Monday, December 26, 2011

Candy Cane Trifle

Red and White.
Traditional candy cane colours.
Minty freshness.
Original winter flavour.

When I found a recipe in our LCBO magazine (which I had yoinked off my mother in law's counter - sorry, I'll bring it back!) that featured a red velvet cake (which is my son's fav) and white layers of minty whipped cream and white chocolate ganache I knew I wanted to make this for our family holiday dinner.
Trifle.
YES!
Bringin back the old school desserts - awesome.  Maybe I should bring back the jello salads? NAAA

I should divulge I cheated a little.
I used a boxed red velvet cake mix. The recipe did give direction for making your own but, well, I didn't have time and my mother in law had given us a bunch of cake mixes (red velvet since its the Little Ughs fav) so might as well use em right?
If you have a favorite recipe for it please be my guest, replace it with your cake recipe or you could use the recipe supplied by the linked recipe below.

This is a beautiful presentation and a wonderful dessert to serve at your next gathering - but I would suggest not making it for 2.
I also suggest using a tad more peppermint extract.  I used a touch more than the recipe called for but it really could have used another 1/2 tsp. or so.

Enjoy - we did!

I'm listening to: Candy Cane Children - White Stripes

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Friday, December 16, 2011

Refrigerator Rolls

You want to know one of my favorite things about blogging?
Meeting new friends and sharing tips and tricks, new ideas and tried and true recipes!

Since a few ladies were getting together this week for dinner, I put a call out to a dear woman, Denise, who I KNOW loves her bread.  I mean her blogs name is The Bread Fairy.....duh!?!  I needed a recipe. She'd be able to point me in the right direction, I was sure of it!

This week was a little hectic (not because I was busy per say but because I haven't been feeling great) and I had wanted to find a recipe that I could make in advance, freeze or refrigerate and bake on site.
Denise came through!

Thank you darlin!  They were spectacular.

Here's how I made them:
Basic Roll Dough
 
1 c. milk
3 tbsp. margarine
2 3/4 to 3 1/4 c. all purpose flour
1/4 c. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 package active dry yeast
1 egg

Over medium heat, warm milk and margarine until warm (not simmering or boiling). 
In the bowl of your stand mixer with your paddle attachment, blend warm liquid, 1 cup flour, sugar, salt, egg and add the yeast after you've started mixing at low speed until moistened.  Beat 2 minutes at medium speed. 
Switch to a dough hook and add remaining flour to form a soft dough. 
On well floured surface, turn out the dough and form a ball.  Place dough in an oil bowl, cover let rise until light and doubled in size 45 to 60 minutes.
Punch down dough.  Cut and shape into rolls, place on a baking sheet and bake about 8-10 minutes in a preheated 300F oven to set (they should not have colour)
Cool completely and either refrigerate or freeze.
When you are ready to heat and serve, preheat your oven to 400F and bake for about 10-12 minutes.
Enjoy

I'm Listening to:  AnnaMolly - Incubus
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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A Review, An Amazing Dinner, and a Giveaway!

Ever go to the mailbox, look inside to see a package staring back at you that you've been dying to receive so you leave all other pieces behind, rip open the wrapping and giggle in delight?!
That was me this morning.
Today in the mail I received a bottle of Camelina Oil from Three Farmers, a group of farmers from Saskatchewan, Canada who take pride in producing a natural product.


When I was approached to receive a complimentary bottle to test out and possibly write a short post on the oil (which I had never heard of until the Delicious Food Show in Toronto), I was intrigued and elated.
What got me was the fact that every bottle can be traced to the actual farmer that produced it to guarantee accountability, quality and to give that personal connection between producer and consumer.  How amazing is that?  Its nearly as if you were stepping foot on the farm yourself!
You also can't beat the fact that it is also a source of Omega-3 and Omega-6 polyunsaturates as well as having loads of Vitamin E.
So what is Camelina Oil?  It derives from an ancient grain that originated from Northern Europe and parts of Central Asia and now in Saskatchewan.  It is cold pressed which allows the natural oil from the seed to be extracted.  It really does have a wonderful aroma, it has a nutty tone to it and I think I am in love.
For more information please visit the web site's FAQ section.

Of course I tested it out this evening in 2 ways.  I wanted to check the 475F smoke point as well as the flavor itself.  Both I am happy to report, are an A+!
Dinner was delicious.

To keep this post size to a reasonable limit I am simply going to do a quick write up of the ingredients and method of the Pork Tenderloin Salad with a Citrus Vinaigrette which we had tonight.
Why when I usually post step by steps?
Because dear friends I have even better news for you!
My new friends over at Three Farmers have offered to pass along a bottle to one lucky follower!!! WOOT WOOT!
I have no doubt the winner will absolutely enjoy this oil as much as I have.

So to make sure you read our dinner I'm posting the giveaway details AFTER dinner (kinda like dessert for you).

Pork Medallion Salad with a Citrus Vinaigrette
1 pork tenderloin
Rub
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. allspice
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. fresh cracked pepper
Glaze
1/3 c. brown sugar
3 cloves garlic, pressed
1/2 tsp. sirachi (or hot sauce)

Vinaigrette
1 tbsp. juice of a clementine
1 1/2 tbsp. juice of a fresh lime
1 tsp. Dijon
1/4 c. Three Farmers Camelina Oil
salt and pepper to taste

Mix together your spices and rub onto a trimmed tenderloin (silver removed).  In a cast iron pan add 1 tbsp Camelina Oil and heat (medium).  Place your tenderloin in and brown on all sides about 4 min each.
Get together your glaze and spoon onto the pork while in the pan to coat.  Place in a preheated 350F oven for about 20 minutes (or until inner temp is 145F)  Remove from oven and let rest about 10 minutes, meanwhile prepare your vinaigrette.
In a bowl add the juices and mustard with a touch of salt and pepper.  Slowly drizzle in the oil as you whisk to emulsify.
Drizzle over your plated salad and sliced tenderloin!

Ok dessert time!  Or giveaway rather ;)
A few details:
  • You must be a follower of my blog (and I'd love it if you would follow me on my facebook page as well.
  • This giveaway will close December 15th at 5pm EST.
  • Winner will be selected at random by www.random.org
For one entry:
Leave me a comment, include your email address so I can connect with you, letting me know what you would like to make with this wonderful product.

For additional entries:
Share on Facebook tagging my page and leave a separate comment letting me know each time you've shared (once per day only please)
Share on twitter using "@ppkongacooks is having a giveaway!" and leave a separate comment saying you've done so (once per day only please)

One winner will be selected at random and contacted by email, they will have 48 hours to respond.
Three Farmers will send out the product directly - THANK YOU THREE FARMERS!
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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Using Our Noggins

The Nog.
creamy.  eggy.  sweet.
FATTY.
Good thing it is only out once a year right?

Just after Thanksgiving while at the grocery store Little Ugh goes running to the milk section.
Could he be looking for some healthy milk to guzzle down?
Not likely.
He was searching for the nog.
"Why don't they have it out yet??!!?"  (Keep in mind our Thanksgiving is October)
"Because bud, they only bring it out for the Christmas season, you know, like the candy cane ice cream (droooool)"
Not a happy shopping trip for either of us really.

I admit that in the past I have bought our egg nog.  I've never made it before, nor have I really thought about it until now.
Now's as good a time as any right?
I know lots of people who make it, who only EVER make it.
I also know lots of people that eat take out 4 times a week but I don't judge them, so don't judge me!

We wanted a lower fat version, no cream, and I wanted something cooked - no raw eggs thanks.
The first time around I added a tad too many cloves, not that it was bad...it was just a little TOO clovey, if that makes any sense.
I think we also simmered the mixture about 45 seconds too long, it was a little thicker than what I was hoping for. 
It couldn't have been all bad because Little Ugh drank the entire batch and said it was WAY better than the store bought version.
So for our first time making the nog it was a hit and I think know we will be making more in the coming weeks!
Enjoy

I'm Listening To: Charlie Brown Christmas in the background (on TV!)

