Tag Archives: recipe

Trick or Treat: Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

Halloween night is finally here. As I scrambled to get my pumpkin carved before all the little ghouls and witches arrived, I realized that these opportunities don’t come around every day. Pumpkin season is almost over, so I’ve got to enjoy every last flavour of pumpkin while I can! I easily separated the seeds from the carving “guts” and set them aside.

For some reason, I have always had some pre-conceived idea that toasted pumpkin seeds were tricky to make. I’ve tried making them in the past and was never quite satisfied. But this time it was different. The seeds toasted really nicely and quickly and were crunching between my teeth before I could even say “Happy Halloween”.

TOASTED PUMPKIN SEEDS

As you “gut” your pumpkin, separate the seeds as best as you can. Place them in a bowl. Place them in a strainer and run them under water for a while, separating all the pumpkin bits and strings. Measure the pumpkin seeds. In a medium saucepan, for every 1/2 cup of pumpkin seeds, add 2 cups of water and 1/2 tablespoon of salt. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 10 minutes. Strain.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Brush a baking pan with olive oil and lay the seeds out as evenly as possible. Place on the highest rack in the oven and toast for 10-15 minutes or until seeds are slightly browned. Remove from oven. Allow to cool. Transfer to a small serving dish or air tight container.

That’s it–so easy, right? They’re crunchy and can be adorned with any flavours that suit your taste. Perhaps cinnamon and sugar? Maybe some taco spice? The flavour possibilities are so versatile and endless.

I hope you all have a wonderfully Happy Halloween! Don’t do too much tricking, and certainly don’t eat too many treats (even though it’s so tempting).

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Well Isn’t That Peachy: Peach-Streusel Bread

Since I’ve been home from camp, I’ve been on a baking kick. That’s right, I haven’t even touched my new sewing machine yet. Not once. Every morning, I lay in my bed and plan out my day. After making a logically organized goal list for the day in the notes on my phone, I pull myself out of bed and get myself ready for what’s ahead. However, the moment I set foot in my kitchen, my sister’s new Kitchen Aid Mixer stares me in the eyes, softly calls my name, and practically plugs itself in. And that’s that. I end up baking all day.

I can’t complain though. The summer months are full of fantastic flavours and tastes that deserve to be baked into delicious treats. The winter months are good for rich chocolate-y desserts, but summertime screams “fresh fruit”! I joined my sister on a trip to the local farmer’s market the other day. While we were there, we found a whole assortment of locally grown fresh fruits that we couldn’t resist. We picked up some blueberries, strawberries, and peaches. But with all that fresh fruit, we had no choice but to bake with it. Otherwise it would just go to waste, right? So we scratched our heads, pulled out some of our favourite recipe books, and got to work.

As we drove home from the farmer’s market, it dawned on me that I didn’t really know what flavours went nicely with peaches. A while back I came across a recipe for Apple Pie Bread. It looked fabulously delicious but needed to be saved for the autumn. However, after pondering the peach question for some time, I realized that peach would be a nice summer alternative to apples in the recipe. As it turns out, my leap of faith paid off because the adapted peach bread turned out delicious. I went back for seconds. And thirds. Okay, and maybe fourths.

In this recipe, peach is paired with cinnamon to create the perfect summery sweetness without being overwhelming. The loaf is topped with a delicious walnut streusel to add an extra crunch. It is crumbly, but every single crumb is worth eating (trust me, I watched my Dad eat every crumb off his shirt that was dropped in the process of eating a piece). The bread can be enjoyed as breakfast, with your afternoon tea, or as a late night snack. It also packs quite well in lunches.

Did I mention that it’s easier than (peach) pie to make?

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a loaf pan with shortening. Beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the buttermilk and baking powder and beat until combined. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla. In a separate container, combine the cinnamon, flour, and salt. Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture and mix just until combined. Stir in the diced peaches. Pour the mixture into the greased loaf pan.

In a smaller bowl, combine the brown sugar, cinnamon, and flour for the streusel topping. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender until small crumbs form. Stir in the walnuts. Top the batter in the loaf pan with the streusel. Lightly press the streusel into the batter. Bake for 1 hour to 1 hour and 20 minutes. When the loaf is finished, a toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean. Allow generous amounts of time to cool.

Once the bread is cooled completely, you can either slice it up piece-by-piece in the loaf pan or remove it from the pan and pre-slice it, storing the pieces in a tupperware container. The streusel can be quite crumbly so I personally find it more worthwhile to leave the bread in the loaf pan and slice it by need. That way, I can savour every bit of crumbly goodness!

