I have been running around doing errands today, so I didn’t get a chance to bake anything. I went out for lunch with my good friend Laura in the afternoon. When I came home there was a mountain of blueberry jam jars that needed ribbons and stickers. That has been completed now! Such team work – they look beautiful. Pictures will follow after the wedding, which is coming up quickly.
A special congratulations to my sister for completing her university degree! We had some special drinks and a barbecue tonight to celebrate. Beau (the dog) greeted the new university graduate with some turquoise balloons at the front door. My Dad is in the picture too (I think he is freeing Beau from his balloon greeter duties, so Beau can have dinner too).
My sister loves refreshing summery drinks. This recipe certainly fits the bill – it was a refreshing combination of green tea, orange juice, prosecco, fresh lemons and fresh oranges. I chopped the oranges into cubes and put them in the freezer for two hours and they acted as ice cubes to keep the drinks cool. In a pitcher it is the perfect elegant summer beverage. I would also make this drink without the wine (for those who do not drink). Add more green tea and orange juice and add in the fresh citrus fruits. It is sure to impress your guests!
1 can Arizona Green Tea
1 cup orange juice
2 oranges, cubed
2 lemons, sliced
1 bottle Prosecco
1. Slice fruit and place in pitcher. (freeze orange cubes two hours before you plan to serve it)
2. Pour in orange juice, green tea, and Prosecco. Stir well.
3. Serve and enjoy!
Today’s baking project is pumpkin oatmeal mini muffins! While looking around the cupboard to see ingredients to use, I found pumpkin puree and decided on a recipe for delectable breakfast treats. The recipe is relatively healthy compared to a few other recipes I have, but still a treat. Oatmeal mixed into the batter makes these muffins over the top. I love the grainy texture and dimension it gives the muffins. I ate at least three when they were warm out of the oven.
One of my younger sisters is at her university convocation today so it is a special day. We are having a barbecue this evening on the patio to celebrate. I am making the buns for the hamburgers. My Mom is making her famous dessert crepes with vanilla ice cream, fresh strawberries and a chocolate drizzle. It is one of my sister’s favourites!
On the wedding planning front things are under control! Tomorrow I will be taking the church bulletin over to be printed. An engagement photo of Jonathan and I will be on the cover and I am excited to see it all printed up. It is going to be a great keepsake. Tonight Jonathan and I will be going over the list of essential photographs that need to be taken at the wedding. I am extremely excited for the big day!
- 1-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 cup (250 mL) rolled oats
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 cup milk
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup (60 mL) canola oil
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
1. In large mixing bowl, combine flour, rolled oats, brown sugar, baking powder, ground ginger, cinnamon and salt.
2. In another bowl, whisk together milk, egg, oil and vanilla. Always separate wet and dry ingredients when baking muffins. Pour wet ingredients over dry ingredients. Add in pumpkin puree and combine thoroughly until all ingredients are moistened. Spoon muffin batter into a greased muffin pan. Makes approximately 12 muffins or 24 mini muffins.
3. Bake in centre of oven at 375°F for about 18 minutes (I would recommend to check them at 16 minutes though, no one likes burnt muffins). Let cool in pan on rack for 5 minutes. Transfer to cooling rack and let cool completely.
4. Once cooled you can wrap these muffins up individually in a zip-lock bag or with plastic wrap and freeze for two weeks.
Last night I started to have a pizza craving, so for lunch today I made homemade pizza dough. With a standard mixer pizza dough is actually quite simple to make. I tried a recipe that came with my mixer in January and the result was a thicker more bread-like crust. This recipe from Smitten Kitchen is for a thin crust pizza dough. The only addition to this recipe was 1/2 tsp of sugar, because I remember my Mom adding some sugar to her pizza dough. The dough was indeed thin, crispy, and easy to work with!
My sisters and I decided on a Hawaiian pizza (ham and pineapple) as well as a pizza with olives and mozzarella. It was very tasty and filling for lunch time. Since it made two pizzas we have tons of left overs for tomorrow’s lunch as well. The pizzas would also freeze well for another day (assuming it all doesn’t get gobbled up). I am eager to try doing half whole wheat flour and half white flour to make the crust a little healthier. Adding half and half would still allow for a smooth texture in the pizza crust.
