1 c coconut (I use the unsweetened one… otherwise these are a little too sweet for my liking)
1 t vanilla
¼ t salt
Combine sugar and cocoa in a saucepan.
Add milk slowly. Stir over low heat until the sugar dissolves.
Bring to a boil, add margarine and oats stirring briskly. Cook for 1 – 3 minutes stirring constantly. (3 minutes was the magic number for me — no more or it gets a little hard)
Remove from heat. Add coconut, vanilla and salt.
Let the mixture cool a bit at room temperature so that you can handle it to make the nests (about 10 – 15 minutes).
Using a spoon, scoop a ball of the mixture onto wax paper. Press in the middle to form a nest. Add 2 or 3 mini eggs.
Refrigerate. These also freeze well!
These are Sister #3′s Easter cupcakes.
She uses a cake mix (white cake with pastel colour confetti sprinkles inside) and a butter cream (1/2 c butter, 1/2 c shortening, whipped with 4 c icing sugar and two T milk) and adds lots of sprinkles and treats.
If you are looking for a fun twist to an Easter Egg hunt, think about including Two Hens and a Rooster from the World Vision Canada Gift Catalogue at worldvision.ca/gifts. This will provide a family with nutritious eggs and income. What a great moment to teach your kids about helping others. Simply donate the gift online and print the e-card (or select the card to be mailed to you) and hide it with the chocolate the Easter Bunny leaves (he won’t mind, promise).
Kath’s quote: “Easter says you can put truth in a grave, but it won’t stay there.” Clarence W. Hall
Recently, I had the opportunity to work alongside a lovely woman by the name of Linda Whitworth who is on a multi-city tour promoting the health benefits of cooking with barley. The grain which is commonly (and lovingly, in our house) associated with beer making has been recognized with the health claim that barley fibre can positively contribute to your wellness by reducing your cholesterol level. I look at this as a bonus because cooking with barley, simply tastes good!
There are many ingredients that I might not ever cook with, were it not for my work as a food stylist. Barley is a good case in point. I keep barley in our pantry for a single family recipe Hamburger Soup. But now that I know the difference between pearl and pot barley (the former is “polished” longer than the latter), and have had the pleasure of baking with barley flour, barley and barley flour will always have a place on my shelf.
First up were Yoghurt Barley Fruit Scones. I made mine with raisins but I would love to try them with blueberries next time. I tucked one away for D to try with his supper. He asked me to please, please make these all the time.
I had to make another substitution as I could not find rhubarb around at this time of year so I made the Rhubarb Pecan Muffins with tart cranberries instead. The topping on these muffins was amazing (and another cholesterol reducer too with the inclusion of quick oats). I plan to mix up a bag of this crumble topping to keep on hand in the freezer to put onto a variety of muffins. I am making banana muffins this afternoon. I often call my muffins “cupcakes” and serve them for dessert.
The recipe that Linda made on set was this gorgeous Black Bean and Barley Salad. It was so simple, so healthy and so delicious-win, win, win!
But my favourite of the day was the Barley Jambalaya. It was so good, that I literally can’t stop thinking about it and just talked myself into making it for mandatory Sunday supper this weekend.
The recipe links here are from the newly launched website that Linda was in town to promote: http://gobarley.com/. Be sure to bookmark it as it is chock full of amazing recipes.
Keep open house, let fidlers play.
A fig for cold, sing care away;
And may they who thereat repine,
On brown bread and on small beer dine.”
from the 1766 ‘Virginia Almanack’
Every once in a while I get a real hankering for wild blueberries which I am happy to say can now be purchased at one of the grocery stores that I frequent. But even better, is the surprise of finding a container full of them in the bottom of your freezer. I can’t even say if I picked these myself last summer but no one else in my immediately family is a picker so it must have been me. Sometimes it is quite lovely to have a memory like a sieve…..
We were hosting our young families group on Friday night, so I thought that this would be a perfect opportunity to whip up a berry crisp. The recipe that I found (modified and posted below) suggests that you make extra batches of topping to freeze and you can have another batch bubbling in the oven in a snap.
Tip: You can make extra batches of crisp topping and freeze it in individual freezer bags. So, at a moment’s notice you can bake up a great dessert.
1 c rolled oats
¾ c all purpose flour
½ c brown sugar, lightly packed
¾ t cinamon
½ c butter or margarine cut into pieces
⅓ c chopped pecans
¼ c sugar
1 T cornstarch (I had to use flour)
2 c blueberries (wild which were frozen) with juice
2 c mango pieces (I buy the frozen and always have it on hand)
Combine oats, sugar, cinamon and salt.
Add butter and rub it with your fingers into the dry ingredients.
Incorporate pecans with your hands.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F..
In a large bowl, mix sugar and cornstarch.
Add fruit and mix well.
Pour into a shallow casserole dish.
Sprinkle evenly with crisp topping.
Bake until crisp is golden and fruit juices are bubbling, checking after 45 minutes.
Let stand at least 15 minutes before serving.
Can be served warm or at room temperature.
