Category Archives: Memories of Meals Past

Memories of Meals Past: Carrot Muffins & Apple-Pear Butter

Fluffy, moist, and vegelicious!

Fluffy, moist, and vegelicious!

I had some carrots in the fridge that I wanted to use up, and I was craving something sweet but healthy, so last night I made carrot muffins using this recipe. I meant to post it last night but after baking until the wee hours of the morning, I thought I should actually get some sleep, so while it’s not a tbt feature, it is technically a memory of meals past. Good enough, I say!

In terms of the recipe, I swapped the raisins for dried cranberries, since I don’t keep raisins in the house (not a big raisin fan) but I always I have dried cranberries for baking. I also stirred in about 1/3 c. ground flax seeds, because I had them in the fridge and why not add some omega-fatty-acids? Good for the brain and all that! And then I added a pinch of ground cloves.

If I made it again, I would add some additional spices, and definitely some nuts. I had this warm out of the oven with some chilled homemade apple-pear butter (I used this recipe but subbed in some pears for some apples because why not), and OMG, my mouth was in Autumnal heaven! The flavours of fall all melded together and became so drool-worthy that my mouth is watering again as I type this, no joke.

I didn’t read the comments on the recipe beforehand, and if I had, I probably would have reduced the amount of oil in the recipe, just to up the healthiness quotient, but they turned out fantastic, so maybe I wouldn’t have after all.

I packed a muffin and some apple-pear butter for lunch today, and then ate them while sitting with a couple of cool cats. I offer pictorial proof.

Not catnip-flavoured? Not interested.

Not catnip-flavoured? Not interested.

Cat was curious but not impressed. But if you make these, your mouth will be! Just be sure to add in those additional spices. And if you do, let me know what combo of spice you favour for flavour!

Next Post: Peanut butter cups! Really! And wine jelly bonbons.

Memories of Meals Past: Let Them Eat (Baby Shower Themed) Cake!

Ignore the wobbly letters; focus on the cute animals! #squee #yum #nomnomnom

Ignore the wobbly letters; focus on the cute animals! #squee #yum #nomnomnom

I’m at that age where the invitations one gets for life-stage events tends to be mostly for baby showers. Which is fine by me, because I love babies! And yes, I say that recognizing that I don’t have a baby and therefore am speaking from a non-sleep-deprived viewpoint. But I think babies are always A Good Thing!

And speaking of Good Things, I made a baby shower cake for a friend last weekend, hence this Memories of Meals Past post, using the inimitable Martha’s recipe for a basic vanilla cake. I baked the first layer and prepared the animal themed fondant cake toppers, and then realized that I needed to bake a second layer for the cake. So I was still up and baking at 1 am the night before the shower. Needless to say, I was tired the next day. But also satisfied, because I rather liked my cake. Was kind of cute, I thought!

I made some homemade marshmallow fondant using this recipe from Wilton, but frankly, I’ll try another recipe next time. I found the fondant wasn’t as pliable as I’d like (I like to sub in some cornstarch for some of the icing sugar — I find it easier to mold), even though it was super-fun to play with. It’s basically grown-up playdough, that you eat; what’s not to love? And how did I make the animals? I just googled pictures of animal themed fondant cake toppers and went from there. It’s easier than you think, so I urge you to try it.

I made the fondant on a Thursday, baked the cake on a Friday, and made the cake toppers in the wee hours of Saturday morning. I froze the cakes overnight on Friday (err, Saturday really), and the next morning, whipped up some homemade buttercream frosting (using coconut oil instead of shortening in it, which gave it a fabulously coco-nutty flavour).

As I told my mom, it looks homemade, but homemade with love! And I think that’s really the best kind of cake that there is. Wouldn’t you agree?

Next Post: Veggies. Seriously. (Of course as I type this, I’m snacking on homemade chocolate granola. Now if only I could invent chocolate vegetables….Hmm. Food for foodie thought!)

Memories of Meals Past: Danish Butter Cookies

Crunchy bits of buttery delight!

