Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Jumbo Soft & Chewy Chip Cookies

This is my own recipe for Chocolate Chip Cookies. They are big, chocolatey, soft, and delicious! Aside from the usual ingredients, I have a secret ingredient in these cookies, but I can't tell you what it is! Only a few select people know the recipe for my chocolate chip cookies, and even then, it takes special technique and practice to get these cookies just right. I know because I came up with the recipe myself. I have made these cookies a few times now, and they always turn out great. I have also tried making regular-sized cookies,  mini cookies, and crisp cookies with the same dough. They all turned out good, but the jumbo cookies are still my favourite!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Ginger Crinkles

I know, I know, Christmas is still nearly four months away, but I decided to make gingersnaps anyway. Gingersnaps are great any time of the year! And no, I'm not trying to get a head start on my Christmas baking either - although I like to start baking early and freeze cookies, I don't start this early! These gingersnap cookies are very good, and very spicy. They have a secret ingredient. Aside from the usual spices of ginger, cinnamon, and cloves, these cookies also contain a small amount of ground black pepper. That's right, pepper. Not enough to make it taste like supper instead of dessert, but this small amount of pepper enhances the spicy ginger flavour of the cookies. The cookies are rolled into balls, lightly coated with granulated sugar, and baked at a low temperature for a long amount of time; giving them their crinkly appearance and texture. Time to get in the Christmas spirit!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Peanut Butter Ice Box Squares

Today I made creamy, rich Peanut Butter Ice Box Squares. They are as good as they look and sound - actually, better! They are extremely rich, creamy, gooey, peanut buttery, and delicious. 

The recipe is from a Kraft magazine. It only makes an 8x8 inch square pan, but they are so rich, you will get at least 36 squares out of it. They are easy, no-bake, refreshing squares; perfect for a hot summer day. I have made these before, and although I do not often make the same thing twice (I prefer to try new recipes), these are so good, I had to make them a second time (and maybe a third, and a fourth, and a fifth....). They look a bit messy, but they are in a good way, and they actually hold together pretty well.

Peanut Butter Ice Box Squares.” Kraft, n.d. Sunday, August 28, 2011

Sunday, August 28, 2011

40th Anniversary Cake

Here is the cake I made on the weekend for a family gathering in honour of my great aunt and uncle's fortieth wedding anniversary. It is my trusted moist chocolate cake with my signature buttercream icing. I piped a reverse shell border around the bottom of the cake, and a star border on top. I used a letter stencil for the writing, and made buttercream roses for the top of the cake, all in red - the traditional colour for the fortieth anniversary. I also made a special candy modelling clay (similar to modelling chocolate), and put this into some flower molds for the bottom of the cake. Then I used the clay to form more roses to put around the circumference of the cake. Forget fondant, gum paste, and modelling chocolate; this candy clay is by far the easiest to make, work with, mold, and shape, and it also tastes pretty good too.
I really enjoyed making this cake, and it was definitely worth it when I received comments like, "This is amazing." "You've outdone yourself." and my personal favourite, "Who are you, the next cake boss?"

Saturday, August 27, 2011

"A+" Foods

Just for fun I am going to name as many foods that begin with the letter "A" as I can. To establish a brief set of guidelines here, brand names do not count (Americano Cheese would be just cheese), flavours do not count (apple cinnamon muffins would just be muffins) and no search engines, books, or other resources may be used - answers are strictly from the head.

Apple, Apricot, Avocado, Asparagus, Artichoke, Anchovy, Arrowroot cookies
Arrowroot flour, Applesauce, Arborio rice, Atlantic salmon, Applesauce
Almonds, Amaranth, Allspice, Atlantic char, Anise, Anadama Bread, Asian Endive

All-purpose flour

Can you think of any more?

