April 30, 2010

Millionaire's Mocha

Millionaire's Mocha

When the blogger is down, so is the blog.

...

It took all the energy I could muster to go pick up my daughter at school.

"You're sick? Again?!?" a parent said to me in the hallway.

Made me think, am I the only one who gets ill this often? Or this bad? I'm at home with young children. I'm more likely to get beaten down with colds and flu's, right?

I first thought it was food poisoning but it has lasted longer than a day and I'm the only one who got it in the family. I didn't even pick it up from the kids this time. Maybe that parent was right, maybe, I'm just a magnet for picking up germs? Fever, chills, stomach cramps, oh my. I like to eat food, not bring it up again.

I am actually eating some food today, without any major painful consequences. I tried yesterday and I paid for it, badly. Doesn't help that I spent my awake hours on my couch mostly watching the food network channel. I'm hungry! It's been a rough, rough week.

...

I've been dreaming about coffee all this week. I missed it.

I actually didn't really start drinking coffee until I got my first job in my career. You think all those years of staying up late at school, getting ready for mid-terms or final exams, would have gotten me addicted to java, but nay. I was tremendously sensitive to caffeine so I stayed away from it. Plus, I didn't even like the bitter taste of coffee.

But now, it's my daily love affair. I have professed, one too many times, to my mug-ful of coffee...

"Where have you been all my life?" or chanted "Must have my Precious".

This is especially true since I've had my children. The sleepless nights not only make me look like Gollum but talk like him too.

I really liked the Millionaire's Mocha. Delicious. Grand Marnier, Kahlua, coffee... oh yes. It's a great after-dinner drink. Don't necessarily recommend it for the morning, especially if you don't eat breakfast. Cuz, you will get buzzed. Not that I know, ahem. I'm just saying.

Desperate Housewife signing out for the weekend! Have a good one! :)

...

Millionaire's Mocha
makes 1

1 oz Grand Marnier
1/2 oz Kahlua
2-4 oz of Espresso
4 oz steamed or foamed chocolate milk

Mix together the Grand Marnier and Kahlua in a mug. Add the espresso.

Mix in the chocolate milk and spoon the foam on top.

Serve.

Recipe adapted from: Millionaire's Mochaccino, Cappucino Cocktails Specialty Coffee Recipes.

April 22, 2010

Chocolate Chip Blondie Bars

Chocolate Chip Blondies

Are Blondies more fun?

Or taste better, for that fact?

I was looking through one of my cookbooks, looking for something quick and easy to make. I would be entertaining and I needed something to feed plenty of mouths. This fit the bill.

Quick, easy, and tasty.

I was nervous that maybe they would be dry. I explained to people that it was like a large chocolate chip cookie cut into bars.

Moist in the inside, not too dry or crumbly on the outside. Went really well with coffee.

Considering they were eaten up in no time, I'd say they were a hit.

I guess blondies are more fun :)

...

Chocolate Chip Blondie Bars

1/2 cup + 2 tbsp butter
2 cups brown sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
1.5 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups white flour
1.5 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cups chopped pecans
1/4 cup chocolate chips

Cream butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla extract, mix and scrape bowl sides to until well combined.

Add the flour, baking powder and the salt until incorporated. Add nuts and chocolate chips and stir.

Press dough into a prepared 9"x13" pan. Bake at 350F for about 25 minutes.

Cool into pan and cut into roughly 2 dozen bars.

Recipe adapted from Chocolate Chip Brownies, Kitchenaid Best-Loved Recipes.

April 20, 2010

Asparagus, Red Pepper & Red Onion Pizza with Gouda and Parmeson Cheese

Asparagus, Red Pepper and Red Onion Pizza with Gouda & Parmeson Cheese

When I make pizza, it usually ends up being either ham or pineappple, a meat lover's or just cheese for my son who doesn't like toppings on his pizza.

No one ever requests or wants a vegetarian pizza. But I do! So I made the decision to do so.

I had some fresh asparagus and a big block of gouda cheese so I tried something different and it was awesome.

The kids wouldn't eat it ("I hate onions", "Why did you put those red things on it", " 'pargus on pissa??")

They just don't know what they are missing. Too bad for them.

More for me!!!

...



