christmas! Thank goodness for Orthodox Christmas, without it this post would seem extremely outdated. I mean, come on, Christmas was twelve days ago! To all my readers celebrating Orthodox Christmas – Merry Christmas. I hope your day is filled with love, happiness and gingerbread.

In December I spent a lovely afternoon building a homemade gingerbread house with my friends Vanessa and Renee. Thank you to the charming Vanessa for baking the delicious gingerbread house from scratch! I’ve never had homemade gingerbread before.

GingerBread 2012 -3

Gingerbread House Recipe from The Recipe Link.
• 1/2 cup shortening
• 1/2 cup granulated sugar
• 1/2 cup dark molassas
• 2 tablespoons cold water
• 3 cups all-purpose flour
• 1 teaspoon ground ginger
• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1/2 teaspoon salt

Cream together shortening, sugar, molassas and water. Sift together flour, spices and salt. Add dry ingredients to shortening mixture and mix well. Dough will be stiff. Chill at least 1 hour. Grease or spray cast iron mold with vegetable spray. Press dough into the mold. Bake in pre-heated 350 degree oven for 25 minutes. Let gingerbread cool in the mold for 10 minutes. Carefully remove each piece of gingerbread to cooling rack, flat side down. Repeat with other side, front, roof, and chimney. It is better to bake gingerbread a day ahead of assembling to allow for stiffening. Assemble and decorate!

GingerBread 2012 -6

Royal Icing from The Recipe Link
• 3 egg whites at room temperature
• 3/4 teaspoon cream of tarter
• 1 lb. of 10X confectioner sugar-sifted

Combine in mixing bowl and mix on high speed for 7 to 10 minutes. Beat until very stiff – you can’t overbeat. Store at room temperature. This royal icing dries quickly into a hard candy consistency. Perfect for decorating the most charming of gingerbread houses!

GingerBread 2012 -4GingerBread 2012 -5

It was the perfect holiday afternoon filled with laughter, tea, candy, and yogurt covered pretzels. Thanks friends!

Let the holiday celebrations continue.

MTL & NYC Food Diary

29 Aug

Okay, okay, okay. I know you all hate looking at instagram food photos. But this is different, right? Because I used a real digital camera, not instagram. And I’m allowed to take food photos on vacation, right? Because the food tastes better and I am experiencing new things.

Whatever, this post is totally justified. Food was an important part of my Montreal/NYC vacation. We took lots of photos of it. We ate lots of it.

It was delicious!

Le Gros Jambon Diner.

Les Glaceurs.

Juliette et Chocolat.

Schwartz’s.

Olive & Gourmando.

Tacombi.

Wafels & Dinges.

Artichoke Pizza.

Other wonderful food places (sans photos): Eataly. Le Pain QuotidienSpice Market. Ippudo.

Every single place we ate was fantastic. I recommend everything!

Saskatoon Blog Round-Up

10 Jun

Once again I am complaining about the prairie rain. It is damp and ugly outside so I’m spending most of my day catching up on what is new in the blogosphere and watching Netflix.

Despite the rain I do want to show Saskatoon some love. Here are some awesome, random finds from bloggers and people who call this (currently) rainy City of Bridges home.

Puddle Vision in London by Gavin Hammond (found via City of Skies)

Go Green! Lentil Salad with Sorrel & Asparagus (from Renee at Sweet Sugar Bean)

S’more Stuffed French Toast (from Bob at BS in the Kitchen)

Coffee night with Cathy Terepocki (organized by Flock & Gather)

Saskatoon’s craft collective is hosting an evening chat with artist Cathy Terepocki to discuss the perks and challenges of selling handmade goods by consignment and wholesale June 19 at the Mendel Art Gallery.

Matt HunterObservations

This week I had the pleasure of working with acoustic guitar player, Matt Hunter, for a work event. Matt recently created this charming music video; not only is the music lovely but the video highlights the quiet beauty of Saskatoon.

Happy Weekend! 

Pretty 2012 Red Velvet Vegan Cupcakes

18 Jan

Is it too late to talk about the cupcakes I made for New Year’s Eve? I hope not because that is the topic of today’s late post (I usually blog on the weekends).

I spent New Year’s Eve with family. It was a lovely evening full of food, baking, board games, and hot tubbing. I’m not a huge fan of New Year’s Eve and was very pleased to have a low-key, quiet evening.

To celebrate the beginning of 2012 my cousin and I made Red Velvet Vegan Cupcakes (found on Bon Appétempt). I’ve never attempted vegan baking before and was so pleased with how our cupcakes turned out. As Amelia said, “Nevermind that they are vegan, these cupcakes are delicious. Period.” Agreed – I would definitely make this recipe again. And because these cupcakes are vegan I feel like I can justify eating more of them (vegan = healthy, right?).