Friday, August 26, 2011

How To Beat Egg Whites

The step of beating egg whites, to soft, firm or stiff peaks, appears in many recipes, such as meringues, souffles, and cakes. Beating egg whites sounds easy enough, but sometimes problems arise. Here are a few tips to help ensure success at beating egg whites, and to help achieve the most volume from the whites.
  1. Separate the eggs. Eggs separate more easily when they are very cold, the whites should be brought to room temperature after separation to ensure maximum volume. To separate eggs, make a clean crack as close to the center of the egg as possible, hold it over a bowl and allow the white to seep out, transferring the yolk between the two shell halves. You may also crack the egg into your hand and hold the yolk in your palm, allowing the white to run off, but this is messier. Ensure there is absolutely no trace of yolk in the white (a trace of white in the yolk is usually not a problem). Separate each egg over an empty bowl, so if some yolk does leak in, only one egg white is ruined and not all of them.
  2. The best type of bowl to use is copper, followed by stainless steel then glass. Plastic does not work well, and metal and aluminum bowls may have a negative reaction with the egg whites. Ensure both the bowl and the beaters are very clean, free of any grease, fully dry, and at room temperature.
  3. Always begin beating at low speed, then gradually increase to high speed. Adding cream of tartar will help to stabilize the egg whites, add it once the whites are foamy, 1/8 teaspoon per white. Sugar also helps to stabilize and flavour the whites. Sugar should be added once soft peaks form, a tablespoon at a time, beating well after each addition.
  4. Beaten egg whites should form moist, shiny peaks. Soft peaks just begin to hold, and will deform after a few seconds. Firm peaks will hold, but the tips will deform after a few seconds. Stiff peaks will fully hold, and will not deform. They can stand straight up without collapsing at all, and the whites are thick and heavy. Beaten egg whites should never be dry or grainy, if they are, they have been over-beaten. To fix this, add one unbeaten egg white to the mixture, beat again to form peaks, and remove 1/4 cup before proceeding with the recipe.
  5. Beaten egg whites must be used immediately. When adding egg whites to a batter, always use a rubber spatula to gently fold the whites into the heavier mixture. Start with a small spoonful, then add the remaining whites all at once. Whites should be folded in very gently so they do not deflate, do not stir, beat, or overmix. A few streaks of white left are actually preferable.
“Eggs.” h Joy of Baking, n.d. Friday, August 26, 2011

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Spritz Cookies

Spritz Cookies are made with a cookie press, which easily produces cookies with unique shapes. A cookie press is a device where cookie dough is fed through a cylindric tube and pressed through a plate containing a design. There are many different plates available containing many different designs, including hearts, stars, flowers, trees, animals, numbers, letters, shapes, characters, and much more. My set contained 24 different plates: ten numbers, two flowers, a heart, a fish, a tree, two circles, and six other concentric shapes. My set also contained six tips so the cookie press can also be filled with icing and used to decorate cupcakes. I recently received my cookie press as a gift, and decided to try it out. Pressing cookies is a bit of extra work, takes a bit of muscle, and is a little frustrating at times, but it makes very unique, professional-looking shapes very quickly. It is not my first choice when making cookies, I prefer those hand-rolled, but it is a nice change. The spritz cookies also had a very nice, crisp flavour and texture. Next time I will try chocolate spritz. Spritz, a basic sugar cookie, is the traditional dough used in cookie presses, but it is possible to use other cookie doughs as well. The dough must be fairly stiff, and it should not contain ingredeints such as chocolate chips or raisins, which may not go through the plates evenly. Other than that, feel free to experiement!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Brown Butter Blueberry Muffins

These are Brown Butter Blueberry Muffins from Woman's Day Magazine, and they are delicious! Brown butter is a step in the recipe where you melt the butter in a saucepan, and then cook it for a few minutes more until it is brown and smells nutty. This gives a deeper, rich aroma and taste to the finished muffins. Browning the butter sounds like an extra step, but the results are definitely worth it! It's easy, and it really doesn't take any longer; just let the butter melt in the saucepan as you whisk together the dry ingredients. I like these better than the usual blueberry muffins I make!

Brown Butter Blueberry Muffins
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup milk
1 large egg, beaten
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries

Heat oven to 400F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners or coat with cooking spray.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and 1/2 cup of the sugar; make a well in the center.
Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Once it melts, swirl the pan until the butter begins to brown and smell nutty, 2 to 3 minutes; remove from heat.

Pour the butter, milk and egg into the well of flour and stir to combine (a few lumps are OK - don't overmix); fold in the blueberries. Divide the batter among the muffin cups; sprinkle with the remaining sugar. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, 16 to 20 minutes.

“Brown Butter Blueberry Muffins.” Woman's Day, n.d. Wednesday, August 24, 2011.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Blueberry Heaven!

Well, as I mentioned yesterday, it is blueberry season and that means indulging in as many fresh blueberries as humanly possible! Due to a recent purchase of a five kilogram box of fresh blueberries from the local farmers market, there are plenty of blueberries in the house to go around! The berries were sorted through on the weekend; a bowlful of fresh berries were set aside for eating out of hand, a container of fresh berries was kept for baking, and the squishy berries were set aside and turned into jam. Here is the small jar of jam and some of the fresh blueberries being saved for tomorrow's baking.

The remaining blueberries were frozen, enabling us to add blueberries to baked goods all year round. Ahh, blueberries bring back memories to when my family and I used to go blueberry picking every summer when we visited my grandparents. Even those who didn't like blueberries (gasp) would join us. That way, at least some blueberries ended up in the baskets and not just in our stomachs. Blueberry picking was fun, peaceful, and enjoyable. I didn't even mind coming home and having to pick through them and clean them. That was quite therapeutical too!