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Monday, December 5, 2011

Turning Another Year Older - Who Wants Cake?

Pretty sure my other half is about to have a mid life crisis.
He turned 35 this weekend and he's already convinced his life is over.  He isn't taking it well.
He woke up, walked down stairs slowly, proceeded to tell me he had to get up 3 times during the night to pee (forgetting that he drank a whole bunch of pop and water just before bedtime), complained his legs hurt (possibly the gym?) and couldn't remember where he put his phone (attached to his hip at all times).
It's ok darling, you still have your looks.

He didn't want to celebrate this year.  Let me re-phrase, his idea of celebrating was football chicken and holing himself up in the basement to watch his games, no going out for dinner (which we do every year, no family, no presents.
Fine by me.
BUT, what's not ok is giving me the opportunity to make a cake.
He was alright with that.
"Carrot cake please, you know, with the yummy frosting."
Good pick, carrots make you see better, you'll need that at your age.

So here's to you my middle aged man, per your request!

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Sunday, November 27, 2011

200th Post! Puddin All the Way!

Ohhh its chocolate craving season!
You'd think with Halloween just past that I woulda filled my quota of chocolate overload - nope.
This time of year makes me think of peppermint bark, rum balls, chocolate peanut butter balls, truffles not to mention a nice rich piping cup of hot cocoa with a little whipped cream on top...oh this list could go on for miles really.
So I'm just gonna stop right there and let you come up with your own favorite chocolate treats while I take a big ole spoonful of the chocolate pudding I just made.

That's right, I made pudding.
And not from a box, Bill Cosby didn't endorse it (although I bet if he would have had a little nibble he'd forget Jello ever existed).

This recipe isn't my own, I used one I found on Allrecipes.com because I lacked cream, and I am woman enough to admit that I have never made it without it and I wanted to see what the difference was (other than higher fat content) and required some direction.
Personally I have to tell ya that I prefer it this way, sans cream. 
I also made a slight addition of some amazing Cacao Barry chocolate


which just heightened the taste to new levels and made my less than 20 cents a serving dessert probably closer to 1.20!
(It's sorta on the higher side of the chocolate spectrum, but I used it sparingly so that I have plenty left for really awesome desserts later)

Oh, and we threw a little in some popsicle molds for tomorrow too - can you say fudgesicle?
Enjoy

I'm Listening To: Dy'er Mak'er - Led Zeppelin

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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Love in a Rice Pile - Bok Choy Fried Rice

Our traditional order at a Chinese take out:
1 order general tso chicken (red sauce only!)
1 order sweet and sour pork (well not anymore since the Mr. BM is off the pig)
1 order lo mein or chow mein of some sort
sometimes an order of garlic fried bok choy
1 order chicken balls (for the Little Ugh)
1 LARGE order fried rice (sometimes 2 orders)

Yup, we're bland Chinese food eaters but I loves me some fried rice!
I can never seem to make it quite like the restaurants but I suppose that means its made slightly healthier at home.
I made this version last night along with the Ginger Lime Wings
It worked out beautifully!

Read on and Enjoy!

I'm Listening to: That Song - Big Wreck (Thanks Muffy - I do really love that song!)

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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Wrestling the Wings - Ginger Lime Glazed

Guess who isn't home for dinner tonight?
The Mr. BM.
Guess who's not happy he missed it?

I believe I got "C'MON, you're making wings without me?!!?"
Sure am.
Maybe I'm getting back at him for going to a concert without me.  NAAA, I didn't wanna go. 
I'd taken some wings out a few days back and it was on my menu for the week, it just so happened that today was the day.
Sheesh, I saved him some at least.

The flavors of lime and ginger compliment each other well and the acidity of the lime also helps to tenderize the meat.  They are definitely bff's


We will make this again I'm sure as Little Ugh ate his share in less than 5 minutes.  I had to get between him and the saved wings, there was a little wrestling involved but don't worry...we saved you 7 darling.
There would have been 10 but I ran too slowly and got my butt kicked by a 13 year old!

Enjoy.

I'm Listening To: Breaking the Law - Judas Priest
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Monday, November 21, 2011

Angry Sauce

My insides might just hate me after tonight's dinner.
I don't care.
Little Ugh's poor chapped lips are on fire.
I don't care.
Mr. BM is on nights and doesn't get to partake.
Alas. I don't care.

Happy is to cupcakes like angry is to Arribbata sauce.
(I make no claims that I am a poet in anyway shape or form)

Me + spicy + pasta = happy
I'm an insensitive carb freak.

I can honestly say this is the first time I have made this sauce at home.  Usually I am forced to order it while out for dinner (which hasn't happened in about 2 years) because one hates spice and the other hates pasta.
Sorry to inform the rest of the house but this is going on the monthly rotation.
Deal.
It was fabulously tasty and even better that it takes no more than 20 minutes!

I also got to use some of the red wine I bought strictly for cooking (since I don't drink the stuff) from Chateau des Charmes a local(ish) winery here in Southern Ontario.

Enjoy!

I'm Listening to: Hot in Herre - Nelly

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Sunday, November 20, 2011

THE Moistest Apple Cake Around

Just because apple picking season is over doesn't mean you can't enjoy the fruits of other's labour.

My parents got to enjoy the fruits of MY labour this past week when I made this deliciously moist cake.
I knew it was a winner when they went to leave for their drive home and as I was about to ask if they wanted to take some home my dad didn't even let the words roll off my tongue.
"Yes, I'll take some home"
Oh, well, its a darned good thing I don't need 3/4 of a cake kicking around my house!
Actually I was happy to oblige.
Quiet happily I gave them a couple of pieces for the road. (I wonder if it made it all the way home?)

I tried to avoid using oil so I improvised with some sour cream and had I had applesauce I would have used that in combination.
I wont tell you what I found when I went to grab the applesauce outta the fridge - it was frightful and so I did end up using a touch of oil.
If you have some I suggest replacing the oil with it, I have no doubt it would still be just as moist and obviously healthier!

Enjoy.

I'm Listening To: Momma's, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys - The Highwaymen

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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Jamaican Beanpot Mon

Want a delicious, nutritious, vivacious dinner idea?
Make this and everyting be irie!
Had I had half a brain I would have doubled this recipe for leftovers....

No one in my house but me likes beans and the Mr. hates rice but that didn't stop me.
The thought of this meal made my mouth water a little, actually to be truthful, there may be a touch of saliva forming now and I already ate it and am stuffed and wished I had more room in my belly so that I could have what little is left.
Le sigh.

I've never been to Jamaica however I have been to other Caribbean islands and it seems that rice and beans are a staple in their cooking.
So I suppose this could be called Caribbean Bean Pot not Jamaican but unlike some other countries I find that Jamaicans use more spices in their cooking and I love the heat.
If you don't have some of these ingredients its ok, substitute or leave some out, it will still be great.

Hope you enjoy ;)

I'm Listening to:  Housecall - Shabba Ranks ft. Maxi Priest

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Monday, November 14, 2011

Low Fat Less Taste?

I have to fit into a wedding dress in 5 months!
Time to revamp some meals to ensure no cups runneth over.

Now we aren't traditionally big fatty food eaters (lean meats, light oils mostly) and normally round our meals out with all the food groups but you and I both know that some meals could use a little fat reducers here and there.

Does low fat equal less taste?
I've heard the debates.
I do believe that sometimes, some things just taste better full fat.
chocolate. ice cream. 
A good frozen yogurt or gelato is great but c'mon, the creamy smoothness of full dairy fat oh yes....heaven.
I beg to differ however with meats and more savory dishes.
You can add lower fat content sour creams, substitute cottage cheeses, take away calorie laden sauces, skin birds and always, always use fresh herbs and spices to please your palate!

I found a recipe in one of my many cookbooks for a Greek dish that sounded amazing.
Pastitsio.
Pasta, meat, creamy cheese sauce.
Sounds like lasagna. mmmmm lasagna....

This is a lightened up version of one that you may find on the web but isn't lacking flavor one bit!
If you like lasagna, you'll eat this.
Enjoy!

