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.

image4

 

 

 

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.

image1

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.

image1

I covered the rest of the cake with orange frosting.

image2

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

image3

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

image4

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/

Totally Bananas

When I was growing imgresup my mom spoiled us with baked treats every week.  She turned me into the food enthusiast I am today.  Moving abroad meant that I had to give up that huge comfort and start feeding myself.  One of the things I missed the most was freshly baked banana bread.  I recall enjoying it on rainy days with a dollop of butter and a steamy cup of tea.  During my first year living alone I didn’t own an oven so I felt a little deprived, food wise.  I made a list of all the things I would cook and bake as soon as I got an oven.  At the top of the list was BANANA BREAD.

After a year, I received an oven from a friend who was moving away.  I called my mom and asked for her signature banana bread recipe.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get all the ingredients here in Korea.  So, she sent me another recipe.  Only this one combined a second favourite, carrot!  In sort, this was the best of both worlds.  A fusion of banana bread and carrot cake if you will.

The ingredients were already in my pantry and refrigerator so no extra shopping was required (even though I personally won’t pass up the opportunity to go shopping), and the method was super simple, which made prep-time shorter.

To make this delightful tea-time treat, you will need:                 IMG_0823

  • 3 large eggs (room temperature)
  • 200ml brown sugar (3/4 cup)
  • 125ml oil (1/2 cup)
  • 1 cup carrot (finely grated)
  •  3 bananas (grated)
  • 1.5 cups flour (375ml)
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder (10ml)
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (5ml)

**Optional**

  • 1 cup chopped nuts
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 cinnamon {I love the smell of these spices, and it also creates a wonderful symphony of flavours when you eat.}

Method

Beat the sugar, eggs, and oil together.  Sift the dry ingredients and alternate with carrots and bananas -[ add some flour, then a little banana, and some carrot, then flour and so on].  Basically, you start and with flour.  Pour the beautiful mixture into a ring or loaf tin. Bake at 180 degrees Celsius for 35 – 40 minutes.

Note:  This mixture works well as a muffin mix.  

Mini-muffins

Mini-muffins

The end result is a treat for all the senses.  It’s my go-to comfort treat, especially in autumn.  The colours compliment the season well and it’s not too sweet making it perfect for those of us trying to watch our waistline during the colder months.

I hope your  taste-buds are delighted as mine when you try this recipe.

Happy Baking!