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.

Canada Day Cupcakes

July 1st is Canada Day! I hope everyone gets outside and relaxes this weekend.  What better way to relax than with cupcakes? These are delicious little jewels that have a fun, bright, and cheery colour.

Bright red cupcakes for Canada seemed like the patriotic dessert to make.  The bright red colour and the swirls of white buttercream icing represent our country quite well – it is a sweet place to live!  As a Canadian, I enjoy many rights and freedoms.  Including the freedom to make as much buttercream icing as I please!

Canada is a wonderful place to live (for reasons other than an abundance of buttercream icing) because of the quality education, equality, the many opportunities available, and its peace and democracy.  One should never take freedom and democracy lightly – it should be celebrated not just on Canada Day, but everyday.

For the little flags I went on the internet and printed out some flags, and then taped them to toothpicks.  In the Globe and Mail today I saw fondant Canadian images, which also look like great fun.  However, I did not have time to make fondant today.  So, show your patriotic side this weekend and let the Canadian flag wave proudly – whether it is atop a boathouse, in a city park, at a BBQ with friends and family or proudly sitting atop a cupcake. Happy Canada Day!

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 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1-2 teaspoons red food colouring

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 large eggs, room temperature, beaten

1/2 cup pureed strawberries

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

Ingredients

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.)

 

Strawberry Shortcake

What to say about (one of) my favourite desserts?

Strawberry shortcake is a classic and needs no introduction or up-talk.  Although, I could offer a few adjectives in its praise: heavenly, scrumptious, creamy and all-around-wonderful.  My favourite version of strawberry shortcake is the individual short stacks.  The biscuit is pretty much a plain scone with some vanilla yogurt to give it flavour and moisture – and of course with delicious BUTTER!  What isn’t to love?

I had to make strawberry shortcake with the fresh berries Jonathan and I picked yesterday.  The strawberries are sweet little gems that were begging me to use them in another blog post.

Now, believe it or not, I am NOT trying to give Jonathan a heart attack with all these sweets.  I used 2% Greek yogurt for this version of strawberry shortcake – therefore avoiding the extra fat in whipping cream.  This version is equally delicious as its fat cousin!

The brand of Greek yogurt we chose was Oikos by Danone.  With the popularity of Greek yogurt, we had no problem choosing the top rated Greek yogurt (as recommended by the Globe and Mail).  There was no chalky taste that is sometimes present with Greek yogurt.

This is a delicious summer dessert that you should not miss out on!

Shortcake Biscuit Ingredients:

2 ¼ cups organic all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

¼ sugar

½ teaspoon salt

1/3 cup cold, unsalted butter

1 cup vanilla 2% Greek yogurt

2 tablespoons milk

¼ cup to ½ cup of water, add slowly, just enough to help dough combine.

Filling:

4 cups sliced strawberries (add a teaspoon of sugar if you desire.)

2 cups 2% Greek yogurt

6 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions for making the biscuits:

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

2.  In the bottom of a large bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, sugar and salt together.  Add butter, either by cutting it in with two knives or a pastry blender.  Cut the butter into the flour mixture until the butter is pea sized and coated with flour.

3.  Stir in the yogurt, milk and water until the dough starts to come together.

4.  Once you have mixed it together with a wooden spoon, knead it once or twice in the bowl, to create one mass. Do not worry about getting the dough evenly mixed.  Be careful not to over knead the dough.

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 biscuits to prepared baking sheet, leaving a couple inches between each.

7.  Bake the scones for 12-14 minutes, until golden at the edges.  Cool for one minute on the pan and then transfer to a wire rack.  (Biscuits are best the day they are made.)

Assembling Shortcakes:

  1. Bake biscuits and let cool.
  2. Make filling by stirring filling ingredients together.  Chill filling for 1 hour.
  3. Take one cup or half the filling in a separate bowl and stir in 1 cup of sliced strawberries.
  4. Slice the biscuits in half.
  5. Add strawberry filling in the middle and place top back on.  Add a dollop of plain yogurt filling on top.
  6. Enjoy!

