Wedding Photos

Jonathan and I are home in Windsor.  We are getting everything organized and resting up after such a wonderful wedding.  It was beyond perfect – there was so much happiness, joy and love!  Thank you to all of our bridesmaids, groomsmen, and families for making everything perfect.

I will share a few highlights and some of the photos of the food.  We had the reception at the Kingbridge Centre in King City, Ontario.  The food was absolutely delicious.  I had the salmon and Jonathan had the beef.  The fresh seasonal veggies on each plate were flavourful and delicious.  The wedding cake was absolutely perfect.  It was carrot cake and made by Christina at Cocoa Cakery.  All of the flowers were so beautiful and with five layers I can only imagine how much work it took to create!

Getting Ready for the weddingMy BouquetFlowers from the ChurchNewly Weds1044297_10151752104642323_1008248124_nThe CakeSalmon with Asparagus, carrots, spinach and yellow zucchiniCHicken with AsparagusBeef with Seasonal VegetablesWedding Favours Blueberry Grand Marnier JamFather Daughter DanceDancing with JonathanWearing Wedding Sado

Groomsmen Cookies – Oatmeal Chocolate Chip

IMG_5140Wedding is tomorrow!  So, I can’t help myself but to bake.  I am making some cookies to take over for the groomsmen.  Tonight is the rehearsal dinner.  It should be lots of fun!  Everyone is just relaxing at the Chapman house.  The neighbours sent over some beautiful flowers, so I will share the picture.

Currently, Jonathan is on the road from Windsor.  I called him last night to make sure that he packed the wedding rings!  They are (kind of) important.  I am so excited to be marrying my best friend.  He makes me happy each and every day.  He is the kindest, most generous, loving and smart person I know!  All of the wedding planning has been done, and now we just relax and enjoy.  It is going to be a beautiful day.  I can’t wait to put on my wedding dress, and see all of my bridesmaids in the deep eggplant purple dresses.IMG_5143IMG_5139

Ingredients

1 cup all purpose flour

½ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt

2 cups rolled oats

1 cup sugar

1 egg

¼ cup maple syrup

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a medium bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and oats.

In your mixer bowl beat the sugar and butter.  Then add egg, vanilla extract and maple syrup.  Slowly add in flour and oat mixture until combined.  Add chocolate chips til just combined.

Use a 1 inch cookie scoop and place cookies on baking sheet.  Flatten slightly with your fingers.  Bake for 9 minutes until they are just slightly golden around the edges.  Let cool.  Enjoy!

Keeping the bridesmaids happy – with brownies!

BrowniesThis morning my sisters Sarah and Victoria looked like they could use a little treat to keep up the momentum for wedding preparations.  There are three more sleeps til the big day!  Tonight, I am going down to have some sister time with  Laura, so I will come with gifts – brownies!

For the wedding day I am going to make raspberry and blueberry scones.  I am always up early and so these are a good project for me in the morning of the wedding.  I am also going to make some oatmeal chocolate chip cookies for the groomsmen on Friday.  Everyone has been so wonderful and supportive and they deserve some delicious treats.

These brownies use Ghirardelli cocoa and my Mom tested them and said they are delicious!  After they cooled I putBrownies them in the freezer for about 20 minutes to firm up, then sliced them.  They sliced beautifully and had a fudge like texture to them.  My Mom’s comments were that they were not bitter or acidic and had a lovely balanced chocolate flavour with an even texture.  The recipe comes from Smitten Kitchen her wonderful Best Cocoa Brownies.  They also only used one pot and I put parchment paper inside the baking pan so there was very little mess to clean up.  I would bring these to a potluck or for a dessert at a dinner party.  They could also be sprinkled with a little icing sugar to make them look even more dainty.BrowniesBrownies

Best Cocoa Brownies
Adapted from Alice Medrich’s Bittersweet

Makes 16 larger or 25 smaller brownies (the size you see pictured yielded 25)

10 tablespoons (140 grams) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups (250 grams) sugar
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (65 grams, though some brands may weigh more) unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-process)
1/4 teaspoon salt (or a heaping 1/4 teaspoon flaky salt, as I used)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, cold
1/2 cup (65 grams) all-purpose flour
2/3 cup (75 grams) walnut or pecan pieces (optional)

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F. Line the bottom and sides of an 8×8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper or foil, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides.

