Wednesday, September 28, 2011

When in doubt just add apple!


Jane's enjoying lots of different flavours these days.  A big winner lately is beet and apple puree.  She likes beet on it's own, but I added the apple feeling a little doubtful since that's how I get most of her veggies down. I've learned always to have apple and pear puree in the freezer ready to add to anything she's not too keen on.  The only thing she absolutely (she actually gagged) doesn't like is cauliflower.  We'll try again in a few weeks.

How was your weekend?  We did a lot of entertaining, starting with my cousin and her husband from South Africa on Thursday for Spaghetti and Meatballs, and on Saturday Meg and and Dan for Apple Stuffed Pork Chops. 

Tomorrow I'm having a lunchtime potluck with a bunch of mom's and their babies.  I'm thinking I'll keep it simple and make sandwiches since they're easy to serve and things could get chaotic. 

Friday, September 23, 2011

Pumpkin Hummus


It's the first day of fall! It kind of already felt like fall before today with that chill in the air, did  you find that?  I think it also has something to do with the kids going back to school right after the long weekend.  Maybe that's why I decided to give my usual hummus a fall twist last weekend. I found the recipe in Food and Wine's Autumn issue.  I really enjoyed the cumin in it.  Enjoy!

Ingredients:

1 Can (540 ml) chickpeas, rinsed and drained well
2 Garlic cloves, minced
Juice from 2 lemons
1/4 Cup of water
3 Tbs. of tahini
1/2 Cup of unsweetened pumpkin puree
1 Tsp of cumin
3/4 Tsp of salt
1/4 Tsp of cayenne or to taste
1/3 Cup of olive oil

 For the hummus:

Place the chickpeas, garlic, lemon juice, water and tahini  in a food processor.  Whirl until smooth.  Add pumpkin and seasonings.  Whirl.  With motor running, drizzle in oil until blended.  Taste and add more lemon juice or cayenne if needed.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Our Family


Look guys it's our first family portrait!  Thanks to my sister in-law Vicky for capturing it.

By the way, that's my current favourite dress I'm wearing.  I got it in the spring at BCBG for 75% off!  Sorry, you can't get the same one the sale was last spring ; )

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Quinoa Stufed Peppers


 You can pretty much stuff a pepper with anything.  Pasta, cheese, rice, meat, or quinoa like I did here. 

Lucy, my neighbour who lives across the street, dropped off about 10 lovely bell peppers.  She didn't know that I had just bought a bunch at the No Frills Dollar Sale (my peppers didn't work out in my garden this year). So I grilled and marinaded most of them to have ready for sandwiches and pizza, but I decided to save a couple for dinner.  I basically made a Quinoa salad, stuffed them with the salad, and cooked until heated through, about 15-20 minutes in a 350F oven.

Ingredients:

Quinoa
Olives
Feta cheese
Red onion
Asparagus
Cherry tomatoes
Extra virgin olive oil
Lemon juice

I made the whole package of quinoa because I love having it to snack on all week.  It's great pretty much along side anything.

For the peppers:

Preheat oven t o 350F.

Cook quinoa as per package instructions.  Drizzle some good extra virgin olive oil, add lemon juice, add all ingredients, and mix.  Once quinoa salad is made stuff your peppers and cook in  the oven.  You're done!  Now how easy is that?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Salty Caramel Chocolate Cake

 
 I asked Meg to send me the recipe for the amazing birthday cake she made me last month.  I realized two things when I saw the recipe: one, this recipe looks complicated and she's a really good friend for making me this amazing cake.  Two, I'll never make this and just hope Meg will make it again for me. 
 
 For the cake:

2 Cups sugar
1 3/4 Cups of all-purpose flour
3/4 Cups of cocoa
1 1/2 Tsp each of baking soda and baking powder
1 Tsp salt
2 eggs
1 Cup of milk
1/2 Cup of vegetable oil
2 Tsp of vanilla
1 Cup of boiling water
 
1. Heat oven to 350F. Grease 3 8" or 9" round baking pans
2. Sift together first 6 ingredients (all the dry ingredients).
3. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla. Mix until batter is smooth (they say to use an electric mixer but I don't have one so I just use a hand whisk or a fork)
4. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin)
5. Pour batter into bans and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
6. Cool for 10 minutes, then remove and let fully cool.
 
