Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Sneaky - like a ninja!

These past couple weeks have been a whirlwind of sinful baked goods, delicious diners out, and girls nights filled with fruity cocktails. So needless to say, I’ve been feeling rather… spherical recently (I think that’s an apt word!) That’s why this week I decided to bake something a little healthier. 
My usual go-to for healthy baked goods is either low-fat zucchini and berry muffins, or cookies so small you can eat one and burn off the calories chewing. However, after my recent indulgences, I wanted something that was going to satisfy my new found love of rich foods and not taste 'healthy'. So I needed to be sneaky - I needed to trick myself ninja-style!

I remember seeing on TV chefs substituting fat in recipes with purees. Instead of butter, people were using butternut squash; or spinach and beet helped increase the nutritional content of decadent desserts. I was a little sceptical though, the purees they were putting in weren’t bland – beets and spinach especially can have strong flavours – so wouldn’t you taste them? But if these flavours could be masked, maybe they would turn out alright.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

It took a while…

Well I’ve finally gotten around to it. Writing a post about cheesecake! I mean, they’re one of the main reasons I started this blog and they set my mind awhirl with ideas of food trucks and bakeries specializing in cheesecake.
Ever since I made my first cheesecake, I’ve had a passion for baking them. I don’t know why - it seems crazy to me now! I mean what other dessert is as temperamental and requires such precise directions? However, it was always a hassle to make a huge 9” round because I would be eating every meal for the next week. So, I reserved them for special occasions.

That is to say, I used to only make them on special occasions. I recently came across this product online called a mini-cheesecake pan and it changed my life forever! It is very similar to a mini muffin pan, except the sides of each well are straight and at the bottom of each well, the bottom is removable. The sheet makes 12 small 2” cheesecakes (if I’m not mistaken about the size), which are the perfect size for one person.

So armed with my new pan, I had the chance to let my passion explode and have made more cheesecakes than I can count. I thought about baking them for bridal showers, weddings, parties and even opening my own cheesecake shop/food truck – I loved baking them so much. I also found a basic New York cheesecake recipe that I love and can alter easily to change the flavour of the cake depending on the occasion.

As I debated what to make this week, I got a request from my mom’s co-worker for my berry cheesecake recipe and I thought, what better opportunity to write my first post about cheesecake? So here is my basic New York Cheesecake recipe and my favourite berry sauce. 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Controversy Abounds

One thing I have come to learn recently about food is this: a lot of people don’t like a lot of things! And I’m not talking weird foods like horse meat, or squid ink. I’m talking run of the mill things like peanut butter, tomatoes, bread and cheese. I mean, I guess I always knew that – heck, I don’t think there was a pickier kid than me (I would only eat chicken tenders, fries and peas). But luckily, I grew out of it and now love most of the things I abhorred as a child.
And this is the dilemma I ran into this week with my baking. Already, I was having a hard time just coming up with something to bake. Seemed I was over my cupcake obsession and the usual chocolate chip cookies just weren’t up to par. So after a discussion with my friend about “old-fashioned” baked goods, I got excited about making lemon poppy seed bread. I love the combination of lemon and poppy seed in any form. Bread, scones, I’m sure I’d even love it in ice cream. It’s like a ridiculously clean little piece of heaven in your mouth - so you can see why I got so excited about making it.

However, it dawned on me that poppy seeds are one of those controversial ingredients in baking. To some people, there is no worse punishment than having to pick tiny, little, black poppy seeds out of your teeth for the rest of the day. So my excitement quickly deflated as I realized I may not have an audience for my baking this week! However I still decided to go ahead with it, since I have never made lemon poppy seed bread before and would love to find my go-to recipe.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Tastes like purple?

This has definitely been a weird baking week.  

It all started off with my baking goal of the week: use up as many frozen blueberries as possible. I had a fairly large bag of them sitting in my freezer and I realized blueberry and banana smoothies just lack that certain je ne sais quoi that other berries provide in a smoothie So rather than be economical, and just mix blueberries with other berries, I decided to just use them up! So I typed "blueberry" and "dessert" into the allrecipes.com search bar and found myself with an abundance of options! Crumbles, pies, muffins, sauces - the possibilities were endless. Then one in particular caught my eye - mostly because I had only known this item previously as an item which helped hold up pants.

Blueberry Buckle. Blueberries I knew, but I had never heard of anything edible called a buckle. Curious, I read the recipe and it didn't seem too crazy. No exotic ingredients, or crazy cooking methods (hey, with a name like buckle, who knew!) - so I decided to try it! I knew nothing about a buckle before, but hopefully after the experience I would at least gain some insight.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Back to School

When I was in school, I was never into sandwiches for lunch. There was something about the mushy bread getting stuck in my teeth that just bugged me. As a result, I never got to enjoy the small pleasure known as the peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Neither did I like peanut butter and banana sandwiches – I thought the bananas were too slimy.

Nowadays, I can’t understand how I used to dislike them so much. Peanut butter and bananas are regular staples in my diet, and really when is strawberry-flavored, sugary goo a bad thing? Now that I’ve grown up (sort of), I decided to give them another chance – well sort of!

I’ve had this idea floating around in my head for a long time. I remember watching Cupcake Wars and the event they were competing for was a children’s charity. So I thought to myself, if I had to make a kid friendly cupcake, what would it be? The first idea I had was S’mores (and I have made those before) but then it hit me! Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches! I think kids would go crazy for those (well minus the kids like me – but I was always the exception). But I wasn’t just going to stop at a peanut butter and jelly cupcake, I was going all out! Enter the Peanut Butter, Banana and Jelly cupcake, aka the PBBJ cupcake.