Red Wine Chocolate Cupcakes

Yesterday I celebrated the wedding of my dear friends Aoife & Brad at Vinelane Estates Winery in Niagara, Ontario. I brought home a bottle of red wine and whipped these up this afternoon because I knew they were on our Baked Sunday Mornings schedule.

Ha! You guys know me better than that by now! In reality I spent the day lying on my couch catching up on Scandal and The Bachelorette! These cupcakes were actually the very first recipe I tested for Baked Occasions almost two years ago. I still remember how excited I was, and I reserved a whole Saturday to make them and take detailed notes on the whole process. I went to the LCBO (liquor store here in Ontario) and a helpful staff member recommended a bottle of Ghost Pines Merlot from California once I described what I was using it for. This is the description on the back of the bottle: flavours of black cherry and ripe berries complement mocha and brown spice notes finishing with a generous supple texture.

The recipe was perfect as written, and my only commentary was that the cupcakes don’t bake up with a dome, and actually sink a bit in the middle once they cooled. Normally this isn’t a big deal, but because these are topped with a chocolate glaze and not frosting, the glaze pools together a bit in the middle. Doesn’t affect the taste of course, but just not what we’re generally used to when we make cupcakes. The boys actually include a note in the book about this, and offer a suggestion to bump up the temperature of your oven when preheating, and then reducing it once the cupcakes go in, which will help them rise a bit more.

I brought these into work (my old department), and told everyone there was a secret ingredient in them. I put a piece of paper and pen next to the cupcakes and had people try to guess what it was. With 1 1/4 cups of wine baked into 24 cupcakes, I was curious to see if my co-workers could actually pinpoint the mystery flavour. There were a lot of guesses (Dr. Pepper is one I remember) but no one actually guessed it!

I think these would be a great dessert to bring to a wine & cheese party, or as a treat for a red wine lover who also loves chocolate.

You can find the recipe here!

More Baked Sunday Mornings here!

 

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Ultralemony Bundt Cake

When Mother’s Day and Baked Sunday Morning collide, you know you’re in for a treat. Our recipe for this week was an Ultralemony Lemon Bundt Cake with Almond Glaze, and it was the perfect end to dinner with my Mom. The Baked boys sure love their bundt cakes, and they’re one of my favourite things to bake — as long as they pop out of the pan without leaving anything behind.

There were a couple of curious ingredients for the cake, the first being lemon extract. I’ve never bought this before, and wonder why we use it instead of lemon juice. It smelled the same to me, but perhaps it imparts a more intense lemony flavour. We’re also asked to use the zest of TEN lemons, which seemed crazy to me. I mean, I know “ultralemony” is in the title, but really? Not to mention the fact that lemons are like $1.29 each in my grocery store, but they were really big, so I just bought five and went with it. (Fellow BSMer Sheri has a lemon tree! Jealous! The joy of living in California!) The recipe also calls for a bit of rum, but I just left that out.

Once you take the bundt out of the pan, you poke it all over the place with a toothpick and then brush it with a simple lemon syrup. This keeps the cake super hydrated and bumps up the lemonyness even more. The glaze for the cake is where the almonds come in; it’s lemon juice, almond extract and a whole heap of icing sugar. Toasted sliced almonds get sprinkled over the top and you’re done!

This cake is everything you think it would be — super hydrated, super lemony, super delicious. I found the almond extract a teensy bit distracting in the glaze. I might just use all lemon juice next time. Other than that, it’s perfect.

I’ll post about the rest of our Mother’s Day dinner later this week!

You can find the recipe here!

More Baked Sunday Mornings here!

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Samosa Galette

by byn on May 7, 2015

in Dinner, Vegetarian

Samosa Galette

Samosas are something that I always thought were best left to the pros. Two jobs ago, I had a lovely friend on my team that would bring me samosas and a trio of dipping sauces from her local Indian restaurant/bakery/store. She was the best, and those samosas were a joy in my life. She moved on, and I moved on, and even though I missed them, I never really considered trying to make them myself. First of all, my kitchen is a no-fry zone, and second of all, I feel like the spices are really intimidating.

