Tag Archives: dessert

Early October Wrap Up

I haven’t had a lot of inspiration for cooking in the last couple of weeks, and I’m just getting over a bad cold. A woman’s got to eat, however. Luckily, I threw a few things together before it got too bad.

I used the same basic dough recipe that I made those pumpkin and kaiser-shaped rolls with, but I left out the ground oats and threw in an egg and 1/4 cup of sugar. About 1/3 of the dough (300 gm) was rolled out and cut into six strips to wrap around Jumbo hot dogs … for pigs in blankets.

NOTE: Shaping and baking instructions found at link above.

I was going to make caramel rolls with some of the remaining dough but it turned out I didn’t have any caramel sauce in the fridge (just fudge sauce). So I got creative with the leftover cranberry sauce in my fridge and some quince jam from the pantry.

  

I transferred some of the cranberry sauce onto the quince jam portion, cause there was just too much sauce to roll up without it all oozing out. Originally, I was going to make two distinct fillings.

Icing sugar, softened butter and milk glaze

Close-up of crumb inside the rolls

Pantry chili with veggies from the crisper drawer and canned small red kidney beans and diced tomatoes (with herbs and spices). Served over or with those piggy buns.

   

Pasta is always a quick meal like this Shrimp aglio e olio over leftover linguine.  Sometimes finely minced garlic sauteed in olive oil is all you need to dress your pasta. And a sprinkle of pepperoncini (dry hot red pepper flakes). Cooking the pasta takes longer than cooking the shrimp and making the sauce.

Brunch – I love fried eggs over easy and bacon. For breakfast, lunch OR dinner. And some sort of dairy … like cottage cheese, or cream cheese if I can’t get that. Sometimes I pile it on top of toasted home made bread.

  

Red pepper hummus with home made sourdough tortillas for a quick snack or part of brunch

There’s still the weekend left for more cooking, but I think I’ll wrap things up here.

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Cranberry Sauce

A bit of history first …

For Canadian immigrants in the 60’s, assimilation was the goal.

The ‘melting pot’ was a thing, and my brother and I adopted the Canadian life style with enthusiasm. So, a traditional Thanksgiving meal was one of the must have’s at our house.

Pumpkin pie and cranberry sauce weren’t a priority but the big turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy were front and center on our table. Stuffing … well my mom combined cooked rice, toasted and seasoned bread, sauteed onion and celery, turkey broth and turkey giblets into a dish that was the first thing I put on my plate. I even make it occasionally now that I’m doing all the cooking.

I think my mom must have bought canned cranberry sauce at some point. But I don’t remember. What I DO remember is that my nephew, a picky eater, HAD to have traditional jelly cranberry sauce. My SIL, may have even brought the can to our house to make sure that there were no tantrums in those early days. Watching that solid mass SLIDE out was a vivid memory. When they took leftovers home, the cranberry sauce was always included because no one at OUR house was a big fan.

Fast forward to the present and at the age of 61, I made my first batch of cranberry sauce, with whole berries.

Cranberry sauce

Cranberry Sauce – makes ~ 3 cups

12 oz/ 340 gm cranberries
1 cup white sugar
1 cup orange juice (or 1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup orange juice)
1 tbsp of orange zest

In a medium sized saucepan over medium heat, dissolve the sugar in the orange juice. Stir in the cranberries and cook until the cranberries start to pop (about 10 minutes). Remove from heat, stir in the orange zest and place sauce in a bowl.

Cranberry sauce will thicken as it cools.

And you know what?

It’s pretty tasty.

Uses for leftover cranberry sauce

Yogurt and cranberry sauce – if you like fruit flavoured yogurt for breakfast, stir as much of the cranberry sauce as you like into some drained yogurt and dig in

A moist and tender batch of Yogurt & Cranberry muffins, from “Cook the Story”. Instead of the large size that the recipe suggested, I made a dozen medium sized muffins and used the rest of the batter to make a tray that can be cut into bars. For serving, I stirred some cranberry sauce into sweetened whipped cream.

Maybe I should try making a pumpkin pie next year.

A leftover meal that’s even better than the original … turkey drumstick, blue cheese polenta, giblet gravy, sauteed kale

One-Banana Muffins

I have texture issues so when it comes to buying fruit to eat out of hand, bananas are NOT my first, or even fifth, choice. But for reasons that don’t warrant going into, I ended up with a single banana ripening on my counter.

I decided to make banana muffins so I googled for an appropriate one banana recipe.

Serenity Now‘s blog had what looked like the perfect recipe for me, but I made some changes.

