Very berry strawberry Cheesecake

April 23, 2011 at 9:22 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments
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It’s been awhile I know.  I always have the intention of writing a blog post but the days become clouded with curious children exploring their way through every nook of the house, finding treasures and creating messes.  Thus, the nights become a manic cleaning frenzy ending with the floors gleaming simply to await the return of sticky fingers and applesauce paintings sprinkled with flour.

Right now everything seems hard.  I am tired.  Too tired to even give a detailed explanation of how I feel.  At twenty-five-years old I am drained.

I know this is unfair to say this but sometimes I feel like I am a single mother.  It’s a ridiculous comparison, I realize this.  But, with my husbands work schedule (sometimes working 6 days a week, sometimes working nights, sometimes working days) and no family or close friends that I can depend on the loneliness and work is overwhelming.  I don’t know what more to say.  I can’t even express my feelings and I’m not sure why.  Am I unsure? Am I trying to repress?  Am I scared?

Delving into the abyss that is my inner-most self is frightening so all I can do is focus on the positive and face that monster when I feel it’s ready to be tamed. Not now. Sometime soon.

So, I focus on the good, the blessings, the fortune: beaming at the thought of my children playing together and getting to experience the narrative that there lives will weave; laughing at the silliness of my husband and his unintentional thoughtfulness but smiling at the comfort and assurance of his forever love.

My family is the foundation of my life and their love is rooted in my heart.

In fact, my husband brought me some happiness the other day by getting my first baking job.  A co-worker of his asked if I sold my baking (which I never really thought about or tried to pursue) and he forwarded her my email.

The guidelines were simple: a strawberry cheesecake that will feed four people and this is what I came up with.

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Strawberry Cheesecake with strawberry lava layer (adapted from Bon Appetite)

yield: Serves 12

Begin preparing this a day before serving.
Ingredients 
For crust
  • 20 whole graham cracker (10 ounces total), broken
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, diced
  • 1/2 cup packed golden brown sugar
For lava layer
  • 1 cup strawberries, chopped
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar

For filling

  • 4 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 5 large eggs
For topping
  • 2 cups sour cream
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For topping

  • 2 16-ounce baskets strawberries, hulled and thinly sliced
  • 1 18-ounce jar raspberry jelly

Method

Make crust:
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Wrap foil around outside of 10-inch-diameter springform pan with 3-inch-high sides. Combine graham crackers, butter and sugar in processor. Using on/off turns, blend until crumbs begin to stick together. Press crumbs onto bottom and 2 3/4 inches up sides of springform pan. Bake crust 10 minutes. Transfer to rack and cool while preparing filling. Maintain oven temperature.

Make lava layer:

In a small saucepan, combine strawberries and sugar set pan over medium heat. Stir strawberries and when they soften mash.  Cook until reduced by half.  Remove from stovetop and cool to room temperature.

Make filling:

Beat cream cheese, sugar, lemon juice, vanilla and salt in large bowl until very smooth. Beat in flour. Add eggs and beat just until blended, stopping occasionally to scrape down sides of bowl.

Spoon a layer of batter on top of the crust.  Then pour strawberry filling over top gently spreading it to the sides of the pan.  Pour in the rest of the batter.

Bake cheesecake until outer 2-inch edge of cake os puffed and slightly cracked, center is just set and top is brown in spots, about 55 minutes. Transfer cake to rack. Cool 10 minutes. Maintain oven temperature.

Make topping:
Whisk sour cream, sugar and vanilla in medium bowl to blend.

Spoon topping over cake, spreading to edge of pan. Bake until topping is just set, about 5 minutes. Remove from oven. Run knife between crust and pan.

Cool hot cake in pan on rack, Chill overnight.

Release pan sides from cheesecake.

Arrange slices of berries in staring from the outside, strawberry points facing out.  Continue to place strawberries in a circular patter and cover completely.

Stir jelly in heavy small saucepan over medium-=low heat until melted.Cool to barely lukewarm, about 5 minutes.

Brush enough jelly over berries to glaze generously, allowing some to drip between berries.

*This post has been entered in Sweet as Sugar*

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Trouble Makers.

