Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Cake Decorating

I haven't posted anything in a while, as I haven't really cooked anything new. Instead of a recipe, I wanted to share with you my experiences with cake decorating. Over the last year, I took 3 Wilton Cake decorating courses at Michaels.

In the first course, you learn butter cream basics, how to make flowers, decorate cupcakes, write on cakes etc. This course was definitely the most time intensive as you have to bake things for each class- cookies, cupcakes and cakes. Thanks to Juliet who did 99% of the work on this one. Unfortunately for me, she wasn't in town for the next ones. The instructor spent a lot of time reading us the book, and the pace for the class was quite slow, until the last half hour where we were so rushed to get everything done. It was still fun to do the class with great friends.








Andrea and I continued with the cake decorating, even thought the others couldn't join. In the second course you learn some fondant techniques and royal icing flowers and techniques. I missed the last class, so I don't know how to do the basket weave technique, but at some point I will do a make up class.  The class was smaller and the instructor jumped right into it, rather than focus so much on the book.












In the third course, which has been my favourite, you learn how to make things with fondant and how to cover and decorate a cake with fondant. How fun!!












Here is the cake I did in course 3


I brought it over to Tamara's for her birthday and house warming party! Having taken the first course, I think she appreciated the work that went into it! The downside of fondant cakes are that they look pretty but (although edible) I don't recommending eating much of the fondant.

I now need to move to a bigger apartment, as I no longer have room for all my cake decorating equipment. I actually got tired of bringing 3 + bags to the class every time and got a big huge bag to put my stuff in. It still doesn't fit everything. Perhaps I need one of those huge storage bins.

We decided not to take course 4 for now, as it is just more complex fondant flowers. We were a bit tired of all the flowers. Instead, I decided to take what I'd learned and practice.

I made this cake for D for his b-day:



I looked at various different pictures and tutorials online and combined bits I liked from different ones such as this one. For the car cake topper, I followed this tutorial.

Here are some more photos of the car topper, I was pretty happy with it, and I think D really liked the cake.




That's all for now.

Next up, I will probably make some cupcakes!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Mint Green Smoothie


This is my new go-to post run smoothie. I got the recipe from the Oh She Glows Cookbook and modified it only minimally, as it is great as is. It is my go-to post run morning smoothie! It took my a little while to get all the ingredients that i don't always have on hand- coconut water and watermelon, and mint. Well, I now have my very own mint plant, so as long as I don't kill it, I should always have fresh mint! This recipe makes a nice big thirst quenching cup. It looks like it is too much, but goes down easy and is very light on the calories. You may want to eat something else with it or add in a banana to make it more filling. Coconut water could be subbed for almond milk for an even more substantial breakfast or snack.

Ingredients:
- 1 1/2 cups spinach
- 1 apple
- 1 cup coconut water
- fresh mint
- watermelon (if you have fresh use that. you can also freeze some so you have it on hand)
- 1/8 avocado
- 5 ice cubes
- 1 Tablespoon chia seeds (optional)

Add all ingredients except ice. Blend. Add in ice, and blend some more.

Enjoy!!

The taste of the fresh mint is delicious and refreshing!! I was skeptical at first, but it works.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Black Box Chef Competition


On the left with the Mic- Jen of Foodie Prints
 Sometimes it's all about being at the right place at the right time. This Sunday, around 11:30 a.m. I found myself at the Ottawa Farmer's Market, at Brewer Park. Emily had sent me the event invitation previously, but somehow it hadn't clicked that it was a cook-off! I was there just to stroll in nice weather and scope out the delicious local food- sampling as much as possible and trying not to buy everything in sight.

Well this week, Foodie Prints was hosting its annual Black box chef competition. The defending champion was Chef David Godsoe of Indulge Kitchen and Cocktail, who took on this year’s challenger, Chef Stephen LaSalle of The Albion Rooms.


