Blueberry Muffins

Blueberries are not normally eaten in our house fresh, I enjoy the taste of blueberry but whenever we buy a package they tend to be pushed to the back of the fridge and forgotten. We’ve decided to start buying frozen blueberries and we keep throwing them into our smoothies, and bake with them…my favorite fruits to bake with. I love the sweet taste that comes out of the berries when cooked and I love that the flavour spreads perfectly and pairs well with many other flavours.

With the decision to try and not buy many (if any) pre packaged foods, I decided to try and test out some muffins this week that can be used as a quick snack. after looking through other recipes so that I could get the basics down, I decided to make a few changes, using only brown sugar, and my favorite healthy swap of using yogurt instead of buttermilk and I was very happy of how the muffins turned out and Lily (who does not really enjoy blueberries) gobbled them up!IMG_2975

Blueberry Muffins 

  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour, sifted
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup yogurt*
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup blueberries
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit. Grease, or line a muffin baking pan (12)
  2. In a large bowl, sift the flour, add the brown sugar, baking powder, and salt. Mix well.
  3. In a medium bowl, with a whisk or fork mix the egg, yogurt, melted butter and vanilla.
  4. Stir the egg mixture into the flour mixture until combined (the mixture will be lumpy) add the blueberries and mix well.
  5. Spoon the batter into muffin tin 2/3 full
  6. Bake for 20-25 minutes depending on your oven.

*For added flavour, use a flavoured yogurt, vanilla or blueberry or mix it up and use strawberry or even peach.

*Don’t forget to go like my facebook page @ahappinesshomemade 

Honey Madeleines

 

Having a madeleine pan since Halloween last year I felt it was finally time to check this off my list of things I have mastered in the baking world, I didn’t want just a plain madeleine but I wanted something simple due to the point that honestly I have never tasted or seen a madeleine in person and have only seen them in photos online, in cookbooks or on cooking competition shows.

The best tip I can give you though while cooking madeleines is use shortening and I’m not talking about in your recipe. Many recipes call for you to butter and flour your madeleine pan, or sometimes even just simply spraying baking spray on it. I will tell you though that none of those always work, there are going to be one or two madeleines that will probably stick, there always ends up being that one. Spreading shortening over the pan like you would butter makes the madeleines just slide out after a minute or two of cooling. IMG_2868

Honey Madeleines 

  • 2/3 cups unsalted butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 heaping cup of white sugar
  • 2/3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon heaping of honey*
  • Shortening, enough to grease the medeleine pan
  1. Melt butter in microwave or in a small saucepan
  2. In a large bowl, or in the bowl of a mixer whisk together the eggs and the sugars until the mixture is thick (about 2-3 minutes)
  3. Add the flour, baking powder and mix. Add the honey and melted butter. mix until everything is well incorporated and the batter is a thick consistency
  4. Leave the batter to rest in the fridge for at the least one hour (incorpates the honey flavour into the mix and cools down the butter and makes it ready for baking)
  5. Preheat oven to 500 degrees fahrenheit
  6. Generously grease the madeleine pan with the shortening
  7. Place a generous tablespoon of batter or use a piping bag
  8. Place the tray in the oven and turn down the temperature to 450 fahrenheit
  9.  Bake until the madeleines have risen and are lightly golden on top, for a large pan like I used its about 7-10 minutes.
  10. Once madeleines are cooked, pull out the pan, let cool for a few minutes and remove cakes from molds, and place on a cooling rack lined with parchment paper.

*The better the honey quality the better the flavour

*Spray your tablespoon with a baking spray before pouring the honey into the tablespoon so the honey comes out easier and easier to clean.

 

Strawberry Cake Loaf

When asked as a young girl what my favorite food was I would never have said brownies, no chips were the best flavour, no Mcdonalds chicken nugget invoked true happiness for me to be my favorite food, the food I loved to eat by itself, with a tiny sprinkle of sugar, cut up into pancakes or with a dollop of whip cream for dessert like my grandmother would give us, it was the perfectly red strawberry.