In Windsor, Ontario the pizza is made with Galati cheese that is made just down the street from our home. I am lucky to know this because Jonathan is the food columnist at CBC Radio Windsor and has the opportunity to explore the food scene in Windsor every week. He brought some Galati cheese home a few months ago and I made chicken parmesan. The cheese is extra rich and does not have any additives. Another difference is that the pepperoni is shredded unlike the typical round pepperoni you see on pizza in Toronto. I really enjoy Windsor pizza, but I also love, love, love homemade pizza! Really the key is high quality ingredients and a bit of love.
*Reminder for making homemade pizza is to lightly prick the pizza dough in the pan before you add the sauce, otherwise you will get air bubbles in the dough. Enjoy!
Pizza Dough (makes 2 pizzas)
3 – 3 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon sugar
1 ½ teaspoons, quick rise yeast
1 cup warm water
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for the pan
1. Mix dry ingredients in the mixer bowl with dough hook.
2. Slowly add warm water and oil, mixing on low speed.
3. Mix with dough hook for 5 minutes. The dough should look smooth, add extra flour if the dough is sticking to the sides of the bowl.
4. Oil the dough and sides of the bowl to keep it moist. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and then cover with clean towel.
5. Refrigerate for 1 hour to 2 hours. Dough should doubled in size.
6. Divide into two and spread out the pizza dough on a lightly oiled pan.
7. Prick the bottom of the dough lightly with a knife so that bubbles do not form.
8. Add your sauce and toppings.
9. Bake at 400 degrees for 25-30minutes or until crust is golden.
There is a rhubarb plant at the Chapman house, so I decided to make a classic strawberry rhubarb pie. So, I went out to pick some ruby red fresh rhubarb. The recipe I used was from Smitten Kitchen (one of my favourite blogs). The pie turned out extremely well (super tasty) – but a little watery in the centre. I am still working on perfecting the perfect strawberry rhubarb pie. My Mom who has been making pies forever would not have made a mistake like this, but like she always says, “practice makes perfect.” As I was preparing the pie filling I saw some blueberries in the freezer, so I added half a cup to add extra colour. So, it wasn’t entirely ‘strawberry rhubarb.’ When I make this pie again, I will add only 1/2 cup of sugar or 2/3 cup – the berries had tremendous natural sweetness and it would have been nice to allow the slightly tart rhubarb flavour to shine.
The recipe for the crust however, was a success, it was flakey, buttery and crisp. I even decided to get fancy and do a lattice top pattern. I brushed the top with an egg wash and sprinkled it lightly with sugar. It came out of the oven looking beautiful. I enjoy the challenge that pie baking presents, getting the filling and crust perfect, as well as decorating, so the perfect pie challenge continues.
The next pie I made was a savoury dinner pie and is a classic! The recipe is from the Canadian living website and it is one of my favourites. The filling with fresh thyme and white wine is truly divine! Fresh carrots, baby red skin potatoes, celery and peas come together to create a classic dinner. Not to mention puff pastry (yum)! When I make this for Jonathan it usually makes two pot pies – one of which can be frozen. Served with a fresh salad it is a perfect dinner or lunch. I read somewhere that chicken pot pie is a great dinner for entertaining because: it looks like you have slaved away all day making it, divides up easily, usually good for picky eaters and by the time your guests arrive all the work is done. The pot pie comes out looking like a piece of perfection with flaky buttery crust – and you get to eat gourmet chicken pot pie with your friends and catch up.
Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
3 cups (about 1 1/2 pounds, untrimmed) rhubarb, in 1/2-inch thick slices
3 1/2 cups (about 1 pound) strawberries, hulled and sliced if big, halved if tiny
½ cup blueberries
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup flour
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg yolk beaten to blend with 1 teaspoon water (for brushing on the top)
Mix together sliced strawberries, sliced rhubarb, blueberries, white sugar, brown sugar, lemon juice, salt and flour. Set aside.
All Butter, Really Flaky Pie Dough (From Smitten Kitchen)
Makes enough dough for one double-, or two single-crust pies.
