Strawberry Gingerbread Pupcakes: A Fun & Healthy Hybrid

Strawberry Gingerbread Pupcakes.jpg

This recipe takes a boring old pancake and morphs it into a delicious and healthy cupcake with a strawberry greek yogurt topping which is, by far, way more FUN! Even better, it’s easy and quick to make.

Although I love these pupcakes, I created this recipe with kids in mind. I wanted it to be both healthy and fun for them. And I’m happy to report it was a success!

If you are looking for something a little different for breakfast or something you can send the kids to school with (or take yourself), then this is the recipe for you. You can pack the yogurt and syrup separately or just skip it all together (it’s great with or without)!

Added bonus: they freeze well.

Happy baking and eating!

Strawberry Gingerbread Pupcakes:

Ingredients:

2 cup whole wheat flour

½  box (170 g) of cook and serve butterscotch pudding

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 Tablespoons brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon of ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 

1 large egg, beaten

1 and 2/3 cups milk

2 Tablespoons canola oil

½ teaspoon butter flavor/extract

2 cups – about a (500 g) container  strawberry Greek yogurt

Garnish: 12  fresh strawberries or maraschino cherries and cinnamon sprinkles

*Note: I find the cook and serve butterscotch pudding at Calgary Co-op, but you can order it through Amazon as well. Some other grocery stores also carry it.

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Mix all ingredient (except greek yogurt ) together. 
  3. Pour batter 2/3 full into muffin tin lined with paper cups.
  4. Bake for 20 minutes.Cool.
  5. Fit pastry bag  with 1M tip and fill  to ½ full.
  6. Pipe greek yogurt onto pupcakes . (if you don’t have a pastry bag, cut a hold in the end of  zip lock and swirl it on)
  7. Garnish with strawberry or maraschino cherry and cinnamon sprinkles.
  8. Serve with low sugar maple syrup.

Yield: 12 cupcakes

Bake time: 20 minutes

Prep time: 10 minutes

PIN IT!

Strawberry Gingerbread pupcake pin

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THE MEDITERRANEAN MONTE: SOME LIKE IT ‘HOT’!

 

Mediterranean Monte Sandwich

I’m really not much of a sandwich girl. Maybe it’s because my university years were wrought with far too many squished tuna sammies eaten out of my backpack.

In one of my first jobs after graduation, I worked with a lady that ate the same cold sandwich every day. She was always positive. I guess it didn’t take much to make her happy.  And if she wasn’t such a positive person, I would have found it depressing to even sit with her at lunch. A lousy lunch everyday (especially in the form of a cold sandwich) is a downer, even if it’s not yours.

But HOT sandwiches, now that’s a game changer! I love that paninis are still all trendy-like. And because every corner coffee shop now has a press (and thankfully, so do I!), I only have to eat a cold sandwich out of pure desperation.

I have a job that requires I eat lunch on my lap in my van pretty regularly. So, in order to avoid eating a cold sandwich, I will go to great lengths. Before leaving my office, I will heat up the sandwich, put it in one of the Tupperware sandwich holders, wrap it in tin foil and house it in my insulated lunch bag until after my meeting when I can finally eat. Trust me, it’s well worth the effort.

I created this sandwich because I love Greek food. And it recently won Runner Up in the Neeach Food Social Network Sandwich Competition.  So…if you like your sandwiches HOT, then give this one a try! You won’t be disappointed.

This post is part of the monthly link up party “Our Growing Edge”. This event aims to connect food bloggers and inspire us to try new things. This month is hosted by Cheryl @ Business Chic. You can find all the recipes for the theme “Workday Eating” here

 

Mediterranean Monte

Servings –2

Cook time: 15 minutes Total Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

8 California grape leaves (chard leaves can be substituted)

2 Tblsp pitted kalamata olives

2 Tblsp roasted red bell peppers from jar (I use Mezzetta), drained and patted dry

1 egg

1/2 cup milk

1 tsp Oregano

4 slices white bread (you can use any bread, but these hold up best)

1\2 tsp crushed garlic

3 tsp mayonnaise

1 tsp lemon rind

2 tsp honey mustard

4  (100 g approximately) slices deli- sliced ham (or substitute turkey)

4 slices swiss cheese

4 Tblsp feta cheese, very finely crumbled

2 Tblsp deli-sliced Golden Greek pepperoncini ( I use Mezzetta) you could substitute any hot pepper/tamed or regular jalapenos

Directions:

  1. Place grape leaves in large bowl, cover with boiling water and let sit 5 minutes. When done, drain, pat dry and set aside (do the same if using Chard leaves)
  2. Meanwhile, blend black olives and red peppers in food processor and mix until very finely chopped (Not pureed but just before reaching that stage)
  3. Transfer pepper/olive mix to wide, shallow bowl and add egg, milk and oregano. Mix until egg is broken up and fully incorporated.
  4. Spray frying pan with non- stick spray and heat element to medium on stovetop. Using your hands, place all 4 pieces of bread in the egg mixture (one at a time) and coat bread with egg mixture, then flip to coat other side.
  5. Immediately transfer to preheated frying pan and cook all 4 pieces of bread in frying pan until lightly browned and no longer soggy , on both sides (about 5 minutes on each side). Transfer to work surface (eg. cutting board)
  6. Mix mayonnaise with crushed garlic and lemon rind in small bowl.
  7. Spread inside of 2 pieces of bread with the mayo mixture and the other pieces with honey mustard. Add ham and Swiss cheese on the mustard side, dividing between both sandwiches.
  8. Next lay 4 grape leaves on top of each Swiss cheese on each sandwich, then sprinkle on feta cheese. Top with pepperoncini, divided between both sandwiches, again. Cover with other piece of bread (mayo side down).
  9. Return to frying pan and cook on low (covered) until inside is melted and outside is crunchy (about 3-5 minutes). (You may have to flip a couple of times).
  10. Serve HOT, of course!

*NOTE: I buy Mezzetta products at Sobey’s in Calgary, but you can get them online as well. You can use any roasted red peppers, but I never seen pepperoncini in another brand- I think this is a Mezzetta signature product.  This is NOT a sponsored post for Mezzetta. 

Grape Leaves:

The leaves of grape vines are used most commonly in Greek cooking for “dolmas” as well as in some other Mediterranean dishes.

*NOTE: I buy grape leaves at a Mediterranean market

PIN IT!

Mediterranean Monte Sammie

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ROCKY ROAD FROYO BARK: The 5 MINUTE LOW-FAT FROZEN TREAT

Rocky Road Froyo bark with text

Do you want a cold treat on a hot day that is easy, quick and as refreshing as ice cream, but with less guilt?

Then this is the recipe for you. All you need is 5 minutes and 7 ingredients. 

When kids slam their fists on the table and start chanting, “We want more! We want more!” this can actually be a good thing. That is what happened when my human guinea pigs tested this recipe for me. I must admit that this reaction was a little unexpected, given that my inspiration for this recipe was a Weight Watchers tip (mix yogurt, cocoa and honey together for a guilt-free chocolate fix). However, I’m pretty sure the ‘rocky road’ part was the clincher !

 

Kids are very honest and that’s precisely why they make excellent recipe testers. If they don’t like it, they will tell you. On the other hand, adults have well-developed filters.  This is why  I always leave out a piece of paper for my recipe testers at work.  That way, they can leave honest and anonymous feedback without the worry of hurting my feelings.
 
To date, not one of my colleagues has ever anonymously written “GROSS” on that piece of paper. Yet, most kids will tell you “it’s gross” right to your face. Well, mine will anyway. And they have.
 
Although gross doesn’t exactly help you to understand what you need to improve on, it is a pretty good indication that you have a lot of work to do OR it simply needs to be scrapped. I really do appreciate both types of feedback. 
 
I never did get the chance to test this recipe at work because the kids ate it ALL that night. They keep asking me to make it again- this is also a good thing! 
 

Enjoy…

Rocky Road Froyo Bark 

Yield: 10

Prep time: 5 minutes
Freeze time: 4-8 hours
 

Ingredients 

1 ½ cups plain balkan yogurt (or Greek yogurt can be substituted)

2 ½ Tblsp agave syrup

2 Tblsp cocoa powder

¼ cup semi sweet chocolate chips

¼ cup butterscotch chips

1/3 cup mini marshmallows

1 waffle cone, broken into small pieces

Directions

  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Mix yogurt, cocoa powder and agave syrup in a bowl until combined. Pour onto prepared baking sheet and spread into a thin layer.(about ¼ – ½ inch thick).Bang baking sheet a couple of times on the counter to remove air bubbles and distribute evenly. 
  3. Spread remaining ingredients evenly over yogurt base.
  4. Place in the freezer for 2-4 hours, or overnight, until the bark is fully frozen. Break apart or slice into desired squares.
  5. Serve immediately  (on a square pieces of parchment or wax paper to avoid sticky fingers) and keep stored in the freezer in an airtight container or bag.

 PIN IT!

RR froyo bark

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RASPBERRY SCONES, BERRY PICKING & BAKING ADVENTURES IN MANITOBA

Raspberry Scones.pngI used to think that scones were on the other side of that line between me and old people food; right up there with liver and onions. But then I tried a good scone and my attitude completely changed. There are a lot of bad scones out there. Or maybe I just got old. Either way, this fresh raspberry scone is worth crossing over. I found this recipe on Chowhound and it’s superb! So much so that I barely changed it.