Yesterday my mother and I made blueberry yogurt cake. Tomorrow, we will be making another baked blueberry delight, blueberry muffins. We have decided to step away from our standard blueberry muffin recipe to try something new. We came across a recipe for brown butter blueberry muffins in a magazine. This recipe not only looked mouthwatering, the concept also very much intrigued us. So, we are trying something different this blueberry season, and who knows, maybe it will become a blueberry traditon too! I'll let you know tomorrow in my post.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Blueberry Yogurt Cake

Ahh, blueberry season! You gotta love it. Here is the perfect recipe to use up some fresh blueberries. My mother and I made it together this morning before it got too hot. The recipe was featured in a local newspaper years ago, and we have been making it every year at blueberry season ever since. It is delicious piping hot from the oven, slightly warm, room temperature, slightly chilled, cold, or reheated in the microwave; I have tried it every way, and I still cannot pick a favourite! It also freezes very well and will keep for several months in an airtight container in the freezer. It can be covered and stored at room temperature for a day or two, but since blueberry season tends to be very hot, we like to keep it in the refrigerator; it will last for a few days longer.

Blueberry Yogurt Cake
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 cup butter or hard margarine, softened
1 cup granulated (white) sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup plain (not vanilla) yogurt (not fat free)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups fresh blueberries

Preheat oven to 325F. Grease a 9x13 inch pan (we use glass).
In a small bowl, mix the brown sugar and cinnamon, set aside.

In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, bating well after each addition. Add yogurt and vanilla, beat. Sift in flour, baking soda, and salt, beat until smooth. Gently fold in the blueberries.

Spread half of the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the brown sugar-cinnamon mixture evenly over top of batter in pan. Carefully and evenly spread with the remaining batter. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until cake is a light golden brown, a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, and cake springs back when pressed.

The recipe also reccommends to dust with icing sugar before serving, but we don't bother with that, it really doesn't need it. It also includes 1/2 cup chopped almonds in with the brown sugar-cinnamon filling. We don't do that either, but you can try it if you like. Enjoy!

Sunday, August 21, 2011


I'm on a potato kick today, and I don't know why. Maybe I am going through withdrawl; after all, I haven't had potatoes for a few days now. 

I love potatoes, I particularly love sweet potatoes, but they are difficult to get year-round. Potatoes are so versatile, there are just countless ways to prepare them and dress them up! 

Here are some ideas.

  • Baked, Boiled, Broiled, Fried, Deep-fried, Mashed, Whipped
  • Grilled, Microwaved, Roasted, Poached, Stir-fried

  • Soups, Stews, Casseroles, Salads, Stir-frys, Breads/Rolls
  • Pasta, Side dishes, Alone

Common Go-Withs
  • Cheese, Sour Cream, Ketchup, Chives, Dill, Garlic, Onion
  • Butter, Oil, Salt, Pepper, Carrots, Steak, Fish

Popular Potato Dishes
  • Fish and Chips, Shepherd's Pie, Gnocchi, Chips
  • French Fries, Potato Skins, Hashbrowns, Potato Bread
  • Potato Salad, Baked Potatoes

There are so many different varieties of potatoes: new, sweet, red, white, fingerling, baby, russet, Yukon, gold, Idaho, even blue potatoes! Well, that's enough about potatoes for today!

“Potatoes.” Kraft Canada, n.d. Sunday, August 21, 2011.
PHOTO CREDIT:Potatoes. Hillsdale Potato Inc. Adams Seed Farms, New Denmark, New Brunswick Sunday, August 21, 2011.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Chocolate Fudge Swirl Cake

Here is the finished cake! It is a marble cake smothered in a thick vanilla glaze with cherry piping details. The marble cake batter was enriched with yogurt, which I thought would make it extra-moist, and although it certainly wasn't dry, it wasn't outstandingly moist either. Oh well, it is still a pretty good cake with no unneccesary steps, or separating eggs or anything. Just a straight-forward cake batter baked in a bundt pan. Bundt cakes eliminate the tough work of filling and stacking two round cakes, but bundt cakes are a bit more troublesome to frost. I prefer to use a glaze on bundt cakes, and just let it slip down the sides of the cake. Whatever you do, make sure you grease and flour the bundt pan very well (since bundt pans are impossible to line), otherwise you will be stuck with a broken cake!

“Fudge Marble Swirl Cake.” Simply Homemade, n.d. Friday, August 19, 2011.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Cake and Glaze

Tomorrow I will be assembling a Fudge Marble Swirl Cake from a little Robin Hood Flour booklet. It is in the oven baking now, and it is starting to smell really good! I had to wait until the evening when it finally cooled down a degree or two to make it, since it was such a lovely warm day today! It is in the oven now. I'll allow it to cool completely overnight, and early tomorrow I will drizzle it with a simple vanilla glaze. I'm hoping it will be good! Here is a picture of it right before it went into the oven.

I'll share my vanilla glaze recipe that I plan to use with you, but it is nothing special. Short, sweet, and simple. Foolproof.

Vanilla Glaze
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
1 cup icing sugar, sifted
1 Tbsp. milk
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

In a medium bowl, mix all of the ingredients together until smooth. Add more icing sugar or milk, depending on the consistency, to suit your needs. Drizzle or pour over cake.