When I saw Jan’s post for a Savoury Samosa Galette on Simple Bites in OCTOBER 2013 (procrastinate much?) I bookmarked it right away. The recipe seemed approachable and delicious, wasn’t fried, and since it was in a galette formation, there was no intensive labour to wrap everything up in little packets.

Samosa Slice

I finally made this back in January (again, procrastination is my jam), and it was incredible. I used Charmian’s pastry, and piled Jan’s filling in the middle. It’s full of potatoes, peas, and a mixture of spices I already had in my cupboard. I’m still not brave enough to use actual seeds (cumin + fennel) so I just left those out.

This was amazing hot, at room temperature and even directly from the fridge. Jan suggests a homemade chutney to serve alongside, so I ate mine with both a jarred peach chutney I had hanging around, and my Mom’s classic mustard pickles (my life, my love, I should really figure out how to make these too, I eat them with everything).

I feel like it’s getting a little too hot out for something this rich and spicy, but of course I wanted to make sure I blogged it so I remember it for the Fall.

Side note: Jan is crushing it these days! I guess I have the appetite of a teenage boy (of which she has two) because everything she’s making these days I’m dying for: Spicy Honey & Soy Pork, Bacon & Egg Baked Baguette, Patatas Bravas.

Samosa Galette

Source: Jan via Simple Bites

Ingredients

2 tbsp grapeseed oil

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1″ piece ginger, peeled and minced or 1/2 tbsp minced ginger from a jar

1 tsp tumeric

1 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp garam masala

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

2 cups diced unpeeled potatoes

1 1/2 cups vegetable stock or water

1 cup frozen peas

2 tsp cilantro

+ 1 pie crust, your favourite recipe (or a frozen one, perhaps you have one leftover from making Strawberry Pie?)

+ egg wash (1 egg whisked with 1 tbsp water)

Directions

  1. In a large saucepan or dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and saute for about 5 minutes until softened. Add the ginger, tumeric, cumin, garam masala, salt, pepper and cayenne. Stir and cook for about a minute.
  2. Add the potatoes and cook or 5 minutes, then pour over the stock/water, and stir. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for about 20 minutes until the potatoes are cooked through, and the liquid has reduced and thickened.
  3. Stir in the peas and cilantro, remove from heat, and let cool completely.
  4. When filling has cooled, heat the oven to 425. Roll out your pie dough to a 12″ circle, then transfer to a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Pour the filling into the middle of the dough, leaving about a 2″ border. Fold up the edges of the dough over the filling, overlapping every few inches. Brush pastry with egg wash.
  5. Bake for about 30 minutes until the crust is golden brown. Serve with chutney of your choice. I’m drooling right now.

{ 1 comment }

Frito Pie

by byn on May 5, 2015

in Chicken & Turkey, Dinner

Frito Pie

It’s Cinco de Mayo today, so it’s a perfect excuse to log this Frito Pie that I made a couple of months ago. Although who really needs an excuse to cover chili with corn chips and cheese and call it dinner? Certainly not me.

I can’t think of where I first heard about Frito Pie, so it must be The Pioneer Woman. Apparently this is a snack that’s sold at State Fairs down south, where they pour the chili directly into a small bag of Fritos and sprinkle cheese on top. I endorse this.

This version I found on Bev Cooks is a simple, turkey chili recipe that you then pour into a baking dish, top with corn chips (i.e. Fritos), sprinkle with cheese and bake until the cheese is bubbly and delicious. I’m going to tell you what this means: it’s like eating a bowl of chili WITH A LAYER OF NACHOS ON TOP. Amazing. You also get to snack on the bag of Fritos as you’re cooking, which is incentive enough for me to make this again.

Frito Pie Scoop

Of course, anything goes for toppings here: hot sauce, sour cream, avocado, cilantro. I really should have put this on my menu plan for tonight, but instead I’m going to try something I’ve had bookmarked forever. We’ll see how that goes.

