Sunday, December 23, 2012

White Chocolate Peppermint Mocha Cupcakes

We're in the home stretch now.



Tomorrow is Christmas eve. Usually that means a flurry of preparations and gift wrapping for me, but this year is different. The cookies are baked. The presents are wrapped. I've already done a mini pre-Christmas of sorts with my family in Vancouver and today we flew to Calgary to spend the holiday with the boys family. It's a different sort of Christmas for sure...

No stockings hung by the chimney. No rambunctios little brothers bouncing off the walls. No Christmas morning video cameras. No turkey and cornbread stuffing and cranberry sauce. It's a first for me and I'm trying to be open to new things. Trying to see that the spirit of the holidays lies in all sorts of traditions. Becoming a part of a new family, or trying to anyway, can be a challenging thing. I know a lot of people must be going through that around the holidays. Compromises must be made on all sides, and I know for myself, I could probably stand to give a little more. So I'm working on smiling. On being gracious. And on appreciating these people I am so lucky to have in my life and loving them for who they are. 

And of course, there are still cookies. It can't be all that bad.  




So these cupcakes... they are scrumptious little things. And I had really really REALLY wanted this post to be up days ago but, well... Something got in the way. A casserole dish to be exact.   I'm not even sure how to explain this other than that... my clumsiness really knows no bounds. It is so ridiculous. But simply put, I've spent the last few days with one heck of a headache and a mild concussion. I'm a little bit grumpy and a lot ashamed. That is all.

I made these little treats for a coworker who is just the tiniest bit OBSESSED with the Starbucks white chocolate peppermint mocha, and who also happens to have a December Birthday. They were quite minty, so I've dialled back the peppermint extract in the recipe below - but if you really love mint feel free to up it to 1 1/2 teaspoons, or even to replace the vanilla with more mint.  The light coffee cake counteracts the sweetness of the frosting perfectly, they were a big hit around the office. 




Latte Cupcakes

Adapted from Annie's Eats.

Ingredients

2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon instant coffee or espresso powder ( I used 2 packets Starbucks via)
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 cup brewed coffee
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon whole milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 F and line a cupcake pan with paper liners. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and instant coffee. Set aside.

2. Combine the butter and sugar in a large bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer.  Beat them together on high speed until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and mix until well combined. Use a liquid measuring cup to combine the coffee, milk, and vanilla.

3. Keep the  mixer on low speed as you gradually add the remaining ingredients to the butter mixture. Alternate the dry ingredients with the liquid mixture, mixing well after each addition, until batter is well combined and no lumps remain.

4. Spoon evenly into muffin wells - an ice cream scoop is great for this! Bake the cupcakes 15-20 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Let cool completely before frosting.


White Chocolate Peppermint Butter Cream Frosting 


Ingredients

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
6 ounces good quality white chocolate, coarsly chopped
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
1 teaspoon clear vanilla extract
pinch salt
3 cups icing sugar, sifted

Directions

1. Set a small bowl over a pot of simmering (not boiling) water, add the chopped chocolate and stir gently until melted and smooth. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. You can also melt chocolate in the microwave.

2. With an electric mixer on medium high speed, whip butter until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the melted chocolate to the butter and beat to combine.

3. Add the extracts and salt, mixing well. Carefully add in the sifted sugar, in 1 cup increments, mixing on low speed after each addition. Once all of the sugar has been added, increase the speed to medium high and beat until well combined. Transfer icing to a piping bag and top each cupcake with a generous swirl of frosting, and decorations of your choice. I used white chocolate peppermint M&M's.


Merry Christmas friends! Peace and love to you and all of your families.

XOXO



Thursday, December 6, 2012

Chocolate Chip Cookies with White Chocolate Peppermint M&M's

I'm setting a personal record this year.


    
I am almost DONE with my holiday shopping. For real. This is a big deal people. HUGE. I am the biggest procrastinator ever. I usually find myself scrambling to find suitable gifts for friends and family members on December 23rd! Dragging my tired/ dazed self through the crowds at the mall to find something... anything! But this year I was inspired to take advantage of black Friday (week) sales, and by December 2nd I'd already checked off 90% of my list.

Sigh...