Banana Muffins with One Banana – makes 1 dozen large muffins or 1 loaf of muffin bread

1 large, very ripe banana
1 cup regular white sugar
1 egg with enough milk to make 1 cup*
1 stick (1/2 cup) of butter, softened, or 1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp vegetable oil, or 1/4 cup vegetable oil plus 2 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda

* Add the egg and 2 tbsp sour cream to a measuring cup, and then enough milk to make 1 cup. Baking soda likes some acid to help it act in baking but since I didn’t have any yogurt, I used the sour cream.
** I was short of butter so I decided to replace it with vegetable oil. Since my banana wasn’t over ripe (I didn’t want to wait until the next day to make these), I replaced the additional 2 tbsp vegetable oil with maple syrup to sweeten the batter.

Optional add-ins: 1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts, 1/2 cup chocolate chips, a dash of cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Line a 12 large muffin tin with muffin/cupcake papers. (If making a loaf, butter the tin generously so it won’t stick.)

In a large mixing bowl, break up the peeled banana and cream with the sugar, using a hand blender, until the banana is pureed.

Add in the flour, baking soda, egg/milk mixture, oil (oil and maple syrup) and the vanilla extract and beat just until everything is just combined. (If including the cinnamon, add at this point as well.)

Fold in the nuts or chocolate chips and, using an ice cream scoop, fill the muffin tins.

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted into the muffins comes out cleanly. This is a very liquid batter so the baking time is a bit longer than you might be used to. (I found that my chocolate chips all fell to the bottom, probably due to the density of the batter. Mini chocolate chips might be a better choice.)

NOTE: If baking in a loaf pan, you’ll need to bake this for 50-55 minutes depending on your oven.

Old and New Meals, Again

Nothing too exciting happening in the kitchen. I made an attempt at a type of hand shaped pasta, called strascinati rigati, using a sushi rolling mat, but the results were a bit disappointing. Next time, I’d roll the pasta much thinner and cut smaller pieces for shaping. I’d also cook them fresh rather than drying them. Taste wise … well, it’s pasta with a home made marinara sauce. Tasty but nothing to write home about.

The pasta on the left was made only with all purpose flour while the pasta on the right used half fine ground semolina flour as well.

Once again, the freezer is providing the start of some great meals … leftover pork ribs (remember that blueberry bbq sauce) with purchased hash brown patties.

And pulled pork sandwiches with roasted potato wedges.

I had a sirloin steak in the freezer so I thawed it out, seared it in a cast iron frying pan and served it rare. Simple but delicious with mashed potatoes, carrots and salad. There was enough steak leftover for a steak sandwich too.

I had a bit of a chocolate craving so I whipped up some blender chocolate mousse/pot de creme, flavoured with orange liqueur (Cointreau), to pour into a couple of prebaked pastry shells from the freezer. I had visions of something like a chocolate cream pie but since the shells had shrunk so much, not much of the mousse fit into the shells. So, I poured most of the mousse into a couple of ramekins and topped them with a dollop of whipped cream.

I should have let the pies set a bit longer before cutting into them but I couldn’t wait. (Sorry for the poor lighting in the first picture.)

Barbie’s Super Simple Oatmeal Cookies (with Coconut)

I enjoyed the taste of the last batch of oatmeal cookies that I made … but the ‘look’ didn’t thrill me.

These, on the other hand, are very photogenic. And they taste good as well. Not overly sweet … next time, I’d use half the amount of salt though cause the margarine, which I used instead of butter, was salty enough.

This recipe also came out of Edna Staebler’s “Cookies and Squares with Schmecks Appeal”. The kitchen was a bit warm for September (77 deg F) so, by the time I had mixed up the dough and started shaping it into 1 inch sized balls, my dough was pretty sticky. I persevered and then refrigerated the resulting cookie balls.

After 30 minutes, I used the back of a fork to press down gently on the cookie balls in order to flatten them and baked the cookies for 14 minutes, instead of the 12 minutes recommended, in a preheated 350 deg F oven. I left the baked cookies on the baking sheet to cool for about 10 minutes, before using a thin metal spatula to transfer them onto the cooling rack, to finish cooling.

Blue Monday … Blueberry BBQ Sauce and Blueberry Hand Pies

Happy Labour Day US/Canada!

Two ‘blue’ themed dishes for the last day of the summer holidays.

And a link to a song that just says it all.

Blueberries have been on sale for the last couple of months so I tossed a couple of clamshells in the freezer … for later.

Well, later has come, and I started with a marinade/bbq sauce for the strip of pork ribs I found in the basement freezer. I took the lazy route and didn’t saute an onion and garlic, as I should have. Instead, I added a tablespoon of dry minced onion and a few shakes of garlic powder to a bbq recipe I found on the Blueberry Council website. It was a lot looser than I wanted even after I simmered it uncovered (and unattended) for a while. You might want to hang around the kitchen and stir it every few minutes so that it doesn’t catch on the bottom and scorch.

