Friday, March 15, 2013

Broccoli Cream Soup

As much as I would like it to be too warm for soup, the reality is, it is still that time of year where you can look forward to and enjoy a warm and filling bowl of great soup. The temperature is hovering around zero, it's been wet and rainy, and it is damp. There's nothing better than a bowl of soup to come home to.

My kids love soup, any kind of soup - mushroom, tomato, chicken noodle, and now broccoli cream soup (loaded with vegetables) is one of their favourites. The bonus is that they love to feed themselves soup, and if you can imagine three hungry little mouths all snapping and whining at dinner time, you will understand why I love soup so much too :)

I know you would expect this soup to be green - like broccoli - but I added so much other goodness to it, the colour changed a little. It is still very delicious though. Beware, one bowl might not be enough!

Broccoli Cream Soup
Makes 3L (or 12 cups)

4 tablespoons butter
1 onion, diced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
3 potatoes, peeled and chopped
3 tablespoons flour
2 L chicken stock
500g broccoli florets (about 2 bunches)
200g cauliflower florets (about 1/2 a head)
1/2 cup cream
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
30g parmesan cheese

Heat butter in large pot over medium heat. Add onion, carrot, garlic and salt, stirring well until vegetables are softened, about 10 minutes. Add flour and stir for 2-3 minutes. Add potatoes with chicken stock, scraping up and bits from the bottom of the pan.
Add broccoli and cauliflower and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until vegetables have cooked through, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat, puree with hand blender, adding cream, salt & pepper and parmesan cheese. Serve hot.


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Lemon Slice

This was one of the recipes my dad used to make - I can't say "cook", because other than melting butter, that's about as complicated as it gets. I don't know whether he made this because he enjoyed the actual "cooking" process, or that he just liked to eat. Of course, he didn't add the little flower and silver dragee to the tops, but I like to add some pretty to everything. Food should be beautiful all the time, never eat ugly food - there's too much beautiful food out there and definitely not enough time.

Lemon slice was always made with another treat called Hedgehog, which I may make at a later point, for a special occasion. It was made any time we had people over to our house, any time we were invited over to someone's house, when we went camping and at holiday time.

The smell of lemons and condensed milk brings back so many happy memories, and the taste is very familiar too. It reminds me so much of good times with my dad (and almost cutting my tongue while licking the lid of the condensed milk can, so glamourous!).

Lemon Slice
Makes about 40 (two-bite) squares, depending on how big you cut them.  

450g marie biscuits (tea biscuit)
2 cups shredded coconut (sweetened)
zest from 2 lemons
1 can sweetened condensed milk
225g butter

65g unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 cups icing sugar
juice from 2 lemons
a little hot water, if needed to make a spreadable consistency

Lightly grease a 9" x 13" pan and line with a foil sling. You want the foil to be longer than the bottom of the pan and hang over the sides, so you can lift the slice out in one piece. Lightly grease the foil.  
Process biscuits in food processor until they resemble fine crumbs.
Place into a bowl with the shredded coconut and lemon zest, mix well to distribute the lemon zest well.
In a small pan on the stove, or a small bowl in the microwave, melt the condensed milk and butter together. Pour over the crushed biscuits and mix well until everything is moistened.
Press evenly into base of the prepared pan, refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine butter, icing sugar and lemon juice in bowl of stand mixer, and mix well. You may need to add a little hot water to ensure a smooth, spreadable consistency, depending on how large and juicy your lemons are. Spread evenly over chilled base.

Place in refrigerator for a further 30 minutes, then remove from pan and cut as desired.


Sunday, February 17, 2013

Tiffany Blue Cake Pops

I can't believe how long it has been since my last post - I guess you figured I fell off the face of the earth, or something....well, I guess it was the "or something", and that something is just busy. I have been so busy since September - lots of work, my 4 year old started school, my twins started walking, we have had visitors from all over the world stay with us, then the holidays hit. Thanksgiving (at our place), Christmas Party (at our place) and Christmas Day (at our place).

I am so thankful that February has arrived, I think that February 1st was the official start of my New Year. It took me the whole month of January to get over the holidays and back into the swing of things. I was exhausted. But, like the crazy person I am, I just keep working, and taking more and more on.

I do love it. Being busy, that is. I cannot sit still. Even tonight, when I kind of have a "night off" (no work tomorrow - just family stuff), I am thinking about what I could be doing while watching a movie....WHO does that?  

Anyway, one of my clients requested cake pops for her "Tiffany's" themed party, and this is what I came up with. She loved them. Her guests loved them, so I am happy. It makes me very happy to know that my clients are happy.

No recipe to post today, they are just vanilla cake balls, dipped in blue & white candy coating and decorated with white and silver dragees.

Happy 2013 - may this year only get busier, and be more successful for us all.  I have lots of exciting plans for 2013, but you will have to wait until these plans come to life before I spill my beans :)

Happy New Year! and welcome back!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Bacon wrapped Jalapenos

I just want to start off by saying - SO delicious! and so more-ish. I could have eaten a dozen of these babies to myself.

I didn't think I would like a stuffed jalapeno. I don't know why, I don't like spicy foods that cause pain. I like spice in foods with a little heat, but have you ever eaten something so hot and spicy that it makes you feel ill. That's what I don't like.

A friend handed me a recipe card she had found in a grocery store and said I should try to make these. My husband loves spicy foods, so I thought, why not. I would give them a try. The recipe card said to halve the jalapenos, stuff with cream cheese, wrap in bacon (only 1/2 a slice) and cook them on the BBQ. Nice, but I wanted better. My jalapenos were wrapped in a full slice of bacon and baked until crisp on the outside, and gooey in the middles.