PS I guess I am gonna have to make it again since my camera card decided that it wanted full fat and conked out - tear.....
I'm Listening To: Doll Parts - Hole

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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Thick or Thin, White or Wheat

Crust.
You know, for my pizza?

We are a "pie" fam but each one of us has our likes and dislikes so it's cheaper, healthier and sanity saving to make our own at home.

There isn't any fighting about who gets what pizza, who's ordering the 1/2 pepperoni, 1/2 onions, 1/4 peppers, spinach and chicken on the half that has the pepper on it etc. etc.(the Mr. BM refuses to order them) nor is there anyone complaining or picking off pineapples (honestly, fruit should not mix with pizza sauce).

We are also a thin crust/wheat kinda crowd.
You?

Here's a quick and easy pleaser in our abode:
The Meatball Sub Pizza!
We happened to have some leftover meatballs from dinner a few nights ago - they were perfect, just slice em in half and go to town :)



You'll need:
pizza dough (purchased or homemade)
marinara sauce
mozzarella
parmesan
red onions
mini meatballs (homemade are SO much better)
*any other ingredients i.e. veggies you may want to add will work just fine*

Roll out your dough to your preferred consistency.  Add a touch of olive oil to a baking sheet.
Place the dough on the sheet.  Layer your sauce , ingredients and follow up with your cheese.
Bake in a preheated 400F oven until the crust is nicely crispy, about 13-15 minutes. *or less for a softer crust*

We don't fight over the ingredients on this one - it works for all of us.
Thank GOODNESS!

I'm Listening To: Johnny B Good - Chuck Berry
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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Happy National Deviled Egg Day!

Holy cow, a national holiday just for deviled eggs?
Well why not really, I mean they are always poppin up at parties right?
Why not let them have their own party!!!
Lets Run with the Devil(ed) Egg WOOT!  (Its like my own little holiday)

When I think of a deviled egg I am reminded of little old ladies having Tupperware parties in the 70's.
(what do I know, I was barely born in that decade)
Nowadays everybody wants one and they are always the first to go at a potluck yet when someone asks what you can bring and you even suggest a bite sized egg they sorta balk at it.
Uhhh ummm, sssuuurre?

Not sure why it gets a bum rap (like the egg salad or tuna sandwich at school).
Its an egg peeps with a smooth creamy filling.
Get over it, get on the band wagon.
Say it with me:
"WE LOVE DEVILED EGGS AND WE'RE NOT AFRAID TO SAY IT"

Since today is the national holiday I thought I would give you a trio of flavors. 
My traditional, an Asian inspired and a slightly healthier option.  My ingredient amounts are subjective as I made only enough for 1 or 2 eggs so that I could show you a variety without having a party to get rid of them.
(Mr. BM is gonna be happy when he wakes up and finds out what today is!  He hearts the DE)

Traditional Deviled Egg

hard boiled egg(s), cut lengthwise in half, scoop out the yolk into a bowl and move the whites to a plate.
Hellman's mayo (for 1 egg I used 2 tsp.)
a dash of dill pickle juice
fresh cracked pepper
paprika for garnish

Mix the yolk with ingredients and fill the whites with the mixture, top with garnish
Asian Inspired Deviled Egg

hard boiled egg(s), cut lengthwise in half, scoop out the yolk into a bowl and move the whites to a plate.
a dash of rice wine vinegar
Hellman's mayo (or wasabi mayo if you have some)
a few drops of sirachi (hot sauce)
grated ginger, fresh is better (1/8 tsp.)

Mix the yolk with ingredients and fill the whites with the mixture, top with garnish.

Spinach n Cream Cheese Deviled Egg

hard boiled egg(s), cut lengthwise in half, scoop out the yolk into a bowl and move the whites to a plate.
light cream cheese (for 2 eggs I used about 1 1/2 tbsp)
1 1/2 tsp. mayo
chopped wilted spinach (or you could use frozen and thawed but I like fresh spinach)
cracked pepper
quick squeeze of lemon juice

Mix the yolk with ingredients and fill the whites with the mixture, top with garnish.

My fav?
Easily the traditional!

I'm Listening to: Running With the Devil - Van Halen (of course)
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Monday, October 31, 2011

Pastry Wrapped Pears with a Vanilla Sauce of Course!

Oh my my, oh hell yes, hunny put on that party dress!  Or fat pants.
I vote fat pants, like buffet style - the ones that have drawstrings so you can loosen away when eating until you can't move.
I may or may not own a pair, that may or may not come out at holiday time, or Sundays.

Pants or no pants, if you like pears you will LOVE this dessert.
Its beautiful.
Its tasty.
And its pear, vanilla sauce AND puffy flaky pastry!  How can you NOT want to make this??


I'm Listening to: Last Dance with Mary Jane - Tom Petty


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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Poaching - The Kind You're Allowed to Do

Poaching.
A lost method of cooking in our house.
I personally don't like runny eggs, the Mr. BM doesn't like chicken without skin and crunchy bits on his meat and Little Ugh, well he thinks its "weird mom".
Lunar eclipses might happen more often than poaching in my house.

So what is it that I am talking about?
I can tell you that I am not referring to garbing up in camo fatigues, sitting in a tree in the off season to catch animals that are illegal.
Although this would be an awesome party chair wouldn't it??

Basically, poaching is a method by which you are cooking something in a simmering liquid.  Generally fish, fruit and chicken because they can be delicate or dry out and this process is gentle and preserves flavors well.

It is also a healthy way to prepare certain foods.
Except in this post.

I poached pears.  In sugar water.  Not "quite" healthy.
But OH SO DELICIOUS!

3 ingredients
pears
water
vanilla bean

Peel and core the pear - keeping the stem on


Add 3 cups of water along with about 3/4c - 1 c. sugar into a small saucepan on low/med heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
Once the sugar has dissolved, add 1 vanilla bean, cut in half and split to expose the seeds along with the pear
Ideally I have read you should really have the pears completely submerged but as long as you are rotating while you poach they will not turn colour.
The whole process should take about 10 minutes once you drop the pears in.

I like to eat mine cold, so I like to gently place them in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and toss in the fridge for at least an hour.
Your choice

I'm Listening To:  Lemon Tree - Peter, Paul and Mary (I'm being nostalgic)
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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Tip of the Week - Heavy Cream

Write a list BEFORE you go grocery shopping.
That's a tip I'm sure you are familiar with!

Apparently I do not heed my own advice.....
Yup, its a good thing I'm pretty.

Hence the post.
As I am sure you've guessed I needed heavy cream for a recipe and what do you know, I didn't have any in the fridge.
But eureka!  A solution!

You can make your own heavy cream substitute (although I have only tried this in a few recipes I am not sure it would stand up in a "all liquid" recipe)

Here's all you'll need:

3/4 c. milk
1/3 c. butter
(maybe a tbsp. of flour if using less than 2% milk)

In a sauce pan add milk and butter and heat. (not to boiling point)
Whisk in the flour if needed.

Done
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Another Award From My Friends

Wow,
Good morning to me!
I woke up to find that not one, but two of my food family members awarded me with the Versatile Blogger Award!  I was first gifted by Krista over at Everyday Mom's Meals and then Amy at Crumbs in My Mustachio.


You guys are grand!
What does that mean though?
Maybe that means we are creative, or we can switch up posts from delish desserts to breakfast in a pinch?
Whatever the reason I accept, graciously - thank you!

Now, there are of course some conditions to accepting:
1. Thank and link back to the person who gave you the award. - CHECK
2. Share 7 things about yourself - Below and CHECK
3. Send it along to 15 other Bloggers and let them know you have awarded them! On its way!

