Galentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is the suckiest day to ever be invented.  But thanks to Leslie Knope we have Galentine’s Day which is a million times better.tumblr_n0wcbmyieh1tpga0qo1_4001

Like many girls, I have experienced my share of heartache.  But, with it we learn that boys come and go, but girl friends are for life!

So, this year my gal pals and I decided to celebrate our love for each other as well as our love for food #foodbeforedudes.  We made tacos for dinner.

tacos

And I baked jam tarlets for dessert.

  • 125g butter
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons oil (I used canola)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 cups flour

**We love eating so, I doubled the quantity of the ingredients and was able to make 2 dozens.**

Method

  1. Cream the butter and sugar.
  2. Add the oil and essence, and beat in the egg.
  3. Add the flour and baking powder, and knead into a soft dough.
  4. Dust your work surface with flour and roll out the dough.
  5. I used a mug to cut circles.  The dough will rise so you can vary the size of your base.image2
  6. I placed my circles in a greased muffin tin, to make a cup shape.image1
  7. With a cocktail fork, I crimped the sides and punched holes into the crust.
  8. I used strawberry jam [because it’s my favourite and it’s red] for my filling.  I put 2 teaspoons per tartlet.image3
  9. To decorate the top, I cut dough into heart shapes to show some extra love to my gal pals.image5
  10. Bake at 180 degrees celcius, for 30 minutes.

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What does the fox say?

Being plain is boring.  I love being creative.  It’s something I encourage my students to do as well.

A recent creative passion for me as been cake decorating.  I’m by no means highly skilled in this area, but I made it a mission to teach myself little tricks.

I began by doing simple designs on cupcakes.  Over the holiday season, I made cute little snowmen.image2

And one bored Saturday afternoon, I made little hedgehogs.

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With shaking confidence, I decided to take on the challenge of decorating a big cake.  The first on being a mermaid tail.  My confidence built up when that turned out better than I expected.  My next project was a fox face.

My friend, Nicole, is a fan of this woodland creature so for her birthday I decided to surprise her with an edible fox.

For the cake, I used the Hershey’s chocolate cake recipe, which is also found at the back of the Hershey’s cocoa container.

I made a cream cheese frosting to decorate.

  • 8oz cream cheese
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • Dash of red and yellow food coloring (to make orange)
  1. Combine the cream cheese and powdered sugar.  I used an electric mixer to help me get it super smooth. img-thing
  2. Separate into 2 bowls.
  3. Keep on bowl plain, and add color to the second.
  4. I used the star nose decorating tip

 

First, I sandwiched the two cakes with a thin layer of frosting. Then I coated the entire cake with the plain frosting.

Next, I used a skewer to outline the face, and filled in the cheek area with plain frosting.

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I covered the rest of the cake with orange frosting.

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For the ears, I used oreo cookies.  I cut into a cone shape and stuck it in with frosting.

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I used chocolate chips for the eyes, and a round candy for the nose.

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Mermaid Vibes

I am friends with a real life Mermaid.  Naturally, when her birthday rolled around, we had to throw her a mermaid themed birthday party.   My assistant, of course, was Pinterest.  I found a few ideas and added my personal spin to it.

We decided to surprise her on a Sunday afternoon, with a light lunch.

On the menu were:

Starfish sandwiches:  Toasted tuna and mayo cut up in the shape of stars.

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Sebastian the crab rangoon: crab meat mixed with cream cheese and chives, cased in pastry.

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Sea cucumbers and crab legs: Regular cucumbers and carrot sticks.

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Shark teeth: Cheese flavored Doritos

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Seaweed Dip: Spinach and cream cheese dip.

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  • 1 cup spinach [I used fresh spinach]
  • 8oz cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup *low-fat milk
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese
  1. Cook the spinach as you regularly would.
  2. Create a creamy sauce by blending the cream cheese and milk on the stove. Add salt and pepper as desired.
  3. Mix the spinach into the creamy sauce.
  4. Pour the creamy spinach delight into a casserole dish, top with shredded cheese.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes at 180 degrees celsius  (350 F)

A mermaid party without cake is just a meeting. For the birthday cake,  I baked a hot milk sponge cake with pink frosting because our mermaid loves pink.

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  • 4 eggs
  • 300ml sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 2 cups flour
  • 3 teaspoon baking powder
  • 250ml milk
  • 100g butter
  1. Beat the eggs and sugar until creamy, then add the vanilla essence.
  2. Sift the flour and baking powder into the mixture.
  3. On the stove, melt the butter into the milk **Do not boil!* Remove from the heat and add it to the mixing bowl.
  4. Pour the batter into 2 round baking tins.
  5. Bake for 25-30 minutes at 180 degrees celsius.

 

Frosting:

  • 125g butter
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 6 teaspoons milk
  • food color of your choice.

