Sunday, 18 September 2011

Early Grey Cupcakes

I've been dreaming up a new concept in cupcake baking for a while. I haven't seen it much out there, but that doesn't mean it doesn't exist. It just means I don't spend enough time trolling on the internet. They are cupcakes baked right into teacups. And of course they would have to be tea flavoured to make it really authentic. I chose Earl Grey because all other teas pale in comparison and I didn't want to make a wussy cupcake. Then I added some honey-lemon buttercream to top it off:

Earl Grey Cupcakes (from Surprised by Joy)

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
1 cup of sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups of flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 Earl Grey teabags, cut open and leaves emptied

1. Beat the butter until creamy. Slowly, while still beating, add the sugar and beat until fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating in between each addition.
2. Mix the dry ingredients together.
3. Add the flour to the butter mixture in three additions, alternating with the milk. (I always use soy milk or almond milk and it turns out just fine)
4. Fill your tea cups to about the 2/3 line. Bake for 15 - 20 minutes.

Honey-Lemon Buttercream (Tart to Heart)
*I just want to preface this by saying that I found this recipe to be ridiculously sweet and it overpowered the delicate flavour of the Earl Grey. Next time I may just do a lemon glaze and call it a day. You decide.

1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
6 Tbsp honey
1/4 tsp lemon zest
1/4 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1. Cream butter, honey, lemon zest, vanilla and salt until combined.
2. Add the icing sugar one cup at a time, tasting between each addition. In order to get it to a good piping consistency you have to add in all three cups.
3. Pipe, dollop, and glob away to your heart's content.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Champagne Cupcakes with Strawberry Champagne Buttercream

I recently found out that one of B's distant cousins had gotten engaged and that him and his family were throwing a celebratory picnic. I already knew I was going to be bringing cupcakes, but what kind was a different story. The part of my mind that hasn't been fried by five years of university and substance abuse (haha, only partially I'm sad) came up with the brilliant idea of doing champagne cupcakes. I thought, heck, don't people use that shit to make toasts or something? I wouldn't know, it's too classy. At any rate, the hamster began to run on it's rusty ol' wheel:

Champagne Cupcakes:
- 1 box of yellow cake mix - you can use the "good" quality stuff, but I used the PC brand and it was a-okay. (good is in quotations because how good can box cake mix really be? NOT. Until Martha Stewart starts designing the stuff)
- 1 c. champagne

1. Now follow the directions on the box, but instead of using milk like they suggest, use the champagne. That is all. Bake according to directions. It's really that simple.

Strawberry Buttercream:
- 1 c. butter or margarine
- 1/2 c. pureed strawberries (or, as I sometimes call them, strawbies!)
- 2 c. icing sugar

1. Cream you butter or partially hydrogenated butter like spreadable product thing.
2. Add the powdered sugar one cup at a time, tasting between for sweetness and texture. Add more or less accordingly. Remember, this can change based on climate.
3. Add the strawbie puree and beat until combined.

Champagne Buttercream:
- 1 c. butter or margarine
- 1/2 c. champagne
- 2 c. icing sugar.

1. Same as above for the other buttercream, but with champagne.
Bonus: There is enough champagne left over to help the maker finish the product. Well done. Now stop crying and wipe that buttercream off of your face, drunko.

To pipe, fill one side of your pastry bag with the strawberry buttercream, and one side with the champagne buttercream. The champagne stuff will be a little bit softer than the strawberry stuff, so perhaps avoid using the Wilton 1M tip and just use the open end of the pastry bag? It worked okay for me, but resulted in a sloppy finish. Either that or it was the champagne...

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Peanut Butter Cookies

I love peanut butter cookies but I somehow, inevitably overcook them every time. I pull them out, they look terribly undercooked so I put them back in and in a matter of two minutes, blamo - hokey pucks that may have once resembled cookies. Somehow I did not totally destroy these ones. I'm going to chalk it up to the recipe, and me following the instructions regardless of what they looked like when they came out. Thanks 52 Kitchen Adventures.

