Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Glazed Lemon Cake

I've got itchy feet, y'all!  Not like, itchy-scratchy, but just, so super restless.  I want a new job, a new house, a new routine!  We tend to move house every 3 years or so, so the timing of our nomadic habits isn't all that shocking.  But I thought this was going to be our forever home, so I'm surprised that I am wanting to give up on all the conveniences that this location gives us, just for some country air.  I don't dig commuting, but I want a big ol' garden.  I like that my kids and I can walk to school & work, but I'm sick of car thefts and break-ins, not to mention all the big city violence.

Should I consider a career change?  I've been working for Calgary Public Library for almost 18 years...18 years!  How is that possible?!  It's possible, I suppose, because I truly do love working for the Library, how it allows me to help people in simple ways everyday.  But even that is on a mega shift right now, with all sorts of re-branding, and job description changes at all levels of employment.  If I'm gonna be honest, I love my job, but there's some people I just cant stand working with.  That is something I think everyone can relate to.  My rants have become a nightly routine, and perhaps its just hormones, or even spring fever, but somethings gotta give!  I feel worn out!
Maybe I should just take a chill pill, and paint a wall in my house, move some furniture, or do some baking, that usually helps me de-stress.  

Everyone should have a go-to lemon loaf cake recipe in their repertoire, it's like, an unwritten rule. This "Lemon Loaf cake with glaze" if from local foodie and author Gwendolyn Richards.  Gwendolyn is the voice behind the blog: Patent and the Pantry, numerous Calgary Herald articles, as well as the recently published cookbook: Pucker.  This lemon loaf is the bees knees because of the layers of lemon-y goodness.  Lemon in the cake, lemon in the syrup which also lends yummy moisture, and topped with yet more lemon in the glaze. Pucker-up!

Glazed Lemon Cake
1/1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 lemons, zested
2 eggs
1/3 cup plain yogurt or sour cream
1 Tablespoon lemon juice

3 Tablespoons sugar
3 Tablespoons lemon juice

1 cup icing sugar
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
pinch salt

Preheat the oven to 350F and prepare a loaf, or bundt, or your fave pan (I used a cute gem shaped one from Ikea!) by buttering it and lining with parchment if you desire.  
Using a medium sized bowl, add together the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda, stir slightly with a fork, and then set aside.
Using a small bowl, mix together the yogurt (or sour cream), and the lemon juice, set aside.
Using a stand or hand held mixer, cream the butter and the sugar, until pale and fluffy.  Add the lemon zest and mix until well distributed. Add the eggs and mix again.  
Add the flour mixture, and the yogurt mixture, in alternating additions, staring with the flour.  Mix until it just comes together, do not over mix.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan of your choosing, and bake until toothpick or cake tester comes out clean, about 45 minutes.
While the cake bakes, prepare your lemon-y syrup!  Using a small saucepan, over medium -high heat, combine the sugar and the lemon juice, and stir until the sugar has completely dissolved.  Remove from the heat, and set aside.
Remove the baked cake/loaf/gem from the oven, and allow it to cool in it's pan for about 10-15 minutes.  Using a toothpick, poke the cake all over, and then spoon or pour the syrup over the top.  Allow the cake to cool completely, and then remove from pan.  
Mix together the glaze ingredients of icing sugar and lemon juice, and drizzle or pour over top of the cooled cake.  Allow it to set before serving.


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Lucky Charms Ice Cream

I like to skip all the boozy revelry of St Patricks Day, and just make it a fun day for the kids.  Last year they made one of those Leprechaun traps, which I failed to take pics of:(  Never heard of a leprechaun trap?!  Check out Pinterest!  But I did get a pic of my cuties enjoying their Shamrock adorable, and look at Presley's long hair!  It's hard to believe that was a year ago!

Fast forward to this year's St. Patrick's Day, and my current mid-winter crisis, where I am constantly craving frozen treats for some crazy reason.  Pair that with my latest obsession for all things cereal milk, and you get the drift.  I showed up at home last Friday, with a big ol' box of Lucky Charms cereal, and all sorts of ideas, from cupcakes to sweet squares.

When I told Presley (#1 cereal fan, as well as my #1 recipe taste tester), my idea of making  Lucky Charms into ice cream...he was practically shaking with excitement!
They're magically delicious, who could blame him!

