Mother’s Day Cake

For Mother’s Day, I made a special cake.  I found a new decorating technique I’ve been itching to try and it worked out really well.  Like all cake decorating, it took a little time, but it’s fairly simple to do and the results were amazing.  The cake itself was also a huge hit, but hey, who doesn’t like sponge cake, whipped cream and fresh strawberries?  🙂

Making a rolled cake is fairly simple.  This site explains how to do it with pictures (but I disagree with step 5 – go ahead right to the edge and trim the sides later).

The decorating part is pretty easy too.  Just mix up a little batter on the side and colour with food colouring or cocoa.  Then draw a pattern on parchment paper and freeze it while you make up the rest of the cake batter.  This site explains it with pictures.

Have fun with this technique.  Vanilla, strawberry and sweetened whipped cream was amazing, but next time I might try something with geometric designs in white vanilla batter, chocolate sponge cake and a whipped white chocolate ganache filling.  I have a choco-holic sister who’d love that…  😉

Pastry while on a Diet

Maple leaves and acorns

I love pastry!  I love the buttery taste, the flaky texture, and the rich smell of it while it’s cooking in the oven.  Unfortunately, I hate all the calories (and so do my hips).

I’ve tried a few “lower calorie” versions found on the internet, but I don’t like any of them.  Vegetable fillers sound like a good idea, but you lose the taste & texture of real pastry, and low calorie butter substitutes are evil and should be avoided like the chemical loaded fake food plague they are.

So what’s a pastry lover on a diet to do?  I’ve found only one solution – eat the pastry, just less of it.  Instead of making an entire pie with both top and bottom crust, make single serving mini pies in ramekins, and put pastry cut-outs on the top only.  This looks beautiful, avoids trying to serve a piece of pie without a bottom, looks like you did a lot of work (you actually did less – shhhh), and puts the small bit of pastry that you do eat right under your nose where you can see and smell it.

This is the recipe I used for mini beef & mushroom pies (to be posted on Thursday).  As it’s a savoury pie, I didn’t add sugar but if you’re using it for sweet pies, add a tsp or two of sugar in step 1.

Tips & Tricks:

  • Extra pastry freezes well. To thaw, bring it out of the freezer the night before – don’t use the microwave.
  • Use a fine grater (cheese shredder) to cut the butter into the flour.
  • Very cold butter works best. If you have the time, pre-measure and freeze it.
  • Butter gives you a nice buttery flavour, but shortening or lard give the best flaky texture. Margarine never works well.  A mix of half butter / half shortening gives both flavour & texture, but you can decide what you want to use.

Continue reading “Pastry while on a Diet”

Red Lentil Hummus

hummusLike any health conscious person, I try to eat a lot of vegetables. Unfortunately, there are only so many carrot sticks I can eat before I swear I’m going to turn into a rabbit. To keep the rabbit syndrome at bay, I like to make healthy dips.

This week, I made hummus with red lentils and lots of garlic. It’s super easy to make and you can portion it out and keep in the fridge for quick grab & go lunch sides. 1/2 cup of dry red lentils makes a little more than 1 cup cooked, so one serving of this recipe is about 1/4 cup – plenty for all your cucumber and carrot stick needs. 😉 Continue reading “Red Lentil Hummus”

Banana Bread Chips

banana-chips1I had to call these “Banana Bread” chips, because calling them just “banana chips” would be doing them a disservice. I’ve had store-bought banana chips before and they were…ok, so I was totally amazed when I tried these and they tasted exactly like homemade banana bread with lemon glaze.

These are easy to make, there’s no sugar required and they vanish with shocking speed. 😀  I meant to bring some to work to get other people’s opinions… but they just didn’t last that long. Apologies to my co-workers – you guys missed out. 😉

I used a dehydrator to make these, but an oven on the lowest setting will work just as well. To keep things hassle free in the oven, use a silicon baking sheet or parchment paper.

 

Continue reading “Banana Bread Chips”

Homemade Pet Treats

cat
Insert theme music from “Jaws” here.

My Kitchen Helper will be 19 years old next month. He’s turning into a sleepy old grump… except when there’s food. For treats, he’ll climb any leg, jump onto any sofa or run down any hallway to tackle, kill and eat whatever kibble dared attempt to escape.

Last week I decided to make liver treats for the grump. He said thank you by climbing my leg, gnawing my fingers, purring loudly and making sure I was completely coated in fur. Hey, it’s March and still kinda cold, so the provider-of-food should be kept warm so she can keep providing food.

Although this was made for my cat, this is a good treat for dogs too. It’s also much cheaper than the “fancy” liver treats you buy in the store, and you know for sure what’s in it. I keep any extra in the freezer so they last forever. To make sure they smell like treats, I warm them up either with the microwave for 5 seconds or between my palms. Continue reading “Homemade Pet Treats”

Easy Honeyed Apple “Cream Cheese” “Pastry”

apple-biscuitsI’ve been eating these for breakfast for a week and OMG what a treat.  They freeze well and warm up in the microwave easily – perfect for work.  My co-workers are jealous when they smell them…  😉

This is a sweet variation of the Quick Biscuits I posted last week. I wanted something easy for breakfast that tasted like it was off the diet radar.

The easy part is that they’re quick to make and you can make them ahead of time and freeze them.  The “yum” part is the honey and cardamom – they’re a nice hint of sweet and spice without being overwhelming.

The secret to the diet part is plain non-fat Greek yogurt; the extra thick yogurt cooks like soft cream cheese without all the extra calories. The other diet secret is that this uses biscuit dough instead of puff pastry. Trust me though, no one will notice. 😉

Continue reading “Easy Honeyed Apple “Cream Cheese” “Pastry””

Quick Biscuits

biscuits

I made these as a breakfast biscuit, but this recipe is so versatile it can be used for a lunch soup accompaniment or supper side dish.

In this version, I added a diced jalapeno because my other half is a little weird that way, but if you’d rather add 1/4 cup of grated cheddar or 2 Tbsps of dried herbs, feel free to customize.

Goes well with a slice of cheese and a good jolt of caffeine.  😉 Continue reading “Quick Biscuits”