2 ½ cups flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
½ cup cold cold water, use ice cubes if necessary
1. Pulse together dry ingredients in food processor or use hand dough cutter.
2. Add butter and pulse again.
3. Slowly add cold water, pulse until it comes together in a nice dough.
4. Divide the dough in two and refrigerate for 1 hour
Putting the Pie together:
1. Roll our first dough for the bottom crust. Lightly poke the dough at the bottom with a fork.
2. Crimp the sides of the piecrust. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or place in the freezer for 10 minutes.
3. Pre – bake the crust at 400 for 10 minutes with aluminum foil and baking weights.
4. Let crust cool then add fruit mixture.
5. Roll out second pie dough. Slice with pizza cutter into 1 inch to 1 ½ inch strips.
6. Alternate length and width wise the lattice strips.
7. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle lightly with sugar.
8. Reduce oven temperature down to 350 degrees and bake for 40 minutes.
Chicken Pot Pie (from Canadian Living)
2 cups (500 mL) chopped carrots
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 cups (500 mL) cubed peeled potatoes
1 bay leaf
1 lb (454 g) boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed
1/3 cup (75 mL) butter
1/3 cup (75 mL) all-purpose flour
1/3 cup (75 mL milk
1 cup (250 mL) frozen peas
1/2 pkg (397 g) frozen puff pastry, thawed
In large saucepan, bring chicken stock, wine, carrots, celery, potato, bay leaf, rosemary, salt and pepper to boil; cover, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Add chicken; simmer, uncovered, until no longer pink inside, 10 minutes. Skim off any foam. Strain; set aside chicken stock. Set aside chicken mixture; discard bay leaf.
In saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Whisk in flour; cook, whisking constantly, for 2 minutes. Whisk in reserved stock until smooth. Bring to boil; cook, stirring, until thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in milk; cook for 2 minutes. Add chicken and vegetable mixture into your dish, add peas, add extra rosemary and pepper to taste; stir to coat.) Use large casserole dish or smaller ones if you are making two.
On floured surface, roll out pastry to fit top of dish plus 1-inch (2.5 cm) extra all around; trim edges. Brush edge of dish with water. Centre pastry over filling; gently press overhang to adhere to dish. Brush with egg; slash 4 steam vents. Bake in 400°F (200°C) oven until golden, puffed and filling is bubbly, about 30 minutes.
Jelly balls are a family favourite and one of my Mom’s best recipes. They are great as an appetizer at a party or on some rice with a big salad for a week night dinner. I believe this is one of the few recipes that I have not made for Jonathan yet. I have to hold back a few special recipes – especially a delicious one like this! The ingredients might sound odd, grape jelly, chili sauce and soy sauce, but they combine to create amazing flavour.
It has been great to have dinners together as a family before I become a married woman. Already it seems like a rare occasion when all six of us are in the house together. This recipe says home to me and of course love. My Mom has many treasured recipes and of course the secret ingredient is love!
Yesterday, I had a final dress fitting, so everything is going along well with the wedding details. Monday will be the day when we tie the ribbons on the wedding favours. My Aunt and sisters will be helping. Nine days left!
1 LB Lean Ground Beef
1 Egg, beaten
½ cup fine bread crumbs
3 Tbsp Chopped Parsley
½ cup chopped onion
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
¼ tsp Pepper
12 oz chili sauce
10 oz jar of grape jelly
1 tsp Lemon Juice
2 tbsp Brown Sugar
1 tbsp Soy Sauce
1. In a pot bring sauce ingredients to a simmer and stir well.
2. In a bowl, mix together ground beef, onion, parsley, egg, salt, pepper, and Worcestershire sauce.
3. With your hands form small meatballs. Put uncooked meatballs in the boiling sauce.
4. Simmer in sauce til cooked, for 30 minutes.
The recipe for Earl Grey shortbread cookies is one of my best tested and fail proof recipes. The recipe is also very versatile. It is delicious with Earl Grey tea, green tea, as a plain shortbread cookie without the tea, with sprinkles on top or with a fruit preserve blended in. This recipe goes well with some pictures from brunch because just like good friends this recipe never lets me down. I wanted a bachelorette brunch because I love food – and wanted time to relax and chat with friends. We all had so much fun getting dressed up for brunch in Toronto and spending the day together.