My 7 Things:
  1.  I suffer from anxiety and even the smallest things can set it off (annoying really!)
  2.  I am getting married in 6 months - tomorrow!!  (holy crap 6 months!)
  3.  I'm a perfectionist with a mild case of OCD (crazy combo, it's a good thing my man really loves me)
  4.  Mr. BM and I don't share blankets in bed (he's a hog and I love to be cocooned)
  5.  I have had many jobs, but one of my favs was working at a little independent fruit stand when I was in high school
  6. If I don't write things down within seconds of thinking of it - its gone so my house is full of notebooks (I have at least 3 on the go at any given moment)
  7. For YEARS I was anti dog (I love them but didn't want to be an owner) but one look from my little PeekAPoo Dion and I was hooked and had to bring him home - he probably beats out the boys now in the love category ;)
The last part (which I thought would be harder than the 7 points about me) is to gift this award to 15 others - here goes:
Debz Delicious Meals
Bon Viveur
Rich and Sweet
Celebrating Home with Karie Engels
Mia's Domain
No Ordinary Momma
Newlyweds Blog
And then, I Ate It
Bake and Destroy
Lark's Country Heart
Helen's Cooking
The Bread Fairy
Sweet Tea with Cindy
Betty's Kitchen Adventures
Cravings of a Lunatic

Wow, that was pretty hard!  I wanted to add some pages that I frequent often and maybe a little new to you.

Hope you enjoyed a little about me, and check out the pages whom I've gifted this award to also.
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Monday, October 17, 2011

Mash Up Monday - Chicken Parmesan Sandwich Casserole?

Have you noticed that there has been a lack of Mash Up Monday posts?
Oh good, you haven't....fewwww....here I thought you faithfully check back week after week!

Since you don't seem to be on top of things, not sure if you also noticed that I questioned the title of this post?
I cant really decide what dinner should be classified as - is it a casserole, is it a sandwich?
Preeeety sure its a combo of both - which of course allows this to be part of the MashUp Monday section.

I love a good chicken parm sandwich!  Juicy chicken, sauce, cheese - drool!
I saw a recipe from Robin Hood (the flour company) that was the basis of this dish and I knew I had to try to make something creative!

Do you have chicken, cheese, sauce, flour, yeast, garlic, peppers?
How bout a casserole dish?
Did you answer yes to the first 2 questions?
Then you're set!

Enjoy!

I'm Listening to: Your Love is my Drug - Ke$ha

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B is for Biscotti That's Good Enough for Me

The ONLY time I am going to say that hard cookies are ok is when eating biscotti.
Move over soft and chewy, the twice baked treat is ready for dunkin!
Now that I think about it, next time my cookie batter doesn't result in "soft and chewy" I am just going to try the double bake. I should look into ingredient ratio comparisons - wonder if I could pass problematic cookies as biscotti??

So why this Italian confection?
Because Mr. BM loves them.  (what better reason?)
He also loves his morning tea (which is actually after noon as he is on nights).
I think he could enjoy his hectic nights slightly more if he had a little sumthin to dip into his tea, don't you?

I'm a good fiance.

Little Ugh enjoys them as well.
I'm a good mommy too.
But before you think I am simply the best I have to divulge that the flavor combo was more selfish on my part.  I mean I'm already making both boys a treat just for them, something has to be about me in all of this doesn't it?

Since the pumpkin season is upon us I figured its a good idea, I mean, why not right?
And since we were talking about dipping into tea I thought, why not add a little tea flavor into them; by way of chai

This was my first time creating biscotti. 
It will not be my last!

Enjoy

I'm Listening To: 

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Friday, October 14, 2011

Harvest Chicken - An Apple a Day....

Apple overload....
I've even got apples hiding behind chairs!

Our yearly tradition is to go apple picking at Pieter's Appleyard on the long weekend in October (for Canadians, this is Thanksgiving weekend).
Its a little piece of heaven in my eyes and this time of year is my favorite to drive out there - the leaves changing, crisp breezes and apples begging to be picked!  How can you not enjoy this?


Here's a little something I don't tell many people - I secretly try to pick my apples as fast as I can so that I can get into the little barn to grab my quart of cider for the ride home!  I might just like it more than chocolate (ALMOST).

Here are a few snapshots from the day!

We go with our entire clan!  This year was little JJ's first time out (he's my nephew in the tree!!)

Obviously sweets and treats are in abundance the week after the pick but I thought it was high time the apple was used in a savory way.
This was new to us.
Mr. BM actually told me three times that dinner tonight was one of his newest favorites and Little Ugh inhaled it while it was still hot!
For chicken that has no skin (the only way Mr. BM really wants to eat chicken) it was juicy, flavorful and good for you too with all those apples!

Enjoy

I'm Listening To: Let's Dance - David Bowie  Compliments of Mike at The Culinary Lens :)

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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Spiced Roasted Candy Carrots

Candy and veggies?
SOLD!

This was my first attempt at creating a candied carrot.
I saw a recipe in the Betty Crocker pamphlet at my local grocer last week and thought, hey, I have those ingredients, why not?

Yes, why not.....

Well, I have to tell you I was slightly disappointed in the "candied" bit.
They didn't really get all glazed and crunchy around the edges like I was hoping.
Maybe that wasn't supposed to happen?
I suspect my ratios were a bit off since I sorta went with what I remembered reading.

The carrots however tasted great, a different flavor - a subtly smokey earthy flavor rather than a sweet carrot like you would think.
I liked the outcome, I just wasn't WOW'd
Possibly next time I would use a hint of brown sugar or maybe some maple syrup.

There are no photos because when sitting down to Thanksgiving dinner with 16 other people who don't want to wait for you to take photos of food in various lighting positions before they can eat you have to be kind to their rumbling bellies.
I have even tried Googling the title Roasted Candied Carrots, NADA - no linking for photos either...way to go Betty Crocker, way to burn me twice on the same recipe.

But here's how you can make them (from what I remember):

2 lbs. baby carrots
1/4 c. honey
2 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. smoked paprika

In a bowl combine all the ingredients except the carrots.  Heat your oven proof dish in a 425F oven first.  Spray with PAM (cooking spray).
Toss the carrots in the mixture and add to the pre heated dish.
Bake in the oven for about 35 minutes, stirring once.
Serve immediately

I'm Listening to: Alone - Heart
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Friday, October 7, 2011

Ode to Canada - Maple Syrup Guest Post

This week I decided that I wanted the world to see how many wonderful products and cultural dishes Canada has. 
Ode to Canada Week kicked off with the truly Canadian dessert “NanaimoBar” and its only fair to follow dessert up with a dinner dish right?  Because in my kitchen it’s ok to eat dessert first (as long as you eat dinner)!
I knew that I wanted to showcase maple syrup at some point and not just with pancakes. 
Photo courtesy of http://thoughts4thinking.wordpress.com
In Canada we even have festivals commemorating the wonderful sap that drips from trees every year so why would I just tell you to place a pitcher full beside your waffles?  Clearly I wouldn’t!
Photo provided by Localharvest.ca
When I saw Kay from and then I ate it post her Maple Baked Beans recipe on her Facebook page I knew I had to ask if she would be willing to let me share the recipe on my blog and better still, guest post it.  As another fellow Canadian she definitely understands how important this beautiful natural condiment is.  She jumped at the chance and I was thrilled!
 I’m not sure if I was more excited to have a guest blogger or that I didn’t actually have to make and eat them myself, because you see, Little Ugh and I love them -  A LOT and it causes “fanning wars” after bowls are consumed (if you catch my drift).
I do know that Kay has only been blogging since January of this year and she has a million and one amazing  things posted.  Trying to pick my favourite post is really pointless since there are so many great inspirations but one of my “must tries” is her Bourbon Chicken.
When you’re finished checking out her  step by step instruction on how to make the wonderfully mapley flavoured side dish below go and check her out!
____________________________________________
First off, I want to say how excited and honoured I am to be guest hosting for Betty Martha. As a fellow Canadian, I too am proud of my country’s diverse culinary achievements. But I have to tell you, it’s still the home grown recipes that I enjoy the most. Plus if they happen to have Canadian ingredients in them, the happier I am.
Several years ago I began to write down my recipes so when my daughter moved away, she’d have them in a nice cookbook created by me. In January of 2011, I took the giant leap by turning those recipes into a blog featuring not only my culinary achievements but also my joy of writing and photography. Then6 weeks later, I laid down my money officially making it my website. All the recipes are meant for those who are novice cooks such as my daughter and with ingredients that are easily found in your local grocery store. But that doesn’t mean they’re boring. They are as diverse and exciting as the country we live in. Go on, get nosey, go take a good look for yourself! 
Now on to those Maple Baked Beans ...
Baked Beans are a staple in this country as they are in many others. Now cooking beans in a crock pot without soaking them is both convenient and economical. The original recipe called for molasses but you know me, I had  to do something different. So I “Canucked it up” by adding maple syrup instead!!
Maple syrup! Can’t get more Canadian than that!
Gives these a try, I’m sure you’ll love them.