After the cakes cooled, I sandwiched them together with strawberry jam.  I used a piping bag with the round nose decorating tip to make a scale like
design around the cake.  Pipe a dot, then use a spoon  out one side creating an almost skid effect.wilton_decorating_tip_4_round_surlatable_com_o
For the tail, I drew a light outline using a skewer and piped the frosting in and around the outline, using the star nose decorating tip.

 

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Our surprise party was a success. After lunch, we spent the afternoon watching H2O: Mermaid Adventures on Netflix.

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Muffin tops are better than Abs

One of my ABsolute favourite treats is lemon-poppy seed muffins.  When I lived in South Africa I would have them all the time because it was readily available.  I could not make them in Korea previously because I did not have poppy seeds.  Fortunately, I have a mom who loves making me happy.  She brought me a big bag of poppy seeds when she visited me.  The next step was finding the perfect recipe.  I tried a few but it wasn’t anything to write about.  Finally, while searching for a pumpkin pie recipe, on Pinterest, I stumbled upon a treasure of a recipe.

My first attempt at it produced a flat, dry, cake.  I was extremely disappointed.  I felt like I had failed a big test.  To paraphrase a famous saying, “if at first you don’t succeed, eat img_55801the bad muffins, and make a new batch.”  That’s exactly what I did.
My second attempt produced an amazing, thick, lemon fragrant batter.  From that alone I knew that these muffins were going to be a hit.  I stood in front of the oven watching them cook, like a little child.  20 minutes later I had beautiful, fluffy lemon-poppy seed muffins.  It’s full of flavor and comfort.

Try it for yourself, the proof is definitely in the eating.

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup butter (4 tablespoons/57g)
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla (or almond) extract
  •  2 tablespoons lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • ¾ cup plain fat free greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds (add more if you like)
  • 1⅓ cups flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Method:  Mix the ingredients in the order they appear.  Bake for 20 minimg_55781utes, at 180 degrees celcius.  Check if the muffins are done with a toothpick.  Lower the heat and cook for an additional 5 to 10 minutes if the muffins require more time in the oven.

*Souce: http://www.lecremedelacrumb.com/2015/08/lemon-poppyseed-muffins.html

Pizza Party

If I could eat one thing, forever, in a world where calories don’t count, I would choose pizza.  It also has all the basic food groups and if you make them at home, you can ensure that it is “healthy enough” for your dietary needs.  So I decided to make a few at home a few weekends ago, and reduce the fat content, just a little so I would feel less guilty when I was stuffing my face with it.

The recipe for the base came from my mom.  She’s had it for years.  It’s not your traditional pizza crust, this has more of a melt-in-your mouth texture, and is almost biscuit-like.  We have traditional bases when we eat at out favorite pizzeria so this one makes it taste more like home.

To make this base you will need:

  • 1 cup flourcake-flour
  • 2teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 25ml butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup milk.

Sift flour,baking powder, and salt. Rub in the butter until well mixed.
Whisk egg and milk together, add to the flour mixture, and  knead until you get a stiff dough. Roll out and place on a greased tray.  Add desired toppings.  Bake for 20 minutes at 200 degrees celsius.

**Note: The initial dough will be rather sticky, continue dusting your hands with flour until you have a firmer texture.

 

The sauce for the base is also an old family recipe, passed down from my mom.  For the sauce I make more of an Indian tomato chutney.  It is a great partner with the base.  This chutney can also be use for pastas or a side to any protein.

To make the chutney, you will need:

  • 6-8 tomatoes, grated.**cut them down the middle and grate them, similar to how you would grate cheese, throw the skin away. 
    (this number may vary depending on the size of the tomatoes as well as how much sauce you are hoping to make.)  
  • 1 big onion -thinly sliced or chopped
  • 3 gloves of garlic thinly sliced
  • 2 green chilies, slit down the middle and cut into quarters (Add more if you want it spicier or eliminate if you can’t handle the heat)
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of oil. (canola or sunflower)

Method: In a sauce pan, heat up the oil.  Add the red-tomato-meteoriteonions to the oil and allow them to fry until its translucent, or when you notice the ends starting to brown a little.  Throw in the garlic and the chilies.  White spots will start to appear on the chilies, add the turmeric at this point and give it a quick stir. Add tomatoes and a teaspoon of salt and sugar.  Reduce heat and allow it cook, stirring occasionally to avoid sticking and burning.  Turn off the stove and remove from the heat once all the water has evaporated.

 

Images courtesy of google.com

 

Vegging out

Last year a friend had me over for dinner.  She prepared veggie burgers with an avocado sauce.  I had never eaten a veggie burger prior to visiting her because, well…If I go out to get a burger, I am most likely going to get a chicken or beef burger.  But this burger was AMAZINGLY good.  I had to recreate them in my kitchen.