Laura did a fantastic job hosting the bachelorette brunch and she put together beautiful gift bags. It included passionfruit tea, a nail polish and some jelly beans – my favourite! Laura is my Matron of Honour and she is doing a wonderful job so far! We always tease her that her real career should be party planning because she does it so well. All the little details come together so nicely when she is planning a party. Laura knows me well, and knows I love food, and the King Edward Hotel is extremely well known for its delicious brunch. Some of my favourite things from brunch were: Beef Wellington, mini cranberry waffles with plum capote, all the fresh fruit, pesto chicken, smoked salmon and so much more! My sisters who are able to enjoy nuts and chocolate had a blast with the dessert table. There was chocolate mousse, red velvet cupcakes, cream puffs dipped in chocolate, and mini cheesecake. I could not have dreamed of a better day with my bridesmaids, Mom, Grandma and Aunt! I am extremely lucky to have such wonderful people in my life.
Stay tuned to my blog for my Mom’s blueberry Grand Marnier jam recipe! Mom, Ophelia and Heather made the jam a few weeks ago and it looks amazing. These little treats will be the wedding favours on the tables at the wedding. We will be having a little get together to tie ribbons and put stickers on the jam jars. My Mom has worked in product development for many many years and says this is the best jam she has ever tasted! We have similar tastes so I know the jam is going to be amazing!
Earl Grey Shortbread Cookies
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 1 tablespoon Earl Grey tea leaves, finely ground
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar, sifted
- 1 cup flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In your mixer, mix softened butter and slowly add in sifted icing sugar. Add in vanilla extract.
3. Mix flour and salt together in a separate bowl. Slowly add to the butter sugar mixture.
4. If the batter looks too dry and its not coming together, add 1 tsp at a time, a little bit of water.
5. Put plastic wrap on the counter and wrap the dough in a log shape. Then refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
6. Slice and place on your cookie sheet.
7. Bake for 12 minutes, until very lightly golden at the edges.
I love to try new recipes and for dinner I was feeling adventurous. I wasn’t feeling like regular rice, so I found a recipe for Barley and Quinoa salad on the Canadian Living website. There were a few adjustments because of what we had in the fridge at the time. The salad would be delicious with a few cherry tomatoes, cucumber, zucchini and onion. Jonathan also mentioned that it would be good as a warm salad with roasted vegetables. To go with this summer salad I made chicken piccata with the recipe from Giada DeLaurentiis. The lemony chicken with capers was the perfect pairing for a summer meal.
If you are wondering why the quinoa looks slightly darker, it’s because it’s black quinoa that my sister Laura bought for me. At the bridal shower part of the gift was to share a favourite recipe and bring an ingredient that goes into making the recipe. So, Laura, knowing that I love new ingredients found black quinoa. It was delicious! If it is possible – it seemed healthier than regular quinoa. I would definitely make this recipe again for a barbecue. It is an alternative to one of my weaknesses – pasta salad! Jonathan teases me about my love for pasta, but he also allows it to go on the menu quite frequently!
Quinoa and Barley Summer Salad
- 1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt
- 2/3 cup (150 mL) barley
- 2/3 cup (150 mL) quinoa, rinsed
- 1 tbsp (15 mL) extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) each finely diced carrot and sweet red pepper (could add zucchini, cucumber, and celery)
- 1 tbsp (15 mL) each fresh mint (3-4 leaves, torn)
- 1 tsp (5 mL) dried thyme (or fresh if you have it)
- 1/4 cup (60 mL) extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tbsp (30 mL) rice vinegar
- 1 tsp (5 mL) garlic chili sauce
- 2 tsp (10 mL) Dijon mustard
- 1/4 tsp (1 mL) each salt and pepper
In saucepan, bring 1-1/2 cups (375 mL) water and half of the salt to boil; add barley. Reduce heat; cover and simmer until tender and liquid is absorbed, about
40 minutes; let cool.
Meanwhile, in separate saucepan, bring 1 cup (250 mL) water and remaining salt to boil; add quinoa. Reduce heat; cover and simmer until tender and liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes; let cool.
Meanwhile, chop carrots, red pepper and other veggies you might like to add.
VINAIGRETTE: In small bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, garlic sauce, mustard, salt and pepper; set aside.
In large bowl, combine barley, quinoa, vegetable mixture, mint and thyme; pour dressing over top and toss to coat. Refrigerate to cool and allow flavours to be enhanced. Refrigerate for up to 24 hours.