Asparagus, Red Pepper and Red Onion Pizza with Gouda and Parmeson Cheese
makes 2 pizzas


Vegetable Toppings:

olive oil
~20 asparagus spears, ends trimmed
2 red peppers, thinly sliced
1 red onion, thinly sliced
grated gouda cheese
grated parmeson cheese
salt and pepper, to taste

Dough:

2 pkg active dry yeast
2-1/4 cup warm water
2 tsp sugar
1/4 cup oil
5 cups bread flour, plus extra if needed (you may substitute 1/2 tsp or up to 1 tsp for EACH cup of all purpose flour instead of bread flour).
1 tbsp salt


Vegetable Toppings:

In a nonstick pan, fry up the asparagus, red peppers and red onion with some oil, until almost wilted. Sprinkle enough salt and pepper, to your taste. Remove from heat to cool.

Dough:

In a mixer, dissolve yeast in warm water and let stand until foamy (about 5 minutes).

Add sugar, oil, flour and salt and knead with dough hook until soft and smooth, about 8-10 minutes. Add up to one cup of flour while kneading so cough will pull away from sides.

Form dough into ball and tranfer to lightly oiled bowl. Cover and let rise until doubles, about 1.5-2 hours.

Punch down and take dough out onto lightly oiled surface and divide into two. Let rest for 10 minutes. Dust with all purpose flour and roll out to fit pan. Pizza pan should be oiled and dusted with cornmeal.

Assembly:

Rub olive oil on the pizza and spread out the asparagus, peppers and onion. Drizzle any leftover oil and salt, pepper in the pan.

Sprinkle a light amount of gouda and parmeson atop the pizza.

Bake until brown 10-15 mintues at 500F. Serve hot.


Crust adapted from: Pizza margherita, Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Baking

April 17, 2010

Crepe Cake

crepe cake

I asked my hubby to make me this Martha Stewart crepe cake for my birthday, after I saw the amazing photograph of it on Martha's site (it's stunning. True photo p0rn!). I offered to help out, he would make the crepes and I would do the rest.

But it didn't turn out like that exactly.

My hubby started making the crepes and then said it would be a no-go in making the cake as tall as Martha's. He made two batches of crepes and it wasn't even close. Apparently, the recipe calls for 8 inch size crepes, whereas my hubby made large 10 inch size. (He's not so into reading recipes - he likes to wing it and he puts it.) So, after two batches, this is the height he got, as pictured above.

He also didn't feel like making extra batches of hazelnut cream filling and filled some of the layers with ganache.

Looks nothing like the orignal picture, but, I won't complain. The hazelnut cream filling and the chocolate ganache were fantastic. And my hubby made me a cake for my birthday. How many ladies can say that? (Actually he made me TWO!!!)

We'll leave it to Martha and her crew to make the amazing, drool-worthy looking cakes.

You can find the recipe here.

April 13, 2010

Marshmallow Fondant

Princess Cake with Marshmallow Fondant

I feel like there has been a lot of cake around lately. If I'm not making them, I'm going to parties that have them. But, I'm not going to complain because I love celebrations and get-togethers.

This year for my daughter's birthday, she wanted a princess cake again. I have been wanting to try fondant for a very long time. I was nervous about fondant and avoided it for as long as I could.

There was a time I bought fondant at the store and just couldn't work with it. This put me off for a while. But I knew that fondant and I would meet again. Somewhere, in a dark kitchen corner, I would be ready with my rolling pin. I would prevail this time.

And did I ever.

This is a marshmallow fondant recipe. Easy to make and work with. I have to say, I will never, ever worry about using fondant again. I don't even think I will bother with icing cakes with icing sugar either. This was much easier.

For the top tier, instead of smoothing the fondant back in, I folded it over so that it looked like ruffles of a dress.

My friends all liked the look of it and they also liked the taste of it. They didn't find it overly sweet, like I find icing usually to be. It was a hit.

And my princess was happy.

Happy rolling!

...

Marshmallow Fondant
enough to cover a large 2-tiered cake

1 lb (16 oz /454 grams) bag of small plain marshmallows
2 Tbsp water
1-2 tsp flavoring of your choice, optional
2 lb (32 oz/908 grams) icing sugar, divided
pinch of salt

Vegetable oil or shortening for greasing bowls and utensils
food coloring paste, optional


Grease a microwave-safe bowl, a spoon, the dough hook, and the bowl of your stand mixer with vegetable oil or shortening.

Microwave the marshmallows and water in the greased microwave-safe bowl for 60 seconds. Stir with the greased spoon. Microwave for another 30 seconds, if all the marshmallows have not melted. Stir in flavoring.

