Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Quick Rustic Biscuits

There is no need to spend precious time rolling, kneading, and cutting biscuits; sometimes biscuits that are mixed the least turn out the best. Whole grain biscuits tend to be less fluffy as is, so this method of preparation ensures a tender product. 

Quick Rustic Biscuits
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup oat bran
1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup skim milk powder
2 Tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup cold butter, hard margarine, or Greek yogurt (not fat-free)
1/4 cup honey
1 cup water
In a large bowl, mix together the first seven dry ingredients. At this point, the mix may transferred to a bag and refrigerated, then used as needed.
To proceed with biscuits, preheat oven to 425F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
 Transfer mixture to a bowl and stir or cut in butter, margarine, or yogurt. Pour the honey and water over top and mix until a soft dough forms. Gently gather the dough in a ball in your hands, being careful not to overmix. Sprinkle a little extra water over top as needed. Divide dough into four pieces, then cut each piece into four thick wedges. These can be rectangles, triangles, squares, or whatever you like. Arrange on prepared baking sheet, it is fine if they touch. Bake for about 12 minutes until golden.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Vegetable Bean Purée Soup

Full of nutrients - no  chewing involved. I must admit, it isn't the prettiest color, but sometimes looks can be deceiving. And if you can't chew, you're probably not too worried about presentation anyway.

Vegetable Bean Purée Soup
1/2 cup liquid (leftover cooking water from vegetables, plain water, or vegetable broth)
2 cups frozen mixed vegetables (I used carrots, peas, corn, and green beans)
1/4 white onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 cup mixed spring greens
salt, pepper, Italian seasoning to taste
1 can dark red kidney beans (540mL/19 ounces), undrained
butter, Parmesan cheese, hot sauce, or any other flavors as desired to taste

In a medium saucepan, bring the cooking liquid, vegetables, onion, and garlic to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for five minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the greens and seasonings. Purée using a hand-held immersion blender until smooth. Add in the can of beans with liquid and purée again until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to use, or bring the pot to a boil to hear soup thoroughly. 

Monday, April 28, 2014

Soft Molasses Wheat Bread

This is a really soft, moist, and flavorful bread. It is not very sturdy, so not ideal for sandwiches, but is is great to enjoy as is - and barely requires and butter or jam. 

Soft Molasses Wheat Bread
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup each: ground flaxseed, natural wheat bran, oat bran, wheat germ
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup molasses
1/4 cup applesauce

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease or line a 9x5 inch loaf pan.
In a large bowl, stir together all dry ingredients. Make a well in the center. 
In a small bowl, mix together the milk, molasses, and applesauce. Pour into well, stir just to combine. Bake for 40-50 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. 

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Cherry Burst Smoothie

Cherry Burst Smoothie
frozen cherries
wheat germ
strawberry banana blend juice
almond milk
almond butter

Purée all until smooth, judging amounts as you like to make a thick or thin smoothie with as much fruit flavor as you like. I find a hand immersion blender works best for this - put the ingredients in a bowl to do it then transfer to a glass. I also find it works better if the almond butter is added at the end, after the other ingredients are puréed together so it doesn't stick. 
This is another smoothie recipe that is helping me survive. Smoothies can be made the night before, put in a water bottle, and transported for a quick lunch. Be sure to keep them cold! 

Saturday, April 26, 2014

No-Cut Grain Biscuits

No-Cut Grain Biscuits
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup oat bran
1/4 cup ground flaxseed
1/4 cup wheat germ
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
2 Tablespoons molasses
1 Tablespoon oil
1/2 cup water or milk

Preheat oven to 375F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients, then add in the wet and mix well. Let dough stand for 5-10 minutes. Drop dough onto prepared baking sheet. Bake for about 12 minutes until set.
These are soft, sweet biscuits with a nice molasses flavor. There is no need of "cutting" in a fat such as butter or margarine - everything is simply mixed together. The result is a soft and fluffy biscuit that rises high and is easy to cut open and smother with jam or peanut butter. 

