Living The Sweet Life: 2010

Friday, October 22, 2010

Pumpkin Cheesecake


This recipe was given to me by a good friend as most recipes are.  It's a combination of my oldest son's two favourite things, cheesecake and pumpkin pie.  It's hard to imagine any dessert other than pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving, but trust me on this - you will change your mind when you taste this.  My girlfriend was almost tempted to sit down and write this out on a cute recipe card like she has in the past, but then she got thinking and decided, no "we" (as in all the friends) have an old "clipped" original version just like this one.  It's part of the fun that we all have the same; an old newspaper clipping that has been blown up on a copier so we can see it, it's been faxed and scanned, emailed, facebooked and now blogged.  So here it is, your own beaten up copy.  You can make this one day ahead and you're guests will love it.

Pin up image by Gil Elvgren


Method:

1. For The Crust

24 graham crackers crushed (that's two cups of the crumbs)
1/2 cup sugar (try not to notice how much sugar is in this recipe)
1/2 cup melted butter

Combine the graham cracker crumbs with the sugar and melted butter.  Press into a 9 x 13 buttered pan.

2. For The Cheesecake Layer

8 ounces of cream cheese (that's one brick if you're Canadian)
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs beaten

Beat the cream cheese, sugar and beaten eggs together.  Pour over the crust and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

3.  For The Pumpkin Layer:

2 cups of canned pumpkin (I use Royal City brand, because that's what my Grandma used)
3 egg yolks (set aside the whites)
1/2 cup milk (this is no time to use low fat milk)
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 envelope of unflavoured gelatin (dissolved in 1/4 c cold water)

In a saucepan cook the canned pumpkin for 10 minutes on medium heat.

While the pumpkin is cooking, in a mixing bowl, mix together the egg yolks, sugar, cinnamon, sugar, salt and gelatin/water mixture.  Add this to the pumpkin when cooked, and let the mixture cool until thick.  Put it in the fridge for an hour or so and give it a stir now and again.

One hour later...

3 egg whites
1/4 cup sugar

Beat the egg whites and sugar until stiff and fold into the pumpkin mixture.  Pour over the cream cheese and place in the fridge.  You can cover it up, you're done until the day you serve it.

When you serve it you'll notice the recipe suggests to use a spoonful of cool whip to top the dessert.  No, no, noooo ... see next step.

4.  The Whip Cream Layer

2 cups of whipping cream
1/4 cup icing sugar

Whip the cream until frothy and add the icing sugar slowly a tablespoon at a time.  Whip until it holds peaks and taste it as you go.  If you want more icing sugar, feel free.  The whipping cream should be nice and sweet. 

Spread this over top of the pumpkin layer and cover with saran wrap over until your ready to cut it up and serve it.  Because this is in a pan, I would suggest you cut it up in the kitchen, and then serve it to the guests already on dessert plates.

Thank you "Tune" for the amazing recipe.
I've been asked for the recipe three times already, that's how you know it's a "keeper".

Spencer was just proof reading the blog and said, "Oh I wish we still had some of that!"

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Mom's (Magic) Pancakes

I love pancakes.  I especially loved when my Mom would make breakfast for dinner when I was little.  I think it was America's Test Kitchen that reviewed pancake mixes and found that Bisquick of all things was chosen as the best pancake mix.  The best recipe I've ever used is the one from a booklet from my Mom called Basic (Magic) Pancakes.  I'm not sure why I have this book, if she gave it to me or if it's supposed to be returned but I love this recipe and can't imagine giving this little booklet away.  The lady that wrote it was a food writer for The Vancouver Sun, her name was Edith Adams and she made a collection of these booklets from all the recipes that were featured in the newspaper.

So first things first, here's the recipe

Method:

In a larger bowl sift together the dry ingredients:

1 3/4 cups of sifted All Purpose Flour
1 Tbsp. of Baking Powder
2 Tbsp. Sugar
1/2 Tsp. Salt

In a smaller bowl mix together the wet ingredients:

2 well beaten Eggs
1 1/2 cups of Milk
1/4 cup of melted Butter

Gradually stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.  Even though the recipe says, "beat until smooth" I don't because I saw a pancake cook off and they said to never do that, a few lumps are ok.


