Tuesday, December 31, 2013

How to get pomegranate seeds out without turning red!


Aren't pomegranates beautiful? The pretty red skin holds hundreds of little ruby red jewels of juicy goodness that are perfect for salads, yogourt add-ins and smoothies. They also hold lots of vitamins C, K and B5 as well as iron and fibre. The problem with this delicious fruit is, of course, releasing the seeds without turning your kitchen and your clothes red!

Although there are a few ways to get the seeds out, the one I use involves a bowl, some water, and a little elbow grease.

First, I fill a large bowl with water and place it in the bottom of the sink. Then I place a few paper towels on a cutting board. I cut off the pomegranate in half. The paper towels will soak up any drops of juice that may escape. Note: Some people just take off an inch or so of the bottom of the fruit and then score it and proceed. This will produce even less of a mess but I am not that patient!

Then place the pomegranate in the bowl of water and gently break apart the fruit.

The seeds will sink to the bottom while the white membranes float to the top. Most importantly, your hands will not turn red! Scoop out the membranes and outer skin. Gently run your fingers through the seeds and remove any membrane pieces that are still attached to the seeds. Drain the water, place the seeds in a container and refrigerate until needed.

Pomegranate season in North America ends in January so get them while you can!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Pastry wrapped Brie stuffed with caramelized onions


This appetizer gets me more compliments than anything I have ever made. EVER. It's that good. But more importantly, it's easy. Well, ok, caramelizing the onions taking a bit of time but it's not complicated. Check out how to caramelize onions here. The great thing about brie and puff pastry is that you can add pretty much anything and it will be delicious. Jams, sauces, nuts, fruit will all work. You can serve it with bread, like I did here, or use crackers - heck a spoon will work too! In the pictures I added more onions and I love baking it in a cast iron pan because I can serve it in the pan. Let the cheese sit once once you take it out of the oven so it gets ooey and gooey.



1 egg
1 tbsp water 
All-purpose flour to cover work surface
1/2 of a 17.3-ounce package puff pastry, thawed 
1 cup carmelized onions
1 (13- to 16-ounce) Brie cheese round
1 crusty baguette
clove of garlic, peeled (optional)
olive oil spray (optional)


  1. Defrost the puff pastry according to directions.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  3. Beat the egg and water in a small bowl.
  4. Sprinkle the flour on the work surface. 
  5. Roll the pastry sheet into an approximately 14-inch square. 
  6. Gently take the brie and place in centre of pastry. Push gently and remove brie– you just want to see the indentation of the brie.
  7. Spread the onions on the pastry within the impression you just made. 
  8. Place brie on top of onions.
  9. Spread more onions on top.
  10. Fold the pastry up and over the cheese to cover. Trim the excess pastry and press to seal. 
  11. Brush the seam with some of the egg mixture.
  12. Place seam-side down onto a baking sheet.
  13. Brush all of pastry with the egg mixture.
  14. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown. Let stand for 45 minutes (yes, 45 minutes).
  15. Serve with thinly cut bread. To take it up a notch, cut the bread into 1 cm slices, rub with a clove of garlic, spray with a bit of olive oil and grill on medium heat until slightly charred. 


Monday, December 16, 2013

Christmas Cake Ideas

Hope everyone is having a great time preparing for Christmas! It's a lot of work isn't it??!!

My kids' school had their annual Christmas Craft and Bake Sale last week. The kids love it - each class make crafts to sell, families donate their gently used toys to resell, lots of sweet treats are made for the bake sale and there is an annual "cake walk". Families make a special cake and the kids do a kinda musical chairs thing to determine who wins a cake. This year I made 8 cake creations for the "walk". I thought I'd show some of them here just in case any of you are looking for ideas.
Two layer cake frosted with vanilla butter cream. After frosted we simply added a
gingerbread house we found at the dollar store and a few decorations from the local cake supply store. Super cute.

Same as above. A few different decorations.

Double layer cake that has been frosted. Ten (yes 10) kit kat bars surround the cake.
Threw a bunch of  Smarties on top with a Lindt Santa in the middle.