Don't you just LOVE checking things off of lists? Best feeling.


All that's left now is to find something for the boyfriend. And with everyone else out of the way, I think I can handle that. The real question is, where best to hide it? There has been a little battle going on between us each year over who can find the best gift-hiding spot in the apartment (as in, who can find what the other person got them before December 25th). I haven't won yet. Although, I did get one over on him last year via strategic wrapping. Want to confuse a loved one on Christmas morning (who doesn't)? Put a gift card in a big box, along with a few 3 pound dumbbells  and some newspaper. Wrap it all up. I know its an old trick, but the look on their face will be priceless. Hehee.


If you think this means I also saved boatloads of money by shopping the sales this holiday season, think again. No Sir. I took my shopping savings and got tickets to see ELF THE MUSICAL in Seattle next weekend!!!! You'll have to excuse me, but I am pretty much bursting with excitement. If I'm not in the Holiday spirit yet, I sure will be after that. And really, I just heart musicals of any kind.


I've also made a considerable dent in my baking to do list and people... listen. This is the best chocolate chip cookie recipe I've ever tried. They are perfection. If you like your cookies fluffy and doughy, then you must make these RIGHT NOW. What are you waiting for? Go!

Now... if you like your cookies flat and crispy, with the chips rising up over a little puddle of "dough"... Well, I'm just not sure we can be friends anymore. So hopefully you will try these and see the light.  

For our friendship.



Got a work potluck or family gathering coming up? I'm sure you do. Make these. They're simple, yes. But they will disappear so fast.

Mix in whatever you please - whether that's chocolate chips and M&M's, toffee bits and pretzels, or pecans and dried cranberries. Anything goes. Whatever you do, just make sure you share ;)








Chocolate Chip Cookies

Adapted from How Sweet It Is.

Makes about 36 Cookies.

Ingredients

2 Cups plus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1/2 Teaspoon baking soda
1/2 Teaspoon salt
3/4 Cup or 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, very soft*
1 Cup golden brown sugar
1/2 Cup granulated sugar
1 Egg
1 Egg yolk
2 Teaspoons vanilla extract
1 Cup chocolate chips, M&M's, or mix-ins of your choosing

* A note about the butter. Mine was at room temperature and I softened it even more by cutting it into cubes and microwaving until it juuuust starts to melt. Then creaming it with the butter right away. Jess says to melt it all the way and set in the fridge/freezer to cool. I think either way will work as long as the butter isn't completely liquid or hot at all.

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 325F. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

2. In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugars until fluffy. Add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla and whisk to combine. Gradually add the flour mixture - about a 1/2 cup at a time - until fully incorporated. Fold in the M&M's, chocolate chips, or whatever you choose. I used 1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips and 2/3 white chocolate peppermint M&M's!

3. Spoon cookie dough onto prepared pan, about 2 tablespoons dough per cookie. I used my new favourite kitchen utensil, my cookie scoop! Leave about 2 inches between cookies. You'll get about 12 per sheet, less if you make bigger cookies. Bake at 325 F for 12-15 minutes. Cookies will be puffed up and just starting to brown slightly around the edges. Allow to cool on the cookie sheet for a few minutes before transferring to a cooling rack or plate.

Or burn your fingers/ mouth by cramming one into your face the instant you pull them out of the oven. I won't say I told you so.



Thursday, November 29, 2012

Creamy Cauliflower & Parmesan Soup

Are you ready for the holidays? I'm not so sure I'm on board yet... but since the world (aka the mall) has been thrusting it on me in full force since November 1st, I figure I might as well getwiththeprogram. I dug the twinkle lights out of the storage locker on the weekend and will hang them soon. A wreathe will go on the door, and stockings might be hung. As we are spending Christmas away, I am forgoing the tree this year.  I just can't justify all the work when we wont be around to enjoy it, ya know?

Some say this makes me a Grinch. But I do love the holidays. I just also think that minimizing the stress/work this time of year is the best gift I can give myself. What about you? Has the decorating begun yet? What about the present shopping?



One holiday tradition I can totally get behind is the COOKIE situation. My mission this year is to spend as much time as I desire in my kitchen... apron on, spatula in hand, Mariah Carey blasting in the background. Now THAT sounds like a good time. Hopefully this will become a reality.

