Saturday, December 31, 2011

Saying Goodbye to the Holidays and 2011

Well Happy Holidays everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful time with your family and friends and enjoyed however long of a break you had. I took a few days off from posting because I figured you would all be so tired of seeing my posts after 12 straight days of blogging about Christmas treats. I actually thought that it would be nice taking a break from the blog, but truthfully I missed it like crazy!
But instead of posting about what I've been eating lately, I took this time to create a FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) page as well as a recipe page! To see how they look, just look up towards the top of the page just below the header and you'll see the tabs that lead you to the newly created pages.
I also took some pictures during my family's Christmas gathering. Here are the appetizers.
Thank you very much to my aunt who provided the vegetables and dip. If you would like the recipes for the appetizers I brought,  you can find them on the recipe page or just click here for the deviled egg recipe and here for the hummus recipe. The cheese ball, sadly, is my mother's precious secret recipe, so it will probably take a while for me to convince her to let me post the recipe. : (
For the main meal there were a lot of things for me to eat even though I did have any of the three different kinds of meat that were served.
(clockwise) Tomatoes, delicious stuffing casserole that I brought, mashed potatoes and gravy, delicious pickles made by my cousin's grandmother, honey glazed carrots (recipe coming soon!) and my uncle's famous mashed turnip. Yeah, that turnip is pretty amazing. Some of us even eat it for breakfast.
When my mother and I got home after the celebration, we stayed up late waiting for Santa while watching christmas movies and roasting marshmallows over a fire.
And here are some of the food related gifts I received this year.
This measuring spoon is really cool. All you have to do is pop the spoon to the other side and suddenly it goes from holding 1 tbsp to 1/2 tbsp!
I decided not to post any pictures of the desserts I ate for Christmas because all the recipes were posted during my 12 Days of Christmas Treats series leading up to the 25th. If you missed a day, here are the links,
Day 1: Double Chocolate Chip Cookies
Day 2: Double Chocolate Banana Loaf 
Day 3: Marshmallow Graham Squares
Day 4: Chocolate Caramel Puff Wheat
Day 5: Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups
Day 6: Classic Shortbread Cookies
Day 7: Soft Gingersnaps
Day 8: 10 Minute Butter Tarts
Day 9: Pretzel, Hershey Kiss and m&m combo
Day 10: Double Layer "Easy Fudge"
Day 11: Gluten Free Brownies
Day 12: Chocolate Covered Cherries

Again, I hope everyone enjoyed their holidays immensly. I'm really not excited to be going back to school this week, but I guess it had to happen eventually.
I know I'm a few hours early, but Happy New Year!
Pin It

Sunday, December 25, 2011

12 Days of Christmas Treats, Day 12: Chocolate Covered Cherries

And who would have thought a Christmas treat could be this simple? Chocolate covered cherries! They're so easy to make, so delicious, and often the first thing to leave the dessert table. Unlike chocolate covered strawberries that people make regularly, chocolate covered cherries seems to be a special dessert that only comes out during the holidays.
Even though I don't think you folks need a list of ingredients, I'll give one to you anyways, since it's the holidays and all. Merry Christmas!

Chocolate Covered Cherries
-Chocolate
-Maraschino cherries (with the stems)
*white chocolate for drizzling is optional

Simply melt the chocolate, dip the cherries into the chocolate, and then place the cherries onto a sheet of wax paper. Then pop them into the fridge for about 30 minutes to harden.
Normally I leave my chocolate covered cherries plain, however, I had some left over white chocolate chips after making the double layer easy fudge, and thought drizzling some white chocolate would make the cherries look fancier.
Merry Christmas!
Pin It

Saturday, December 24, 2011

12 Days of Christmas Treats, Day 11: Gluten Free Brownies

So making these brownies was a must. It's something I bring to almost every family gathering because it is one of the few gluten free recipes I know that everyone enjoys and comes out perfect every time. The ingredients are really simple, and so are the instructions, the only bad thing about this recipe is that it requires a lot of patience. Because this is a gluten free recipe and these brownies are made using rice flour, they're a lot less stable and need a few hours to become more firm before you can cut them. For best results, make them the day before you plan to serve them and leave the pan in the fridge over night, then ice and cut them the next day.
The recipe is the same as when I first posted it when I had just started this blog. Perhaps in the future I will find some way to make these brownies better, but at the moment they already seem so perfect.

Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Brownies
¾ cup of gluten free flour (almond and sweet rice combo, or just rice flour)
1 cup brown sugar
5 tablespoons cocoa
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup melted butter
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup of chocolate chips (can be replaced with walnuts or pecans)

Instructions
Mix melted butter, eggs, and vanilla extract together. Add to the dry ingredients and mix until the batter is consistent. Then add the chocolate chips.
Lightly grease an 8x8 inch pan (or use a piece of parchment paper like I did this time). Spread the batter in the pan evenly. Bake for 20-25 minutes at 350°F. Place the pan in the centre of the oven on the middle rack so the bottom doesn’t burn.
After 20 minutes, use a toothpick to check and make sure the brownie is fully cooked.
Remove the pan from the oven and place on a cooling rack. Make sure you serve these brownies at room temperature. 