This glaze is also great for cookies, cinnamon rolls, muffins, bars, and almost any other baked good. It's flavour can be changed by substituting another flavour extract for the vanilla and/or using juice or liquor in place of the milk. Chocolate glaze can be obtained by adding a touch of cocoa.

“Fudge Marble Swirl Cake.” Simply Homemade, n.d. Friday, August 19, 2011.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Mixer versus Hand

Nowadays updated kitchen technologies are allowing bakers to be in and out of the kitchen faster than ever! But if baking is your passion, something you enjoy doing, something that always fills your spare time with joy; why rush through it? Is it better to quickly use these high-tech machines or do it all by hand and enjoy the process? Does this choice affect the final outcome of the baked good? Electrical handheld mixers, food processors, minichops, blenders, and standmixers are just some of the many new technologies available to us today. But is the old-fashioned never-failing hand the best choice?

Personally, I prefer to do as much by hand as possible. Whether it is for cookies or cakes or squares, I always cream butter and sugar together by hand. When mixing up a simple blend of wet or dry ingredients, I always use a whisk or a wooden spoon. And for kneading bread, I always do that by hand too; it's therapeutical.
However, I do turn to my trusty handheld electric mixer for beating cake batter, whipping egg whites, whipping cream, and mixing up buttercream icing, but not much else.

So which technique is better? Well, back before technology, obviously everything was done by hand. Cake batters had to be mixed for at least three times as long as we do today with electric mixers. Egg whites had to be whipped up by hand until they formed stiff peaks. This was very time consuming and led to many sore arms. But creaming butter and sugar and mixing dry ingredients takes just as long by machine as it does by hand. In fact, often when machines are used, ingredients tend to become overmixed.

There is also the concern about the reliability of technology. Technology has failed us in the past, and will continue to do so in the future. Power outage? You may find a recipe for no-bake squares, but you can't whip the cream for the topping without electricity! The standmixer breaks, how are you supposed to knead the bread you have already started? The blender leaks, and now there is chocolate flung all over the walls. The lid of the food processor flies open, pie crust dough is caked on everything! Your beaters break apart, now there are bits of metal stuck throughout your buttercream icing.

 I believe that technology is helpful in some situations, but we should never rely on it. And this goes for everything - not just cooking appliances. I prefer to do most things by hand, I find this part of the joys of cooking; it is fun and relaxing. However, there are a few things that are just so much quicker and easier to do by machine. The only tools I own are an electrical handheld mixer, a very small, old food processer, and a modest blender. I don't have a heavy-duty standmixer or a minichop, or an ice cream maker, or a popcorn popper. And that is all I need.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Cherry (Almond?) Squares

Tonight's dessert was Cherry Almond Squares (or triangles, or rectangles) from (surprise, surprise) Company's Coming "150 Delicious Squares". I titled this as Cherry (Almond?) Squares because I left out the almonds, even though they are a part of the title. And I certainly did not miss them. These squares are a brown sugar shortbread base with cherries, and a cherry butter icing. They are delicious, and a big hit in my house because we have some shortbread lovers, some cherry lovers, some brown sugar lovers, and some shortbread cherry brown sugar lovers. They are also fairly quick and simple to make.

Cherry Almond Squares
1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup glazed cherries, finely cut (I used maraschino from a jar)
1/2 cup blanced almonds, finely cut
1 1/2 cups icing sugar
3 tbsp. butter or margarine
1/2 tsp. cherry flavouring + 5 tsp. water (I used 5 tsp. juice from the jar of cherries)

Combine butter, sugar and flour in a bowl. Mix together like you were making pie crust. Add cherries and nuts squeezing in as best you can to distribute as evenly as possible. Press into ungreased 9x9 inch pan (I used a parchment-lined 8x8 inch glass pan, and found the squares still weren't very high). Bake at 325F for 20 to 30 minutes until set and a golden brown.

For icing, beat together remaining ingredients and smooth over cooled squares.

Paré, Jean. "Cherry Almond Squares." Recipe. 150 Delicious Squares, Edmonton Alberta: Company's Coming Publishing Limited, 1981. 79.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Potato Patties

This is what I made as a side dish to go with the chicken from last night. They are called Potato Patties and the recipe is from Company's Coming "Barbecues". These patties can be grilled in a vegetable basket on the barbecue or fryed in a frying pan on the stove. I fried them and they were quite tasty. I bet they would be good if you barbecued them, spread them with BBQ sauce, and put them inside hamburger buns. Then they would make a nice vegetarian burger, just like grilled portebello mushroom caps do! Anyway, they are a great alternative to the usual mashed potato side dish.

To make them, all you have to do is boil as many medium potaotes as people you are serving until barely tender. Then give them a litle grate in the food processor. Add some chopped onion, salt, and pepper, and form them into patties. Then grill or fry for 7-10 minutes per side, until golden and crispy. That's it! Quick, easy, and yummy!

