Category Archives: Recipes Blog

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The Alien Egg Cake ( the prime birthday series:part 1)

My hubby had a birthday this week. It’s a prime number- he takes note of those kinds of things.

He is a super fan of the Alien movies.

I’m a fan of using different mediums to create art pieces- and baking is one of my favourite indulgences when I can share the results with awesome friends.

Today’s post is part 1, as I will have made 3 different elements of the Alien movie by the end of the weekend… two celebrations, 1 has already happened.

What came first- the egg…the Alien Egg:

This sculpture along with an entire Pinterest cluster of pics were my inspiration for the birthday desserts I decided I would attempt. I decided this about 2 weeks before his birthday.  Two weeks where I had full time work in my design studio and busy weekends… but inspiration is a great place to start… and I cannot help myself, once I get an idea, I have to try to get it done!!

My inspiration…

I laid out my plan – I’ve made many Black forest inspired birthday desserts for my husband already in our 21 years together, and I always resort to keeping the cake, pie filling, and whipping cream parts simple so that I can be more creative with the deployment of the piece.

A quick trip to the Bulk Barn  <  this post was not sponsored by  them, but it’s a great Canadian place to find stuff in bulk and fun to check out!> turned into 45 minutes of wandering around inside looking at all of my options, but I found some fun stuff to play with and use to create the Alien Egg Cake!

I made 2 Devil’s Food  cake mixes up, dividing them between 3 – 8 inch/ 23 cm layers and 2- 8 inch/ 23 cm pie plates  – hoping the curved edges would save me some time in the carving to come.

Then I realized that the fluffy, scrumptious devil’s food cake was going to be very light, and with 5 layers, I wanted a base layer that had some solidness to it.

I pulled out my Betty Crocker cookbook from the 70s and found the Chocolate-Cherry Recipe on page 233, with its variations that include an Oatmeal-Molasses cake – and I added the  black cocoa I had picked up to that version and created the most awesome base that already looked like rocky ground surface! Bonus!

Oatmeal-Molasses cake from Betty Crocker cookbook – with added black cocoa!

As mentioned, the cake layers were made up in advance, and I wrapped them in wax paper and froze them. I took them all out an hour before I was going to start the build to defrost them – and so then the stacking began.

I carved out the centre of the ground layer and saved the circle carefully for later, and filled the nest with some of the cherry pie filing – canned, low sugar, but nothing fancy!  As you can see, I smushed the cherries a bit as well…

Base layer with cherry pie filling.
First layer of devil’s food cake, is one ot the pie plate layers, nestled into the ground base.
I piped a barrier wall of Butter Cream icing on each layer before filling with alternating pie filling and whipped cream.
and some levelling was done, of course, to try to keep the layers as even as possible…

I did not get pics of every single step, including not getting shots of the carving, but the idea is straight forward – stack the layers, alternating the filling between the pie filing and whiping cream, and be sure to create a butter cream wall on each layer to keep the filling contained.

The butter cream recipe I used was again from the Betty Crocker cookbook, and I divided it in 2, adding black cocoa and a tiny bit of spiced rum, along with some green food colouring to half.

After it was all stacked and a bit of extra mortar < buttercream > was applied to fill in any spaces, the cake chilled in the fridge for at least an hour, during which time I worked on the fondant – which comes later in this tale…

To finish the cake part itself – after it was chilled, I carved the egg shape as best I could, saving the chocolate cake bits for Part 1.5 – which I did not know how I would use the cake bits, but never throw food out if it’s still good!

I learned back in my teen years, when I would voraciously read the Wilton cake decorating cookbooks we had < thanks Mom> that you want to apply a “crumb coat” or base coat of thin icing to hold all of the loose crumbs in place. You let it dry out a bit before applying your outer layer of icing and it keeps the outer icing clean.  This is now common knowledge, of course, with all of the baking shows we can watch !

And then the cake went back into the fridge for more chillin’ time.

