Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Tiramisu Cake Balls / Cake Pops

Yep, I know... Cake pops and cake balls are a bit 2011. But they still are (relatively) easy and fun to make. Not to mention still delicious. So even they are no longer really the “trend” nowadays, I brought them back and decided to make them last week. Besides, it’s not out of style as long as Starbucks keeps selling them. And they still were last time I checked :-D

Last week, I made Tiramisu Cake Balls. Surprisingly, there aren’t actually a lot of Tiramisu cake balls recipes online when I researched them. There were a few, but I didn’t really like how they were made. A lot of them were mostly regular cake balls with a tiramisu twist.

I wanted my cake balls to taste as close as tiramisu as possible. So, I decided to be creative and come up with my own recipe by using just the ingredients for a classic tiramisu recipe (basically, lady fingers, mascarpone, whipped cream, kahula or expresso with rum, chocolate (optional)). What would be more authentic and can taste most like tiramisu than using the actual tiramisu recipe?

For the Cake Balls recipe, I used:

-          1 package of Vicenzi ladyfingers

-          1 ½ package of Milano ladyfingers

-          1 container (250g) of Mascarpone Cheese

-          125 mL of Kahula

-          4 tablespoons of Starbucks Moka flavored coffee grounds

To make the cake balls:

1)      Using a magic bullet or another type of food processor, ground your Vicenzi and Milano lady fingers into a fine powder. Add the Starbucks coffee grounds into the mixture and set aside.

2)      Mix the mascarpone cheese and kahula together in your magic bullet. Add mixture to the lady fingers powder.

3)      Using a mixing spoon first, mix together ingredients. When the ingredients are mixed together, you can start kneading them with your hands until it turns into a dough-like consistency, like so.

4)      Using your hands, break or spoon off chunks and roll them with your hands to make the cake ball. Set them aside in a pan covered with parchement paper (this is important so that the cake balls can be removed without running or sticking later on). Put them in the freezer for about 30 minutes to form the shape.

During the time when the cake balls were being chilled, I used the opportunity to make the chocolate coating for the cake balls.

For the chocolate coating, I used:

-          4 packs of Bakers Dark Chocolate (170g)

-          2 packages of Presidents Choice white chocolate chips (226g)

To make the chocolate coating:

Typically, you melt the chocolate using either a double boiler or a microwave. As I did not have either, I simply placed a bowl that fit just over a pot and used boiled water to melt the chocolate. It was a bit tougher to handle, but it worked just fine.

Once the chocolate coating is ready, you can take the cake balls out of the fridge to coat them. Once they are coated, put them back on the pan with parchement paper (or cake pop stand if you are making cake pops) and put them back in the fridge to chill until the chocolate becomes harden. This part takes about 15-30 minutes.

Once they have cooled, you can either leave them as is, or use the remaining chocolate to play around with designs. This part is entirely up to you and you can be as creative as you want. I made but cake balls and cake pops, and experimented with various designs on both.

You can also have the option of not even dipping them in the chocolate. Here, I tried to serve them another way but putting them in a martini glass and toping it off with some homemade whipped cream, cinnamon, and chocolate shaving. They were also quite delicious and fancy as well.

Package them in a box or display cup. They make a great gift for those who love tiramisu :)

Monday Muffins- Blueberry Banana

I know, I know, it's Tuesday. But Monday muffins sounded so much better. Besides, if you think of today as Monday, the weekend will come that much sooner!

I feel like muffins got a bad rep a few years ago, as all of a sudden people started saying that muffins were full of sugar and fat and were worse for you than donuts. I am prone to being influenced by these things and laid off muffins for quite some time. Although this may be true for store bought muffins (for example, say, triple chocolate muffins from Costco that are bigger than your face), home made muffins can be a lot healthier.

So,  I am back on the muffin bandwagon. And, they are super convenient for snacks. With my dad recovering from his knee surgery, I have been trying to make some regularly to bring over. This recipe is based on the Banana Berry Boms muffin recipe from the Looney Spoons Collection cookbook. Bill got it for me for me and I have been wanting to try more of the recipes. A friend recommended some recipes from it, so I got it off my shelf and now I have a whole bunch of recipes flagged to try.

I really like these leafy muffin wrappers ( thanks P) - perfect for fall! I believe they are from Michaels

Monday, October 20, 2014

Meatless Monday- Cauliflower Pizza

I had cooked cauliflower in the fridge,  leftover tomato sauce and mozzarella, and then Juliet sent me the link to a tutorial for cauliflower pizza. I wasn't overly excited about it, as I have made cauliflower pizza a few times and it hasn't always turned out well.  Well this time it turned out a lot better, so I thought I'd share the recipe with you.

