Sunday, October 31, 2010


 Happy Halloween! Hope everyone is eating plenty of candy!

Happy Halloween!

Hope everyone out there is having a good holiday!

Happy Halloween! love, Princess Leia

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Perfect Vanilla Ice Cream and the Lovely Blog Award

Happy almost-Halloween! Are you guys all gearing up with special treats and some pumpkin carving? I think we'll be carving ours today. I realize that I'm a whole holiday behind at this point, but I just can't skip this recipe! Remember back from my Thanksgiving post when I showed you those pictures of the vanilla ice cream I made? Well, you really need to make it too! It is the dessert staple! So make a run for your kitchen, break out the ice cream maker (yeah, I know it's the middle of Fall! Just do it already!), and whip up a batch of this creamy vanillay goodness! You won't regret it!

Vanilla Ice Cream (recipe adapted from Room for Dessert by David Lebovitz)
1 cup milk
pinch of salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbsp vanilla
5 egg yolks
2 cups heavy cream

- Measure the milk, salt and sugar into a saucepan and heat until it begins to simmer.

-Stir together the egg yolks in a bowl and gradually add some of the warmed milk, stirring constantly as you pour. Pour the warmed yolks back into the saucepan.

-Cook over low heat, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom with a heat-resistant spatula, until the custard thickens enough to coat the spatula.

 Strain the custard into the heavy cream and add the vanilla extract. Chill thoroughly, and freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Put it in your freezer overnight (or as long as you can restrain yourself!), and then dig in! I made this for our Thanksgiving dessert, and it went perfectly with Ben's pumpkin pie!


As a side note, I wanted to thank Jeanne at Simple Math Bakery for bestowing on me this "lovely blog award"! It was just SO sweet of her, and I'd like to share the love! Here are a few blogs that I want to recognize, and that you should really check out! They all deserve this award! If you are receiving this, please copy it to your blog (if you want to), and then pass it along to 12 other bloggers who have lovely blogs!

and now for something Completely Delicious- Annalise is so creative with her food! I love her down to earth recipes and seasonal thinking!

Annies Eats- The decorating ideas on this blog are out of this world! I want to make everything she posts, and eat it too! I'd browse this site just for the pictures!

Brown Eyed Baker- Michelle always has a recipe for exactly what I want to make! And if I don't know what I want to bake then there are sure to be great ideas waiting for me on her blog! I love how clean and professional all of her photos look!

Carrots 'n' Cake- Tina has a great mix of food, recipes, and exercise. Plus I just can't get enough of her little pug!

Espresso and Cream- Madison shares a clean and beautiful blog, with creative recipes that I always want to try! Her photography style is my goal! Everything is beautiful and simple, great quality shots, but still with the feel of something homemade!

Ezra Pound Cake- Now here is a blog that I go to when I'm looking for something to make at home. A good meal, or a simple dessert or treat. This is food presented beautifully and professionally, but in a very accessible way. I think I just saw something on there that I want to make for dinner!

fANNEtastic food- Anne's blog is one of the fist I ever started reading! I love that she can create such healthy meals and still have them look so good! Plus, I like seeing her daily food, and her exercise regime really inspires me to get off the couch!

Joy the Baker- Joy is the best! She writes my very favorite blog! She is hilarious, smart, and always has a fresh take on everything. I look forward to every lighthearted post, and to all of her drool-worthy recipes! This is the place to go for baking recipes (and some other good stuff too!). 

How Sweet It Is- Jessica writes my other favorite blog. She has a great sense of humor, and her writing style is so fun to read! Plus, she is notoriously in love with everything peanut butter/chocolate, possibly with bacon on top. Oh, and she has a very impressive shoe collection!

Kath Eats Real Food- KERF is on of those blogs that I stand in awe of. Very professional, great recipes, fantastic photography and lots of fun!

Koko's Kitchen- Koko writes such a lovely blog! I enjoy all of her creative recipes so much! She is always giving me new ideas, and new spins on classics. 

Willow Bird Baking- Julie writes about making beautiful delicious food. Very accessible recipes, but you really just want to make it so that her pictures will come to life in your own kitchen! Great ideas are overflowing from this blog!

I hope you will check out some of these blogs! I enjoy their posts SO much, and I hope you will too! They all have very lovely blogs!

Question of the day: What are you going to be for Halloween? What are your special plans to celebrate? What is your favorite Halloween treat?

Happy haunting!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Butternut Squash Soup

Huh, where to start? Well, I like silky things. Do you like silky things?

Think expensive underwear, washed dogs...and this butternut squash soup.

Seriously. It's good. Plus, it's orange, and feels like Fall. Who could argue with that? You should make it.

Want something to really convince you? To push you over the edge and into the soup pot? It's the toasted pumpkin seeds. They are divine. Beautiful little light and crunchy pops of flavor floating on top. Perfect!

So here it is. The soup you'll be making tonight. And all through Fall. Oh, and probably all through the Winter too. Just warning you now.