Friday, April 25, 2014

Red Velvet Debate

So I finally broke down and made a red velvet cake for Easter. Why did I hold of so long? I've never really been a fan of red velvet cake. Actually, I've never had red velvet cake before, but I've never really liked the idea of it. 

Red velvet cake is basically a chocolate flavor, only with just a touch of chocolate flavoring. So it's really like a plain cake with a subtle chocolate taste. But instead of looking like a chocolate or white cake, it is dyed red. I know sometimes people dye cake batter different colors and tint frostings (but that's different, it's for decorating purposes), but why a "flavor" would be created based on a perfectly good cake recipe with some food dye added to the batter is beyond me. And these cakes sometimes do embark a flavor, because a lot of red food dye leaves an off-putting flavor on the palate. I can understand the implications of the word "red velvet", it certainly does sound delicious, implying a velvety smooth texture, but doesn't "chocolate velvet" sound even better? I guess I just don't really understand the point of adding red food coloring to a cake batter unless you are trying to make a "Clifford the Big Red Dog" cake or something. Red isn't the worst color, but how would you like to eat a hot pink cake? No thanks.

In order to color a significant amount of cake batter, especially chocolate cake batter, this takes quite a bit of red food coloring - usually an entire bottle or so. I don't really see the point in adding this much extra food coloring to a cake when it won't enhance, and may worsen, the flavor. If a red velvet cake is really desired, using a natural alternative is a good option. Puréed beets is the most common, and is what I used in my red velvet cake. Not only does this make the cake red, it adds some nutrients and moisture, without a strong beet flavor. I'll bet raspberries and strawberries are good options too, and could create a whole new flavor dimension. 

Bottom line is, I just don't like to add artificial colorings to food unnecessarily. I usually only use food coloring for frostings for my decorated cakes, and usually use mostly pastel colorings and only for borders trims and piping, and not flat icing. Otherwise, there are other options and natural colorings could be used. I'll probably stick to my typical chocolate cake recipe, instead of red velvet. 

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Quick Marzipan

Quick Marzipan
1/2 cup + 2 Tablespoons whole almonds
1/4 cup icing sugar
pinch salt
3 Tablespoons corn syrup (use white for a whiter color)
1 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract (use clear vanilla for a whiter color)

Pulse the almonds, sugar, and salt in a food processor until finely ground and almonds begin to release their oils. Add the corn syrup and vanilla in a steady stream while the food processor is running. Process until mixture begins to clump together. Transfer to a bowl, and add water, a few drops at a time, as necessary until mixture can mold together, but is not sticky. 
Marzipan can be stored well wrapped at room-temperature or in the fridge or freezer, but is easiest to mold when fresh. Shape into desired forms. If you would like to coat the marzipan in chocolate or a candy coating, place it in the freezer first so it becomes really firm. Marzipan keeps well, especially when refrigerated or frozen. 

This is what I used to make my chocolate-covered Easter marzipan shapes from the other day's post. 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Red Velvet Cupcakes

This is my own red velvet cake recipe I used to make my Easter cupcakes. It uses beet purée to give it that red color instead of a horrendous amount of artificial food dye. The beets also keep the cupcakes nice and moist, but you definitely cannot detect any beet flavor, as long as it is smoothly puréed. I just used a can of beets and added a little water, so I didn't add any extra salt to the recipe since there was already some in the beets. This recipe won't be as red as many other red velvet cake recipes since it only uses a small amount of beets for color, and it also contains a lot more cocoa than usual for extra chocolate flavor, which masks more of the red color. Bonus: recipe has no eggs, and is vegan if you don't use dairy milk!