November 26, 2010 at 6:04 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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My kids are great. I love them. That being said, they are also little monsters (my three-year-old even insisted on being a monster for Hallowe’en and her favourite movie is Monsters Inc). I think my kids are such trouble-makers so that I can experience what my parents went through.

When I was only a toddler, my brother and I would hatch plans and get into a terrible amount of trouble. Soon after I learned how to walk, I used the drawers in the kitchen to create steps up to counter. There I was able to get the bottle of Flintstones vitamins and hand them to my brother who proceeded to open said bottle–we ate them all.

Another time, we decided that we wanted all the Fudgesicles and Popsicles for ourselves. So, when my mom and dad went to bed we snuck downstairs to the big chest freezer in the basement. My brother lifted me up while I opened the freezer and took the icy treats. We thought we would be smart and save them so we hid them under our pillow. We awoke to my mother’s screams as she saw a melted brown mess spreading from underneath my pillow.

Now, it is my turn.

It seems like every day my daughters stir up trouble. One incident happened just yesterday. I went to the bathroom and I was gone for under 2 minutes only to return to a gigantic mess of cracked eggs and butter smeared over the kitchen floor and on my little angels. Mind you, this was just after then had been given a bath.

Today, they decided to top themselves. My daughter asked me to peel her an orange. My first mistake was turning my back to them. They grabbed one of their chairs from the craft table and placed it near the cabinets. My eldest daughter climbed up and removed the vaseline from the a basket. All the time I was doing this I was thinking “wow, my children are so great. They can play so nicely and quietly together.” That was my second mistake–my girls never play quietly.

Let’s just say that vaseline is a lot harder to clean up than butter and eggs.

Despite the lack of butter and eggs, I knew I had to make some cupcakes today. It was someone’s birthday weekend and I had to deliver some birthday spirit in the form of baked goodies. It was a bit hard to figure out what to make because this person doesn’t really like sweet stuff. So I racked my brain and decided on Gourmet’s dessert of the month, Spiced Applesauce Cake with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting.

Again, this recipe is perfect to satisfy a desire for autumn flavours (and a cinnamon fanatic like myself). Instead of a cake I made cupcakes so that it would be easier to serve and eat.

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SPICED APPLESAUCE CAKE WITH CINNAMON CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
From Gourmet Magazine
Makes 14 cupcakes

FOR CAKE

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened applesauce

FOR FROSTING

  • 5 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Method

For the Cake:
Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Line muffin tin with paper cups or grease.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices.

Beat butter, brown sugar, and vanilla with an electric mixer at high speed until pale and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.

Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in applesauce. At low speed, mix in flour mixture until just combined.

Scoop batter out into muffin tin filling it 3/4 full.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted into centre comes out clean.

Cool in muffin tins for 10 minutes then transfer to cooling rack to cool completely.

For the Frosting:

Beat cream cheese, butter, and vanilla with an electric mixer at high speed until fluffy.

Sift confectioners sugar and cinnamon over cream cheese mixture, then beat at medium speed until incorporated.

Spread frosting over top of cooled cupcakes.

For the love of Autumn.

October 18, 2010 at 11:12 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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I absolutely love autumn. I think it is my favourite season. I love the smell of the sweet decay of leaves, the vivid colours of rust and gold that hang from tree branches and the crisp fall air.

Autumn is also my favourite season to run in because of the reasons mentioned above. However, since I live in British Columbia this time of the year means rain. I don’t have a problem running in the rain (it actually makes me feel tough and reminds me of action movie montages where the heroes are training for the next battle). I can’t run in the rain anymore though because I am a nice mother and would rather my kids not soaking wet.

So, when it’s a rainy October day and running is not an option the next best thing to do is bake cookies to warm-up the house and our stomachs.

Fall baking, to me and probably most people, means a treat that is made with spices and brings comfort upon the first bite.

I decided to make these snickerdoodles because they encompass what I believe is a good autumn treat, and my husband told me he wanted me to make them. A win-win situation for all!

I found the recipe from this great blog called Liv Life, which always features delicious goodies.

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Best Ever Snickerdoodles
Nancy Baggett, The All-American Cookie Book p. 14

Flavorful cookies with a texture that ranges from slightly crispy around the edges to slightly chewy as you reach the center. Sure to be a hit anywhere you take them!