Between all the decorating, shopping, and baking, it can sometimes be overlooked that we all still need to eat dinner. And I'm pretty sure that once you've had coffee for breakfast, cookies for lunch and wine and peanut butter cups as a midday snack, the next natural step is to combine your vegetables with sour cream and cheese and call it dinner. Soup to the rescue.  I whipped up this cozy, comforting single girl dinner last week and it was SO GOOD.  It's velvety smooth and heavenly creamy. And come on, its CAULIFLOWER. I'm pretty sure that cancels out all the calories from the cream and cheese, right?

Definitely.


Creamy Cauliflower Soup with Parmesan


Serves 4. Or one with leftovers ;)

Ingredients

2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp butter
1 onion, diced small
2 stalks celery
4 cloves garlic, crushed
pinch of chili flakes, optional
1 medium head cauliflower, chopped into florets
4 cups stock (chicken or vegetable)
1 cup whole milk
1 cup sour cream
salt and pepper to taste
3/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese


Directions:

1. Heat a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat, drizzle with olive oil and add a spoonful of butter. When butter has melted throw in the onion and celery and saute until soft and opaque, about 3 minutes. Add in the garlic and chili and saute 1 or 2 minutes.

2. Add the cauliflower to the pot along with the stock. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and let simmer until cauliflower is softened, about 15-20 minutes.

3. Once the cauliflower is cooked, remove from heat and add the whole milk.  Next, use an immersion blender to puree the soup until completely smooth. Be sure to cover the bowl with a towel to guard against any splashing, especially if the soup is still warm. If you don't have an immersion blender, you will need to transfer the soup to a traditional blender and puree in two separate batches.

4. Return soup to the pot if you transferred it to a blender. Turn heat back to medium-low. Stir in the sour cream, Parmesan, and salt & pepper to taste. Once the soup has returned to a simmer it is ready to go.

Drizzle with garlic infused oil and more cheese, if desired. Some fresh parsley would be lovely too.   Serve with a side salad, some warm crusty bread, and perhaps a glass of wine for one.


Drinking out of a juice cup makes drinking alone totally acceptable. True story.





Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Salted Caramel Pecan Brownies

Oh, howdy friends.

Yep, I'm back after a long and unexplained absence. I won't go into detail but, long story short long... there has been a lot of change going on and I needed some time to... adjust. Those of you who know me in real life already know that a certain boy has taken a great job opportunity in Seattle, WA. Hooray for jobs! But also... boo! Seeing as I don't live in Seattle, and my going with him was not an option, that left me here all alone.
  
 
Yes, I'm a big girl. And yep, I can look after myself. But darn, this long distance thing is tough. And we're only four hours apart, I can't imagine if it were any further! But if were being real? My crazy girl brain needed some space to get used to the idea. And that meant that this little blog slipped off the priority list. That makes me sad. You know what doesn't make me sad? How many people KEPT ON READING IT! I checked in the other day and saw that tons of you are still dropping by to take a look at things I've made and ... wow. Just wow. This gives me so much motivation to keep on blogging, so thank you!
Anyways...  I've found at least one major upside to having a second residence in the US of A. And that is Trader Joes, of course! Oh dear, do I ever love that place. Why oh why dont we have any in Canada? If you have never been, let this be a warning: Your first experience may be an overwhelming one. You will dart around the store like a crazy person. You will throw anything and everything into your cart. You may get whiplash looking from isle to isle. Afterwards, you will gorge yourself on cookies and chocolate-covered-everything and you will feel sick.
Just me? Oh.

One thing I picked up on the last trip were these crazy little Fleur De Sel Caramels. I am a goner for anything sweet and salty, and I knew from the moment I bought them that these were destined to be combined with chocolate and baked into something delicious. Brownies to the rescue! I mixed toasted pecans into brownie batter, dotted the top with the little caramels, baked them up and sprinkled with sea salt. BAM! Ooey gooey salty sweet brownies. Dig in!



  

Salted Caramel and Pecan Brownies

Adapted from S'mores Brownies from the Joy the Baker Cookbook.