Red Velvet Cupcakes
3/4 cup beet purée
1/3 cup oil
1 1/4 cups granulated (white) sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup milk (any kind)
1 cup all-purpose (plain)

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease or line muffin cups.
In a large bowl, mix together the beets and oil. Beat in the sugar and vanilla until no lumps remain. Stir in the cocoa, powder, and soda. Stir in 1/2 cup milk, then 1/2 cup flour, then 1/2 cup milk, then 1/2 cup flour. Mix well until batter is completely smooth. Divide batter evenly among prepared cups. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Carrot Muffins

Carrot Muffins
2 large eggs
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup cooked, mashed carrots
1 3/4 cup all-purpose (plain) flour
1/2 cup granulated (white) sugar
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease or line muffin cups with paper liners.
In a large bowl, mix together the eggs, oil, milk, and carrots. Stir in the dry ingredients. Divide among prepared muffin cups. Bake for about 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. 

A really quick and easy, soft and moist carrot muffin recipe that my mother created and made!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Chocolate Peanut Butter Frozen Yogurt

Chocolate Peanut Butter Frozen Yogurt
1 cup plain Greek yogurt (not fat free)
1/4 cup smooth natural peanut butter
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup dates
Process all ingredients together in a food processor until smooth. If you have an ice cream maker, use it. If not, transfer it to a shallow container and stir every half hour or so. It could be eaten immediately, but it is really soft and more like chocolate yogurt. If frozen for just a few hours, it becomes like soft serve, and if frozen longer, much more solid (definitely keep it in a shallow container so it is easier to scoop). 
Optional flavoring add-ins: espresso powder, ground cinnamon, vanilla extract, honey, maple syrup.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Easter Cupcakes

Happy Easter Everyone!
In lieu of an elaborate Easter cake, which is what I normally make every year, I decided to go with some simple Easter cupcakes this year. I have already done bunny cakes, a chick cake, and a basket cake, but I have never done them as cupcakes, and I had a few more ideas up my sleeve as well. I made some red velvet cupcakes, as I have already made several carrot cakes and chocolate cakes, and red velvet is I flavor I have never made before; for which I will definitely be sharing the recipe soon. Then I made some cream cheese icing, which is a classic pairing for red velvet cake. Cream cheese frosting is a bit softer and more difficult to pipe with, but it is a good flavor for spring, and a good choice if you don't need to pipe borders or anything. Next I went to town on the decorations. 
Clockwise, starting from "12 o'clock":

  • Bunny Butt cupcake with green icing in a grass tip and white icing in a star tip. If you don't get it, just search bunny butt cupcakes or cakes and you'll see many similar, but more elaborate, creations.
  • Bunny cupcake using white frosting, candy coated chocolates, and frosting coated thin cookies as ears.
  • Bird's Nest cupcake with chocolate cream cheese frosting in a grass tip, yellow piped chicks, and candy coated chocolate eggs.
  • Chick cupcake with yellow frosting in a swirl tip and candy coated chocolate eye and beak.
  • Egg Nest with green grass tip piping and candy-coated chocolate eggs.
  • Lamb cupcake (not Santa) with white frosting in an open round tip and candy eyes and nose.
  • Easter Basket cupcake with chocolate cream cheese frosting piped in a basket weave design and chocolate eggs. If you have a piece of licorice on hand, use it for the basket handle (I didn't have any).
  • Easter Egg with white frosting and candy and sprinkle decorations.
  • Happy Easter cupcake in the center with green icing base and yellow piping.
I made two of each cupcake, but only one Happy Easter cupcake. Pictured here are all of the "better halves". I also have individual pictures of each, so if you want to see a close-up, let me know.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Chocolate-Covered Easter Marzipan

I wanted to make some kind of Easter treat this year, but I didn't just want to make a chocolate bunny. So I decided to make some homemade marzipan, and sculpt it into an Easter bunny, then coat it in chocolate. It was fairly easy to do - marzipan is not as hard to make as you may think. Then simply melt some chocolate, and grab some candy or sprinkles if you like for extra decoration. I ended up having enough marzipan to make a chick, nest, and a few Easter eggs as well. Pictured here on the left is a bunny with blue eyes and red sprinkles, a nest with some candy eggs, a chick, and some small pieces of marzipan coated in chocolate then sprinkles as Easter eggs. I used a pastry brush to paint on the chocolate, and used the tines of a fork to make feather designs in the chick. It was all fairly quick and easy to do, and makes a different kind of tasty Easter candy. Now that I know how to make marzipan, I will be able to use it to make other chocolates, icings, and candies. You may see my master marzipan recipe on here soon. 

