Monday, 2 September 2013

My 2 year adventure, week 24: Beef and guinness stew/Black and tan brownies

Week 24:
I finally got my stitches out!!!!!!!!!! Okay, back to the recipes... The stew called for parsnips and turnips and I had never even seen a turnip or a parsnip let alone cooked with them. If you guys are like me, a parsnip looks like a white carrot and a turnip looks like a white beet. The recipe also called for 5 cups of onion. 5 CUPS!!! I successfully chopped 3 cups and then I couldn't stand it anymore. My dad had to do the last to cups because I was tearing up so much. Another strange thing the stew called for is raisins. Nobody ate one so I think they may have disintegrated... The stew took a total of 2 1/2 hours to cook and I burned the bottom of the pot soooo badly but it came off. My family gave the stew a 8/10.
The brownies turned out great they were double layered. The "tan" layer was like a basic cake batter but with brown sugar and pecans. The "black" layer was like a basic brownie mix but with guinness. The recipes seem to be following a trend... My parents gave the brownies a 8.75/10. It was a really good brownie recipe.

See you next time internet! Love Alexa :)    

My 2 year adventure, week 23: Maple-mustard pork chops with winter squash puree

Week 23:
So this is my recovery. My recovery from the awful time I had last week. My stitches were still in when I cooked this so I had to work my way around them. The pork chops were cooked by making a glaze and then while the pork chops are on the b-b-q you slowly brush on the glaze. The chops came out great though a lot lighter than in the original picture. The squash puree was good and very easy but squash is definitely not my favorite so I didn't really enjoy the puree. But I feel that my family was way too harsh in their rating. They gave it a 7.5/10. I would have rated the dish much higher. The pork chops were amazing. I ate two (sorry little bro). Anyway, stitches were really easy to ignore, I mean, it's not like I broke my arm, right?

See you next time internet! Love, Alexa :)   

My 2 year adventure, Week 22: Caramel apple oatmeal cookies/ Apricot ginger bellinis/ Halibut with caper salsa verde and asiago roasted fennel

Week 22:
Instead of doing this entry recipe entry by entry, I'm going to do it in the order I did the dishes. So I started with the caper salsa verde. It was a very simple salsa. Mostly basil with other elements such as the capers and some mustard. Once I finished that I moved on to the cookies. I didn't follow the recipe and I didn't put parchment paper on my pan I greased it instead and when the cookies came out of the oven the caramel had exploded all over the baking sheet and hardened. So I started scrubbing the pan to try and get the caramel off and there was this chunk of caramel that wouldn't come off so I did the stupidest thing imaginable. I took the sharpest knife in the kitchen and tried cutting the caramel off. Of course, the knife slipped and I cut myself. I ended spending two hours in the hospital so that I could get stitches in my finger. Yeah... I'm just glad our sharpest knife if very dull and that I cut my left hand instead of my right. When I got home of course I couldn't cook so I got to boss my dad around and I got him to finish the dishes for me. except I did get to do the bellinis because there wasn't any chopping involved. I didn't get to taste the bellinis but I tasted the apricot syrup before we added wine to it. The halibut dish ended up being a red snapper dish because there was no good halibut available and there wasn't any asiago cheese so I used Gruyere. The bellinis got a 9.5/10, the cookies got 7/10, and the halibut and fennel dish got an 8/10.

See you next time internet! Love, Alexa :)

MY 2 year adventure, week 21: Roast leg of lamb with a chile-garlic sauce/ Mixed cirtus green salad

Week 21:
Okay the lamb dish, once again, like the brown soda bread, I had to buy a giant container of sambal oelek ( a ground chile paste)because I only needed a tablespoon. I made a mistake while cooking my lamb because I didn't let the oven preheat completely before I put the lamb in the oven so the cooking time got all messed up and I had to pull out my thermometer to see the internal temperature. The sauce was great! You could pair it with pretty much anything and it would be delicious. The overall dish was one of the best so far and my family gave it a 9/10.
The salad was fine but the dressing that went with it was really good and really easy to remember. 1/2 cup of orange juice, 1/4 cup of honey, 1/4 cup canola oil, 2 tbsp champagne vinegar (I used white wine vinegar), 1 tsp poppy seeds. Just throw everything in a blender. The salad was okay. I just cracked open a bunch of canned fruit. My family gave it a 8/10.

See you next time internet! Love, Alexa :) 

Monday, 19 August 2013

My 2 year adventure, week 20: blue cheese stuffed chicken with buffalo sauce/ brown soda bread

Week 20:
I can't believe I've been doing this for 20 weeks! So the first recipe was the chicken. My dad was really the one that stuffed the chicken with the blue cheese. Then we dredged it in flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs. The chicken was pretty easy. Then for the buffalo sauce you just need to mix a couple ingredients. The dish itself was really simple but yummy. my family gave it an 8.5.

The brown soda bread was interesting. I had to buy a giant bottle of wheat germ because I only needed a tablespoon... The bread came out okay but there were green bits in it. Everyone was pretty confused. Also, I didn't have a loaf pan so I went to the store and got a brand new loaf pan!!!!!! Any way, my family gave it an 8. 

