Friday, 30 December 2011

Catching Up With You!

I know it's been a while since I've posted....  December 11th was a loooong, looong time ago.

So you want to know what I've been doing?  Maybe you don't, but this blog is about me.  So deal.

The first couple of weeks of December were spent doing the following:

1.  Working.  Blech.  Boring.

This was taken on a "good, not busy" day.
2.  Meeting new people (now that our Winter Road is in) and seeing crazy stuff like this thing:
I have no idea what this thing is, but it's freakin' cool.  And it's pulling a trailer which is just the box of a pickup truck on skis.
 This is what it looks like from the front:

3.  Watching gorgeous sunsets: (just so you know, I had to practically HANG UP on my boss so I could run outside and take these - and the pictures don't do it justice - and I missed the best part of this sunset by a couple of minutes.  Because my boss was busy yakking at me about work stuff.  The AUDACITY.)

4.  Watching gorgeous moonsets.  Yes, moonsets.

And after I "worked", I arrived at home and realized I had less than 10 days until Christmas.  And I had nothing done.  Well - not true, I had most of my gifts purchased, and only a few were last minute.

Then I proceeded to spend the next two weeks running around like a maniac.  Like, from the minute I got up in the morning until the minute I laid down in my bed at night.  Every day.  All day. 

I didn't get anywhere near finished the stuff I normally do before Christmas.  And I didn't do hardly any special wrapping (I like to make my own bows and co-ordinate those with wrapping paper and be artistic and junk), this year it was just a wrap-and-slap-finished job.  Sorry everyone.  I didn't do hardly any baking compared to last year.

I won't brag to you about the fabulous meals that my Mom cooked for me when I was visiting!  She made my favorites!!!  Canneloni (and not just plain cheese, those are boring, these ones have MEAT), Chicken & Dumplings, Seafood Lasagna, Joyce's Hot Crab Dip.  Yum.  We went to a family friend's house for turkey on Christmas Day and I made a pig of myself (yet again.  For the fourth day in a row).

I won't brag to you (today) about all the fabulous stuff I got spoiled with this year.  But I did.  Oh MAN did I get spoiled!!! 

I also won't brag to you about how disgustingly cute my nieces are.  Seriously.  The amount of cuteness is obscene.  OB.SCENE.

And just when I couldn't hardly stand it anymore and I thought I was going to drop dead of exhaustion, I got to come back to work!  Yay! 

I thought about doing a simple post reflecting on 2011 and the highlights that have been mine.  But I haven't had time to think about it at all, and can only dredge up what's happened in the last few weeks.  You're lucky, sometimes I don't remember what I did four days ago.

So for today - let me say this.  I've been so excited about sharing my kitchen and my world with you.  I wish I had time for more!  I can't wait to see what 2012 brings you and me! 

All the best to you and yours in the coming New Year!

Brimming with anticipation, this is The Cane Girl - signing off.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Cupcakes A to Z: Apple Spice Cupcakes

This was another big day of baking.  I pulled six (yep - that's 6) recipes from my folder to test out. 

It wasn't until much later that I realized that one of them actually didn't fit under this name.  There was no apple flavour to found!  So I'll move that to another post.  So there's only 5 that fit in this category.

Back to the Apple Spice. 

Remember when I did the Almond Cupcakes test day?  Well, I thought about it afterwards and tried to figure out what would be the fastest way to do a test day.

Here's what I did.

I cleared off my kitchen table and went through each recipe and pulled out everything I was going to need.  I measured out each recipe one at a time and then carried it over to the counter on a cutting board.

Okay - that's kind of vague.  What I mean is - measured out the first recipe, put it all together, stuck it in the oven, washed the dishes, and back to the kitchen table for the second recipe.  And on and on until I was done. 

I only made four cupcakes from each recipe.  And while I do feel kind of bad throwing out all that batter (I hate being a waster) - what would I do with a zillion cupcakes?  For real.  Have you seen my butt lately?  It's HU.MON.GOUS.

I also decided not to frost them.  Not because I'm lazy.  Okay, I'm kinda lazy.  But after I did the Almond Cupcakes and frosted all of them with that decadent Almond Buttercream, I kind of think I was somewhat distracted by the frosting.  And because this is really a test day for a base cupcake recipe, I left them naked.

Surprisingly - I think to do all 6 recipes it took me about 5 hours.  Well, that's including pulling everything out, doing all the dishes, and cleaning up the kitchen, and putting everything away.  I'm not sure if that's better than before, but it felt more organised.

My house smelled amazing.  I really do love the smell of these when they're baking.

And now I'm sure you want to hear the results.

Here they are.  Oh, and if the sight of a naked cupcake freaks you out - you may want to look away.

A.  This is the one that I made previously, okay - like ages ago, and it was fluffy and light and had great flavour!  Now I remember why I liked it so much!

B.  This one was definitely my second runner up.  Very yummy, was a little bit more sturdy than E - I guess I would say that because it didn't stick to the wrapper.