So preheat your pan on medium heat.  This pan I'm using is only used for Pancakes and is well seasoned (20 years), except for the one time someone fried onions in it and didn't know it was only for pancakes.  Anyways, I lightly grease  the bottom of the pan with Grape-seed oil, each time a new batch goes in.  Using the 1/4 cup measuring cup, pour out four pancakes.

Optional:  You can of course add fresh or frozen "blues", that's what we call Blueberries.  Delicious!


Cook until bubbles appear on the top of the pancake, flip and cook on the other side.  You should serve them right away but if you want to keep them warm in the oven put them on the rack, not a plate.  Pop them onto a plate at the last minute when your ready to serve them.


At our house the last bit of batter is always turned into a Mickey Mouse Pancake.


Another variation we like is how they spruce them up in Hawaii at our favourite little breakfast place, the Kihei Cafe in Maui.  You  dust icing sugar over the top of your pile, add some banana slices, and some macadamia nuts (chopped).  Pour on the pancake syrup and that's what you call Banana Nut Pancakes. 

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Sushi Cupcakes


I never get tired talking about cupcakes.  I've been wanting to make these "sushi cupcakes" for ages.  Taylor turns 25 this year and he loves sushi so this was my chance.  Getting the stuff together was the biggest part of the project but it was really fun.


Here's all the stuff I bought to go on top.  You can design the cupcakes decoration around your favourite rolls and then find candy that you think will resemble the real thing.  I didn't end up using the green watermelons.  Also keep your eyes peeled for black cupcake liners - they are a must.



Cut the round part of the cupcake off.  Cut the candy up if necessary.  You'll see I have a bowl full of coconut in the background, it's going to be the rice.  All you do is ice the cupcake, turn it upside down and catch coconut around the outside edge.  I don't pick up coconut in the very center, so that the candy will stick to the icing.  I used tweezers to get the little orange balls into place, but they look awesome.


They were so so good.


Ok, so these are made from icing dusted mini donuts.  You just cut the donut in half - carefully, I used a steak knife.  Cut just a little sliver off of the top, so that the Swedish Fish will lay flat.  Then I cut flat black licorice into strips (ok, Spencer cut the strips), then you just wrap the strips around and overlap on the bottom  I used a dab of water to stick the two ends together.


They're so so SO cute.


The birthday boy and his sushi.


Friday, July 9, 2010

In Paris Fleurs Are A Way Of Life

Fleurs,twinkle lights and old stuff.
This is my kind of place.


I will pretend I'm this girl, shopping for "Fleurs".


In my little town, this is the "Fleur" shop.

It's a drive though, on the honor system.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Louis Vuitton Purse Cake


I was looking at some handbags online and spotted this knock off right away by the odd leather.  Then I realized it was a cake!  Oh my goodness, I want this cake.  This combines my fondness, love, obsession, passion - whatever you want to call it for Louis Vuitton and cupcakes perfectly.  I'm in awe of Nadia's  amazing one of a kind designer cakes over on flicker.  Take a peek they are just amazing. 

Monday, June 21, 2010

Won Ton Soup

I've been making Won Ton Soup for ages - I thought everyone did. My girlfriend was curious to know how you wrap the won tons, so I thought I would just do a quickie video and recipe so she can whip a batch up!  This is going to be like a recipe you might get from your Grandma, because I don't have the exact amounts.


The Broth:

I used to boil chicken backs and necks and whatever other chicken guts were on hand for a day in water.  You would then drain it and get all the guts out and put it in the fridge overnight and skim off the fat the next day, and that was your broth.  Or you can buy four 1 liter cartons of chicken broth - regular or fat free it doesn't matter, because your going to spruce it up anyways.  Put your broth in a pot, and add soy sauce I would say about 1/4 cup.  Remember soy sauce is salty, so just add it bit by bit until you like the taste.  I also add some salt and pepper to taste.  Have this on the stove ready to heat up when the won tons are done.

You will also need two bunches of green onions chopped and ready to add to the soup last.


For the Won Tons:

Won Ton Wraps - they usually come in a two pack and can be frozen.
1 Pound Ground Pork
2 Eggs
Salt and Pepper
1 Can Sliced Water Chestnuts
3 green onions - finely chopped

Method:

1.  Crack the eggs and put the egg whites in a bowl. (read next step)  Mix the egg whites together until frothy with a fork.
2.  Put the ground pork in a bowl, add one egg yolk.  Add the other to the garbage.
3.  Add the finely chopped green onions.
4.  Add about 1/8 cup finely chopped water chestnuts - freeze the rest.
5.  Add about 1/2 tsp of salt and 1/4 tsp of pepper.
6.  Mix it all up.