Friday, April 18, 2014

Peach Almond Smoothie

The fun begins! Time for foods that consist largely of purées and do not involve any chewing. Liquids are the best for this, as you can simply drink them, but thicker smoothies you can eat with a spoon work well too. I like smoothies, but I don't tend to drink them a lot, because usually when I drink them, I drink them out of necessity as in not being able to eat anything else, so that makes smoothies somewhat unappealing to me during good times.

Peach Almond Smoothie
frozen peach slices
plain Greek yogurt
wheat germ (optional)
almond butter 
almond milk
Blend all ingredients together in a blender to desired smoothness. Add some cinnamon, honey, maple syrup, or whatever else as desired. Amounts depend on how many servings you would like to make, and how thin or how peachy you would like your drink to be.
I used approximately 1/2 cup peaches, 1/4 cup yogurt, 1 Tablespoon wheat germ, 1 Tablespoon almond butter, and 1/2 cup almond milk.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Post One Thousand!!!

Well today marks the one thousandth day in a row that I have posted something on this blog! I began this blog 1000 days ago today, with the intention of creating a permanent collection of all of the recipes and foods I have made and eaten; and a way for me to share my passion for food with others. I cannot believe I have done one thousand posts already! It does not seem like that long, and it has seemed quite effortless - except holding back hungry taste testers while I get that picture for my blog! I am certainly nowhere near running out of ideas or things to make anytime soon!

Anyways, to celebrate the occasion, I got my wisdom teeth out today. That means I won't really be eating much for awhile, and what I do eat will probably consist largely of smoothies and other forms of purées. Anyone else care for some purée recipes? 

So I'll keep this short, but thanks again to all my readers, without you, I'd merely be keeping record of my baking, and not sharing my creations with others. Here's to another thousand consecutive days! 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

TI-Calculator Cake

This is a cake I made for an individual who is extremely passionate about mathematics. It is a spin-off of the TI graphing calculators, such as the TI-83, or whatever version we are on nowadays. This cake contains a great deal of inside jokes and mathematical terms. Speaking cake-wise, it is my signature chocolate cake with chocolate ganache and the "buttons" and "screen" piped in my signature vanilla buttercream. 
The top features the name of the calculator in red, the "TI-Teadale".
Underneath that is a purple screen featuring the words "MATH RULES!" in bold green piping. By the way, the ! on the screen is not an exclamation mark but rather a factorial sign.
The remainder of the cake features many blue and green buttons with red piping on them. There are basic number and operation buttons, some graphing buttons, and many unique buttons. Instead of a right and left arrow button, there is a "right" and "wrong" button. Instead of an up and down button, there is a "concave up" and a "concave down" button. Other buttons include "TEST", "QUIZ", "books on the floor", "ERROR", "mind reader", and "hawk eyes". If you don't understand these buttons it is probably due to the fact they are mostly mathematical terms or terms that pertain to the individual the cake was intended before. Even if you can't understand it, I'm sure you still appreciate the look of the cake and how it resembles a calculator.


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Soft Food Diet

Sometimes, certain texture-oriented diets are needed for health or other reasons. In my case, I will soon be having dental surgery, after which I doubt I will be able to eat many hard foods. I won't have to be on a complete liquid diet, but more a diet of purées and soft foods. Obviously, this is not ideal for a long period of time, a budding chef, or someone who enjoys crunchy and chewy foods. But I don't mind too much, because I don't think I will be on this diet for too long, and there are a variety of delicious foods that are soft, and some purées can be made delicious. I've already composed a list of foods I will be able to eat so I will have some ideas to build some balanced meals and buy some groceries. Obviously, almost anything can be puréed, but that doesn't necessarily mean it should be. Here are just a few ideas in case any of you find yourselves in a similar situation.