Mix together the icing sugar and salt in the stand mixer bowl, reserving 1 cup. Make a well in the center and pour in the marshmallow mix. Mix on to the lowest setting and increase the speed up one setting, when it starts to sound strained and stop mixing once all sugar has been incorporated. If the fondant is sticky, add the reserved confectioner’s sugar 1/4 cup at a time.

Spoon the fondant out onto plastic wrap. Rub a bit of shortening or oil on the outside of the ball. Wrap in plastic wrap, place in a ziploc bag, and let rest for at least 2-3 hours. Keep unused portions covered when not using. If the fondant becomes stiff, place in microwave for 20 seconds at a time until pliable.

Add coloring of your choice to the fondant and knead onto greased surface. Roll out to the desired thickness and cover your cake.

Recipe adapted from: Marshmallow Fondant Recipe

April 11, 2010

Weekly Photos: Day at the Royal Alberta Museum

Taxidermy Animals at Royal Alberta Museum

Recognize these animals?

Have you ever been to the Royal Alberta Museum? Then you've seen them. I'm sure they have been around since the museum opened up because I remember them, when I went as a child, some 20 some years ago.

That being said, I'm still partial to them :) Aren't they cute?

Needed to get out with the kidlets and we enjoyed the afternoon walking around at the different exhibits. My son asked me at least 101 questions with 101 "why's" to my answers, while my daughter just ran from exhibit to exhibit, not as interested.

Day at the Royal Alberta Museum

We didn't take any pictures outside since it was cold (the grounds are beautiful and I really love the buildings - must take photos another time!) But, I enjoyed taking some "artsy" photos from the different galleries.

Do any of you regularly visit museums or galleries?

April 9, 2010

Romaine, Asparagus & Cucumber Salad with Creamy Taragon Dressing

Romaine, Asparagus, Cucumber Salad with Creamy Tarragon Dressing

The sun was shining, it was feeling warm and I felt like a salad for lunch. I had picked up some asparagus the other day and I felt like eating it fresh versus cooked.

I looked at the long spears and my romaine lettuce and thought I'd try something a bit different. I'd leave everything uncut (except for the cucumber - which you cut into long thin pieces) and see what it looked like.

It looked so pretty and it actually felt so nice to eat something that looked so visually appealing. Yes, it was a bit more effort to cut my salad before eating every bite, but it was an enjoyable experience. I should make more effort to make my plates look nicer... it really does make a difference.

...



Romaine, Asparagus & Cucumber Salad

serves 4

12 medium size romaine lettuce leaves
12 spears of asparagus, ends trimmed
1/2 cucumber, cut into long thin strips

Creamy Tarragon Dressing
2 tbsp mayonnaise
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp chopped fresh tarragon or 1/4 tsp dried
1/4 tsp finely chopped garlic
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/4 tsp salt
ground pepper to taste, optional

Assemble the lettuce leaves, asparagus and cucumber strips, evenly amongst the plates.

Whisk together all ingredients for creamy tarragon dressing.

Pour dressing over the middle of salad. Serve.

Recipe adapted from: Asparagus, spinach and fennel salad with creamy tarragon dressing

April 6, 2010

Chocolate Cupcakes - Vegan, Egg-Free, Dairy-free

Chocolate Cupcakes - Eggless & Vegan

There is a photo that comes to mind every so often. When I saw it, many, many years ago, it left an impression on me. It was a picture of me in kindergarten, on my birthday. I'm surrounded by my classmates, holding a cake, with my mom and sister next to me.

My parents were immigrants and came to Canada when I was one years old. My mother's english-language skills were not very good but I'm guessing that the teacher asked my mother if she would bring cake or something to celebrate my birthday with the class.

I can't even imagine how much effort it was to bring that cake that day to school. It's not something I would have realized back then but something I understand now. It was likely a cold and wintry day, since my birthday is the beginning of March. My mother did not have a car, so she had to walk to school, which was a good 20 minutes. She also was about 8 months pregnant and probably carried my 3 year old sister and this cake all the way to my school. I remember feeling so happy and surprised to see my mom, sister and the cake at kindergarten that day.

Fast forward to the present day. My daughter is in kindergarten and her birthday is here. That photo of me in kindergarten comes to my mind and I want to do something special for her too. Though I don't have the same struggles that my mother had, I want to have my daughter feel the same joy with her classmates, as I did on my 6th birthday.

