Thursday, August 28, 2014

Thursday Treats: No-Cook Chocolate Fudge {Betty Crocker}

My friend Deb loves fudge more than any other dessert or sweet. She has a favourite recipe, but doesn't like baking very much--enter Elsa. This was the first time I made fudge, and wanted to test some recipes, so I began with this simple one from Betty Crocker's book. Her fiance really loved the book variation, but Deb swooned when she tried my second batch with my adjustments. Crocker's fudge is pretty good...but it lacked the richness and creamy smoothness of what you expect from fudge [my variations were an improvement, but I'm still on the search for great fudge!]. To me, it tasted like glorified semi-sweet chocolate chips. However, I did like her recipe in that you could eat more than just one tiny square and not get sick :D

I would say that this is a great first-timer's recipe to follow, but to me the taste didn't scream "FUDGE!". You decide!

No-Cook Chocolate Fudge
Betty Crocker Cookbook: 1500 Recipes for the Way You Cook Today
Betty Crocker
[Blue changes my modifications]

1 can [14 oz] sweetened condensed milk
1 bag [12 oz/2 cups] semisweet chocolate chips
[1+1/2 cups milk chocolate chips + 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips]
1 oz unsweetened baking chocolate, if desired
[Left out]
1 +1/2 cups chopped nuts, if desired
[Left out b/c Deb doesn't like nuts in her fudge, but would've used toasted pecan pieces.]
1 tsp vanilla

1. Grease bottom and sides of an 8-inch square pan with butter.

2. In a saucepan, heat the condensed milk, chocolate chips, and unsweetened chocolate over low heat, stirring constantly, until chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth; remove from heat.

3. Quickly stir in the nuts and vanilla. Spread the fudge in the pan. Refrigerate about 1 hour and 30 minutes or until firm. Cut into 1-inch squares. Store in an airtight container.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Thursday Treats: French Lemon-Poppy Pound Cake {Flour}

This loaf was not for me. What I mean, is, I don't care for anything "poppy". And, as much as I love Joanne, this recipe didn't do much for me.

But that's ok.
I made this loaf for my friend, who adores lemon-poppy anything. She was having a bad day, and I wanted to show her some love. And, she loved it [as did her 3 year old!]. Joanne came through, yet again.

I also didn't mind making it because it is pretty. And, if a dish looks good, I almost always want to try it out!

French Lemon-Poppy Pound Cake
Joanne Chang

2 cups cake flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup + 3 Tblsp butter, melted and cooled to slightly warm
1/4 cup heavy cream, at room temperature
3 Tblsp grated lemon zest [about 2 lemons]
1 Tblsp fresh lemon juice [about 1/2 a lemon]
3 Tblsp poppy seeds
4 eggs
1+1/4 cups sugar

Lemon Glaze
1/2 cup icing sugar
1-2 Tblsps fresh lemon juice [1/2-1 lemon]

1. Heat the oven to 350 F. Butter and flour a 9x5in loaf pan.

2. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

3. In a large bowl, whisk together the butter, cream, lemon zest, lemon juice, and poppy seeds. The mixture should have the consistency of a thick liquid. If the butter hardens into little lumps, heat the mixture gently until the butter melts again. Set aside.

4. Using a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment, beat together the eggs and sugar on medium speed for 4-5 minutes, or until light and fluffy and lemon coloured.

5. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the flour mixture into the egg mixture just until combined. Fold about one-fourth of the egg/flour mixture into the butter/cream mixture to lighten it. Then fold in the remaining egg/flour mixture just until thoroughly combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

6. Bake for 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until the top of the cake is golden brown and toothpick inserted in the center comes clean. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes.

7. To make the lemon glaze: While the cake is cooling, in a small bowl, whisk together the icing sugar and enough of the lemon juice to make an easily spreadable, smooth glaze.

8. When the cake has cooled for at least 30 minutes, pop it out of the pan and place on the rack. Spread or spoon the glaze over the top of the still warm cake, letting the glaze dribble down the sides.