Pork ribs before and after marinating and baking

Dessert also featured that juicy blue fruit. Hand pies using a recipe posted on one of the FB groups I belong to.

The pastry was tender and delicious but, even baking it an additional 10 minutes, didn’t brown the whole egg glazed tops as much as I wanted. And, during that extra 10 minutes, all of the hand pies burst open and oozed their tasty filling over the baking sheet. Luckily I had lined it with parchment paper so I didn’t have a mess to clean up. I plan on upping the temperature to 400 deg F, and cut steam vents in the top. (NOTE: Just had a chance to touch base with the recipe poster and she mentions that she now does both those things.)

I had halved the filling recipe because I only had two cups of blueberries, but I had more filling than I needed for the hand pies I made, so I made a mini pie with the surplus. And the extra pastry was shaped into three mini pie shells and blind baked. Disappointingly they shrank quite a bit, even though I refrigerated them before baking. When I serve the mini blueberry pie and decide what to fill those shells with, I’ll share pics.

Labour Day Meal

Basic Vanilla Cupcakes … Raspberry (and Blueberry) Cupcakes and Curd

Buying boxes of white or yellow cake mix is tempting, especially when they’re on sale.

It’s convenient and then you can dress up your cupcakes as you want. However, a basic vanilla cupcake batter can be whipped up fairly quickly, especially with a bit of planning. And, those boxes make enough batter for a two layer cake or two dozen medium cupcakes.

With this recipe, you only make enough batter for a single layer cake or, a dozen cupcakes. A lot less to find room for in your refrigerator freezer. And you’re not tempted to eat them all before they go bad when you’re on your own.

Blueberry cupcakes with lemon curd

Raspberry Vanilla Cupcakes – makes 1 dozen medium cupcakes

< 1/2 cup (100 g) butter, at room temperature, diced in 1/2 inch cubes
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 cup self-raising flour (or 1 cup all purpose flour, 1 1/2 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp salt)
1/3 cup milk
1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries, thawed (or blueberries, strawberries**, blackberries)

** If using strawberries, wash, hull and cut into 4 to 6 pieces depending on size.

Preheat oven to 350 deg F/ 170 deg C line 12 medium muffin tins with paper cases.

Using electric beaters, beat butter, sugar and vanilla until pale and creamy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Fold in half the flour, then all the milk, then the remaining flour, until just combined. Gently fold through the raspberries.

Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tin and bake for 20 mins, or until the cakes are springy to a light touch. (A toothpick inserted in the center will come out cleanly. ) Leave the cupcakes in the muffin tin for 5 mins, then transfer the cupcakes onto a wire rack to cool.

When it came time to add the fruit, because I had bought both blueberries and raspberries, I decided to split my batter in half and add half the amount of fruit to each part. Now I have cupcakes with two different kinds of fruit.

The fruit was part of a sale of three 6 ounce packages for $5. The choices were blueberries, raspberries and strawberries but I passed on the latter and grabbed two packages of the raspberries so that I could make raspberry curd with one and still have some to eat straight or bake with.

Citrus curds are common, but you can use berries to make curds, as well, as long as you add some lemon juice.

Raspberry Curd Pavlova

Raspberry Curd – makes ~ 1 1/2 cup

6 oz/170 gm raspberries
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
3/4 cups sugar
4 large egg yolks
2-3 tbsp unsalted butter

In a food processor or blender, whirl raspberries with lemon juice until pureed. Pour into a fine strainer set over a measuring cup. Stir with a spoon to force pulp through strainer; discard seeds. You should end up with a total of about 3/4 cups of lemon/raspberry juice.

In a large heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, combine juice, sugar and egg yolks.

Whisk the mixture and cook until thickened. (If you dip a wooden spoon into the mixture, you’ll be able to run a finger through the middle leaving a clean track on the back.) Strain to remove any cooked pieces of egg or missed seeds.

Refrigerate until cold and thick.

Basic Breakfast Quinoa and Nectarine Murabba/Compote

I don’t eat breakfast, as I generally don’t have time to do so, but this basic ‘porridge’ recipe inspired by Martha Stewart, featuring quinoa, might solve that problem in the future.