Here is the video on how to wrap the won tons - we ran out of battery on the third won ton but I think you can get the idea...


Once the won tons are all done, bring the broth to a boil, then reduce it so it's not bubbling but it's hot.  Gently drop the won tons in one by one.  When the hit the water, the egg white acts like glue and holds it shut.  You don't want to drop them into bubbling boiling water and have them blow apart!  Let them cook slowing until they shrivel up and float.  Don't stir them excessively - they're delicate.

Once these are cooked you can add the green onions that you had cut and set aside.  This part is done, put a lid on and let them sit while you do the vegetables.

You can also add prawns and/or scallops to the broth right about now and they would be cooked when the vegetables are done.

If you want Won Ton with noodles in the bottom of your soup - buy a bag of Won Ton Noodles (that's what they're called)  from the store, they're rice noodles and look just like spaghetti.  Spencer likes noodles in his soup so now is the time to cook them up.  They only take about four minutes.


The Vegetables:

You can have whatever vegetable you like in this soup.  We do baby corn, bock choy, broccoli and sliced carrots.  I used to add these to the won ton but pot they get over cooked and messy for the next day.  Now, I just steam them as shown and add them to the hot soup.

You know what my Julia would say!
Bon Appetit

Friday, June 11, 2010

BBQ Sauce, Burgers & Ribs

This recipe is from one of my Mom's 1000 cookbooks.  I would like to say which one but it would be impossible to find it again.  It was originally included in an award winning hamburger recipe, but we also use it on ribs and it's delicious.  Spencer is in charge of making the sauce, we just keep it in a sealed jar in the fridge.


Spencer's BBQ Sauce

1 cup Ketchup
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
1/3 cup White Sugar
1/4 cup Honey
1/4 cup Molasses
2 tsp. Mustard
1.4 tsp. Salt
1/4 tsp. Liquid Smoke
1/8 tsp. Pepper

Method:

In a small sauce pan combine all the ingredients and bring to a boil.  Remove from the heat to cool.  Pour into a jar and use as needed.

The Award Winning Burger Recipe: (makes 6 )

1 Egg, beaten
1/3 cup Quick Oats
1/4 tsp. Onion Salt
1/4 tsp. Garlic Salt
1/4 tsp. Pepper
1/8 tsp. Salt
1/4 cup BBQ Sauce
1 1/2 pounds Ground Beef

Method:

In a bowl combine the egg, oats, 1/4 c of the BBQ sauce, onion salt, garlic salt, pepper and salt.

Crumble the ground beef over the mixture and mix well.  Shape into six patties.

Grill covered, over medium heat for 6 - 8 minutes on each side.  Do not mess with them as they are cooking on the first side, they are a little soft and need to get a good grill on them.

Baste with the BBQ Sauce (about 1/2 cup worth), in the last five minutes.



Here's the sauce on the ribs - so so good!

Note to self:  The ribs bake for 1 hours and 20 minutes, on 350 degrees in foil.  Mom sprinkles some of the Montreal's Chicken Seasoning from Costco on each side before she wraps them in the foil.
Cool, drain out the liquid, then they can stay in the foil in the fridge until ready to bbq.  BBQ each side but don't put the sauce on until about the last ten minutes.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Kinder Love Letter

I was cleaning my office and switching things around.
I found this post it note on the inside of a door in my desk.
When I say boys should learn how to write love letters,
trust me I started them young.

This was left for me on my desk when Spencer could hardly even write.  He has just turned fifteen, so this is kinda "vintage."
A kinder love letter ... what a find!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Canadian Hockey Humor

In the friendly spirit of the Gold Metal Olympic hockey game between Canada and the USA I thought you would like to see what "we" think is one of the funniest commercials that aired during the Winter Olympics.  For some reason I don't think it's being aired in the US. This is a sample of Canadian humor - eh?

The sign on the building in background says "Welcome to America"



Update: Congratulations to both teams for
their Olympic Gold and Silver medals.

I for one will not be wearing anything Canadian to America for a while!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Bureau Herb Planter

Needless to say I could hardly believe my eyes when I saw this!  

It's the perfect herb garden. You just can't go wrong with an old set of drawers and a can of pink paint.  Stuff it with some lavender, parsley and flowers and you've got cute on a whole new level.