Scones are said to have originated in Scotland sometime in the 1500’s. I’m not going to bore you with any more history than that. They have been around for a long time and there are reasons that foods stick around that long! It usually means they are good. This recipe incorporates frozen raspberries (you can pick and freeze or buy frozen) cream and fresh lemon zest into the dough. Raspberries are pretty delicate and tend to become messy in baking prep, so using frozen raspberries is sheer brilliance. You could also use another frozen berry if you prefer.

On our recent family visit to Winnipeg, Manitoba we decided to do some berry picking. Although we were hoping to pick Saskatoons,  they were early this year and sadly, we just missed them.

So, we did the next  best thing and picked the fruit that was in season-raspberries. You can’t go wrong with raspberries! We hit Boonstra  berry farms just outside of town. What a great place to take your kids – so much fun! An afternoon of berry picking is the perfect family activity and everyone from young to old can participate.

There was a time when berry picking was a lousy chore forced upon kids by their parents. But nowadays we take our kids to do this as an activity and we  pay someone to let us do it.

It was worth every penny!

Trying to land berries in your mouth is almost as much fun as picking them

But the fun didn’t end there! There was a corn maze, from which we actually managed to make it out alive (given it’s huge, there was no map and I’m navigationally challenged) and there was even a petting zoo with bunnies, kittens, goats and sheep.

 

In the end, we came home with 5 boxes of raspberries . This doesn’t look like a lot, but trust me, it was! Because raspberries go mushy really fast, we froze them right away.
DSCF0536

TERRI’S TIP:  Freeze your raspberries immediately after picking,  as they go mushy really quickly. Lay parchment paper over cookie sheet and arrange berries in a single layer and freeze until solid. Once frozen, transfer them to a freezer bag.  You can defrost them or just use them frozen in recipes (like this one) or have as a snack. They are great straight up and frozen and taste like (nature’s) candy.

Baking these scones was, in a way,  as much as an adventure as picking the berries for them. It’s challenging enough to cook in someone else’s kitchen, even when they have all the supplies you need. But it becomes that much more difficult when you have to improvise. Seriously, this is what my Mom uses as a rolling pin these days! For those of you that know her, this will come as no surprise. I obviously I didn’t inherit the baking gene from this side of the pool. 

rolling out scones.jpg

RASPBERRY SCONES

INGREDIENTS 

2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more as needed

1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest (from 1 medium lemon)

1/2 teaspoon fine salt

8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), cut into 1/2-inch cubes and then chilled

3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon heavy cream

1 ½ cup frozen raspberries, kept in the freezer until ready to use

¼ cup powdered sugar/icing sugar

 

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Heat the oven to 400°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Lightly flour a large plate; set aside.
  2. Combine the measured flour, 1/4 cup of the sugar, the baking powder, lemon zest, and salt in a large bowl and whisk to break up any lumps. Using a pastry blender, 2 knives or cheese grater (see TIP below) and cut the butter into the flour mixture until small, pea-sized pieces remain.
  3. Pour in 3/4 cup of the cream and, using your finger, mix until just incorporated and a rough, slightly sticky mound has formed (not all of the flour will be incorporated). Turn the dough and loose flour out onto a work surface and knead until most of the flour is incorporated and the dough just holds together (be careful not to overwork it). Lightly flour a rolling pin and the work surface. Using your hands, roughly form the dough into a rectangle, keeping the long edge toward you. Roll the dough into an 8-by-10-inch rectangle (if the dough cracks, push it back together), again keeping the long edge toward you.
  4. Remove the raspberries from the freezer, evenly arrange them in a single layer over the lower two-thirds of the rectangle, and press them into the dough (it’s OK if some break). Starting with the top, berryless third, fold the dough lengthwise into thirds, pressing on the layers as you go (use a spatula or pasty scraper if the dough sticks to the work surface). Flour the rolling pin again and gently roll the dough into an even 1-inch-thick block. If the ends become tapered, square them with your hands. Slice the dough crosswise (do not saw back and forth) into 4 equal pieces. Cut each piece diagonally to form 2 triangles.( If you need a visual, click on the original recipe on the bottom and there are some photos to assist). Transfer the scones to the floured plate and place in the freezer for 5 minutes.
  5. Remove the scones from the freezer and transfer to the prepared baking sheet, setting them 2 inches apart. Brush a thin layer of the remaining 1 tablespoon cream over the tops of the scones and sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon sugar. Bake until golden brown on the top and bottom, about 20 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  6. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and enjoy!

Yield: 8-10

TERRI’S TIP:  Freeze your butter and grate it into the recipe with a cheese grater. It is easier and less messy than using a pastry cutter (I saw this in the comments in the original recipe and I will never go back to the old way of cutting in butter!)