Salted Caramel:
 
1/2 Cup of cream
1 Tsp fleur de sel
1/4 Cup of. water
1 Cup of sugar
2 Tbsp of corn syrup
1/4 Cup of sour cream
 
1. In a saucepan combine the cream and fleur de sel. Bring to a simmer over very low heat until the salt is dissolved.
2. Meanwhile, keeping a close eye on the cream mixture so it doesn't burn, in a medium saucepan combine the water, the sugar, and corn syrup, stir them together. Cook over high heat until mixture is dark amber in colour (6-8 minutes). Remove from heat and let cool for 1 minute
3. Add the cream mixture to the sugar mixture. Whisk in the sour cream. Let the caramel cool to room temperature, then transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate until you are ready to assemble the cake.
 
Whipped Caramel Ganache Frosting
 
1 Pound dark chocolate (60-70% cacao), chopped
1 1/2 Cups of cream
1/4 Cup of water
1 Cup of sugar
2 Tbsp corn syrup
2 Cups of (4 sticks) unsalted butter, soft but cool, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
 
1. Put the chocolate in a large heatproof bowl and set aside
2. Bring the cream to a simmer over very low heat
3. Meanwhile, keeping a close ee on the cream so it doesn't burn, in a medium saucepan combine the water, the sugar, and corn syrup, stir them together. Cook over high heat until mixture is deep amber in colour (6-8 minutes). Remove from heat and let the caramel cool for 1 minute
4. Add the cream to the caramel and stir to combine. Stir slowly for 2 minutes, then pour the caramel over the chocolate. Let the caramel and chocolate sit for 1 minute, then slowly stir the chocolate and caramel mixture in a circle until the chocolate is completely melted. Let the mixture cool.
5. Using electric mixer (with paddle attachments) mix on low for 3-4 minutes.  Increase the speed to medium-high and gradually add the butter, beating until thoroughly incorporated. Beat on high speed until the mixture is fluffy (Note: I don't have an electric mixture and was able to do this by hand with a spatula and whisk. I had trouble getting it to the perfect consistency but when I put it in the fridge for 30 minutes it worked out).
 
Assemble the cake
 
Place 1 cake layer on a serving platter, spread 1/4 c. of the caramel over the top. Let the caramel soak into the cake, then spread 3/4 c. of the ganache frosting over the caramel. Sprinkle with 1 tsp of fleur de sel. Repeat with 2nd layer of cake. Then top with 3rd layer. Spread with caramel and. Crumb coat the cake and put in the fridge for 15 minutes.  Frost the sides and top with remaining frosting. Garnish with a sprinkle of fleur de sel.
 
Crumb Coat: is a very thin layer of frosting applied to the cake to keep the light crumbs suspended so they won't appear in the final layer of frosting. A crumb coat should be refrigerated for at least 15 minutes prior to applying the next frosting layer. (Note: I had never heard of this but they explain all these terms at the beginning and so I tried this and I found it worked really well)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Filet of Cod with Prosciutto and Bok Choy


I found a version of this recipe in Bon Appetite magazine using asparagus.  I had some bok choy I needed to use up soon, so I simply switched the ingredients. Feel free to do the same with what you might have hanging around in the fridge.  If you're using asparagus I would steam them first and transfer them to a bowl of ice water to let cool.

I've made a few different versions of this recipe.  It's nice and easy.  Most of the time I'll add spinach, garlic, ginger, sesame oil, red pepper and lime juice for an Asian flavour.  It's great served over top some fluffy rice to soak up all the juices. 


Ingredients:

Bok Choy
1 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 Tsp of salt
2 Tbs of butter
1 Tbs of olive oil
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 Tsp grated lemon peel
1/2 Tsp ground black pepper
 2 Cod fillets, pinbones removed
4  Paper-thin prosciutto slices, halved lengthwise

For the fish:

Mash garlic and salt to paste in small bowl. Melt butter with 1 tablespoon of oil in small nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add garlic paste; stir until pale golden, about 1 minute. Stir in lemon juice, peel, and black pepper. Remove from heat. 