See you next time internet! Love, Alexa :)  

Thursday, 25 July 2013

My 2 year adventure, week 19: Pear and prosciutto pizza/ Tuscan cake with citrus compote

Week 19:
Do you ever feel like life screws you up in something you love just to test if you'll keep doing it after you messed up so badly? I do. I really feel like life was taking notes to see how I'd react to these barnyard disasters of dishes. The pizza was almost perfect in my opinion, except for one minor detail... I was supposed to top the pizza with baby arugula and I went to the store, completely missed the baby arugula and bought dandelion greens instead. What was I thinking? Those greens were so bitter and nobody ate them. We ended up throwing them all out. This very minor flaw sunk the dish's rating to an 8. Don't even get me started on the cake... I pulled it out the oven and it looked great. Then it sunk, it died, whatever you want to call what happened to it. It sunk, revealing completely uncooked batter and ever after another 15 minutes of baking it was just as raw and we had to eat around the center. The cake itself was pretty good though. The compote... I couldn't eat it because I hate grapefruit and that and oranges were the main ingredients. Great, the fruit I hate and the fruit I'm slightly allergic to. I really do feel like life is laughing at me at times. The cake and compote got a 7. 

See you next time internet! Love, Alexa :)    

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

My 2 year adventure, week 18: Salmon croquettes/ Spanish-style tuna and potato salad

Week 18:
My croquettes went well but once again I bought and un-pin boned fish but to add to that it had the skin on the filet as well. I combined all the ingredients for the croquettes and the dough almost had the texture of ground meat. I made a big mistake though... The recipe says that one of the ingredients in 1/4 cup of mayo, divided. I didn't notice the "divided" part and I put 1/4 of a cup of mayo in instead of 2 tbsp. But that wasn't the mistake. I was able to take the the extra 2 tbsp of mayo out but... I was about to put it in the sauce when my great-aunt said "Hold it! That touched raw fish!!!" I was so lucky that she was there to catch that cause that might not have been the best decision... The croquettes turned out really well though and my family gave them a 9. I think... :) The salad was okay, I guess. I don't know something about the flavor was too much. Maybe the red wine vinegar. My great-aunt was a giant help today with prep. I'm pretty sure my family gave the dish an 8. 

See you next time internet! Love, Alexa :)    

My 2 year adventure, week 17: Roast chicken with balsamic bell peppers and mascarpone mashed potatoes

Week 17:
So this collection of recipes has many opportunities to learn new things and I learned how to roast chicken breasts. It was one of those simple yet delicious dishes. The spice rub was really strong in flavor and I liked it a lot. My brother on the other hand barley even touched his chicken and only ate the peppers and potatoes. That gave me the chance to steal off his plate a bit...The pepper were a very kid-friendly side dish which was nice considering my brother is definitely a kid. The potatoes would have been good if I had mashed them some more. The chunks of potato were kind of big and slightly unpleasant. But overall I really liked the dish but I don't get to vote and it got and 8.3333 if I remember correctly. 

See you next time internet! Love, Alexa :) 

My 2 year adventure, week 16: Chili con carne/ overnight honey-almond multigrain cereal

Week 16: 
My poor prep skills have shown the consequences again... There was a lot of drama surrounding the poblano peppers. It ended up making my dish extremely late to the table. This was a veeeeery meaty, comfort food type dish. Personally when I think of chili, I think beans. Maybe I'm just weird that way but that's what I think and there was no trace of beans in this dish although there was a whole lot of meat, poblano peppers, and tomatoes. I wasn't the biggest fan but my family gave it a 8. Then we move on to the cereal... What a train wreck. *sigh* It was pretty much oats and barley with a couple other things mixed in like honey and cinnamon. Too bad that nobody in my family really like oats and barley mixed together. So ALL of it went to waste. :( More out of pity, I feel, than anything else, my parents gave it a 7.5

See you next time internet! Love, Alexa :)   

My 2 year adventure, week 15: Creamy garlic and seafood soup

Week 15:
To give you guys an idea on how behind I am today is July 24th and I made this on father's day. This was my first time making my own broth completely from scratch.  It had shrimp shells (fished out at the end of course), onion, 18 cloves of garlic, jalapeno peppers, white wine, and water. I think wine smells and tastes as bitter as it gets so once I added in the wine the kitchen just filled with this overwhelming bitter smell which, personally, wasn't pleasant to cook in. Maybe when I'm older I'll appreciate wine more... The seafood was snapper and the shrimp. and I was cutting up the snapper filets and I realized that there were sharp bits in some of them and I realized that I didn't pin bone the fish. So I had to go through every piece of fish to check it. The soup ended up pretty good but... improvable. My family gave it a 8. Happy extremely belated father's day!

See you next time internet! Love, Alexa :)     

Saturday, 6 July 2013

My 2 year adventure, week 14: Pan grilled halibut with chimichurri and charred vegetable rice

Week 14:
Let's start off by saying when I told my parents that I was making charred vegetable rice my mom said "Hopefully this won't end up more charred than you expected". I made the chimichurri and it was really runny... I don't know why but it kind of flooded the fish... The rice was really good but not even close to enough of it and..... I DIDN"T BURN THE VEGETABLES TO A CRISP!!!!!!!!!!!!! They actually turned out slightly charred. But this was a really good dish and my family gave it an 8/10. It was my first time trying to intentionally burn something and it worked!