What delicious fruits are in season around your neck of the woods? Do you have a local farmer’s market where you can get local fruits and veggies? What is your favourite summer fruit?

Have a peachy day, friends!

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RECIPE: Strawberry Chocolate Chip Loaf

The time has finally come! Not only is June birthday month, but it’s also the end of the school year (for all you high school kids), the official start to summer, and my personal favourite–strawberry season! The weather has been hotter than Hades in my neck of the woods, yet I still felt the need to bake a little something tasty. Hot ovens don’t do too well with small un-air-conditioned homes, but I just had to do it. I’ve got lots on my mind and baking is one of the best ways to avoid the chaos. I opted to make something that had a bit of freshness to it in honour of the summer so when I found some strawberries in my fridge, I knew that the result was inevitable.

I adapted this recipe from one that I found on Sweet Pea’s Kitchen. I had to compensate for my limited supply of strawberries, but the result was, in my opinion, perfect. From the original recipe, I omitted the cup of pureed strawberries and the three-quarters cup of sugar. Instead, I used three-quarters cup of freezer jam that I had on hand. The loaf isn’t too sweet but the bursts of chocolate and strawberries added a hint of deliciousness. It is moist on the inside and crunchy on the outside. This recipe could easily be adapted into muffins if you prefer. It is fairly straight forward, making it the perfect recipe for a breakfast treat or easy entertaining.

One thing that is important to remember is to not over-mix loaf or muffin batter. It’s a thick batter so it’s tempting to keep mixing it, but this causes uneven rising while it bakes and prevents the goods from being light and fluffy. Also, be sure to cool the loaf completely before cutting into it.

Easy enough, right? Just to quickly take care of some business: I want to apologize for my lack of activity on the blog recently. You know how summer is supposed to be a relaxed time of sipping sodas on the beach, playing pick-up games of baseball in the park, and falling asleep on your patio chair? Well, that’s all a lie. I have been a busy girl lately and I’m afraid that it won’t be slowing down any time soon. I want to apologize for not staying up-to-date on my thrifting and crafting. Be patient with me…I’ll get to it as soon as possible! Until then, eat some of this loaf. It will tie you over for a while.

So there’s one way to make use of all the delicious strawberries that are currently in season. What are some of your favourite ways to enjoy the delicious summer berries? Any suggestions of something I should try?

Happy first official day of Summer, everyone!

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RECIPE: Creamsicle Dream Cupcakes

It’s official. I am no longer a teenager. Yesterday I began my life as a twenty year old. Although it may seem like a traumatic moment for a lot of people, I was happy to leave my teenhood behind and enter a new chapter. In fact, I have kind of always felt like I was older than I actually am. But a big birthday is an occasion that requires a celebratory treat and I knew just the thing.

Various people suggested that I was crazy for making my own birthday treat. But I’m not crazy! Baking is one of my favourite things to do so the real treat was that I got to spend some time on my birthday doing something that I love. I had been eying this recipe for quite some time, but was saving it for the perfect occasion.

I attribute my love of creamsicles to my Dad. Orange and vanilla nicely compliment each other to create a delectable cool treat on those hot summer days (or cold winter nights…we enjoy a good creamsicle any time). When I saw a recipe for a creamsicle in cupcake form, my mouth was watering before I even read through the recipe. They are made with fresh oranges, topped with vanilla buttercream, and garnished with a homemade candied orange. I found the original recipe over at Annie’s Eats. This recipe was primarily developed by Annie but has a few minor changes because of my lack of vanilla beans. Be sure to head over to her blog for some beautiful photos and further inspiration.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line the cupcake pans with paper liners. Cream together the butter, sugar, and orange zest until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing after each addition. In a separate bowl, combine the cream, orange juice, and vanilla. In another separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Alternately add the cream and flour mixtures, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Divide the batter between the paper-lined muffin cups and bake 22-23 minutes or until the tops are nicely rounded and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool for 10 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool further.

Meanwhile, prepare the candied oranges. Thinly slice 1-2 oranges until you have the desired number of slices (with a few extra). Combine the sugar and water in a medium saucepan and heat over medium-high heat until the sugar dissolves. Reduce the heat to medium-low and lay the orange slices in the liquid. Be sure that none of the slices overlap. Depending on the size of your saucepan, you may need to do this a few times but the same syrup can be used for all of it. Let the orange slices simmer in the sugar-water liquid for 10 minutes, then flip them over, and simmer for another 10 minutes. Remove the slices and place in a container. When you are finished all of the slices, pour the remaining syrup in the container with the slices and allow to cool. It may be placed in the fridge.

