Pumpkin bread

Pumpkin Bread

Warm pumpkin bread is just the thing for a chilly February day.  My sister Victoria first discovered this recipe for pumpkin bread here.  It is moist and flavourful.  For best results use Stokeley’s pumpkin purée.  The bread tastes like banana bread, except it has the warmth of pumpkin pie.  It tastes like a Canadian Thanksgiving at the cottage, with fallen red, orange and yellow leaves.  What gives the pumpkin bread its richness is the cream cheese.  In this recipe cloves and walnuts can be added for extra flavour, but mine is made without the last two ingredients.

Ingredients

  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup margarine
  • 1 1/4 cups white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease one 9x5x3 inch loaf pan.
  2. Put softened cream cheese, margarine, and sugar in mixing bowl. Cream together well. Beat in eggs one at a time until blended. Mix in pumpkin.
  3. In another bowl combine flour, soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Stir until thoroughly mixed. Pour all at once over batter. Stir just enough to moisten. Turn into greased 9x5x3 inch loaf pan.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees F for 60-70 minutes until inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pan. Remove to rack to finish cooling.
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Banana Surprise!

Today I was a little tired of baked goods so, Mom, my sister Sarah and I, headed to Longo’s for some fresh produce and some ideas.  Seeing all of the yummy fresh produce was a relief, after all of the flour, sugar and butter, in all of the baked goods from earlier this week.

Seeing the bananas, grapes and blueberries, reminded me of my Grandma Chapie’s favourite dessert – Banana Surprise!  The surprise was to see who got the one piece of banana.  Sometimes the surprise was that it was all bananas in the Jell-o.  So, here is how it is done – make Jell-o and add fruit juice instead of the cold water, place in the refrigerator and then once the Jell-o is partially set, but still liquid add random fruit so it floats around and does not float to the top.  Add one small sliced piece of banana.  Once the Jell-o has set, serve up the Banana Surprise! See who has the banana piece.  I would recommend blueberries, grapes, banana and strawberry for fruits.

Yes, people still eat Jell-o!  It’s a simple recipe and not much work at all.  Make sure you stir the sugar crystals thoroughly otherwise there will be a thicker gelatin layer at the bottom.

I realize this recipe wouldn’t normally be categorized as ‘foodie.’ However, it is a happy memory of my Grandma Chapie.  She was always proud to serve this to us.  As children Jell-o was endlessly entertaining and fun to make.  With four little girls in our family, we each got a turn to stir the Jell-o, and of course there was the anticipation of when the Jell-o would be ready to eat.

Scones


Scones

Jonathan and I made these scones and were delighted with the results.  Together we went to the Bulk Barn and selected dried red currants and dried mango infused cranberries.  The secret to delicious and slightly cake-like scones was the buttermilk!  Make sure to chop the butter with a knife into pea-sized pieces in the flour.  This was my attempt at The Joy of Baking recipe for Coffee House Scones.

Instructions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C) and place rack in middle of oven.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Cut the butter into small pieces and blend into the flour mixture with a pastry blender or two knives. The mixture should look like coarse crumbs.  Add the buttermilk and vanilla extract to the flour mixture and stir just until the dough comes together. Do not over mix.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead the dough gently and form into a round that is about 1 inch (2.5 cm) thick. Use a 2 1/2 inch (6.5 cm) round biscuit cutter to cut the dough into circles. Transfer the scones to the baking sheet and brush the tops of the scones with a little milk.

Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool.  Makes 6-8 scones.

Ingredients

2 cups all purpose flour

1/4 cup organic sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold and cut into pieces

2/3 – 3/4 cup buttermilk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ cup – ¾ cup of dried fruit

YUM!

Curry Pasta Salad

While deciding what to have for lunch today I was looking online at quinoa recipes, only to find we did not have quinoa in the house.  Instead, I decided on a pasta salad and looking around the refrigerator found some great ingredients.  The pasta salad was lightly spiced and very mild, but with lots of flavour.  Apples and orange pepper gave it a nice crunch and tuna added protein.  All in all a great easy lunch!

Curry Pasta Salad

Half a package of elbow noodles

½ cup Craisins

1 orange pepper chopped into small pieces

1 apple cored and chopped into small pieces

1 can of tuna

4 tablespoons of mayonnaise or Miracle Whip

1 teaspoon of yellow curry powder

1 teaspoon of cumin

½ teaspoon black pepper

¼ teaspoon of turmeric

Instructions:

Boil pasta, until al dente and then drain, and rinse the pasta with cold water.