To this day I will tell you I love my strawberries, I don’t often eat them by themselves sadly but I love when they are in something, cut up into yogurt, in a smoothie, cooked into pancakes or waffles and of course baked into delicious treats like this amazing strawberry cake loaf, its baked into a bread pan and is a moist and delicious cake reminiscent of a pound cake. IMG_2921

Strawberry Cake Loaf 

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup cream cheese
  • 6 tablespoon packed brown sugar
  • 6 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup strawberry yogurt *
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cup chopped strawberries
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit
  2. Line a 9×5 loaf pan with parchment paper
  3. Cream butter, cream cheese, sugar, and salt in large bowl until fluffy (about 2 minutes)
  4.  Beat in eggs and vanilla extract until combined
  5.  Add flour, baking powder and baking soda to the mixture
  6. Add strawberries and stir until just combined
  7. Pour batter in prepared pan. Bake for 50-60 minutes. If top browing to quickly tent aluminum foil over bread.
  8. Cool in pan for 10 minutes remove and cool completely on wire wrack, serve with whip cream. Perfect for dessert or to eat alone for breakfast.

* Try to find a strawberry yogurt that is flavoured with real strawberry pieces rather then an artificial flavouring or the taste will be a little off in the end.

Big Mac Casserole

This is one recipe that I want all of my readers to try and make this week. The Big Mac casserole is a quick and delicious family recipe that I can guarantee all of your family is going to be asking for again and again. 

In my family we try to have a “ground meat night” where we can use up the ground meat packages that we get with a discount and throw into our freezer each grocery haul. Most nights though ground meat ends up in meatloaf or tacos, of course there is absolutely nothing wrong with a really good fresh taco, but having the same meals week after can get you into a dinner slump, so I set out to find something new and exciting to make on ground meat night and came up with this perfect casserole that everybody loves and even looks forward to in my family.

Big Mac Casserole 

  • 1 1/2lb lean ground beef
  • 1 tbsp Worcester sauce
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped dill pickles
  • 8 slices 2% cheese slices
  • 1 pkg crescent rolls (ex. Pillsbury)
  • Sesame seeds for garnish
  • Thousand island dressing
  1. In a large skillet brown the beef and drain the excess grease
  2. Add the Worcester sauce, chopped onion and pickles. Cook for a few minutes until onions are soft
  3. Pour the mixture into a 9×13 baking dish
  4. Layer the cheese slices over the beef mixture.
  5. Unroll the crescent rolls, do not separate and lay over top of the cheese slices
  6. Sprinkle sesame seeds on top for garnish
  7. Bake at 375 in oven for 25 minutes. 
  8. Serve with salad and use thousand island dressing as your Bic mac sauce

So What’s New?

In one entire year plenty of things can change, people grow older, children are born, new people are met, love can blossom, accepting yourself as who you are inside and not what others see you as, new adventures, new friends, loss of old friends that only brought you negativity all of that and more happened to me this past year. 

Only a few month after I began my hiatus my sweet nephew was born on the tenth of July last year, I was definitely emotional because not that long before was I on that same floor of the hospital giving birth to my own daughter. My sister and her husband did an amazing job though, they have a handsome son who just turned one a couple months ago, he’s walking on his own now and has a big smile, a good appetite and the cutest laugh.28583796103_97a6cf6a44_c

Only a couple of weeks after I helped greet my nephew into the world, I greeted someone new into my world, I met a creative, fun, adventurous and caring man name Devon. We quickly became friends and which quickly led into a relationship that has been going strong for over a year, and after six months of dating he was introduced to my daughter Lily and I am so lucky to have a daughter that loves the man I love, and a man that loves me and my daughter as a package deal. Devon and I love trying new foods together, watching and discussing zombie films, staying up late having deep discussions and laying outside staring up at the stars.

Also this past year Lily has turned two (and will be turning 3 on the 15th of September) and has experienced a lot of firsts, her first haircut, her first time sledding down a hill, her first time really playing in snow, her first time finger painting, first time riding a bike (which she did surprisingly well!) first time trying to skateboard which Devon tried teaching her how to do, first time playing with a glow sticks, and of course her continuing the food related Halloween costume tradition and going out as a cupcake this past year. 

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One big thing that has happened to me this year is me finding myself. I have spent so much time in my life trying to be what I think other people want me to be, and finally this past year I have decided to take a step back and try to find out who I am as a person, who do I want to be, what do I really like? what music interests me, what books, what hobbies really make me happy? What type of person do I want to be portrayed as while walking down the street, and what it really important to me?