See you next time internet! Love Alexa :)

My 2 year adventure, week 13: lamb sliders with blue cheese/chocolate-cherry cookies

Week 13:
It's unbelievable how behind I am! It's been over a month since i actually cooked this! Anyway, my mom's friend was having a housewarming party and it was a b-b-q and you were supposed to bring your own meat which was perfect because I didn't even plan it like that. We ended up making like 20 sliders and bringing them to the party and having them as an appetizer for everyone. The patties were pretty simple, just lamb salt and pepper but it went beautifully with the blue cheese and caramelized onions and they were a big hit. My parents gave the sliders a 9/10. I also made chocolate-cherry cookies which were okay. They weren't as good as I expected but still... I can't remember the rating since it was a while back... oops!

See you next time internet! Love, Alexa :) 

Saturday, 8 June 2013

My 2 year adventure, Week 12: Egg, sausage, cheese, and jalapeno breakfast braid/ Fresh mediterranean salad

Week 12:
Okay. Week 12 was two weeks ago and I'm writing about it now... behind, much? So I made two recipes, a salad and a breakfast braid. The salad was Mediterranean inspired but I'm not sure how. There's fennel, tomatoes, olives, red onions, beans and other yummy stuff. If you guys know how this could be Mediterranean inspired, please tell me because I am very confused. The salad was okay, my family liked it but I wasn't really a fan. I think that they gave it 7/10. The braid was so good!!!!! It had sausage, scrambled eggs, cheese, and jalapenos in it. My the recipe called for pizza dough in a can so I went and got some dough and I got it out of the can and I didn't notice that it was rolled up so I decided to roll it out and it just kept springing back... I went back to the store to get more and I was riding my scooter home and I hit a curb and I splatted on the sidewalk. Sadly, when the pizza can hit the ground it burst open... luckly, I was still able to use it. The braid was much better than the salad in my opinion and I think it got 8.5/10.   
See you next time internet! Love, Alexa :)

Thursday, 23 May 2013

My 2 year adventure, week 11: Jerk salmon with a papaya salad

Week 11:
This week was really off, so off in fact, that I forgot to blog about it... oops! So I made jerk salmon, the original recipe called for mackerel but the store didn't have any and the internet says that salmon is a good substitute. What the jerk in jerk salmon is, is a type of paste with a distinct flavor that you rub on the fish. I was kind of upset because  the recipe called for scotch bonnet peppers but I couldn't find any... I just used serrano peppers, but twice as much as the recipe called for. The papaya salad consists of: papaya, bell pepper, jicama, lime juice, and cilantro. I was supposed to julienne the veggies but a butchered them :( They were like french fries. My papaya completely fell apart. The salmon was really good but it didn't go with the salad. On top of everything I cut myself while cutting an onion. The paste was really good. I would smear it on anything. The salad got a 7 1/2 and the fish got 8 1/2. I forgot to mention, my week was so off that I didn't notice that I had two recipes for this week, so I moved it to week 73. We're gonna have to wait a while...

See you next time internet! Love, Alexa :) 

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

My 2 year adventure, week 10: Cheese and shrimp stuffed poblanos

Week 10:
I can't believe that this has been going on for 10 weeks!!!!! To celebrate 10 weeks I made stuffed poblano peppers. The recipe called for chihuahua cheese. NO, not the dog. I couldn't find chihuahua cheese so I just used cheddar. Worked perfectly fine. The way the did the recipe is actually a really cool idea. You make a cheese sauce, mix thing and you take some of it and add chopped shrimp, grilled bell peppers, and a bunch of other good stuff into it. The remaining cheese mix gets turned into a sauce. You need to broil the poblanos and bell peppers but i don't have a broiler so my dad grilled them for me. The weather was overcast when we started, then it started raining... :( We were still able to use the b-b-q despite the rain. It was a really good dish but I didn't really like the poblanos taste and ended up scraping out he filling and just eating the filling on its own. We serve the peppers with rice which was a awesome idea from my dad because those two peppers were not enough for an entire meal. My family gave it an 8. It's a decent score. I'm really exited for double digit weeks!

See you next time internet! Love, Alexa :) 

baking for fun: daffodil cake

You guys probably already guessed this, but this cake does not actually have daffodils in it. It's a way to use up those 12 egg yolks you'd have left over if you did my angel cake recipe. It's a good cake but kind of dry since there aren't any egg whites. Don't eat the two cakes together since the daffodil cake will taste soooooo dry. Anyway, here's the recipe:
12 egg yolks
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup boiling water
1 1/2 cups sifted cake flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp lemon flavor

Beat the egg yolks until thick and lemon colored. Make almost a yolk meringue by adding the sugar a little bit at a time. It won't puff up like normal meringue but it's almost the same technique. Add the boiling water and beat for 30 seconds. Gradually sift in the dry ingredients, then add the flavorings. For the lemon flavor I just used lemon juice and it seemed to work fine. Beat it all together for about 5 minutes. Bake in an ungreased 10-inch bunt pan in a 350 oven. The recipe says for an hour but I checked on the cake with 10 minutes left and it was almost burned. I would recommend starting with 40 minutes then adding time as needed. See the angel cake for cooling. Serve with fresh fruit. 