To make the vanilla buttercream, beat the butter with an electric beater until it is smooth. Add the icing sugar and continue to beat for 2 minutes. Add the vanilla extract and cream and beat lightly until just combined. Increase the speed and beat for 3-4 additional minutes or until the buttercream is light and fluffy. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with the desired tip. When the cupcakes and the candied oranges are completely cooled, top each with a swirl of buttercream and a candied orange. They can be stored in the refrigerator.

That’s all there is to it. The orange flavour of the cupcakes is not too overpowering and is balanced nicely with the vanilla buttercream. The candied oranges are one hundred percent edible. It was my first time making, or even eating, candied oranges and they were delicious. They are incredibly sweet. If you crave more of the orange flavour, you could easily add a little bit of orange zest and/or juice to the buttercream as well.

To leave off, I figured that I would do what I always do and share a few of the instagram photos taken on my birthday. I got treated to some delicious birthday waffles with lots of berries made by my wonderful sister, I found an old (and incredibly embarrassing) photo in my Grandma and Grampa’s basement (I was probably in Grade 4), and I was taken to our local thai restaurant for some delicious coconut rice and ginger beef birthday dinner (my favourite!) by some of my favourite people!

Once again, I apologize for all the recipe posts in a row. But like I said, it’s birthday week in our house which means cake is the only thing on my radar! I hope you’re all having a sweeter-than-sweet week. Just think…it’s Friday! Thanks for reading.

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RECIPE: Angel Lush Cake

Birthday week has hit our household. Every June, my family enters both a treat coma and goes into partial debt from all the cake that is consumed and presents that are bought. We have three birthdays within five days: my Dad’s on the 5th, mine on the 7th, and my brother’s on the 9th. But I’m not complaining. Birthday’s are notorious for specialized baked goods and that’s right up my alley. A couple of days ago, I asked my Dad what type of cake he wanted for his birthday. I immediately felt stupid for asking because I already knew the answer. He asks for the same type of cake every year. That, my friends, is angel food cake with whipped cream and berries.

I’ll admit that there isn’t anything special about angel food cake in terms of baking. In fact, angel food is the only type of cake that I will use a box mix for. It is way more convenient and although I have never actually tried, I have heard that making it from scratch is quite the challenge (but don’t let me deter you–if you want to try making it from scratch, all the power to you!). What makes angel food so delicious are the toppings. The cake is naturally very light so the whipped cream adds a little bit of density and the berries obviously contribute a bit of sweetness. It is a great dessert for those who are trying to watch their figure and who like fruity flavours as opposed to rich and decadent.

What Will You Need?

  • A box of “Angel Food Cake”
  • A package of fresh strawberries (frozen may be used as well, but I prefer fresh)
  • Half a package of fresh blueberries
  • 2 Tbsp. fruit juice (any kind)
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • A carton of whipping cream
  • Additional sugar for sweetening the whipping cream

Prepare the angel food cake according to the directions on the box mix. Ensure that it is baked at least 4-5 hours before the intended serving time to allow complete cooling. Meanwhile, wash all of the berries in cold water. Place in a strainer and allow to slightly dry. Cut the strawberries into smaller pieces, discarding any bruised or white spots. Place in a medium sized bowl. Add the blueberries. Pour the fruit juice over the berries and sprinkle with sugar. Stir, ensuring that all of the berries are coated. Cover and place in the fridge. In a separate bowl, beat the whipping cream until it forms soft peaks. Add additional sugar to taste and continue to beat until it has reached a desired consistency. Cover and place in the fridge until serving.

What you do next is totally up to you. If you are planning on presenting the cake and are sure that it will all be eaten immediately, top the cake with the whipping cream and berries. However, what we usually do is cut the cake into pieces and then top each individual piece with the desired amount of toppings. This is only because the cake doesn’t all get eaten at once so it prevents the cake from getting soggy with the toppings. But do whatever your little heart desires–it all tastes delicious!

As always, my Dad loved the cake! He gobbled his piece up very quickly. His birthday was actually yesterday but there are still some leftovers that we have all been working away at. It tastes just as delicious the next day as it did the first. If you aren’t a “berry” person, it can be topped with whatever toppings you desire. Whipped cream with chocolate drizzle? Whipped cream with mangos and pineapple? Whipped cream with an orange glaze? Mmm…I’m getting a rumbly tummy just thinking about all the possibilities.

To finish off, I just wanted to share a couple of instagram photos. The first photo is some of the berries that ended up in our tummies. The second photo was taken by my Dad on his birthday when I asked him to hold my phone (complete and total mistake), and the final photo is my leftover piece of cake that I devoured this afternoon.

Happy Birthday to any of you June babies! Thanks for reading–I hope you have a delicious Wednesday.

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