January 29, 2008

it's a marshmallow world!

last night we got a pretty good dumping of snow, enough to close schools anyway. just before lunch seth and i took a walk to our local grocer in the snow. i think seth hit me with a snowball every 10 feet or so. he's loving the snow that's for sure! it got me thinking... how can i make snowballs to eat...? i mean, i can probably make a sugar or butter cookie and roll, cut and ice them, but i think i've had enough of that for at least a couple weeks after ella's party. it's too cold for ice cream rolled in coconut (well, many would argue about that...). but what about rice krispies rolled in coconut??? while we were at the store i picked up a box of rice krispies, a bag of marshmallows, white chocolate, and sweetened coconut.
seth was very excited to make them with me, until his buddy finn came over and then i was left on my own to create. woe is i.
my first thought was to make the snowballs, temper the white chocolate, then dip and roll. then i just figured what the heck, why not just do it the easy way for once!
white chocolate rice krispie snowballs
1/4 cup butter
1 package of mini marshmallows
1 cup white chocolate
1 tsp vanilla extract
10 cups rice krispies (or other similar cereal)
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut (could be more, i didn't measure)
line 2 cookie sheets with wax paper.
melt the butter over medium-low heat in a large pot or saucepan. you can do this in the microwave, too, in a microwaveable bowl, but i almost never use ours.
add marshmallows and white chocolate and stir utnil completely melted, remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
with buttered hands (i didn't care too much for getting my hands all gooey... ick, and stick!lol!) grab some mixtue and form a ball. roll into coconut. let completely cool and enjoy.

January 28, 2008

lemon meringue pie

it's time for another daring baker's challenge!first, a big thanks to jen over at canadian baker for a great challenge. and second, the challenge part for me was time management. i had planned on baking the pie in time to take to granny's for dinner on the 6th. you'd think someone my age would know exactly how long it takes to do something, even after reading the recipe 20times, but no. i was off by 20 minutes and so we were 20 minutes late leaving for granny's house. o well.

after reading that many bakers were having problems with "weeping" pies, i was a little worried, but everything game together quite nicely. i separated my eggs, cracking them into one bowl and then moving the clean whites into the bowl of my mixer one at a time. squeezed 4 lemons through the sieve. whipped up the egg whites to beautiful stiff, glossy peaks. my mixer whipped so much meringue it was like a mountain of snow ontop! and just to be different i smoothed out the meringue like a big snowball pie.

the pie travelled to new westminster on my lap, nice and warm, and after a beautiful dinner (food almost always tastes better when someone else makes it!) it was time to cut into the pie. my thoughts on the pie is pretty simple. i'd use half the dough so it's not as thick and browns quicker, and i'd use less lemon juice. i love the taste of fresh lemons, but it was just a little too tart.

i think because of my time missmanagement i wasn't able to wait quite long enough for the curd to fully set and that's why it's all lopsided. at least it wasn't weepy. everyone was quite impressed at the height of my meringue.

don't forget to check out the other daring bakers' pies!

Lemon Meringue Pie
Makes one 10-inch (25 cm) pie
For the Crust:
¾ cup (180 mL) cold butter; cut into ½-inch (1.2 cm) pieces
2 cups (475 mL) all-purpose flour
¼ cup (60 mL) granulated sugar
¼ tsp (1.2 mL) salt
⅓ cup (80 mL) ice water
For the Filling:
2 cups (475 mL) water
1 cup (240 mL) granulated sugar
½ cup (120 mL) cornstarch
5 egg yolks, beaten
¼ cup (60 mL) butter
¾ cup (180 mL) fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp (15 mL) lemon zest
1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla extract
For the Meringue:
5 egg whites, room temperature
½ tsp (2.5 mL) cream of tartar
¼ tsp (1.2 mL) salt
½ tsp (2.5 mL) vanilla extract
¾ cup (180 mL) granulated sugar

For the Crust: Make sure all ingredients are as cold as possible. Using a food processor or pastry cutter and a large bowl, combine the butter, flour, sugar and salt. Process or cut in until the mixture resembles coarse meal and begins to clump together. Sprinkle with water, let rest 30 seconds and then either process very briefly or cut in with about 15 strokes of the pastry cutter, just until the dough begins to stick together and come away from the sides of the bowl. Turn onto a lightly floured work surface and press together to form a disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least 20 minutes.
Allow the dough to warm slightly to room temperature if it is too hard to roll. On a lightly floured board (or countertop) roll the disk to a thickness of ⅛ inch (.3 cm). Cut a circle about 2 inches (5 cm) larger than the pie plate and transfer the pastry into the plate by folding it in half or by rolling it onto the rolling pin. Turn the pastry under, leaving an edge that hangs over the plate about ½ inch (1.2 cm). Flute decoratively. Chill for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Line the crust with foil and fill with metal pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Carefully remove the foil and continue baking for 10 to 15 minutes, until golden. Cool completely before filling.