Original Recipe here

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MANDARIN ORANGE & RED PEPPER PORK: EASY AND QUICK WEEKNIGHT MEAL

Mandarin orange and red pepper pork.jpg

I love meals that come together in under 30 minutes without a lot of effort! This is one of them. And although it’s nice to cook ahead, freeze, then pull an amazing home cooked (from scratch) meal out of my freezer on an average weeknight, I don’t always have that luxury. I like to spend some of my weekend doing things that don’t involve cooking.

Therefore, I make sure I have meals like this in my arsenal; stuff that’s realistic to throw together when I get home from work and have 2 apparently starving kids pestering me about when dinner will be ready.

I think I would have to say this dish is a  compromise, especially  if you are someone that prefers to cook from scratch. But if you are also short on time, then it’s pretty ideal. This recipe pairs store-bought salad dressing with fresh pork,  red pepper, ginger and garlic.

I came up with this recipe for a Kraft salad dressing contest.  I never would have thought of making a sauce for pork with salad dressing before I was required to make something unique with salad dressing.  That’s what I love about cooking contests – they inspire me to think outside my narrow little cooking box.

Enjoy!

Mandarin Orange & Red Pepper Pork:

Ingredients:

6 Boneless pork  chops(1.5  lbs)

1 cup Mandarin orange with sesame salad dressing (I use Kraft)

¼ cup flour

1-2 Tblsp  vegetable Oil

½ cup beef broth

1 red pepper, julienned

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp fresh ginger, minced (See TERRI’S TIP below)

1/3 cup plum sauce

Directions:

  1. Heat frying pan on stove top with oil on medium high. Coat pork in flour on both sides and brown for 2-4 minutes on each side.
  2. Add dressing, beef broth, plum sauce, red pepper, ginger and garlic then reduce to simmer. Continue to cook over medium for 15 – 20 minutes until meat is cooked through and red pepper is tender.
  3. Serve hot over rice or noodles

TERRI’S TIP* – keep fresh ginger in a freezer bag in your freezer – it lasts a very long time. Take out what you need, peel it with a vegetable peeler and grate it frozen right into your dish

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UP YOUR BURGER GAME WITH THIS CONTEST WINNING “COWTOWN COSMO BURGER”

Cowtown Cosmo burger.jpg

I learned to barbecue out of pure necessity. I was hungry, wanted barbecue and no one was around to do it for me. For the majority of my life, someone else always did the barbecuing. If it wasn’t my dad, it was my husband, my father in law, my brother or whomever. I really didn’t care who did it as long as there was barbecued food around.

That’s why I  was really surprised when this recipe won 1st place in the  D’Italiano Grill Master competition (2012). Even after I learned to barbecue,  I definitely never considered myself a grill master.

Now it’s finally summer in Cowtown and you know how I feel about turning on my oven this time of year? I try to avoid it at all costs. Therefore, I have barbecue on the brain.  I tend to barbecue quite a bit during the warm weather, but not the least bit expertly. 

So there you have it; you don’t have to be a grill master to make this burger. But if you are looking to up your burger game and add some pizzazz, give this one a try. You won’t be disappointed!

Cowtown Cosmo Burger:

Wild West goes Uptown! Sirloin beet burgers with cranberry orange aoili, peanut butter  BBQ sauce, creamy brie cheese, roasted apples and onions on grilled buns.

Ingredients:

Burger:

1 kg ground sirloin

1 slices of D’italiano bread  (or any bread)– pureed in food processor (to a fine crumb)

1 egg

½ cup canned  beets-  finely chopped

6 D’italiano burger buns (or any burger buns)

Peanut butter BBQ sauce

1/3 cup crunchy Peanut butter

½ tsp. horseradish

½ cup ketchup

1 Tbsp Molasses

1/3 cup lime juice

3 tsp. Dijon mustard

Cosmo Cranberry aioli:

4 Tbsp whole cranberry sauce

6 Tablespoon mayonnaise

2 teaspoon orange zest

1 teaspoon minced garlic

Fixings:

4 tsp balsamic vinegar

4 Tbsp greek yogurt

2 green apples, peeled, cored, quartered, sliced thin length-wise

1 red onion sliced in circles, then  halved

Brie cheese (200g)

1 cup fresh baby spinach

Directions:

1. Preheat grill to 500 degrees F.  Spray with non- stick spray.

2. Mix sirloin, egg, bread crumbs and chopped beets together. Form 6 patties.

3. Spray a large square  of (approximately 10″ X 10″) of aluminum foil with non-stick cooking spray. Peel and slice apples into quarters then thinly slice. Cut onions into circles, then halves. Wrap up into a packet by placing apples and onions in the middle and then fold edges over to make a square and seal off the sides.

4. BBQ sauce: mix all ingredients together and top burgers with ½ of the sauce. Grill burgers for 10 -15 minutes (with barbecue lid down) , then turn over. Top burgers with remaining sauce and cook for 10 – 15 minutes.

