Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Strawberry-Vanilla Yogurt Pops

Such an easy and quick way to make kids and adults happy on a hot summer day! All you need are strawberries and vanilla yogurt...and a freezer! If your strawberries are very tart you can add a couple of teaspoons of sugar.

Of course, this will work with a variety of other fruits and berries! Be creative ... kiwis, mangos, blueberries, melons would all be delicious.

1 cup sliced strawberries
1 cup vanilla yogurt

What to do
- Puree the strawberries.
- Spoon a tablespoon of yogourt into your popsicle moulds.
- Spoon a tablespoon of strawberry puree on top of the yogourt.
- Continue layering until there is about a centimeter/half-inch or so of space left.
- Cover with mould lids.
- Freeze for 6 hours or longer.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Homemade Lemonade and Simple Syrup

- 1 cup fresh lemon juice - about 6-8 lemons
- 4 cups water
- 1 cup simple syrup
- 1 cup strawberries (optional - see below)
- ice

Simple Syrup
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup sugar

Simple syrup is handy to have around as it's an easy way to add sweetness to cold drinks. Often if you add plain sugar to a cold drink the sugar does not properly dissolve but premaking this syrup will avoid this.

An easy way to make simple syrup is to simply put equal parts water and sugar in a blender and mix until all the sugar is dissolved.

What to do
1. In a litre container, mix juice, syrup and water.
2. Add ice and serve!

Optional - Strawberry Lemonade
Puree 1 cup of strawberries and add to lemonade. This is absolutely delicious. Adults might also like to add a bit of vodka for a grown up version of this thirst quencher!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Fresh Strawberry Coffee Cake

Spring 2011, in Vancouver, was cold...I swear the sun went on vacation for 4 months. As a result, many crops are behind about 3 weeks or so including strawberries. But they are finally starting to appear at our local markets. Is there anything better than local strawberries?! Sweet, ruby red little bites of goodness vs the often large and bland ones we import during the fall and winter months. My 5 yr old son didn't quite know what to make of the local berries when he first saw them - smaller and often in a slightly less than perfect "strawberry shape" he thought there was something wrong with them! lol. Of course, once he popped one in his mouth all misgivings were gone.

1 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk
1 egg
3 tbsp melted butter, cooled a bit
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups sliced strawberries

1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup butter

What to do
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Grease an 8x8 pan.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
In another bowl mix milk, eggs, and melted butter.
Add wet to dry ingredients and beat until well mixed.
Pour into prepared pan.
Place strawberries on top of batter.
In another bowl, combine topping ingredients until it looks like coarse crumbs.
Spread evenly over strawberries.
Bake for 45 minutes.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Wacky Woo Eggless Chocolate Cupcakes

For his 5th birthday, my son chose a tower of cupcakes as his cake of choice. And as a way to fill some time during the party I thought it would be great if the kids decorated the own cupcakes with sprinkles. It was a great hit - though there may have been just as many sprinkles on the floor as on the cupcakes!

This recipe is based on a "wacky woo" cake recipe - no eggs, lots of flavour, very moist and honestly the flavour only gets better after a day or two (if they last that long).

The recipe for the icing is based on a Marth Stewart recipe that I coloured with Wilton colour gels.

1 1/2 cups flour
3 tbsp Dutch process cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 c sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 tsp white vinegar
5 tbsp shortening, melted
1 cup warm water

What to do
Preheat 325 degrees F.
Place the dry ingredients in a bowl and whisk until well combined.
Make 3 medium sized holes in the dry mixture.
Pour the vanilla in one hole. Do not mix.
Pour the vinegar in another hole. Do not mix.
Pour the shortening in the third. Do not mix.
Pour water over the top.
Now mix.

Prepare cupcake pans and fill 2/3 of each cup.
Bake for approximately 20 minutes or until tester comes out clean.

Icing Ingredients
2 cups unsalted butter, softened
3 1/2 cups icing sugar, sifted
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 c milk
pinch of salt

What to do
Beat butter until very smooth and creamy.
Slowly add icing sugar and beat until smooth.
Incorporate vanilla and salt.
Slowly add milk and slowly beat until beautifully smooth. (5 minutes)
If colouring, separate out into bowls and add desired colours.

Makes approx. 12 cupcakes.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Jerk Chicken

Jerk chicken is not a dish I have cooked before but since I do like food with heat and spice, it seemed like a great idea when I came across a recipe for it in a Men’s Health magazine.

I love the depth of flavour and well-rounded heat this jerk marinade provides. It is definitely hot but not tear jerking hot. Instead, it coats your taste buds with a warm, full-bodied heat that allows you to also taste the nutmeg and other spices. I served it with whole wheat couscous with black beans and grilled pineapple. Just in case the heat was too much for some, I also added raw pepper slices and tzatziki on the side.

Adapted from a Men’s Health recipe.


6 half-breasts of chicken (or 3 full breasts cut in half)

Jerk Marinade
10 green onions, roughly chopped
4 habaneras, roughly chopped
5 cloves garlic
½ cup vinegar
3-1/2 tbsp kosher salt
¼ cup vegetable oil
4 tsp allspice
4 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp nutmeg
1 tbsp dried thyme
1 tbsp freshly grated ginger root
1 tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp ground pepper

What to Do:
Throw everything but the chicken into a blender and puree until smooth. You will have made about two cups of jerk mix. If making less than half a dozen chicken breast, pour 1 cup of it into a container and refrigerate or freeze for future use.

Place chicken into a zip-loc bag. Pour one cup of sauce over chicken. Close bag and squish mixture around chicken until well coated. Place in fridge overnight or for 12 hours.

When ready to cook, preheat grill to med high heat. Grill breasts until cooked and when pierced all juices run clear. It will take approximately 15 minutes but use a meat thermometer to ensure proper cooked temperature. Do not overcook though or chicken will be tough.

Remove from grill, cover with foil and let sit for 5 minutes.


Pineapple-Blackbean Couscous

1 cup whole wheat couscous
1 can black beans (about 1 - 2 cups)
1/4 pineapple, diced
1 tbsp butter
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tbsp rice vinegar (optional)
Salt and freshly ground pepper

What to do
Boil 1 cup water in medium sauce pan.
Add couscous and give a quick stir.
Cover and remove from heat.
Let sit covered for 5 minutes.
Add garlic powder.
Add beans.

Over medium heat, melt the butter.
Add the pineapple and saute until carmelized (about 10 minutes). Stir frequently to avoid burning.
Remove and place in couscous along with any extra sauce in pan.
Gently mix and season with salt and pepper.
Let sit for an hour before serving or put in fridge for later use.
Delicious cold or at room temperature.

Goes well with Jerk Chicken!