Laura’s Bridal Shower

This past weekend my Auntie Andrea and Gran hosted a bridal shower for my sister Laura.  I was in charge of bringing desserts.  It was my biggest baking project yet, but it all turned out really well.  I made three-dozen cupcakes and three-dozen mini strawberry tarts.  The cupcakes I made in advance and then put them in the freezer, so the day before the shower all I had to do was make the buttercream icing, and fondant daisies.  The cheesecake tarts were also made the day before and were really easy to make.

 
Earlier in the week we decorated my Grandma’s house, so the day of the bridal shower everything was perfect.  Victoria, Sarah and I went to Michael’s Craft Store and Party Packagers to find the perfect decorations.  The two grandmothers were smiling ear to ear throughout the bridal shower.  Gran spent a great deal of time planning the party – we all told her that she throws the BEST parties.  I hope to be throwing parties still at age 83!

Many of Laura’s close friends from elementary school and the University of Guelph were in attendance.  It’s really a wonderful thing when you have kept up with friends from elementary school.  Two of my Mom’s best friends from high school came to the shower.  Weddings are such a wonderful time for close friends, family and celebration.

I am so happy for my sister Laura – and I’m thrilled to be her Maid of Honour. Chris and her will have such an amazing life together!

Red Velvet Cupcakes – from Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon red gel-paste food color
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons distilled white vinegar

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Whisk together cake flour, cocoa, and salt.
  2. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, whisk together sugar and oil until combined. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Mix in food color and vanilla.
  3. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of buttermilk, and whisking well after each. Stir together the baking soda and vinegar in a small bowl (it will foam); add mixture to the batter, and mix on medium speed 10 seconds.
  4. Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes. Cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight containers.

Note

Gel-paste food color is much more concentrated than the supermarket liquid variety; if you substitute the liquid, you may need to add an entire bottle (1.5 ounces) to achieve the desired shade.

Mini Strawberry Cheese cake – Mom’s Recipe

Ingredients

2 cups cream cheese

¾ cup sugar

2 eggs

2 tsp vanilla extract

Crust

1 package Nilla (vanilla wafer cookies)

*These are a great instant crust, but if you can’t find them in the grocery store, you can make your own graham cracker crust.

Cheesecake filling

  1. In you Cuisinart food processor blend cream cheese and sugar.  Blend until the cream cheese begins to soften.
  2. Add in vanilla extract and eggs.
  3. Blend until nice creamy consistency.
  4. Fill the cupcake pan until ¾ full.
  5. Bake at 350 F for 11 minutes.  (Do not over bake or it will be dry.)
  6. Let cool and then garnish with fresh fruit or jams.  Place in the refrigerator until it is time to serve the cheesecakes.

Strawberry Puree Daisy Cupcakes

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.

Buttercream Icing – from Canadian Living Website

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.)

Mini Strawberry Cheesecake

This is one of my Mom’s best recipes.  It is great for parties and they always get eaten quickly.  I love them because they are nut free.  Usually at parties or at restaurants I don’t take chances with desserts because of my allergies.  Many places these days don’t make their own desserts on site, or they will not guarantee anything to be nut-free.  Jonathan and I were in a restaurant about a year ago and they turned us away because the chef did not want to take any chances.  Currently we have found a few great restaurants that will accommodate my allergies.  However, making my own desserts is the only way to be 100% sure there is no cross contamination.

The occasion for these mini cheesecakes is my Grandma’s birthday dinner that we are having tonight at the house.  Mom is going to buy a cake as well, but we like to have lots of dessert options.  The cheesecake tarts have a strawberry on top for garnish, but strawberries were on sale this week, so there will be lots of strawberries on the side.  Fresh berries on the side always make the cheesecake part appear healthier.

For the crust I would recommend trying to find the Christie brand Nilla wafers. Sometimes they are tricky to find and I couldn’t find them yesterday.  So I today I made my own graham cracker crust.  I still prefer the Nilla wafer crust, but my crust turned out rather well, so I am pleased with it.

Ingredients

2 cups cream cheese

¾ cup sugar

2 eggs

2 tsp vanilla extract

Crust

1 package Nilla (vanilla wafer cookies)

*These are a great instant crust, but if you can’t find them in the grocery store, you can make your own graham cracker crust.

or

1 cup graham crackers

2 tbsp melted butter

¼ cup sugar

Crust:

  1. Start by lining the cupcake pan with two paper wrappers or one foil wrapper.
  2. Preheat oven to 325 F.
  3. In the Cuisinart food processor blend graham crackers and sugar, until the graham crackers are crumbly.
  4. Add in melted butter and pulse again in the food processor.
  5. Add one spoonful of graham cracker mixture to the bottom of the cupcake tray.  Press down with fingers or with the back of the spoon.
  6. Bake crust at 325 F for 8-10 minutes, until the crust has set.

Cheesecake filling

  1. In you Cuisinart food processor blend cream cheese and sugar.  Blend until the cream cheese begins to soften.
  2. Add in vanilla extract and eggs.
  3. Blend until nice creamy consistency.
  4. Fill the cupcake pan until ¾ full.
  5. Bake at 350 F for 11 minutes.  (Do not over bake or it will be dry.)
  6. Let cool and then garnish with fresh fruit or jams.  Place in the refrigerator until it is time to serve the cheesecakes.

My Birthday Weekend 2012

Today is my birthday and this past weekend I celebrated my birthday with my fiancé Jonathan and my family.  On Saturday night Jonathan made a reservation for the two of us at Splendido in Toronto.  I had been looking forward to it all week.  On the menu was organic salmon all the way from Ireland.  The organic salmon was simply exquisite.  It was flavourful, fresh and expertly prepared with a white bean purée and blood oranges for garnish.

For dessert they brought out a candle and happy birthday sign.  There was also a chocolate cookie that Jonathan enjoyed.

Our main dessert was mini cheesecake with an apple sorbet.  The flavours were delicate and delicious.  The presentation was cute and gave me lots of ideas for my foodie blog.  Part of my gift from Jonathan was the Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes and Martha Stewart’s Pies and Tarts.  I am extremely excited to start trying out some of these recipes.

Sunday night my Mom prepared a special dinner for my birthday.  Mom made savory chicken crepes.  (A recipe I have not yet mastered)  An organic pear and organic green salad made the dinner complete.  For dessert Mom made her famous Apple Crisp.  This recipe I have made before so I feel I can share the recipe.  The apple crisp turned out wonderfully.  There was even vanilla ice cream that went perfectly with the warm apple crisp.  Each bite was like a little piece of heaven!

Apple Crisp Recipe

5 Granny Smith Apples (or any apple that you like baking with)

¾ cup oats

¾ cups brown sugar

½ cup flour

½ cup butter

½ tsp salt

½ tsp cinnamon

1.  Toss together apples and cinnamon.  Then place apples into bottom of lightly buttered baking dish.

2.  Mix together oats, brown sugar, flour, butter and salt until it forms a crumble topping.

3.  Sprinkle crumble topping over apples.  Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes.  Serve warm.