See you next time internet! Love, Alexa :)         

Saturday, 11 May 2013

baking for fun: Coconut angel cake

OMG!!!! I'm back! It's been such a long time! For mother's day I decided to make a coconut angel cake using my new bunt pan. A bit of it came off while I was taking the cake out of the pan and it was really good. What I'm going to do is give you guys the basic angel cake recipe then tell you how you can add stuff to the cake. Also, you've been warned, if you don't like sifting, don't do this cake. Here's the angel cake recipe:
1 cup cake flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups cold egg whites (about 12 large egg whites)
1 tbsp water
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp almond extract (optional)

Sift the flour, 3/4 cup sugar, and salt into a bowl 3 times. Set aside. In a large bowl beat together the egg, water, lemon juice, cream of tartar, and extracts on low speed for 1 minute. Increase the speed to medium and beat until the mix increases in volume 4 1/2 to 5 times and looks like foam. This takes between 1 1/2 and 3 minutes. Gradually beat in the remaining sugar one tablespoon at a time, taking 2 to 3 minutes. When all the sugar has been added keep beating until the mix is glossy white a has soft peaks when the beaters are lifted. Sift about one eight of the flour mix on top of the egg mix then fold in until the flour is almost incorporated. Repeat with the other 7 eighths of the flour mix. Keep on folding the last addition of flour until no traces of flour remain. Bake in an ungreased 9 or 10 inch bunt pan at 350 for 35 to 40 minutes. Cool for 1 1/2 hours.     
                      How to cool an angel cake
Now for the variations:
Spiced angel cake: add 1 tsp ground cinnamon, 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg, and 1/4 tsp ground cloves into the flour mix. Sift in with the sugar and salt. Frost with a coffee frosting.

Coffee flecked or flavored angel cake: Crush 3 tbsp of freeze-dried coffee with a rolling pin. sprinkle on top of angel cake once all the flour has been mixed in. Fold in gently. If you want a more consistent replace the water for 3 tbsp of cold extra-strong coffee. Frost with chocolate icing. 

Candy angel cake: Crush with a rolling pin enough candy to make 1/3 cup. Fold into the batter with the last addition of flour. Frost with a vanilla frosting to which you can add more crushed candy. 

Coconut angel cake: Fold 1/2 cup of shredded sweetened dried coconut to the batter with the last addition of flour. Frost with whipped cream and sprinkle on more shredded coconut.

Lemon or orange angel cake: Take out the almond extract and add in 1 tsp of lemon or orange extract. Stir 1 tsp of lemon zest or 2 tbsp of orange zest into the flour mix. Frost with lemon or orange frosting.

Cocoa angel cake: Take out 1/2 of cake flour and put in 1/2 cup of coca powder. Don't frost.

Nutty angel cake: Fold 3/4 cup of finely ground nuts into the regular or cocoa angel cake. 

Extra-chocolate angel cake: Finely chop 1 to 2 oz of semisweet or bittersweet chocolate and fold into the batter of either the regular or cocoa angel cake. Serve with whipped cream.  

Marble angel cake: Prepare the regular AND cocoa angel cake alternate the batters in the end. Note: this makes 2 cakes. 

WOW! That was a long entry. Happy mother's day guys! 

See you next time internet! Love, Alexa :)  


Sunday, 28 April 2013

baking for fun: dairy-free chocolate cake (vegan)

A week or so ago, I made this cake and today I made it again. This is a really good, moist cake and if any of you are vegan you can eat this too. It's super easy and quick. Here's the recipe:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup plus 2 tbsp sugar
6 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
1 cup cold water
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tbsp white vinegar
2 tsp vanilla
Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt into a large bowl. Combine the remaining ingredients in a small bowl. Combine the two mixes and stir until smooth. Pour the batter into a greased 8x8 inch pan and put into a 350 oven for 25-30 minutes. From experience, I would lean more towards the 30 minutes. And that's it! It's really that easy. Once the cake has cooled dust it with powdered sugar or frost with a vanilla or chocolate butter-cream. 

See you next time internet! Love, Alexa :)  

Monday, 22 April 2013

My 2 year adventure, Week 9: Poutine

Week 9:
This week was poutine!!!!!!!!!!!! When I went to Quebec a couple months ago I was so sad that I didn't eat any poutine. for those of you who don't know, poutine is fries with gravy and cheese curds. I found the cheese curds in a store after calling a couple other stores and being unsuccessful in my search. The recipe said that we needed to oven roast the fries instead of deep-frying them. As a result, the fries weren't as crispy as I would have liked. The gravy tasted just like the gravy that I had on my poutine when I went to Quebec a few years ago! The curds were really good, but I didn't really contribute to that ;) I made a mistake though. I over-salted the dish.Overall, my family gave the dish an 8. Definitely a dish that I want to repeat so that I can correct myself. 