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Thursday, October 6, 2011

An Award? Me? You Shouldn't Have....

Shucks here I am blushing....
I received a note from a fellow bloggess - Lesa from Edesia's Notebook to check out a post she submitted letting me know I had won an award.


SAY WHA?
Someone other than my mother reads my ramblings?
Just because it shows I have followers doesn't mean they read my crap.  Maybe its me and I created 80+ profiles, uniquely named them and fake comment on posts.
HA, who am I kidding, I don't have time for that but wouldn't that be awesome if I did??!!

Anywho, Lesa mentions that the name of this award in German means beloved.
I have a name for how excited I am - Schwindelig!!!

As much as I hate the term "rules" there are some guidelines that comes with being selected to receive this award....I like to refer to it as Paying it Forward:

First and foremost you should always link back to those who gifted you (sharing the love)
You also need to pick 5 (I know there are probably way more you like) and let them know they are "beloved" too by commenting on a recent post of theirs letting them know and lastly write your own post (which is what I am doing here in case you hadn't figured that out)
Network peeps, its all about networking!

So without further adieu, my 5 picks are (in no particular order because they all rock):

Donika from Mom What's for Dinner
Amy from Family Feedbag
Denise from The Bread Fairy
Amy from Crumbs in My Mustachio - FB page because the blog page is under construction
Bobbi from Bobbi's Kozy Kitchen

These women (and no discrimination intended by not selecting a male produced blog) are wonderful people, caring, kind, and always have ideas or thoughts and kind words.
They have delicious foods on their pages too that always make me wanna lick the screen.
If you haven't already been to their pages I think its about time!

So thanks again to Lesa for this cute award, glad to be a part of such a wonderful community and happy to pass this along!
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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Ode to Canada - Nanaimo Bars with a Twist

Nanaimo bar - a truly Canadian dessert.
I get all warm and tingly when I have one, almost patriotic like.
Heard of them?
Had one?

I suppose you could Google or Wikipedia them but trust me when I tell you its born and bred in Canada.
Its a dessert bar named after a town in British Columbia - Nanaimo, no denying its origin there.
A no bake, deliciously sweet, layered with goodness, melt on your tongue treat I assure you you will want to try.
If not, take off hoser.  (Google that!)

Since I am Canadian, I wanted to showcase a few truly "Canuck" foods for those who aren't familiar with my homeland.
These had to be part of this!

With it being Thanksgiving weekend I decided to put a little spin on them, tried a few times to get them perfect and I think they are simply wonderful  - but no worries, I will give you the regular version as well in case you want to be "original".

Make them, eat them, share them -or don't but you'll increase your pant size if you aren't the sharing type.

I'm Listening to: That Don't Impress Me Much - Shania Twain
*funny story, I met her many moons ago before she was a superstar in Huntsville, ON while I was on vacation with my family.  I was hanging out with her brothers for the week, and was introduced to her while I was sitting on her couch soppin wet after a huge snowball fight - doubt she'd remember me*

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Monday, October 3, 2011

Chocolate Cherry Granola

Pretty sure you could serve this to even the finicky of breakfast eaters and you would get two thumbs up.

A little touch of chocolate brings in a bit of a pick me up (or sugar high) and adds a little something extra.  Pairing it with cherries takes it to a whole 'nother level.

Pffft who says granola is boring?

Toss a few tablespoons into your regular cereal, mix it with your favorite yogurt (vanilla is my choice) or grab a few handfuls throw it into a baggie and pull it out for those mid morning lulls!

I can't speak for you but I am more than alright eating chocolate for breakfast especially if it is disguised in a nutritionally packed breakfast.
Who am I kidding, if I could eat a few squares of chocolates and call it a morning I likely would.
This option is obviously better for you.

Ok, excuse me while I go devour some now......

I'm listening to: Pardon Me - Incubus

Here's what you'll need:

4 cups. large flake rolled oats
1/2 c. sunflower seeds
1/4 c. sesame seeds
1/2 c. dried cherries
1/2 c. raspberry flavored cranberries
3/4 c. applesauce
1/4 c. honey
2 tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
dash of salt
1 bar Ghiradelli semi sweet chocolate (chopped)

In a bowl mix together oats, seeds, dried fruit and cinnamon.


In a pot over medium heat add applesauce, honey, brown sugar and salt - stir.
Warm until it has thinned out (about 2-3 minutes).  Do not boil.


Pour over the mixture of grains/fruit and toss to coat.
Turn onto two greased parchment lined baking sheets and spread out.


Throw it into a 300F oven.
Every 5 minutes flip and move around so it doesn't burn.
Keep doing this until lightly browned.
Let cool completely, add in the chopped chocolate and store in an airtight container.

This recipe was adapted from the Canadian Living Magazine - October 2011 Issue
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Sunday, October 2, 2011

A Winning Weekend

This weekend I was lucky enough to join so many wonderful exhibitors, sponsors, baking enthusiasts and happy, treat craved shoppers at the first Canada's Baking and Sweets Show.
The show was held at the International Center in Mississauga, Ontario and ran Friday September 30th - Sunday October 2nd and was presented by Redpath Sugar.

Walking in, we were greeted with an exquisite array of professionally decorated cakes.  I admit, I admired them probably way more than the average attendee.  Such intricate details.  How can you not marvel at the time that those must have taken!?

FABULOUS! 

Walking past those certainly made my tongue tingle and there may have even been a little drool pooling in the corners of my mouth.

Off to find some samples, I mean new friends.

I swung by and checked out Bronwen Weber (Food Network Challenge Star) at the Just Add Flour booth as she was instructing passerbyes how to create molded figures.  I chatted to her briefly, congratulated her on her past challenges and went on my merry way.


Buddy Valastro, Cake Boss, was in appearance on Sunday (the only day I didn't attend) however I did manage a quick shot with him, even if it was a cutout.


Many great exhibitors fed your cravings with an array of cookies, confections, and cupcakes. Even bagels and cheeses were to be found.
You could also find fresh breads, British fare and spicy jellies and marinades if you weren't into the sweets.

One of my favorite booths was Golda's Kitchen.  I spent a good portion of my visit in that booth, creating ideas in my head as I shopped.  I'm sure I wasn't the only one, it was PACKED both days visited.  My wallet does not thank me for stopping but my heart does.

My last stop on Saturday was the competition stage where the home baking competitions were being judged by Heather of the Cupcake Girls, Erin from the Happy Baker and Marian from Sweetopia.

I happened to have been named one of the five finalists for the blueberry muffin recipe category.
The crowd dissipated slightly so I was able to see them sample each of the entries one at a time.
10 categories in total, 5 finalists in each = sugar coma I'm sure.
It was a nail biter.

After watching them test the first 8 categories I was feeling a bit nervous. 
Recipes were simply submitted by email with ingredients and instructions - what if the test kitchens messed up, what if their ovens were hotter/colder than mine?
I patiently waited and watched as they began the blueberry muffin category.
I saw them pointing to the first plate after trying them all - unanimously they picked #1.
Who's number 1?
OH
ME!
GET THE HECK OUT!!!!

The winners of each category received a KitchenAid Artisan Stand Mixer (in metallic) and a box of wonderful items for the kitchen donated by Cuisipro.
I. Was. Ecstatic.
Never have I entered a recipe and been selected even as a finalist let alone a winner!
Great way to end my time at the show.

