Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Banana Bread

I'm always buying bananas with the good intentions of having one for breakfast every morning (I'm terrible when it comes to skipping breakfast) and they always seem to end up sitting on my counter all week untouched and being turned into banana bread by the weekend. This is one of the banana bread recipes I use often, I love it because it's super easy to prepare and only requires 1 mixing bowl so clean up is a breeze.

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread
3 1/2 cups flour
3 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 eggs
2/3 cup water
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups bananas, mashed
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Combine ingredients in large mixing bowl.
3. Pour batter into 2 prepared bread pans or 1 prepared bundt pan.
4. Bake for 1 hour or until firm and golden brown.
5. Cool on wire rack for at least 15 minutes before turning bread out onto tray.

Chocolate Glaze
2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 cup icing sugar
3 tablespoons hot tap water

1. Put all ingreadients into a medium sized bowl and stir until it's of pourable consistancy.

Monday, April 27, 2009

1st Daring Baker's Challenge...Cheesecake!

The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge.

This was my very 1st DB challenge!! I've been lurking for probably about 6 months debating whether or not I felt confident enough to join in (because you DB are good!) so when the new Daring Kitchen web site went "live" I thought that now was as good as a time as ever to jump in with both feet. I must admit I did feel a slight *sigh* of relief when the reveal day came and Cheesecake was the challenge. I was a little worried I was going to get something really complicated right of the bat, I've made a ton of cheesecakes before so I knew I would be okay. Since we were given some creative liberty, I decided to make a few flavour changes to the original recipe we were given and come up with Chocolate Mochaccino Swirl Cheesecake. I've listed the original recipe below and included the changes I made in red.

the crust (I lined my spring form pan with parchment):

cream cheese and sugar ready to be creamed:

mmmm creamy...

water bath, see the steam...I was worried about the water leaking and creating a soggy crust so I put my spring form pan inside another cake pan and then put it in the water bath:

Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake:


2 cups / 180 g graham cracker crumbs (I used 2 cups of Oreo cookie crumbs)

1 stick / 4 oz butter, melted

2 tbsp. / 24 g sugar

1 tsp. vanilla extract


3 sticks of cream cheese, 8 oz each (total of 24 oz) room temperature

1 cup / 210 g sugar

3 large eggs

1 cup / 8 oz heavy cream

1 tbsp. lemon juice (I omitted the lemon juice)

1 tbsp. vanilla extract (or the innards of a vanilla bean)

1 tbsp liqueur, optional, but choose what will work well with your cheesecake (I didn't add any)


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (Gas Mark 4 = 180C = Moderate heat). Begin to boil a large pot of water for the water bath.
2. Mix together the crust ingredients and press into your preferred pan. You can press the crust just into the bottom, or up the sides of the pan too - baker's choice (I pressed mine in the bottom of the pan only). Set crust aside.
3. Combine cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of a stand-mixer (or in a large bowl if using a hand-mixer) and cream together until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each before adding the next. Make sure to scrape down the bowl in between each egg. Add heavy cream, vanilla, lemon juice, and alcohol and blend until smooth and creamy.

**Additional steps by "me": after step 3 I divided the batter into 2 separate bowls and to 1 bowl of mixture I added 3 tablespoons of instant espresso and to the other bowl I added 6 oz of melted semi sweet chocolate. I poured the chocolate mixture into the pan and then "swirled" in the espresso mixture.
4. Pour batter into prepared crust and tap the pan on the counter a few times to bring all air bubbles to the surface. Place pan into a larger pan and pour boiling water into the larger pan until halfway up the side of the cheesecake pan. If cheesecake pan is not airtight, cover bottom securely with foil before adding water (I put the cheesecake pan inside a larger solid cake pan).
5. Bake 45 to 55 minutes, until it is almost done (mine took almost 2 hours) - this can be hard to judge, but you're looking for the cake to hold together, but still have a lot of jiggle to it in the center. You don't want it to be completely firm at this stage. Close the oven door, turn the heat off, and let rest in the cooling oven for one hour. This lets the cake finish cooking and cool down gently enough so that it won't crack on the top. After one hour, remove cheesecake from oven and lift carefully out of water bath. Let it finish cooling on the counter, and then cover and put in the fridge to chill. Once fully chilled, it is ready to serve.