I can't wait for spring and it's just around the corner!

The Lovely Photo from Pink Cupcake Blog


Sunday, February 14, 2010

Love Is In The Air

 
The first Valentine's Day box of chocolates 
was introduced by Richard Cadbury in 1868.
This guy was a "smart cookie".

Friday, February 12, 2010

Canada Welcomes The World

I'm proud to be an Canadian even more than ever.  Today Vancouver finally welcomes the world. Olympic gold at home is our dream - we believe.

Did you know five interlocking rings on the logo represent the five continents or major geographical areas of the world.  The colors of the rings represent the flags of the countries each of which includes at least one of the following colors: blue, black, red, yellow, and green. 

Our local 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Website
 
 
Don't worry if we don't have enough snow - we'll make some. 

We joke that we just tell people it rains here, to keep them away.
It does rain but that's what keeps it so green.
We tell our kids from a very young age that they're "waterproof".

Updated:  February 14th : Big News

 

This is what history looks like - we finally have our gold medal at home. 
His personal story of inspiration makes this gold extra special.  
Grab the kleenex and watch the clip.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

First Sign Of Spring


As you know, I'm on the West Coast of Canada by Vancouver.  I'm hearing about the terrible snow storms across Canada and the US.  So I'm posting this picture, not to brag about the awesome weather out this way but to say "Hang on, spring is on the way!"

These are the crocuses in my front yard that come out for a few hours a day in the sunlight, then shut up tight again at night in the cold.  Mother Nature's way of giving us something to look forward to.  Thank God, because I'm tired of being wet and cold!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Make Thai Salad Rolls At Home

We love Thai Salad Rolls and could eat them every night.  That's what we decided just a few nights ago.  The best part is at home you can eat as many as you want.  At the restaurant they usually come two to an order.  I made it my mission to find the ingredients and learn to make them at home.  I will make something over and over again until I perfect it - these were no exception.
So here's the ingredients all ready to go.  From back to front, left to right. Round rice paper wraps, lettuce chopped fine, prawns sliced in half, cucumber sliced thin, chicken or pork cooked and sliced, the package of the noodles, a bowl of noodles cooked according to the package instructions, bean sprouts, shaved carrots, and mint clipped into small pieces.

Tip:  You can get the rice paper wraps and noodles in the Asian isle of your supermarket.  I like the brand of noodles shown because there are six bundles inside instead of one big lump.  I cook two bundles and that's the perfect amount for about twelve rolls.

Another Tip:  Put warm water in a shallow pan and wet one side of the rice paper, for about 30 seconds then flip it over and wet the other side.  It gets softer as it sits and you pile the stuff on, so don't over wet it.  When you do one or two you'll get the hang of it.

Spencer made this video of me making a roll so you can see how easy it is to roll up.  You can see the ingredients are added in the same order as the picture is shown above.  I wash my hands after handling all the ingredients just before I roll it up.  The rice paper will get a little dry so when you roll and fold the sides in they will stick in place.


 
Good job on the video Spencer!

 
Here they are cut in half, on an angle with a bowl of peanut sauce.  These are very low in calories until you dip them in the peanut sauce.  Our favorite peanut sauce is from Super Store.  It's the President's Choice brand and it's called Szechwan Spicy Peanut Sauce - we get the light version. 

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Fit Really Is Everything

Imagine one of the happiest days of your life - your wedding.  After the ceremony, outside the church, with all your family and friends - camera's flashing capturing the moment as you release doves to celebrate you're love.

I hardly know what to say except "fit really is everything"! Any kind of an alteration would have been better than this.  I rest my case.
This would be on Facebook and Twitter circulating around the world
before you hit the car on the way to the reception.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Ultimate Glamour Girl

I love Marilyn Monroe.  She's was so glamorous, you can tell she was a high maintenance "girly girl". Like all girls, she worked at it . She  didn't have the perfect life, or relationships, or body image.  It's pretty well known that she battled with her weight. By today's body standards I wonder what the paparazzi  would say?  Only fifty years ago she was the standard of beauty in a much classier time.

 

In Marilyn's day it was ok to have hips.


And natural boobs. 

 

This might be the cover of her fitness DVD if she were alive today.

 

Is there anyone that wouldn't be happy with this body and boyfriend?


I think she's beautiful.