Mixed Berry Cupcakes

Raspberry, Blueberry, Blackberry CupcakesMy 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

Ingredients:

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

Instructions:

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

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 5 cups sifted icing sugar
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

Preparation

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.)

Blueberry Scones

Is there anything more comforting than a warm blueberry scone for breakfast?

I don’t think so! This morning, I thought I would try a new recipe from Smitten Kitchen.  We had all of the ingredients in the refrigerator and so it came together quite quickly. Dad came into the kitchen after his daily lane swim and dubbed them ‘swimmer’s scones.’  Laura loved the scones so much that she asked me to make them again for the morning of the wedding when all the girls are getting their hair done.

Sorry Starbucks, Leslie the Foodie is in town!

Ingredients

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon table salt
6 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
1 cup heavy cream

1.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

2.  In the bottom of a large, wide-ish bowl, whisk flours, baking powder, sugar and salt together. Add butter, either by cutting it in with two knives or a pastry blender.  Cut it into the flour mixture with a pastry blender, breaking it up until the mixture resembles a crumbly meal with tiny pea-sized bits of butter.

3.  Gently stir in the blueberries, so that they are coated in dry ingredient, then stir in heavy cream.

4.  When you’ve mixed it in as best as you can with the spatula, go ahead and knead it once or twice in the bowl, to create one mass. Do not worry about getting the dough evenly mixed. It’s far more important that the dough is not overworked.

5.  Generously flour your counter. With as few movements as possible, transfer your dough to the counter, generously flour the top of it and with your hands or a rolling pin, gently roll or press the dough out to a 3/4-inch thickness. Cut into 2 1/2-inch circles with a floured biscuit cutter (or using a knife).

6.  Carefully transfer scones to prepared baking sheet, leaving a couple inches between each.

7.  You can re-roll the scraps of dough, but don’t freak out over how wet the dough becomes as the strawberries have had more time to release their juice. They’ll still bake up wonderfully.

8.  Bake the scones for 12 minutes, until golden at the edges.  Cool for one minute on the pan and then serve warm or at room temperature.  (Scones are best the day they are made.)

Mango Chutney Restaurant and Oatmeal with Fresh Berries

Last week Jonathan took me to the Mango Chutney in Cambridge and it was fantastic.  It serves North Indian cuisine that had just the right amount of spice and flavour.  Jonathan had a small bowl of julienne green chiles to add to his meal as I don’t eat as spicy as him (“..Yet,” he adds.)  We ordered the feast for two, which came with fresh warm naan, basmati rice and three different types of curry.  It was all very flavourful and fresh.  Jonathan mentioned that each of the curry bases were different – which is often not the case at some North Indian restaurants.

The atmosphere was inviting, fresh and expertly decorated.  I loved the intricate, colourful patterns on the throw pillows that were arranged on the bench seating. We will definitely go there again!

Of course, it does not hold a candle to the delicious South Indian cuisine that Jonathan’s Mom and Dad prepare with such love.  Once I learn the art to their expert cooking I will try and share it.  For now I am still a beginner when it comes to making South Indian dishes.  I truly believe that it is an art to get the proper flavours and proportions of each spice.

RAITA
Whipped yogurt with cucumber & green coriander leaves.

BASMATI RICE & WARM NAAN

BUTTER CHICKEN
Clay roasted boneless chicken cooked in tomato sauce – Mango Chutney’s butter chicken is cream free.

LAMB CURRY
Boneless lamb cooked to perfection with special spices.

SHAM SAVERA
Spinach and cheese rolls in a mildly flavoured tomato sauce.

As for my own cooking projects this weekend, I made banana and pineapple muffins that did not turn out very well.  I will have to try again, because I am sure they could be lovely.  My next project was oatmeal with berries on top.  I followed the directions for the oatmeal and then sprinkled beautiful, nourishing, fresh berries on top and let the natural sugars work their magic.  It was a delicious breakfast and the photos turned out so well that I just had to share.  It is an easy and super healthy breakfast – with no sugar added!