Fruits: mashed banana, applesauce, avocado, puréed frozen berries.
Vegetables: mashed potato, sweet potato, squash, pumpkin, mashed carrots, leafy green purées.
Dairy: milk, yogurt, ice cream, pudding, soft cheese (cream cheese, ricotta, cottage cheese).
Protein: soft tofu, scrambled eggs, nut butters, hummus, bean purées, soft fish.
Grains: hot cereal, oatmeal, soft polenta, soft bread, French toast, crackers or cereal in milk, creamy rice, risotto, grits, dumplings, bread pudding, pancakes.
Meals: soup, smoothies, chili, soft pasta, fondue.
Desserts: chocolate, frosting, truffles, panna cotta, jelly, custard, dips, cookie dough.

This will be my diet in a few days, but before then, I'll be sharing something really cool tomorrow! 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Chocolate Oatmeal Cake

Chocolate Oatmeal Cake
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup butter or hard margarine, cut into cubes
1 cup boiling water
2 large eggs, beaten
1 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose (plain) flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Place the oats and butter in a large bowl, Pour water over top and let stand for ten minutes, stirring occasionally. 
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease an 8x8 inch square pan.
Add eggs, sugar, and vanilla to oat mixture. Add remaining ingredients. Spread in prepared pan and bake for 30-40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

This is a really quick and easy snack cake recipe, but the name can be deceiving - it certainly isn't breakfast food! It is not overly sweet and decadent, but tasty and moist, with the flavor of dark chocolate. You may need to add a splash of milk to the batter. Next time I am sure my mother will add some chocolate chips as well. 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Protein Whip Drink

Who needs fancy, expensive protein powder to make a good protein drink? Personally I think these protein powders are not the best option - they are quite pricey, not always that tasty, and there are certainly enough ways to get sufficient protein from real foods. Here is a quick idea I came up with when I was feeling an energy low - this is just a starting point for a great drink and can certainly yield endless flavor possibilities. A protein drink like this is just as easy and quick to whip up as a cup of coffee or hot chocolate - so next time you are in need of a pick me up - try this.
You will need: skim milk powder (a cheaper, more versatile alternative to protein powders), unsweetened cocoa powder, nut butter. How much: a spoonful or a plash of each. Water or non-dairy milk, to fill the cup. Maple syrup or honey, vanilla or almond extract, to taste. 
Mix all together in a cup and enjoy immediately. Be sure to use a very cold beverage for a refreshing drink. 

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Single Nutty Bran Muffin

This is an individual-sized microwave-baked whole wheat muffin recipe I created from inspiration of similar recipes. It is quick to through together for breakfast, and can be combined with many different flavors. 

Single Nutty Bran Muffin
1 Tablespoon ground flaxseed
1/2 Tablespoon water
1 Tablespoon whole wheat flour
1 Tablespoon natural wheat bran
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 Tablespoon chopped nuts
2 Tablespoons milk, or as needed

In a microwave-safe mug, mix together the flax and water. Stir in remaining ingredients. Microwave on HIGH (100%) power for about one minute, until risen and firm. Serve as part of a delicious breakfast - spread with nut butter, serve with fresh fruit, and perhaps a bowl of cereal.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Layered Oatmeal In A Jar

Layered Oatmeal In A Jar
1/3 cup old-fashioned oats
2 Tablespoons raisins (or other dried fruit)
2 Tablespoons nuts
2/3 cup boiling water
1 Tablespoon jam, preserves, or nut butter
splash of milk, if desired