See you next time internet! Love, Alexa :)  

Sunday, 14 April 2013

My 2 year adventure, week 8: halibut fish tacos with mango salsa

Week 8:
Deep frying. Something that occurs in fast-food restaurants and makes your food greasy... I never thought that I would be deep frying food at home. Today I did though. I deep fried halibut... one of the most delicate and expensive fishes. We got such nice filets it was almost a shame to fry them. I was lucky, I was entering the store today and the was this giant sign that said SALE ON HALIBUT. Perfect day to buy halibut filets. I had a dilemma at the store because after my 2 banana disasters, I was skeptical on picking out fresh fruit. I picked out four mangoes and I showed them to my dad and he took them back and switched them out for better ones. *sigh*. I made the mango salsa and it was amazing! It was a little spicy, but good. The batter was super simple. Flour, beer, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. We actually had recently got a instant thermometer as a gift and we decided to test it out. It seemed to work so we tried to mess with it. We stuck it the oil then ran it under cold water then back into the hot oil and saw how long it would take for the thermometer to get to the proper heat ;) We fried the fish and it was soooooo good! There was not much excess grease and it was slightly crispy and when it was eaten in corn tortillas with the salsa it was amazing. My family gave it a 8.6. That's how my deep frying experience went. Now how do I get rid of the oil...?

See you next time internet! Love, Alexa :)


Saturday, 13 April 2013

baking for fun: banana sour cream cupcakes

I decided to make these cupcakes because we had bananas and almost expired sour cream at home so I made banana sour cream cupcakes. I had a horrible experience with bananas in the banana brown betty and I was determined to redeem myself. Sorry to say, I did not. I think there's something wrong with me. I can't tell if fresh food is ripe or not. I'll pick the greenest fruit and vegetables imaginable. It's unreal. Anyway, enough about my banana drama, here's the recipe:
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup self rising or 1/2 cup all-purpose flour and 3/4 tsp baking powder 
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt
1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened 
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar or 1/2 cup white sugar and 1 1/2 tbsp molasses
2 large eggs
1/3 cup sour cream
2 medium OVERRIPE bananas, peeled and mashed plus 12 thin slices of banana
WOW! Some long ingredient descriptions! Combine the flours (or flour and baking powder), baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon, and salt in a small bowl. Beat the butter and sugar in a medium bowl until creamy (if using the white sugar and molasses, beat them together first then add the butter). Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each egg. Alternate adding the flour mix and sour cream, beating after each addition. Stir in the mashed banana by hand. Fill your muffin tin cups about 3/4 full and top each cupcake with a slice of banana. Bake at 325 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let cool and eat!
Super simple and super delicious(?). I can't really say because of those dang green bananas! I would normally avoid fresh food for a while after this but My 2 year adventure tomorrow recipe is FULL of fresh produce. *sigh*. lol

See you next time internet! Love, Alexa :)         

Monday, 8 April 2013

My 2 year adventure, week 7: Quick and easy chicken soup

Week 7:
First of all, I'd like to apologize for not posting my 2 year adventures. I went away for spring break so I couldn't really be doing my blog without my recipes. I made chicken noodle soup today. My mom came home from work today and she said "would you like pizza?" I said "no. I'm making soup." she said "great! how long have you had the stock on for?" I was really confused. I was like, "what stock?" My mom was pretty surprised that I didn't know what she was talking about. I said "I'm just using chicken broth..." My mom exclaimed "What's the point!" Apparently, my mom thinks that the whole point of making soup is making the stock from scratch. I didn't have time for that. I had a bit of a disaster. I got this food chopper for my birthday and I decided to test it out. I put carrot under the blades and started pushing down on the button to chop the carrot. Firstly, the pieces were uneven and secondly, they were so small. Thank goodness I had another carrot in the fridge. The chopper would be great for jalapeno peppers or something that you need to mince, but for soup? not really. In one of my previous entries I mentioned that my goal is to use a new ingredient or learn a new technique each time. Today I learned how to roast chicken. Yummmmmm! The soup was really good and my parents gave it a 7.5. I totally forgot about a picture though. Dang it!

See you next time internet! Love, Alexa :)

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Baking for fun: Banana brown betty

My mom had a friend over and she asked me to make a dessert and I decided to make a banana brown betty. Super simple and easy. 
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup sugar 
6 tbsp butter, melted
4 firm ripe bananas (make sure they are ripe and NOT green)
1 1/2 cups milk    
1/2 vanilla bean, split or 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tbsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
Stir together the graham cracker crumbs, 1/4 cup sugar, and the butter. Peel and cut the bananas into 1/2 inch slices and set them aside. Bring the milk and the vanilla bean, if using, to a simmer (if using extract, just wait). While the milk heats, beat the remaining sugar, egg, flour, cornstarch, and salt in a medium bowl until thick and pale yellow. Remove the vanilla bean if using. Gradually whisk half the milk into the egg mix, then whisk the new egg mix into the remaining milk. Cook, whisking constantly, over medium heat until the center bubbles and the mixture had thickened. Remove from the heat and whisk to cool for 1 minute (add vanilla extract if using). Fold the bananas into the hot custard. Gently press half the crumb mix into an 8 by 8 inch pan, 9 inch pie pan or 10 by 6 inch oblong glass baking dish. Then spoon the custard on top and cover the custard evenly with the remaining crumbs. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes. Cool for 20 minutes before serving. Serve with vanilla ice cream. I had a bit of a disaster because one banana was green so you were eating this great dessert and all of a sudden you'd get this dry, green banana and it was pretty awful. But like I said, great easy dish. 