It's perfect for when you have cooked cauliflower leftover and ready to use. If you don't,  I recommend following the tutorial. That is, if you can bare watching this video. The recipe is great but the guy just drives me crazy. It is so sing-songy that I found it nearly unbearable. He actually says "press this in-around the outside, around the outside, around the outside.."

Anyway here is what I did- I grated 1 full cauliflower, using my attachment on my food processor. It can be done by hand as well. This makes cauliflower "rice". I then stir fried it with 1 onion. Easy as that. It made a ton! I then put it in Tupperware in the fridge to have to eat with meals throughout the week, instead of traditional rice.  After eating it as rice a few times I used what was left for this pizza. It actually reminded me a bit of the Cauliflower Fritters we made last summer.

- cooked cauliflower- as described
- 1 egg
- goat cheese
- tomato sauce
-grated mozzarella
-fresh basil
- toppings of choice

- preheat oven to 400 F
- Combine cauliflower with egg, goat cheese and Parmesan. Flatten down into a patty on a baking sheet or round pizza pan.
- Bake  for about 10 minutes. Flip over
- Add toppings and bake for another 10 minutes or until crispy and cheese is melted.


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

So I'm home again, I had my wisdom teeth pulled and I'm bored which has got me baking some Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins mhmmmm..

I got the recipe off of twopeasandtheirpod.com, not following it fully as I never do and didn't have all the ingredients available..

So what you'll need is:
2/3 cup sugar
Grated zest and juice of one lemon (The lemon I used was too squishy and I wasn't to grate it so no zest for me..)
2 cups of Flour (this I sifted so it's nice and fluffy)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt 
3/4 cup sour cream or plain greek yogurt (I used greek yogurt)
2 large eggs (not sure mine were large, then again I do live in Europe and the sizes tend to be smaller here)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
113 grams unsalted butter
2 tablespoons poppy seeds

First off you're meant to mix the sugar with the zest, obviously that didn't work for me so I just mixed all the dry ingredients (sugar, flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt) together in one bowl and all the wet ones (melted butter, vanilla extract, eggs, greek yogurt and lemon juice) in another. WAIT with the POPPY SEEDS!! 

Then I added the liquid ingredients to the dry ones and mixed those together, when that was done I added the two spoons of poppy seeds and dished them out into the baking tray (I used cupcake cups as I don't have a baking tray spray thing) then I shoved them into the oven and voila.

The oven I preheated to 200°C and the muffins I put in for 13 minutes..

Twopeasandtheirpod.com also gives and icing recipe, not sure yet if I'll be using it or not but incase you're interested here it is:

1 cup sifted confectioners sugar
2-3 spoons lemon juice

You mix the two together and dribble it onto the muffins. 

Bonne Apetit!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

6 Things Thanksgiving

Here is a round-up of a few of my favourite things from Thanksgiving dinner at my parents'.

1. Pretty Dishes

Serving appetizers in these pretty blue dishes.


2. Napkin folding

I found really easy instructions on how to make these. This site also has other easy ones that look nice.

napkin design

3. Place cards

Cathy made these adorable place cards.

4. Table decorating

Gail decorated the table so beautifully. I love this arrangement, perfect for fall.

5. Turkey- and all the rest

I couldn't leave this out.

Not pictured- all the other delicious food and side-dishes (thanks to all of the Chefs!)

6. Family, and friends who are like family

It wouldn't be the same without these wonderful people.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Mini Batch Cupcakes

Happy Sunday!

I took a 2 day workshop at the School of Photographic Arts: Ottawa (SPAO) on food photography, that wrapped up yesterday. It was so much fun! Thank you G, for telling me about this course! The instructor, Adrien, is so knowledgeable and great. He really is a master of light and knows how to tweak things just so, to make them look better. The other students were great to work with. There were a couple of other food bloggers,  Louise of Kitchen on Fourth and Fida of Sweet and Savoury Pursuits, Deb, a marketing professional and Alex, a high school photography teacher! We balanced each other out well.

The first week was theory and practice: composition, lighting, what we liked and didn't like about photos, etc.. This week was more about production. We set up two sets and got to shoot and play around with the lighting.

Here's a glimpse:

I was paired with Louise and Alex who are in the photo above. It was great because we all had Nikons and could try out each others lenses. I got to test out a macro lens and now I really want one!!

Another highlight for me, was finding out that my (Dad's) really old tripod can do some really neat stuff! The instructor was all excited about it too, saying it could do things he had never seen on a tripod, for example part of it can unscrew and attach somewhere else so it'll be possible for me to shoot birds eye view with it. I can't wait to try this feature out!  He also said it is very light for what it can do. So that was really cool. Hey who says newer is better, right?