Frito Pie

Source: Bev Cooks

Ingredients

2 tsp olive oil

1 lb ground turkey

1/2 red onion, minced

1 jalapeno, seeds removed, minced

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 tbsp chili powder

1 tbsp cumin

14oz diced tomatoes

1 can red kidney beans

1 can green chiles (the little can)

+ Fritos (the regular kind, not BBQ)

+ grated cheddar cheese

Directions

  1. In a large saucepan or dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the ground turkey, stir and cook until browned.
  2. Add the onion, jalapeno and garlic, and cook for about 5 minutes until the vegetables have softened.
  3. Add the chili powder and cumin and stir until combined.
  4. Add the tomatoes, beans and chiles, stir, then season with salt and pepper. Turn down heat to medium-low and let simmer for about half an hour. When almost done, preheat the oven to 375.
  5. Pour the chili into a casserole dish, and sprinkle with Fritos and then top with cheese (obviously the more the better on both those ingredients!).
  6. Bake for 20 minutes or so until the cheese is bubbling and the Fritos are golden brown.

 

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April on Planet Byn {2015}

by byn on April 30, 2015

in Monthly Recaps

Chocolate Choux

It was a fun, busy month on Planet Byn (as evidenced by the fact that it’s actually May 26th and I’m finally writing this). I kicked off the month in Florida, so first a bit on that, and then a recap of what else was going on:

  • First of all, why are there so many more yogurt options in the States? I think I ate a different variety of Chobani every single day. They have a new (to me) kind with steel cut oats mixed right in, and these other dessert-y type ones that I loved, in particular a Salted Caramel Crunch yogurt that you stir pretzels and chocolate chips into. What!
  • I know we have Panera Bread up here now, but I swear it just does NOT taste as good as when you have it in the US. My favourite is their Tomato Basil soup, which I ate out of a bread bowl, then ate the bowl, and loved my life.
  • I returned from Florida on Easter Sunday to a package at my front desk from Jenny, which was a beautiful plate of her Easter dinner, plus dessert and a lovely handwritten note. How lucky am I?
  • I have to make a note here that I made these Coconut Cinnamon Roasted Sweet Potatoes from my blog crush, Kiwi & Bean, so I remember to make them again. She serves them with sriracha mayo for dipping, and they are so, so good.
  • When I go out for dinner, I’m sometimes pretty reluctant to order dessert, because well, #foodsnob, and I don’t like being disappointed (and to be honest, I am often left thinking that I could make something better). However, I went to Drake 150 with my friend Kristine and her cousins, and as if I could leave there without ordering their Chocolate Choux Pastry (IN THE SHAPE OF A FLOWER!) filled with hazelnut cream. I did not share.
  • I cooked a few things from the old Planet Byn archives this month, and was reminded how easy and delicious these are: Kung Pao Chicken, Red Bean Chili & Thai Peanut Quinoa Bowl.
  • I had some leftover salted caramel and stirred it into this Banana Bread. I’m not sure if it was because my bananas were so incredibly ripe, but this has shot to the top of my Banana Bread Power Rankings.
  • President’s Choice is making S’mores Bites! Take that Trader Joe’s!

Other non-foodie things I was obsessed with this month:

  • I read a bunch of books on vacation, and would recommend The Kind Worth Killing, if you’re a fan of Gillian Flynn’s books.
  • Mad Men is back for it’s final season! (And has already finished now that I’m writing this…more on this is next month’s recap).
  • This is super nerdy, but I spent the month re-watching all the Marvel movies, in order, starting with Iron Man right up until Captain America 2. I was all set for Avengers 2 on May 1, but the month got away from me, and I’m actually going to see it this week! Watching all those movies really makes you contemplate the important things in life, like which Chris you like best: Evans, Pratt or Hemsworth?

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Easter Coconut Sheet Cake

When Spring rolls around, there are three ingredients that I automatically gravitate towards: carrot, lemon and coconut. My Easter dessert usually centres around one of those three things, although this year I was in Florida for Easter weekend, so didn’t have a chance to do any baking. Luckily, we had this magnificent Easter Coconut Sheet Cake on the agenda for this week’s Baked Sunday Morning.