See you next time internet! Love, Alexa :)    

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

baking for fun: pasta

Pasta. I know, I know, you don't really bake pasta but it wasn't part of my 2 year adventure so I put it under baking for fun. The reason I'm making pasta is because I'm about to start a project on international cuisine so I have book all over the place and one of them happened to be: The encyclopedia of Italian cooking. I've been wanting to make pasta for a while but I didn't have a recipe or the machine. When I saw the recipe for pasta, I said "BOOM! I'll make ravioli. You don't need a machine to cut the pasta and there's a recipe." I was looking for a good filling and I came across how to cut pasta WITHOUT a machine. I was so happy. So today for lunch, I made some pasta. Here's how you make pasta:
1 cup flour per serving
1 egg per serving

What you do is you put the flour on a surface and you mound it up and make a well in the center big enough for the egg(s) to fit in. Then crack the correct amount of eggs into the well. Take a fork and start breaking up the egg yolk(s). Then, mix the yolk(s) with the white(s). As you're mixing the egg(s), slowly start pushing the flour into the egg(s). Once you've pushed in all or mot of the flour you should end up with a crumbly dough. Start to knead the dough. Once you've kneaded your dough into a ball cover it and leave it for 30 minutes. I covered mine with an inverted bowl. After the 30 minutes have passed, roll out your dough as thin as possible. Fold the dough in half, then in half again. With a very sharp knife, cut the short way and make each strip about 1/4 of an inch wide. Unfold and separate your pasta. Put the pasta in boiling salted water for 5-7 minutes, depending on how thin you rolled your dough. When your pasta is finished drain and wash it. Then heat up some tomato sauce (homemade or canned, whichever you prefer) and toss the pasta in the sauce. Top with cheese if you like and serve. I know it sounds hard and the hardest past is definitely making the dough but the end result is soooo worth the effort.

See you next time internet! Lover, Alexa :)     

Monday, 18 March 2013

My 2 year adventure, week 6: Beef and Pinto Bean Chili

Week 6:
Yesterday I made beef and pinto bean chili. My mom LOVES pinto beans so this recipe was great! For this dish my dad did all the prep and I just cooked the dish. There always has to be something new you cook with or a new technique you learn and this time, it was a new ingredient. The ingredient I cooked with for the first time ever was.... beer. Yep. A 13 year old put beer in her stew. Most of you are probably like "Putting beer in things is completely normal!!!!" and it is. But to me, this was so different. This was the dish that took the longest so far because it had to simmer for 1 1/2 hours. We ended up eating lunch at 2 when we were meant to eat at 1. I gave the list of groceries to my dad and I forgot the pinto beans. Because of this, I had to run to the store to get some. The dish was great, my family loved it, it got an even higher ranking than last weeks dish. My family gave it...........9.7 yep. I'm happy. I'm missing next week because I'm going away for spring break, but I'll be back soon!

See you next time internet! Love, Alexa :)   

baking for fun: white cake

I made a white cake as the base for my St. Patrick's day mint chocolate-chip cake but this is a great white cake recipe for any cake. The recipe is originally for five 8 inch layers but I made three 9 inch and it was perfect. Here's the recipe:
28 tbsp of butter (3 1/2 sticks)
6 1/2 cups of cake flour
3 tbsp baking powder
2 1/4 cups whole milk
2 tbsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cup sugar 
10 large egg whites 

Preheat oven to 350. Line your pan(s) with parchment paper. Sift flour, baking powder, and 1/2 tsp of salt into a large bowl. Combine milk and vanilla. Beat butter with a mixer on medium speed until smooth. Gradually add the sugar to the butter. Beat until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes). Reduce speed to low and add the flour in three additions, alternating with the milk mixture, beginning and ending with flour. Beat until just combined, do not over mix. If you are putting in any add-ins then do that now. Beat the egg whites in a clean bowl on medium speed until stiff (but not dry) peaks form (about 3 minutes). Gently fold the egg-white mixture into the batter in 3 additions. Divide the layers and bake for 18-20 or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. Let it cool completely, then using a offset spatula or a knife loosen the edges and turn the cake out onto a plate, wire rack or even a baking sheet. Trim the domes that have formed on the cakes to make the cake even. Spread with whatever icing you like!

See you next time internet! Love, Alexa :)                

Sunday, 17 March 2013

baking for fun: St. Patrick's day mint chocolate-chip cake

For St.Patrick's day I decided to make a mint chocolate-chip cake. I really liked the images on the website I found the cake on because when the cake isn't cut, I looks like a chocolate dream. But the inside... Is a bright and vibrant green. Here's the recipe:
1 recipe white layer cake (use whatever you want)
2 1/2 cups chocolate chips
1 1/2 tsp mint extract 
Green food coloring 
20 tbsp (2 1/2 sticks) butter, cut into pieces and sofened 
8 oz bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp salt
2 cups icing sugar

Everything after the food coloring is for the chocolate icing. You can use whatever icing you want but this chocolate icing was amazing! Anyway, this is how you make it. Make your white cake batter then add in 1 cup of chocolate chips, the mint extract, and the food coloring. Mix it up and bake it in three 8 or 9 inch pans at 350 for 20-25 minutes. I used 9 inch. Cool the cake completely (about one hour). For the icing beat all the ingredients other than the icing sugar on medium-high speed until the ingredients are combined. Reduce the speed to medium-low and gradually add the icing sugar. Beat the icing on high speed until it's light and fluffy (3-5 minutes). Ice the cake with about 3/4 of a cup of icing between each layer. Use the remaining chocolate-chips to press onto the cake. And you're done!