These are moist cakey brownies, studded with pecans and melted caramel centres. If you can't get your hands on the TJ's caramels, any soft candy should do really. Or you could try marbling the top with a liquid caramel sauce. Enjoy!

Ingredients
1 cup unsalted butter
6 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate, chopped
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon instant espresso or coffee powder
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
5 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup toasted pecan halves, chopped
12 Trader Joes Fleur De Sel Caramels, or similar candy

1 tablespoon fleur de sel or course sea salt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar


1. Preheat oven to 350. Butter a 9X13 pan. I did not line my pan with parchment, but I think I would do this next time, to prevent sticking. Set a heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering, not boiling, water. Add the chocolate and butter to the bowl, stirring until the mixture is fully melted and smooth. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.

2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and coffee powder. Set aside.

3. In a large bowl or stand mixer, beat together the eggs, sugar, and vanilla. Gradually add the chocolate mixture to the eggs, taking care not to let them cook. Next, add the dry ingredients 1 cup at a time and mix until well combined. Fold in the chopped pecans. 

4. Pour batter into prepared pan. Unwrap each caramel candy (the most labour intensive step in the recipe, without a doubt), and roll between the palms of your hands to form a ball. Place the 12 caramel balls on top of the brownie batter. 

5. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until a skewer or cake tester comes out almost clean. In a small dish, combine 1 tablespoon fleur de sel with 1 tablespoon sugar. Use fingers to sprinkle as much as desired across the top of the finished brownies. 

These are best enjoyed warm from the oven, or zapped in the microwave just long enough to melt the caramel. They would also be RIDICULOUS with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Oh man, why didn't I think of that when I still had some?!

I know that today is a big day for all the American readers out there. And although our Thanksgiving came and went last month, I will be attending an American's-in-Canada-Friends-Giving this weekend. I will be whipping up the pumpkin cream pie from last year, because the boyfriend loves it so, plus a savoury dish I'll hopefully share on here soon. Happy Thanksgiving!

And here is a rainbow. Because today, I'm thankful for rainbows.




Friday, September 14, 2012

End of Summer Plum Cobbler

Oh, hello there.



Is that not just the cutest little plum you've ever seen?




We picked up these little guys on labour day weekend, at a farm stand in B.C.'s beautiful Okanagan... along with some peaches, apples, cherries, corn, and tomatoes! Weeee!

I can say I have thoroughly enjoyed our provinces produce offerings this year. All month there have been peaches in my oatmeal, simple tomato sandwiches at lunch, and sweet creamy corn chowder for dinner. We're loving it. Well OK, I'm loving it. The boyfriend not so much since he hates both oatmeal and soup... and prefers his sandwiches with bacon.

Oh well, more for me!



I don't normally like plums, with their bitter skin and tart juices. But end-of-august-plums seem to be a different breed. So sweet and juicy Ican'tevenhandleit. And topped with fluffy little biscuits that also happen to be gluten free? Shutup. It's the perfect dessert to bridge summer and fall...

Serve with creamy vanilla bean gelato. It will melt and mingle with the plum juices to form a heavenly sauce.

Eat outdoors, in order to soak up the last bit of September sunshine.

Bring a sweater. 

Mourn summer.

Go make soup.
 



Summer Plum Cobbler with Gluten Free Biscuit Topping


Adapted from How to Cook Gluten-Free by Elizabeth Barbone. I just received this book off amazon and can't wait to try out more recipes! It is a fantastic "basics" guide for anyone starting a gluten free diet.

Plum Filling Ingredients

6 Cups ripe plums, pitted and (large ones) sliced
3/4 Cup white sugar
1 Tablespoon Cornstarch
1 Teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice


Biscuit Topping Ingredients

1 Cup tapioca starch
2/3 Cup white rice flour
1/3 Cup cornstarch
1/4 Cup granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 Teaspoon salt
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 Cup  heavy cream




1.  Preheat oven to 400F. Butter a baking dish - the recipe calls for 9X13, while I opted to use a 9X9 square dish. Pit and slice the plums, I used an assortment of red, purple and yellow plums of various sizes.

2. Toss plums with sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, and lemon juice. Stir to combine and pour into prepared dish.