Lucky Charms Ice Cream

3 cups whole milk
1/2 cups whipping cream
1 1/2 cups Lucky Charms cereal (marshmallows removed)
5 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
teaspoon green food colouring (optional)
1 cup Lucky Charms reserved marshmallows

Using a food processor, blender, or mallet, pulse or crush the cereal until it becomes a loose sand-like texture.
In a medium pot, pour in the milk, cream, and then whisk in the crushed cereal.  Bring to a simmer, not a boil, stirring constantly so the bottom does not burn.
Meanwhile, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar. Once the milk mixture is heated through, add about a 1/2 cup of the hot milk to the egg mixture in a slow but steady stream, whisking constantly to temper the eggs.  This will make the eggs warm enough to add back into the saucepan without scrambling.
Slowly pour the tempered egg mixture into the pot, along with the the vanilla extract, whisking constantly.  Keep over a low heat until the mixture is thickened, it should coat the back of your spoon or spatula, so that when you run a finger through the custard, it leaves a path.
Remove from the heat, and place into the fridge, covered, for 2-4 hours, or overnight until chilled completely.
To make the ice cream, add the chilled mixture to your ice cream maker and churn according to the directions. In the last minute of churning, add in the reserved marshmallows. Place into an airtight container and put into the fridge for about 4 hours to firm before serving.

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Cereal Milk Popcicles

Corn Pop-cicles?  Yes!  I figure I'm in the midst of a mid-winter crisis, kind of like a mid-life crisis? For some reason, despite the freezing temperatures of the last few weeks, I had a hankering for some ice cream.  Completely irrational, illogical, insane! 

Once you taste these frozen treats, you will question my sanity no longer!  I figured it was time to give the cereal milk trend a go.  Ya, I know, I'm waaaaay behind the times.  But, whateva - Better late than never, and now I can see what all the fuss is about.  I can foresee many cereal milk recipe creations in my future, especially if the boys in my house have anything to do with it.  

What I like about the cereal milk concept, is that you can "make it your own".  A nostalgic throwback to Saturday morning cartoons in your jammies, after consuming all the crunchy sugary goodness, slurping down the remaining milk straight from the bowl.  The flavour opportunities are endless: fruit loops, cinnamon toast crunch, captain crunch, just reminisce of your favourite cereal from your childhood. If its your thing, add some extra dry cereal to the end of the popcicle, for a little chewy treat waiting for you for an all-star finish! 

Cereal Milk Corn PopCicles

3 cups Corn Pops cereal (plus additional dry cereal to add to molds, if desired)
2 1/2 cups milk (I used 2%)
1/2 cup half and half cream
3 egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Using a large bowl, stir together the milk, cream, and Corn Pops.  Let soak for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Strain out cereal and discard.
In a medium pot, over medium-high heat, whisk together the cereal milk, egg yolks, sugar and vanilla.  Bring mixture to a boil, while continuing to stir, to avoid scalding the milk.  Remove from heat, and cool in the in the fridge until completely cold.  
Pour the cooled cereal milk mixture into your Popsicle molds, and add additional dry cereal if using, before inserting the Popsicle sticks.  Place in the freezer for at least 6-8 hours.


Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Vegan Peanut Butter & Jelly Breakfast Pie!

It's Peanut butter jelly breakfast pie! 
Peanut butter breakfast pie!
  Peanut butter breakfast pie!!

Now Where he at?
Where he at?
Where he at?
Where he at?
Now There he go
There he go
There he go
There he go

(Faster!) Its Peanut butter jelly
Peanut butter jelly
Peanut butter jelly with a baseball bat!


Now break it down ...
and freeze!

Every. Single. Time.  I make this Peanut Butter Breakfast Pie, I get this song in my head.  I'm all about sharing, so now you can sing along!
Pie for breakfast?!  Hell to the yes!   This creation, is actually more like a giant jelly filled cookie than a pie; if that makes you feel any better?!  You can opt for an alternative nut butter, and choose your favourite jam/jelly, I used my Mom's homemade huckleberry jam.  MmMmMmM ! 

Here you go:  10 Hours of PB Jelly Time!  Just try to get this out of your head now, Muahahahaha!

Vegan Peanut Butter Jelly Breakfast Pie
Recipe adapted from:the Frosted Vegan

1/3 cup peanut butter (or your fave nut butter!)
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 flax egg (1 tablespoon flax + 4 Tablespoons water)
1/2 cup oat flour
1/2 cup spelt flour (WW or AP flour would be a fine substitute)

For the filling:
3/4 cup jelly or jam (your fave flavour!)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a pie pan or a skillet and set aside.  Make your flax egg, by whisking together water and flax, and set aside to thicken for at least 5-10 mins.
In a large bowl, mix together the peanut butter, brown sugar, maple syrup, and vanilla extract.  Next add the oat and spelt flour(s), baking powder, and flax egg, stirring until thoroughly combined.
Spread half of the mixture onto the bottom of the prepared pie pan or skillet, spreading evenly.
Top with the jelly, spreading it out, not quite to the edge.   Drop the remaining batter on top of the jelly, distributing as evenly, as possible.
Bake for about 30-40 minutes, until top is browned and filling is bubbling. Allow to cool for 10-15 before serving.