Paré, Jean. "Potato Patties." Recipe. Barbecues, Edmonton Alberta: Company's Coming Publishing Limited, 1995. 141.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Cheese & Broccoli Topped Chicken

Today I am posting a savoury dish instead od the usual sweet stuff. I got this recipe from a magazine I picked up at a local grocery store. It is quick to prepare and easy to do. I did a few things different than listed in the recipe, so I will post the recipe with the changes I have made.

Cheese & Broccoli Topped Chicken
2 cups small, fresh broccoli florets
1 medium onion, chopped
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese (mozzarella would probably be nice too)
1/4 cup mayonnaise-style dressing
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
salt and pepper
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, butterflyed

Preheat oven to 375F. Line a baking sheet with foil. In a medium bowl, mix all ingredients except for the chicken. Place the chicken on the baking sheet. Top each breast with an equal portion of the above mixture. Bake until the internal temperature reaches 165F (about 15-30 minutes, depending on thickness).
I doubled this recipe to get eight servings.

“Cheese & Broccoli Topped Chicken.” Compliments, n.d. Monday, August 15, 2011.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Bull's Eyes

Despite the heat, I was really in the mood to bake squares today. I decided to try Bull's Eyes from "Mrs. Fields Cookie Book". This recipe simply involves making a batch of chocolate chip cookie dough (about 3 1/2 dozen), pressing it in a 9x13 inch pan, and sprinkling it with one cup of sweetened shredded coconut. Then, mix up half a batch of double chocolate chip cookies (2 dozen), shape them, and place one on top of each square, making a toal of twenty-four squares. Then bake at 300F for 50-60 minutes. This format makes the squares really easy to cut, and easy to know how much one serving size is. You could probably use any recipe for chocolate chip and double chocolate chip cookies to make these squares. Maybe you could even experiment with other types of cookies; try peanut butter cookies with chocolate chip banana cookies or molasses cookies with rasin cookies. The possibilities are endless. These truly are delicious squares, it's like eating two cookies in one!

Fields, Debbi. "Bull's Eyes." Recipe. Mrs.Fields Cookie Book, United States of America: Time Life Custom Publishing, 1992. 80.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Brownies: Master Recipe

Here is the recipe for the best, easiest, quickest, and most yummy brownies ever (well, in my opinion). I cannot really credit the recipe to anyone, as it is a universal recipe that has been published in many different places, and no one person can take credit for it. The recipe is so easy, I have it memorized even though I don't bake them very frequently.

1/2 cup butter or hard margarine
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 large eggs
1 cup granulated (white) sugar
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
pinch salt
1/2 cup chopped nuts or mini chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8x8 inch pan with foil.
In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the butter with the cocoa, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a medium bowl, beat the eggs until frothy. Add the remaining ingredients, but do not stir. Slowly pour the butter and cocoa mixture over the top of the bowl and then stir all together until combined. Spread in prepared pan.

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the edges begin to pull away from the sides of the pan. Do not overbake. These can be frosted while still warm for a glossier look, or throughly cooled and then frosted.

Paré, Jean. "Brownies." Recipe. 150 Delicious Squares, Edmonton Alberta: Company's Coming Publishing Limited, 1981. 134.

Friday, August 12, 2011


Well, did you ever wonder just how many different types of pasta there are? Here is a list, and I'm sure it is far from complete. There are over 500 types, but I am just listing the ones I can remember from the top of my head. Most pastas I have never even heard of! Notice how the majority of pastas end in -i or -e, sounding like eeeeeee.

  • Spaghetti, Macaroni, Linguine, Fettuccini, Vermicelli, Ditali
  • Tubettini, Rotini, Fusili, Gemilli, Spaccatella, Angel Hair, Bow Ties
  • Alphabet, Stars, Shells, Manicotti, Cannelloni, Lasagna, Cappelleti
  • Noodles, Wagon Wheels, Rigatoni, Penne, Ravioli, Tortellini
  • Gnocchi, Tagliatelle, Conchiglle, Cavatappi, Rotelle, Spaghettini
  • Fedelini, Risoni, Spaghettoni, Ziti
Paré, Jean. "Pasta Shapes and Measurement Equivalents." Recipe. Pasta, Edmonton Alberta: Company's Coming Publishing Limited, 1990. 150. PHOTO CREDIT: Still Life: Various Types of Pasta in White Typesetter's Case. Thursday, August 12, 2011.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