Crunchy bits of buttery delight!

Every now and then I like to send in some of my baking to the DH’s workplace. I like to bake for the experience of it, to try out a new recipe or a new technique. But as much as I like to eat my baking, I also like to fit into my clothes. So I bake and then I send it off with the DH to work! Makes me happy, makes the DH happy, and apparently also makes his colleagues happy. Win, win, yes? *grin*

And speaking of baking, the latest baking I’ve done is to try out a Danish Butter Cookie recipe than I found on Pinterest the other night. (And in this household, insomnia = Pinterest surfing = lists of recipe I want to try = too many baked goods for me and the DH to eat by ourselves.)

I love those Danish butter cookies that come in those blue tins. I’m sure you know the ones I mean! I could happily crunch through a dozen of those with a glass of milk. So when I found this recipe, I was very happy! This is the fastest recipe for cookie dough that I have ever come across — you literally dump everything in a mixer, mix it for a minute, and you’re done. I considered using a cookie press, but ended up just using a piping bag with a star tip. It took some squeezing to get the dough out of the piping bag, but once I got the hang of it, it came out just fine.

I did have to pipe a double layer of dough in order to get the shape I wanted, as they do sort of melt and spread in the oven, but once I did that, it was great.

The flavour is nice, but not QUITE as buttery as I’d like it to taste. That said, there’s an entire cup of butter in it, and any more and the cookies wouldn’t hold their shape.

My rating? Four whisks up! Because it’s easy to mix, and pipe (would be super-easy in a cookie press), and bake. And it has a nice delicate crunch! You could easily top these with coarse sugar to really get that butter cookie look, but I like them as it.

Milk and cookies, anyone?

Next Post: Something with vegetables, for realz. My fridge is full of vegetables and my Pinterest sleuthing has inspired me!

Memories of Meals Past: Days of Red Wine And Chocolate (Cupcakes)

Drizzle me this...right into my mouth!

Drizzle me this…right into my mouth!

I was chatting with a friend in Thailand on Skype last night (shout out to Henneth! FYI, check out his awesome paintings on flickr — so gorgeous!), and logged off so I could go write a blog post for Throwback Thursday, or as I call it around here, Memories of Meals Past. But I got distracted by a new e-book from one of my favourite authors and then fell asleep to the purrs of the cat that I’m cat-sitting.

So I here’s the post that I meant to write! I starting writing the post yesterday, really! I wrote the title. And then I downloaded the e-book and then I fell asleep. But starting the post means that I feel that I can sneak in a Memories of Meals Past post under the wire, because…my blog, my rules! (Ah, so liberating!)

[Edit: I wrote the entire post and went to post it on Friday night, just before midnight. Under the wire, yes? And then the internet ate my post. Lots of teeth-gnashing commenced. This is why you’re getting the post on Saturday morning, Canadian-time. It may be a tad late for Throwback Thursday, but I wrote this thing several times tonight, so {redacted} I’m a-gonna post it! *takes deep breath. Eats a cupcake.*] 

And this Memory of Meals Past is about the cupcakes that I sent in to work with the DH last Monday. They were (*takes a deep breath because it’s a mouthful of a name*): Red Wine and Chocolate Mini Cupcakes with Buttercream Frosting and Ganache. They were tasty! I know because I ate a handful before I sent them in with the DH. Even the DH, who doesn’t like chocolate (hard to believe, but es verdad), liked them!

Want to make some yourself? (Which I highly recommend.) Here’s how:

I started with this recipe for the Red Wine and Chocolate Cupcakes. You can really taste the red wine in the cake once they’re made. While I deviated slightly from the recipe in this case (because of course I had to!), I have made them exactly as the recipe says and they are good. A word of advice though, don’t overbake them. Actually, under-bake them. And then cover every exposed surface in frosting, or you’ll end up with tough, dried cake wherever air touches. I generally under-bake and prefer it that way. But you do what you want!

