GOOP: A Baking Wonder Product That Has Nothing To Do With Gwyneth Paltrow!

Looks gross, but works AH-MAZE-ING-LY well! Seriously. Go on faith here, and just try it!

You know how when you’ve baked something (cakes, muffins, whatevs), it’s sometimes hard to get the baked good out of the pan? Ever had a half-torn cakewreck as a result? (Not talking from experience. Nope. Nuh-uh. Incidentally, buttercream is my best friend and patches everything up!) Some people use cake-release spray. Some people use Pam. I’ve always used just plain butter to grease my cake pans, and then followed that by dusting flour on top of the buttered pan (or cocoa if it a chocolate cake). Never had an issue, and why pay for a processed product when I knew flour and butter worked just fine?

But! What is there was a mixture that you could use to turn those two steps (butter pan, dust flour on pan) into one step?

Your dreams have been answered! GOOP has arrived!!! (I’m pretty sure this is NOT what Gwyneth Paltrow had in mind when she named her blog, but so sad, too bad, I shall forever think of lovely buttery cake ingredients when I hear her blog name. (Subversion by food. I like it!)

But what is this GOOP stuff you so lovingly capitalize, you ask?

It’s a mixture of flour, shortening, and oil.

In other words, you’re basically premixing your butter (i.e. solid fat) and flour that you normally would prep the pan with, adding some oil to make it a bit more loose and spreadable (and I’m sure there’s something to be said for the different heating properties of shortening and oil, but eh, I’m writing this post and 4 am in the morning – thank you, insomnia – and don’t really want to dive down a wormhole of googling the properties of different fats. So. Two fats. They work well together. End of bracket).

Now let’s get down to brass tacks! Or quantities, rather.

The original recipe called for equal amounts of flour, oil, and shortening. But whenever do I stick to a recipe? *laughs so hard has to wipe tears from eyes*

So. Modifications are the name of the game. I decided to increase the amount of oil. Just baker’s instinct. I could delve down into why my instincts say that but again, it’s 4 am, so whatevs, I’m going with the flow. Now, let’s get making up some GOOP!

All GOOPed up and ready to go! Yeah, it looks weird. But it really works!

GOOP

(slightly adapted from iambaker.net’s recipe)

  • 1/2 c. flour
  • 1/3 c. oil
  • 1/2 c. shortening

Mix together, until uniformly blended. To use, apply to cake tins with a pastry brush. Let cakes cool in pans 10 minutes before inverting to release cake. Enjoy your non-stick cake!

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As regular blog readers will have gathered, as much as I love vanilla, I’m all about opportunities for chocolate to shine. As such, here is my own humble recipe for CHOCOLATE GOOP! This is better to use instead of regular GOOP when you’re baking a chocolate cake — ESPECIALLY if you’re baking a naked chocolate cake. You don’t want unsightly white GOOP residue messing up your lusciously cocoa-coloured cake sides! No, use my CHOCOLATE GOOP and save that cake!

CHOCOLATE GOOP

(slightly less adapted from iambaker.net’s recipe)

  • 1/4 c. cocoa powder
  • 1/4 c. flour
  • 1/3 c. oil
  • 1/2 c. shortening

Mix all ingredients together until fully blended. To use, apply to cake tins with a pastry brush. Let cakes cool in pans 10 minutes before inverting them to release cake. Enjoy your non-stick cake!

Literally (LITERALLY) slipped out of the pan. Now that’s non-stick!

Next Post: I finally found some food markers (think Crayola, but food-safe) so I’m going to show you all the basics steps to make fancy-pants cookies! I’ll even include a hack to get the glossy, shiny professional icing! Stay tuned, as it’s a-gonna be fun! And tasty. Tasty really is the most important, don’t you think?

And then after that, perhaps I will finally get to posting about Apple Cinnamon Buttermilk Pancakes and the Birth of a Recipe! Because that recipe is super-tasty too!

Linking Up at Meal Plan Monday! And at Full Plate Thursday!

PB & J Smoothie: Super-Healthy Can Also Be Super-Tasty!

Peanut Butter and Jam Smoothie — yum-city!

Every now and then I go on a healthy food/nutrient kick! I mean, I love sugar (witness the number of baked goods on this site), but I also love health and being healthy. So I try to balance out my sugar intake with lots of leafy greens, omega fatty acid oils, and dairy and plant protein. However, my requirement for this is that the resultant recipe has to taste great! And I think I’ve hit it out of the park with this recipe for a PB &  J Smoothie!