Combine the butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt in a medium heatproof bowl and set the bowl in a wide skillet of barely simmering water. Stir from time to time until the butter is melted and the mixture is smooth and hot enough that you want to remove your finger fairly quickly after dipping it in to test. Remove the bowl from the skillet and set aside briefly until the mixture is only warm, not hot. It looks fairly gritty at this point, but don’t fret — it smooths out once the eggs and flour are added. [Note, many people who have tried this recipe have found that this step works just fine in the microwave. Couldn’t test this because we don’t have one, but it sounds like it would work.]

Stir in the vanilla with a wooden spoon. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring vigorously after each one. When the batter looks thick, shiny, and well blended, add the flour and stir until you cannot see it any longer, then beat vigorously for 40 strokes with the wooden spoon or a rubber spatula. Stir in the nuts, if using. Spread evenly in the lined pan.

Bake until a toothpick plunged into the center emerges slightly moist with batter, 20 to 25 minutes is Medrich’s suggestion but it took me at least 10 minutes longer to get them set. Let cool completely on a rack. (I go further and throw mine in the fridge or freezer for a while; it’s the only way I can get them to cut with clean lines.)

Lift up the ends of the parchment or foil liner, and transfer the brownies to a cutting board. Cut into 16 or 25 squares.

Around the Garden

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.

I did snap a few photos in the garden though, the peonies are beautiful!  IMG_5085IMG_5077IMG_5078

Sangria Blanco and a new Graduate in the Family!

IMG_5052Today’s recipe:  Sangria Blanco!

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!IMG_5055IMG_5028IMG_5045IMG_5062

Ingredients

1 can Arizona Green Tea

1 cup orange juice

2 oranges, cubed

2 lemons, sliced

1 bottle Prosecco

Instructions

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!

Mini Pumpkin and Oatmeal Muffins

Pumpkin Oatmeal Mini MuffinsToday’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!

Pumpkin Oatmeal Mini MuffinsPumpkin Oatmeal Mini Muffins

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

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.

Pizza Dough Recipe

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!Pizza Hot out of the ovenHawaiian PizzaPizza with Olives and Mozzarella

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)

Ingredients

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

Instructions 

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.

10. Enjoy!

A day of pie! Chicken Pot Pie and Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Strawberry Rhubarb PieThere 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.Strawberry Rhubarb PieLattice Pie Crust Top

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.

Chicken Pot PieThe 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.Chicken Pot Pie

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Filling

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)

Ingredients

3 cups (500 mL) chicken stock

1 cup (250 mL) drywhite wine

2 cups (500 mL) chopped carrots

2 stalks  celery, chopped

2 cups (500 mL) cubed peeled potatoes

bay leaf

1 Pinch each salt and 1 tsp pepper, 1-3 tablespoon rosemary

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

Preparation

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 and Family Dinner

IMG-20130611-00043Jelly 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!Jelly Balls

Ingredients

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

Sauce

12 oz chili sauce

10 oz jar of grape jelly

1 tsp Lemon Juice

2 tbsp Brown Sugar

1 tbsp Soy Sauce

Instructions:

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.

Early Grey Shortbread cookies and Bachelorette Brunch

Earl Grey TeaThe 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.Me and my BridesmaidsBeef Wellington and brunchCranberry Waffle with Plum CapoteCream puffs and mini cheesecakeDesserts

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.

Mom and Me

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

Ingredients:

  • 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

Directions:

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.

8. Enjoy!