I garnished my finished cheesecake with cappuccino flavoured whipped cream (heavy cream whipped with a small package of instant cappuccino and a couple tablespoons of icing sugar), chocolate covered coffee beans and to spring it up a bit I added leftover chocolate butterflies I made for spring themed cupcakes.

Although my cheesecake did crack (a bit), I was very happy with the way this turned out and my family ended up enjoying it as part of our Easter dessert table. Thanks JennyBakes for a great first challenge!!!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

I luv Blue Cheese..

Found this quick bread recipe for Blue Cheese Shallot Bread in one of my latest issues of Taste of Home Magazine. I adore blue cheese but have never had it in a bread so I thought I would give it a try.

Blue Cheese Shallot Bread (click on link for recipe)

before going into the oven, I topped the bread with a bit of crumbled blue cheese and a sprinkling of Maldon salt (I always line my loaf pans with parchment, just in case the little buggers decide they don't want to come out after baking):

just out of the oven:

This recipe is a definite keeper, especially if you love blue cheese like I do!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Lemon Chiffon Cake with Coconut Cream

I love lemon and coconut together and when I stumbled upon a recipe for Triple Lemon Chiffon Cake from the cookbook Sky High: Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes I knew it was my chance to mix the 2 flavours together.

The original recipe I used for the cake and lemon curd is listed below. To add my own coconut touch, I torted one of the 3 layers of cake, increased the whipped cream to 3 cups, omitted the 3 tablespoons of lemon curd in the frosting, folded in 1/2 cup of shredded sweetened coconut to about 1 cup of whipped cream and filled the middle layer of the cake with the coconut whipped cream. I frosted the outside of the cake with the rest of the whipped cream and topped with more sweetened flaked coconut.



8 eggs, separated
1/4 cup walnut oil** (I used walnut oil)
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon of lemon zest
1/3 cup water
1/2 teaspoon of cream of tartar
1 and 1/2 cups of sugar
1 ans 3/4 cups of cake flour* (I used cake flour)
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of salt
[*1 cup of cake flour is equal to 3/4 cup of AP flour plus 2 tablespoons of corn starch]
[**equal amount of either almond oil, hazelnut oil, or canola oil]

Preheat the oven to 350*degrees F. Line the bottoms of three 9-inch pans with parchment paper but do not butter or grease the pans.

In a med-large bowl whisk together the egg yolks, oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, and water.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, whip the egg whites with the cream of tartar on medium speed until light and frothy. Slowly add 1/2 cup of sugar and continue to beat until soft peaks form.
Sift the flour, remaining sugar, baking soda , and salt into a large bowl. Whisk gently to combine. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Pour in the egg yolk mixture and mix to create a smooth paste. Add one-fourth of the egg whites and fold in to lighten the batter. Fold in the remaining egg whites and divide the batter among the three pans.
bake for about 16 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Transfer to wire racks to cool in the pans. Once cool run a knife around the cake to in order to un-mold the cakes. Carefully pull off the parchment paper from the bottoms of the cakes.
To assemble the cake, place one layer on a cake stand. Top with a heaping 1/4 cup of lemon curd and spread it evenly. Repeat with the remaining layers. Frost the top of the cake and the sides with the lemon cream frosting.


3 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup of sugar
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 4 lemons)
grated zest of three lemons
4 tablespoons of unsalted butter, at room temp.
Whisk together the whole eggs, yolks, sugar, lemon juice , and lemon zest together in a medium bowl. Transfer to a small non-reactive saucepan. Gently heat the mixture, whisking until it thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. make sure not to boil the mixture. Pour the mixture through a sieve into a heatproof bowl. Stir in the butter and cover the curd with plastic making sure the plastic touches the curd. This should prevent a skin from forming on the curd. Refrigerate until cold. Refrigerate until cold. Then remove 3 tablespoons of curd and set it aside for the icing.