The Glorious Recipe:

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup peanut butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Cream butter and peanut butter. Add sugars and beat until dissolved. Add eggs, then milk and vanilla. (I used almond milk and margarine, of course).
3. Whisk together the remaining ingredients. Stir into the wet ingredients, mixing until combined.
4. This is the point at which you could (theoretically) add chocolate chips. I wanted the chocolate to be present in a little more of an nontraditional form, so I used it to decorate the cookies.
5. Drop spoonfuls onto a greased baking sheet. Use a fork to make the criss-cross pattern on top. Tip: dip the fork into water before using it each time - it prevents it from sticking to the cookie and pulling at the top, thusly destroying your design.
6. Bake for 10 - 12 minutes. I found 12 minutes to be just the right amount. They did look quite under baked when I pulled them out but I let them cool and they hardened up just fine. They freeze well too.
7. As you can see, I decided to finish these beauts by dipping them in dark chocolate and then rainbow coated chocolate sprinkles. Do whatever you like with them when you're done! Well, maybe stick to slapping some sort of edible dip product on them and eating them, but whatever floats your boat...

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Vegan Tahini Brownies

Since giving up meat and dairy entirely (again!) I've started thinking about my food a lot more creatively. The title of these should really be Tahini Rum Orange Brownies, but that sounds weird and clunky. I found this recipes at weheartfood. Here they be.

1 Bar of cooking chocolate, such as 60 or 70% bittersweet, 100 g
1/2 cup, plus one tablespoon of tahini
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 heaping tsp baking powder
1 cup powdered sugar
2/3 cup combination of rum and orange juice

1. Oven at 350 F.
2. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler. Or, like I do, just carefully in a regular pot. Careful being the operative word. Once the chocolate is melted add the powdered sugar.
3. Mix the tahini, rum and orange juice together. I used Captain Morgan's Spiced Rum which complemented the dark chocolate and tahini really well. Then add this to the chocolate mixture.
4. Mix the dry ingredients together and add to the wet ingredients.
5. Line an 8" baking sheet with parchment paper and spread the brownie batter evenly in the pan.
6. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until crispy outside and gooey inside.

When eating these, keep in mind that they are vegan. Also, in spite of this, the texture is amazing.
For fun you can add chopped walnuts or chocolate chips to the batter at the last step. I chose walnuts. Enjoy.

Friday, 26 August 2011

Vegan Tacos

I was feeling quite lazy the other day when I whipped these little guys up. They are definitely nothing special, aside from the fact that they're made with chickpeas instead of ground meat. I'm sharing this because people don't often think to make their tacos with anything other than ground beef or fake ground beef. Legumes are such a great idea! All you have to do is get some taco seasoning (always check the ingredients label first, of course), your favorite toppings, maybe some soy cheese and chickpeas. Cook the chickpeas with the taco seasoning in place of the ground beef and you get these:

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Sweet Pea and Garlic Soup

 I found the most amazing, flavorful and simple recipe on Food~Fitness~FreshAir the other day. As soon as I saw it I knew I had to try it out. I didn't even feel the need to adjust it and make my own Frankenstein version as I normally do with most foods. The best thing about this recipe? It's so simple it practically makes itself! Oh, and it's VEGAN! Hoorah. Here she be:

Sweet Pea and Garlic Soup
1/4 cup sliced garlic (10-15 cloves)
-4 cups peas
-2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
-1/2 tsp. salt
-1/4 tsp. pepper
-2 Tbsp. chives, finely chopped
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1. Saute minced garlic in olive oil until garlic is nice and brown. Add peas, salt, pepper and broth. Simmer for about 20 minutes, or until peas are tender. Remove from heat.
2. Put one cup aside and puree the rest however you please. I used a blender and in my infinite wisdom and patience I tried to do it all in one batch. Yes, it did look like Regan was in my kitchen when I was through. So, foo', don't do it all in one batch if you're using a blender.
3. Add puree and whole peas together back in the pan. Serve however your sassy little ass wants. This is your world. (thanks Bob Ross)

Monday, 8 August 2011

Anniversary Pancakes

So, yes I am a bad blogger. But whatever. Behold these tasty morsels of delicious deliciousness. It was my and B's anniversary and I thought to myself, what do I do well that B also really likes. You perverts, the answer is cook food! So, on Sunday so I got up early and made these babies:

Banana pancakes with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, candied pecans, and peaches poached in ice wine. Now, I don't really have a recipe for this, as I kinda just threw it together, groggily, in the morning. I believe the pancakes go something like:

1 1/2 cups of flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup sugar
2 mashed bananas
1 egg
1 cup of milk (or soy milk, like I had on hand)
Mix the dry ingredients together and then add the wet ingredients. Cook away to your heart's content. I find that the best time to flip your pancakes is when the edges start to look cook and bubbles form in the center.