I asked the teacher if I could bring cupcakes to class and she agreed. But, today is a different time than it was when I was a child...

"Remember, absolutely no nuts. We also have an egg allergy. There is also another child that has many allergies so he probably won't be able to have one."

I remember leaving a bit disappointed. Many children have allergies nowadays but I really wanted to bring cupcakes but could I? Egg-free, dairy-free, nut-free, everything but the kitchen sink-free cupcakes? Is there such a thing and what would it taste like?

But, don't you worry. When there is a challenge, Maki will prevail. Especially with making this memory. And I'm happy to say, I have found the recipe for you moms who want to make dessert but don't know what to make in this allergy-full world. AND it tastes good.

I didn't get a picture of my daughter with her kindergarten class and the cupcakes but I have the memory of my daughter's beaming smile when we dropped off the cupcakes that morning. She was filled with excitement to share her birthday and these cupcakes with all her classmates.

And that, my friends, is why us moms do what we do. Whether it be walking 20 minutes in the cold, pregnant, with a 3 year old and cake or sifting through recipes to find that perfect set of ingredients to accomodate all friends and their allergies.

Creating memories and seeing a smiling child's face is priceless.

...

Chocolate Cupcakes - Vegan
Makes 16

1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon vinegar

Mix all ingredients together until moist and well blended.

Put in cupcake cups and bake for 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees F.

Recipe found here: Mom's Chocolate Cupcakes

April 4, 2010

Easter Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Icing

Easter Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Icing

I used to have a bunny growing up and he never ate carrots. The carrot top greens, yes, but the actual orange carrot, never, I believe.

How the heck did carrots and bunnies become a pair?

....

I didn't totally free-load at my mother's Easter dinner last night. I told her a few days ago that I would bring a side dish but she steered me toward dessert since she had not made any. But since I've run myself down and got ill, I wasn't sure I was going to bring something.

But, yesterday morning, I made myself an espresso and got myself up from being miserable and thought about what I would bring.

Thinking outloud ...

Easter. What kind of dessert comes to mind with Easter.

Easter, Easter bunnies, carrots... CARROTS!!! Carrot Cake came to my mind.

(Yes, I know. I surprise you with how brilliantly my mind works. hehe.)

And that's what I made.

Incredibly moist with easy to make cream cheese icing. And, I actually like the walnuts in the cake! (I never used to be a fan of nuts in my desserts but my tastes are changing- It helps that I ground them up pretty small too).

Plus, I'm going to toot my own horn for coming up with the garnish idea. I think it turned out looking pretty good :)

Happy Easter Weekend!

...

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Icing
makes one 9x13 inch cake or two 8 or 10 inch rounds

Carrot Cake:

4 large eggs
1-1/2 cups sugar
1-1/4 cup vegetable oil
grated zest of an orange

4 large carrots, peeled and grated (approximately 3 cups of grated)

2 cups cake flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp mace

1/2 cup raisins
1 cup of ground walnuts

Mix together eggs, sugar, oil and orange zest. Stir in the carrots. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, mix the dry ingredients (flour, powder, soda, salt, cinnamon and mace).

Fold into the above mixture.

Add raisins and walnuts. Mix until incorporated.

Pour batter into prepared pan(s) with parchment paper. Bake at 350F for 30-35 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool onto racks for 20 minutes before removing.

Cream Cheese Icing:

1 pkg (250g) cream cheese
2-3 cups icing sugar
orange extract, optional

Beat together cream cheese and icing sugar until smooth. Frost cake when cool. Serve.

I peeled a carrot to add as garnish and sprinkled ground walnuts on top of the cake for decoration. Don't put the garnish on until almost before serving, as the peeled carrot will wilt.

Recipe adapted from: Carrot Cake, Williams-Sonoma Essentials to Baking.

April 2, 2010

Happy Easter Weekend!

Brown Eggs

Easter always sneaks it's way up on me every year. Once again, I have done nothing. No baking, no easter egg coloring. nada.

I have good intentions but it really comes so abruptly. The end of March is such a busy time and I've run myself down with not one, but TWO, birthday parties for my daughter. She turned 6 (bithday cake pictures to come later.) But now, I'm feeling pretty ill and taking it easy.

Egg Diptych

But maybe I'll get around to making some hot cross buns or some easter dessert if I pep up? Or maybe not. My mom is hosting Easter dinner this weekend. I think I'll just sign up for the role of free-loading daughter this year. :)

Have a great long weekend.
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