Who doesn’t like peanut butter and jam? Obviously, you can substitute in different ingredients like sun butter or almond butter, but the fact remains that if you make and drink this smoothie, you’re getting a meal with a fruit, two different types of vegetables, two different types of protein (dairy and plant), as well as a nice helping of fibre and omega fatty acids. I feel healthier already, just typing that!

Enough with the talking, let’s make the smoothie!

Healthy PB & J in Smoothie Form

  • 1/2 c. yoghurt
  • 3 tbsp. strawberry jam
  • 4 ice cubes
  • 1/2 c. frozen kale
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 2 tbsp. peanut butter
  • 1/4 c. pear juice
  • 1 tbsp. dehydrated powdered broccoli (or greens powder)
  • 1 tbsp. ground flax seed
  • 1 tbsp. psyllium powder
 Blend together, and enjoy! (Yup, it’s that easy!)

Looking healthy and ready to be blended!

Being vegetarian, I need to work a bit harder than my husband to get my daily requirement of protein in, and this smoothie is a big help with that. Plus, the fibre content helps with my IBS issues. (TMI? Eh.) I keep frozen bananas and kale in my freezer as a matter of course, and since I always have some homemade fruit jam in the fridge along with some homemade yoghurt and some peanut butter, this smoothie is super-easy and quick to pull together!

Not into all things strawberry? Check out my antioxidant smoothie recipe! More health in tasty, drinkable form!
Next Post: Apple Cinnamon Pancakes and the Birth of a Recipe

The Purest Ranch Dressing You’ll Ever Make, & Foodie Accomplishment Awards

Plate o’ greens, drizzled with nectar o’ the (ranch) gods!

I generally eat a lot of salad, and while I do like salad, I need to switch up the dressings every now and then or my palate gets bored and craves carbs. I recently mixed up this Ultra-Pure Ranch Salad Dressing, and I love it so, so incredibly much!

What I really love about it, is that I know exactly what went into it — no preservatives, no commercial additives, no artificial colours or flavours, just pure herbs and dairy. Sounds too good to be true? It’s not!

I mixed up my own dry ranch mix using this recipe, made my own mayo using this recipe (WAY easier than you think), and used some of my own homemade yoghurt. The secret ingredient that makes this dressing so good? Buttermilk powder, which I bought at a local bulk store. That, and the lack of anything artificial, is what makes it so tasty! This is as pure a ranch dressing as ever came from a ranch. Or in my case, condo.

Let’s make some up!

Ultra-Pure Ranch Salad Dressing

  • 3 tbsp. dry ranch dressing mix (I used this recipe)
  • 1 c. homemade mayo (I used this recipe, but substituted the olive oil for vegetable oil, because it tastes better)
  • 1 c. homemade yoghurt

Mix the ingredients all together and serve over salad! Your loved ones (and your taste buds) will thank you!

Dip it, dip it good!

This dressing is so good just drizzled over plain lettuce, or even used as a loose dip. I can’t wait to pack it for work lunches so I can have that yummy fresh taste on my lunch break. And it’s all healthy! Doesn’t food taste even better when you know it’s good for you? Yum, yum, yum!

Sometimes I feel like there should be foodie accomplishment awards, like for when you make your first loaf of homemade bread, or as in this case, when you make a recipe out of ingredients that you’ve made yourself! If a foodie accomplishment award existed, what would you award it to yourself for? Let me know in the comments!

Next Post: Speaking of food that’s good for you, I came up with a recipe for a peanut butter & jam smoothie, that’s packed full of protein, fibre, and antioxidants, and tastes EXACTLY like a PB& J sandwich! Stay tuned!

Linking Up at Meal Plan Monday! And at Happiness is Homemade!

Easy Cheesy Spinach Lasagna: Semi-Hidden Nutrition for the Picky Eaters in Your Life

Looks like spinach, tastes like cheese! In other words, perfect for the picky eater in your life.

I made a scalloped potato and broccoli dish earlier this week, and the cheese sauce that the veggies were covered in was so good that I knew I had to make a veggie lasagna with it. And I did!

This iron and protein-rich dish is easy to make, with an ooey-gooey cheesy top and layers of cheesy spinach and pasta, all layered with a garlicky cheese sauce. Mmm…what’s not to love?

Easily pulled together, you can freeze this dish before or after baking, or prep it in advance and then just set it aside to be baked just before dinner (or lunch! Or both, because yum!).

Let’s get to making it, yes?

Mixing up the (3-ingredient) filling!