 

All carved, filled and ready for the black cocoa butter cream crumb coat.
Coated and dowelled – ready to chill again.

Next up – New adventures – Making fondant!  

Again, a purchase from the Bulk Barn – after perusing ALL of the fondant options, I decided to try the dry.  I used olive oil< I know it sounds weird – but it worked> instead of the butter called for. To get the colour I wanted, I just added some black cocoa to it and it worked wonderfully!!!!

I had heard that many people don’t like the taste of fondant, so I figured with it now having a cocoa flavour and the olive oil cutting the sugary taste, it might be ok – it seemed to go over well ! 

I did not want to cover the entire cake in fondant, but use it to create the opening flaps at the top of the egg and to cover the root system at the base.

I had made the fondant the day before, put it back into it’s original bag as it fit nicely and would keep it moist and let it chill overnight.

When I took it out, I let it warm to room temperature and it had a great playdough-like consistency. Using icing sugar on the counter, to keep it from sticking, I easily rolled it out. The first use was to wrap the  four quarters of the circle from the base cake I had cut out earlier.

Buttercream is used as glue. Necessary and makes the fondant stick well and stay in place.

Fondant rolled out and spread with a bit of buttercream
Quarter circle of cake placed on the fondant and iced
Fondant was cut to shape around the cake and the second layer was placed on top
The 4 quarters were placed on plastic and overlapped so that I could place it as a solid piece on top of the egg.

I covered the topper with plastic to keep it moist while I worked on the root system.  I had hoped to find black licorice ropees at the Bulk Barn, but instead found these ropes – and they worked great.

I rolled out the last of my fondant, again gave it a coat of buttercream for glue, laid out the licorice ropes that I had pre cut into lengths that I wanted to work with.

Fondant coated with buttercream and spaced out licorice ropes.
Cut around each rope, leaving some fondant to wrap around and cover the licorice.
It was fine if it didn’t cover it all, I would be putting the seam side down …

I again coverd the fondant roots with plastic to keep them moist and brought out the cake to start final installation!

Placing the topper on was an easy, flip it off the plastic onto my hand, then flip it onto the egg, where I had spread a bit more buttercream glue. I did use toothpicks to help hold it in place, esepcially with the curving open of the flaps.

The topper applied.
Skipping ahead visually – the roots have been applied and the buttercream outer layer
another view

After applying the final coat of buttercream, I was smoothing out the finish by hand, wetting my finger tips and gently polishing the icing , and  the cake did start to crack a bit.

I inserted a chopstick in to anchor the layers a bit, but more importantly, I wrapped it with a plastic bag that I cut lengthwise so that I would be able to compress the cake together  – sorry no pics, and I used a second bag to compress and hold the flaps in positioning as well, and then put the cake back in the fridge for a solid 2 hours!  It worked!

What – cracking?

Finishing!

Once the cake was feeling good and solid, I was able to do the final finish to the top – more pie filing and whipped cream together in a messy goo!

Buttercream on the cake, then the pie filing with only a small amount of syrup.
Stirring up the whipped cream and the cherry pie filling a bit to make it look gooey – while not green, it’s still awesome!

I left the chopstick in while carrying the cake over to the restaurant, and was lucky enough to have received two shipments recently that provided nice boxes that worked for a safe carrying system

The tall base box was then covered with. slightly larger but shallower lid box. and carried in two tote bags as it was heavy.
And someone was very surprised with his cake! Happy birthday, My love!

Next posts < give me a day or two!>:
Part 1.5 – Where is that pesky FaceHugger?
Part 2 – Someone is having a bad day…

Tostones—-plantain

So I bought some plantains and wanted to give them a try.

The little tag on them indicated green is good for frying and yellow is good for grilling.

So they were in the 50% off area showing yellow through some black and I guesssd these cousins to bananas should still be fine even at this colour.

Plantain

Then the search for how to cook them… most recipes involved some serious frying in oil.