Bumbleberry Pie – Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day was yesterday and to celebrate my family invited over my Grandma and Auntie Andrea.  For dinner my Dad barbequed turkey and beef burgers.  The dessert I made is a family favourite – bumbleberry pie.  All of the ingredients for the pie happened to be in my Mom’s pantry.  The berries I used were half fresh and half frozen.  Once strawberry season comes I plan to make Jonathan help me go strawberry picking.  Making a pie for the blog had been on my baking to-do list for a while, so I was delighted to make this scrumptious pie.

The recipe I used was from my Martha Stewart’s Pies and Tarts cookbook that Jonathan gave me for my birthday.  At the back of the cookbook was a recipe for a butter and cream cheese pie crust.  Within the pages of this wonderful cookbook I found a picture of a pie that inspired me to use heart shapes as the top pie crust.  My Mom has always made wonderful bumbleberry pies, so I thought I would give her a break from the kitchen on Mother’s Day.  The recipe I used based on the blueberry pie recipe from Martha’s Pies and Tarts Cookbook.  (My Mom has the Martha Stewart’s Pies and Tarts Cookbook as well, and her version has been well used over the years.)  The pie turned out perfectly golden and delicious. 

One of the debates we had when talking about pie filling with my Grandma, Aunt and Mom at dinner, was about cornstarch versus flour as a thickener.  I used cornstarch in this pie recipe, but the consensus was that flour is better for thickening pie filling.  So, I will try that next time.  My sister Laura also helped with this Mother’s Day pie.  She helped with cutting the hearts and arranging them on top.  In the second picture below you will see a round piece of metal, it is one of my Mom’s many kitchen gadgets.  What it does is prevents the outside crust from burning to a crisp.  It comes with a round base piece that catches any pie filling that might drip over the edge.  The baking gadget does wonders, as the pie crust was perfectly cooked.

Last night at dinner my Mom told a story about when she and my Dad were first married and they had a brand new chest freezer.  As fresh fruit came into season that summer, the chest freezer was quickly filled, almost entirely with pies.  So, there is a genetic urge in my family to bake pies and sweet desserts.  Jonathan, you better watch me carefully in your kitchen, I might just fill up your freezer with pie!

Cream Cheese Pie Crust Recipe (Make sure you double the recipe below if you are making a pie with a bottom crust and a top crust. )

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons cold water
  • 1 teaspoon cold cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for surface
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 ounces (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 4 ounces cold cream cheese, cut into small pieces

Directions

  1. Combine water and vinegar in a small bowl. Combine flour and salt in another bowl. Cut butter and cream cheese into cubes and then place with flour and salt mixture in food processor and pulse until crumbly.
  2. Add water mixture to dough in a slow, steady stream, stirring, until mixture just begins to hold together.  Pulse in food processor to combine.
  3. Turn out onto a piece of plastic wrap, and wrap. Press dough into a disk using your hands or a rolling pin. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour. (Dough can be frozen for up to 1 month; thaw before using.)
  4. Roll dough into a 12-inch round on a lightly floured surface. Fit dough into a 9-inch pie dish. Trim edge, leaving a 1-inch overhang. Turn overhang under so that edge is flush with rim. Flute edge. Freeze until firm, about 15 minutes.

Bumbleberry Pie Filling

  • 7 cups of fresh or frozen strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries (if you are using frozen, let the berries thaw in the refrigerator and drain excess liquid from the bottom.
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch or flour
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

Egg Wash

  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream

Directions

  1. On a lightly floured surface, roll out one disk of dough to a 12-inch round. With a dry pastry brush, sweep off excess flour; fit dough into a 9-inch glass pie plate, pressing it into edges. Trim dough to a 1/2-inch overhang all around. Fold edge of dough over or under, and crimp as desired.  Place back in the refrigerator to keep cool while you are making the pie filling.
  2. For the hearts roll out remaining dough in the same manner; and then use a cookie cutter to create two sizes of heart shaped crust.
  3. Place berries in a large bowl; with your hands, crush about 1/2 cup of berries, letting them fall into the bowl as you work. Add sugar, cornstarch, and lemon juice; stir to combine. Spoon mixture into pie plate with crust and mound berries slightly in the center.
  4. Arrange larger sized hearts around the edge of the pie plate on the berries, then add smaller hearts when you get closer to the middle.  Make sure to leave a few spaces between the hearts to allow steam to escape from the pie.
  5. Brush surface with egg wash, being careful not to let it pool. Freeze or refrigerate pie until firm, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees, with rack in lower third.
  6. Place pie on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 50 minutes and until crust begins to turn golden.
  7. Transfer pie to a wire rack to cool completely. The pie is best eaten the day it is baked, but it can be kept at room temperature, loosely covered with plastic wrap, for up to 2 days.