Red Velvet Vegan Cupcakes via Bon Appétempt
Cake
-  2 cups soy milk
-  2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
-  2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
-  2 cups sugar
-  4 tablespoons cocoa powder
-  1 teaspoon baking powder
-  1 teaspoon baking soda
-  1 teaspoon salt
-  2/3 cup vegetable oil (I used a little less and they were still really moist/delicious.)
-  2 ounces red food coloring
-  4 teaspoons vanilla extract

Add vinegar to soy milk, and set aside to curdle.
Sift flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.
Add vegetable oil, food coloring, and vanilla extract to the curdled soy milk, and mix.
Pour liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients, and mix.
Fill cupcake liners ¾ full.
Bake in a preheated 350° oven for 20 minutes or until done.

Frosting
-  ½ cup margarine, room temperature
-  ½ cup Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese, room temperature
-  2 teaspoons vanilla extract
-  4 cups confectioners sugar

Cream margarine, cream cheese, and vanilla extract.

We cut out stencils for 2012 and an exploding star from a piece of paper and sifted cocoa power over the stencil to decorate the top of our vegan cupcakes. For the party-goers that do not like icing we sifted icing sugar on top of the cupcakes sans-icing to add a little fanciness.

Our cupcakes are so cute – I just wanna eat them all up!  ;-)

Crafternoon: Kate’s Painterly Silhouettes

23 Oct

The Crafty Ladies have been long overdue for an afternoon of crafting. This weekend we got together to make a DIY project from Design*Sponge. We followed the online tutorial for Kate’s Painterly Silhouettes.

Step one: collect supplies, treats, and inspiration. To get the creative vibes flowing I made some apple cider in my slow cooker. To make hot apple cider put the following ingredients in your slow cooker on high for a couple of hours: apple juice, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, sliced oranges and sliced lemons. Feel free to spike your cider with Appleton Estate Jamaica Rum. Yum!

In addition to apple cider, rum, cookies, and grapes you will need:
1. acrylic paint
2. contact paper (we found this at the Home Depot)
3. exacto knife/blade
4. permanent marker
5. paintbrushes
6. illustration board (we found this at Opus)
7. images (our images included a tree, deer, pony, owls, love birds, and crown)
8. newspaper or scrap paper for painting on
9. cutting board (or cardboard)

Step two: follow the Design*Sponge tutorial. The instructions are super simple and easy to follow.

Step three: Admire your beautiful artwork! I love the variety in the prints the crafty ladies made. Even though we all followed the same tutorial everyone’s artwork is completely original (unfortunately I didn’t a photo of the royal crown print).

It took us about three hours to finish this stencil art project. I think everyone is relatively happy with how their artwork turned out. I think all the prints look great!

I really enjoyed this craft. I never worked with contact paper before, but now know it is an ingenious craft supply that I will definitely be using for future craft projects.

Do you like my purple deer? I’m pretty happy with him. It would be fun to do a whole series of purple deer (or purple prairie animal) artworks.

All in all – a successful crafternoon with some of my favourite ladies.

#LazySunday Baking

5 Sep

I hope you had a fabulous weekend. I spent Sunday baking and visiting with friends in the sun. It was the perfect way to spend the last long weekend of the summer.

I made my famous banana bread for a picnic at English Bay. Check out the recipe for Banana Espresso Chocolate Chip Bread from Everyone Likes Sandwiches. This is currently my favourite banana bread recipe. What’s your favourite banana bread recipe? Do you include chocolate chips and walnuts? Please share your recipes and tips!

I also made a Peach and Ginger-Pecan Cake for some friends that came over to visit in the evening. This cake was delicious. The recipe is from Desserts for Breakfast. The final product is a small, tasty cake that can easily be shared between six to eight people. The flavour combination of the ginger, brown sugar, and peaches was perfect for this end-of-summer/beginning-of-fall dessert. And yes, I did in fact eat the leftover dessert for breakfast. Truly a breakfast for champions.

Best Frozen Banana Recipe

5 Jun

This weekend I had amazing frozen Choco-Banana Skewers from M&M Meat Shops. They were so simple and tasty. This summer my mission is to find the best frozen banana recipe on the blogosphere.

Here are some recipes I can’t wait to try out! Bonus: some of these recipes are very healthy alternatives to traditional dairy ice cream (if you don’t include the chocolate and peanut butter of course).

Frozen Banana Bites by (Never Home) Maker

The Ultimate Vegan Ice Cream also by (Never Home) Maker

One-ingredient Ice Cream by Sarah James at Instructables

Frozen Banana-Peanut Butter-Chocolate Chip Milkshakes from The Kitchn

YUM.