5. Meanwhile, while burgers are cooking, roast apple/onion mixture in packets on grill (back of grill where there is less heat) for approximately 20 minutes.

6. Turn off grill, add  Brie cheese and cover until melted (about 1 minute), then grill buns for 2- 3 minutes or until grill marks are to your liking.

7. To assemble: Mix cosmo cranberry aoili ingredients together and spread 2 tsps on bottom of  grilled bun. Add burger, spinach, then  ¼ cup roasted apple/red onion mixture. Mix balsamic vinegar and greek yogurt together and put a dollap (about 2 tsp ) on top of apple/onions. Add top of bun.  Serve immediately and enjoy!

Yield: 6 servings/burgers

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 20 minutes

 

 

 

 

 

 

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ROAD TRIPPING & NEW MEXICAN CHILE CON QUESO

Road trip picture.jpg

The understated thrill of the road trip is in the realization that you have the choice to keep going; to never come back. Responsibility washes over and away from me in a wave of relief. I exhale. I stare out the window. I sleep. I dream.

I am on vacation.

We’ll drive from Calgary to Winnipeg again, my family and I. We’ve been taking road trips with our kids since the first months of their lives and long before they were even born. And we’ve done this trip a number of times over the years.

We’ll eat grocery store roast chicken, continental breakfasts and we’ll swim in heavily chlorinated swimming pools. Although we sleep in hotel beds, the van is our home – our cocoon. It is here that we really live; we bond and we grow. We don’t have to keep to a schedule – we have the freedom to go where and when we want.

We don’t always go to Winnipeg.

Santa Fe New Mexico.jpg

Over the years we have taken road trips to Mt. Rushmore, Las Vegas, Portland and Minneapolis. And last year we had the unforgettable experience of driving through Colorado to New Mexico. Aside from the usual grocery store grub, we do eat the odd meals at restaurants. One of the many highlights of the trip was in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where we ate dinner at the Blue Corn Café.  It came highly recommended in reviews, and for good reason. It was unpretentious, had great service and awesome authentic New Mexican Food.

dave and kids Blue Corn cafe

Because I absorb so many life experiences through food and cooking, my souvenirs are usually aprons and ingredients. So to mark the trip,  I bought a jar of authentic roasted New Mexican green chiles. And now, almost a year later, on the eve of our next road trip, I will honour last year’s trip by using them in a Chile Con Queso dip:

Chile Con QuesoCHILE CON QUESO DIP

YIELD: Makes about 5 cups

TOTAL TIME: 25 Minutes

INGREDIENTS

1 cup canned, chopped green chiles, drained

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons grated onion

3 garlic cloves finely grated

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1 1/2 to 2 cups whole milk

4 cups grated old cheddar cheese

2 cups grated Monterey Jack cheese

2 plum tomatoes, seeded, diced, drained

Roughly chopped cilantro (for garnish)

White-corn tortilla chips (for serving)

Optional: jalapenos or tamed jalepenos – to your heat preference

PREPARATION

  1. In a medium pot over medium-low heat, melt the butter. Add the onion, garlic, and salt and cook, stirring, until lightly browned and liquid has evaporated, about 2 minutes more. Whisk the flour and cumin into the butter mixture and cook until lightly browned, 30 seconds to 1 minute.
  2. Raise the heat to medium and slowly whisk in the milk. Whisk constantly until sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 5 minutes.
  3. Lower the heat to medium-low and add the cheeses, 1/4 cup at a time. Stir until cheese has melted completely before adding more cheese.
  4. Fold in the tomatoes and chiles (and jalapenos,  if using). Taste and adjust seasoning. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve immediately with chips alongside.

** Note: I bought “mild” because I was worried about to much heat, but the mild had no bite, whatsoever. If you want some heat, add some jalapeno peppers or tamed jalapeno peppers to your liking.

You can buy green chiles at just about any grocery store, but they are not going to be the authentic New Mexican ones but you can use: Old El Paso chopped green chiles in a can

Chile Con Queso

Recipe from: here

Art by: my talented young artist daughter Abby Gilson

This post is part of the monthly link up party Our Growing Edge. This event aims to connect food bloggers and inspire us to try new things. This month is hosted by Sophie at Cooking Trips. See:  July’s submissions (travel theme)

 

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Deep Fried Coffee & Food at The Calgary Stampede

Sign deep fried coffee

I’m not really sure if  you could, in good conscience, call anything you get at the Calgary Stampede grounds food. Yet, every year there is a list of new foods, one abomination of nourishment after another,  in the form of deep-fried treats, that make their way onto the midway and into the digestive tracts of many an eager Stampeder.