The first thing I noticed when reviewing the recipe for this cake is the variety of ways the Baked Boys incorporate coconut into the recipe. In the cake there are FOUR coconut ingredients: coconut oil, coconut extract, sweetened shredded coconut, and cream of coconut. No problem on the first three: you can find coconut oil pretty much everywhere now, coconut extract was at my grocery store, (although artificial, not pure, and shout to a couple of my fellow BSMers who MADE THEIR OWN COCONUT EXTRACT for this recipe!), and of course shredded coconut is easy to find. But this last one, cream of coconut, is what led me on a comical search through three grocery stores last week trying to track it down. I found both Creamed Coconut (a hard block you’re supposed to add boiling water to and stir to make a paste) and Coconut Cream, neither of which I was convinced were the right ingredient. BSMer Sandra assured me on our site that Coconut Cream would be fine as the cream of coconut product everyone uses in the US, Coco Lopez, is not available up here in Canada.

Having procured all the ingredients, this cake was fairly easy to pull together, although it seemed kind of weird to fold in 5 whipped egg whites at the end. I’m curious to know what it would have been like without them, since my final cake didn’t seem sponge-cake like, and was still pretty dense.

Now the icing. This is a coconut based variation on the Boys’ Swiss Meringue Buttercream, which I’ve made twice in the past. The first time I concluded it tasted like pure whipped butter, so the second time, I only added half the butter, and it turned out fine. I tried the same method again this time, and it started to curdle a bit at the end, so I kept mixing and hoped for the best. Once I added the coconut cream, coconut extract and salt at the end, it seemed to smooth out, but wasn’t as fluffy as I remember.

I had my heart set on decorating the cake like the Boys did in the book, which is a super cute rainbow-esque pattern with little bursts of icing.  Of course I forgot to pick up extra piping tips when I was out, so I followed the instructions in the book and used plastic storage bags. Please note that I DO NOT recommend this! Because you snip the corner of the edges of the bags, you end up with little lines or creases in your icing. Overall I still think it turned out to be cute, and some of the bursts almost look like jelly beans, but truly I should have taken the time to go get a couple more large round tips so I could have done it properly.

Okay, geez, with all that said, how did it taste? AMAZING. The only thing I would have maybe changed is to leave the actual shredded coconut out of the cake. It’s cococut-y enough without it, and I just think I would have liked it better, but it’s still delicious and thick and hydrated. Although Swiss Meringue Buttercream is not my fave, I will still say that it’s super smooth and light and melts in your mouth. Overall a success!

You can find the recipe here!

More Baked Sunday Mornings here!

{ 3 comments }

Strawberry Pie

by byn on April 1, 2015

in Pies & Tarts

Strawberry Jell-O Pie

I’m super excited to share this quick and easy recipe today! *insert sound of record scratching here* APRIL FOOL’S! I can’t even keep up this charade as a joke. Let me take a minute to explain.

On my 5th blog-iversarya mean internet troll my brother left me a comment that said: “Meh. The continuing lack of gelatin-based strawberry desserts on this blog is disappointing. Unsubscribe”.

Over the years, you have heard me repeatedly mention my brother’s love for a dessert known as Strawberry Pie. My Mom made this for us frequently while we were growing up, along with Lemon Meringue Pie (my brother Joel’s favourite) and Skor Bar Dessert. To this day, every time I show up for a family event,  Chris still asks if I made Strawberry Pie. So I decided that for a special April Fool’s post (as in, there is no way I would ever seriously put this recipe out into the world) I would finally document this truly horrifying dessert.

 What do you need?

  • Pie crust from a box, don’t even think about making one from scratch
  • Box of Strawberry Jell-O
  • Tub of Cool Whip
  • Water, both boiling, cold, and in the form of cubes
  • Fresh strawberries (optional, see Chris’ opinion on this below)

I brought this creation over to my brother’s house last weekend, and this time, when he excitedly guessed what I brought for dessert,  he was actually RIGHT. His only complaint was that there were TOO MANY FRESH STRAWBERRIES, and he left them in a little pile on the side of his plate. I MEAN REALLY! He said that over the years he would ask my Mom to put in fewer and fewer until the filling was just a mixture of straight up Jell-O and Cool Whip.

I ate the tiniest little sliver you can imagine, and it tasted like all my childhood nightmares in a convenient pie formation.

Here’s the recipe anyway. Sorry.