Ingredients

  • 2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp cream of tarter
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly softened
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 Tbs light corn syrup
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup sugar combined with 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon for topping

Method

Preheat oven to 375º and prepare baking sheets with a silicone mat or cooking spray.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cream of tarter, baking soda, salt and nutmeg, set aside. In another large bowl, beat the butter, sugar and corn syrup together until well blended and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla, beating until well blended and smooth. Beat in half of the flour mixture until evenly incorporated. Stir in the remaining flour mixture just until combined. Let the dough stand for 5-10 minutes. Mix together the additional sugar and cinnamon in a bowl.

Roll portions of the dough into generous 1 1/2 inch balls with lightly greased hands (dough will be soft). Roll each ball in the cinnamon sugar. Place on the baking sheets, spacing about 2 3/4 inches apart.

Bake the cookies 8-11 minutes, or just until light golden brown at the edges. Reverse the sheet from front to back half way through the cooking time to ensure even browning. Transfer the baking sheets to a wire rack and let stand until the cookies firm up slightly, about 2 minutes. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool. Enjoy!

Blueberry Muffins

October 6, 2010 at 3:01 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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As a young mom I often feel intimidated around older moms. I don’t know if all young mothers feel like this but I do. Now after having two children, I am starting to gain confidence. However, that confidence suddenly becomes fleeting and I am broken down within two minutes over certain instances.

The times when I can’t control my children and they run around or the moments where I have older women telling me how I should dress or parent my children is when the belief in myself as a mother crumbles into a pile of self-doubt.

When my oldest daughter was born I was constantly busy trying to balance the life of a university student with motherhood. Some days I would go out of the house with my daughter dressed in a sleeper onsie, which for those who don’t know is basically a one-piece pajama with long arms and legs.

At the mommy groups, older mothers would constantly comment on the dreaded sleeper. “Oh, your daughter is so adorable but she’s wearing a sleeper?” “Is that a sleeper your daughter is wearing?” were questions I often heard.

Time passed and I, of course, became more resilient. However, sometimes the comments from complete strangers still sting. I don’t know if I am a good mother, but I do know that I am constantly striving to be one. I love my kids and my biggest fear is failing them. So, I try to spend as much time with them by interaction.

One activity my eldest daughter likes to do is help me bake. I usually give her a bowl of flour and water and let her “bake” daddy something. Because I love my daughter and feel an utter amount of regret for leaving the house with her while she was wearing sleepers I decided she could bake today.

Here is a recipe for Best Blueberry Muffins. It is an America’s Test Kitchen recipe and I really liked the way they made the blueberry flavour intense. I might not be the best mom but I know a darn good recipe for blueberry muffins so I guess that is a step in the right direction.

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Best Blueberry Muffins
Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen

From Season 10: Best Weekend Breakfast

Makes 12 muffins

Ingredients

  • 2 cups fresh blueberries (about 10 ounces) (I used frozen wild blueberries as blueberries aren’t in season)
  • 1 1/8cups sugar (8 ounces) plus 1 teaspoon
  • 2 1/2cups unbleached all-purpose flour (12 1/2 ounces)
  • 2 1/2teaspoons baking powder
  • 1teaspoon table salt
  • 2large eggs
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter , melted and cooled slightly
  • 1/4cup vegetable oil (I used Almond oil)
  • 1cup buttermilk (I used whole milk)
  • 1 1/2teaspoons vanilla extract

Method
Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Spray standard muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray.

Bring 1 cup blueberries and 1 teaspoon sugar to simmer in small saucepan over medium heat.

Cook, mashing berries with spoon several times and stirring frequently, until berries have broken down and mixture is thickened and reduced to ¼ cup, about 6 minutes. Transfer to small bowl and cool to room temperature, 10 to 15 minutes.

Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt together in large bowl. Whisk remaining 11/8 cups sugar and eggs together in medium bowl until thick and homogeneous, about 45 seconds. Slowly whisk in butter and oil
until combined. Whisk in buttermilk and vanilla until combined. Using rubber spatula, fold egg mixture and remaining cup blueberries into flour mixture until just moistened. (Batter will be very lumpy with few spots of dry flour; do not overmix.)