2 skinless and boneless chicken breasts, cut in half
Sea salt and black pepper
All-Purpose Flour for dredging
6 tablespoons butter
5 tablespoons olive oil
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
½ cup chicken stock
¼ cup brined capers, rinsed
- Season chicken with salt and pepper. Dredge chicken in flour and shake off the excess.
- In a large skillet over medium heat, melt 2 tbsp of butter and 3 tbsp olive oil. When butter and oil start to sizzle, add 2 pieces of chicken and cook for 3 minutes. When chicken is nicely golden, flip and cook on the other side for 3 minutes. Remove chicken from skillet and place on a plate. Cook the rest of the chicken in the same way.
- Add lemon juice, chicken stock and capers to the pan. Stir well and put pan back on element. Put the chicken in the mixture and cook for 5-6 minutes.
- Add extra sauce over chicken when serving.
Baking is fun in itself, but the truly creative part is with the decorating! I am on Pinterest all the time, looking at new cake decorating ideas. I was delighted with the beautiful cake that my family dreamt up and had made for the shower. The cake was beautifully decorated with fresh pansies. This trend of decorating with fresh flowers isn’t new, but I wanted to share the picture of the amazing cake. I love the contrast between the deep purple flowers and the creamy icing. The cake was made by Maunder’s food shop in Aurora, which is one of our favourite places. I believe my Grandma was in there quite a few times verifying all of the food and buying more food.
Another highlight was getting my future Mother-in-law’s recipe for pork bafath. It is a recipe from South India – and Jonathan’s favourite! I don’t know if I could marry Jonathan without having the recipe for his favourite dinner. I have yet to try it on my own, but I have lots of time to perfect my cooking skill. Recently, though I perfected his Mom’s chili chicken recipe. I will have to share this recipe another day though, because it is a delicious dish, worthy of its own blog post.
Bridal showers are fun because they are a day with the ladies. My closest friends from high school Lauren and Krista came. My closest friends from Trent University attended: Emily and Laura. Along with wonderful neighbours and my Mom’s high school friends. It was great to catch up with everyone before the wedding. I am extremely lucky to have such a wonderful group of friends and family!
My blog has been a place to store some wonderful memories. So, leading up to my wedding to the wonderful Jonathan Pinto – I will document some more memories. It’s funny how memories and food are so closely tied together. There is a great deal of lead up time and excitement that a wedding brings. I’m sure I will be busy with details and planning. I will also make time to bake some cookies or scones and share a few stories.
Today marks my last day of volunteering with an amazing grade 2 class in Windsor, Ontario. I have been volunteering since March, and I will miss them. I will be volunteering again in September though, with a junior kindergarten class! It should prove to be tons of fun and high energy.
I love cupcakes for celebrating – and I really want to celebrate all that I have learned from the grade 2 class. As well, to thank them for sharing all of their stories, reading with me, and allowing me to teach them a math lesson tossed in there. I have enjoyed watching them learn, grow and tell their stories. I believe literacy is important because no matter what career you are in, it is important to be able to communicate your interests, what you are passionate about, and as an individual to tell your story, as you move throughout the world.
Countdown to the wedding: 15 days! (Not including today or the day of June 22)
Mixed Berry Cupcakes
with Vanilla Icing and Confetti Sprinkles
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature, beaten
½-1 cup pureed raspberries, blueberries and blackberries, strained
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Set out cupcake papers and set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
3. In a food processor or blender puree 1-2 cups of mixed berries that will be reduced to about ½-1 cup. With a strainer, strain the puree to get ride of the seeds.
4. In your mixer combine the sugar, canola oil, vanilla extract and eggs. Then add in the buttermilk and strawberry puree. Add lemon zest. Slowly add in the flour mixture.
5. Spoon the batter into the cupcake pans and bake until the cupcakes spring back when touched lightly in the center (20minutes).
6. Cool before icing.
Buttercream Icing – from Canadian Living Website
In large bowl, beat butter until light and fluffy. Alternately beat in sugar and cream, making 2 additions of sugar. Beat in vanilla. (Make-ahead: Refrigerate in airtight container for up to 24 hours; let come to room temperature, about 1 hour. Beat slightly before using.)