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Green Dragons

27 Oct

Every year my dragon boat team has a season end party, it is always a potluck and I always take a dessert because, well, that is what I know how to make lol Last year I took a cupcake cake shaped like a dragon and felt like I should take something this year also dragon themed. But what to take? I did some internet snooping to look for inspiration and came up with this…

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Green Dragons!

Ok yes, admittedly he is a bit ghetto looking, but he was the first one made and there was a bit of a learning curve for how to move them around once they were frosted lol In the end I resorted to using an offset spatula to scoop them up and move them to their carrying container, and even then some of them lost frosting on their torsos. *rolls eyes* Looking back I realize I should have frosted and decorated them a couple hours prior to when I had to package them up, give the frosting time to set a bit, instead of packing them as soon as they were decorated. My impatience was showing. πŸ˜‰

They are super easy to make, and would probably be a fun adult and kid project. Especially since you don’t have to decorate them to make them look like a dragon.

The base is Rice Krispie squares, only cut in to rectangles to give more of a “body” impression vs just a head. Cause ya know, totally normal to eat the entire body of an animal, but it’d be weird if it was just a decorated head…

Start with a tray of Rice Krispie treats, made exactly as the box says. Let them cool completely before cutting.

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While the treats are cooling you can whip up some buttercream frosting, dye it any colour you want, and prep your decorations.

I bought the eyes ready made because it is halloween and candy eyes are everywhere, so why not take advantage? All the other decorations are candies that I manipulated. I cut a Fruit By The Foot in to triangles for the ears. I pulled apart a pull apart Twizzler and then cut the strips short to make spiky hair. I found this white malleable candy at the dollar store to make the fangs. Lastly, I used Smarties for the nostrils.

Originally I wanted to make them all uniform, so if the frosting was going to be green than I wanted green spiky hair and ears. However, candy companies are not thinking of my baking decoration needs so I couldn’t find things that would work all in green, or all of any colour so I changed my mind and decided to go rainbow themed. After all, just because a dragon has a green body, who says he can’t show his individuality by dying his spiky hair? And who says genetics would make his ears green? Maybe dragons thrive on showing their personality by having multi-coloured hair. Or maybe they are a mix of colours to better blend in with the unicorns and rainbows.

The point is, there are no rules when it comes to stuff like this, so I purposefully went colourful. Having said that, I opened the bag of Smarties and they were all muted colours. When did Smarties stop being vibrant and instead become pastel and blah looking? That was kind of a let down, sigh.

Here is the candy prepped and ready for use. I had no idea how much I would need so I guessed…and definitely over estimated on the amount of hair I would need lol

Once your candy is prepped, your frosting is made, and your Rice Krispies are cooled all you do is cut the Rice Krispies, eat one for quality control, frost and decorate to your hearts content.

I would frost and decorate then move on to the next one instead of frost them all and then move on to the decorating part. You need the frosting to be soft enough it will accept you sticking candy in to it so if you wait to decorate until all of them are frosted it might be harder.

There was also going to be a line drawn in black gel frosting between the fangs to create a mouth but I thought that was too risky. Frosting Rice Krispie treats is not easy, well, not easy in the sense they are bumpy and will never look good, and that mouth was just going to end up wobbly and unattractive, so I left their mouth area as just having fangs. I think that part looked ok though so no biggy.

Voila! Green Dragons!

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Definitely not my best work, and I’m sorry I didn’t test them out the week prior to discover I wasn’t going to like how they turned out so I could make something else, but oh well. They are cute in a kid type of way, which is why I think its a great idea as an adult and kid project. Just maybe not quite right for an adult’s dragon boat season end party.

I’m already plotting for next year though, just you wait, it is gonna be great!…hopefully lol πŸ˜‰

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Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

18 Oct

I’m a bad food blogger. You’ll understand why I wrote that once you see the one, sad, pathetic, picture I took of the pumpkin cake. *rolls eyes*

The baking part I’m good at, just not the documenting part…oops?

The recipe was originally called Pumpkin Cake Bars, which led me to believe the cake would come out firm and, oh I don’t know, bar like? Oh how wrong I was. The cake came out super moist and very cake like, not at all like a bar. Which kinda messed with my plan for the final product.

See, I had intended to bake the bars and use them for two separate events, oh, did I mention this all happened two weekends ago, for Thanksgiving? Yet one more example of how I don’t rock at this whole food blogging thing…but let’s ignore that shall we? πŸ˜‰

I was going to a small get together on the Sunday and then a Thanksgiving dinner on the Monday. The plan was to make these bars and take half to each event. Since they were supposed to be bars it made sense they would be plated as an already cut item, like if I’d taken Nanaimo Bars. You wouldn’t bring Nanaimo Bars to a party and not already have them cut and plated right? I’m going to pretend you’re nodding your head in agreement right now and not googling “Nanaimo Bar”.Β  So if these bars were cut and plated when I took them to each event it wouldn’t be obvious that I didn’t bring the entire quantity. Not like I cut a cake in half and you can see the inside of the cake along the cut edge!

Except that these bars came out as cake, not bars, which meant the cut that exposed the inside of the cake was super obvious…

For the Sunday event I tried cutting half the cake as bars but it didn’t work very well. It just looked like I was bringing cut pieces of cake, which I was if we want to get technical about it. Also, the top of the cake was tacky to the touch, which I also wasn’t expecting. Seriously, it is a very moist cake! This wouldn’t have been a problem if I’d had time to do a crumb coat with the frosting but I didn’t, so I ended up with crumbs in the frosting. A personal pet peeve of mine.

Now, to be fair, I seem to be the only one with an issue with this cake. The people at both events really liked it and didn’t seem to care at all about the crumbs in the frosting or that it was supposed to be a bar recipe and it came out a proper cake instead. So perhaps I am too focused on the look of the food when other people are more concerned about the taste?

The Ingredients:

4 large eggs

1 2/3 C white sugar

1 C vegetable oil

1 (15oz) can pumpkin puree

2 C all-purpose flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

2 tsp cinnamon

6 ounces cream cheese

6 Tbl butter, softened

3 C confectioners sugar

The Instructions:

Pre-heat oven to 350F

Grease and flour a 9×13 pan

In a large mixing bowl beat together the eggs, sugar, oil, and pumpkin.

In a different bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon. Mix well.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet, mix thoroughly.

Pour in to the prepared pan.

Bake at 350F for 25-30 minutes, allow to cool completely.

For the Frosting:

Beat cream cheese, softened butter, and confectioners sugar together. Evenly spread over the bars after they are cooled.

Ok, so that is the original recipe, here is how I changed it!

I added 1/2 tsp nutmeg and a 1/2 tsp cloves to the dry ingredients at the same time I added the cinnamon. Next time I would bump up the quantity of all three seasonings as I found the flavour to be quite subtle, but that could just be me because everyone else seemed to love it as-is.

The frosting makes a huge amount, way more than you need. I would say you could easily make half the quantity and still have plenty to frost the cake, because this really is a cake.

Oh, and I never “grease and flour” a pan, I just spray with baking spray, or sometimes I soften some butter and spread that on the pan, but I don’t do the flour bit. The cake came out of the pan no problem, so I say grease the pan in whatever way your normal style is, it should be fine.

And here, the one, lone, sad, picture of a piece of the cake…go ahead, laugh, I deserve it…*big epic sigh*

 

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crumbs in the frosting, I don’t even want to look at it πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈ

Oatmeal Squares

2 Sep

Do you have a recipe that you have always wanted to try but are sure it is too complicated and too much effort to be worth it? My mom’s Oatmeal Square recipe is that recipe to me. I have asked her for it I don’t know how many times, and each time she has emailed it to me, and then I don’t print it out, I lose it in the dark void that is my Inbox, and I never attempt to make the squares. Which is ridiculous because I love them, but there ya have it.

Every Sunday evening I talk with my parents on the phone, it is a habit we got in to when I moved a province over and it has stuck.Β My parents are currently in Europe, lucky so-and-so’s (I can’t call them lucky bastards, they are my parents! lol), so no Sunday evening phone call tonight, or for a couple more weeks to come. I was thinking about them this evening, hoping they are having a kick ass time, and for some reason my neurons fired and boom! Oatmeal Squares are forefront of my mind.

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Figuring it was a sign I braved the dark void of my Inbox with a well worded search and found the recipe. I then wanted to hit my head against the wall because oh man is it an easy one.

I can’t believe I haven’t made them all this time because I thought they were hard when they have only 4 ingredients and a child could make them. smh.

The ingredients are:

1/2 Cup butter or margarine

1 Cup brown sugar

2 Cups oats

1 tsp vanilla extract

Ready for the directions? Brace yourself!

(1) melt the butter in a sauce pan

(2) once butter is melted take it off the heat, mix in the brown sugar, oats, and vanilla extract

(3) put mixture in to an 8×8 baking pan

(4) put in oven for 10-15 minutes at 375 degrees

(5) cool for 5 minutes before cutting

That’s it.

That is all there is to it. I can’t believe I put off for years making these! Note to self, and all of you, before deciding a recipe is too hard maybe take a couple minutes to ya know, read it. *rolls eyes*

Mom’s notes did mention that sometimes the mix stays cohesive, sometimes not. That is something I remember, that they are crumbly and messy, but also delicious and worth cleaning up every crumb you make.

I put them in a circle cake pan because my square pan is 9×9 and I worried the extra space would make the mixture too thin. I timed them for 12 minutes since I didn’t know how long this oven would need on the above mentioned 10-15 minute range and I have no idea how to tell if an oatmeal square is cooked. I still don’t know so if anyone wants to share their tricks feel free to leave a comment!

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Started cutting before I took a picture, I’m such a bad food blogger lol

I left the squares a little longer than five minutes before cutting but even with that extra time they ended up looking like this when I tried plating them…

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oops?

After that disaster (visual disaster only, the taste was perfect) I let the rest sit in the pan longer before plating in the hopes a longer cooling time would help the squares become more solid and less granola-esque.

My plan worked! I left them in the pan for a couple hours, and the remainder of the squares came out much better. I didn’t want to risk trying to cut them smaller and making another mess so I cut the remainder in to two large triangles. When I cut them in to the large triangles they were fine, when I tried cutting them smaller they tended to crumble so they are staying large…for now! πŸ˜‰

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Final product!

I know the recipe is simple, only 4 ingredients and barely any time in the oven, but I think that is what makes them great. You probably have the ingredients lying around the kitchen, it is quick and easy, and most importantly they tasted like home…er, I mean delicious. They tasted delicious. πŸ™‚

Soft Oatmeal Cookies

23 Aug

A classic is a classic for a reason, and sometimes, when you feel like baking you don’t want to fiddle with some annoying recipe but you want a forgiving one, that yields an almost guaranteed tasty treat. A classic.

I really wanted to bake oatmeal cookies, just plain, nothing fancy, old school, soft oatmeal cookies. Thing is, I don’t have a recipe for that. I have oatmeal peanut butter chocolate chip cookies. I have cranberry oatmeal, chocolate chip oatmeal, walnut oatmeal, and more. Many of those also come with the option of drizzling melted chocolate on top, or melted peanut butter, or melted whatever you think sounds good.

But none of those were what I wanted to bake. So I did what anybody in need of a new recipe would do, I googled. A lot of the oatmeal cookie recipes I found included other things, mostly chocolate or nuts, but eventually I found a soft oatmeal cookie recipe that wasn’t plain sounding, but also not a fidgety annoying recipe I would regret trying.

They turned out great!

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The Recipe:

  • 1 Cup butter, room temp
  • 1 Cup white sugar
  • 1 Cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 Teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 Cups All Purpose Flour
  • 1 Teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 Teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 Teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3 Cups quick cooking oats

In a large bowl, cream together butter and both sugars. Beat in eggs. Beat in vanilla.

In a separate bowl combine flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Add this mixture in to the creamed mixture.

Mix in oats.

Cover and chill dough for at least one hour.

Preheat the oven to 375F (190C). Grease cookie sheets. Roll the dough into walnut sized balls, place two inches apart on the cookie sheet. Dip a large fork in to white sugar and use to flatten each cookie.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Allow cookies to cool on the sheet for 5 minutes before lifting them off and placing on a cooling rack.

This is the recipe I found, and I would provide you a link to it but I found this recipe when searching on another computer and I can’t seem to find it again. If I find the original I’ll add a link to it in an edit on the bottom of this post.

Some things I noted when I was trying this recipe out: My oven took 8 minutes for all but the last sheet of cookies I put in the oven (that last sheet took 10 minutes). You don’t need to grease the cookie sheet after each batch. On one cookie sheet I used a silicone mat so I didn’t need to grease that, on the other sheet I greased once and after that each batch lifted off just fine. Don’t flatten the cookies too much, you still want them a bit thick. The flatter the cookie the less chewy / soft it will be.

Oh, and it makes a lot of cookies! I don’t have an exact count because as soon as they were cooled I packaged the majority of the cookies up and gifted them to my landlords as a thank you present (they took care of my cat while I was away a couple weekends ago). The original recipe says it makes 24 cookies, I used a cookie scoop, like an ice cream scoop only smaller and meant for scooping cookie dough, and I got a heck of a lot more than 24 cookies. Next time I’ll count them.

So there we have it, a good ol’ fashioned soft oatmeal cookie recipe. A definite keeper!

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Pirate Pak Day

17 Aug

White Spot is a restaurant chain that has a kid’s meal called the Pirate Pak. It is basically a kid’s meal that comes in a cardboard pirate ship and is accompanied by a gold coin. What pirate ship is complete without a treasure I ask you?

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Once a year, maybe it is twice I’m not really sure, they have Pirate Pak Day, which is when adults can also order a Pirate Pak and $2 from every sale goes to the Zajac Ranch for Children, a summer camp for children and young adults with serious medical conditions. According to White Spot’s website they have raised over $660,000 for Zajac Ranch over the years. If you eat-in a portion of sales from alcoholic drinks also goes to the Zajac Ranch, so bottoms up! πŸ˜‰

I guess the idea is to appeal to the nostalgia of adults who grew up eating Pirate Pak’s as a kid, which I have to admit, is smart marketing. I however did not grow up eating them. While White Spot is in Alberta now, it wasn’t when I was growing up, or if it was it wasn’t in my city, so I only learned about them when I moved to BC.

The restaurant is a family type of place, good food but nothing fancy, decent prices, a chill atmosphere. I tend to go there with friends if we are looking for a quick meal before going to a movie, situations like that.

I’ve never had some driving urge to order a Pirate Pak, probably because I’ve never looked at the children’s menu lol πŸ˜‰ Since this past Wednesday was Pirate Pak Day I thought why not? Let’s see what all the fuss is about!

The adult’s Pirate Pak is portioned for adults and your choices are a variety of burgers, fish & chips, a beef dip, chicken fingers & fries, or a club sandwich.Β  I chose the legendary burger, it came with fries, coleslaw, and a can of pop. On top of that it also came with my choice of ice cream, I opted for strawberry, and there was even a gold coin at the bottom of my take-away bag.

Yay for pirate booty!

Not gonna lie, I was kinda hoping for a pirate ship, even if it would end up in my recycle bin by the end of the night lol

The burger was delish, as their burgers always are, and don’t snub your nose at that little coleslaw, it is simple and perfect every time. I haven’t eaten the gold coin, they tend to be made out of cheap chocolate and I have never liked them in the past so I see no reason to test this one out to see if it is any different, even if finding it in the bag did make me grin.

Seriously, it is the little things that can take a normal thing (like your take-away meal) from normal to a bit more fun and smile inducing.

Find the little things people, they help you smile! And if you’re near a White Spot maybe try a Pirate Pak next time they have Pirate Pak Day, you help make camp possible for some very sick kids and you get a tasty meal, an efficient use of time and money – if you want to think all grown-up about it. πŸ˜‰ lol

0.317

16 Aug

Last weekend my dragon boat team and I competed at the Victoria Dragon Boat Festival. So many things happen at these away races and I always struggle on how to write about them. Do I focus on the races? The food? The general merriment? The travel? Sometimes there is one huge thing that stands out, so it becomes obvious what story I want to tell, other times the entire weekend is fun and I wish I could find a way to talk about everything.

I thought I’d try breaking things down in to categories…maybe that will help?

So, the food!

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This isn’t all the food I ate over the course of the trip, there was dinner on the ferry ride home, and a random banana or slices of toast here and there, but the best food deserved to be photographed and shared.

Pictures of Victoria!

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I took some random, kinda touristy, pictures of Victoria while there. I can’t really tell you all that much about them lol I just took them because I liked how they looked.

General hi-jinks!

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So yeah, I realized I didn’t ask anybody if I could put their pictures on my blog and it is late at night right now so I’m not going to wake them up with texts asking, which means you’re stuck with pictures of me. Sorry!

Last, but definitely not least, is the actual racing!

Each team raced twice on Saturday and twice on Sunday. We had the option to race in something called Guts & Glory but it happens later in the day on Sunday and we wanted to be on as early of a ferry as possible so we opted out. It was nice to qualify though. πŸ™‚

We won Bronze in Division A, or as this festival calls it, Diamond Division!

You may be wondering about the title of this post, 0.317.

0.317 is how far behind we were from the team that won Silver. So we were thiiiiiiis close to winning silver. Which for some people might make the bronze seem less special, or might make winning the Bronze sad, because instead of thinking we Won bronze the thought becomes we Lost silver. I get it, I do! So many races are won and lost by hundredths of a second and when you are on the losing side of that number it can hurt. To know that you were so close and didn’t make it sucks. It doesn’t help that when you tell people you won Bronze they dismiss it, or joke about you not winning silver or gold, or make any number of comments that I guess they think are funny. Weirdos.

It happens when you win silver, people comment about you getting gold next time, things like that. *rolls eyes*

Instead of celebrating the medal we earned, the time we got, it becomes about being apologetic we didn’t do better. To that, I am calling bullshit. That’s right, you heard me.

We have been training for months, since February in case you were curious. We train in cold, in rain, in wind, in polluted waters, in poor air quality, in blistering heat, in hail. We train when we are tired, sick, injured, sad. We have been working our butts off for the better part of a year, and we’ll keep training because it is what we do. We train on the water, we compete in other sports, we go to the gym, hike trails, do all sorts of things to stay strong and keep fit, in part so we can bring a strong and useful version of ourselves to the boat.

All of that counts for something, at least to me it does, and I’m proud of our Bronze medal. We worked hard for that, we earned it! My team accomplished something in Victoria, we came together and showed that we could work as a team and earn some hardware. I am proud of all of them. πŸ™‚

Ok so I didn’t actually get permission from any of them yet to show the team picture so I’m just gonna cross my fingers none of them mind! lol

That in a nutshell is my Victoria weekend. We went. We ate a lot of food. We raced. We won bronze. I bought a hat that is over priced but looks so good on me. None of us got sunburned (that’s mostly a concern for me, the pale one in the group lol). We had a fun time. πŸ˜€

 

Human vs. Fruit Flies

9 Aug

You know its summer when the fruit fly invasion happens. It starts off subtly, you almost don’t realize they are there. A random little fruit fly flies past your head while you’re making a cup of tea, maybe you try to kill it, maybe you don’t, it is just one fly after all, what’s the big deal?

Then all of a sudden you realize they have vastly outnumbered you and you wouldn’t be able to kill them all if you dedicated your next three days to bringing about their demise. Not without a battle plan anyways.

So you plot, and you plan, and in the midst of this you squish as many of the little brats as you can, and you wonder if you shouldn’t admit defeat and move.

Fruit flies. The bane of my summer existence.

I admit, their ability to flourish in my apartment this year is my fault, I forgot that when the weather heats up I need to take out my compost more frequently. In winter I can get away with dumping my little compost bin in to the larger one outside once a week. In summer it must be done much more often, sigh. I’m so lazy though, and forgetful, a horrible combination! Before I knew it the fruit flies had made my compost bin their holiday retreat and my kitchen was their all you can eat buffet.

Step one of my plan was to clear out the compost bin, obviously. Gave the bin a good wash, and have kept it empty (and outside my front door) for days. Instead of using it I am using a small plastic bowl that I can cover with a lid and I dump the contents of my compost bowl in to the large bin outside daily. Through this I have discovered my compost largely consists of tea bags, banana peels, and some egg shells. Who knew!

Step two was make sure no dish sits in the sink, even for the length of time it takes to eat the meal I just cooked. As soon as food I have cooked is plated all the cooking implements are cleaned. As soon as the food is eaten my dish and utensils are cleaned. Its not that I didn’t wash my dishes before, I just used to wait and do them all at the end of the day.

Step three was to remove all my recycling. I usually take it out to the larger recycle bins once a week but anything that might have even a trace of food particles was removed. Yes I wash all the containers but not perfectly and those fruit flies seem to be able to find even the tiniest trace amounts of food to feed off of.

Step four was to kill as many of them as I could. I have decent hand eye co-ordination so I managed to squish quite a lot of them. I learned to be careful of where I tried to squish them though, on one occasion, when I brought my hands apart after squishing one of the fruit flies I couldn’t find the fly, then I looked down and saw it had fallen into my tea cup. That’s right, the carcass was at the bottom of my cup. You’ve never seen a person apply as much elbow grease in to cleaning a cup as I did after discovering the dead fruit fly in mine. *shudder*

I seem to have hit an impasse though. I have removed the food sources, am more diligent in my cleaning, and yet, I still have fruit flies. They have also decided the kitchen isn’t enough space for them and I now have a small grouping of them hanging out in my bathroom. I imagine they felt the kitchen was over crowded and they wanted some privacy so a small contingent decided to go exploring and see what new digs they could come across. I have no clue what there is in my bathroom that is making them think it is a good place to settle in, but settle they have. So now I have two areas where I am frequently interrupting whatever I am doing so I can kill flying bugs.

I was reluctant to put out traps for fear that they would manage to eat whatever the lure was and fly away, instead of get trapped in the honey, or maple syrup, or wine (though who would waste wine on fruit flies I do not know).

fruit fly 2fruit fly

Instead I bought that sticky paper stuff that you hang so flying bugs get trapped on it, I also bought these sunflower decals that can be applied on windows, mirrors, walls, pretty much anywhere, and they are somehow supposed to trap the bugs. Before I could use either of those two of the fruit flies accidentally got caught in my laundry detergent, which made me think a trap might not be so bad after all, so I put out some honey and all that seems to have happened is their numbers have increased while absolutely zero of them have gotten caught in the honey. Out of sheer impatience to be done with all this I have now put out a small amount of laundry detergent, since that worked so well the other day.

I can’t be sure if I am winning this war or not…I’m scared to cook in my own place for fear of accidentally providing a food source if I spill something, or crumbs fall, or even just from being in the middle of cutting something up and they grab a bite before I can shoo them away. There seem to always be about two to four of them hanging around, which admittedly, is way better than it was days ago. But shouldn’t they all be dead by now? Their life span is not long, I thought the final eggs that may have been somewhere other than the compost bin, would have hatched, let out annoying fruit flies, that would then have not been able to find food, or would have been squished by me, and not had enough time to create eggs of their own before dying or moving on to a new home. Apparently not though, since, as I write this, a highly persistent fruit fly keeps coming around, arg! And I know if I go in to the kitchen a couple more will make their presence known.

Oh geez, I just googled the life span of a fruit fly and they can live up to 50 days and the females can lay multiple batches of eggs.

The cat and I are doomed!

doomed

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