In a heatproof bowl or jar, layer the oats, fruit, and nuts. Pour the boiling water over top, then immediately microwave on HIGH (100%) power for one minute. Cover and let stand for two minutes, then stir in remaining ingredients. 
I figured I better share this, one of my easy go-to oatmeal recipes when I forget to make overnight oats the night before, before winter comes to a true end. This makes one warm breakfast in minutes, and is different every time! 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Double Chocolate Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

My mother seems to like to make coffee cakes. She used to be well known for always having freshly baked muffins on hand, then often she would have banana chip cake around. She was also well known for making delicious banana loaf, blueberry coffee cake, rum cake, and oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. But lately she has been trying out many different new coffee cake recipes. It began with this one: {Cinnamon Cream Cheese Loaf Cake}. Then evolved to a chocolaty version: {Chocolate Cream Cheese Loaf Cake}. Then she tried: {Sour Cream Coffee Cake}. Which is different because it does not contain a cream cheese filling, but is made with sour cream to keep it moist and has a cinnamon streusel in the middle. Finally comes this one. This is basically the same as the previous chocolate version, but with chocolate chips added to the cream cheese filling and a few modifications to improve it. It is delicious warm or cold. And it definitely gives a good dose of chocolate. The two cinnamon coffee cakes are delicious too, but chocolate will always be my favorite flavor, especially when it comes to sweets. 

These coffee cakes all have several things in common; they are baked in an 8x8 inch square pan, they contain a dairy ingredient (either cream cheese or sour cream) to keep them moist, they have a filling, they are good warm or cold, they are not too hard to make, my mother makes them all and she did a darn god job - they are delicious. 

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Creamy Dreamy Oatmeal

I know, I know, I share a lot of oatmeal recipes. The fact is, oatmeal is a delicious quick, easy, and nutritious breakfast, especially overnight oatmeal recipes - where all the prep work is done and your breakfast is ready when you wake up. This oatmeal is very creamy and rich tasting, with a smooth texture.
Creamy Dreamy Oatmeal
1/4 cup oats
1/4 cup oat bran
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
+ squirt honey and a splash of vanilla extract (or simply use vanilla yogurt)
1/4 cup milk
1 Tablespoon creamy peanut butter
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

This is another oatmeal recipe that is made overnight. Put all ingredients in a jar or bowl, mix well, and let sit in the fridge overnight. This is another one I do not recommend heating because of the yogurt, but enjoy it cold!

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Saucy Chicken

Saucy Chicken
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup white vinegar
2 teaspoons worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 chopped white onion

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Use to coat chicken or whatever you would like before cooking. Keeps the meat nice and moist and also created a thick and flavorful sauce over the meat. 
This is an incredibly easy, yet tasty and foolproof, sauce recipe that could be used for a variety of different recipes but is especially good on chicken. It requires only one bowl, no pre-cooking, and coats meat well while staying thick and flavorful. Similar to {Sweet and Sour Sauced Chicken Breasts}, but better as it is thicker and easier to make.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Multigrain Machine Bread

Multigrain Machine Bread
1/4 cup each: ground flaxseed, oat bran, natural wheat bran, and wheat germ
1/2 cup oats
1 cup warm water
1 large egg, beaten, at room temperature
2 Tablespoons oil
2 Tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon salt
grain mixture from above
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons yeast
Mix together the grains and oats, set aside. Place all ingredients except in bread machine pan in order given, or according to manufacturer's instructions for whole wheat cycle. This makes one large loaf, although size setting will depend on machine. 