3. For the topping, combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add the butter and use your fingers to work it into the dry ingredients until little pebbles form. Add the cream and stir until the dough holds together, adding additional cream if needed. The dough will be fairly sticky.

4. Roll the dough into golf ball sized pieces and place on top of the fruit mixture, leaving a bit of space between them. Bake until biscuits are puffed up and lightly browned, about 30-40 minutes.

Let cool, serve warm or cold. Makes 6-8 servings.

In other news, my 1 year "Blogiversary" passed last week. I threw no party. Held no contests. Baked no cake (although I wish I had). But it was noted fondly that 1 year ago I decided to start sharing my random thoughts and recipes with strangers on the internet. It has been fun, and I hope to do it for years to come. Just as I hope to learn and grow and get better at it.

Time for a little blog re-design in honour of her Birthday? I think so!

Happy weekend foodie friends!

XO


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Chocolate Coconut Brownie Ice Cream Bars


Craving something cold and sweet to help you wind down the last of these sticky summer days?

'Cus I know I sure am. 




Or maybe you're looking for something a little different, a little decadent, to impress your friends at your next gathering?


This might just work.


Bonus, if you've got friends or family with allergies, who normally can't take part in the dessert table... you know, the ones who sit pouting in the corner when the birthday cake is cut? (Not guilty).

This is a super easy way to put a smile on their face. With a few tweaks here and there, it can easily be gluten free, dairy free, or even vegan.




I wouldn't call this a recipe so much as... an idea. It's stupidly easy, you can customize it to no end, and the results are nothing short of AMAAAAZING.

In my humble opinion.




I totally cheated on this recipe, I made the brownies from a mix and used store bought ice cream. I don't think this compromised its deliciousness in anyway, but if you are more ambitious than I, you can go right ahead and make all the components from scratch and then combine them as I did. In fact, please do! But make sure to invite me over :)

If you go the lazy route like I did, just use your favourite brownie mix and ice cream flavour. I used this mix from Pamela's Product's and the Cappuccino flavour of Luna & Larry's Coconut Bliss ice cream, which tastes like my most recent Starbucks obsession, coconut lattes! All of my ingredients were free of gluten and dairy. To make it vegan, you can probably just use an egg replacer instead of the eggs in the brownie mix. Or go ahead and use all the eggs and butter and real cream you want, it's your dessert!


Chocolate Coconut Brownie Ice Cream Bars (Gluten and Dairy Free Optional)


Ingredients:

1 Batch of brownies, from scratch or a mix - baked and cooled
1 Pint or 2 cups ice cream, softened slightly
1 Cup coconut chocolate ganache, recipe below
1 Cup unsweetened shredded coconut, toasted

1. Bake brownies according to package directions at least a few hours in advance, I recommend doing this a day ahead, and allow them to cool fully. I baked mine in a 7X11 Pyrex, but an 8X8 will work too.

2. Use a spatula to gently spread the softened ice cream in an even layer over the brownies, cover and place in the freezer until firm, about 2 hours.

3. While the ice cream is in the freezer, whip up the ganache and leave to cool. At the same time, toast the coconut in a pan over low heat, until just golden brown, and set aside.

4. When the ice cream layer is frozen solid, pour the coconut ganache over the ice cream as evenly as possible, use a spatula to guide it to the edges and into the corners. As you can see, my ganache was still a bit warm and melted some of the ice cream, so my layers aren't perfect. Don't worry if yours are a little wonky too, it still tasted great.

Sprinkle with as much or as little of the toasted coconut as you'd like, then cover and freeze the whole thing until the ganache is set, at least 1 hour. Remove from the freezer and thaw until it is soft enough to cut. Divide into squares, serve and enjoy!


Chocolate Coconut Ganache (Dairy Free)


Ingredients:

16 Ounces dark, dairy free chocolate
1 (15 Ounce) can full fat coconut milk

1. Chop the chocolate into rough chunks and place in a heat proof bowl, set aside.

2. Heat the coconut milk over medium low heat until it begins to steam and bubble at the edges, remove from heat just before boiling. Pour the coconut milk over the chocolate and let stand for 5 minutes before stirring. Beat with a whisk to combine, until the chocolate mixture is smooth and glossy. Refrigerate to cool.