I followed her recipe to gather the main ingredients, but during preparation I hit a few road bumps, so I changed a few things and made it my own.  The original post of the recipe suggested putting all the ingredients into a food processor to speed up preparation.  image1Unfortunately, I don’t own one, but I do have a blender so I decided to improvise and use that, instead.  However, my tiny machine could not handle this task so I added about a tablespoon of olive oil and half a cup of water to help the dry ingredients blend.  But as you can imagine, things started to fall apart even further, the mixture started to look soupy and eventually the blender overheated and stopped working.  I had to think fast on how I was going to remedy this minor crisis.  I decided to manually mix the ingredients with the aid of a few kitchen tools and to add bread crumbs to the mixture to help soak up the extra moisture.  I also doubled up the rolled oat requirement which eventually led to us enjoying a wholesome lentil-chickpea burger.  I made a delicious avocado sauce to accompany, similar to the original post.

There was a lot of mixture, which lasted the entire weekend. I also made little sliders for me to take to work, for lunch.

To replicate my almost ruined burgers you will need:

  • Veggie burgers
    • 1 carrot, peeled
    • ½ medium yellow or white onion
    • 3 garlic cloves
    • 2 cups cooked green or brown lentils
    • ½ cup cooked chickpeas
    • 2 large eggsimage2
    • 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
    • Handful fresh cilantro
    • 1 teaspoon chili powder
    • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
    • 1 teaspoon sriracha or other hot sauce
    • ½ teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
    • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • ½ cup cold water
    • 1 cup panko bread crumbs

Note:  There may be excess water from the lentils and chickpeas if you’re cooking them
from scratch.  This may cause the mixture to get a little more wet, in that case, just add handfuls of breadcrumbs until you achieve the correct texture.

I formed big patties with 4 tablespoons of mixture.  I rolled it into a ball, then flattened them out and shaped into beautiful burger patties.  I fried them on medium heat with olive oil.

Note: Placing the uncooked patties in the refrigerator for a about 20 minutes prevents them from breaking while frying.

  • Avocado sauce
    • 1 medium to large avocado, pitted and sliced
    • Handful fresh cilantro  (optional)
    • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (we used bottled lemon juice)
    • 2 garlic cloves
    • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
    • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
    • ½ teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
    • 3 to 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    For a smooth sauce, put all the ingredients in a blender.  We mashed ours manually since the blender was not working, so it was a little chunky.

I toasted the buns lightly before assembling the burgers.  I served the burgers with a garden salad and fries.

Preparation time may vary for you.  I cooked the chickpeas and lentils the day before to save time.  If I did not have have the blender blunder, preparation (mixing, cooking and assembly) would have been under an hour.

Source: http://cookieandkate.com/2014/lentil-chickpea-veggie-burgers-with-avocado-green-harissa/

Bunny cakes

The Christian calendar has two major holiday, Christmas and Easter.  Both are of great significance in celebrating the life of Jesus Christ.   During these holidays we spend a significant amount of time eating. It’s no wonder why we have been observing Lent with the weeks leading up to Easter.  In South Africa, stores will start stocking the shelves with Easter goodies from December 26th.  As I recall, there was nothing better than enjoying a chocolate bunny or a chocolate egg oozing with caramel.

Last year, I decided to plan a little Easter egg hunt for the children of our church;

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The real Becca was not available for a photo.

the only problem was that I didn’t have access to chocolate eggs.  Easter is only observed at churches in Korea, not the country as a whole, which means that there are no chocolate bunnies, oozy caramel eggs, or even marshmallow eggs.   As a result I decided to create some Easter joy  for myself and the children by baking bunny cup cakes. For the Easter egg I printed egg shaped templates, wrote each child’s name on it, and hid them in the Children’s church classrooms.  When then children found their egg, I had them colour it in and then exchange it for a cupcake.  Creating the bunny was not that difficult and I would probably do it again, this year.

To make Simple Vanilla Cupcakes, I used:

  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter (125 g)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1.5 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup milk

In a bowl, cream the sugar and butter, beat in the eggs, and add the vanilla extract.  Sift in the dry ingredients, and mix well.  Finally, stir in the milk until the batter is smooth and creamy.   Use a tablespoon or ice-cream scoop to pour the batter into your cup cake tray. Bake for 20 -25 minutes at 175 degrees Celsius.

To decorate, I made creamy butter cream frosting using,

  • 125g butter
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 6 teaspoons of milk

FullSizeRenderTo create the bunny face, I used

  • Marshmallows, cut  diagonally, to create the pointed shape for the ears.
  • Chocolate chips for the eyes
  • Heart shaped candy for the nose
  • And I used decorating pens to draw in the whiskers.