1 and 1/2 cups of heavy cream
2 tablespoons of sugar
3 tablespoon of lemon curd
Whip the cream and sugar in a large chilled bowl until stiff peaks form. Fold in the lemon curd, forming a stiff frosting.

This made one VERY tall delicious cake! Next time I make it (and there will be a next time) I will torte and fill the cake put it in the fridge for a couple hours to set a bit and then frost it with the whipped cream. Because it was so tall and the lemon curd was a little slippery it was a little tricky to frost it, I was afraid it was going to topple over a few times. The next day it seemed to firm up quite a bit, I even transported it from my house to my parents (about a 25 minute drive) with no problems whatsoever and it cut beautifully!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Cheesy comfort food

When it's a Monday, (yuck) it's cold and rainy outside (double yuck) and one is generally just having a crappy day; it's time to make something that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside...Creamy Macaroni and Cheese. I'm always on the lookout for good Mac "n" Cheese recipes and when I came across this one in Martha Stewart's Original Classics Cookbook, I thought I would give it a try. Other than Martha's usual 15 pots and pans and 45 steps to achieve a recipe I would say this was very easy to put together. I made it in 2 pans as opposed to 1 9x13, and shared half with my parents. Nothing says comfort like copious amounts of bubbling cheese and noodles!

before baking:

just out of the oven:

served with chicken fingers:

Martha Stewart Creamy Mac n cheese

Serves 12

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for casserole
6 slices white bread, crusts removed, torn into 1/4- to l/2-inch pieces
5 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons coarse salt, plus more for water
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 1/2 cups (about 18 ounces) grated sharp white cheddar cheese
2 cups (about 8 ounces) grated Gruyere
1 pound elbow macaroni (or approx 1/2 of a 900 gram bag)

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter a 3-quart casserole dish; set aside. Place the bread in a medium bowl. Melt 2 tablespoons butter on stove or in microwave. Pour the melted butter into the bowl with the bread, and toss. Set the breadcrumbs aside.

2. Warm the milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Melt the remaining 6 tablespoons butter in a high-sided skillet over medium heat. When the butter bubbles, add the flour. Cook, stirring, 1 minute.

3. While whisking, slowly pour in the hot milk a little at a time to keep mixture smooth. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and becomes thick, 8 to 12 minutes.

4. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in salt, nutmeg, black pepper, cayenne pepper, 3 cups cheddar cheese, and 1 1/2 cups Gruyere; set the cheese sauce aside.

5. Cover a large pot of salted water, and bring to a boil. Cook the macaroni until the outside of pasta is cooked and the inside is underdone, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the macaroni to a colander, rinse under cold running water, and drain well. Stir the macaroni into the reserved cheese sauce.

6. Pour the mixture into the prepared dish. Sprinkle the remaining 1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, 1/2 cup Gruyere, and the breadcrumbs over the top. Bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes. Transfer the dish to a wire rack for 5 minutes; serve.

Thursday, April 16, 2009


I LOVE all things coffee, so when I found a recipe for Cappuccino Cinnamon Rolls in the latest addition of Taste of Home magazine I new I just had to make them. Prep was easy enough, your standard sweet dough recipe rolled out filled, rolled up jelly roll style, sliced, baked and of course frosted. They were enjoyed by all and were a nice change from the usual cinnamon version.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Happy Easter

Here are some treats I made this year to share with family, friends and neighbours. Happy Easter everyone!

Easter Bread

This Easter bread is a recipe my Mother found out of the Toronto Sun about 5 years ago and asked me to make. It has since become an Easter tradition around our house. It's called Macedonian Pogacha Bread and is sort of like a sweet egg bread with raisins & dried cranberries.