You know what I'm thinking? Chocolate Peppermint Chip Brownie Ice Cream Bars. Yes please.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Honey Lime Grilled Salmon with Fresh Fruit Salsa




This recipe is inspired by (slash-stolen-from) one of my favourite bloggers - Jessica at How Sweet It Is. Jess if you read this - imitation is the sincerest form of f-OMG I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU'RE READING MY BLOG I LOVE YOU!!!

Ahem.

Sorry. I'd better stop before this gets embarrassing. See, when it comes to food blogs and me, "following" is really just another way of saying "stalking". I can get a bit... obsessed. Just a bit. I can't even begin to imagine what I would do if I MET my blogging idols - pass out?

Oh right, that happened. Hi JOY!




But seriously? How could you not love someone who comes up with things like Bourbon Marshmallow Smores with Bacon? For real. Also, I feel like we have a lot of things in common - mainly a nostalgia for/love of any and all things 90's. Plus an obsession with the show Girls and an aversion to doing dishes. And then theres that whole food thing... yeah I kinda like it too.

Most importantly, I have to thank Jess for bringing something as amazing as fruit salsa into my life. WHY did I never think of this before??? It's ridiculous. After procrastinating forever I finally made up a batch in my food processor last week - it took all of about 20 seconds - and holy cow this stuff is delicious. And addicting. And delicious.




Tip: If you are like me and get squeamish with salmon skin, this is a great way to grill a lovely, moist skin-on filet, and leave the skin behind on the grill. Works with pretty much any fish! Listen up. Start the fish skin side UP on the grill, flip it over half way through cooking time so that the skin side is DOWN. When the fish is cooked all the way through, take the edge of a metal spatula and gently wiggle it between the flesh of the fish and the skin. If the fish is fully cooked, it should slide easily onto the spatula, leaving the icky skin behind on your grill. Ta daa! Now just make sure you get a grownup to clean the grill for you.

Now get grillin!


Honey Lime Grilled Salmon with Fresh Fruit Salsa

Inspired by Honey Lime Tilapia by How Sweet It is.

Ingredients
2 Salmon filets 
1 Tablespoon olive oil 
2 Tablespoons honey
Juice of 2 small limes
Zest of 1 lime
1 Garlic clove, crushed
1/2 Teaspoon salt 
Additional honey and lime juice for drizzling

1. Place the salmon in a dish or container. In a small bowl, combine the ingredients for the marinade, whisk well and pour over top of the fish. Cover and refrigerate for about 30 minutes to 1 hour.

2. To grill the salmon, preheat your grill to medium high, brush the  grates clean and lightly oil them (I use olive oil in a mister) then place the salmon skin-side-up on the grill, and close the lid. After about 4-5 minutes, depending on the thickness of your fillets, the fish should begin to turn opaque. Use tongs to gently flip your fish over so that it is now skin-side-down. Give it another 3-5 minutes on the grill, until the salmon is completely opaque. Much longer and you risk drying out the fish. As I said above, you can keep the skin on, or you can remove it by gently sliding a spatula between the fish and the skin, leaving the skin behind on the grill.

3. Combine about a tablespoon each of honey and lime juice in a small bowl and drizzle over the freshly grilled salmon.


Blueberry Lime Salsa

By How Sweet It Is. 
This recipe is pretty much a replica of Jessica's Salsa. The only difference is that I left out the avocado, since I'm a weirdo and couldn't handle combining all these textures.

Ingredients
1 Cup fresh blueberries
5-7 Strawberries
1/4 Red onion, roughly chopped
Juice and zest of two limes
1/3 Cup cilantro leaves
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender and pulse, about 5-6 times or until you reach a desired consistancy. Taste and season with salt and pepper if desired. Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

Top the salmon with a generous amount of fruit salsa. Serve on a bed of black rice. Because its purdy.







Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Insta-Summer

Loving right now: Fun Manicures. Bright pink blush. Pomegranate Mojitos. Coconut ice cream. Florence + The Machine. Tacos tacos tacos. Reading Wild. Pomegranate mojito popsicles (it happened). The Everygirl. Easy homemade iced coffee a la Pioneer Woman. Big summer salads, currently craving this one and this one. The wonderful awkwardness that is Girls on HBO. And apparently... Lime Margaritas. Although I may need to take a little break from those.








