Tuesday, 24 February 2015

the science behind leaveners | baking soda vs. baking powder


if you're like me you've probably questioned the reason behind the use of baking soda vs. baking powder when it comes to recipes.  
here is a quick explanation of each and when to use them.

now let's bake something.  xo.  


BAKING SODA VS. BAKING POWDER

Baking Powder and Baking Soda are both chemical leaveners used to make batters rise. Quick breads, cookies, cakes, and biscuits all get their lift from these two basic baking ingredients. 

Baking Soda
Baking soda needs an acidic ingredient to react with to release carbon dioxide, the gas that is released in small bubbles to give the baked goods their lift. Acidic ingredients in baking are yogurt, sour cream, buttermilk, molasses, honey, citrus juice, and even vinegar. (This is why you often find white vinegar as an ingredient in red velvet cake). Use baking soda as specified in your recipe. Too much will produce flat baked goods and leave a metallic taste in your cakes or cookies. Baking soda is also known to create browning in baked goods. 

Baking Powder
Baking powder serves the same purpose as baking soda yet is already mixed with the acidic ingredient needed to produce carbon dioxide when baking. Most baking powders are “double-acting”, which means they produce carbon dioxide when mixed with a liquid and then again, when exposed to heat. Baking powder is used whether or not an acidic ingredient is in the recipe. Be sure to use fresh baking powder in recipes. Old baking powder will produce flat cakes and cookies. 

Substitutions
While there is no substitution for baking soda, in a pinch you can replace a teaspoon of baking powder with ½  teaspoon cream of tartar and ¼ teaspoon baking soda. 

Storage
Store your baking powder and soda in a cool dark place with little humidity. Check the expiration date before using.
information courtesy: paula deen

Monday, 23 February 2015

700 blog posts & a sprinkled donut


i toyed with the idea of starting a food blog long before publishing my first entry.  mr. handsome first nudged, then pushed, before full on shoving/threatening me into hitting the dreaded 'post' button.  yet here we are four years & 700 posts later.  memories made, moments captured, bellies full, grammar still terrible, and now talking in hashtags.  
#sorrynotsorry

over the last 699 posts, i've learnt a lot about myself.
i've grown as a mom, a wife, a kitchen mavin/navigator;  beaming with pride over something i've created and seen through.
although it may never reach the masses, it's an account of how our family shares in mealtime, traditions, and sundays in the mountains, which is good enough for me.

in honour of my 700th post, i'm taking the day off and celebrating with a classic sprinkled donut from a canadian institution.  
sprinkles make everything taste better and so this to me is sweet, sweet victory.  


cheers to the next 700
and as always, thank you for your continued love & support.xo.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

homemade chili oil


you know when you go to your favourite pizza joint and they up the ante by giving you chili oil to drizzle over your already delicious pizza.
amazing.  i know.
dreams are made from chili oil.
skinny pants are not.
that is your life lesson for the day.


your other life lesson?
leave the skinny pants in the drawer and whip up an impossibly easy batch of homemade chili oil so that you can carry it with you in your purse or man-satchel (because that's completely normal, the chili oil not the satchel) and drizzle it on anything & everything in sight (again, completely normal)
you're welcome.



homemade chili oil 

ingredients:
1/2 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 sprig rosemary
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
pinch of salt

method:
bring all of the ingredients above to a simmer over medium-low heat.  cook until the garlic is golden, 5 to 8 minutes.
let cool.  remove garlic and transfer to a glass jar.


recipe courtesy: realsimple magazine

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Almond Roundup



this month nuts.com is teaming up with fellow bloggers to showcase the multiple uses for almonds.  inspiring me, to share the many ways i use this powerhouse nut.  from almond butter to almond flour, these nuts serve as a healthy substitute when preparing nutritious meals & snacks.


the health benefits associated with mighty almond is extensive, this we already know. 
both nutritious and delicious they are nutrient dense, loaded with vitamins and minerals and among the healthiest of all the tree nuts.

they've also been known to:
  • regulate blood pressure
  • reduce the risk of heart disease
  • develop and maintain brain health
  • aid in weight management
  • strengthen immune systems
  • etc, etc....

so whether you eat them by the handful or incorporate them into your favourite dishes, making almonds apart of your daily routine is something your body will thank you for.
your stomach & taste buds will benefit too.
cheers.




BLUEBERRY-NECTARINE SALAD W/ BRIE AND CANDIED ALMONDS


Dressing: (Blueberry Vinaigrette)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup blueberry jam 
2 Tbsp apple cidar vinegar
2 tsp dijon mustard

In small bowl, whisk vinegar with jam and dijon mustard.  Slowly whisk in oil until well combined.