There was a list of about 20 of these so-called foods this year,  but I spotted none of them and only the usual suspects in my travels around the packed food area on the very last day of Stampede. The Salted Caramel Deep Fried Coffee was the only newcomer I could find, so I decided to give them a try. A full order has 12 for the insane price of $8.00. That’s a lot to try,  so I had to opt for the iced cap combo to get a 1/2 order. But then I had to pay another $2.00 for a total of $10.00 because I wanted the salted caramel flavour, rather than the plain ones. Sigh.

However, I  must say I was quite surprised that I didn’t get laughed off the grounds when I requested the iced cap low-fat.  Yeah, I know, this isn’t Starbucks, right? But I really wasn’t interested in gaining another 5 lbs at that particular kiosk. However, the young gal was ever so tolerant of my finicky ways and said she could give me a light cream one. Hmmm.. I took her up on it anyway. I figured that was as close as I was going to get and fat makes everything taste better anyway. And oh that iced cap was good! I obviously do not drink enough high fat frozen beverages.

Salted Caramel Deep fried coffee

I also asked if I could share the deep-fried coffee treats with the kids (not being clear if they were actually espresso bombs that would send them into some kind of caffeine fueled frenzy ) but the guy behind the counter assured me,  “Yeah, no problem. It’s just some coffee and cake mix.”

Really?

That’s not exactly the way they were described on the Stampede blog: “Fresh hot deep-fried coffee treats drizzled in caramel and Himalayan sea salt. Perfect for your salty sweet cravings! Five different flavours to get your morning fix.

Eating deep fried coffee

I’m not sure what I was expecting. It is fair food after all. And I typically don’t eat this type of cuisine. But I imagined, at minimum,  they would taste like COFFEE! And well, they didn’t. I could have easily been eating a timbit and not been able to tell the difference. Except that the timbit would have been a bit tastier.

The salted caramel part also left something to be desired. I have eaten and created a lot of salted caramel things in my day, as it has been a food trend that just won’t roll over and die. However,  I have to admit, although I expected salted caramel would be so last year at least 2 years ago, I am glad that it isn’t – I really like the stuff! Maybe it was just the Himalayan sea salt that threw me for a loop?

I didn’t even end up finishing them.  And sadly, I couldn’t even pawn the last ones off on my  kids.

Pizza it is!

The kids decided on pizza. They hadn’t seen the butter chicken poutine, which I’m sure they would have went for, given the chance. I really thought they’d be all over the mac and cheese or taco pizza, but nope, pepperoni pizza it was. I had a bite and I have to concede that it was pretty good for carnival pizza. Plus, pepperoni pizza is a relatively safe choice, while the other options aren’t necessarily.  And I really don’t need pukey kids in the middle of the night or anytime,  for that matter. So I was good with that decision.

Kids eating pizza at Stampede

This was  a completely  unplanned visit on the very last day. We got down to the grounds with 2 minutes to spare in order to take advantage of the free admission that I heard about on Facebook the night before.  And who says Facebook isn’t a reliable news source?!

Calgary Stampede 2016

When has there ever been free admission to Stampede on the last day?! I guess that numbers were so low this year, due to the lousy weather,  that they had to do something a little drastic to bring in the crowds. I’m just glad we were able to take advantage of the free gate admission part. The kids were pretty thrilled to go, as they hadn’t been in about 4 years. And we were all happy to have a few hours without rain this week. It’s been a long, wet week.

And… for the grand finale: Daddy wins his little girl a stuffy  at a game and she chooses the poop emoji:

Abby and poo emoji prize

Happy Summer Everyone!

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Easy & Healthy Summer Salad Rolls

Tuscan Melon summer salad rollls

When I was 18, a friend and I went out to a random Chinese restaurant in the heart of Winnipeg’s Chinatown and ordered a “Miscellaneous meat” dish. Aside from the mystery meat, I only recall that it contained noodles. And that is about as far back into the cobwebbed recesses of my memory that I am able to reach. Obviously alcohol was involved. And I may have blocked the rest of it out, given that it was a crappy experience that was based solely on a bad decision that my gut and I soon came to regret. But what I did learn was that I would never leave my meat consumption to chance like that again.

I was much more adventurous in those days because I was basically making up for lost time. You see, growing up in my household,  food was kind of boring (sorry Mom!) Don’t get me wrong, it was still GOOD. But it was not the least bit adventurous.  We ate the basics- meat, potatoes and veg. Oh and Ukrainian food, given that we are Ukrainian. That was good too. Sometimes we had Chinese food,  but I’m talkin’ chicken balls and fried rice- nothing remotely authentic. I didn’t even eat my first Indian food until I moved out and was introduced to samosas by my roommates. Italian food meant spaghetti or lasagna.My first cookbook even had a section called “Foreign Fare” that included a recipe for lasagna.

