Thursday, February 18, 2010

Blueberry-Apple Sauce

One of my biggest pet peeves is letting food go to waste. I've seen many people throw away produce because it's just not perfect anymore. Like apples that aren't quite as fresh and wouldn't taste good on it's own. Or blueberries that no one has touched in the fridge that you know will just go to waste in a matter of days. Well that is exactly what I encountered yesterday, apples and blueberries that needed to be used up before they went bad. There are so many easy things you can do with fruit in this stage. I didn't have a lot of time so I took the super easy route and made a Blueberry-Apple Sauce. Sweet and comforting on its own, and out of this world as a topping for ice cream! I topped french vanilla ice cream with the Blueberry-Apple Sauce, and added a sprinkle of my favourite granola cereal for a bit of a crunch. My new favourite dessert! Fast, simple, and healthy...and can we just admire that beautiful colour for a!
Tip: If you don't have fresh blueberries, frozen should work just as well.
Tip: Try using this sauce as a topping for oatmeal!

5 medium apples, peeled, cored
about 1-2 tbsp lemon juice
about 1/2 cup blueberries
about 1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup orange juice
cinnamon to taste (I put about 2-3 tsp)

1. Chop apples into medium size chunks. Toss in a bowl with lemon juice.

2. Place all ingredients in a medium-large pot and place on stove at medium-high heat.

3. Let mixture come to a boil, then turn heat down to medium-low and let simmer for about 25 minutes, or until apples have softened.

4. Using a potato masher or food mill, crush the apples and blueberries until you have reached your desired consistency. Serve warm, at room temperature, or chilled, or even on top of your favourite ice cream!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Chewy Chocolate Brownies

A few weeks ago it was my friend Alex's 23rd birthday. I know I say this a lot about friends on here, but I really cannot sing the praises for this girl enough, she is amazing! I have known her since grade 4, and no matter what ups and downs we've gone through, she has always been there for me through thick and through thin. She is not only an amazing friend, but an all around incredible woman. I don't know if I have ever met anyone so motivated and full of life. Much of my drive and inspiration comes from her support and watching her thrive in her own pursuits. We have gotten so close over the years that I truly consider her part of my family. We have that special and incredibly rare bond that I know will keep us together for the rest of our lives. I love her like a sister. So for her 23rd birthday I had to make something special for her party.

Alex is a big lover of all sweets, especially chocolate, so it isn't too hard to please her in that department. I decided to stick with something classic, yet delicious, that would be a real crowd pleaser. I turned to a very simple yet delicious brownie recipe. These brownies take hardly any time to prepare, and are super chewy, moist, and chocolatey! How could anyone possibly resist!

Click here to learn more about Alex and her interesting and exciting life!

1/3 cup butter
2/3 cup sugar
2 tbsp water
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 eggs
3/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup pecans

1. Mix the butter, sugar, and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring constantly.

2. Pour mixture in a food processor and add chocolate chips. Process until smooth and chocolate has melted.

3. Add eggs and process until just combined. Add the flour, baking powder, vanilla, and pecans, and pulse on and off until nuts are chopped.

4. Line and butter a 8 inch square baking pan. Pour mixture in pan and bake at 350º for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the brownie comes out clean.

5. Let cool and cut into desired squares.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Double Butter Caramel Corn

Eeek! I've been neglecting my blog so badly lately! These past weeks have been absolutely crazy! All good craziness though...actually GREAT! Despite all the craziness, I have been cooking and baking consistently, so look forward to lots of random entries on recipes I have been whipping up these past few weeks.

To show just how neglectful I've been, here I have my Super Bowl Sunday recipe from last week! Thank goodness for the arts, because I am soooo not sporty! My lack of any sort of sporty talent has left me pretty disinterested in viewing sports as well (unless it involves actually being at the game....with a lap full of tasty snacks!). I've never really watched the Super Bowl, but this year I was invited to a Super Bowl party that caught my interest. No it wasn't football that made me want to go to the party, it was the INSANE food spread that was being prepared. The party was a pot luck, and it just so happens that many of the guests are ridiculously good cooks! So how could I possibly refuse?

I contributed to the pot luck by making Double Butter Caramel Corn. The savory side of the menu was covered, so I wanted to make a really stand-out dessert, something that was tasty and easy to share amongst the guests. Caramel Corn just seemed perfect for the occasion! I was a little nervous about making it because I didn't have a candy thermometer, something that I thought was essential for making successful caramel. Turns out there was no need for a candy thermometer at all! All it takes is a simple little trick to create perfect caramel! The Caramel Corn turned out amazing! It was perfectly crunchy and sweet, with lots of extra caramel sticking to each piece of popcorn, giving it extra crunch! I could have devoured the entire bag by myself, but everyone at the party seemed to love it so much, it was gone in no time! This is definitely a treat I'll be making again!
Note: If using a candy thermometer, skip the ice water test. The thermometer should read 250º when inserted into the boiling caramel mixture.
Note: Be very very careful when making this recipe as hot caramel can lead to super nasty burns! Never lean over the pot of caramel, and try to wear gloves!

1 bag of microwave popcorn (I used buttered popcorn, which is why it's 'Double Butter' Caramel Corn)
1 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup corn syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 small cup of ice cold water

1. Pop popcorn in the microwave and throw out any un-popped kernels. Set aside.

2. Pre-measure the rest of your ingredients (the cooking process goes very quickly, so pre-measuring ensures no mistakes).

3. In a large pot, add the brown sugar, butter, and corn syrup. Cook at medium heat, while stirring with a wooden spoon, until the mixture comes to a rapid boil.

4. Drop a very small amount of the mixture (just a drop) into the cup of ice water. Wait 20 seconds and then feel the caramel ball. If the caramel ball is hard, then it is ready. If it is soft to the touch, then let the caramel cook a few minutes longer and test again.

5. Turn off the heat, and while stirring, add the vanilla and baking soda. Add the popcorn and stir till all the popcorn is coated in the caramel mixture.

6. Line a baking sheet with a Silpat mat (this works best) or parchment paper. Using a plastic spatula, spoon the caramel popcorn onto the sheet, spreading it out evenly.

7. Place the sheet in a 250º oven for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.

8. Remove from oven and let cool. Once cooled, break up popcorn with clean hands and wow your friends with this awesome treat!

Thanks Tracy for being such a great Super Bowl party hostess!
Click here to see Martha in Training's amazing recipe for Rustic Vegetarian Black Bean Chili, one of my favourite dishes served that evening!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Spooning With Ginger: Valentines Day Menu Part 2

This week in The Lion's Den University's Spooning With Ginger, I give you part 2 of my Valentines Day menu for impressing your lover! I'm pairing last weeks Butternut Squash Soup with Chicken Marsala and Molten Lava Chocolate Cakes. Click here to check it out!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Spooning With Ginger: Valentines Day Menu Part 1

This week in The Lion's Den University's Spooning With Ginger, I give you part 1 of my Valentines Day menu for impressing your lover! Click here to see the appetizer, Butternut Squash Soup.