Cranberry Blueberry Muffin Cookies

I have a baking addiction.  I saw the following recipe on Pinterest and had to try it out – the results were tasty.  In my defense, the portion sizes are smaller than a full muffin, so these muffin cookies are perhaps (a little) healthier – and they have fruit in them.

The texture of these cookies is light and fluffy like a muffin, but in cookie form.  Originally the blogger who wrote the recipe had a streusel topping for the cookies, but I have chosen to omit this step. Where the original recipe called for cottage cheese, I used a vanilla yogurt.  Jonathan was confused as to whether these were really just muffin tops, but I think these are distinct.

I am going up for lunch at my Grandma’s house today, so I will take a few for her.  I’m sure she will appreciate some homemade cookies.

Makes about 3 dozen 2 inch cookies.

Ingredients:

Streusel Topping

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 8 tablespoons of cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces

Muffin Cookie

  • 10 tablespoon of unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/3 cup of vanilla yogurt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 4 oz cranberries
  • 6 oz blueberries (fresh or frozen)

Instructions:

To make streusel

  1. Place flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt in a bowl and whisk to combine. Add cold butter into bowl and using a pastry blender or a fork cut butter into dry mixture until it resembles small pellets. Set aside.

To make muffin cookies

  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. Place butter in a small saucepan over medium low heat and heat until butter becomes brown and smells nutty. Remove from heat and let cool for 5 minutes.
  3. Place granulated sugar, dark brown sugar, flour, cornstarch, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in a bowl and with a whisk stir until combined.
  4. In a separate bowl beat the egg, once beaten add to the dry ingredients.  Add in the vanilla extract and yogurt and stir thoroughly.
  5. Mix in the melted butter.
  6. Fold in frozen blueberries and cranberries (dusted with a teaspoon of flour).
  7. With a small ice cream scoop or two small spoons form small cookie balls and place on baking sheet.
  8. Bake for 10-12 minutes depending on your oven.
  9. If you are going to make the streusel topping see instructions below.

*Drop two tablespoons on parchment lined bake sheet. Bake one tray at a time for 8 minutes. Remove cookie filled bake sheet and heavily sprinkle streusel on top of cookies and gently press onto cookie, about 1 tablespoon per cookie (don’t worry if it spills onto the bake sheet). Return baking sheet to oven and bake for another 4 minutes. Remove from oven and let cookies cool on bake sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Blueberry Bundt Cake – with Cream Cheese Icing

Bundt cakes are wonderful desserts because they are sweet, but not too sweet.  For this recipe you will need a bundt cake pan that has the circular shape and hole in the middle.

This recipe is unique because it has blueberries and yogurt in it.  I did a cream cheese icing instead of the usual bundt cake drizzle of milk and icing sugar mixture.  The recipe turned out wonderfully and I will definitely be making this again.  It only lasted two days in my house – it was good as a dessert at dinnertime and an afternoon snack.  The cake was moist and flavourful.  My Mom said it was my best dessert yet.

Garnishing the cake my Mom had the suggestion to get some fresh mint leaves from the backyard – luckily the mint had started to grow.  Fresh blueberries were used to decorate this delightful cake.  Berries are my favourite garnish!

My favourite moment from the movie “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” is when the groom’s mother brings a bundt cake, and the Greek mother-in-law has difficulty saying “bundt cake.” The ‘d’ in bundt cake is silent and it is pronounced ‘bun-t cake.’  Wikipedia explains the origin of the word ‘bundt’ as such: “The German word bund in bundkuchen originated either from bundling or wrapping the cake’s dough around the pan’s centre hole or because a bund is a gathering of people.”  Once you master this cake you will be surprised by its comforting flavour and simplicity.  I’m sure it will disappear from your kitchen quickly.