Not loving? This rain!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Maple Chili Grilled Shrimp

Help me?


I'm so tired. This blog post is from my Monday to-do list. I'm two days behind in life, people. I had a crazypants weekend. At least for me... seeing as my weekends usually involve baking cookies and dates with my PVR. But not this week, no siree! I had a real girls night on the town like I haven't had in a long time and it was a blast. I had so so so much fun. But holy man I am so so so so tired. I am currently working on building my immune system up again, after treating it like a crash test dummy.

Iwillnotgetsick.Iwillnotgetsick.Iwillnotgetsick.

My efforts involve a lot of Cold FX, echinacea, elderberry, vitamin C, garlic, ginger, green tea, and standing on my head if required. I repeat. I will NOT get sick. If all goes as planned... I'll be feeling like myself again right in time for crazypants weekend #2. Sigh, I love summer...

Oh, right! Shrimp! These were really, really good.


I, umm... don't really know what else to tell you about them. We've made them three times in two weeks. And I really haven't been cooking that much at all. That's saying something coming from me, as I rarely like to repeat meals. They are just simply the most flavourful little shrimp I have ever had. Make them!


Maple Chili Grilled Shrimp

Ingredients

1.5 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined (mine are 21/25 count), defrosted if frozen
1/2 Cup brown sugar
1/2 Cup salt
Cold water

1/2 Teaspoon each:
 Smoked paprika
 Cayenne pepper
 Chili powder
 Crushed chili flakes
 Oregano
 Salt

 2 Tbsp maple syrup
 Drizzle olive oil (about 1 tbsp)

1. Brine the shrimp: Dissolve the salt and sugar in a large bowl of cold water. Add the shrimp. There should be enough water to cover the shrimp by about an inch. Stir, cover, and leave the bowl in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. The longest I have left it is slightly over an hour, but I imagine you could leave them for a few hours without any trouble. Longer than that and they might be overly salty though.

2. In a separate bowl, combine the spices, maple syrup, and oil, whisk to combine.

3. Drain the shrimp and pat them dry with a paper towel. Add the shrimp to the marinade, stir to coat and let them sit for a while (10-30 mins). The longer you wait, the more flavorful your shrimp will be!
**Disclaimer: I made these again the other night and left them to marinate for somewhere around... Oh I dunno, 5-6 hours?! I do not reccomend this unless you want through-the-roof-fiery-mouth-numbing-spice!!! Although I do know a few people who I think would enjoy them this way.**

4. Grill the shrimp for 4 to 5 mins over high direct heat (less if your shrimp are smaller). Use tongs to gently flip them over after about 2 minutes. You can baste with any remaining liquid every so often, so as not to waste any of that flavour!

Serve on a bed of cheesy polenta or garlic mashed potatoes, throw them on top of a big farmers market salad, or serve them on their own as an appetizer!

Other ideas:

 * Use a grill pan if the grates on your grill are farther apart, ours are pretty tiny so there isn't much risk of the shrimp falling through, and we like the crispy grill marks you get from grilling them directly. Skewers would work too.

 *These would be awesome done in a cast iron pan too, just throw them in a hot pan along with the marinade and let it reduce down to a sticky sauce. Mmm!

 *One word... TACOS. Pinch those tails off of the shrimp , put em in a corn tortilla and top with avocado, cilantro, and a squeeze of lime. SO. DOING.THIS.

Naptime. See ya next week ! 







Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Sunny Days


Summer has finally FINALLY blessed us with her presence.



There haven't been many "recipes" going on round here. Reason being that its, well.... HOT. Don't get me wrong. I'm not complaining, I love it. LOVE. This is by far my favorite time of year. And it's especially sweet this year since we had to wait until July for a taste of it. But when summer takes over, proper meal and recipe planning is sometimes beyond me. I'm too busy baking in the sun.

Seriously. I'm lobster red. Where's the aloe?