C.  This one was quite moist, but I thought it lacked a flavour that the other ones had.  So this one is a pass for me.

D.  I wasn't in love with this one - it was light and fluffy, but somewhat dry.  I also thought they were kind of ugly.

E. This one was very moist and had terrific flavour, my only complaint is that it stuck to the wrapper, although that was not an issue the day after.  And I thought they didn't have as much of a rise as they should have.  If I did make them again I would put more batter in the liners.  I used the same 1/4 cup scoop on all the recipes, but these ones weren't as tall as the others.

One of these is not like the other....  That would be the cupcake with the crack in the top.  It's icky, don't pick that one.

I bet you're wondering how I kept track of which one is which - since I was lazy and didn't make a frosting and couldn't pipe letters on the cupcakes for you to point and laugh at?  I used labels.  Like, those return address labels.  You know the ones?  I just wrote a letter on and stuck 'em on to the bottoms.  But they didn't stick terribly well.  So I'm trying to figure out what to try for next time.

It came down to three.  A, B, and E.  They were each of them wonderful.  They all tasted the same.  A was the most dry of all three.  Okay - when I say "dry" it's a real stretch, because all three were nice and moist, but out of the three this one was less than the others.  E didn't have as much of a rise as the other two and was a little more dense, but was also fantastic.  But for me - it was definitely B.  By a hair.

So there you have it.  Decision made.  I'll be adding this to my recipe book tonight!

Oh - and Mom, if I went on dates with six different GUYS to find the RIGHT ONE you wouldn't think I'm crazy.  So why does making six different cupcake recipes make me a nut?

A.  Um - sorry, I can't remember where I got this...
B.  Baking Bites
C.  Bourbonna Trix Bakes
D.  Sweet Revelations
E.  Baking With Basil

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Crab & Artichoke Pizza

If you know me - you know I LOOOOOOVE pizza.  No really.  If I was on a deserted island and I could have one type of food forever, it would be pizza.  I eat it no less than at least ONCE during my six days off.  And if I miss out - I'm kinda sad.

I like it fresh, I like it leftover, then only stipulation I have is that it has to be heated up. 

Now.  I was a particularly picky child.  I hated almost everything.  EV.RY.THING.

But pizza I liked.  Only cheese though.  Plain cheese.  Well, with the sauce.  Sauce and cheese.  I still like to order it like that - and the people taking my order always go "uh, is that it?".  Yeah.  That's it.  Just do it.

And now, I have expanded my horizons a little.  I do like pepperoni.  I LOVE the Bruschetta Pizza at Pizza Hut.  I had a goat cheese pizza the other day - it was heaven.

I keep wanting to expand my horizon even farther.  You know - just in case I'm missing something fabulous.

There are rules though - no pineapple, no mushrooms, no chicken.  I have a firm belief that chicken doesn't belong on pizza.

And you might say "crab doesn't belong on pizza either", but I've never had it on pizza and I may land on the side of Crab Belongs on Pizza.  Who knows.

So tonight, I halved my oh so wonderful pizza crust recipe and when it was ready to go, I topped with the called for toppings.

I didn't use as much garlic as the recipe called for, and I didn't use all the crab or artichokes, and I thought it could have used a little more cheese.

It smelled SO SO good when it was cooking.  I could hardly wait for it to come out of the oven.

Even though it didn't rock my world, it was preTTy darn good.  Although I was right it - could have used more cheese.

I don't know if I would add it to a regular rotation or not, but it was great for something different.

Be warned - it doesn't reheat well.

This is the Cane Girl - signing off.

Friday, 2 December 2011

Corn Chowder

My favorite kind of soups are chowders.  Thick and creamy, they're best when they stick to your ribs and keep you warm for hours.

I've been looking for an excellent corn chowder to have in my personal recipe book.  I have a Poblano Corn Chowder, but something different would be nice.  I have a few corn chowders saved in my online recipe box and I figure I'll just run through them and when I find one I'll know.

I halved this recipe just in case I didn't love it, and I'm kind of glad I did.  It's definitely not a contender to make my personal recipe book.

So you take a couple of potatoes, and cut 'em up and boil them. 

When they're done, smash half of them.

At the same time, fry bacon until it's crisp.
Oh bacon - how do I love thee?  Let me count the ways.

Then cook the onions in the bacon grease until translucent.
PS - this smelled really really good.  Would it have been weird if THAT was my dinner?  Well, with the rest of the bacon.  Honestly - I seriously considered it.

Put the onions in a pot and add some flour.  Add in the milk and bring to a boil.  Add in the creamed corn, potatoes, salt, pepper, and bacon.  Heat through and top with a little cheddar cheese and paprika.

And serve with a sprinkle of cheddar and a slight dash of paprika.

I mean, it's not horrible, but the best thing about it is the bacon.  It's not as thick as I prefer and the creamed corn taste was really prominent. 

So, in my opinion, it wasn't really that great.

I'm glad I have chips!

Oh - and before I forget.  I think I know the reason why produce is suddenly more expensive.  They have to pay that guy.  You know - that GUY.  The one who stamps a sticker showing the "best before date" on every single piece of produce in the store?  Him.  Or her.  I'm PC that way.  And maybe it's just on the potatoes.  You know, cause the freshness factor on those rascally potatoes is tricky to figure out.
Every single potato I brought home had one of these stickers.  That's weird right?
This is the Cane Girl - signing off.