For Saturday, we were supposed to bring in some food to photograph. It was supposed to be simple enough to be able to play around with the composition. I couldn't decide what to make. I had already photographed fruit and tomatoes the week before and wanted something different. I decided I would bring in cheese and crackers and if I had time maybe bake something.

I woke up early on Saturday and decided to make some cupcakes.  I had received some great accessories for cupcakes for my birthday and thought they could be fun to photograph (Thanks T and P)  I am so last minute! As usual, I was frazzled and rushed. I had previously found a recipe on Pinterest,  from Yes to Yum  for a half batch of devil's food cupcakes, which I think is amazing. You don't always need 12 cupcakes and if you are like me, you will just eat them all.

Side note- I am not the only chocoholic out there. In yoga the other day - yes I have been going to yoga like it's my job and am down to just 4 classes left!!- the teacher told us about how she always used to think the " Cat/Cow" pose was called " cacao". She was wondering why it was called that and finally realized her instructors were not saying that, she had just misheard. She said that even though it doesn't make as much sense, she still wished it were called cacoa because she likes chocolate. Hmm so I am not the only one daydreaming about chocolate while on my yoga mat.. She is a pretty funny instructor and also talks a lot about coffee in the morning classes- "Imagine there is a cup of coffee.. now reach as far as you can for it"

Anyway I did not modify the cupcake recipe so if you want to make these, just click on the link above and get it directly from the source. I was surprised at how quick they were to make.  I didn't make the icing but can see from the comments on the site that it is really good. If I have more time, I will definitely try it. Instead I just used a plain white icing.  Here are some of my photos:

These were modeled on Martha Stewart's style- clean and crisp with white on white background 
Everyone loved this cake stand- thanks Patrick and Jane! 

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Popcorn at Home

 This is the easiest, healthiest, and cheapest way to make popcorn at home.

Once you see this method, you will never need to eat those bags of microwavable popcorn ever again. Let's be honest, they are so salty, filled with chemicals, high in calories, .. etc.  I keep a jar of popcorn kernels on hand so when I get a craving for popcorn, I can make a batch.  I love salty foods, and it is a lot safer than having chips in the house. You can buy a big bag of popping corn for around $3 or $4 at pretty much any grocery store.

All you need are: popcorn kernels, a paper bag ( and a microwave)

how to make popcorn at home

- 1/4 cup of corn kernels
- butter (optional)
- salt (optional)

- Place kernels in a brown paper bag
- Fold over top of bag (about 2 times)
- Put on high in microwave from 1:30- 4 minutes depending on the strength of your micro. My micro is so strong if I'm not careful, it will burn at about 1 min 31 seconds. However I'm sure if I used the old micro we have at work, 8 minutes later and it still wouldn't be done. The trick is to wait until you don't hear any popping for a few seconds and then stop it.
- Optional: melt butter in micro for 1 minute, pour over popcorn
- Optional add salt
Fold the bag like this- if it unfolds a bit in the microwave that is okay
Veg in front of the tv with your favourite show (woohoo- isn't it great to have all the series starting up again?), eat enjoy!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Ginger Cookies

So today after a long day of running around I decided to make some ginger cookies. I found this recipe on allrecipes.com (absolutely love that website) and it was right at the top of the homepage.

I got a tiny bit creative and didn't follow the list of ingredients fully as I didn't have all the things I needed at home and didn't feel the need to add extra sugar to the cookies before putting them in the oven.

Another great thing about all recipes is that you can change the measurements from metric to US measurements and back again. 

All you need is: 
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour (I used spelled flour?)
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves (didn't use these as I didn't have ground cloves)
3/4 cups margarine
1 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon water (I used like four)
1/4 cup molasses (I used simple brown sugar)
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons white sugar (didn't use this either)

First off preheat the oven to 350 degrees (175°Celcius). Then in a bowl you put together the flour, baking soda, ground ginger, cinnamon, salt and normally the ground cloves. This you then leave on the side as you'll need it later.

Third off mix together the margarine and 1 cup sugar, add the egg, brown sugar and water. Gradually mix in the dry ingredients. Once done place on a baking tray with baking paper. Bake for 10 minutes and let cool.

Some steps I missed out are sifting together the dry ingredients all I did was put them together. I also left out the step of rolling the dough in sugar before placing the cookie balls in the oven.

Personally I don't think it makes such a difference and if it helps my dad's already had a cookie and said it was delicious :D

ginger cookies


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