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*

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.

The bird’s are twittering the scone of spring… er, song of spring.

March 24, 2010 at 3:39 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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Spring is officially here. I think that spring is probably my second favourite season. The coming of spring means the start of nice weather, which makes me smile.

This year, though, spring has come too soon. Well, not spring but my birthday. Yes, my birthday is near and I am dreading it. I really don’t want to add another number to my age.

I know that most people probably think that I am overreacting about my age but they just don’t understand. The fact that I don’t have a career by now is troubling to me, which probably has to do with the fact that I have a type A personality (my husband likes to say that I am type A plus plus personality).

If you happen to come across my grade one diary you would find it filled with entries about how well I did on tests and my dreams about going to university. What kind of ridiculous six-year-old writes about that stuff? Probably a child who is type A.

When I got to university I was determined to finish early so I could establish a career sooner. Not only would I take summer classes but I had an over-limit course load in which I needed to get the dean’s approval for (seven courses for one semester).

I would probably still be in school working on my second degree but my husband got this amazing job. While I am so grateful for the career opportunities that he gets, I can’t help but feel unaccomplished. I know, however, that one day I will be able to establish my own successful career.

For now, I am just trying to be the best stay-at-home mother/wife I can be. And, since spring always reminds me of scones (I have no idea why) I whipped up a batch.

These scones are a bit more moist than most scones I have tried albeit I have never had a homemade scone. While they are moist, I think they still maintain the integrity of what makes a scone a scone.

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Cranberry Oat Scones
Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup rolled-oats
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp milk

Method:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix together sour cream and baking soda in a small bowl and set aside.

In a large bowl, sift together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Using a pastry blended (or two forks) cut in the butter until it resembles coarse crumbs.

Stir in rolled oats and cranberries. Then, stir in the sour cream a little bit at a time. The dough will start to come together.

On a clean surface, flip out the dough. Knead together the dough so that it fully comes together.

Once all the dough has become one big piece, lightly flour the countertop. For dough into a ball and then roll out into a disc that is about 7 inches in diameter and 1 inch thick.

Cut into eight equal pieces.

Place scones on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

In a small cup beat together the egg and milk. Using a pastry brush, brush the scones with the egg wash (two coats per scone).

Bake in a preheated oven for 25-30 minutes or until scones are brown and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the middle of a scone.

Serve warm or at room temperature with butter, jam, clotted cream or by itself.

Life is good (trying to bake a wedding cake pt. 2)

February 15, 2010 at 8:06 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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(This is me just less of an evil grin and more of a happy grin. Oh and I don’t have a beard or wear a sombrero.)


Lately I have been elated and it’s a nice change.  For a while I felt very stressed. There were so many changes happening all at once in my life and everything seemed chaotic.

I am a person who likes organization and when you move and your eight months pregnant with a two-year-old organization isn’t even a word you can comprehend. Well, that was the case with me.

Well, we had been living in Whistler for already six months and I was still stressed. The house was always a mess and there was never enough time, or so it seemed. Then something clicked. I started cleaning and organizing. Now I am in a happy place and haven’t been better; life is great.

I think when a your a stay-at-home parent it is important to have a place that feels organized because your in the same setting for basically 24 hours a day sans trips to the market and little outings. That is probably the one piece of advice I would give to someone becoming a stay-at-home parent.  You are a lot more sane when you are in an aesthetically visual place things are more functional.

Because my house is more functional I am able to do more. More equals trying to make a wedding cake part two!

This time I tried my own recipe which I will not post. Apparently my husband and his friends liked it. It was a cake that was made with brown sugar and all-purpose flour so it turned out dense.

I also tried the Whiteout Cake frosting from Baked and this time I was a lot happier with the outcome. I realized that when I make it I have to take the pot of the burner and whisk making sure I get the bottom of the pot. By doing this it is easier to prevent the sugar mixture from burning.

I used 6 inch cake pans and cut each cake in half to make a six layered cake. I was really happy with the results. I cut out of a piece of paper and then laid it on top of the cake. I then sprinkled red sugar crystals carefully over the cut out section and removed the paper.

Unfortunately I didn’t get to take a picture of it but my husband’s friends did.

It was quite a sight with my husband walking into a room full of his friends carrying a cake with a heart on it. Oh, the things he does for me.

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Below is the recipe for the White Chocolate Frosting:

Baked’s White chocolate frosting
1/4 cup white chocolate chips, melted
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups milk
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened yet still cool and cut up into small chunks
1 tsp pure vanilla

In a small bowl whisk together sugar and flour so that it is thoroughly combined.

Pour sugar mixture into a medium saucepan. Add milk and cream to the saucepan and whisk together over medium heat. Cook until mixture starts to boil and thickens (about 20 minutes). Make sure you whisk it every few minutes. When whisking lift the pan off the burner and thoroughly whisk making sure you scrape the bottom of the pan.

Get your electric mixer ready by putting on the paddle attachment.

Once a boil is achieved pour into a bowl of an electric mixer and mix on high speed and beat until mixture becomes cool.

Reduce the speed to slow and add the butter and mix until combined. Increase speed to medium-high and mix till frosting becomes fluffy.

Add white chocolate and vanilla and mix until combined.

If frosting is not stiff enough place it in the fridge for a but then re-beat to achieve the right consistency.

Things that make me happy

February 11, 2010 at 4:00 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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There are so many things that make me happy.  My family, of course, is what brings the most happiness to my life.  I love them so much.  But, most of the things that make me happy are the little things.   Ever since becoming a mom my life has totally shifted.

I used to enjoy buying clothes, getting my hair done, going out for ridiculously priced coffee and what not.  Then I had my daughter. I started to do activities that didn’t involve spending.  I learned (or semi-learned?) to cook and bake and I started to become an adult.  For this, I am very thankful.

Having two little ones makes it tough to get stuff done and I will be the first to admit, though shamefully, that my house is usually a wreck.  It never seems to be in order but today, well, today I was able to clean!  That made me extremely happy.

Though cleaning may make me happy, burgers make me ecstatic.  I guess it was my lucky day today because I got to clean and we had burgers for dinner! What can I say, I am a girl who likes a good burger.

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And, a good burger it was…

Italian Sausage Burger

Ingredients:

  • One 16oz package of ground hot Italian sausage
  • One 16oz package of mild Italian sausage
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/4 cup of quick-cooking oats
  • 4 tbsp hickory bbq sauce
  • 1/2 tbsp Montreal steak spice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tbsp dried parsley

Method:

In a larger bowl mix together all the ingredients. Then, form eight hamburger patties roughly around the size of your palm.

Cook burger till done. We used a skillet and it took about 12 minutes. First we seared the outsides of the burger on high heat and then turned down the heat to medium-low to cook the rest.

How easy is that?

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