Candied Almonds:
1/4 cup almonds

2 Tbsp granulated sugar
2 Tbsp water

Place almonds, sugar and water in small saucepan set on medium heat.  Stir to dissolve sugar.  Simmer mixture, stirring occasionally, until golden and almonds are coated, about 5-7 minutes.  Transfer to parchment lined baking sheet to cool.
If possible make these a day ahead, or at least a few hours before, to allow sugar to completely harden.

Salad:**
6 cups baby spinach
1 1/2-2 cups blueberries
3 nectarines, quartered and sliced

1/2 cup brie, diced
1/2 cup candied almonds
dressing to taste

To assemble: Combine, blueberries, nectarines and spinach.  Add dressing, using as much or as little as desired. Toss to coat.  Sprinkle with cheese and almonds.




OATMEAL, COCONUT & GRAHAM CRACKER SNACK BITES


Ingredients:
1 cup old fashioned oats
1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1/3 - 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs, ground
1/3 cup mini chocolate chips
1/2 cup almond butter
1/3 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla

Method:
In large bowl combine almond butter, honey and vanilla, mix well.  Add in oats, coconut, graham cracker crumbs (start with 1/3 cup) and combine.  (if mixture is still too wet add in a little more graham cracker crumbs) Fold in chocolate chips.
Refrigerate mixture for 30 minutes.  Once chilled roll into balls.
Store in air tight container in fridge.
Enjoy!
Yields 15-25 balls depending on size




VANILLA MAPLE ALMOND BUTTER


Ingredients:
2 cups whole raw almonds
1/3 cup whole flax seeds (optional)
3 Tbsp pure maple syrup, separated
3 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 Tbsp sunflower oil

Method:
Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.  Set aside
Using 2 tablespoons of maple syrup coat almonds and flax seeds (if using) and transfer to prepared sheet.  Bake for 20-25 minutes turning once halfway.
Allow almonds to cool for a few minutes.  Place roasted almonds into a food processor and process for 10-12 minutes, stopping occasionally to scrape down sides of the bowl as needed.  Once smooth and creamy, add remaining Tbsp of maple syrup, vanilla and oil.  Process for another 3-5 minutes
Store in air-tight container in refrigerator.



ALMOND BUTTER GRANOLA


Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups oats
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
1/2 cup almonds, chopped
1/2 cup ground flax
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp vanilla
1/4 cup, plus 2 Tbsp maple syrup
1/4 cup homemade vanilla maple almond butter (or regular)

Method:
Preheat oven to 250F.  Set aside two cookie sheets.
In large bowl combine first 5 ingredients.  Mix well.
In small bowl, mix almond butter**, vanilla and maple syrup.  Pour over oat mixture.  Tossing to coat.  Spread mixture evenly onto prepared baking sheets.
Bake for 30-40 minutes, till golden brown in color.  Tossing every 10-15 minutes.
Remove from oven, and allow mixture to cool.  
Store in air-tight container.

**you may want to microwave almond butter for a little to make it easier to work with



BLUEBERRY ALMOND SCONES





Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup sugar
6 Tbsp butter
3/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup fresh blueberries
1/4 cup sliced almonds

sugar & milk for glaze


Method:

Preheat oven to 375.  Line baking sheets with silpat mat or parchment paper.  Set asde.
In large mixing bowl combine flour, baking powder, salt and sugar.  Cut in butter.
In separate bowl combine milk and egg.  Add to dry ingredients.  Stir to combine.  Fold in blueberries and almonds.
Turn out onto lightly floured surface and knead 5-10 times.
Pat out to form a circle 1 1/4-inch thick, cut into 8 equal segments.
Transfer to prepared baking sheets.  Brush tops with sugar-milk mixture and bake for 15 minutes or until golden in colour.
Serve and devour while warm.
Yields: 8




WILD RICE W/ APRICOTS & ALMONDS


Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups wild & brown rice blend
3 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp water
1/2 medium red onion, chopped
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp apricot preserves
1/2 cup dried apricots, diced
1/3 cup slivered almonds, toasted
4 sprigs fresh thyme

Method:

In small saucepan over medium heat.  Add olive oil and onion and cook till translucent 3-5 minutes.
Add in water and apricot preserves, whisking till blended.  Add rice, dried apricots and thyme.  Bring mixture to a boil.  Cover and simmer for 30-40 minutes, or until tender.  
Remove from heat, and remove thyme.  Fluff with fork.  Transfer to a large serving dish, add in toasted almonds and enjoy.
Serves: 6





HONEY-CINNAMON ALMOND BUTTER


Ingredients:
2 cups whole raw almonds
3 Tbsp honey, divided
1 tsp cinnamon
1 Tbsp sunflower oil

Method:
Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.  Set aside 
Using 1 1/2 Tbsp of honey coat almonds and transfer to prepared sheet.  Bake for 20-25 minutes turning once halfway.
Allow almonds to cool for a few minutes.  Place roasted almonds into a food processor and process for 10-12 minutes, stopping occasionally to scrape down sides of the bowl as needed.  Once smooth and creamy, add remaining 1 1/2Tbsp of honey, cinnamon and oil.  Process for another 3-5 minutes
Store in air-tight container in refrigerator.




VANILLA MAPLE ALMOND BUTTER NO BAKE COOKIES


Ingredients:
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup milk
2 cups sugar
4 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup vanilla maple almond butter
3 cups rolled quick oats
1 tsp vanilla

Method:

In medium saucepan, mix together butter, sugar, milk, salt and cocoa. Bring to a boil. Add in vanilla and peanut butter.
Remove sugar mixture from heat and stir in oats. Mix well. Spoon cookies (1 1/2 Tbsp) onto wax/parchment paper. Allow to cool.






BALSAMIC ROASTED ASPARAGUS W/ TOASTED ALMONDS


Ingredients:
2 lbs. asparagus
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp shaved parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp sliced almonds, toasted

Method:
Preheat oven to 400.
Bend asparagus gently until it breaks at a natural point, discard ends.  
In small bowl whisk together oil and vinegar.   Coat prepared asparagus in olive oil mixture and arrange on a baking sheet in a single layer.  Bake for 10-12 minutes until tender crisp.
While asparagus is baking, place almonds in a dry skillet and roast over medium-low heat until fragrant and golden. Careful not to let them burn.  
Remove asparagus from oven, place in dish and top with shaved parmesan and toasted almonds.  Serve.
Yield: 4 servings

Monday, 16 February 2015

Canmore Winter Carnival & The Iron Goat Restaurant

i absolutely love, adore, long for, long weekends.
they're pure perfection.
#fact
because of the family day long weekend, our regularly scheduled ski sunday is on hiatus this week, but ski or no ski, we still headed west to continue our tradition of being mountain bound on another beautiful sunday.
leaving behind our skis, we instead packed up our skates, and made our way to the annual canmore winter carnival.  although to be fair it was more spring-like, with above zero temperatures and lack of windchill.
from ice carvings to kid & mutt races there is a different activity each weekend, which runs from february 13 - march 1.
to kick off the carnival, saturday showcased an ice carving competition.   sculptors from around alberta took part in frozen works of art which can be found in different locations around town and on display for viewing for the remainder of the festival (provided they don't melt before then).  yesterday was the bonhomme carnival which we took part in. ice skating unfortunately didn't happen because of the warm temperatures, but there was music, a snow playground, & maple syrup snow taffy.
maple syrup + snow = 100% canandian
 
we followed up our afternoon carnival adventure with a great walk along the river and an early mountain dinner courtesy of the iron goat.  
this weekend also happens to be a pretty special one for our family since the little man in our house turns 7 on tuesday. 
and, because his birthday always falls around the family day holiday we make it a point to leave the city and take a birthday road trip.

dinner was the birthday boys pick. 
but more than the food, L was actually interested in the back story to the restaurants name.  apparently "iron goat" on its own doesn't  make sense to this still 6 year old.
so for inquisitive minds like L's, here is the backstory...

the restaurant derived it's name from canmore's mining and railway era.  prior to the rail industry being introduced to the mining trade, goats were domesticated for the purpose of working in mines.  horses were considered too large and donkeys too stubborn, therefore goats were chosen for their small size and notable strength.
goats came to be known as powerful units in the mines as they were able to haul heavy carts saving men from straining themselves further in this demanding industry.
once the rail industry was integrated into the mining trade, the train locomotive began to replace and provide more power than the great animal.  these locomotives were known as the 'iron horse' and miners chose to transfer this nickname to the mining trade.  the 'goat'; once known to be an animal was now the 'iron goat', a train.


fajitas |  cajun chicken, served w/ salsa, avocado salsa, sour cream, cheddar, lettuce, sweet onion & bell pepper pilaf & flour tortillas

chicken & goat cheese |  chicken, prosciutto, mozzarella, goat cheese, roasted red pepper & spinach w/ marinara sauce


janisse |  pepperoni, green olives, green peppers, bacon, mushrooms & mozzarella w/ marinara sauce


rundle paw |  cinnamon-sugar dusted pastry topped w/ berries, whipped cream & maple syrup
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