Dinners lately have consisted of takeout, beach picnics, stuff thrown on the grill, and omelettes at 10 pm.  I do have a few summer treats I've been working on though, they just need some tweaking before I can share them with you. I know you'll all be waiting on the edge of your seats!

In the meantime... here are some pictures of food.


[pasta carbonara with spring vegetables. chocolate fudge gelato. porchetta at meat and bread]



[bad photos. amazing meal. chambar restaurant]



 [late night cookie baking excursions. oatmeal cherry dark chocolate chip]



[oh canada]



[more summer eats. when does that diet start?]


Life is good.


P.S. I'm really freaking sunburned.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Frozen Peanut Butter Pie with Pretzel Crust


For 3 years of doing the dishes. 
For 3 Years of sweeping up sprinkles and spices and wiping cake batter off of the walls. 
For 3 years of making me laugh when I want to cry... for telling me everything is going to be alright. 
For tolerating 3 years of bad reality TV and 90's pop music. 
For 3 years of letting me be right, even when he knows I'm wrong. 




For 3 years of tech support. 
For 3 years of cuddles. 
For 3 years of living in a girl mess of magazines and cookbooks and scented candles... for constantly having to step over shoes, purses, scarves and nail polish, only to be yelled at when he leaves his hat on the kitchen table. For all that and so much more, this guy deserved dessert.



And not just any dessert... a dessert with peanut butter AND Reese's peanut butter cups. His favorite things.  

I made this treat for my guy on our 3 year anniversary. An attempt to make up for me being a high-strung-high-maintenence-whiney-stress-basket the other 364 days of the year, and because I love him. And seriously? Because I'm beginning to think it's the desserts that keep him hanging around ;)



The original recipe I followed did not involve yogurt, but I had issues when it came to "melting" the peanut butter with the icing sugar... It simply wouldn't happen. The peanut butter stayed firm when heated, and as I added the sugar it only seized up more. I blame it on my all natural peanut butter... Or my all natural incompetence. 

Either way, I had to toss the first batch and start over. I needed to bring the nut butter to a consistency where it could be easily folded in with the whipped cream. My solution came in the form of a tub of Greek yogurt already in my fridge. Thank god for Greek yogurt! Its thick, creamy, tangy, and low in fat (because thats totally what I was going for here.not). The final result was just a dish full of sweet-salty-nutty-chocolatey-amazingness. The boy loved it and so did I. 






Frozen Reese's Peanut Butter Pie with Pretzel Crust 

Adapted from Bakers Royale.

Crust- Ingredients 
4 Cups Pretzels (I used Glutino gluten free pretzel sticks) 
1/2 Cup butter, melted 
1/2 Cup white sugar 


 1. Lightly butter a springform cake pan or tart dish (I used a 9 Inch cake pan), preheat an oven to 350F. Combine sugar and pretzels in a food processor, pulse to combine. With the processor running, stream in melted butter through the opening. The mixture will be the texture of wet sand. 


2. Press the pretzel mixture into the prepared pan with your fingers, use the palm of your hand to firmly press down the bottom crust until it is flat. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until golden brown and set. Let cool. 


Filling- Ingredients 
2 Cups whipping cream
1 1/4 Cup icing sugar
1 Cup smooth peanut butter 
3/4 Cup plain Greek yogurt 
1 Cup Reese's minis, roughly chopped 
Reese's cups for topping, halved


1. Whip the whipped cream until peaks form, add 1/4 cup of the powdered sugar and beat briefly just to combine. Set in the fridge to stay cool. 


2. With an electric mixer, cream together the peanut butter and yogurt, add the powdered sugar and mix until all lumps are gone. Fold together with the whipped cream, then fold in the mini Reese's cups (or chocolate chunks, or whatever add-ins you want!). 


3. Pour into the prepared pie crust and top with Reese's halves. Freeze for at least 3 hours before serving. 


This can be made a few days in advance, just be sure to take it out of the freezer at least a 1/2 hour before serving to allow for easier cutting.  Will keep in the freezer... indefinitely? I mean, it's ice cream. Come on. 


P.S. Make this for your Canada day celebrations and everyone will love you. I promise. Have an amazing long weekend friends! Hopefully the weather will stay nice and I will see you all at the beach :)