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Dark Chocolate Dipped Crunchy Coconut Cashew Sesame Bars

Hmmmm, new name maybe?  "Dark Chocolate Dipped Crunchy Coconut Cashew Sesame Bars"...that's quite the mouthful, but so are these bars, soooo maybe it's a fitting name after all?!
I made these bars when I got home from our recent Caribbean cruise, and was trying to wean my sweet tooth off the buffet.  If you haven't been on a cruise before, the food alone is worth the vacation. For real.
You get seating every evening in a fancy restaurant, but Cory's idea of a vacation is not having to put on socks or shoes for a week.  It was the middle of January - I get it, Flop on, Bro!   My idea of a vacation, is not having to cook or clean or nag at children.  Also high on that list is getting to read as much as I want, especially if I get to read whilst bathing in the warmth of the sun.

We compromised on one formal night with suits (and socks & shoes!) at the fancy restaurant, and every other night we could hit the buffet.  Which in the end, was not that much of a concession for me, as the buffet was always outstanding.  I managed to eat really healthy for the most part.  But the dessert buffet?  Oh. Man.  I had at least one bite of each different kind of cake, I mean, how could you not?!  However, I didn't just eat and be guilt free, I ran at least 5 Kms each day, to allow myself this indulgence.  Worth it.

These heavily seeded roasty-toasty bars, are full of so much good stuff, they are practically guilt-free. You get healthy fats, protein, and mega-crunch from the cashews, chia, hemp, and sesame seeds, accompanied by the slight sweetness of the coconut and chocolate, with just a hint of cinnamon in the mix.
Warning!  A good teeth-brushing should follow consumption!
Dark Chocolate Dipped Crunchy Coconut Cashew Sesame Bars
Recipe adapted from Half Baked Harvest

1 1/2 cups raw cashews
1/2 cups coconut flakes
3 Tablespoons white sesame seeds
3 Tablespoons black sesame seeds
1/2 cup ground flax
1 Tablespoon chia seeds
3 Tablespoons hemp hearts
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup pure maple syrup or honey
1 + 1 Tablespoons coconut oil
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or extract
1/2 cup (approx) 72 % Dark chocolate, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8 x 8 baking pan with parchment,leaving overhang on all sides, and set aside.
Toast cashews, coconut, sesame seeds, flax meal and hemp seeds in separate areas on a large rimmed baking sheet, stirring occasionally (taking care to not mixing the seeds and nuts), until golden brown, about 8-12 minutes.  **The coconut toasted ALLOT faster than other ingredients, I removed it from the pan after about 8 minutes, and continued toasting other ingredients**.
Let nuts and seeds cool slightly and measure out 2 tablespoons sesame seeds, and 1 tablespoon hemp hearts. Set these seeds aside to top the bars with.
Add the cashews, the coconut and the remaining sesame, flax meal, and hemp hearts plus the salt to a food processor or high powdered blender. Process until finely chopped.
Using a medium saucepan, bring maple syrup (or honey) and the 1 Tablespoon coconut oil to a boil. Cook, stirring, for about 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla. Finally, add the cashew/seed mixture and stir to coat.
Press the mixture firmly into the prepared pan, using wet hands if necessary. Top the bars with the reserved seeds from earlier, and gently press to adhere.
Bake until golden brown, 25–30 minutes. Let cool, then remove from pan (keep the parchment in there!), and cut into the bars.
Melt the chocolate in a double broiler, or microwave, adding the extra 1 Tablespoon coconut oil if needed for a thinner chocolate.
Pour about 3/4 of the melted chocolate back into the parchment lined pan. Use the cooled bars, to help spread out the chocolate as you add them back in, bathing their bottom in the chocolate as you go. Use the remaining melted chocolate to drizzle over the top. Allow the chocolate to harden in the fridge or freezer, before breaking or cutting apart to serve.


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Bacon, Egg, & Avocado Corn Cakes

This is how we started out 2015...filling our faces with this amazing breakfast.  I don't even remember what we did for New Years.  For a change, it was not because I boozed it up.  We spent New Year's Eve having a quiet night at home with the kids.  I'm pretty sure we watched a movie?  I'm also pretty sure we didn't even make it 'til midnight.  New Year, New Us.

This one comes from a new cookbook, called Seriously Delish, the voice & author behind the blog How Sweet Eats: Jessica Merchant.  I've had a crush on this blog for quite some time, and was eager to sink my teeth into this cookbook!  What confuses me about this recipe though, is that "Bacon" is in the title, but appears no where in the actual recipe?  I read it a few times over, because sometimes I read too fast and skim over essentials.  But, ya.  How did that get past the editors? Librarian problems...we notice the details;)  Rest assured my version does indeed include the bacon, but feel free to omit if you just wanna get your veg on!  Cory loves the bacon (duh!), but doesn't dig the avocado action.  Grate some cheese for the lacto-lover!