For the Filling: Bring the water to a boil in a large, heavy saucepan. Remove from the heat and let rest 5 minutes. Whisk the sugar and cornstarch together. Add the mixture gradually to the hot water, whisking until completely incorporated.
Return to the heat and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until the mixture comes to a boil. The mixture will be very thick. Add about 1 cup (240 mL) of the hot mixture to the beaten egg yolks, whisking until smooth. Whisking vigorously, add the warmed yolks to the pot and continue cooking, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in butter until incorporated. Add the lemon juice, zest and vanilla, stirring until combined. Pour into the prepared crust. Cover with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming on the surface, and cool to room temperature.

For the Meringue: Preheat the oven to 375ºF (190ºC). Using an electric mixer beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar, salt and vanilla extract until soft peaks form. Add the sugar gradually, beating until it forms stiff, glossy peaks. Pile onto the cooled pie, bringing the meringue all the way over to the edge of the crust to seal it completely. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden. Cool on a rack. Serve within 6 hours to avoid a soggy crust.

January 20, 2008

the tea party

ella said she wanted to have a tea party for her birthday. immediatly i thought mad hatter. i began my search for games the mad hatter, white rabbit and doormouse would have played. indoor croquet was not an option, we just don't have the room. there wasn't much out there for 7 and 8 year olds, most of the ideas i found were too old, so i stuck to the basics... musical teacups, simon says, and best decorated hat.

food was easy to figure out.

classic cucumber sandwiches and mini loaves of banana bread

sugar cookies and fruit

i always do chocolate dipped strawberries, and it's never a tea party without tea (frozen strawberry daquari mix mixed with peach grape sparkling juice- heart ice cubes from ikea!)

the cake turned out okay, i chose to make a vanilla sponge cake, swapping out the vanilla extract for strawberry extract, with strawberry cream cheese icing. i was mildly dissappointed in the final result, although the kids didn't complain so i really shouldn't either. just wasn't perfect.

after 3 hours of entertaining and smiling and laughing, i needed a drink. i made a stubbly beaver. mmmmm.

stubbly beaver

1 ounce vodka
1 ounce irish cream
1 ounce butterscotch schnappes
3-4 ice cubes
add each ingredient over ice, stir and enjoy.

January 19, 2008

happy birthday ella!

happy 8th birthday to our princess ella!


i'm too pooped after entertaining 12 girls and seth for 3 hours to blog about our amazing day, hopefully i'll have time tomorrow.

January 15, 2008

sweet cornbread

whenever i make soup, i like to make either buscuits or cornbread. during the time when we didn't have a printer i wrote out every recipe and this sweet cornbread is one of them. i can't remember which site i found it on, so i can't give the thank yous i should. i made them tonight to go with my roasted fall vegetable soup. it goes great with the soup and is exceptional with chilli. the next time i make it i think i'll add an extra egg to it in hopes that the end result isn't so crumbly.
sweet cornbread
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup cornmeal
5 tbsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup whole milk
1/3 cup canola oil
1 egg, lightly beaten
preheat oven to 400F. lightly grease an 8 or 9" square pan, or line a muffin pan- set aside.
whisk dry ingredients and form a well in the centre and add milk, oil, and egg. stir until just combined- small bits of flour is okay.
pour batter into prepared pan or muffin tin and bake 24-30 mins for square pan, 15-18 minutes for muffins, or until slightly brown and knife inserted into the centre comes out clean. best served on the day they're baked.

January 07, 2008

strawberry cake test

ella has been asking for a strawberry cake for quite some time now. for some reason i haven't been able to find a real strawberry cake recipe. the ones i have found are either shortcake or "take your white cake mix and add a box of strawberry flavoured jell-o". it was some time ago when i swore i wouldn't make another boxed cake, nor am i the biggest fan of gelatin. i found after having to add oil, milk and eggs to their dry ingredients it was almost like making my own cake... except with the added chemicals. MMMmmm. i always have flour, sugar, baking soda and powder, salt and butter on hand so why not just make cakes from scratch? i have found a great chocolate cake recipe, a butter cake, and vanilla sponge cake that i use pretty much all the time... but still no strawberry. so i kinda made one up. i've made up my apple pie recipe and many savoury dishes, but never a cake which is probably why it took so long to try.