Dough after 1st rise:
Getting my "ropes" ready to braid:

Braided loaves ready for the last rise:

Just out of the oven:

Macedonian Pogacha Bread
1/2 cup lukewarm water
1 1/2 tsp. granulated sugar
2 pkg. active dry yeast
1 cup granulated sugar
2 1/4 cups milk
1/3 cup unsalted butter, cubed
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. finely grated orange rind
2 tbsp. orange juice (freshly squeezed)
3 eggs
7 1/2 cups-8 1/2 cups (approx) all purpose flour
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup dried cranberries

1 egg yolk
1/4 cup milk
1 tbsp. sesame seeds
1. In measuring cup, combine water and 1-1/2 tsp. sugar, sprinkle with yeast. Stir with fork and let stand 10 minutes to froth.
2. In top of a double boiler or heat proof bowl set over simmering water, place 1 cup sugar, milk, butter, vegetable oil, salt, orange rind and juice. Heat just until slightly warm to the touch. Remove from heat; whisk to combine and melt butter.
3. In large bowl, beat eggs until light coloured and fluffy. Whisk in yeast mixture, then milk mixture, then raisins & dried cranberries. Still whisking, add flour by the cupful until the batter becomes too stiff to whisk (after about 5 cups). With a wooden spoon stir in 1 more cup of the flour. Sprinkle work surface with about 1/2 cup of the remaining flour and turn dough out onto surface (dough will be VERY loose and sticky). Knead, adding remaining flour gradually to keep hands and surface from becoming sticky, until dough is elastic, about 5 minutes.
4. Place in large greased bowl; cover with plastic wrap and damp towel. Let rise in warm spot until double in bulk (1 1/2 hours). Punch down; cover and let rise again (1 hour). Punch dough down. Divide in half, then divide each half into three. Roll and pull each third into a log 14 inches long. Braid the 3 lengths of dough together and place in a greased 9x5 inch loaf pan or on a cookie tray lined with parchment paper. Cover and let rise until doubled in bulk (1 hour).
5. In a small bowl beat egg yolk and milk, brush loaves with mixture and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake in a 325F oven for 1 hour or until golden and loaves sound hollow when tapped gently on the bottom. Let cool 10 minutes in pan. Recipe makes 2 large loaves.

Different Devilled Eggs

I love Devilled Eggs but decided this year for our Easter dinner to make them a little different. This year I made Martha Stewarts Smoked-Salmon Deviled Eggs they turned out great and may become a new Easter Tradition at our house. I followed the recipe exactly other than adding a tad more mayo and dill.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Hot Cross Buns

It is my resolution this year to actually make use of the cooking magazines I receive in the mail every month and try and make at least 2 recipes in each magazine per month. I get Martha Stewart Living and Taste of Home both of which I love. So in honor of the upcoming Easter season and because the recipe was in my latest issue of Martha Stewart Living I decided to try my hand at Hot Cross Buns.

The buns were very easy to come together and the end result was fantastic! I would definitely make these again and I was pleased that the dough didn’t have that weird grayish hue to them like the ones I’ve seen in the grocery store. The recipe called for dried cherries but I subbed dried cranberries because that’s what I had on hand it also says it should yield 30 buns but I only got 20. I guess my buns were bigger than they should of been….but isn’t that always the case!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Spring Has Sprung!

Or so the calendar says…. I actually hate this time of year; everything looks so dirty and depressing, one never knows what to wear because one day it’s snowing and the next day it’s hot. It will be at least another month or so before dirty turns into a lovely shade of green so in the meantime I thought I would speed things up a bit and make something that would remind me of what “pretty” spring in Toronto looks like.

I give you Key Lime Pie from one of my favourite “go to” sites when I’m looking for recipes on the net Recipezaar It's a simple pie recipe and one that can be whipped up in no time. I tried once to make it with real Key Limes but the ones I found in the grocery stores around here were basically the size of marbles and it took me FOREVER to squeeze out enough juice so I decided to make it easier on myself and use regular limes from now on. Honestly I can't tell the difference and everyone I serve it to seems to enjoy it so no more marbles for me~lol