Psst - The leftover corn cakes make great little croutons when cubed and reheated or baked, and your can turn the leftovers (sans egg, or make it hard boiled!) into an awesome tomatoes & avocado salad which pairs perfectly with a Dijon-y dressing.

Bacon, Egg, & Avocado Corn Cakes
Recipe adapted from:Seriously Delish Page 39

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup cornmeal, finely ground
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 cups corn kernels (fresh, canned, or frozen)
1 shallot, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 large eggs
1 cup milk
2 Tablespoons canola oil
4 large eggs, for serving
8 slices bacon, cooked, for serving (at least!  cook it all - save it for leftovers & salads & such!)
1 tomato, chopped, for serving
1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and sliced, for serving
Grated cheddar cheese, for serving (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400.  Lay out bacon on a cookie sheet covered with tin foil, and bake for about 8-10 mins per side.  Once done lay bacon on paper towel to soak up access grease, and keep warm until corn cakes and eggs are ready to assemble.
While the bacon is baking, get your cakes together.  Using a small bowl, whisk together the 2 eggs, along with the milk set aside.  Using a large bowl, mix together the flour, cornmeal, baking soda, salt and pepper, along with the corn, shallots, and garlic.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry, and mix until just combined.
Heat a large non-stick pan over medium high heat, and add the oil.  Add the corn batter about 1/3 cup
measure.  Make sure to leave enough room between each corn cake.  Cook about 2-4 minutes per side, or until golden and cooked through.  Repeat until all the batter is used up.
Cook the eggs to your liking:  over-easy, sunny side up, poached, scrambled, etc.
Assemble your stack by laying out the corn cakes first, followed by bacon, sliced avocado, tomatoes, and finally, topped with the egg.  Season with additional Salt and Pepper, and serve up!  This also goes great topped with your fave: hot sauce, aoli, bacon marmalade, or maple syrup.  What ever you desire!


Friday, February 13, 2015

Speculoos Cookie Butter Popcorn

Valentine's is all about celebrating L.O.V.E., right?!  I love lots of things, and people too, of course!  I love my family beyond the moon and back!
I love to read, and take long hot baths...I love to read, while I take long hot baths! 
I love food (duh!)!  And the food I love most of all, my desert island food, is popcorn.  I love popcorn like, in an unhealthy way.   I also use food to show my love, if I make something for you, I might have a crush on you;)

One way that I've been shown love recently was during our recent vacay, when Cory went along with the idea of travelling 1 hour on an unknown transit system in Miami Florida, to take me to a Trader Joe's. We could have been doing any number of other touristy pursuits (ahem - beach!), in this hot foreign land, arriving from like 3 feet of snow, and -15 weather.  But, I HAD to go to a Trader Joe's, and he was willing to make the trip (awwww!).   I am in love with this Speculoos Cookie Butter, which I had to have from Trader Joe's after years of reading all about it from state side food blogger's.  Everything they said was true - deadly delicious, and oh so addicting.

Love is this new to me Cookie Butter popcorn, and I think Cory is more enamoured with it than I am! I also managed to find a ginormous block of Log Cabin vanilla flavoured candy coating at the Target across the road.  Not sure if Log Cabin products are carried in Canada?  I've never seen it before, but have seen it mentioned in lots of food blogs.  Why does Target have to be leaving Canada?  I guess I will now love going to the states, to search out all my favourite Target products, just like the old days.  Everything old is new again.  Including my love for popcorn, cookie butter style!

Specaloos Cookie Butter Popcorn
Recipe adapted from: I Heart Naptime

1/2 cup popcorn kernels
3 squares Log House vanilla almond bark (you could always use white chocolate in lieu)
1/2 cup vanilla candy melts
3 Tablespoons cookie butter (found at Trader Joes ... Biscoff or even Peanut butter would work too)
assorted candy covered chocolates (smarties, m&m's - optional)

Pop the popcorn (I used an air-popper), into a large bowl.  Using a large parchment lined cookie sheet, transfer the popcorn by the hand-full, taking care to leave any unpopped kernels behind.
Using a small bowl melt the vanilla candy coating/white chocolate in microwave.  Or melt via stove top and transfer to bowl.  Add the cookie butter to the melted chocolate, stirring until combined. Drizzle the coating over the popcorn, using tongs to help distribute, until evenly coated. Mix in chocolate candies if using.  And allow to cool and harden before serving.

Happy Valentine's Day!