10 Things You Will Always Find In My Cupboard

1.  Flour: The base for the majority of baked goods, you can't do much without flour.
2. Sugar: Can you imagine eating a cake (and frosting) without sugar? Neither can I!
3. Baking Powder: Your baked items won't look very impressive if they are as flat as a pancake.
4. Vanilla: Even though most recipes only call for a teaspoon or so of this flavouring, it goes a long way and really enhances the flavour of those goodies.
5. Chocolate Chips: Many of the recipes I make have chocolate chips. We have some real chocolate lovers at this house and chocolate just makes everything so much better.
6. Sweetened Condensed Milk: A fabulous, conveinent base for many baked goods, especially squares, you will never find a proper substitute for this.
7. Rolled Oats: Add texture and heartiness to many baked goods, especially muffins, squares, and cookies, oats are also good for breakfast.
8. Oil: When butter or margarine just wont do, oil is the way to go. Makes excellent stir-frys and extra moist cakes.
9. Cereal: You'd be surprised how many recipes include cereal, no matter what kind! Even savoury dishes and dinners use cereal from time to time.
10. Pasta: A great base for any dish when you just don't know what to cook. Pasta is so versatile and comes in so many different shapes and sizes.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Sugah, Oh Sugah, Sugah!

Well, after baking the last few days, I've got to do some eating before I can bake again. So here is an article.

You can look far past that bag of plain old table sugar. There are many new sweetener options around, providing different flavours, consistencies, and taste-sensations. Here is a guide to the most common sweeteners.

·         Granulated Sugar Fine, white grains processed from the sugar cane. It is an all-purpose sweetener that is most commonly used, and the sweetner we have grown to love. It is completely natural, but is quite refined.
·         Brown Sugar Packed light to dark brown granules, brown sugar is really just granulated sugar with molasses added to it. Therefore, it has the benefits of a little added iron, calcium, and magnesium. It is just as sweet as sugar and can be used just like sugar in most cases, giving a slightly chewier texture and caramel flavour.
·         Turbinado (Raw) Sugar Light or dark brown coarse crystals from the first pressing of the sugar cane. Considered more nutritious than sugar because it is less processed. It tastes very similar to brown sugar and can be used just like it.
·         Corn Syrup Is a thick, sticky white to amber colour, produced from corn that has been broken down into glucose and then heated. Corn syrup is just as sweet as sugar, but is more processed and refined. Corn syrup is used just like sugar in many cases, but is especially useful in candy-making, beverages, and caramel.
·         Honey A thick, pale or golden yellow-coloured sticky liquid made by bees using nectar from flowers. Honey is a completely natural remedy to many heath woes, including: coughs, sore throats, bacteria, viruses, fungal, respiratory illnesses, blood sugar control, insulin regulation, weight management, immunity, wounds, high cholesterol, and diabetes. It also contains iron, manganese, and B vitamins, as well as being easier to digest than sugar. Honey is about fifty percent sweeter than sugar. It is very often put on foods such as fruit, yogurt, tea, toast, salmon, and ham; as well as used in a variety of baked goods, cereals, and sauces.
·         Maple Syrup Thick, sticky amber liquid produced from the sap of maple trees. It is completely natural and contains more vitamins and minerals than sugar. Different varieties have different sweetnesses. It is most commonly used for pancakes, but can be used for candies, cookies, butter, bacon, ham, sauces, and in many baked goods.
·         Molasses A thick, dark brown, sticky liquid that is the product left behind when cane sugar is processed. It is completely natural, and is a slightly healthier choice than sugar due to its high iron, calcium, and magnesium contents. Molasses is slightly less sweet than sugar. It is great used as a spread on toast, biscuits, and oatmeal; and gives baked goods a slightly more robust flavour.
·         Naturally-Found Sweeteners include maltose (natural sugars found in grain products), lactose (natural sugars found in milk products), fructose (natural sugars found in fruits), and glucose (natural sugars found in carbohydrates). These sugars are only found naturally in foods, and cannot be purchased by themselves.

“What is..." "Granulated Sugar, Brown Sugar, Turbinado Sugar, Corn Syrup, Honey, Maple Syrup, Molasses." Wise Geek, n.d. Wednesday, August 10, 2011.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Oatmeal Batter Bread

I made some bread today. It wasn't the traditional kind that needs to be kneaded (haha) then rises twice. This was a batter bread, which means it has a slighly softer and stickier consistency that is not neccesary to knead, saving you time and sticky fingers. However, it does still need two rising times; an hour in the bowl, and then half an hour after it is spooned into the loaf pans. I like to make homemade bread instead of relying on store bought as much as possible, and I always try a new recipe. I haven't found the perfect one yet, although most of the ones I have tried so far have turned out very well.
Here is a picture of the Oatmeal Batter Bread sliced.

This recipe is from Company's Coming "Breads". It starts with actually cooking up some oatmeal, then adding molasses, butter, egg, and the yeast mixture. Although the recipe called for all-purpose flour, I used whole wheat because I like whole wheat bread better. The addition of oats gave the bread a nice, different texture. This is a very hearty and delicious loaf. It will be perfect for breakfast tomorrow!