Apologies for the picture quality – I forgot to bring my camera to Jonathan’s apartment, so we used his BlackBerry for these shots.

Strawberry Fields Forever (Strawberry Picking!)

Yesterday, Jonathan and I went strawberry picking at Nauman’s Farm, approximately twenty minutes outside of Waterloo, Ontario.  We picked six litres of delicious, sweet, heavenly strawberries. Over half have since disappeared!  However, there was enough for breakfast this morning and tonight’s dessert.

Strawberry shortcake is one of my favourite types of cake, and will the subject of my next post.  It is best of course when strawberries are in season!  I prefer the short stacks version of strawberry shortcake – perfect little individual cakes loaded up with whipping cream and fresh juicy berries.

When I told Jonathan’s parents that I intended to take him strawberry picking, they warned me he would not go willingly. He agreed with their assessment, saying (light-heartedly) that he preferred to support farm workers instead of putting them out of a job.

Once we were there, however, he actually seemed to enjoy it! Though it was hot, there was a lovely breeze, and with only four of us in the entire field, there was a lot of room to find the best berries.

While six litres is a lot of berries, we didn’t pick enough to make jam. That will be next time, when raspberries come into season.  This was just a warm up, Jonathan!  Homemade raspberry jam is my absolute favourite.  I will need help from my Mom for that foodie endeavor.

Now, I have had a request from one of my sister’s dear friends, Hailey, to make fun food art.  Here is my first attempt.  I used fresh blueberries, strawberries and organic bananas to create this beautiful presentation on top of oatmeal.  Jonathan thinks that the blueberry smiley face was kind of creepy, so maybe I need a bit more practice.  Nonetheless, we enjoyed this fun, filling and delicious breakfast!

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.

Extreme Baking: Cupcakes, Meatloaf, and Bundt Cake

Leslie the Foodie has been very busy in the kitchen lately.  Yesterday I made four dozen cupcakes for my sister’s bridal shower on Sunday.  I made one batch of light and fluffy strawberry cupcakes and one batch of red velvet cupcakes.  The oven was on for a very long time!  I put the cupcakes in the freezer and I will ice them and decorate them with fondant flowers on Saturday.

Then, I made my blueberry yogurt bundt cake for my Dad to take into a meeting at work.  Dad wanted to have a snack for all of the hard working staff at the City of Toronto.  There will be more desserts to come for his co-workers who have been loyally following my blog!

Happy Birthday Dad!

In addition to these projects, I made dinner last night for Dad’s birthday.  I made one of our family’s favourite comfort foods – barbeque meatloaf.  Along with delicious baked potatoes and some peas, it was a perfect dinner.  There were a few extra cupcakes from the morning so I whipped up some icing and we had them for dessert.

Dad has been very supportive of my blog and likes to make lots of suggestions.  I’m sure this summer he will want me to do a post with a fish fresh from the lake.  He gets a kick out of fishing up at the cottage and I’m sure he will this summer as well.

I’m not sure what the best recipes for bass are, but I will start researching now.  There are some other fish in the lake, but fishing isn’t really my area of expertise. I will leave that to Dad.

Barbeque Meatloaf Recipe

Ingredients

-1 pound of lean ground beef

-1/2 cup to 1 cup of bread crumbs

-1/2 cup of finely chopped onion

-1 large egg

-1/2 cup Diana’s barbeque sauce or your favourite barbeque sauce

Instructions
Mix ground beef, egg, breadcrumbs, onion and half cup of barbeque sauce together in a bowl until thoroughly blended.  Pour some extra Diana barbeque sauce on top of the meatloaf.  Then form a loaf shape in a casserole dish.  Bake at 375 F for one hour.  You can put the baked potatoes in at the same time for an hour.

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.

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.