As I keep mentioning, I love Master Chef. So it was a lot of fun to watch these Ottawa chef's making their dishes. At 1 minute left, I thought there was no way they would finish plating their dishes, but somehow they managed and made their dishes look beautiful. 

One of the dishes
This competition was a bit different than the ones in the show, as the competitors had to use all the ingredients in their black boxes. The boxes included:
- Nasturtiums from Linda’s Garden (Linda Bergeron)
- Strawberries from Avonmore Berry Farm
- Chocolate from Hummingbird Chocolate Maker (Erica & Drew Gilmour)
- Tri-Tip Beef from O’Brien Farms
- Beets (red, golden, chioga) and Garlic Scapes from Acorn Creek Garden Farm
- Kale from Just Farms (Marc and Joanne Just )
- Gamay/Pinot Blend from Chadsey’s Cairns Winery and Vineyard
- Bison Smoke from The Salty Don (Don Henderson)
 Each chef was allowed one extra ingredient: Godsoe chose basil (great choice) and LaSalle chose radishes (hmm.. I was skeptical).




My vote went to Chef LaSalle, who apparently won by just 1 vote. His dish was delicious and easy to eat, as it was a crispy and well seasoned piece of kale, that you rolled up around beef and ate as a lettuce wrap. The strawberry and chocolate sauces were great and went surprisingly well with the beef. Chef Godsoe's dish was also very good- it was kale ( less crispy) and beef and beets. At any rate both chef's were good, and I will be checking out their restaurants at some point this summer hopefully!


It was so much fun!


Have you been to either of these restaurants?  Have you attended a cooking competition?



Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Rhubarb Buttermilk Cake






I love Rhubarb!! It has a short season, and that season is now. I have been getting rhubarb in my veggie share, and I have also been getting S's rhubarb because he claims he doesn't know what to do with it. His loss, is my gain! 

If you follow my pinterest  you will see that my "Recipes to try" board is just filled with Rhubarb recipes I want to try. So far, I have just made this cake, as I made it once, and everyone really liked it, so I made it again. I also wanted to use up the buttermilk I had bought for the cake.  The first time, I made it in an 8x8 brownie pan (I had a photo but it was a really bad one. i just wanted to eat it right away). the second time I used 2 small round pans and then made a nice layer cake with some fruit jam in the middle. I wanted to make something fancier, and elevate a plain coffee cake to the next level.. I think Master Chef is starting to really get to my head. I feel like I'm a contestant, trying to make only Master Chef quality dishes. That's a nice story.. and is partly true, but really I had forgotten my brownie pan at my parents, so had to improvise. The recipe is inspired by Taste of Home- Rhubarb buttermilk coffee cake. 

I also really like making recipes a few times, as they get exponentially easier with practice. For this cake, I left the butter out to soften before going to soccer, and when I got back, beating it with the sugar was so easy. 

Ingredients:
4 stalks diced fresh rhubarb with the ends cut off
1/4 cup plus 2/3 cup sugar, divided
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions
- In a large bowl, cream butter and remaining sugar until light and fluffy. This is easier if butter is softened. So put out the butter and sugar, go play soccer, and then come back. 
- preheat oven to 350 F, and grease an 8-in. square baking pan, or 2 small round pans
- Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in vanilla. 
- Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda; add to creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk, beating well after each addition. 
- Fold in rhubarb.
- Pour into pan.  Combine brown sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle over batter.
- Bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Serve warm or at room temperature (not straight out of the oven like I did the first time- It tastes a lot better cooled)

If you are making a layer cake, spread jam or icing in between the two levels.


Enjoy!! 

Friday, June 06, 2014

Mango-Lime Salad Dressing



I have a lot of recipes to share with you, but I decided to start with this one, because well it's short! It is also very easy to whip up. Especially if you have a little blender such as Magic Bullet, or Cuisinart etc.