Same with a different toy on top!

This one is my fave even though the Santa needs work! lol. Frosted single layer cake with fondant for the blanket and figurines.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

How to caramelize onions

Caramelized onions

Caramelized onions are one of my favorite condiments/side dishes! They go with almost everything - pulled pork, baked beans, grilled cheese, chilli, and are amazing by themselves or on a piece of toast. I LOVE them.

But let's face it - they are a lot of work. Cutting those tear inducing veggies into thins slices is no easy task. And as they caramelize those suckers shrink so you need many onions! A few weeks ago I bought a hand-held mandoline and I have to say it makes slicing much easier (just try not to cut off a finger). Whenever I make these morsels of delightfulness I make a BIG batch and freeze them in smaller portions. I know some people think the flavour and texture of the onions is negatively effected by freezing but either they have waaay better taste buds than I do or they are full of poppycock.

Just remember to have patience. I don't add balsamic vinegar or sugar to these beauties - I just go slow and let nature take its course. I do use a cast iron pan most of the time because it produces a better colour and seems to take a little less time. Finally, I prefer using yellow onions not walla walla or sweet onions - I think the yellow variety ends up with the best flavour.
Mandoline makes slicing easier and less teary!


So good!


8-10 medium yellow onions
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp olive oil
sprinkle or two of salt


Makes about 3 cups.
  1. Over medium heat melt butter and oil. 
  2. As soon as it starts to sizzle, add the onions. 
  3. Stir frequently.Once the onions begin to brown turn heat to low. Stir frequently. 
  4. Onions will slowly caramelize over the next 30-45 minutes. It takes time but it is worth it.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Caramelized Apple Coffee Cake

When I think of apples Granny Smith, Pink Ladies, Golden Delicious and Macintosh come to mind. But there are also other wonderful apples that deserve our attention. Among these strong silent types is the Ambrosia apple. New in the world of apples, it started here in British Columbia and is now available around the world. It is a medium to large apple that is mostly red with ribbons of yellow throughout its skin. It is sweet and crunchy. It doesn't oxidize quickly which is a bonus if adding them to a fruit platter or fruit salad.
Batter, apples, almonds, repeat!

Is there anything better than caramel and apples? Only if you add almonds! To let the amazing flavours of those ingredients take top billing in this cake, I used our family's basic coffee cake recipe. It has a great texture to hold up to the apples and caramel sauce and isn't too sweet. I like this recipe the day it is made but if there is any left the next day the flavours meld together even more!

When I add the apples and caramel I set side most of the caramel sauce to add later once the cake is baked. There is also enough caramelized apples to have a bite or four before assembling it! Also, if you find your sauce is a bit too thick you can add up to another 1/4 cup of cream. It will thicken a bit as it rests.

See the layers of apples?!


1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup milk
1 egg slightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla
1.5 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Carmelized apples
4 ambrosia apples
1/2 c unsalted butter
1/4 c sugar
3 tbsp brown sugar
2/3 c whipping cream
1 c chopped roasted almond


Carmelized Apples
  1. Over medium heat, melt unsalted butter in large sauté pan.
  2. Stir in sugars and continue to stir until combined with butter. 
  3. Add ambrosia apples. Sauté for about 10 minutes until apples start to turn golden brown and their juices start to release into the pan.  
  4. Add almonds and sauté for another 2 or 3 minutes. 
  5. Add whipping cream and simmer for 3 minutes until sauce thickens slightly. Remove from heat.


  1. Cream butter and sugar for three minutes until light and fluffy.
  2. Mix in egg and vanilla until combined.
  3. In another bowl whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.
  4. Add sifted ingredients, alternately with milk (3 flour: 2 milk) into butter mixture and mix gently with each addition.
  5. Put 1/2 batter into greased tube pan.
  6. Layer half of apples and almonds reserving most of the sauce.
  7. Add rest of batter.
  8. Add rest of apples and almonds spreading evenly.
  9. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
  10. Cool cake 10 minutes, remove from pan and flip so topping side faces up.
  11. Spoon leftover caramel sauce over cake. 
  12. Cool completely.