Tip: Do not try to remove the brownie from the pan all at once. Because the brownie is gluten free, it is much less stable and will crumble easily. Instead, let it cool down completely for a few hours. Then cut pieces of the brownie from the pan. If you use a parchment paper, let the brownie sit for at least an hour before removing it all at once. 

The added icing on top is just an extra thing that makes the brownies look better, so if you don't have any, don't worry about it. 
I really love these brownies and I hope you give these a try even if you don't have anyone with gluten allergies in your family.
Pin It

Friday, December 23, 2011

12 Days of Christmas Treats, Day 10: Double Layer "Easy Fudge"

So a few weeks ago while I was still studying for my exams, I read this post from How Sweet It Is, an amazing blog filled with lots of sweet recipes. At the time I was unable to make this recipe due to my schedule, but I vowed that someday I would make it. So today I did just that. 
Truthfully, the whole process took a lot longer than I expected and was actually a little more complicated than I thought. The process of making the two layers and the hardening in between, along with my first experience toasting coconut, made this recipe more than just a simple pan of fudgy chocolate whipped up in just of few minutes. It was a labour of love.

Double Layer "Easy Fudge" with Coconut and Coffee [source]
-2 cups dark chocolate chips
-2 cups white chocolate chips
-1 can of sweetened condensed milk
-1+1/2 tbs instant coffee
-2 tsp vanilla extract (the white "coconut"layer calls for coconut extract, but I didn't have any)
-1 tbs coconut oil
-1/2 cup flaked coconut

Heat a frying pan on medium high and slowly toast the coconut, stirring with a wooden spoon.
Melt the chocolate and add half the can of sweetened condensed milk, the instant coffee, 1/2 tbs of coconut oil, and 1 tsp of vanilla.
The mixture will get very thick. Then spread it evenly into a pan and pop it into the freezer for 30 minutes.
Now do the same for the white layer. The white chocolate chips can sometimes be hard to find. I had to buy these at the bulk food store. 
First melt the chocolate, then stir in the rest of the sweetened condensed milk, 1/2 tbs of coconut oil, and 1 tsp of vanilla extract (use coconut extract if you have any).
Now evenly coat the top of the white chocolate with the toasted coconut, then put the pan into the fridge to harden for 30 minutes. Remember that when you bring the pan out of the freezer to put on the white layer, let the dark chocolate warm up a bit so that there is no condensation. I didn't know that, so in some places my two layers didn't stay stuck together.
Then cut and serve. Please note, the piece I cut was WAY too big. This fudge is really sweet and chocolatey, so in the end I cut the fudge into pieces 1/4 of the size of the square above.
This fudge is really good and is the perfect thing to eat when you are too full to eat a lot of sweets because just one piece will satisfy your sweet tooth. I can see myself making different versions of this fudge in the future using a combination of chocolate chips and peanut butter chips, and adding things in like chopped nuts. Now that I know that sweetened condensed milk added to chocolate can result in a fudge like texture, the possibilities are endless!
Pin It

Thursday, December 22, 2011

12 Days of Christmas Treats, Day 9: Pretzel, Hershey Kiss, m&m Combo

So today I made something really simple. I really needed to make something that didn't require a lot of work, and something that I could make either a lot of or very little of. Well, Laurie from Simply Scratch posted a simple recipe on how to make a delicious looking pretzel, hershey kiss, m&m combination. Perfect! All I needed to do was line them up, heat for a few minutes, let cool, and then devour!  Plus, it meant I could buy as much or as little as I wanted. So after so many days of baking treats, I decided to stick to a dozen of each ingredient. Unfortunately that left me with nothing left over to re-do the recipe if I failed...which I did. 

Pretzel, Hershey Kiss, m&m Combo [source]
-12 Pretzels
-12 Hershey Kisses
-12 Dark chocolate m&ms

So the instructions are simple. Line up the pretzels on a cookie sheet. Put the hershey kisses on top of the pretzels. Baked in the oven for 3 minutes at 350 degrees. Perhaps my oven is a little hot, because I think 2 minutes would have been better and would have stopped the kisses from dying. Now I know to check inside the oven after the first minute and a half, because when I took these out, I did not have the beautiful chocolate kisses that I saw at Simply Scratch. : (
On top of that, when I squished the m&ms into the chocolate, things went from bad to worse.
The photo above is what I was hoping for [source], the photo below is what I ended up with. : ( 
I'm really not sure what could have gone wrong other than the chocolate being heated for too long. The end result was very delicious, crunchy, salty, and very chocolatey, so I would definitely make these again. In the end I'm very glad I only made 12 because that meant I could eat all of them and wouldn't be forced to serve them to anyone.
Pin It