strawberrry cake with white chocolate butter-creamcheese icing

1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup fresh or frozen strawberries
2 3/4 cup all purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter, room temp
2 cup sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla

preheat oven to 350degrees F. grease and flour three 9" cake pans. in a saucepan bring water and sugar to a boil, add strawberries and cook for 5 minutes or until strawberries are very soft. let cool for 5 minutes and then blend and strain the mixture- you should have 2 cups (add water if not); set aside. sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt; set aside.

in the bowl of your mixer fitted with the paddle attachment cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. beat in eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl as necessary and stir in vanilla. add the flour mixture alternately wiht the strawberry mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture. spread batter evenly between the 3 prepared pans.

bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean. cool completely before frosting.

white chocolate butter-creamcheese icing

8 ounces white chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 package (8 ounces) philly cream cheese
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

In a heat proof bowl over a pan of simmering water, gently melt the white chocolate. Allow to cool for 2 minutes. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter at medium speed until creamy. Beat in the melted white chocolate. Add 2 cups of powdered sugar, and vanilla, beat at low speed, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl, until light and fluffy.

i made a little marzipan strawberry to sit ontop.

it's a pretty dense cake, i'm not sure if it's "the one" yet, although the icing is pretty good- sweet and tangy, but i'd like more of a white chocolate taste. i may leave it out next time... or not. i love white chocolate. my next test i think i'll take the vanilla sponge cake and fold in some strawberry puree.

January 06, 2008

sunday morning

typically on sunday mornings i make pancakes, waffles, or french toast. in the summer we buy pints and pints of strawberries, slice 'em up and cover the pancakes with them, drizzle real maple syrup over them and enjoy. in the fall and winter, when the strawberries are only from california and not as good as local, i cut up apples and cook them on the stove- like apple pie without the pie.

waffles with apples

1 cup flour
2 tbsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup milk
2 tbsp butter, melted

whisk all dry ingredients together, add wet ingredients and whisk together. some clumps are okay. follow the directions for your waffle iron and don't add too much otherwise it'll ooze out the sides.
if you're making pancakes with this recipe, you may decide to add up to 1/4 cup more milk for a thinner pancake.

4 medium sized apples, i prefer gala or pink ladies as they don't go all smushy. granny smiths are good, too
lemon juice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
dash of each cloves and nutmeg
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp butter

peel, core and slice apples into either cubes or slices, squeeze lemon juice over the apples. place all the ingredients into a pan and cook until desired tenderness of the apples, about 5-8 minutes. spoon over waffles and drizzle with warm, real maple syrup. whipping cream is also good with this. and don't forget the coffee!

January 05, 2008

no voicemail

we have 3 identical cordless phones (thank you costco) in this house. two of them don't know there's NO VOICEMAIL!


January 04, 2008

post christmast post

i've been meaning to post about christmas morning since, well, christmas morning but with all the hullaballoo of the day, week, month, etc., this is really the first moment i've had since.
the first thing the kids got into christmas morning was the stockings. inside- harmonicas, shakers, slide whistles and chocolate!
the musical instrumets were among the biggest hits with the kids. also huge hits... littlest pet shops, jammies, cowboy and octopus and the spiderwick chronicles.
after some breakfast with gramma and poppa (my parents) and more opening of presents, it was lunchtime and time to get the turkey in the oven. now, because seth had said that, "it's going to snow because it's christmas." it did. not a whole lot where we are, but granny had a hard time getting up her hill in new westminster. all in all, it was a picture perfect christmas day. except that my turkey was done about an hour before it was supposed to be (damn stupid small crappy unlevel oven!) and i spent the rest of the time shooing everyone out of the kitchen so i could finish the rest of the meal.
this is ella giving shawn and shelley (now engaged, congratulations!) their tin of christmas goodies. this year i made gingerbread men, sugar cookie snowflakes with nonpareils and sanding sugar smooshed into the icing, peanut butter cups, candy cane cups, cherry cordials and chocolate dipped pretzels and kiwis! we gave out a few of these tins to friends and family. one of our friends literally screamed with joy when she opened it up for a peek. to me, that made the three 1am nights decorating and melting totally worth it!
also on christmas we had pie. two- apple and pumpkin. you don't see a photo of the pumpkin pie because of my stupid oven burnt half of the pie. yes, half. i know i should have turned it around midway through the bake time, but i was busy with getting the tins in order- you don't mess around when there's tempered chocolate!
and anyways, it's okay... i prefer apple.