I am getting my bi-weekly veggie CSA shares now, and consequently have been making a lot of delicious salads with fresh, local produce.  I ran out of my usual salad dressing so decided to try something a bit different. I pulled up Food network's 50 salad dressings for inspiration- my go-to for dressings. I don't have a subscription to Food Network Magazine anymore, and I miss these little booklets.  This is a variation of number 8- mango lime. I was surprised at how creamy the mango makes it. It looks almost like a ranch or ceasar dressing, without all the calories! woo I also really like Rubbermaid's small salad dressing containers. They are great if you bring a salad in your lunch, and so far haven't leaked at all. 

Ingredients:
- 1/2 cup mango (I used frozen)
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon sugar 
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil 

Blend everything together. Enjoy




Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Orzo Mint Salad


Without olives

With olives
I haven't gotten around to posting this recipe for a little while, as things have been very busy. I actually made this for lunch on a weekend for my parents a few weeks ago. I went over before going to Costco, and as you will know if you've ever been to Costco, it's a bad idea to go in there hungry. You will definitely need some energy to tackle the huge and wonderful store- and also to keep you from getting to the cash with a cartfull of food to feed an army and a $300 bill.

In comes this quick and easy recipe. It comes from a  recipe from a cookbook "One Pot Cooking" that Gail gave me as a present years back and had somehow gotten shelved in my bedroom instead of on the shelf in the living room with the rest of my cookbooks. Now that it is back where it belongs, I am putting it to use. I always complain about doing dishes and not having a dishwasher so this cookbook is a lifesaver. I loved this fresh easy recipe and will definitely make it again.  Please note that fresh mint really makes the dish, so it is a must!!

Ingredients:
-1 cup orzo
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- juice of 2 lemons (I just used 1)
- 7 ounces feta cheese
- plum tomatoes or cherry tomatoes
- black olives
-salt and pepper to taste
- to garnish more mint and sun dried tomatoes (optional)

The amounts are not so exact, so feel free to eyeball it.

Cook orzo until al dente and drain. Let cool, and then mix together all ingredients in a bowl. Add garnish if desired.

Enjoy!








Sunday, May 25, 2014

Eat&Greet

Today a friend of mine organized and invited me to a eat and greet event in Vienna,Austria.

It was great there were six different bloggers there cooking different dishes there was roast beef, lamb burgers, chick pea salad, sushi, truffles, fruit tiramisu and vegan egg salad.

I tried the vegan egg salad and the fruit tiramisu they were both very good. 

The event was fantastic it gave you the chance to watch the bloggers cook and ask them whatever you felt like asking :)

The event was sponsored by kochabo a great company which sends you a box of food and recipes that you can cook for a week as well as JA! Natürlich another Austrian company which also sponsored the products.

Here's the bloggers that participated in the event:

Adam Anton Adrian
Foodtastic
Der Mundschenk & Compagnie
chefbabe.at
Ratatuui
Kochabo
Lisa Vockenhuber

Here's a couple of photos of the event:





Thursday, May 22, 2014

Take the pledge..

When I first heard about Billings Bridge Safe Driving Campaign, I thought it was a great idea. All those crazy drivers, on their phones, not paying attention. Shame on them!  I never for a second thought it applied to me.  I am a very cautious [aka SLOW] driver and I always pay attention.  Then I read the list of some of the examples of distractions, and low and behold I noticed I was guilty of most of them! Checking directions- yep! snacking- yep! looking for sunglasses- all the time!!- Drinking coffee- yes.. and other drinks.  I once spilled an entire smoothie all over my lap, and that didn't stop me. Changing the heat- yes, frequently. Texting- I try and keep it minimal, but I do look at my phone.  Checking out cute joggers- hmm not all the time?


With so many accidents due to distracted drivers, this is a wakeup call for all of us. It is up to us to help make the roads as safe as possible. So take the pledge and help spread the word! So take the pledge, online or in person. For every pledge, a donation will be made to Ottawa Network for Education.  

I went over to Billings and took the pledge in person. Here are a few photos!




Don't forget to follow along on twitter and on instagram!!




Drive in style and be safe!
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