My kids are a little more food worldly. They request butter chicken regularly and were ordering calamari off restaurant menus by the age of 4. Oh, and they love these salad rolls. I’m not saying that this is exactly foreign fare but this is far more multicultural and daring than I would have ever have had the opportunity to eat as a kid.

Although I like to add a wee bit of a ‘foreign flare’ to many of my recipes,  I still try to keep it simple. And that’s what I had in mind when I created these salad rolls. A bagged salad kit, a little chopping, some wrapping and voilà! You have yourself a delicious appetizer, snack or meal. Hey, we’re all busy doing other stuff, even if we love to cook!

I also try to focus on healthy (most of the time). These salad rolls are not only healthy, they are hearty –  your veggies, meat and carbs all in one wrap, making them perfectly acceptable as a light meal. And the addition of the melon adds a refreshing  burst of flavor. They are also great for munching  on a hot summer day, preferably outside on the deck , with a cold glass of white wine (or whatever your choice of beverage is).

If you are the least bit intimidated by making salad rolls, no need to be – they are pretty straightforward (see video demonstration “how to wrap a salad roll” in directions below).

*NOTE: If you are not a red meat eater, you could substitute chicken or turkey for the salami/prosciutto.

Tuscan Melon Summer Salad Rolls with Zesty Peanut Dipping Sauce:

Tuscan melon summer Salad Rolls:

Ingredients:

½ (25 oz pkg) Taylor Italian chopped salad kit (I use Taylor farms from Costco because it already has the meat in it) but you can use any Italian salad kit and add the salami

75 g Prosciutto, chopped

2 cups (cooked) rice vermicelli noodles

2/3 cup grated honeydew melon

2/3 cup grated cantaloupe

3 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro

3 Tbsp. chopped fresh mint

3 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil

10 large (22cm ) rice wrappers

Zesty Peanut Dipping Sauce

3 Tbsp.  crunchy peanut butter

3 Tbsp.  orange juice

3 tsp balsamic vinegar

2 Tbsp. dressing (from Taylor farms Italian chopped salad kit or dressing from any Italian chopped salad kit)

1 Tbsp. no sugar added maple syrup

3/4  tsp chili paste

3 Tbsp. water

1 tsp finely grated fresh ginger

Directions:

  1. Salad rolls: Bring a medium saucepan of water to boil. Place rice vermicelli in boiling water, remove from heat, and let soak 3 to 5 minutes, until soft. Drain, and rinse with cold water. Set aside.
  2. Fill a large bowl or shallow pan with hot water. Dip one rice wrapper in the hot water for approximately 10 seconds (or however long it takes) to soften. Lay wrapper flat on damp tea towel.
  3. Squeeze liquid from grated melons and pat melon dry with paper towel. Set aside.
  4. Place about 2 tsp of prosciutto, then 2 Tbsps. of Taylor farms Italian chopped salad, 1-2 Tbsp. of noodles, then  2 tsp of each, cilantro, basil and mint on wrapper, just below the middle of the wrapper.
  5. Add about 1-2 tsp of each type of melon to the filling.
  6. Roll the edges of the wrapper slightly inward. Beginning at the bottom edge of wrapper, tightly wrap the ingredients. Repeat with remaining wrappers until all ingredients are used. Here is a video demonstration: How to wrap a salad roll
  7. Dipping sauce: In a bowl, whisk  together the peanut butter, water and orange juice until combined.
  8. While continuing to whisk, add the balsamic vinegar, maple syrup, chili paste and ginger and mix well.
  9. Serve salad rolls with dipping sauce. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate if not serving immediately.

Yield: 12

Preparation time: 25 minutes

You can find this on Fiesta Friday. This week’s co hosts are Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook and Colleen @ Faith, Hope, Love & Luck. See you all at the party!

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Posted in Appetizers, main dish, Recipes, salad, side dish, snack, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

The Secret Ingredient Birthday cake

Exploding cake.jpgI have no idea where the Mermaid Bakery is, but they sure know how to make great cake. This cake is a scratch cake recipe that is comparable to the texture and taste of a box mix (very light)….only better.  And secret ingredient is…. EMULSION (read more below under Emulsions)!

We’re celebrating my daughter’s 9th birthday this weekend and this is her birthday cake. It’s a Vanilla Butter Cake recipe from the Mermaid Bakery paired with  Wilton’s Whipped cream buttercream icing and fondant accents (see recipes below) – a truly fabulous cake and icing combo!

Christmas in July:

Abby wanted a “Christmas in July theme” because she wanted her elf pet (“Drummer”) immortalized on the cake.  I love that she still embraces “the magic” of Christmas and I am well aware that it won’t last long. In fact, the end of grade 3 basically signals the beginning of the end of this era of innocence. I’ll be sad to see it go, so I am milking every moment…..We had an amazing bonding time making our “Drummers” out of fondant.