Paré, Jean. "Oatmeal Batter Bread." Recipe. Breads, Edmonton Alberta: Company's Coming Publishing Limited, 1996. 12.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Chocolate Ice Cream Roll

Today I made a Chocolate Ice Cream Roll. Well, actually I made it yesterday but it had to freeze overnight, so I did not get to enjoy it until today. I made a chocolate cake roll using my jelly roll pan, and allowed it to cool. Then I filled it with Hoofprints ice cream, rolled it back up, wrapped it, and froze it. Today, it was solid enough to cut easily, but soft enough to eat without breaking any teeth. The ice cream roll turned out great! Chocolatey and refreshing. It was reminiscent of ice cream cake, except with actual cake!

You know those GINORMOUS tubs of ice cream that organizations sell to fundraise? Well, we bought one of course, and since there was a lack of hot, sunny days this past week, no one was in the mood for any ice cream. So I decided to use some of it up in a dessert. There is still a ton left, but maybe I'll find another ice cream recipe!

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Banana Oat Muffins

Yeah, I know more banana muffins. But it just seems that at this time of year bananas ripen more quickly. Plus, my family loves banana muffins. I wanted to make something a little different though, so I tried a recipe I never made before. I was surprised that the recipe didn't contain a liquid such as milk or water, but with the melted butter, egg, and banana the muffins turned out very moist! They are also quite healthy, but you'd never know it! The recipe is from an old Robin Hood Flour baking booklet from 1994.

Banana Oat Muffins
1 cup all-purpose flour or whole wheat flour
1 cup rolled oats
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
2 cups mashed banana (5-6 bananas)
1/3 cup melted butter
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Combine first six dry ingredients in mixing bowl. Mix well. Beat egg, banana and melted butter together until smooth. Add banana mixture to dry ingredients. Stir until just moistened. Stir iin nuts, if desired. Fill greased muffin cups 3/4 full. Bake at 375F (190C) for 20-25 inutes, or until top springs back lightly when touched.

“Banana Oat Muffins.” Simply Homemade, n.d. Sunday, August 7, 2011.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

The Best Thing Since Sliced Bread!

I'm sure all of us have heard and/or used this expression before, "This is the best thing since sliced bread!" Well, what exactly does this mean and who was the genious that created sliced bread? I will share my knowledge on this great mark in history.

In the early 1900s, most households baked their own bread, so there was no need to buy pre-sliced bread. However, if bread was purchased, it was always sold as a whole loaf. In the early 1920s, Otto Frederick Rohwedder invented the bread slicer, designed to slice loaves of bread into equal, even pieces. Bakers scoffed at his idea, convinced that pre-slicing bread would cause it to go stale. So Rohwedder attempted to keep the bread together with hat pins after sliicing it, but they just fell off.

Finally in 1928, Rohwedder designed his bread slicer to slice the bread and then wrap it in waxed paper, which prevented it from becoming stale. People were still skeptical of this idea, but Rohwedder's invention gained popularity anyway. His sliced bread eventually hit store shelves, and in 1930, Wonder Bread began commercially producing the pre-sliced bread we are still familiar with today.

We still use this expression today because sliced bread quickly gained popularity with consumers and everyone marvelled at such a genious idea. Today, most households buy numerous loaves of sliced bread every week. Pre-sliced bread has become a staple we just cannot live without!

“History of Sliced Bread.”, n.d. Saturday, August 6, 2011.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Banana Choco Streusel Muffins

Today I made Banana Choco Streusel Muffins, something I came up with myself. I just took a basic banana muffin recipe and mixed up a chocolate streusel to put in the middle and on the top. They turned out fabulous. They are soft, and sweet, and chock full of yummy banana. I love them. I hope you will too!

Banana Choco Streusel Muffins
1/2 cup granulated (white) sugar
2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups mashed overripe banana (about three medium)
1 large egg
1/3 cup butter or hard margarine, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk

Preheat oven to 375F. Line twelve muffin cups with paper liners (or grease them).
In a small bowl combine the sugar, cocoa, and cinnamon. Mix well and set aside.
In a large bowl, stir the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. Add the remaining ingredients in order. Stir until just moistened.

Using half of the batter, fill each muffin cup half full. Sprinkle a heaping teaspoon of the streusel mixture over the batter in each cup. Repeat layers. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.

Paré, Jean. "Basic Banana Muffins." Recipe. Mostly Muffins, Edmonton Alberta: Company's Coming Publishing Limited, 2007. 24.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Lucky Post 13 - A Rant!

This is my thirteenth post and my thirteenth day of blogging! To celebrate, I am going to write a fun article, well fun for me anyway. I am going to go on a rant for an issue I feel very strongly about. I apoligize in advance if I offend anyone, but this is just my opinion. Here goes...