Following photos below, use ice cream scoop or large spoon to divide batter equally among prepared muffin cups (batter should completely fill cups and mound slightly). Spoon teaspoon of cooked berry mixture into center of each mound of batter. Using chopstick or skewer, gently swirl berry filling into batter using figure-eight motion.

Bake until muffin tops are golden and just firm, 17 to 19 minutes, rotating muffin tin from front to back halfway through baking time.

Cool muffins in muffin tin for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack and cool 5 minutes before serving.

Chocolate chip cookies are a good bet in the Land of the Midnight Sun.

February 26, 2010 at 5:32 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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I spent six years of my life in Yellowknife, N.W.T.  It was an experience, that’s for sure.  We moved up there for my father’s job when I was five from the urban mecca of Toronto, Ontario.

I don’t know if you have ever been to Yellowknife but the winter’s there are gloomy and you hardly see daylight.

During the winter day’s there wasn’t very much to do.  It was way to dark to play outside.  Even if there was some light, playing in minus 40 degree weather isn’t fun.  Believe me, I did it and got frost bite a few times.

Since playing outside was not an option my brother and I always had friend’s over to our house after school.  It was always the house to go to because both my parents were usually at work and there were yummy goodies, or more specifically my mom’s delicious chocolate chip cookies.

Everyone wanted those cookies. No one wanted to share and with no parents around  many brother-sister scraps took place (our friends knew not to get involved with arguing siblings).  These fights continued to happen until we decided to play a game to win the cookies.

Of course, ever 8-year-old knows how to play poker (or at least my brother and I did and we taught others, the little trouble makers we were) and poker was the game to be played.  The wager?–chocolate chip cookies.

So there we all were, 4 or 5 kids playing poker for  cookies.  Oh, the life of a child in Yellowknife.

Anyway, I decided recently that I wanted to make a chocolate chip cookie my way.  I wanted a cookie that was not too sweet, had just enough chocolate, a crispy bottom and chewy centre.

Lo and behold my chocolate chip cookie recipe.

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Tori’s Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
Ingredients:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1-1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp milk
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Method:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a bowl of an electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment cream together butter and sugars on medium until smooth for 3 minutes.

Beat in eggs one at a time and then mix in vanilla.

In a small cup, heat milk in the microwave for 5 seconds. Remove, swirl milk around and microwave for another 5 seconds.

Add baking soda to milk and stir until baking soda becomes dissolved. Add milk to batter while mixing on medium speed (make sure you scrape the bottom of the cup to get all the baking soda out). Add salt and mix.

With the mixer on low speed, add flour by 1/2 cup intervals and mix until combined. Once flour is combined stir in chocolate chips.

Shape cookies by scooping out a tablespoon of batter, rolling it into a ball and then placing it on a baking sheet that has been lined with parchment paper.

Bake for 10 minutes, turning baking sheet once after 5 minutes so that cookies are evenly browned. When the cookie is cooked it will have spread and be golden.

Remove from oven and let rest for two minutes. Transfer cookie to a wired cooling rack and let rest for 30 – 45 minutes before putting them in an airtight container.

Eating in Whistler: Creekbread

February 10, 2010 at 4:11 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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My husband came home from work one day and saw the mess. He saw all of it: the scattered paper, the toys thrown around, lack of dinner and the remnants of spilt flour because of THIS…


She’s beautiful isn’t she

That is when he decided to go out for dinner and I realized that I had married the right man. I knew I chose a winner.

He wanted to try a new pizza place called Creekbread which is located near the base of Blackcomb in Creekside. This restaurant focuses on “all natural, wood-fired, clay oven pizza.”

We ordered two 12 inch pizzas which cost us a whopping 40 dollars. The first pizza we tried was their special the Beef Teriyaki. We found that for the price there wasn’t very many toppings. True, they were all organic but it still seemed like a big price to pay for the amount toppings we got whether they were organic or not.

The second pizza was called Mopsy’s Kalua Pork. I didn’t like this one at all and my husband thought it wasn’t that great. It had pork shoulder, mayo bbq sauce, goat cheese, red onions, pineapple, mozzarella and asiago cheese. It was just a tad too sweet and I didn’t have seconds.

The verdict? We wouldn’t go there again but it was nice to have but we wouldn’t go there again.

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