But this Baked Tostones one from Skinnytaste.com seemed like a less ominous option!

Microwaved for 6 minutes after scoring along two sides.
Approx 10- 12 chunks of hot plantain!

Smashed, sprayed and salted in 425 degree oven!

At the halfway point, freshly flipped.

Will let you know how they taste in a while!

update:

Enjoyed them with salad, and some bbq chicken- and a cider! Yum!!

Meringues and mixed berry curd

Oh my…

Heading out later today in a snow burst ( March in Ottawa!) to hang with the crafty ladies and I felt inspired!

So I am having fun making curd – there’s lots of types of curd- have fun googling your own recipes too!)

I have a bad of “imperfect” mixed berries in the freezer and a load of eggs so I figured I could make a textured fruit curd with some meringues …

Just the facts:

Mixed Berries Curd:

Look at that colour – Mixed Berries Curd
  • 2 cups frozen berries
  • 4 egg yolks
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch
  • ¼ cup butter

Heat the berries in a medium saucepan until they are bubbling and melty.

In a heat proof bowl, mix the egg yolks, sugar, constarch until smooth.

Pour some of the berries into the egg mixture, stirring constantly and mixing well, then dump it all back into the larger saucepan, stirring to mix all and ad the butter.

Mix until it all melts and then cook over low heat for 15-20 minutes – you can check with a thermometer to ensure that it reaches 160 degrees so that the eggs are fully morphed into safe food.

Pour into a mason jar or a bowl – you can use wax paper on the surface to keep that dark film from forming, or just go with it.

Mixed berries Curd

Meringues

  • 4 egg whites
  • ½ cup icing sugar
  • ¼ tsp cream of tartar
  • ½ tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 275 < the recipe I used said 300, but that felt too hot>. Line a cookie sheet or two with parchment paper.
Place the egg whites in a super clean bowl.
Whip the egg whites to soft peaks, using a hand mixer or plan to get a workout if whisking by hand.
Add the sugar gradually, a spoonful at a time, whipping the entire time until all of the sugar is in. Add the cream of tartar and vanilla, still whipping those egg whites.

So pretty – whipped to fluffy yumminess!

Pipe or dollop out the meringues onto the parchment paper in the sizes you want.
Bake for about 30 minutes if bite-size, 45 minutes to an hour for larger ones.
Turn off the oven after that time, and let cool in the oven for 1-2 hours to help dry them out.

Meringues, just getting started!

ENJOY!

Rough baking!

It’s been a busy week (yay) and the hubby is having a few friends he worked with this summer over tonight. And one of the lads has recently had/is about to have a birthday. Let’s call him X.

So I decided I would use a couple of mixes I had on hand, and make up a two layer cake: 1 chocolate, 1 confetti. ( cupcakes are bring saved for a future adventure, frozen, not iced)

We then got an update regarding no dairy and found out the confetti mix had dairy in it.

So the plan of icing both cakes with whipped cream became a fast change up to two cakes-

1 Creamy Confetti Delight

and

1 Chocolate Coconut Xtravaganza!

Creamy Confetti Delight
Chocolate Coconut Xtravaganza

In 2019, I’m going to get some proper piping bags do I can make things look less rough and more refined!

Camping recipe: breakfast eggs n oats

I had a thought…so I mixed:

With this:

And got this when I put the batter in my mini frypan:

Then I topped it with natural nut butter…

And it’s pretty good.

Next time/while camping I’ll add fresh fruit or some unsweetened berry preserves ….

Quick and easy!

Tavalonia’s Oats and Egg

    1 packet instant oatmeal ( or equivalent of unflavoured instant oats)
    Hot water to reconstitute as usual
    1 egg

Mix the oats and water and let sit for soften for 3 minutes.

Add the egg and cook batter over medium heat on the stove top in a frypan with a lid.

Flip when bubbles show along the edges ( like a pancake).