Kath’s quote: “I remember his burlesque pretense that morning of an inextinguishable grief when I wonder that I had never eaten blueberry cake before, and how he kept returning to the pathos of the fact that there should be a region of the earth where blueberry cake was unknown.”-William Dean Howells
When our kids were little, we used to read them a story called “A Difficult Day” by Eugenie Fernandes about a little girl who endures a bad day at school, has a little temper tantrum and hides from her Mom. The Mom makes a batch of Melinda’s favourite cookies, finds her daughter and they eat them together under Melinda’s bed. Daughter #2 recently had a frustrating day at university and plunked herself in a wicker chair in the kitchen to tell me her woes. I happened to be making a batch of Peanut Butter Crunchies (that she had just mentioned missing the taste of). We both remembered the story book and she exclaimed how some things had never really changed. Except that I try very hard not to have sugary treats in the house like Peanut Butter Crunchies.
This is how I tried to adjust the recipe:
where it calls for peanut butter-I used a 100% natural crunchy variety where the ingredients are just peanuts and salt with no sugar or fat.
I cut back the brown sugar by 25% but there is both sugar and corn syrup.
I did not add any additional salt as the original recipes calls for.
I used bran flakes instead of corn flakes.
I used a brown rice variety of Kellogg’s rice crispies instead of the regular ones.
Daughter #2 declared that they tasted EXACTLY as she remembered them and they contributed to the turning around of her day. Are they healthy? Well, all I know is that I feel better about serving them to my little girl (even if she is almost 22 years old).
Kath’s quote: “I’ll love you forever. I’ll like for always. As long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be”. -Robert Munsch
We have enjoyed many celebrations and meals over the past four days and I managed to take a break from recording every detail of everything that we ate and drank (for your sake and mine). The abundance in our lives was apparent by the bounties under the tree.
We are so blessed to host so many family members for dinner that I could not fit everyone into a single picture and even then, I neglected to get Daughter #2 and my 86 year old Mom to squeeze in. They sat to the far left and right (and D was still in the pantry opening wine).
Of all the baking and roasted meats and gravies, I think the crowning glory was Sister #3′s traditional Christmas dessert that she made especially for The Frenchman (but we all got to enjoy). If you get “sugared out’ over the holidays, this is a lovely alternative as it is rich and meaty with nuts and butter but not overly sweet.
12 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
Fresh bay leaves or lemon leaves
Powdered sugar (for sprinkling)
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Line 17x12x1-inch rimmed baking sheet with parchment; butter paper. Pulse nuts and flour in processor until nuts are finely chopped (not ground). Using electric mixer, beat egg whites and salt in very large bowl until foamy.
With mixer running, gradually beat in ¼ cup sugar, beating just until stiff peaks form.
Using electric mixer, beat yolks with ⅓ cup sugar and bourbon in large bowl until thickened, about 5 minutes.
Add yolk mixture to egg-white mixture.
Sprinkle nuts over; gently fold until almost incorporated.
Add butter; fold gently just to blend.
Pour into prepared baking sheet, spreading batter gently to form even layer.
Bake cake until edges begin to brown and cake is firm to touch, about 14 minutes. Cool in pan on rack.
For frosting and caramel sauce:
Stir 1¼ cups sugar and ⅓ cup water in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves.
Increase heat; boil without stirring until deep amber, occasionally swirling pan and brushing down sides with wet pastry brush, about 9 minutes (time will vary, depending on size of pan).
Remove from heat; immediately add cream (mixture will bubble vigorously). Whisk in butter, bourbon, and salt.
Stir over medium heat until any caramel bits dissolve.
Transfer 1 cup caramel sauce to small pitcher.
Add chocolate to remaining caramel in saucepan.
Let stand off heat 5 minutes; whisk until smooth.
Transfer to bowl.
Let frosting stand until spreadable, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour.
Spread 1 cup frosting over cake in even layer.
Beginning at 1 long side and using parchment as aid, roll up cake jelly-roll style.
Starting 1 inch in from each end of cake, cut off 3-inch-long diagonal piece from each end.
Arrange cake, seam side down, on platter. Spread cut side of each 3-inch cake piece with some of frosting.
Attach 1 cake piece, frosting side down, to top of cake near 1 end. Attach second piece to side of cake near opposite end.
Cover cake with remaining frosting.
Run fork in concentric circles on cake ends.
Do ahead Can be made 1 day ahead.
Cover loosely with waxed paper and let stand at room temperature.
Garnish platter with leaves.
Sprinkle cake lightly with powdered sugar.
Kath’s quote: ” . . . réveillon, this word says it all; it is just as well that it comes only once a year, on 25 December, between two and three o’clock in the morning. This meal. . . is designed to restore the faithful, who are exhausted after a session of four hours in church, and to refresh throats hoarse from singing praises to the Lord. . . . A poularde or a capon with rice is the obligatory dish for this nocturnal meal, taking the place of soup, which is never served. Four hors d’oeuvres, consisting of piping hot sausages, fat well-stuffed andouilles, boudins blancs au crème, and properly defatted black puddings, are its attendants. This is followed by ox (beef) tongue, either pickled or (more likely) dressed as it would be at this time of the year, accompanied by a symmetrical arrangement of a dozen pigs’ trotters (feet) stuffed with truffles and pistachio nuts, and a dish of fresh pork cutlets. At each corner of the table are two plates of petits fours, including tarts or tartlets, and two sweet desserts, which may be a cream and an English apple pie. Nine more desserts round off the meal, and the faithful – thus fortified – retire to their devotions at the early morning Mass, preceded by Prime and followed by Tierce.”-Grimod de La Reyniere
This single blossom appeared on a south facing window sill this week.