Rotten Banana Fail

23 May

I love when bananas go rotten; it gives me an excuse to do some baking! I think my coworkers are also appreciative of when I have rotten bananas as this usually means they get homemade banana bread (or Brianna bread as some of them have started to call it).

This week instead of making banana bread I made banana muffins. My friend Courtney gave me silicon baking cups and I was excited to finally use them. I’ve never used silicon bakeware before. I also haven’t made banana muffins in a while. I’m not sure what happened but the muffins turned out to be a bit of a disaster. Maybe I needed to add more flour? Unfortunately these muffins are not nearly as impressive as my banana bread (my banana bread is good – I swear!). I’m actually a little embarrassed to post photos of them on my blog. But not embarrassed enough to not post about this baking failure! ;)

Sorry coworkers – I will probably not be bringing these into work tomorrow!

For some reason this recipe failed today. I’m sure it was me and not the recipe. I still encourage you to try it!

Banana Muffins by Company’s Coming
All purpose flour     1 ¾ cups
Baking soda              1 tsp
Salt                             ¼ tsp

Butter or margarine    ½ cup
Granulated sugar         1 ¼ cups
Eggs                                2
Sour cream                    ¼ cup
(If you don’t have sour cream you can substitute with milk or yogurt)
Mashed bananas          1 cup

I also like to add chocolate chips (preferably dark chocolate chips)

Put flour, soda, and salt in a large bowl. Stir. Make a well in center.

In another bowl cream butter, sugar, and one egg. Beat in second egg. Mix in sour cream and bananas. Pour into well and stir to mix. Ignore lumps. Fill greased cups ¾ full. Bake in 350 oven for 20 to 25 minutes. Yield: 16 muffins.

I think that maybe I should stick with banana bread.

Goat Cheese Quiche with Hash-Brown Crust

26 Feb

I am a big fan of quiches. I love them. They are simple, tasty, and relatively healthy. I found this fantastic quiche recipe on Martha Stewart. I am not a fan of making pastry, so I was quite pleased when I found a quiche recipe with a hash-brown crust.

I like vegetables in my quiche, so I sautéed two leeks, one red pepper, and a handful of mushrooms. I added these veggies to the eggs, sour cream, and goat cheese.

Ingredients
•    2 tablespoons butter, softened, plus more for pan
•    1 package (1 pound) frozen hash brown potatoes, thawed
•    12 large eggs
•    Coarse salt and ground pepper
•    1 1/2 cups reduced-fat sour cream
•    1 package (4 to 5 ounces) soft goat cheese, room temperature
•    4 scallions, thinly sliced

Directions
1.    Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brush a 9-by-2 1/2-inch springform pan with butter. Line the sides of the pan with strips of waxed paper (the same height as pan); brush paper with butter.
2.    Squeeze excess moisture from hash browns. Mix in a bowl with butter, 1 egg, 1 teaspoon coarse salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Pat into bottom and up sides of prepared pan, using a moistened dry measuring cup. Place on a rimmed baking sheet; bake until set, 15 to 20 minutes.
3.    In a large bowl, whisk sour cream, goat cheese, 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper until well combined; whisk in 11 remaining eggs. Pour into crust, and sprinkle with scallions. Bake until set, 45 to 50 minutes. Unmold quiche, and peel off waxed paper before serving.

This quiche is delish – thanks Martha! Enjoy!

Granola

23 Jan

I love granola. It has become a part of my weekly diet. I bring it to work to snack on, I use it to make yogurt parfaits, I eat it on warm fruit as a quick and easy fruit crumble. I love it.

This is my favourite granola recipe from The Kitchn. I use 3 cups of cranberry trail mix instead of buying the peanuts, pumpkin seeds, and dates/cranberries separately. I also usually add 1/2 teaspoon of cloves and allspice to the recipe. It’s delicious – Enjoy!

Peanut Butter and Honey Granola

Makes about 8 cups

  • 3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 2 cups shelled roasted peanuts
  • 1 cup hulled raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1 cup wheat germ
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup natural peanut butter, smooth or chunky
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2/3 cup vegetable or olive oil
  • 3/4 cup chopped dried dates

Heat the oven to 325°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, combine oats, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, wheat germ, salt, cinnamon, and ginger.

In a small saucepan (or microwave), mix the honey and brown sugar. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring constantly. Turn off the heat and stir in the peanut butter and vanilla until smooth. Pour over the oat mixture. Pour in the oil, and stir thoroughly. The mixture will be chunky and rough.

Spread the oat mixture evenly on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 40 minutes, stirring twice while baking. Transfer the granola to a large bowl and add the dates, tossing to combine.

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