This is a bread machine recipe I came up with myself that truly combines all my favorite hearty grains. Some may find this bread a little bit heavier or dense, but it is certainly a nutritional powerhouse, and is meant to be sliced quite thinly. To ensure the bread rises better, as multigrain breads do tend to contain less gluten, a tablespoons or two of wheat gluten may be added along with the flour.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Cajun Coated Salmon

Here is a tasty supper from not too long ago. As I recently stated in another blog post, I love seafood but I also like to switch things up a little. So to jazz up a nice salmon portion, I whipped up a quick and flavorful spice rub. Spice rubs are usually reserved for heavier meats, such as ribs, steaks, pork chops, lamb, and sometimes chicken. But there is no rule saying you can't also use one on delicate seafood, it is just important to be extra cautious in ensuring that the flavors balance well with the type of fish being prepared, and that you use the rub liberally, as to not overpower the delicate flavor of the fish. Ginger and honey always seem to pair well with salmon. So does freshly ground black pepper. I also remember once having a spicy cajun salmon at a fish restaurant, flavored with red pepper and other spices. And a little does of garlic goes with pretty much anything, right? So I kind of combined these four flavors to make my own spice rub. A word of cation: combining several flavors that all pair well with one common food is not always necessarily a good idea. Think about it; peanut butter goes well on bread, jam goes well on bread, cheese goes well on bread, and hummus goes well on bread - but peanut butter, jam, cheese, and hummus is probably not a good mix (although maybe it is, I've never actually tried it). Luckily, in this case, it actually did work, as there aren't very many cases where spices themselves greatly clash with each other. Though it was not my intention, this spice rub really did remind me of that cajun salmon I had, so it turned out really delicious, and flavorful, without hiding the salmon. I will have to think of some other clever combinations like this one.

My cajun salmon spice rub:
equal parts of red paprika, ground ginger, garlic powder, and freshly ground black pepper.
The amounts of course depend on how many salmon portions you are preparing, but extra spice rub can also be saved for next time, as long as it hasn't come into contact with the raw fish. I also eyeballed amounts, and didn't exactly measure them, so I'm sure a quantity of one spice was slightly greater than the other, but certainly not significantly.

Mix all spices together, then spoon or sprinkle over rinsed salmon portions that are prepared for cooking. Gently pat the rub down with a spoon, then cook salmon as desired. This salmon was prepared on a grill pan in the oven, so I certainly didn't lose any of that spicy flavor!

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Pina Colada Overnight Oatmeal

There is nothing alcoholic about this at all. There's just something about the words oatmeal and alcohol that don't seem to fit together. Or alcohol and breakfast in general. I suppose some may argue that. Anyway, the principle flavors of a pina colada (not that I've ever had one) are definitely present in this oatmeal, and it gives a nice tropical flavor. If we cannot escape the winter down south, at least we can bring some southern flavors to our awful winter. 

Pina Colada Overnight Oatmeal
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
1 Tablespoon ground flaxseed
2 Tablespoons shredded coconut
1/4 cup finely diced pineapple (I used fresh)
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 cup milk (coconut milk would work best)
fresh kiwi

As with all my overnight oatmeal recipes, place all ingredients in a bowl or a jar, mix well, and let sit in the refrigerator overnight to thicken. This is another one I do not recommend heating, but rather enjoying cold. Like a nice, cool drink on a hot sunny day. Garnish with fresh kiwi fruit.

Friday, April 04, 2014

Huge Cinnamon Bread

What happens when your bread rises really high? Well, you start to worry as to whether the force of the rising bread will blow off the lid of your new bread machine. And everyone told me you didn't need physics in baking. Anyway, the bread definitely wasn't strong enough to cause the lid of the breadmaker to come off, but we were wondering if the machine would be able to contain this huge dough. I am not sure why this bread rose so high this time, as we have made this recipe before. (See {Machine Cinnamon Swirl Bread}) As you can see, this bread is very tall and rectangular. The only problem with bread rising this high (besides not fitting in a breadmaker) is that there is that the proportion of bread to cinnamon swirl is too large, and the bread seems a bit more plain and dry. Other than that though, it is still an extremely good recipe - tasty, convenient, and so pretty. Almost as good as the made-by-hand old-fashioned version.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Soon to be Spring? Cupcakes

