Sunday, July 25, 2010

Oh where, oh where, have I been these last 6 months?

Oh, dear! I seemed to have put the blog on the back burner over the last few months. Out of sight, but not out of mind actually. I have many stories to share with you, both good and bad news, and many cooking triumphs and cooking disasters. The problem that I had was that because there was a lapse in time from the last blog, I couldn't decide where to begin. Should I start from today, or should I continue where I left off? I guess I've decided that maybe I should just start from today and recall some stories in between.

Here in the suburb of Toronto, we've been having lovely summer weather. Today was probably one of the perfect days as there was less humidity in the air making it more comfortable to be outdoors. Nonetheless, we decided to take the kids to see Dispicable Me since I had two free movie vouchers about to expire for Toy Story 3. Yes, I did the obvious. We saw Toy Story 3 already at a birthday party so today I purchased 3 for Dispicable Me and redeemed the two freebies for Toy Story 3 and we all snuck into the theatre for Dispicable Me. I know, I'm a terrible person, but what the heck. I'm sure I'm not the only person that comes up with these things.

Sunday October 24th, 2010.

Wow! So, it's no longer summer, but now we're in the middle of fall. Has a lot ever happened. and yes again, before even having a chance to get back to finishing off the last post, I again, put this blog back on the back burner. It's not that I don't enjoy blogging, so much as not having the time to do it in. I do think often about it and many of my friends have asked why I haven't written. With so much to write about, without enough hours in the day, it just didn't make the cut.

Well, I'm back again and I'll try to post more often, and I think I'm so far behind on the pictures, that I've captured in the last year that I may just forget and just look ahead.

Today we're going to celebrate another birthday. It's been birthday weekend. I made the cupcakes for my dear friend Toula's son's birthday party and they were a hit. Simple enough, I used boxed cake mix with butter instead of the oil which REALLY DOES change the texture for the better, of the cupcake. I can't understand why people buy boxed "CUPCAKE MIX". Have they not figured out that it doesn't make a difference whether it's cupcake or cake mix? CUPCAKE MIX is much more expensive in than CAKE mix. It's twice as expensive and it yield's half the number of regular cupcakes than a CAKE mix does! So, don't buy the CUPCAKE mix if you do.

For James' birthday, it was a Star Wars Theme so we decided on simple white icing with 4 colours of jimmies to represent the 4 colours of light sabres (I don't think the kids got that - and neither would I have), with a gummy candy in the shape of a fighter jets. These were given a thumbs up by all - by both adults and kids.

I found the perfect buttercream icing recipe on, called Rick's Buttercream Icing. With a bit of tweeking, it's the perfect topping, easy to prepare and easy to pipe on. It holds its shape well and stands up warm temperatures.

I doubled the batch and am making some again for Daniel's 17th birthday party. Hopefully, it'll be a success again with this tougher crowd!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Baked Pears

(photos to come)

Since we went over for a Boxing Day luncheon at our dear friends' house across the street, my family have fallen in love with the baked pears that were left over from her Christmas dinner. She used to use these delectable slices of pears as a part of a trifle but found that her guests were picking them out and leaving the rest of the layers in shambles after digging around for the prized pears, so she just makes pears now and nothing else. So far, everyone that has tried this, has LOVED it.

Served warm or chilled with a dollop (or two or three) of fresh whipped cream, makes for a wonderful treat anytime.

Baked Pears

Preheat oven to 275F.

10 semi ripe Bartlett or Bosc pears, peeled, seeded and quartered
1/3 cup sugar
juice of half lemon

Put all three ingredients into a large bowl, toss to coat. Place pears in a single layer in a 9x13 baking dish and cover with foil. Bake for approximately 1-1/2 hours. Remove from oven and toss.

Fresh Whipped Cream

1/2 litre fresh whipping cream (35%)
2 tbsp confectioner's sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla

Place in a mixer bowl and beat on high speed until stiff or desired consistency.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Pan Seared Salmon, Sweet Potato Fries and Green Beans

After a beautiful day at the Toronto Zoo, I was exhausted and actually had to take a little nap. I haven't been exercising much these days and with the past few weeks being pretty cold here, this had been a hard day's work for me! We had pan seared salmon served with the best store-bought sweet potato fries (frozen from Costco), and sauteed green and yellow beans and baby carrots. This is one of our family's favourite meals and best of all, it's fast and easy as well! For a night when cooking wasn't really fitting into my agenda, this was the perfect meal. For dessert, we had the To-Die-For Blueberry/Raspberry muffins we made together this afternoon. Without fresh berries onhand, we used frozen berries and it was just as scrumptious.

Salmon filets
seasoning salt
Montreal Steak Spice
about a butter for frying

Sprinkle filets lightly with seasoning salt and Montreal Steak Spice. Heat pan on medium high and melt butter. Add lightly seasoned salmon filets and cover for about 7 minutes (depending on the thickness of your filets). Turn and sear the other side or until fish is cooked through. Serve with your favourite veggies.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Wonton Soup

Doesn't matter how they look when they're wrapped because they never look like that after they're cooked. (This was served with a bit of rice noodles, vegetables and broth.)

All ingredients combined until it looks like a paste.

Place filling in centre, fold into a triangle and pinch the edges together.

My mother used to make these little simple dumplings on those cold winter days. They're simple enough to make but it almost seems like a bit too much work to wrap each one individually and then only to have them gobbled up and swallowed in two seconds flat. TIP: Recruit some family members to help out. Even my hubby learned quickly how to wrap these up!

Wonton Soup

1 lbs. lean ground pork
1 lb of fresh shrimp, shelled, deveined and chopped
1 large carrot, grated
4 shiitake mushrooms, diced
4 green onions, chopped
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 package of wonton wrappers

Chicken stock/soup to serve.

Make your chicken stock or wonton stock from soup mix available in asian supermarkets.
In separate large pot, bring water to a boil while you begin wrapping wontons.

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well with your hands until well blended.
Before wrapping, you can wrap a couple and cook them in a pot of boiling water. Taste and if needed, add more salt, soy sauce, etc.

Wrap about a teaspoon of meat filling in each dumpling and set aside until ready to cook. Bring large pot of water to a boil and place dumplings in. Bring water back to a full boil and after the wonton dumplings are floating, continue to cook for another minute or two.

Serve with broth and vegetables cooked in the broth.