1 1/2 cups frozen peaches (fresh would have been preferable, if they had any)
2 tbsp ice wine
Pinch of cinnamon
Throw these two things in a pot and reduce until the liquid in the pot has reached the consistency of a syrup. You don't need to add anything else because there is so much sugar in the ice wine that it will thicken on it's own.

1 cup pecan halves
2 tbsp brown sugar
I actually had no idea how to candy nuts so I also just tossed them in a pan together and stirred them until the sugar had melted and coated the nuts nicely. You do have to watch them though, as they can burn quite easily due to the sugar.

Now, just throw it all together and blamo. Bliss. In your mouth.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

The Bird and The Fish

There's this old adage that goes something to the effect of: a fish and a bird can fall in love, but where would they make a home? It always seemed so sad to me. Couple that with the impending environmental destruction that global warming threatens life with on a continual basis and soon the possibility of any of us having a place to build a home together diminishes severely. I know that a bird and a fish cannot actually build a home together, but there is something in the potential for togetherness and symbiosis that just feels right somewhere in my bones. I feel that it is via respect and then unity with all life forms that solutions might be found and NOT through alienation that results from being constantly "plugged in". It is for this reason that I have chosen to draw a bird and a fish in the holes where one would normally plug themselves and, and, inadvertently, shut themselves off from the rest of the world. This way you cannot ignore it.

I know it's not the greatest art but I'm hoping that it will inspire some to look outside the box to things that they can up-cycle.

Saturday, 11 June 2011


Pavlova is one of my favorite desserts. I first tried it while living in New Zealand and I was hooked immediately. The crispy meringue outside, the softness inside, the cream and all of that fresh fruit? Gird my loins and look out! Ask any New Zealander and they'll tell you that they invented this and that all Aussies are bastards and liars. Ask any Aussie and they'll tell you the same thing but in reverse. Regardless of who first made it, it is delicious!

The best recipe I have found, to date, was actually from that "about" website. You know the one I mean. Here it is.

The best part is that the topping is completely up to you so you can choose your favorite fruits and this is perfect for summer, so go wild!

Tuesday, 7 June 2011


Having worked in an Italian restaurant for several years I am very familiar with this dish. At one point I'm sure I could have made it in my sleep. Here's my version:
1 pkg lady fingers
1 container of mascarpone cheese (250 grams)
1 cup strong coffee, cooled. For a coffee-er taste try using espresso powder
1/2 cup of sugar
2 eggs, seperated
coffee liqueur - if you're a total food snob then feel free to use something expensive and genuine. I found some coffee flavoured swill from Mexico collecting dust in the cupboard.
dash o' vanilla extract
cinnamon to taste/preference
nutmeg to taste/preference

1. Beat egg yolks and sugar together until creamy and pale. Add mascarpone cheese and continue to beat until stiff. Add your dash of vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg and a couple of drizzles of the coffee liqueur. Note: I accidentally grabbed the maple extract and added it before I even knew what was happening. It's like the tazmanian devil takes over my body when I enter the kitchen and I just mentally check any rate, the maple turned out just swell. Didn't taste like a Canadian flavour battle or anything...

2. Beat the egg whites until they reach the soft peak stage. Gently fold into the cheese mixture. I genuinely suck shit at folding so I find it easier to add the egg whites in two additions.

3. Combine the coffee with 2 tbsp of coffee liqueur. Dip the lady fingers in the dish, but relatively quickly so they aren't too saturated and soggy. They soak up liquid relatively quickly and will continue to do so when sitting in the dish in the fridge. Arrange in your chosen dish. In the past I have used dainty little coffee cups and this always turns out really cute and creates an individual sized portion. But that was when I had access to better things. This time I just had a baking pan. Whatever floats your boat. Put it in a fish bowl for all I care. Just make sure the fish are out first.

4. Layer lady fingers soaked in coffee in one layer so they are covering the bottom of the pan, then add a layer of cheese mixture. Continue until complete.