Thank you to all of the volunteers, exhibitors/sponsors, guests and the show producers for putting on your first event.  I am sure there are kinks to be worked out as I read many disappointing reviews about Sunday's event, but all in all I believe it was successful for everyone.
I will certainly be attending again next year and look forward to hearing more from Redpath Sugar and the shows site.


*Redpath Sugar, Canada's Baking and Sweets Show and any other party listed here was in no way part of this post, the opinions and expressions are my own*
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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Cultural Food Marriage - A Worthy Mash Up

Since its not Monday I can't call this a Mash Up Monday post even tho it is and I AM going to post it in the tab - try and stop me!

I wanted a burrito.
But I wanted to use up my chicken.
I love Mexican.
But I want to use up my cucumbers and tomatoes from the market.
I want Mexican.
No wait, I want soulvaki.
Oh I have feta.
I love Greek flavors.
Darn it....why can't my stomach/head pick one thing and stick with it!?

Eureka!
A Greek inspired burrito.
Genius. 
You'd almost think I smoke the funny green stuff with all my back and forthness (totally a word) and indecision's.
Setting the record straight - I don't, but if I did OH MAN I bet my food ideas would be even better.

This was a healthy enough meal, pretty sure I covered off all the food groups even.
A for effort and taste.
My head/stomach made the right move tonight.  I guess indecision's can work to your benefit (sometimes)
Enjoy!

I'm Listening To: Something in the Way - Nirvana

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Savory Whipped Cream

Um who says whipped cream has to be for dessert dishes only?
Its those "they" people at it again isn't it?!

Well, I'm stickin it to "them" tonight.

Where did this come from you ask?  My lack of fridge ingredients is what happened.
No sour cream, no cream cheese, no yogurt.
I needed something for a burrito dish I was preparing and for some strange reason I had an abundance of whipping cream (yet none of the others listed above, go figure).

This recipe happened to be a Greek variation but you could mix up the spices to suit your dish.
Dollop it on a cream soup perhaps?
Possibilities are endless.
Try it out!

I'm Listening to: Amber, 311

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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Magazine Recipe - Spicy Bread Alert!

I flip through myriads of foodie magazines at home, I always peruse through them at the checkout (annoying the man behind me as I hum and ha about purchasing yet another) I sometimes scribble out notes while in the doctors office (because I feel bad ripping out the pages) and yet I can honestly say with all the recipes I see on almost a daily basis I have yet to actually make any of them.

This changes when I spied a focaccia recipe in the October issue of Canadian Living yesterday.
I love all things bread.
My favorite smell is freshly baked bread steaming from the oven.
I burn my fingertips trying to be the first to taste it with a slab of butter.  And it doesn't matter how many times that happens, it will be a constant, it will never change!

Did you know that most artisan breads are best if let to rest at least 30 minutes prior to slicing?
Pffft that may totally be true but this gal doesn't wait for someone else to have the first piece!

My bread maker sits on a shelf in my kitchen collecting dust.  I like to make it by hand(ish).
This recipe peeked my interest with some bold flavors of chipotle and aged cheddar.
Sounds right up my alley!
And boy was it, burning fingers and all.

Normally my breads are mixed, risen and baked all in one day so when I realized I had to proof overnight it was a little depressing.  I hoped I wouldn't wait all night long only for it to be rock hard (ever have that happen?  I have). 
Success!  Totally worth the wait my friends.

I'm Listening To: Workin for the Weekend - Loverboy

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Monday, September 19, 2011

Autumn Cake

Farmers market season is coming to an end.
GASP
Its time to stalk up on fresh homegrown goodies my friends!
Friday we picked up tonnes of lovelies but my favorite thing this week was a bunch of parsnips.

They're related to the carrot, not like a sister, more like an aunt twice removed.  They are both root veggies, grown in the ground.  They are white, slightly sweet with a hint of a spice you may recognize - I say cardamom.

Mr. BM looked at me with a half cocked grin when I picked them up and pretended to put them in my ears to symbolize I was not listening to him when he was trying to tell me he wouldn't eat them.
Oh you'll eat them because you wont even know you are doing it!

Today I pulled them out, peeling and grating like a mad woman.
I do not own a food processor, I suspect this would have made the task easier.  They are definitely the annoying relative of the carrot - they don't shred as well. 

I was bound and determined to make a cake inspired by fall and carrots.
I think I succeeded.
The boys came home today, I handed them each a piece of cake and they thought it was carrot cake - teehee
I bet your family will enjoy this too!

I'm listening to: Change (In the House of Flies) Deftones

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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Pesto Chicken Pizza, Because SOMEONE Gave Up Pork

Mr. BM has given up pork.
GAAHHHH I KNOW!

Who in their right mind wants to give up pulled pork, pork chops, country ham, BACON??!!  BACON of all things?!
He told me he watched something on tv that made him think he should give it up.
Now, I'm all for personal choice, as long as it doesnt interfer with my meal plans.  Nobody likes a quitter.

We already don't eat a lot of red meat so now taking out the "other white meat" perplexes me slightly.
When its pizza night we have pepperoni, bacon, sometimes ham, what the heck?!  I can't use any of those anymore.
Mr. BM, I love you, really I do, but your whimsical ideas of just "stopping pork" really bugs me!  Just sayin.

Last night was pizza night.  My usual ingredients cast aside like an old toy a child no longer cares about.  I have to come up with a new toy.
Enter chicken.
Now I like chicken on my pizza but the boys usually turn their noses up at it because theirs has BACON on it and mine has spinach.  Not this time, or any other time from now on, you'll have no more pork.
Thank your father kid.
I didnt miss it, I love chicken.  And what I love more than that is pesto and chicken.
DING
Its going on the pizza, yes indeed it is.
So goodbye porkalicious pies, the other white mean now invades your territory, drops its flag and owns it.

PETA better not infect his head or else we are all in trouble!

Enjoy

I'm Listening to: Fix You - Coldplay
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Sunday, September 11, 2011

Buttercreams and Birthdays

I'm no expert when it comes to cake decorating.
I did take a course when I was about 14 so that totally makes me professional doesn't it?

I tell myself it does so don't burst my bubble.
I also like to hide the fact that it was nearly 20 years ago that I took said course when I cake talk.
So why not go into business?
PFFFFT
Because until recently I didn't know a few things I'm about to share with you here:
  1. Never knew how people made such wonderful smooth fondant colours (when I try to mix I get streaks)
  2. Just learned about frozen buttercream transfers
And #3 is probably the most embarrassing for any true cake connoisseur
I have only ever made one type of buttercream because I didn't know other methods existed!
Now in my defence it WAS 20 years ago I took this course and it was only the beginner one at that.  I didn't want to make cakes professionally, I just wanted to make my parents a pretty anniversary cake. 

Since I am now hooked into researching, blog reading, fb fan page stalking and communicating with some wonderful people out there in the food world I've since found out that I have limited knowledge (or rather I should say experience) in the art of cakes.
One of my go to sites is Sweetapolita.  Amazeballs!  You should check it out if you haven't already!
This is where I learned there were other methods of making buttercream.

Since I had been asked by the mother of my good friend Muffy (no, she is not a stripper) if I would make her birthday cake I was on a mission to try something new.  Now, most people suggest (me included) that you should never try something new for others but the way I see it is I had time to mess up so why not?
I knew her family had enjoyed Fred's cake the weekend before but I know my friend, she likes vanilla not chocolate so I needed something different.
I saw this beautiful cake from Rosie (Sweetapolita) and I knew I had to mimic the look.
Dark Chocolate & Raspberry Buttercream Cake with Chocolate Ganache
Swiss buttercream!
What?  What the heck is that?
Its a new fandangled buttercream I have never made (or heard of) using egg whites.
So I sent Rosie a msg on her Facebook page and she gave me encouraging words: "You can do it, Katrin! You'll be amazed at how easy and incredibly yummy it is! :)"
She was right.  It was yummy and it was easy!
Here's my version of the cake


French Vanilla Bean with a raspberry (traditional buttercream) filling and a lemon Swiss buttercream for the outside!
I admit her picture is better but I refuse to say hers tastes better, if anything they are each wonderful!