For the Cake:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus 1 teaspoon for dusting blueberries
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup vanilla yogurt
2 cups blueberries (fresh or frozen)
Nonstick cooking spray or margarine for greasing the pan

For the Cream Cheese Glaze:
1 (4 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon butter, softened
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoon milk

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl, whisk 2 1/2 cups flour with baking powder and salt; set aside.
2. In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugars on high speed until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until incorporated. Beat in vanilla. Reduce speed to low; add flour mixture in three additions, alternating with two additions of yogurt.
3. In a bowl, toss blueberries with teaspoon flour to coat them.  This is so the berries will not all sink to the bottom of the pan.  Gently fold blueberries into batter.

4.  Coat a 12-cup nonstick Bundt pan with cooking spray or grease the pan lightly with margarine. Spread batter in prepared pan.
5. Bake cake on bottom rack of oven until a toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean, 60 to 70 minutes.

6.  Cool in pan 20 minutes. Invert onto a rack; cool completely, topside up.  Tap the top of the bundt cake pan with a wooden spoon to make sure the bundt cake comes out evenly and does not break apart.

7.  For the cream cheese icing, mix butter and cream cheese until evenly combined.  Slowly add in icing sugar, milk and vanilla extract.  The consistency will be thinner than cake icing and thicker than milk and sugar drizzle.  Add more milk to thin out the icing if needed.

8. Ice the bundt cake with the cream cheese icing and decorate with fresh blueberries.  Add a few leaves of fresh mint for garnish if available.


 

Five Wonderful Things (with little or no flour)

I noticed that pretty much all of my posts have involved flour, so here’s a list of some of my favourite foods that are flour-free:

1. Chai Tea – I love both tea and coffee.  Tea is great as an afternoon beverage that will get you through until dinner. In particular this week I am enjoying chai tea at Jonathan’s apartment in Waterloo.  During second year university I really enjoyed chai tea lattes but then they started tasting chalky.  Jonathan’s parents bought this wonderful Sukash-brand chai in Toronto and now I am back in love with it. Jonathan loves tea too, and has quite the selection.  His teas include chai tea, vanilla rooibos tea, orange pekoe, peppermint tea and black tea with ginger. (He also giggles every time I say chai tea, since chai means tea in Hindi –  it really should be called masala tea.)

2. Blueberries and vanilla yogurt – Berries and yogurt are simple and great as a breakfast item, afternoon snack or dessert.  Fresh berries are truly a luxury item, better than candy and chocolate – especially if you are allergic to nuts and chocolate.  When berries go on sale, load up!  If the berries don’t look super fresh, then get some frozen and make a smoothie.  One of my favourite smoothies is blueberry-mango.  I didn’t like smoothies very much a year ago, however I have discovered if I omit the banana, it is less thick.  I don’t like my smoothies to be overly chunky.  With this discovery I am free to enjoy the yummy frozen drink.

3. Caramel Popcorn – Originally this recipe was going to be a post all on its own, however I wasn’t sure if it was glamorous enough.  Jonathan was quite delighted when I brought a nice big bag of caramel popcorn to Waterloo as a treat.  My sister Victoria discovered this recipe and has made it many times.  It’s a sweet crowd pleaser – and more fun to say I made it myself.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 5 quarts popped popcorn

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees F (95 degrees C). Place popcorn in a very large bowl.
  2. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Stir in brown sugar, corn syrup and salt. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil without stirring 4 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in soda and vanilla. Pour in a thin stream over popcorn, stirring to coat.
  3. Place in two large shallow baking dishes and bake in preheated oven, stirring every 15 minutes, for 1 hour. Remove from oven and let cool completely before breaking into pieces.

4. Chicken Piccata – (There is a tiny bit of flour in this, but its not an overwhelming amount) My Mom bought Giada De Laurentiis’ Everyday Italian: 125 Simple and Delicious Recipes and has been trying out some of its wonderful recipes.  One of the best recipes so far is the chicken piccata.  It is great with basmati rice and some vegetables on the side or a salad.  The lemon and capers add flavour that is simply divine.

Ingredients

  • 2 skinless and boneless chicken breasts, butterflied and then cut in half
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • All-purpose flour, for dredging
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup brined capers, rinsed
  • 1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped

Directions

Season chicken with salt and pepper. Dredge chicken in flour and shake off excess.