5. Drink the rest of the coffee liqueur and enjoy some badass dessert. Just make sure you refrigerate it for about four hours first. That should give you enough time to finish the liqueur off anyway.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Blueberry Crumble

 As a continuation from my post about barbecues 'n' shit, here's some blueberry crumble that the fam seemed to love. I halved the original recipe, which accounts for the funny sounding measurements. This was enough for four people with no left overs. Adjust according to the amount of people you want to feed. Foo'.

Blueberry Crumble Filling:

2 1/2 cups of blueberries (I used wild blueberries and they were so small and sweet and delicious!)
1 1/2 tbsps lemon juice
1/2 cup of sugar
1/4 cup of flour
1/16th tablespoon of salt (see what I mean about ridiculous measurements?)
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Blueberry Crumble Topping:

1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
4 tbsps butter or margarine softened (if you use margarine you could make it vegan quite easily - remember to always read the ingredients though because sometimes companies put dairy in their margarine anyway for some annoying reason)

1. Sprinkle berries with lemon juice and set aside.
2. Combine sugar and next three ingredients. Add to berries, stirring well.
3. Combine crumble ingredients with a pastry blender or two knives if you don't have a pastry blender. If you're really ghetto you could probably use the back of a spoon. Whatever you do, make sure that it reaches pea-sized consistency. Then toss that shit on top of yo' crumble.
4. Bake at 400F for 35 minutes. Enjoy with a huge scoop of ice-cream or soy-cream.

Monday, 23 May 2011

A rose by any other name, would be a delicious buttercream rose!

So, I decided to try my hand at the elusive buttercream rose as I had so much buttercream left over from the maple buttercream of a few days ago. It didn't turn out as badly as I thought. I imagined a busted pastry bag and a terrified family cowering in the corner of the kitchen. Instead, I made flowers. I'm going to provide a list of websites and how-to videos that I spent my morning watching. I have never done this before. I literally just watched these videos this morning and then practiced the flowers. This flower here was my 20th and final attempt. You will need:

Rose Tip Wilton 104
Pastry Bag
Flower Nail
Pre-cut Flower Squares

To get the multi-coloured flower I put half white and half coloured buttercream into my pastry bag. Simply separate your icing into however many different colours you want to use and then tint each bowl of icing a different colour. Add your colours down one side of the pastry bag - do NOT pile them one on top of the other or they will only come out in that order and not create the multi-coloured effect.

Here's what I took a look at:
Video 1 - very informative video by a professional. I wouldn't attempt to make your center this high though, unless you really know what you're doing. I stuck to one little mound in the center.
Video 2 - A little lengthy but shows the technique fairly clearly. And shows what you can do without a flower nail.
Video 3 - Awesome finished product!

And also read:
Written Instructions - these actually seemed to help me the most, even though I am absolutely terrible at following directions. I once failed to read the instructions and fully boil my jello before setting it in the fridge, and ended up with a partially-congealed mess that I feared would develop a life of it's own and turn into this:

At any rate, remember to have fun and it does require practice. Those people in the videos are only that good because they don't have lives and this is all they do. Just kidding! That's just the bitterness talking.  Good luck!

A plain pink rose.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Oma's Po-tay-to salad

It's finally warming up here in Saskatoon (yes, several months behind schedule of course) which means it's barbecue season! Big Tom fired up the grill and I made my Oma's delectable potato salad. I find most people manage to totally fuck up their potato salad somehow. It should be really, very simple. A dab of this, a dollop of that, shake some salt and pepper over that bitch and chow down. Here's what I did:

10 yukon gold potatoes, chopped into bite sized pieces and boiled
2 pickles, diced
2 hard boiled eggs
8-10 chives (which I was able to snag fresh out of the garden)
6 tbsp mayonnaise or miracle whip
1 tbsp mustard
salt and pepper to taste

1. Boil the eggs and the potatoes.
2. Transfer the potatoes to a bowl. Chop the eggs (obviously when they're cool enough to handle) and add to the potatoes.
3. Add in mayonnaise and mustard. The measurements I have there are approximations. I find that the yukon gold potato has a rich and delicate flavour if you don't swamp it with condiments. If you add too much it will just mask the flavour instead. So do it to taste.
4. Here I take a fork and mash the potatoes a bit with the mayo and mustard - I find this enables you to get away with adding very little mayo and gives a nice texture to the salad. I'd say you want about 3/4 whole potatoes and 1/4 mushy potatoes.
5. Toss in your pickles and chives.
6. Add salt and pepper and mix thoroughly.  
7. Refrigerate about 30 minutes before serving. I find that the longer it sits the more flavorful it gets.