See you next time internet! Love, Alexa :)             

Saturday, 16 March 2013

baking for fun: modeling chocolate

I am going to make a cake and I wanted to make modeling chocolate figures to go on top. The recipe for the modeling chocolate is as follows:
14 oz of white chocolate 
1/3 cup of light corn syrup 
And that's all the ingredients!
What you do is that you melt the chocolate then swirl in the corn syrup until the mix gets the consistency of taffy. Then, place the mixture between two sheets of wax paper then roll it out until you have a sheet of 1/4 inch thick. Let it set for two hours and you're done! Add color as desired. To use work in your hands until it gets the consistency of clay. Pretty easy. I'm not the best sculptor so my creations weren't the best... But anyway, the modeling chocolate actually worked really worked. 

See you next time internet! Love, Alexa :) 

Sunday, 10 March 2013

baking for fun: lemon meringue pie

So yesterday I decided to make a lemon meringue pie. I've made lemon meringue pies before, it was a pie I was familiar with, It actually pretty easy. I was also really psyched because my dad got me a lemon juicer and and egg separator for international women's day. I did the crust. Not good. Lumpy, uneven,and just BAD in general. I did the filling. Good, but I forgot the lemon zest. I started to make my meringue. DISASTER. I have no clue what went wrong. It was just NOT working. I tried adding extra cream of tartar, that didn't work... I was literally at the mixer for 15 minutes, trying to get this meringue to work. I ended up throwing a bit of a tantrum because the the other times I had attempted this pie it was beautiful, it was perfect, and it was pure bliss. I not going to give you guy the recipe this time (because I'm really mad at it) but if I decide to make this pie again AND it works, then I'll post the recipe. 
                                         What my pie was supposed to look like

                     What my pie looked like

See you next time internet! Love, Alexa :)

My 2 year adventure, week 5: Chocolate cappuccino/Greek inpired chicken and barley salad

Week 5:
Today was my first drink. This morning my dad and I made my mom a chocolate cappuccino. Yummmm...? I personally am not a fan of coffee and my dad only drinks decaf so only my mom tried it. I learned how to use our coffee machine and I learned how to scald milk. The end product looked pretty good with a nice dust of cinnamon on top. My mom gave the drink a 8/10. 

Once again, I was all alone... My parents went to look for some houses while I made dinner. The came home in time for my dad to help me with frying the chicken. The "Greek inspired" pretty much means there are kalamata olives and feta cheese in the salad. I think that this dish was probably the best one yet because my family gave it the highest rating yet. Personally, I love barley and I would have LOVED the dish, except that when I was making the dressing, I added in my garlic then stirred my sauce and realized... the "minced" garlic was HUGE! I couldn't really take it out of the dressing so i was trying to crush the garlic in the bowl with a fork... but I was pretty proud of my dressing because it had thyme in it. Now this might not seem like a big deal but for those of you who don't know what thyme is, here it is:
Now, if you are using this herb, you can't use the stems. All you can use are those tiny  leaves. This was a problem because I needed a full teaspoon of the leaves and theses leaves are the size of a grain of rice... and you have to pick them off the stems... ANYWAY, it took forever to get that part done. So remember how I mentioned that this dish had the highest ranking so far... Well, my family gave the dish a 9/10 (I really hope that that's the highest score so far so that I don't look stupid). Overall, Greek inspired chicken and barley salad, pretty good experience. 

See you next time internet! Love, Alexa :)

Saturday, 9 March 2013

My 2 year adventure, week 4: Chipotle Bean Burritos

Week 4: 
A couple days ago I made chipotle bean burritos. I'm saying a few days ago because my internet was down so I couldn't post anything on my blog. This was the first recipe from my 2 year adventure that I have made on my own. This lead to a couple problems. Problem #1: the avacado I picked to make guacamole was under-ripe making for a very chunky guacamole. Problem #2: I butchered my tomatoes. All the pieces were different sizes and it was pretty bad. Problem #3: I was going to add 1/2 the amount of chili powder (since my great-aunt doesn't like spicy food), but in the end I added 1/4 witch made the beans very bland. The dish was pretty simple. My family gave it 7/10. I have a question for you guys: I put this recipe under fruits and vegetables but what would you put it under? Here are the options: appetizers, eggs/dairy, seafood, meat, poultry, soups/salads, vegetables/fruits, sauces/dressing/gravies, breads/grains/pastas, microwave recipes, and desserts. I'm really not sure how bean burritos fit under fruits and vegetables but that seemed like the only thing that fit. If you guys have a different opinion please tell me. By the way, the dish was vegetarian. 