Strawberry Pie

Source: Mom (originally a Kraft recipe, probably on the back of the Jell-O box)

Ingredients

1 frozen pie crust, thawed and baked according to the directions on the box

1 pkg Strawberry Jell-O

2/3 cup boiling water

1/2 cup cold water, and enough ice cubes to make it 1 cup

1 1/2 cups Cool Whip, thawed

 1/2 -1 cup sliced fresh strawberries

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, add the Jell-O powder, then add the boiling water, and stir for a few minutes until dissolved.
  2. Add the cold water/ice mixture and stir for a couple minutes until the Jell-O starts to thicken. Remove the ice cubes with a slotted spoon.
  3. Whisk in the Cool Whip, then stir in the strawberries, if using.
  4. Chill for about 30 minutes, then stir again and add to the pie crust. Smooth the top with an offset spatula.
  5. Chill for 2-3 hours.

{ 4 comments }

March on Planet Byn {2015}

by byn on March 31, 2015

in Monthly Recaps

TJs Treats

Still waiting for Spring over here, but there were a lot of fun foodie adventures this month to distract me from the weather:

  • My month-long obsession, which is still continuing, is Take a Megabite’s Oatmeal cooked in Almond Milk. I usually just grab a packet of the no-name natural stuff (no flavouring, so sweetener) and doctor it up once I get to work with fruit, nuts, seeds etc. I tried Megabite’s method and I LOVE IT. Favourite right now is a bowl with banana slices, a drizzle of maple syrup and a sprinkle of chopped pecans.
  • Kupfert & Kim is a vegan + gluten-free lunch place in the PATH in Toronto and now has BURGERS, which is big news. Nicole and I met there for lunch and split the Hemp & Sunflower Burger on a gluten-free bun, and I really liked it. I went back the next week for the Big Kim (walnut + mushroom) burger, and I liked that even more. They come with a little kale slaw and a few roasted root vegetables. Pretty good for days when I don’t bring my lunch!
  • Switching gears totally here, but I couldn’t resist the lure of the new Jelly Modern Doughnuts which has opened near my office. I first had Jellys in Calgary a few years ago, and OMG, they are so dangerously good. I had my fave, a mini S’mores, and tried their doughnut of the week which was a Mars Bar doughnut, and picked up a couple more for my friend/hairstylist Kim.
  • I brought my workplace proximity associates to Smoque & Bones for dinner, because I’ve been dying to go back ever since Heather invited me to a blogger event there last year. We shared a little bit of everything: pork ribs, sausage, pulled pork, mac & cheese, onion rings, ‘slaw and cornbread. Seriously in love with this place.
  • I took a day off work and headed over the border with Meg & Jenny for a day of foodie shopping at Target & Trader Joe’s. I didn’t get too much at Target, just some Dark Chocolate & White Chocolate Mini Eggs which you can’t get up here, and honestly, nothing can top the milk chocolate ones! At Trader Joe’s I got some fresh pasta, cheese, TOMATO PASTE IN A TUBE (revolutionary! why can’t I get this here!) and then the treats you see pictured above. Oh TJ’s: when will you come to Toronto?
  • Carb Safari 2.0 went down in a day trip that I hope continues on a regular basis, wherein we drive up to Elora for bread from our friend Calantha, followed by lunch at Taco Farm. I had the Fries Supreme this time, and it was like, next level. (Read about my personal history with Taco Bell Fries Supreme here).
  • I probably haven’t stepped foot in a Milestone’s in like 10 years (you can find a rant from the archives here), but met my friends there for brunch to celebrate Mandy’s baby girl who will be here in a few weeks. I had a Spinach & Feta Omelet and you know what, it wasn’t half bad. Good for you Milestones!

Other non-foodie things I was obsessed with this month:

  • This month marked the 30th Anniversary of The Breakfast Club, one of my all-time favourite movies, so of course I re-read You Couldn’t Ignore Me if You Tried and then re-watched TBC.
  • I read a bunch of other books this month and would recommend The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry (Danielle recommended this) and The Vacationers (Danielle HATED this, but I LOVED it, we are only twins sometimes).
  • Grantland is one of my favourite websites for pop culture reads, but I sometimes read/watch some of their Sports stuff as well. This documentary, Son of the Congo, about NBA player Serge Ibaka is so well done and enlightening, and I shed more than a few tears by the time it was done.