Butternut Squash Soup
(from The America's Test Kitchen Healthy Family Cookbook)
3 pounds butternut squash (about 1 large or 2 small), peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch chunks (about 8 cups)
1 onion, halved and sliced 1/2 inch thick
4 tsp canola oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup dry white wine
5 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 1/2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup half-and-half
1 Tbsp minced fresh sage (this is my own addition!)

1. Adjust the oven racks to the upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat the oven to 450*. Toss the squash and onion with 1 tablespoon of the oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt, then spread out over two rimmed baking sheets.

Roast,stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are lightly browned and softened, 30-40 minutes.

2. Heat the remaining 1 teaspoon oil in a large Dutch oven (I used a stock pot) over medium heat until shimmering. Add the roasted vegetables and cook, stirring often, until the squash begins to break down, 3-5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

3. Stir in the wine, scraping up any browned bits, and simmer until nearly evaporated, about 1 minute. Stir in the broth, sage and bay leaf and bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook until the broth is flavorful, about 5 minutes.

4. Discard the bay leaf. Puree the soup in a blender, in batches, until smooth (I used my immersion blender instead). Return the soup to a clean pot, stir in the half-and-half, and cook gently over medium-low heat until the soup is hot, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.

I served it with toasted pumpkin seeds on top!

The only bad part? Peeling butternut squash sucked! Seriously, someone needs to come up with a better way than spending 30 minutes mangling a squash!

 Luckily it has great texture and flavor, so I guess I'll be using it again! Mainly because I couldn't live without this soup! Want a slight variation? You could use coconut milk instead of cream! Cuz it's good to keep your creamy options open.

We had a bit of cheesy veg pizza on the side. Cuz that's how we roll.  It filled out our meal nicely, and was pretty darn good dipped into this bowl of deliciousness!

Oh, and Izzie liked licking the bowl. And my spoon. And the pot. She has good taste.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Things That Make Me Feel Fall-y!

Hello friends! How was your Monday? I spent the day with Ben and his dad, hauling firewood that we cut and split yesterday! There is a bit of a wind storm going on, and the air is brisk, so I had on my ear flap beanie. Our Maple trees are all showing off their beautiful vibrant leaves, and I was sipping chai all day. This combination makes me feel SO Fall-y! Here are some other things that make me feel Fall-y.

I am totally in to decorated Halloween and Fall cookies at work right now! Here are some of my sugar cookies. (They may look familiar...picture at the top?)

I also made some meringue ghosts!


This is our huge, gorgeous maple tree, right in our view from the deck! We love watching it change throughout the year, but it is at it's most spectacular in Fall!

Izzie and I love the leaves! Plus, now that it's Fall, I get to wear my orange sweatshirt! Kinda reminds me of pumpkins!

Now that the weather is wetter, we have just an overload of mushrooms and fungus! I have never seen so many mushrooms on one island! There are SO many varieties too. We have a mushroom guide book, and it's so fun to identify them (when we can!). Check out this beauty!

And here is another cool growth we found. Pretty awesome!

This is what the weather looked like today. Grey and windy! We went down to the ocean to check it out. Big swells, and white caps as far as the eye can see! Plus, because we were up a ways from the water, you could really lean into the wind and it would support you a bit! I love that feeling, especially when you get a bit of sea spray in your face at the same time!
Needless to say, I am really enjoying Fall here on Pender Island! I hope you are too! So break out your own ear-flap beanie and go stomp on some leaves!

Todays question: What makes YOU feel Fall-y?

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Garlic Gold Guacummus

Happy weekend bloggy friends! Here in South Western British Columbia we are waiting for a big wind storm to arrive! Eeeee! Can't wait! I just love relaxing inside with my slippers and tea, watching the weather go crazy! (OK, sometimes I need to walk down to the ocean to experience the action there too. Nothing like ocean spray in your face!).I totally hope the power goes out!!! I really have been wanting to finish my book, The Man in the Iron Mask by Alexandre Dumas (one of my favorite authors!), so hopefully this weather will be conducive to that!

I am also anticipating some soup or stew action in my kitchen to go with the weather, and we brought home a freshly baked loaf of light potato sourdough bread to go on the side! I really prefer my bread with garlic, because lets face it, garlic makes everything better! Lately I have been drowning my bread in Garlic Gold nuggets! I received some sample Garlic Gold nuggets, and I have been enjoying them SO much! Here's what I got in the mail. Garlic Gold original nuggets, sea salt nuggets, parmesan nuggets, and italian herb nuggets, plus a few packets of Garlic Gold oil! That package was quite the treasure chest of loot!

Want to know some good stuff about Garlic Gold Nuggets? They are USDA certified organic! For the original nuggets the ingredients are "organic garlic hand chopped and toasted in crunchy perfection in organic extra-virgin olive oil" Sounds good, right? Right! The bottle has a handy shaker top, and the suggestion that these can be "the healthy alternative to bacon bits!" My bottles are at least halfway gone at this point. I can't seem to stop using them! Seriously! This stuff is good on everything! Want some examples? I thought you'd never ask!