Preheat oven to 500F. Cut out 2 squares of parchment paper large enough to hold the fish. Place 1 parchment square on work surface. Drizzle 1 teaspoon oil over parchment. Place 1 cod fillet in centre of parchment. Spoon half of the garlic-lemon mixture over fish. Cover with half of the bok choy spears. Arrange 2 slices of prosciutto over top. Fold 2 opposite sides of parchment in over fish and vegetables, then fold in remaining 2 sides, enclosing completely. Fasten parchment edges together with toothpicks to seal packet. Place on large rimmed baking sheet. Repeat procedure with remaining parchment, oil, fish, garlic-lemon mixture, bok choy, and prosciutto. Bake fish until just opaque in center (parchment will turn golden brown), about 12 minutes. Transfer 1 parchment packet to individual plate. Open parchment packets and serve. You can be prepare 6 hours ahead and refrigerate.


Thursday, September 8, 2011

Homemade Baby Food

I'm really enjoying making food for Baby Jane.  There's something that just feels so good about knowing exactly what's going into your baby's pureed carrots, and that's just carrots and water.  No preservatives.


If you don't have the right tools I can see it being a real chore.  Never mind these specialty products like the Baby Bullet.  All you need is a hand blender or food processor. 


It's also important to have a good size steamer.  You can find these at any store where they sell kitchen stuff.  I have a couple, but for Jane's food though, I'm using a big pasta pot with a strainer because I can steam a lot of veggies all at once.  It's key to make big batches so you`re not making baby food every day.


I would also suggest having a good knife.  To me this is the most important kitchen tool period.  Not just for making baby food, but for all food preparation.  There is nothing worse than struggling to cut a big butternut squash with a cheap blunt knife.

I did however pick up a few specialty baby products.  I bought BPA free ice cube trays with lids, as well as individual cubes for freezing baby food.  The individual cubes are convenient but you`ll need several on hand because they`re not as easy to pop the food out.  I recommend the high quality ice cube trays.  That way you can freeze the food and dump the cubes into freezer bag for storage.


I also bought a spoon that holds the puree.  You can squeeze out the right amount right onto the spoon as you feed.  It`s great for feeding on the go. 

Long Weekend

 The weather wasn't the best for our family vacation but we still managed to enjoy ourselves.  We were so thankful for the screened in porch where we spent most of our time.


We also went into a nearby town for lunch and shopping.  I just love this photo of Jane's feet in the air.  Babies are so hilariously flexible.  

 And we enjoyed meals outside.  Checkout the mountain of spaghetti on our plates!  The fresh air makes you work up an appetite I guess. 

The last long weekend of the summer has come and gone, the kids are back at school and the weather has turned cold.  It's like somebody flipped a switch and fall is here!  I'm hoping we still have a few more hot summer days though.  I hope for at least one more day where I can wake up and walk down to the lake with Jane.  I know you can do that in the fall but there's something great about throwing on a pair of shorts and knowing you don't need a sweater at 7:00 in the morning.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread


This was the first banana bread I've made I think in 15 years.  You wouldn't know that judging by all the over-ripe bananas I keep in the freezer. 


I picked up the habit of stock piling bananas from my mom.  It has always been a joke how my mom used to throw any bananas in the fridge for this banana bread she was going to bake, but never did.  Like me my mom doesn't care much for baking so we would end up with quite the collection. 

Once I moved into my first  apartment with Meg I did the same thing; however, Meg's a baker so she put them to good use.  And that's why I called her with a few questions before I began.  Baking is so different from cooking and I find it's easy to have a flop. 

Here is the recipe I followed.  I added a generous 1/4 cup of dark chocolate chips.

Friday, September 2, 2011

It's the weekend!



What are you all doing this weekend?  The three of us are off to a cottage for the long weekend.  It'll be our first family trip!  Does anybody have any good cottage recipes to share?  I would usually have a better idea of what we're going to eat, but instead I'm been writing the endless list of all the things I need to pack for Jane.  She is not a light packer!

I might make this dip to have while sunning ourselves on the dock.  My friend Beth made this for two cottage trips I've been on with her.  I think it's mango, red onion, cilantro, black beans, tomato and lime... am I missing anything Beth?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

French Toast


I was dreaming of this fluffy, eggy, goodness for some time.  I'm not sure what took me so long to make it, maybe it's because if you want really good french toast you need to have the perfect stale bread left to make it.