3 Drummers mp'dAbove is the Drummer cake topper (left) ‘The Real Drummer’ in the middle and Abby’s ‘Baby Drummer’on the right.

Making Edible Figures for Cakes:

We made Drummer by mixing fondant and a powder called gumtex together, which you can buy at Michaels Arts & Crafts. It helps the fondant dry faster. For 1 pkg of the brown fondant (from the Wilton box of 4 fondant colors, available at Michaels Arts & Crafts) , I would use about 1 Tblsp of gumtex. Alternatively, you can use gumpaste (or mix it 50/50 with fondant), but then you have to color it. And the gumpaste dries faster than I work, so I’m not a huge fan of gumpaste when working with figures.

TERRI’S TIP: Use shortening on your hands and on a non stick surface (such as a silicone sheet)  to prevent fondant from sticking.  

Exploding cake technique:

The technique I used here is the ‘cake explosion’. If you are interested in trying it, here is a tutorial: Explosion cake tutorial. Just make sure you use wax paper or parchment paper under the first layer of fondant or it won’t work – your fondant will stick to your icing/crumb coat underneath and it will not come out looking like this.

Emulsions:

I’d have to say that what I love most about this cake is the addition of the ‘secret ingredient’: Creme Bouquet emulsion. If you haven’t ventured into emulsions yet, I would highly recommend them! Emulsions give more depth of flavour, compared to using an extract, especially when they are baked in. “Princess Cake and Cookie Emulsion” (which is awesome in sugar cookies)  is another one of my favorites. I also like to mix it up and sneak them into my icing once in a while for a change of pace. The Creme bouquet emulsion also pairs well with this icing recipe and The Old Fashioned sour cream chocolate fudge cake (future post or PM me for recipe) or any chocolate cake for that matter!  You can buy some emulsions at “PM Hobby” in Calgary and likely at S.A.I.T. (their store has a pretty good selection of cake decorating/baking supplies but it’s only open Sept to April) or order them online from Golda’s Kitchen (in Canada) or Global Sugar Art (U.S) among other places.

I have also included the Wilton Whipped Cream buttercream recipe, which is my favourite buttercream icing (that actually has no butter in it). I am not a fan of butter in icing. I think butter belongs IN the cake, not on the outside of it. So, if you are a shortening based icing enthusiast, this is the icing for you! It’s the lightest and fluffiest icing around. Enjoy…

Exploding reindeer cake

Vanilla Butter Cake from The Mermaid Bakery:

Ingredients

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

2 cups sugar

4 large eggs, at room temperature

1 Tblsp white vinegar + enough milk to make 1 cup, at room temperature

1 tsp Creme bouquet or 1 tsp Vanilla

2 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

2 1/4 tsp baking powder

3/4 tsp salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, put oven rack into center of oven.
  2. Grease and flour pans (9X13, 3=8″, 2=9″, or 1=10″)
  3. Cream butter and sugar together until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each.
  4. Mix the Creme bouquet or Vanilla into the milk.
  5. Mix the flour, baking powder and salt together in a separate bowl.
  6. Add flour to butter/sugar/eggs in two parts, alternating with the milk mixture, beating well after each addition.
  7. Divide batter into prepared pans. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of cake comes out clean.
  8. Let cool in pans 10 minutes, then remove from pans and cool completely on wire rack.

TERRI’S TIP: “Cake Mate”is the product I use to keep my cakes from sticking to the pan. Shake well and apply generously. Use this if you want your cakes to come out of the pan looking flawless. It is available at Michaels Arts & Crafts

Whipped Cream Buttercream Frosting

Ingredients

Part One:

1 lb. powdered sugar (sifted)

2 1/2 cups Crisco

Part Two:

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 tsp. salt

2 TBSP. Meringue powder (add 1 additional TBSP for slight crusting)

1/2 cup BOILING water (less 2 TBSP)

1 TBSP Vanilla (or flavor of your choice)

Instructions:

  1. Part one… put crisco in bowl and gradually add powdered sugar. Beat about 5 minutes until mixture is very creamy and fluffy. Set this aside.
  2. Part two… In a very clean bowl mix dry ingredients. Add BOILING water and immediately mix on high speed. Beat until stiff peaks form, about 8 minutes. When mixture begins to get stiff add flavoring.
  3. NOW combine both mixtures and beat together for another 8 minutes. When finished, use a rubber spatula to down beat a little to remove some of the air bubbles. Frosting will be very light and creamy. Cover. DO NOT REFRIGERATE.
  4. The frosting may be kept at room temperature for 3 months. Whip with a spoon each time you use it to restore fluffiness.

Note: This post is  NOT sponsored by any product or business- it is my own opinion

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Exploding reindeer birthday cake

Posted in Cakes, dessert, Food Art, Recipes, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments