Monday, November 29, 2010

glazed lemon pound cakes

We have this recipe that's an old standby in my family for Lemon Supreme Pound Cake. Just this past year at my family cottage in North Bay I found the source - a cut-out panel from a Duncan Hines cake box circa 1960. It's fool-proof and delicious however not genuine.
I've never made a pound cake from scratch, so baking Everyday Food's Glazed Lemon Pound Cakes was a great way to give it a go. Although it doesn't call for a pound of butter, a pound of flour and a pound of eggs like the original pound cake recipes do, I consider this recipe a little more true to form than the Duncan Hines pudding cake my family uses.
Because of the lemon pound cake history, I decided to make this recipe for my mother's birthday last weekend. Unfortunately it wasn't as good as the Duncan Hines cake is. It was very astringent, which I guess is to be expected from a whole cup of fresh lemon juice! It was so intensely sour for my taste as well as my mothers. However, this cake did mellow the next day because it seems like most people are down the middle with this one. My dad and Nuno loved it as did all my coworkers (who enjoyed the second pound cake!).

seared tuna (salmon) steaks with eggplant and scallion sautee and rice pilaf with toasted almonds

To say I'm a little behind with blogging, that's an understatement. Our November was a busy month and the blog suffered, but finishing off Everyday Food hasn't. All this time I've been polishing off the final 10 recipes from the book.

The recipe for Seared Tuna Steaks with Eggplant & Scallion Sautee had a minor revision when I made it the other week. I'm not comfortable feeding Owen Albacore tuna, so I figured subbing in salmon was a better choice since I know Owen loves it. He enjoyed this entire meal, but for me it was good, but not great. I expected so much more of the Rice Pilaf with Toasted Almonds, but it was nothing special at all.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Owen Turns 1 - part two

We were so lucky to be able to throw Owen's First Birthday Party exactly the way we envisioned it. It was a lot of time and effort, but *so* worth it. We put a lot of love into it. It was such a fun day and is a day we'll always look back on as one of the best days we've ever had.
Nuno and I had lots of ideas on how to custom make decorations for Owen's party. Most of what we used was purchased from the dollar store or made by us, so it really wasn't a huge investment - by our party throwing standards.
Here is the upstairs party spread. I made a Cherry Bomb Punch, a bowl full of red and blue salt water taffy from our trip to Florida, homemade Chex Mix and had a few of the Everyday Food appetizers and cupcakes I blogged about in the last entry.

The salt water taffy didn't go over too well at the party so I brought the rest with me to work and everyone at the office loved it. It was blue raspberry and red licorice flavoured.
We had a monthly time line of Owen photos.
Since there were a few older kids attending we decided to give magnetic colouring sheets with crayons as favours. Adults took home robot magnets.
There was a ton of food, more than enough to feed our 50 guests. It included broasted chicken, potatoes, penne & meatballs, cabbage rolls, salads and dinner rolls.
Owen wasn't in the best birthday spirits during his baby party, but a quick nap did the trick and he was in a tip-top shape when it came time to eat. 
 He ate Aunt Maggie's couscous salad and potatoes. 

 Then it came time for the cake.
Nuno and I ordered a sheet cake and carved into the shape of the knitted robot. I have to give all the credit to Nuno on accomplishing this and his commitment to fondant (when I thought it was beyond our skills). He nailed it.
He even molded Owen's first birthday candle.
Once the candle was lit Owen knew something special was about to happen.
He loved the birthday song.
And when it came to the cake...
well his face says it all.
We made sure his first birthday cake was his first taste of chocolate.
If chocolate cake, vanilla cupcakes and sugar cookies weren't enough, I also made a couple batches of David Lebovitz's Malted Milk Ice Cream. You need ice cream with cake and this flavour is a really nice accompaniment to chocolate cake. It had bits of crushed Whoppers in it. Everyone loved it and, surprisingly, malt is a flavour that is quite unfamiliar to people. I think most people thought it was milkshake flavoured ice cream.
The gifts Owen received were quite staggering. We are very humbled by our family and friend's generosity.
Owen loves his toys and is very stylish for day care.

Every evening Owen plays and reads until bed time. 
I'd say he's a lucky little one year old.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Owen Turns 1 - part one

One week ago Sunday was Owen's First Birthday. We arrived back from Florida Friday night at 9pm and his party was Sunday at noon, leaving us one day to scramble to get everything ready. It was totally worth the sleeplessness we experienced because everything went off exactly the way we planned. 

The party was inspired by two plush robots of Owens. My sister knit a blue robot when I was expecting Owen so he was our main inspiration. Here are the party invites.
We had Owen's baby friends over for a play date party in his playroom downstairs first. This is where we had several Everyday Food appetizers out. 

First were the Crunchy Paprika Chickpeas. These turned out great and are a lot like the roasted salted edamame I'm hooked on. It's a great munching snack which I enjoy more than opening a bag of chips. Second was Sweet & Spicy Almonds which were a party fav. These were quicker and easier than the chickpeas but just as delicious. Next up were the Spicy Cheese Crisps. These are, in a way, a savoury shortbread. Minimal ingredients but very tender and melting with a nice kick. All three of these are dead-easy and I'll surely make these in the future for party snacks. 

Then there were a couple more substantial appetizers we put out. This Hot Spinach Dip took a lot of spinach. Two large containers (2lbs) of fresh spinach were mixed with 6 oz of cream cheese, which in relation was very dense with spinach. Everything went off perfectly with this dip and just as the party started the top layer of toasty mozzarella was perfectly golden. Then I did something regretable - I layed tin foil over the top to prevent it from drying out. Once I removed the foil the top mozzarella layer came right off with it. No biggie really, only I didn't snag a photo when it was beautiful. I didn't bother to shred more cheese on top to fix it, I was simply too busy.

The final appetizer were these Pot Stickers. I've made dumplings in the past and they are very labour intensive, but these are so quick and easy. I made them the week before Florida and froze them, that way when we got back they thawed in the fridge and were fried just before serving. I didn't get a chance to taste them but Nuno said he heard many people saying they enjoyed them. 

All the above appetizers are complete make-again's. I was really pleased with their simplicity and flavour. If I could make 4 of these along with cupcakes and decorate a birthday cake in one day you've gotta know they were quick and easy.
Two desserts I made from scratch which are also Martha Stewart recipes were the Cog Cookies and Vanilla Cupcakes. They aren't part of the Everyday Food book but I thought I'd link to the recipes anyways.

These cog cookies are simple Sugar Cookies with blue food colouring added. I chose to do this because I didn't think I'd have time to ice them. We created the shape by using a pumpkin puree can to cut out the circumference of the cog and a shot glass to remove the centre. The notches were created by using the stem portion of a maple leaf cookie cutter.

The Vanilla Cupcakes were very basic. I used my King Arthur flour with these because I wanted to guarantee a great texture. The frosting was Sub's Plus vanilla buttercream they set aside for us on our cake order. Since Owen's birthday cake was to be finished with fondant with only a thin buttercream crumb coat, we had lots of frosting leftover. I used a pastry bag with a star tip and piled the frosting high. The robot paperliners and toothpick illustrations were purchased from Williams & Sonoma. Worth every penny spent!

Next entry will be all about the party!

Monday, November 15, 2010


Last week was our family vacation to Treasure Island, Florida. 
It was so great to spend time at the beach and by the pool. Even though we were just a short drive from Busch Gardens, we decided to stay close to our hotel and take in the local flavour. Owen still naps twice a day so we had short intervals of outdoor time. Luckily with American networks Nuno got to enjoy HBO and I got to watch all the Martha Stewart shows on Hallmark channel which made Owen's nap time great in our suite.

Here are some highlights; some food related and some not.

Starting off, we went to a place featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives called Keegans Seafood. The food here was fantastic. 
I had stone crab legs and Nuno had a grouper sandwich (actually, grouper cheeks). 
These two seafood dishes are what this part of Florida is renowned for. 
For dessert I had a Key Lime Pie.

On this trip we discovered that Owen loves to go out to eat. It combines his two favourite things, food and catching the attention of others. So we ordered him an entree off the kid's menu which came out on a frisbee. 
This is his new favourite toy, not that he knows how to throw one, but it makes a great drum.
Along with the seafood, Florida has amazing citrus. 
We went to the Orange Blossom three times while on vacation! Of course, the fresh squeezed orange juice from this place was like nothing we drink up here in Canada. I bought several Fallglo Tangerines, but what we were really going back for was their orange/vanilla twist soft serve. 
Again, something that drove Owen wild. He somehow managed to finish every kiddie cup we gave him. He actually screamed for more ice cream when he finished his cup. 