9. Enjoy! Or, share with a friend :D

In other news, I made this Jalapeno Chinese Chicken, and it was fabulously delicious. My new, favourite supper--and way to eat chicken!!


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Timeless Treasures: R's Adventure

A couple weeks ago, T, her boys, and I were invited out to Cozy Cove for supper with our friends. It is so quiet and peaceful out there...perfect for relaxing, amazing food, and sweet fellowship. We went out to the dock at the lake, where Russell was absolutely fascinated by all the water. I'll let you hear the story from the boy himself!

Oooh, I wonder what the water would feel like...

Haha, can let me go!

Oh? Huh? Is that a bird?

It is! I see a bird, Mom!

Or wait...that might be a sailboat, actually.

Ooooohhhh, tadpoles!!!

Let me see, Mom! I wanna get close....

How's your grip on my waist, Mom? Pretty good huh...I know, I know--I'm a really fast mover! Well, I don't want you to have a heart attack, so let's move back to the middle :D


I see you!

Okay, enough of that...I want to check out the water again :D

What? What do you mean, "you're done"? Mom...please.....

Oooh, look...the dock is moving every step!

Pretty cool, eh Mom?

Look at what I found! It appears to be chocolate...

...Scratch sweet taste here!

Can  I still keep'em?!

Why'd you all stick me in this tall grass?

I'd rather be out on the water, not stuck in the middle of these itchy things!

Ok, you got your can I come out?

Hahaha.....THIS is what I'm talkin' about!!

I had a really good time with my friends, Auntie, Mom, and baby brother Andrew {you'll see pictures of him later....he was not enjoying his pictures being taken, lol} Anyway, thanks for hanging out with me!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Monday Moments: Back to School Memories

[source. Beautiful work, eh?!]

You know, I can never sort, purge, and pack my things without getting sidetracked by my books and mementos. I have great intentions of staying focused on the task at hand, and just "gettin' her done"--when, invariably, my eye falls upon a photo I haven't seen in a while, or a quick read of a backcover becomes several chapters.

I did quite well yesterday, but today...well, it was the yearbooks from my teaching years at NH and the year I filled in at BBA. I suppose with "back to school" advertisements, and the smell of Fall in the air {around here, anyway!} my mind is in the classroom.

I remember the first time I had to teach for one of my college classes. It was a math lesson to the 5th graders in the Academy. I don't remember the lesson, but I do remember being so nervous! My college teacher was wonderful and I got through it feeling a sense of accomplishment and a love for teaching. She was a no-nonsense type of person, who had a passion for learning and passing that passion to her students. She taught me a lot--well beyond what was found in the textbook. She was a great motivator who pushed us to push ourselves. She was understanding, kind, and fun. I took all of her classes and actually began developing a like for math and science! A great teacher and one I pattern some of my teaching methods.

There were other lessons I taught to the different grades, but the next biggest, challenging, and most rewarding was student teaching. I got the 5/6th graders which was my dream age group. Ah, I just loved it. There were plenty of lessons I had to learn, and some took me a while, but the students and my adviser were patient and kind. My biggest regret was working that semester. I felt like I was giving the children just half my attention. I would come to class just a couple minutes before I had to teach, and leave when the lesson was over. I wanted to be able to answer their questions, talk with them, and get to know the "real" them. It wasn't till a couple months into the semester, that it occurred to me to ask my boss for a shift change. I noticed a huge change after that and by the end of the year, felt like those kids had become my students in every essence. I loved teaching math, history, and English. I loved trying to make these subjects come alive for the students. I loved seeing their reports, projects, and grades improve throughout the semester. I loved watching them grow.

I hope I was an inspiration to them, even in just a small way, just as they were for me. Just as my own teachers were during my school days and the ones I like to pattern my teaching methods after.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Thursday Treats: Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffins {Flour + Inspired}

Remember the post of the best banana bread recipe of all time? And, I seriously mean "all time" :D The secret, in my opinion, is the use of very, very, very ripe bananas as well as the mixing technique. Anyway, my friend had given me a zucchini, and the only way I'll eat that veggie is in [sweet] bread form, so I decided to substitute zucchini for bananas in my favourite banana bread recipe.