Here are the parmesan nuggets on some bread. The perfect accompaniment to pasta and a salad! The parmesan flavor comes through nicely, and the garlic nuggets are so light and crisp! It's a little burst of flavor every time you hit one! Mmmm

I shake both the original and the parmesan nuggets onto pasta dishes. Adds good flavor, plus those little flavor punches are great when you hit the nuggets!

Baked asparagus with sea salt nuggets! Oh yeah! This is my favorite way to prepare asparagus, and now it's even better! Toss your asparagus in olive oil, grind on some black pepper, and liberally sprinkle with Garlic Gold sea salt nuggets. Bake at 350* for 15-20 minutes and you are golden! (ha, bad joke! I'm not sorry!)

This asparagus was good enough for our Thanksgiving dinner!

Another use of the parmesan nuggets. I sprinkled them all over a turkey and chard saute. YUM!
I don't have any pictures (bad blogger!) but we have also been enjoying the Italian nuggets. Ben seasoned some ground turkey with it before putting it on pizza! I bet it would be good in meat balls too!

Here is a little something I came up with, using my lovely Garlic Gold samples! Guacummus! I'm sure that most of you have made some imagining of this at some point. It's pretty much just a plain hummus with an avocado and some guacamole flavoring! SO good! Who cares about crackers, I was literally eating this with a spoon! Whip out your Garlic Gold nuggets, and about 1-2 tablespoons of garlic gold oil and you're ready to  rock!

I used one can of garbanzo beans, 2 cloves or garlic, 2 Tbsp lemon juice, 2-4 Tablespoons olive oil plus the bit of garlic oil, 1 Tablespoon cumin, 1 Tablespoon coriander, 1 large avocado, and a good sprinkling of Garlic Gold nuggets.

 Puree away, adding more or less oil and seasoning as you see fit. Just try and get a nice creamy texture.

Serve with chopped tomato, chopped cilantro, sunflower seeds and another hefty sprinkling of garlic nuggets, because you can never have enough garlic!

And now dig in and enjoy! Mmm! You should check out their web site! They have recipes, gift boxes, and lots of other delicious garlic products! You can also read about the health benefits of garlic there. I always love being reminded that something I think is a tasty treat is good for me too! So, on that note, please excuse me while I go shake garlic nuggets into my mouth!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Blueberry Bavarian Cream and A CSN Winner!

Hello everyone! Happy Friday!!! (If I were a muppet I'd be dancing and waving my arms!) The weekend is almost here, and I have been a craft-making maniac! I recently paid for my table for the Christmas craft fair, so I have been working on my stock! I think I'll be selling an odd conglomeration of handmade cards and gift tags, jewelry, homemade chapstick, and probably some homemade candy. Guess what I'll be doing as soon as I'm done with this post? ;)

Before I dive into the Bavarian cream recipe I'd like to post the winner of my CSN giveaway! By random selection, the winner is....


Congratulations! Please email me (in my contact tab) with your email address and I'll have your gift certificate to you ASAP! Thanks for participating everyone!

Here is the Bavarian cream recipe that I made for our Canadian Thanksgiving! I used blueberries, but this really works with any berry. Enjoy!

Blueberry Bavarian Cream (adapted from Cathy Burgetts strawberry bavarian cream recipe)
2 Tbsp gelatin
1/2 cup water
1 cup heavy cream
1 lb. blueberries
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
juice of 1/2 lemon

-Prepare a one-quart plain or fluted mold by rinsing it with water.

 -In a bowl, stir the gelatin into the water and stir it with your finger to dissolve. Leave it until spongy, about 5 minutes.

-Whip the cream until it holds soft peaks, and refrigerate it.

-Puree blueberries in a blender or food processor.

 There should be 1 3/4 cups of puree.

-Bring the sugar and water to a boil.

Remove from the heat and add the softened gelatin to the hot syrup. Stir until the gelatin is completely dissolved. Add this syrup to the blueberry puree and stir in the lemon juice.

-Set the mixture over a bowl of ice water and stir until it starts to thicken.

-Gradually fold in the softly whipped cream and pour the mixture into the prepared mold. (work fast, because the cream sets quickly.)

Oh, and don't waste any!

-Cover and leave in the refrigerator until firmly set, 2-3 hours.

-The bavarian cream can be made up to 24 hours ahead, but it stiffens with age and must be brought to room temperature before serving.

-Not more than 3 hours before serving, unmold the cream. Run a knife around the edge and pull the cream away from the mold with a finger to release the airlock.

-Dip the mold in hot water for a few seconds and dry off the base. I filled my sink with hot water.

-Set a platter on top of the mold and invert it. Give a sharp shake so the cream falls onto the platter.

You don't have to use a fancy pan like this, you can use a regular cake pan, or a tube pan or whatever. I just like the fancy look it gives. If you use a plain pan you can pipe whipped cream over the top for decoration! The bavarian cream can also be used as the filling in a Charlotte! You just need lady fingers and you're in business!

Hope you guys like this recipe, and enjoy it as much as we did! Dig in!