See you next time internet! Love, Alexa :)  

Sunday, 24 February 2013

My 2 year adventure, week 3: Baked vegetable lasagna

Week 3:
I had to skip a week! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! But that's OK because I was in Quebec for my schools Quebec exchange. But I'm back now! Today I made lasagna with my dad. Step one: Cook the pasta. That went well. Step two: Make the sauce. That consists of onions, garlic, salt, sugar, black pepper, crushed tomatoes, basil, and oregano. It was a really good sauce! My only concern was that we might of heated the saucepan too much and evaporated some of the sauce because there wasn't very much in the end. Step three: Make the tofu layer. Normally, this would be a meat layer, but because this is a vegetarian dish, the recipe called for tofu. The tofu layer had tofu (duh!), Parmesan cheese, ricotta cheese, one egg, and salt. My dad handled that part and it was great. Step four is were it went all wrong. Step four: Make the vegetable layer. Now this was a really easy step. You cut up bell peppers and zucchini then add salt and saute it. What could possibly go wrong????? Well, I cut up my bell peppers and I cut up my zucchini. I was taking the zucchini off the knife by sliding my finger across the side of the knife and disaster struck. I cut myself. Pretty badly. Needless to say, my dad had to finish the dish himself. The dish in the end was great and my family gave it a 8 out of 10. Today I learned a lot of knifing techniques from my dad today (before I cut myself). Overall, a nice dish to eat with your family.

See you next time internet! Love, Alexa :)  

Monday, 11 February 2013

baking for fun: Cake decorating

For my birthday, my parents gave me a spot in a 2-hour cake decorating course. It was at a really good cupcake bakery and I was really happy. I got there and the first thing I realized was that I was sooooo much younger than everyone else. Then I realized that there was only one boy there and he was there with his girlfriend. We came in and there were 8 stations. Each station had one turntable, an apron, 2 spatulas, 1 wet towel, 1 PVC pipe, 1 rolling pin, and one cutting/smoothing tool. We put our aprons on and got to work. We went to another table and there were 18 cakes. 6 vanilla, 6 chocolate, and 6 red velvet. We were making double layered cakes. Everyone wanted red velvet. All 6 girls/women got one layer of red velvet and one layer of chocolate. The poor guy, who was busy, got two layers of vanilla. We started by filling and stacking our cakes. I took FOREVER! I was trying to smooth the icing out with my smoothing tool, but I just kept scraping cake away with the icing... So I finally got my cake in the fridge and we start working with fondant. I'we never worked with fondant so I had no clue what to expect. I wanted to cover my cake in purple, but the purple they had was really dull. I ended up mixing purple with hot pink and white to get a really vibrant purple. I got my cake covered and we started decorating. I did my cake with circles in fondant around the sides and I wanted to do swirls on the top. BAD IDEA. I've never piped elaborate details, only swirls on a cupcake, so my swirls really sucked. I scraped them off but there was this giant smear of white icing on-top of my cake :( I decided to try to hide it by piping circles made from stars on-top. It looked great. Until the stars stared to melt and blob... *sigh*... Overall the sides looked 10 times better than the top but I learned a lot today and I had a really great experience. Thanks mom and dad!

See you next time internet! Love Alexa :)   

Saturday, 9 February 2013

My 2 year adventure, week 2: Fettuccine alfredo with bacon/upside-down fudge-almond tart

Week 2:
So, I'm already at week 2. The first thing my dad and I made was fettuccine alfredo with bacon. Yes, I said BACON. You needed four pieces of bacon for the recipe. So, my dad and I thought why should we buy crappy bacon at the store that we need only four pieces of? Instead, we went to our local market with organic and locally grown/produced food. We bought 4 nice pieces of bacon. Yum... We also decided to buy handmade fresh fettuccine there instead of buying it at the store. We kind of wrecked the recipe though. WE FORGOT TO WASH THE PASTA AFTER COOKING IT! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!! It became sticky, but still, delicious. 
Fettuccine Alfredo w/ Bacon

Next my dad made his 2nd dessert ever. An upside-down fudge-almond tart. It tasted like luscious brownie with nuts on top. I used a new ingredient. Golden cane syrup. At first I thought the recipe said golden corn syrup, but no. Golden cane syrup is pretty much liquid sugar. Yay? 

Upside-down Fudge-Almond Tart

My parents rated the pasta 7/10 (mainly 'cause of sticky pasta) and the tart 8/10. 

See you next time internet! Love, Alexa :)  

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Baking for fun: Biscotti

Today I took on the task of making biscotti. A difficult task because I was in charge of watching my little brother at the same time.... I succeeded in making the dough and getting it into the oven. While the dough was in the oven, I decided to make myself a drink from the leftover lemon and orange. I cut the orange open and.... it was RED!!!!!!! I realized that I had used a blood orange instead of a regular orange. I spent the next 5-10 minutes googleing "Does blood orange zest taste different that orange zest?" most results actually stated that blood orange zest is sweeter. Hope I did the recipe a favor... anyway, here's the recipe:
  • 3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup corn or canola oil
  • 1 1/4 cups white sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 tsp finely grated orange zest
  • 1 tsp anise extract or almond extract 
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Set aside. In a large bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients and beat them on medium speed until combined. Gradually add the flour mix to the egg mix until it forms a dough. Make the dough into a log and divide it into 12 equal pieces. Place the pieces on a greased cookies sheet and bake them for 25 minutes in a 375 degree oven. Once the logs are baked, slice each one into 3 slices. Then........EAT!!!! They smelt heavenly. As I was cutting them, the lovely smell of orange and almond filled the kitchen. It actually tasted like biscotti! I was sooooo happy :)It's a very nice recipe and worth making!

See you next time internet! Love, Alexa :)