Can anyone say superb? These were just as delicious and moist. Another keeper.

Flour's Famous Banana Zucchini Bread
Joanne & Elsa

1&1/2 c unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. kosher salt {I just used regular table salt}
1 c. plus 2 TBS sugar
1/2 c canola oil
1 large zucchini, finely grated [to peel or not to peel--that's up to you] and dried--you want very little liquid, if at all.
2 TBS creme fraiche or sour cream {I haven't made creme fraiche yet, so I just used sour cream}
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 eggs
3/4 walnut halves, toasted and chopped {I left these out and added chocolate chips}

1. Position a rack in the center of the oven, and heat to 325 degrees F. Butter a 9x5in loaf pan. Or line standard muffin tins.

2. In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.

3. Using a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment {or a handheld mixer}, beat together the sugar and eggs on medium speed for about 5 minutes or until light and fluffy. {If you are using a handheld mixer, this same step will take about 8 minutes}

4. On low speed, slowly drizzle in the oil. Don't pour the oil in all at once. Add it slowly so it has time to incorporate in the the eggs and doesn't deflate the air you have just beaten into the batter. Adding it should take about 1 minute. Add the zucchini, creme fraiche, and vanilla and continue to mix on low speed just until combined.

5. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the flour mixture and nuts{chocolate chips :D} just until thoroughly combined. No flour streaks should be visible and the nuts should be evenly distributed. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and smooth the top.

6. Bake for 1 to 1&1/4 hours, or until golden brown on top and the center springs back when you press it. The muffins take 20-30 minutes depending on how much you fill the cups & the temperament of your oven :D If your finger sinks when you poke the bread, it needs to bake a little longer. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes, and then pop it out of the pan to finish cooling.

7.The banana bread can be stored tightly wrapped in plastic wrap at room temperature for up to 3 days. Or, it can be well wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen for up to 2 weeks; thaw overnight at room temperature for serving.


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Thursday Treats: Raspberry Muffins {Flour} + Homemade Butter!

Today, I have the perfect summer muffin for you. These raspberry muffins are just bursting with flavour and they are pretty quick to put together! I love raspberries, and when a friend of mine was lamenting her problem of lots of raspberries, but no recipe, I turned to one of my favourite cookbooks ever: Flour! I'm sure giving her a batch of these babies will earn me some raspberries from her bushes. Score. :D

Joanne always comes through for me with the most delicious recipes. I just love her stuff! {A friend of mine got me Flour, too for my birthday and I've been eyeing some yummy looking recipes in there for a while now--will have to throw a party :D}

Hope you enjoy this recipe...and the last of summer! The days are already getting shorter, and my walk to work in the morning a lot darker! Plus it's getting a lot warming anyone?? I kid, I kid :D

Raspberry Muffins
Joanne Chang

3+1/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
4 tsps baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
1+1/3 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup milk, at room temperature
1 cup creme fraiche {I just use sour cream}, at room temperature
2 tsps vanilla
2 cups fresh or frozen raspberries

1. Heat the oven to 350. Line a standard muffin tin with paper liners [I ended up making 21 muffins].

2. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and egg yolk until thoroughly mixed. Slowly whisk in the sugar, butter, milk, creme fraiche, and vanilla until well combined.

4. Pour the butter-sugar mixture into the flour mixture and, using a rubber spatula, fold gently just until the ingredients are combined.

5. Gently fold in the raspberries until evenly distributed. The batter may seem lumpy, but don't try to smooth it out.

6. Spoon the batter into the prepared cups, dividing it evenly and filling the cups to the rim [almost overflowing].

7. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the muffins are golden brown on top and spring back when pressed in the fiddle with a fingertip. Let cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes, and then remove the muffins from the pan.

And, totally unrelated to raspberry muffins, I made some butter today! It was so, so neat :D

*Sorry for the long absence. I lost my internet connection {sharing with the neighbour upstairs} and was too spoiled to go to the library after having the world at my fingertips from the comforts of my own home :P Things should be back to normal now!*