Basic Breakfast Quinoa

Basic Breakfast Quinoa – serves 4

1 cup quinoa
2 cups milk, whole or 2%
1/4 cup brown sugar
pinch of salt
pinch or two of ground cinnamon

Fruit Add-ins – amounts are rough estimates
1/4-1/3 cups dried fruits like apricots, cranberries, dates, raisins, prunes
1/3-1/2 cup fruit compote
1/2 cup fresh fruit like whole blueberries or diced firm fruit like apples, pears, peaches, nectarines

Soak quinoa for a half hour or rinse several times and then drain it well.

In a medium sized pan, bring the milk to a boil and stir in the prepared quinoa. Once the milk has returned to the boil, reduce the temperature to a simmer, cover and cook for about 15 minutes. Stir in the brown sugar, salt and ground cinnamon, cover and continue cooking for another 10 minutes.

If using dried fruit, add it in with the brown sugar and cook for the additional 10 minutes. If using fresh fruit, add it in a few minutes before end of the final cooking period and cook for another 2-3 minutes. If using the fresh fruit compote, stir it in just before serving.

Additional add-ins: Roasted seeds like sunflower seeds may be added before serving or nuts like sliced almonds. For additional sweetness, a tablespoon or so of sweetened condensed milk may be poured over the quinoa.

This ‘porridge’ may be eaten warm or cold with additional milk poured over the top.

Breakfast quinoa with nectarine compote stirred in and more served on top

Dried cranberries and sweetened condensed milk … I didn’t have any oranges or I would have added some orange zest as well. Ready for cold milk to be poured over.

Another possible quick breakfast …

The inspiration for this fresh fruit compote recipe was found on “The Story of a Kitchen” blog

Nectarine Murabba/Compote served over drained yogurt

Nectarine Murabba/Compote – makes 2 cups

1 pound nectarines** (or apricots or peaches), peeled and diced into 1 inch pieces
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
4 cardamom pods, cracked
1/4 tsp rosewater
pinch of salt
juice of one lemon (use the juice of half a lemon if your fruit isn’t fully ripe)

** Free-stone fruit is preferred but cling-stone works too

In a small saucepan, bring the sugar and water to the boil. Add the diced fruit, cardamom pods, rosewater, salt and the juice of half a lemon and stir through. Continue cooking for another 2-3 minutes.

Taste one of the fruits and only add the rest of the lemon juice if it seems sweet enough.

Transfer the fruit to a 2 cup capacity glass canning jar. Pour over enough of the syrup to cover the fruit. Screw on the lid and let cool on the counter until it has reached room temperature and then refrigerate for up to two weeks.

Serve over drained yogurt for breakfast or as a dessert topping over ice cream or cake.

Pie … Sweet or Savoury

I haven’t made a pie in ages but the various flyer sales for stone fruits (nectarines, peaches and plums) tempted me and so I scoped out what was available. I ended up going to Food Basic and picking up a clamshell of nectarines cause I had a bad experience with last year’s basket of peaches. They were firm but not as sweet as I would have liked and I had to guess-timate how much sugar to add. I erred on the side of caution. With a scoop of ice cream the result was perfect but it was a bit tart on its own.

The next question was … which of several pie crust recipes should I use. I went with the one on the Crisco vegetable shortening package, though I replaced half the shortening with unsalted butter. The recipe makes enough pastry for a single double crust pie, but I made two minis in disposable aluminum pie tins instead.

Crisco Pie Crust Recipe – makes 1 double crust pastry, ~580 gm pastry, enough for 2 8″ bases, and 2 6 1/2″ tops, plus leftover pastry

2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup vegetable shortening (or 1/2 cup unsalted butter, and 1/2 cup vegetable shortening)**
3/4 tsp salt
1 egg
2 tbsp ice cold water
1 tbsp vinegar

** What I used this time

 

Nectarine/Peach Mini Pie Filling Recipe – rough formula for filling

2 – 2 1/2 nectarines per mini pie shell
1 tbsp sugar per nectarine (if the fruit is fully sweet, reduce to 2 tbsp per each 3 nectarines)
1/2 tbsp cornstarch** per nectarine
pinch of salt

** If planning to freeze baked tart, use flour, otherwise, use cornstarch. For every 1 tbsp of cornstarch, you’ll need to use about 3 tbsp of flour. Also, cook whatever you’re thickening a few minutes longer to get rid of the raw flavor of the flour. Baking should take care of that issue. Plus, the filling will be more matte than glossy when using flour.

Preheat oven to 375 deg F.

Bake pies for 35-40 minutes on a baking sheet in case of overflow or melting of butter

The remaining pastry became a savoury tart with broccoli, Canadian (peameal) bacon and cheddar cheese. No waste at all. Though I still have five nectarines in the fridge to deal with.

NOTE: For a filling recipe, I used the same amounts and timing as in an earlier quiche recipe baked in the same ceramic pan. Pre-baking the crust is advised.