Serve as you like!

oatmeal white chocolate chip cookies

Quick oatmeal white chocolate chip cookies, improv recipe based on years of following recipes.

Barely healthy…

…really yummy!

Oven 350 degrees F

Cream in a bowl:

½ cup brown sugar

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/3 cup coconut oil ( solid at room temp)

Add :

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla

Mix in:

⅓ cup rolled oats

1/2 cup flour ( whole wheat or whatever type you like)

¼ cup ground flax seed

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tap baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon powder

Mix well, then add ⅓ cup mini white chocolate chips.

Drop teaspoon size cookies on parchment paper lined cookie sheets.

Bake for 10-12 minutes- until golden brown.

Makes 24-30- enjoy!

 

Random kitchen time on a Sunday afternoon

Well, it began in the morning with the sautéing of an onion in butter ( can you smell that?) and splitting it into two as my starters for first my lentils, tomatoes and corn in the slow cooker. Added some Garand masala, coriander, and chilli powder for fun-it’s pretty tasty!
Once it was cooked and transferred into jars, I used the remaining sautéed onions with the navy beans that had soaked all day and some brown sugar, mustard,soya sauce and water to get the baked beans going- oh, with some pre cooked bacon. No pics yet as it’s still cooking.

On to random ginger cookies -when you have been baking cookies since childhood-thanks Mom-you realize that once you get a basic foundation going for your dough – you can play.
And if you have seen any of my previous baking experiments, you know I do this all the time.
This wasn’t complicated playing but I did use coconut oil for the fat, and grated fresh ginger for the flavouring along with some cinnamon. They are whole wheat and have egg and brown sugar, so a pretty standard journey in the baking realm.
And they be crunchy-so hubby likes em!
Ok-back to your regular day!

Naughty Baking day… yeah, that's weird…

So, I care a lot about what foods I offer to my friends and family.  And I care what I offer to my husband too.
And so, I send a lot of time researching and trying out/ creating/ experimenting with a variety of recipes that are:

  • Nut free
  • Dairy free
  • Sugar free
  • Gluten free
  • Egg free
  • general vegan

 
And then sometimes I just need to pull out my old cookbook from before I met all of these amazing people who have food restrictions and bake.
I won’t bother with posting recipes because you can just do a search on standard recipes from Betty Crocker, Joy of Cooking, or one of those women’s Community group cook books that are full of crazy classic recipes!
Today I used BUTTER! EGGS!  WHITE FLOUR! PEANUT BUTTER! BROWN SUGAR! ICING SUGAR! GROUND ALMONDS!!
And as soon as I’m done putting everything away, I’ll be doing a full cleaning of all surfaces and tools and utensils to make sure they are all cleaned up before I start my batches of Conscientious Baking for our annual gathering this coming weekend.
I’ll still label things as I cannot limit everything, but I can make things clear and safe!

Peanut butter cookies
Peanut butter cookies

 
img_5095-1
Shortbread crescents

img_5094-1
Oatmeal chocolate chip cookies

 

Cabbage roll casserole…rolls right off the tongue!

Party-time!
”Tis the season for potlucks and I’m trying to find simple and healthy ideas and this one is a variation on one of my go-to slow cooker recipes.

Cabbage “roll” casserole
In the bottom of a slow cooker, layer:
¾ cup quinoa
¾ cup dry lentils ( rinsed-I used red)
1.5 bags of pre-grated coleslaw mix or about 4 cups
1 large can stewed tomatoes
In a fry pan, sauté
one chopped onion and
4-5 mushrooms in
butter/oil of your choice.
Flavour with oregano and basil -to taste-I used 1 tsp each, dry.
Add that to the slow cooker, mixing with the tomatoes a bit but don’t fuss.
Add enough water to full halfway and turn on low.
Cook for 6 ish hours.
Scoop out and enjoy/ transfer to a serving tray that can be reheated or take your slow cooker to the party!