Easy Cheesy Spinach Lasagna

Pasta

  • 9 lasagna noodles

Cheese Sauce

  • 2 c. aged white cheddar, grated
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 1/2 tbsp. flour
  • 2 1/4 c. milk
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1/2 c. chopped onion
  • 1/3 c. butter

Spinach and Ricotta Filling

  • 1 pkg frozen spinach, defrosted and squeezed (to get rid of excess liquid)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 containers of ricotta cheese

Cook pasta, drain and set aside. While pasta is cooking, mix spinach, ricotta cheese, and eggs together, and set aside.

Make cheese sauce: melt butter and fry onions in the butter until translucent. Add in chopped garlic and fry until fragrant, about two minutes. Add flour, salt, and pepper, stir, and cook for two minutes (to cook the flour). Slowly (and in three separate stages) add in milk. Whisk with each addition of milk. The sauce will be all clumpy at first as it absorbs the milk, but keep whisking and it will smooth out. Once smooth, add in grated cheese, reserving 1 c. of the cheese. Stir until cheese is melted. Set aside.

Now it’s time to layer the lasagna! Spread several large spoons of the cheese sauce in the bottom of a lasagna pan. Layer 3 noodles on top. Top with 1/2 of spinach mixture, 1/3 of cheese sauce, and a sprinkle of grated cheese. Repeat the layers. Then place the final 3 noodles on top, spread the last of the cheese sauce on top of that, and sprinkle all the remaining grated cheese on the very top.

Bake in a 375 degree oven for half an hour, or until the dish is bubbling and the top is golden brown. Serve with a crisp green salad, and enjoy your delicious meal!

Layers of golden crusted cheesy goodness!

To a beginner cook (or even a not so beginner one!), lasagna can be intimidating. But really, it’s rather easy! For this dish, you make the 3-ingredient filling, the cheese sauce, and boil the noodles, and then layer it all up. That’s rather easy, yes? Especially for a hearty, stick-to-your-ribs meal that is great for potlucks, family dinners, or frozen for work lunches!

Next Post: Apple Spice Pancakes and The Birth of A Recipe!

Linking Up at Meal Plan Monday! And at Happiness is Homemade!

Mousse-Filled Chocolate Cupcakes & The Only Buttercream Recipe You’ll Ever Need

Looking bunny-rific! This melt in your mouth buttercream is better than all the superlatives I can type!

I like to find (or develop!) the best recipes for everything that I like to eat. The best pizza dough? Got it. The best apple crumble? Got that too. I even found the always perfect chocolate cake/cupcake recipe, and never stray from it, because it’s just so perfect. And I think the only thing to top a chocolate cake with, is real buttercream!

I love when people try my buttercream icing — they always make happy nom-nom noises. Music to a baker’s heart! Usually I wing my buttercream recipe, as I know the ingredients and am happy to play around with quantities. Also, sometimes — okay most of the time — I can’t be bothered to measure out ingredients and just eyeball it. But for you, dear blog readers, I finally measured the amounts, and came up with…the only buttercream recipe you’ll ever need!

I piped this icing on top of chocolate cupcakes. But before I did that, I used a strawberry huller. Why? Because…

KITCHEN HACK: Use a strawberry huller instead of a cupcake corer — one less item to clutter up your kitchen!

Once I had made a hole in the centre of the cupcakes, I filled it with a mixture of chocolate ganache and whipped cream (essentially a chocolate mousse). Then I piped the buttercream icing on top, and topped the whole thing with a chocolate bunny! The cupcakes were a hit at an Easter dinner that I attended!

Want to make some delicious buttercream yourself, and have your friends and loved ones make happy nom-nom noises? Let’s!

All nestled in pillowy soft buttercream! Yum-city!

THE ONLY BUTTERCREAM RECIPE YOU’LL EVER NEED

  • 2/3 c. butter, softened
  • 2/3 c. shortening
  • 3 1/2 c. icing sugar (add more icing sugar if you like a stiffer icing)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

Whip butter and shortening together until thoroughly mixed. Add in icing sugar and vanilla, and mix until combined. Beat on high for at least 10 minutes. Spoon into piping bag (or spread on a cake with an offset spatula), and enjoy everyone’s happy mouth-gasms!

The shortening is part of what makes the icing so fluffy; the other reason the icing is so fluffeh-licious (what? it’s a word!) is because all the beating adds a lot of air to the icing and makes it pillowy soft (as opposed to super-thick). So don’t skimp on beating the icing! The buttercream will taste delicious no matter how long you mix it for, but it will be extra fluffy and MUCH easier to pipe, the longer you beat it. So *channeling Michael Jackson* BEAT IT, JUST BEAT IT! Sing it with me now, ALL YOU GOTTA DO IS BEAT IT!!!!!

Next Post: Something healthy. Probably. Stay tuned!

Linking Up at Meal Plan Monday! As well as Happiness is Homemade!