In a large skillet over medium high heat, melt 2 tablespoons of butter with 3 tablespoons olive oil. When butter and oil start to sizzle, add 2 pieces of chicken and cook for 3 minutes. When chicken is browned, flip and cook other side for 3 minutes. Remove and transfer to plate. Melt 2 more tablespoons butter and add another 2 tablespoons olive oil. When butter and oil start to sizzle, add the other 2 pieces of chicken and brown both sides in same manner. Remove pan from heat and add chicken to the plate.

Into the pan add the lemon juice, stock and capers. Return to stove and bring to boil, scraping up brown bits from the pan for extra flavor. Check for seasoning. Return all the chicken to the pan and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove chicken to platter. Add remaining 2 tablespoons butter to sauce and whisk vigorously. Pour sauce over chicken and garnish with parsley.

5. Honey Mustard Glazed Salmon – Any meal with salmon is my favourite.  This dinner is from a few weeks ago and was really tasty.  The recipe for the salmon can be found here.  Side dishes were roasted baby potatoes with extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper and sauted baby bok choy.  The baby bok choy was sauted on high heat with salt, pepper, a pinch of crushed chillies, a little splash of sesame oil and a little splash of extra virgin olive oil for about 3-5 minutes.  For the potatoes, wash and slice potatoes in half and toss with a splash of extra virgin olive oil.  Mix in about half a tsp of salt and pepper or to taste.  Bake the potatoes in a casserole dish for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees F or until cooked.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 4 (5-ounce) salmon fillets
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • Cooking spray or parchment paper for baking

Instructions

In an oiled shallow baking dish, combine lemon juice, Dijon, honey, and lemon zest. Stir together. Season both sides of the salmon with salt and pepper and place in the baking dish. Flip salmon to coat in glaze. Bake immediately or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 3 hours.

When ready to cook, preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Bake 10 minutes or until fish is fork-tender.

Spring Daisy Cupcakes

Spring Daisy CupcakesAfter doing research into the blogging world of cupcakes I decided to try some fancier tricks.  What I decided on was fondant daisies.  These are the fondant cut-outs and the cupcake liners that I purchased from Michael’s.  The other tool you will need for the icing is the following piping tip.  You can use a regular piping bag or a zip-lock bag and an elastic band.  The zip-lock bag is disposable so is easy to clean up.

At Michael’s I purchased pre-made white fondant.  Perhaps next time I will be more adventurous and make my own fondant from scratch.  My tips for the fondant would be to have a bit of confectioner’s sugar to keep the fondant from sticking and to put the extra fondant into a zip-lock baggy right after you have used it.  Making the fondant daisies was much easier than I anticipated.  The difficult part was using a little bit of water on a pea sized piece of fondant and then rolling it in the pink sugar.  (The pink sugar was sticky) My Grandma came over for the fondant part and a cup of tea.  She zipped out to an independent kitchen store in Aurora, Ontario and bought me a cardboard cupcake stand.  The stand was really fun for displaying the cupcakes and taking pictures.

The recipe I used was based on the recipe Southern Strawberry Cake. However, I made some changes to the recipe.  I added 1tsp of baking powder and instead of butter I used ½ cup of canola oil.  The canola oil made the cupcakes lighter and better for the spring time, which I hope is right around the corner!  Strawberry, raspberry and blueberry puree mixed into the cupcake batter gave a fruity light flavour.  For the icing I went with a classic buttercream icing with a touch of vanilla extract and some red food colouring.  Make sure the cupcakes are fully cooled before you start the icing, otherwise the butter will melt and slide off the cupcake.  The end result was a heavenly light and tasty cupcake.

Ingredients:

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

1/2 cup pureed strawberries

1 teaspoon lemon zest

Instructions:

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 puree one cup of strawberries that will be reduced to about ½ a 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.

6.  Cool before icing.

Icing Instructions:

For the buttercream icing add butter into electric mixer, 1 tsp of vanilla extract, 3 tbsp of milk and add in confectioner’s sugar one cup at a time.  Blend at low speed.

Ingredients:

3 cups confectioner’s sugar

1/2 cup butter, room temperature

1 tsp vanilla extract

3 tbs milk (approximate)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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.