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Lemony Jelly Roll

I’m so sick of complaining about the weather. We’re pretty much at the end of March, and have barely had temperatures above zero here, much less in double digits like I’m normally hoping for this time of year. I seriously can’t wait for Spring which I feel will bring me an improved mental state that will show on my face (bonus points if you know which 80s teen movie that comes from).

Anyway, this also explains why I was so excited to make this dessert, even though I have publicly declared my distaste for both citrus desserts and raspberries in the past. This cake just screams SPRING to me! It’s a thin, lemony sponge cake, filled with raspberry whipped cream. I was also very excited to try making a jelly roll cake, because I remember my Mom making one when I was little.

Lemony Slices

I decided to start making this at 9pm on Thursday night, which is usually a recipe for disaster, but it actually wasn’t as involved as I thought. The lemon sponge comes together easily, after you separate your eggs so you can whip the whites and fold them in later. The cake only bakes for about 8 minutes too, with a few gymnastics required (dusting, covering, flipping, rolling) once it comes out of the oven. You actually wrap the cake up in a tea towel to cool, and then unroll it when you’re ready to add the filling. My only problem here was that once I spread the whipped cream on the cake, I was so excited to roll it back up that I forgot to sprinkle the fresh raspberries over top. Oopsie. So i just lined them up on top instead.

Well it turns out that raspberry whipped cream is DELICIOUS and pairs perfectly with the lemony cake. Oh I also left out the lemon extract, but it was still plenty lemony with all the zest the recipe calls for.  I love, love, loved this, and it was just so pretty! This would be a perfect dessert for Easter.

Middle

You can find the recipe here!

More Baked Sunday Mornings here!

 

{ 8 comments }

Peanut Butter Pretzel Truffles

by byn on March 27, 2015

in Cookies, Gluten-Free

GF Treats

My lovely friend Aoife is getting married this May, and we celebrated her wedding shower a few weeks ago. I offered to bring treats, and they needed to be both gluten-free and dairy-free for the bride-to-be.

After consulting my Oh She Glows cookbook, a few other websites, and remembering what I made for her sister’s shower a few years ago, I decided to make:

Lydia came over to help out, and I had to laugh because she said she was excited to bake together – little did she know how bossy I am in the kitchen! She was a great helper/mixer/truffle roller, and we had everything done in a couple of hours. Lydia also learned a lot about the various uses of coconut oil (moisturizer, deodorant, replacement for butter in the cookies – ha!).

Everything turned out great, but my personal favourite was the Peanut Butter Pretzel Truffles. I bought a bag of GF pretzels for the first time, and they are totally delicious and freakishly crunchy! They stayed super crunchy in the truffles and I loved that salty/sweet combo. I love how something so simple can be also be so decadent, and the added bonus of no refined sugar.

Side note: How cute are these new gift boxes from the LCBO? (I got Aoife the wine cooler on her registry, and a bottle of wine to go with it from the winery where she’s getting married).

Cute Box

Peanut Butter Pretzel Truffles

Source: Minimalist Baker

Ingredients

3/4 cup raw almonds

1/2 cup pretzels (GF if needed, I used Glutino brand and am now obsessed)

1/2 cup pitted dates

1/2 cup smooth natural peanut butter

+ dark chocolate for dipping

Directions

  1. Add the almonds to your food processor, and process until they turn into coarse crumbs. Add the pretzels and process again until the pretzels are in small pieces. Pour mixture into a small bowl.
  2. Add the dates to the food processor, and process until it forms into a ball. Add peanut butter and process again until well combined with the dates.
  3. Reserve 1/4 cup of the almond/pretzel mixture, and add the rest back to the food processor. Process until combined.
  4. Roll dough into small bite-size balls. You can dip entirely in dark chocolate and sprinkle the reserved almond/pretzel mixture on top, or just dip half, or just drizzle with chocolate.
  5. Store in the fridge or freezer until ready to serve.

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