We arrived in Florida just in time to pick up huge discounts on Halloween merchandise at Target. I always wanted my kids to grow up with a tickle trunk of lots of neat costumes to play dress up. I picked up Owen's future Micheal Jackson costume for $2.50! Although MJ died while I was expecting Owen, I'll be sure he grows up learning how to dress up like the King of Pop.
Along with the MJ costume Owen also has magician, gorilla, fire fighter, swamp monster and barbarian costumes for future play.

Oh man, we discovered the most amazing place for Cuban Sandwiches!
The Floridian made the most delicious sandwiches, which are called Cubanos. It includes ham, roasted pork, Genoa salami, Swiss cheese, sliced pickles and mustard on Cuban bread which is really a French bread. So good if you're into sandwiches like I am.

While on vacation we had a small family birthday party for Owen with delicious carrot cake.
This was his first taste of cake and he was quite familiar with the taste of the icing, cream cheese! He licked the frosting first.

We might just have started a yearly tradition of a family vacation to Florida.
This past week away was a time I'll never forget.

Friday, November 12, 2010

teriyaki tofu and mushrooms and chickpeas and tomatoes

Here is our Teriyaki Tofu & Mushrooms with a side of Chickpeas and Tomatoes.

The idea of eating a slice of tofu isn't the most appealing dinner, but this recipe was suprising delicous. Using firm tofu, you first drain as much liquid as you can from the slices. This helps you achieve a very nice texture which is quite similar to the mushrooms and teriyaki is a great flavour to bring out. The chickpeas and tomatoes were a nice side, but aren't something I'd be interested in making in the future.

Monday, November 8, 2010


Here is Pastisio. 

This Greek dish is a baked pasta using ground lamb with a generous covering of bechamel sauce. I think ground lamb was one of the most difficult ingredients to find in this book. I kept having to back date the plan for making this recipe because every place I thought I'd find ground lamb doesn't seem to sell it. Most butchers don't offer it. I was desperate and even went to the States to find it and Wegman's doesn't sell it either. Looks like I didn't have to look much futher than my backyard because Lake Land Game Meats had it. This is a farm in St. Catharines which raises it's own meat including venison, elk, wild boar, bison and lamb.

This baked pasta dish is very nice. I'm so glad I went to the effort of tracking down lamb because lamb paired with the cinnamon in this dinner is so delicous. Owen and Nuno were bonkers over it! And the nice thing about this dinner is that it lasted more than one meal and is wonderful as next day leftovers.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

stuffed onions and mushroom and pecorino tarts

This was a nice bistro flavoured dinner of Stuffed Onions and Mushroom Pecorino Tarts. 

All the recipes in Everyday Food which require stuffing are so delicious and the Stuffed Onion is a great example. It may seem odd to sit and eat an entire onion to yourself, but the onion is very sweet, soft and, of course, the stuffing makes it go down nice and easy. The Mushroom Tart is over-the-top. I probably will never make this for dinner again, but I'd definitely quarter each pastry and serve as appetizers in the future. The recipe asks for far too many mushrooms so with the extra 2/3rds and extra puff pastry I made a chicken and mushroom pot pie.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

halloween 2010

I never felt like Halloween was exclusively for kids since Nuno and I, for the past 11 years, have always dressed up together. We typically have costumes which relate to each other and now with Owen in the mix we are taking advantage of the time we are able to actually choose his costume for him. We also chose to take him to a party way past his bed time in Toronto - Aunt Katie & Awn's Halloween Party. It was awesome! Here is a shot of Nuno, Owen and myself.

Sock, Sock Monkey and Monkey. Our dog Hot Tot was a banana.

On Sunday I treated everyone to an impromptu batch of Pumpkin Waffles. Owen's waffles were these mini Sanrio ones.

I'm wondering when the time will come that he protests to eating Hello Kitty waffles and will only eat the bear ones.  

In the evening we did a quick Trick or Treat run around my parents neighbourhood in Welland. Owen wasn't too sure about dressing up for a fourth time, but I think this final round proved to be worth it. We went from house to house and everyone made such a big deal about him, which got him pretty pumped, that he started waving frantically to everyone. He may have thought he was a celebrity with how he was being paraded around and fawned over. His final stop was to the home of a neighbour who never had children herself. I think that explains why she handed out cans of cream soda.