In your salad bowl add the tuna and with a fork, separate it into desired size.  Chop and then add your apple and orange pepper.  Then add craisins.

Next add spices and Miracle Whip.

Combine drained cool pasta and stir thoroughly.

Refrigerate until cooled, this gives the miracle whip and the pasta time to set.

Then enjoy!

Coffee Cupcakes

Coffee Cupcake

Coffee cupcakes of mine turned out to be more like a coffee muffin with icing.  Since I am allergic to nuts and chocolate, coffee and espresso are my version of chocolate.  The cupcakes have a bold and really tasty coffee flavor, which is delightful.

However, I felt a tad guilty after being so indulgent that I did a twenty-minute work out the next morning, perhaps that could be categorized as “just healthy living”.  Most healthy living advice is to have balance in your diet and exercise routine.  Eating the odd cupcake is wonderful and to be encouraged, as long as you don’t eat ten cupcakes.  The twenty minute work out I used was based on Women’s Healthy Magazine, some great tips and how to do exercises that are better than crunches.

Back to the cooking though, I used the Joy of Baking website’s vanilla cupcake recipe and then added ¼ cup of brewed coffee, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon and removed the lemon zest.  Initially I added the lemon zest, but my Mom came in the kitchen and said cinnamon and lemon zest would not taste good together – so I picked out the lemon zest bits the best I could.  For this round of cupcakes the icing recipe is the same as the carrot, cinnamon, maple cupcakes, except that I added ¼ cup of brewed coffee.

The cupcakes had not cooled enough when I iced them, so the icing on top of my cupcakes is a little runny looking, and on some cupcakes it dripped.  I put the extra icing in the refrigerator and it firmed up, as extra icing for later.

Coffee cupcakes

Coffee Cupcake Recipe:

½ cup of unsalted butter at room temperature

2/3 of a cup of organic sugar

3 large eggs

1 teaspoon of organic pure vanilla extract

1 ½ cups of all purpose flour

1 ½ teaspoons of baking powder

1 teaspoon of cinnamon

¼ teaspoon of salt

¼ cup of milk

¼ cup of brewed organic coffee

Cream cheese icing:

1 cup of cream cheese, at room temperature

¼ cup of butter, at room temperature

3 cups of confectioners’ sugar

¼ cup of brewed organic coffee

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line 12 muffin cups with paper liners if desired.

In the electric mixer bowl, or with a hand mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat well. Beat in the vanilla extract.

In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.

With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture, brewed coffee, and milk.  Do so in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour. Scrape down the sides of the bowl so that all ingredients are properly combined.

Fill the muffin cups with the batter and bake for about 17 – 20 minutes.

Or – insert a toothpick into a cupcake and if it comes out clean – your cupcakes are finished.

Let cupcakes cool before icing!

Makes about 12 cupcakes.

Blueberry Muffins

Blueberry Muffins

This is my favourite blueberry muffin recipe.  I used organic sugar and organic wild Canadian blueberries (frozen from President’s Choice).  Organic where possibly is my preference, however not necessary.  These muffins never fail to disappoint me.  Coming from one of my Mom’s worn Canadian Living cookbooks, it is a favourite tried, tested and truly great recipe.  If you are using frozen berries, you could substitute cranberries for the blueberries, remember to dust the berries with flour before you add them into the batter at the end.  Dusting the berries with flour ensures the berries will not all float to the bottom of the muffin.  As you can see I love, love, love mini muffins and mini cupcake molds.  Two delicious bites and you’re ready for another!

Blueberry Muffin Recipe

1 ½ cups of flour

½ cup of sugar

2 ½ teaspoons of baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

1 egg

¾ cups of milk

1/3 cup of melted butter

1 cup of frozen blueberry or cranberries, dust with flour if frozen

Instructions

Mix dry and wet ingredients separately then combine.  Add blueberries last.  Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or til brown on top.