Then I frosted the cooled cupcakes with Buttercream Frosting. Buttercream is easier to make than most people realize, and soooo tasty! Just mix butter, icing sugar, a dollop of vegetable shortening, a dash of vanilla extract, another dash of milk, and you’re good to go! If you’re wondering why I’m not giving you exact amounts, it’s because I generally make it up as I go each time — it’s so easy to customize, and it’s hard to go wrong with sugar and butter. But if you want a little bit more direction, here you go!

Homemade Buttercream Frosting (aka Frosting of the Gods)
  • softened butter
  • icing sugar
  • vegetable shortening
  • vanilla extract
  • milk

Beat your butter and shortening together until fluffy. Add in lots of icing sugar. Taste good? Add in a dash of vanilla extract, and you’re good to go!

  • Too soft? Add in a bunch more icing sugar and/or butter and/or stick the whole thing in the fridge to harden.
  • Too hard? Add in a dollop of milk and/or a dash more shortening. (The shortening is what makes it fluffy; the butter is what makes it tasty!)
I didn’t know until about two years ago that commercial buttercream was so fluffy because of the addition of shortening. I used to ice my cakes and sort of spackle on the buttercream, and wonder why my cakes never had the polish of the ones that I saw in magazines, even if they got lots of compliments on taste. Then came shortening! And voila, fluffiness commenced! But just to show you that there’s no wrong way to frost a cupcake, it turns out that the spackle-like frosting that I used to have, is actually a desired finish: it’s called a “stucco texture“. I was merely ahead of my time — or so I claim!
 
At any rate, once you’ve iced your cooled cupcakes, then you just drizzle them with ganache. With panache! Or a fork. (<– Tee hee! I make myself laugh!) And devour them all. Or nibble them all. To each his/her own, yes?
 
Next Post: my Nutella Rice Krispies squares, maybe? Or my latest creation, Fruit and Nut Chocolate Fudge Clusters? Do you have a preference? Let me know in the comments!

Memories of Meals Past: French Toast with Homemade Oatmeal Bread

French toasted goodness, with homemade bread and homemade preserves! And milk. Does a body good!

French toasted goodness, with homemade bread and homemade preserves! And milk. Does a body good!

This week’s Memories of Meals Past: A few weeks ago, I woke up on the Friday of a long weekend and thought, huh…I feel like baking! So I baked a couple of loaves of bread. I tried out a new recipe (this one) and I’m glad I did! It’s an easy-peasy recipe for two loaves of bread, with minimal work.

Officially, it’s a recipe for white bread, but me being me, I subbed in a cup of oats for one of the cups of flour. I wanted to add a bit more nutrition to a white bread recipe, and I didn’t have any whole wheat flour in the house, so oats it was. Turned out FABULOUS!

Bread with jam -- delicious, delicious jam! (technically preserves, but we won't quibble)

Bread with jam — delicious, delicious jam! (technically preserves, but we won’t quibble)

Within 36 hours, the DH and I had demolished both loaves. It’s really easy to eat fresh bread! A few slices for breakfast with my homemade strawberry cranberry jam, a few slices with cheese for lunch, a few slices with dinner, a few slices for that midnight snack, and before you know it, a loaf and a half is gone.

I woke up on the next day and realized there was only a half loaf left. And I tend to crave carbs on the weekend, so I made up some French toast using the remaining half loaf of bread.

I’ve posted the recipe here, but it’s very basic, and easily customizable: mix an egg or two, a cup of milk, and a teaspoon of vanilla extract in a bowl. Slice the bread and soak the slices briefly on each side. Fry it up in a pan with lots of butter. Serve with homemade preserves and perhaps a dash of icing sugar. Demolish and wish there was more!

French toast is great with homemade bread, but it’s almost as good with stale bread or bread with freezer burn. Waste not, want not, after all!

See how nicely it slices? I totally recommend this recipe!

See how nicely it slices? I totally recommend this recipe!

And speaking of waste not, want not

Next Post: Lemon Meringue Tarts! Or, what to do with leftovers.