To make Lemon Swiss Buttercream (I revised Rosie's version):
5 large egg whites
1 c. superfine granulated sugar - I took regular sugar and pulsed it a bit in my magic bullet
2 c. softened, cut into cubes
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
zest of 2 lemons
2 tsp. or so juice from the lemon
Pinch of salt
Add egg whites and sugar to the bowl of your stand mixer and place it over a simmering pot of water. Whisking constantly, until the sugar has completely dissolved and the egg whites are hot.
Remove and with the whisk attachment, begin to whip until the mixture is thick, glossy, and cool. Switch over to paddle attachment and, while mixing on medium speed continuously, add softened butter in chunks until incorporated and mix until it has reached a silky smooth texture.
(Its possible it will curdle, especially with the addition of the butter, don't worry keep it going, it will take form soon, promise!). Add vanilla, lemon zest and juice along with the salt, mix well.
It will store in the refrigerator for about a week in an airtight container or you could freeze it (so I am told).  Either way you are going to want to let it come to room temp and then whip until it goes back to its fluffy self.

Next time, I am gonna try my hand at Italian Buttercream!
What the heck is that?!

I'm listening to: Party Rock Anthem - LMAFO
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Thursday, September 8, 2011

Chicken Milanese

Flat chicken.  That's what Little Ugh calls it.
By no means is he referring to taste.  He thinks its funny that people cut the breast and then pound it out to make it super thin.  What does he know, he's just a kid.

Because son, it takes less time to cook (but more time to prepare), because it can be breaded and fried or baked and still be juicy, but mostly because you didn't do your homework and since I can't beat you I might as well take it out on the chicken right?
I could have said that. maybe. probably. I did.

Normally when I pound out chicken or veal or pork for that matter I have been known to top it with red sauce and cheese for a scallopini.  Today there will be none of that.
Simple flavors are big flavors!
Enjoy

I'm listening to: We Didn't Start the Fire - Billy Joel

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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Goulash - Take One

Remember when I said I don't like soup?  Ignore it for this post.

Mr. BM reminded me when I made this dish that I don't eat soup, I don't like soup and I complain all the time when he pulls out a can of soup.
Actually, I believe his exact words were "Um, isn't this like opening a can of Chunky soup"
OHHH EMMM GEEE it's not even like a can of waste!

Dammit.  I might like soup. Sorta.

Little background as to why I want so terribly to master this dish:
It reminds me of a time that was simple.  High School.
We, meaning a few delinquents plus me, had a local hangout that no one else seemed to go to.
It was this little cafe about a 10 minute walk from school in the "village".  I have no idea why or even how we ended up there in the first place but it quickly became our haven.
They served home made pastries, they had a teeny lunch menu and a back room that we took over every day to chat and play cards while we drank tea.  Apparently I have always loved good food, even as a teen!
We were on tabs (which I always paid on pay week), and became good friends with the owners Penny and Richard.  A lovely couple with 2 kids.  Richard was the pastry chef, Penny, I'm not really sure she could bake or cook but she played a mean game of asshole!
Every other day when I could afford it I would order the same thing.  A bowl of goulash with rye bread and butter.
Ever since then I have craved Richards goulash.  I have yet to eat anything comparable, even in my own kitchen.
This is phase one of goulash conquering.  It was good.  It wasn't Richards.  Onward I go - phase two to commence in  few weeks once the "I'm pretty sure that's soup" comments subside.
And yes, I suppose its soup. 

I'm Listening to: Bulls on Parade - Rage Against the Machine

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Saturday, September 3, 2011

Nectarine French Toast Casserole

Hey Anthony Bourdain, you suck big obnoxious donkey hooves.  There, I said it.
Paula Deen may cook some high fat, super sweet meals and desserts but you don't have to eat them, its called choices.

Today (well actually last night) I CHOOSE to make a Paula Deen dish.
This was the first one ever and this morning while it was delishishly baking in my oven I was doing a happy dance so that I could burn off some extra calories before I devoured it.

Amy over at Crumbs in my Mustachio posted a link for the Baked French Toast Casserole yesterday and we both started creating variations. 
Our plan of attack over a facebook conversation:
Me, nectarines and hazelnuts
Amy, well you'll just have to hop on over to her site in the next couple of days to find out :)

Now I have to admit to you that I am not a huge fan of casseroles, I've never actually made one in all my years of cooking.
Throwing things randomly into a pan and tossing it into the oven doesn't symbolize love of cooking to me.
This dish although being called a casserole didn't seem to fit the mold so to speak. 
Until I added in a few extra ingredients.

I will make this again you can count on that but maybe not for a few months to let my body loose a few pounds.

I'm Listening to: Pick Up Man - Joe Diffie

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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Toasting Hazelnuts 101

Here's me walking around aimlessly at our bulk food store in search of chopped hazelnuts

Photo courtesy of http://www.jbroadbentphotoblog.com/2010/10/i-am-finally-coming-up-for-air.html
They don't have any.
WHAT!?

Guess I'll have to figure out how to get the skins off and chop em myself.
Easy!
I'll tell you too.

Toss your nuts on a baking sheet in a single layer. 
Resist the temptation to add oil or grease the sheet - its not needed.


Place in your oven at 275F for about 20-25 minutes.
You are going to want to toss them around every 5-7 minutes so they don't burn.
Remove and let cool slightly.
Place them into a tea towel and rub back and forth - this will help to remove the skins.

To chop them, place into a large Ziploc bag and pound with the side of a meat tenderizer.
Easy peasy and super tasty!
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Chocolate Hazelnut Mousse Cake

Hey guess what?!
I made a cake and actually got paid for it!!!
That usually doesn't happen, no congrats needed.
If anything I simply request the cost of extra special ingredients that I may otherwise not have on hand.

I'm not going to take email requests so don't bother.
I suck really, there are WAY better cakesters out there and I just like to make them for myself,  family and the occasional friend (and only special ones at that, like Fred, who turned 65.  He's the father of  one of my peeps!). 

Pretty sure I have a case of the OCD's when it comes to caking decorating.  I get really frustrated when my piped stars are different sizes, when fondant cracks or when my cake breaks a little.  I could NEVER decorate cakes for a living, either that or there would be a lot of waste in my belly!
I give decorators mad props for their creativity and understand why they are so expensive.

So when I tell you this took a mere 4 hours it should amaze you!  Actually, it only takes that long because you need to cool your cake and chill your mousse completely and then assemble.  Stages people, stages.
3 layers of cake, 2 layers of hazelnut mousse topped with a ganache then surrounded by chocolate and hazelnut rolled wafers!  (thanks Jo for the inspiration)

I wish I could tell you how wonderful it was, I didn't eat it (although I tasted the mousse and the cake and the ganache separately and they were all wonderful!) but I did hear that there was NOTHING left over, not even crumbs - that's gotta tell ya something.
And if that doesn't maybe this will


How bout this one?



Yup
De Licious!
Enjoy

I'm Listening to: Paper Planes - M.I.A

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Monday, August 29, 2011

Banana Boston Cream Pie? No, Cake

Ever grab a cookbook you got as a present years before and realize you've never actually made ANYTHING from it?
Actually, I am pretty sure I only thumbed through this particular one a handful of times and then set it back on my rack. (I have A LOT of cookbooks)

I swear those books chirp at each other behind my back, hoping, wishing and praying for me to pick one of them up, use and abuse them.
"today's gonna be the day, she just HAS to pick me"
"not a chance, she's craving pasta, its for sure me"

Well, today  From Emeril's Kitchen, its your time to shine!
Your Banana Boston Cream Pie peaked my interest, I will dust your pages with flour and leave thumbprints of batter so you know I was there :)

Alright, back to seriousness.
I really thought this would be a great dessert.
It was, although the title lies, its a cake and even the description suggests it is more of a banana sponge - more lies, its a cakier version of a banana bread - not that I am complaining! 