Weekend Food Adventures in Kitchener-Waterloo Part 2

East African Café – 50 Ontario Street South, Kitchener, ON

Lunch at East African Café

Now, I was skeptical at first about trying Ethopian food, because of the different textures, however I was pleasantly surprised.  The food was served on a large round dish with flat bread called injera underneath and a sampling of vegetarian deliciousness.  My two favourites were the misir (spit red lentils cooked in peppered sauce and blended with onion and garlic) and the cowlow cabbage (lightly spiced vegetable stew of cabbage, carrot, potato and garlic).   The cowlow cabbage reminded me of Indian bhaji, but that was just the colour and how it was eaten with a flatbread.  I believe my experience eating some Indian food prepared me for the textures and flavours.  The misir was a little spicy, but delicious.  Presentation was fun, similar to hotpot – it is fun to have a fiancé to share food with, especially foodie experiences that I would not have tried otherwise.   Two years ago I hadn’t even developed my appreciation for sushi!  The food was also completely nut free, which is a bonus for me, always good to finish my meal alive.

City Café Bakery – 50 South Ottawa St., Kitchener, ON – Croissants

Yummy croissant

Croissants make my world go round!  These croissants were flakey, buttery and not too crumbly.   Croissants are delicious with a cup of fair trade organic coffee.  Some day I hope to make my own croissants, but for today I’m not that ambitious.   Although Sobey’s, Metro, and Longo’s make fairly standard croissants, City Café Bakery blows regular grocery store croissants out of the water.  Croissants are way better than tea biscuits.  When I was on vacation with my family, the hotel in California served plain tea biscuits and nutty muffins (I’m allergic to nuts).  After the first morning the plain tea biscuit and fresh oranges had lost their novelty.  The weather in California in March was heavenly, however, it would have been a million times better with croissants.  Everyday is better with buttery delicious croissants.  I joke sometimes that I am on an all carb diet, which isn’t true, but I wish I could be on an all croissant diet.

 

Weekend Food Adventures in Kitchener-Waterloo

Hog Tails Barbeque, 645 Laurelwood Dr., Waterloo, ON

Pulled Pork Sandwich at Hog Tails

This is the pulled pork sandwich that Jonathan and I ordered.  It was tasty and very large – I wasn’t able to finish mine.  The coleslaw was fresh and didn’t have too much dressing on it.  In addition to the sandwiches we shared an order of sweet potato fries, with a spicy mayonnaise as a dip.  Definitely a good filling meal, and next time I will try out a pulled pork recipe of my own.

Starbucks Blonde Roast Coffee

Starbucks Blonde Roast

This coffee was sampled in hopes that it would not be as acidic as their regular coffee, which gives me stomachaches.  However, it was milder, but still not less acidic.  I simply cannot drink Starbucks coffee because of all of the wonderful coffee shops I was introduced to in Peterborough, Ontario that serve fair trade organic coffees. Recommended organic brands would be Planet Bean – roasted in Guelph, Ontario, Reunion Island and President’s Choice’s organic offerings.

Pakoras

Yummy pakoras!

Pakoras are an Indian breaded fried treat.  I was first introduced to these by the wonderful chefs also known as Jonathan’s parents.  While out on a trip to an Indian grocery store in Toronto, Jonathan picked up a mix to make them on our own.  Mushrooms and red bell peppers are what we made into pakoras.  With the mix, all we had to do was add water, stir, coat the vegies and deep fry! The second batch turned out best as the heat of the oil was more even.  A tamarind and date sauce would have been great with these.  Tamarind sauce is available at Longo’s.  The pakora mix can sometimes be found at Fresh Co.

Valentine’s Day Cupcakes

These cupcakes are carrot, maple and cinnamon flavoured with a cream cheese icing. This time my recipe was inspired by the internet and this recipe in particular. Sometimes the internet can be just as good as a cookbook!

Modifications to the recipe are that I boiled and puréed the carrot instead of grating the carrot like a regular carrot cake. I also used butter instead of canola oil. These cupcakes were rich and tasty. Perfect for Valentine’s Day, however I had a huge mess to clean up after. Using the piping bag was fun and also messy. I always seem to get blobs of icing coming up the top. A few of the cupcakes had the food colouring unevenly mixed, but there were a few good ones. I was inspired by the Martha Stewart cupcake cookbook that I saw in Chapters.

Practice always makes perfect, so I will continue to practice my creativity with cupcakes and baking.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp salt
4 eggs
1 cup melted butter or canola oil
½ cup maple syrup

Icing
1 cup cream cheese
3 cups confectioner’s sugar
1 tsp of vanilla
1 tbsp of milk or until even consistency, not too watery
2 drops of red food colouring