Mshed potatoes: Many people love them, they are such a classic comfort food, there are so many different ways to flavour them and spruce them up, and they are quick and easy to make. Did you get that, I said THEY ARE QUICK AND EASY TO MAKE. So, why is it then, that so many people insist on preparing "mashed potaoes" by using a boxed mix?!?! How hard is it to buy a bag of potatoes, take them home, peel them, and wash them; then put them in a pot of water, boil them, and squash them to smithereens (the best part!)? Having to use a boxed mix to make mashed potatoes uneconomical, unhealthy, and unneccesary. Making mashed potatoes is probably one of the quickest and easiest parts of creating a meal (unless the rest of the meal comes from a box too).
Boxed mashed potato mixes do contain potato, dried of course, but also contain many, many unneccesary and unhealthy additives. This list includes, but is not limited to, sugar, salt, hydrogenated fats, preservatives, colour, artificial flavour, maltodextrin, MSG, diglycerides, and silicon dioxide. And this is before you add your own milk, cream, butter, cheese, or whatever else. Is this really what you want to be eating, when all you wanted was to cook up a nice vegetable side dish for your family?
And those bags of frozen potaotes where all you have to do is steam and mash them? They drive me crazy too. "All that peeling and cutting, and peeling and cutting, and peeling and cutting...." It's really not that hard. This stuff just really gets my goat! So do me, yourself, your family, and your wallet a favor, and buy real, fresh potatoes and prepare them from scratch! PLEASE!

“Potatoes.” Betty Crocker n.d. Thursday, August 4, 2011.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Chocolate Smacks

Well, I finally did some baking today! I made Swirl Squares, which was a bit of a last minute decision, but they were pretty quick and easy and I happened to have all of the ingredients on hand. The recipe is from the Company's Coming book "150 Delicious Squares." I use this book quite often, as it contains many great recipes. These squares are very good and chocolatey. Since it was a spurr of the moment kind of thing, I served the squares warm. Any kind of warm square does not seem to stay together well when cut, but no worries, as taste is always more important than presentaion. The squares had a nice, soft chocolate bottom and a chocolate meringue top, with a chocolatey filling created in between. I did two things slightly different than called for in the recipe; I used one cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips in place of the one cup of chopped walnuts, and I used an 8x8 inch pan instead of a 9x9. I have included the recipe, as I am sure you will want to try it!

Chocolate Smacks
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cocoa
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup butter or margarine
2 egg yolks
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 egg whites
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 tbsp cocoa
1 cup chopped walnuts

Bottom Layer: Measure first 7 ingredients into bowl. Crumble together. Pat into ungreased 9x9 inch (22x22 cm) pan. Set aside.

Top Layer: Beat the egg whites until frothy. Add last amount of brown sugar 1/3 at a time and beat after each addition until stiff. Add cocoa and beat to blend. Fold in nuts. Spread over bottom layer. Bake in 350F oven for about 25 minutes until golden brown. Cut with shapr knife, dipped in hot water between cuts. Yields 36 squares.

Paré, Jean. "Swirl Squares." Recipe. 150 Delicious Squares, Edmonton Alberta: Company's Coming Publishing Limited, 1981. 143.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Swirl Squares

Well, I still have not baked anything, so I decided to share with you a recipe I made a while ago. They are called Swirl Squares and they are from (yet another) Company's Coming cookbook "150 Delicious Squares." They are super quick and easy, a good alternative to brownies, do not require icing, and are just a yummy square reminiscent of chocolate chip cookies. When I made them, I left out the nuts and used an 8x8 inch pan lined with waxed paper, and they turned out just great!

Swirl Squares
1/2 cup butter or margarine
3/4 cup sugar, 1/2 brown, 1/2 granulated
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 egg
1 1/8 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

In a large bowl, measure butter, sugar, vanilla and egg. Beat together until blended. Stir in flour, soda, salt and nuts. Spread in greased 9x9 inch (22x22 cm) pan. Sprinkle chocolate chips evenly over top. Bake in 375F oven for 1 to 2 minutes until chips are soft enough to marble. Run knife through batter to obtain a marble effect. Continue to bake for about 20 minutes more, until firm and tests done with toothpick. Cool and cut into 36 squares.

Paré, Jean. "Swirl Squares." Recipe. 150 Delicious Squares, Edmonton Alberta: Company's Coming Publishing Limited, 1981. 125.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Grandma's Goodies

You may be wondering why I haven't been baking the last few days. It is because I was visiting my grandparents for the long weekend. I probably won't be doing much baking in the next few days to come, either. This is because my grandmother is also an excellent cook and baker. She always makes sure our tummies are full while we are visiting her, and sends us home with plenty of goodies! This time she sent us home with a bag of cranberry muffins, a bag of her famous tea biscuits, a container of cherry cheesecake squares, a container of her teriyaki pork, and a container of peperonata. This was actually a smaller haul than usual. Other fantastic baked goods she often sends us with include: chocolate chip cookies, bite-sized waffles, blueberry squares, coleslaw, tiggy, and her vegetable noodle soup. No matter what she sends us with, I always look forward to enjoying any one of her wonderful goodies! :)