I found myself being someone that enjoys creativity, I enjoy painting and writing, and sketching things even if I’m not that great at it…but the thing I do love most is photography, its the best way I like to be creative. I have learned that I am interested in the paranormal, urban legends, zombies, ghost stories and scary films. I’m someone that has learned about myself that I prefer to be baking things then cooking a dinner, which is why I’ve changed my plan to be working in a restaurant to my plan of working at a bakery, I enjoy baking bread and muffins and being creative with cakes. This year I changed the way I look by getting my nose piercing re-done and finally getting my recovery tattoo (which I will talk more about in a later post) I’ve become comfortable with dying my hair red on a normal basis because I feel it fits me more then my natural brownish red hair, and I’ve learned to experiment with my clothing choices and wearing things I like rather then worrying what others might think of my outfits. 12705157_953642384731451_4833027180451395122_n

There are things I have to be forgetting, but i’m trying to rush this post because I have mom things I’ve got to do! I hope everyone’s past year has been amazing, and I am sorry I have not been here to experience your life along with you but i’m back and ready to stay!

Poaching An Egg

I have my plans all laid out for going to culinary school, but I’ve already been to post secondary education and already have loans that need to be paid back (not as much as most programs, but still a bit of money) my plan is to pay these loans off and after that return to school for a culinary management program.

I like to be ready though, I prefer to know many variations of a possible recipe before I start, I like to have all the information I might need before I write an essay. Even writing blog posts take me a few days with a first draft, research, and final draft, then photos (if any) and if it’s a recipe then it might take a few weeks even to get a blog post up so that I can perfect the recipe. This might help me though in my future culinary program. Seeing as it might take me some time to pay off my loan ( a year maybe two if i’m pushing it) I can use this time to practice. Get better at my knife skills,  learn different techniques, I’ve even begun reading memoirs of people going through culinary school so that I can take what they are doing in there programs and teach myself at home so that I can be ready once I get back to school.

All the books I used to perfect poaching an egg!
All the books I used to perfect poaching an egg!

One of the things a couple of the books spoke about what a few days (if not a week) lesson on eggs. I’ve perfected how to make scrambled eggs (thank you Julia Child!) and i’ve  made an omelet, sunny side up egg and a quiche once or twice…one thing I have never done myself, actually I had only had one before…was a poached egg.

Poaching an egg can seem somewhat easy to some people, they think its just putting an egg into water and it cooks…wish it was that easy. Once that egg goes into the water it elongates, it moves around and sometimes you have to get out a wooden spoon and fold the whites back over the yolk. The mess is not done yet though, you can easily overcook the egg yolk, and if you don’t have the right utensil to get the egg out, it might break.

A trick that I found from going through three of my cooking encyclopedia’s  is putting about a teaspoon of vinegar into the water which can help the eggs stay together. If it is your first time poaching an egg just be patient. I was lucky enough to cook 9 eggs, the first one I tried just went all over the pot and there was no way of getting it together again, and one of my last eggs ended up breaking when I was taking it out of the pot.

Poached eggs though a simple dinner taste amazing. For our dinner we toasted some english muffins and warmed up some slices of deli honey maple ham in a pan and  layered that atop the english muffin and then placed the egg on top of that, cutting a slit through the yolk and then letting that gooey yolk fall all over the muffin and the muffin soaking it up was the most delicious meal I have had in weeks.

Simple, Yet delicious
Simple, Yet delicious

Make It With A Wooden Spoon

From zucchini muffins, cornbread, crepe batter and cooking scrambled eggs I use a wooden spoon. It’s one of the only kitchen utensils that could possibly explain the type of food I love to cook and eat. Comfort food. Beef stews, pumpkin and chocolate pie, homemade noodles in chicken soup, potato latkes, strawberry shortcake. All those yummy foods that bring back long forgotten memories. 78dc38548aae0124a1a1db3f85c7c40f

A wooden spoon makes me think of the Mennonite, or even long ago pioneer women, spending there days cooking beautiful, hearty meals that everyone loved. That’s what I aspire to. I aspire to cook hearty meals (and yes you can have hearty healthy meals too!) that cook over a stove all day filling my home with enticing aroma’s, cooking through memory, knowing how much of this and that, and when to put the vegetables into the stew. It’s cooking with intuition, with strength, with vast knowledge.

But a wooden spoon does not just signify old recipes from my grandmother, and mother and long ago family members, a wooden spoon also means to me, food made with love. It’s the food that yes might be a new recipe (such as my own recipe for a honey mustard sauce that I keep secret and use on a flat bread to make a sort of pizza) or a recipe that you have perfected on your own even though the beginnings were from a whole different recipe. A wooden spoon reminds me of the moments I call my mother for cooking advice, the moments I pull out old cookbooks so that I can go over the same basic cooking method/recipe of something in different books to perfect the technique.

Make it with a wooden spoon and you will be making it with love. You will be making your recipe with the warmth in your heart, the caring memories of long forgotten days, and the hopes for the future.