If you like bananas, chocolate and pastry cream you will enjoy this - trust me.
I however screwed up my pastry cream, I didnt let it thicken to the optimum viscosity before cooling so it was a bit runny, still tasty, but not what it should have been  *note for next time, let thicken a little longer on the stove*
Enjoy!

I'm Listening To: Friends - Whodini Thanks Tobias!!

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Monday, August 22, 2011

Squash - The Veggie I Love to Hate

I confess, I have never eaten pattypans before.
Confession numero deux, I am not a fan of the squash family.
One more - I'm still not hooked.

Last year we were on a mission at the weekly farmers market to pick out veggies or fruits that we have never had before (or haven't had in a long time).  We are still on that kick, although now we are getting into things that I likely would NEVER pick out.
But in order to maintain our introduction of new foods to our "healthy" lifestyle mantra I have to bite the bullet, grind my teeth and find ways of making these items as appealing as possible

They were ok, the flavors added I think made me enjoy it more than I would if it were just roasted with salt and pep.  Please don't turn your nose up because I do, I bet if you like them you'd like this recipe (I don't even like sweet potatoes).  Maybe I need more one on one time with the pattypan to become a lover?
If you're a fan you should try this method, you might enjoy it more than I.  The boys ate them all up.

Side note, I think they are really pretty looking fruits.  Wait, it does have seeds so its a fruit right?

I'm Listening to: Party in the USA - Miley Cyrus (does that make me lame?)

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Sunday, August 21, 2011

Award Winning Blueberry Muffins

Its Sunday.
Its lazy.
Its raining.

What goes better with rainy Sundays than some freshly baked muffins? 
I suppose a piping hot cup of tea would work too, or your bed where you lie watching movies all day, only moving to relieve yourself.  (did I just say that?  Man, I wish I could be THAT lazy)

Sadly, if its not raining too hard we're playing baseball this afternoon.  Since its likely that this Sunday isn't about to take to shape as I hoped, maybe a special treat to get me into the mood of motivation might do the trick.
It worked. 

You cant bake in a dirty kitchen so the first chore was to tidy up (not that it was messy).  I did the few dishes in the sink which then turned to windexing the fridge which then moved me into the bathroom to do the mirror and vanity.  Why stop there?  Clean the toilet, oh, maybe I should sweep and mop?
WAITTTTTT
MOM, WHERE'S BREAKFAST??
ooops.
Told you the thought of making muffins would get ya motivated :)

This recipe I've adapted from Canadian Living Magazine many years ago.  It was a simple batter that I always add other ingredients to make them different.

I used 2 leftover really ripe peaches and some frozen (fresh) blueberries I had from the market.
I love peaches and blueberry combo - bursts of flavor all over the place!

Enjoy
(Heather from the Cupcake Girls did - she even said, in front of an audience, it was outstanding - best she'd ever had!)
I'm Listening To: Sunday Morning - Maroon 5

This recipe has been selected as a finalist and won first place in the Canada's Baking and Sweets Show Home Baking Recipe Competition
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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Corn on the Cob - BBQ Style

You know what I don't like about corn?
The dental floss look once you're done eating it.

It never fails - I could husk and pull those tricky buggers till my hair turns grey and there will always be those stringy little leftovers in my teeth.
Great look.  Really.

I have to tell you though, when bbqing them I didn't have that problem.  They just seemed to pull away like a kid breaking away from his mothers grip to run to the candy aisle at the grocery store.
GONE.

This is a great way to stay out of the kitchen on hot summer days, and even easier clean up.

All you need to do is to place your ears of corn (unhusked, unshucked un anything) in your sink, completely submerge them in cold water for at least 30 minutes.
Heat your BBQ to a medium high heat and place them on the grill.
That's it.
Oh, wait, you need to turn them every few minutes.
Grill for about 20 minutes.


Once you take them off, let stand about 2 or 3 minutes to let the steam inside subside or else you are going to burn your fingers!

Peel back and enjoy with some homemade herb butter MMMMMM - those pesky strings won't even be a problem!


I'm Listening To: Here for a Good Time (Not a Long Time) - Trooper
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Sunday, August 14, 2011

Mom, This Post's For You!

Remembering what desserts your mother made as a child can bring back wonderful memories.
I recall my mom making a dessert only a handful of times.
She called it the "1000 layer cake".  Better known as a napoleon or mille feuille.

I know I asked her to make it more times than she actually did.
Being told "it takes a long time to prepare" didn't seem fair as a child.  Who cares?  That's what weekends are for right?
As an adult who now bakes, hearing my mom tell me she used to make the pastry herself makes all the difference in the world.
Forgiven.
You don't need to make the puffy layers yourself.  There are many grocery stores that carry frozen puff pastry which taste just as wonderful.
I usually have a box in the freezer myself.

So when I brought a bunch of peaches home from the market on Friday I knew I wanted to create something fancy shmancy, somewhat adult, and I remembered my moms 1000 layer cake.

Mission: find a suitable jam type filling that uses the peaches in a manor I am not accustomed to.

Mission accomplished!
I made a compote of sorts with brown sugar, a touch of honey and balsamic vinegar.
This paired with the pastry cream that had a hint of Grand Marnier worked in between the layers of flaky pastry.

Thanks mom for introducing me to this dessert many many years ago.
I only hope this will make you proud!

I'm listening to: Peaches - The Presidents of the United States of America
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Friday, August 12, 2011

Central Pizzeria - A Worthy Review

When walking up to Central Pizzeria in Ft. Erie it reminded me of my semi-rural hometown. 
Small brick building that screams dive.
A scant amount of tables scattered around, a cooler with a selection of your standard sodas and minimal decor. 
A minimalistic menu of pastas, pizzas and sub sandwiches.
Friendly banter between the cook and the police officer who pops in for a meal to go.
Homey.  Comfortable. 

But don't judge a book by its cover!
If you look even further into the location you will notice a steady stream of clientele, phones ringing off the hook, take out orders flying out the doors, not to mention the awards for Best Pizza in 2010, multiple "Reader Selection" winner plaques as well as framed "thank yous" for sponsoring local sports leagues hanging off the walls.

What can you determine from a neighbourhood joint that's been open since 1983?
The food must be decent right?  To say the least!

Antonitta (Ma as the boys call her) and her husband Carmine started the business after immigrating to Canada from Potenza, Italy and gave up their Italian bakery years prior. 
Their two grown sons, Mike and Vito also share in the daily life at the restaurant and have since '83 or so.
A true family business!

I sat around and joked after my meal with Mike who said any questions I had should be directed to the matriarch of the family - Ma.

I didn't want to have an "interview" with Antonitta, I just wanted to pick her brain, find out what keeps her going and maybe sneak a peak into their family recipes!
 

"I love to cook, that's why I do it" she says. "I'm here from about 1pm to about 11pm every day"
One of the sweetest, hard working woman I have encountered.
A doll really! 
We chatted for nearly half an hour, talking about Italy, cooking, cannolis  - while the boys did the rest of the work ;)

There are many homemades here which will bring me back my next visit but the reason for our stop - the Wednesday night special!
A whoppin bowl of spaghetti, homemade sauce and 3 giant meatballs along with a side salad and garlic bread for a mere $6.50!!?!!
A true Italian red gravy and juicy tender meatballs.
I was in heaven.



When I asked Mike for some chili flakes he proceeded to give me a warning about the contents of the shaker.
"They're homemade, they aren't like what you're likely used to so go easy"


He was right, I was wrong - please pass the water.

I desperately and forcefully finished every last bite - I had wanted to bring home a doggie bag but it was there, staring at me, my taste buds urging me to just keep going....I went home bloated, satisfied, happy.

 If you are ever in the area I have to urge you to stop in for a quick bite.  Say hi to the fam for me too!
And try the homemade manicotti for me - let me know how it is.

Central Pizzeria & Restaurant is located at 161 Central Ave. Fort Erie, ON, Canada.


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