Is anyone else as sick and tired of winter as I am? For some reason, winter this year just seems to be sticking around and long overstaying its welcome. There isn't much we can do about the persistent snow and chilly temperatures, and it will still be awhile yet before we have the pleasure of enjoying fresh produce. However, there are still some foods that will brighten up your day and make the winter blahs go away. Instead of embracing the season with warm soups, hearty stews, and comforting casseroles (they have their time, and that time is now over until next year), it is time to bring in some fresh, bright flavors, pretty colors, and cheerful symbols. That's why I quickly decorated these cupcakes recently with fresh spring colors - blue, yellow, and red. I also piped on some simple flowers and bright happy faces. Spring, it is high time you have sprung!

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

April Fools

In case you didn't already realize this: APRIL FOOLS!!!!! Yesterday's post was a complete hoax. I don't know if I fooled any of you or not, if not I guess you just know me too well. There is no way I would just quit blogging like that cold turkey. Well, I guess the post wasn't completely untrue, as I am quite busy and sometimes do find it difficult to continue baking and blogging. And yes, it may mean that I borrow some things my mother made to post about, or many of my posts do pertain to breakfast (it if my favorite meal of the day - and what's wrong with breakfast creations?). However, I will continue blogging even if some of my posts are shorter or more rushed, I will always find the time to post. It may mean registering automatic updates for a week, or relying on articles I have previously written instead of something I have recently made. But I will continue posting daily for the time being, and posting as many recent creations as I can find the time to make. For those of you who follow me daily, thank you! I appreciate it. But I didn't start this blog with the sole purpose of gaining popularity. I mainly began this blog for myself, as I way to keep track of everything I make, my favorite recipes, what works and what doesn't, and my photos. So of course I will continue posting everyday; after all, I posted in French for a month, didn't I?

Anyways, I did promise to post something cool today, and although it is not recent, I have never shared it before. This is a Mickey Mouse cake I made a few years back, mainly for my father during a rough time. I had received the Mickey Mouse pan from someone and was excited to use it. When decorated cleverly, this cake doesn't just have to be Mickey Mouse, it can be transformed into other characters as well. I went with the classic Mickey look - red shirt, yellow shoes, but instead of black, I used chocolate for the skin. Here's to another 1000 days of consecutive blogging! 

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Blogging Break

For those of you who have not noticed (first of all thank you), my blog posts have been, well, lacking lately. They've been shorter, and don't feature complete dishes or the impressive sweet desserts I usually make. A lot of things I have been featuring have been either things my mother actually made (thanks Mom) or breakfast items - as I may not have much time to bake, but I always need to eat breakfast, which is quick to make and easy to experiment with. But I'm sure all of you are growing just as tired as I am of more overnight oatmeal recipes, which really all stem from the same one recipe. The truth is, I just haven't had enough time lately to cook or bake, and even  if I do, I then run out of time to properly take nice photos, upload them, and do a reasonable blog write-up. 

So it greatly saddens me to announce this, especially after 984 consecutive days of posts (I'm so close to 1000!), but I just cannot keep up this blog. At least for right now, I'll just have to take a short break (hopefully). If all goes well, I should be blogging again in the summer. Right now though, I just have too much going on to be able to commit the proper care and attention to my blog. I apologize to my dedicated readers, but I'd much rather not post at all for a while than post low-quality updates. 

Right now, between balancing my schoolwork, upcoming exams, a job, extracurricular activities, and all the other slew of events coming my way, I'm basically having to choose between blogging and getting enough sleep, one choice which is obviously having (or at least will have) a negative effect on my health. So I've thought about this for awhile, and kept blogging to a point, but now I must say I really have to stop for awhile.

I'm not happy about this decision, but it's something I really have to do right now. That isn't to say I won't pop up every once in awhile with a post of something cool I recently made, but it sure won't be daily. And hopefully I can return to consistent postings in the summer. My last post will be tomorrow, where I will share a rather cool creation I managed to conjure up the time to make.

Farewell for now!