One word of caution - make sure you remove ALL the seeds. One seed left inside will make you wish you did a better job. And, if you don't wear gloves while cleaning out the insides of the peppers - don't touch any sensitive areas, and I mean your mouth, lips or eyes, before scrubbing your hands well.

Stuffed Jalapenos
Makes 6 (perfect appetizer for 2)

6 large green jalapeno peppers
100g cream cheese, at room temperature
30g cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon red hot sauce (like Frank's)
6 slices bacon

Preheat oven to 400F.
In a medium sized bowl, combine cream cheese, cheddar cheese, salt, pepper and hot sauce. Mix well. Set aside.
Halve jalapeno peppers, remove stems, membranes and all seeds. Divide cream cheese mixture between jalapeno halves, then match and stick jalapeno halves back together. Wrap in one piece of bacon to keep secure.
Place jalapenos onto a baking sheet and cook for 12-15 minutes, or until bacon is crisp and filling is hot.
Remove from oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving. Serve warm.


Monday, September 24, 2012

Chocolate Muffins

I have a confession to make...a client ordered a dozen chocolate muffins the other day and I didn't have time to test a recipe, so I had to send out something I wasn't happy with. I never send out anything unless I am 100% satisfied with the product, but the other day, I was in such a rush to get a breakfast order out the door, that my little heavy lumps of muffin had to do. 

They were edible, and tasty. Just not something I was proud of. I want people to be talking about my food for months, and how it was the best they had ever had. That's what keeps people coming back, right. 

After my embarrassing delivery, I sat down and vowed to find / create the perfect recipe. I need a recipe that is quick to put together, always works, and is chocolatey rich and delicious. DELICIOUS, I say. 

Chocolate Muffins
Makes 12 regular sized muffins
Recipe from King Arthur Flour

2/3 cup dutch-process cocoa
1 & 3/4 cups flour
1 & 1/4 cups brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup chocolate chips
2 eggs
1 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 teaspoons white vinegar
1/2 cup butter, melted

Preheat oven to 400F.
In a large bowl, mix together the sifted cocoa powder, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and chocolate chips.
In a large measuring cup, whisk together the eggs, milk, vanilla and vinegar. Add wet ingredients, along with the butter, to the dry ingredients, stirring to blend. Just make sure everything is combined well.
Scoop into 12 muffin cups, bake for 15-20 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of  the muffin comes out clean. Remove from oven and leave for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack.


PS - the muffins I sell are based on this recipe, just a bit more decadent!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Potato Leek Soup with Sweet Corn & Basil

I was shopping the other day, and came across leeks. I love leek. There is something to be said for the sweet mild onion flavour that comes from a leek. I like them roasted, I love them braised, I like them in soup, I even like them fried. I guess I am a leek fan.

So, what started out as simple potato and leek, turned into a silky fragrant corn soup. When I got home and started putting the soup together, I found corn in my fridge and thought I would make a kind of chowder. And, when I looked over at my windowsill and saw my basil plant leaning dangerously close to death, I picked off the leaves and added them too. I am a habitual plant killer. I buy plants like cut flowers because in the back of my mind, I know I am going to have to throw them into the compost.

Back to the soup. My thought process was that potatoes and leek go well together, corn and potatoes are delicious together and I really like corn and basil together. So, with corn tying all ingredients together, what could go wrong? And I was right - it works to create a warming and hearty soup. It warmed and filled up our bellies last night.

Potato Leek Soup with Sweet Corn & Basil
Makes 6-8 serves

2 tablespoons butter
1 onion, chopped
3 leeks, tough green part removed, white parts rinsed well and thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon flour
2lbs potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 cup corn kernels (from about 2 cobs of corn)
2 liters chicken stock
1 cup cream
1 cup corn kernels, extra (from about 2 cobs of corn)
2 tablespoons (about 8 large leaves) chopped fresh basil
1 teaspoon salt, extra
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Heat butter in large saucepan. Add onion, leek, garlic and salt, and cook gently until leek is softened, but not browned. Add thyme and flour and cook, stirring, about 5 minutes.
Add potatoes, 1 cup corn kernels and stock. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are softened and cooked through. Remove from heat and puree. Stir in cream, remaining 1 cup corn kernels and season well with salt and pepper.


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Back to School Cookies

It's "Off to School" in my house. That's right, it's my 4 year old son's first year in JK. We have spent an hour at the school with him, and he has been for one morning session with a few kids from his class. On Tuesday, he is fully immersed with the whole class of 22 other 4 year olds. I wish him luck.

I am really looking forward to him being in school full time (well, full time mornings), I hope he will love it too.

In celebration of him going to school, we baked up a batch of cookies for him to take as his snack. No ordinary chocolate chip cookies here, these are chocolate chip smartie cookies - and he got to pick what went into the dough. Super simple, nut free, and on the healthy side of a chocolate chip cookie - at least I know that everything that went into them is good wholesome food (well, aside form the smarties).

The original recipe contains only chocolate chips, and that was out only adaption.

Back to School Cookies
Makes 2.5 dozen
Adapted from a recipe by King Arthur Flour

180g butter, at room temperature
150g brown sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 egg
2 & 1/4 cups flour
1 cup smarties
1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375F.

Beat the butter, brown sugar and corn syrup together until fluffy. Beat in the vanilla, baking powder, salt and baking soda, and then mix in the egg. Beat well.

Beat in the flour, then stir in the smarties and chocolate chips.

Scoop (I used a 3/4 oz ice cream scoop) cookie dough onto parchment lined baking sheets. Bake for 12 - 14 minutes, just until lightly browned at the edges. Do not overbake.

Cool cookies for 5 minutes on baking sheets before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Store in an airtight container.