Certainly far more delicious and less bizarre than this.

Jumbo Banana-Walnut Cupcakes with Maple Buttercream

Behold, the diet-buster, in all it's glory. I'm not going to lie, it's been two days and I'm still snacking on these suckers. Here are the ingredients:

Banana-Walnut Cupcakes:

3 ripe bananas
2 cups cake flour ( I just used regular flour and it turned out just fine, beautiful crumb and all)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter (you know what, I ALWAYS use salted. It makes all the difference, I swear. Just give it a go, just once.)
3/4 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
handful and a half of chopped walnuts - the original recipe didn't actually call for them, but who doesn't want walnuts in their banana cake?

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

2. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add bananas, and beat to combine. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of sour cream, and beating until just combined after each. Beat in vanilla.

3. In another bowl, with electric mixer on medium speed, whisk egg whites to soft peaks. Don't forget, if there is any fat in the bowl the egg whites will not do their thing. Make sure you use a clean bowl, and if there are any doubts you can rub a halved lemon all over the inside of the bowl to get rid of the fat! Handy tip I just learned the other day. Once the egg whites have reached soft peaks, fold one-third whites into the batter to lighten it. Gently fold in remaining whites in two batches. It should look like the third picture above when folded in.

5. Naturally, I forgot to take a photo at the point at which I added the walnuts, but this would be about the time to do it. Right here, after you add the egg whites and before you put it in the oven. 

4. Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each 3/4 full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester comes out clean. You can choose to do 12 smaller cupcakes or do what I did and do 6 jumbo ones. If you do 12 then bake for about 20 minutes. If you choose to do 6 then bake for about 40 minutes. Transfer to wire racks to cool completely before removing from tins.

Maple Buttercream:

1 cup salted butter
3  teaspoons of maple extract
4 cups of icing sugar
4-5 tablespoons of cream
from: Kitchen Magpie

1. Cream the butter - if you have a paddle beater this makes for ultimate butter cream. It reduces the amount of air bubbles in it and makes for uber-awesome piping. If not, don't worry about. I'm poor and don't have a paddle beater either. One can dream though, can't they?

2. Add the icing sugar. I like to do it one cup at a time and taste it between each addition, just to make sure it's not going to be too sweet or too dry for me. As Bob Ross says, "This is your world" so make your damn butter cream however you want. He probably didn't say that last bit. I did though. Also, note that the consistency will change after you add the liquid.

3. After all of the icing sugar has been added, add your cream. I've found that using real cream has always granted the best results but I've also used things like soy or almond milk in a bind.

4. Add the maple extract. I suppose you could add whatever extract you wanted, really. Coffee would probably taste really good with this too. Or even chocolate. Mmmmm....I'm hungry now.

This is what it should look like when done

 Piping and decorating:

If you're like me chances are you got a star tip that was too big for your pastry bag. Which resulted in this MacGyver:

Note: if you squeeze too hard the seams will burst and icing will come shooting out in all directions causing the user to shout a stream of profanities against their will. What do you suppose a "crap weasel" is anyway?

I used a Wilton 2D Star Tip for this number.

A General with a cupcake army in the background.

The finished product.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Welcome to my Blog!

Welcome to my blog! If you're like me you're probably reading this while making dinner/studying/dreaming up a new crafting project/running around the house trying to figure out why all of your underwear are mysteriously missing (the latter two leading to the crocheted underwear incident of '07) or some combination of all four. Welcome, friend. I do a lot of things on the fly, often whilst sipping an occasional glass of wine...or three. Mostly I LOVE to cook and create delicious and esthetically pleasing meals. Hence, the name of this blog. I hope to share the knowledge I have while gaining some for myself at the same time. I'm definitely no Martha Stewart but then again neither is any mere mortal. Join me, haphazardly!