The Passion Story + Hot Cross Buns

Approximately 2000 years ago, the Lord Jesus Christ was crucified and died for our sins. Judas Iscariot, for 30 pieces of silver betrayed him into the hands of temple guards. Jesus was then trailed, mocked, beaten and nailed to the cross. As a result today is recognized as Good Friday.

Christians all over the globe commemorate this day in many ways. Some attend church services and plays or dedicate the day to prayer, fasting and meditation. Others, like myself, also enjoy celebrating little traditions like eating hot cross buns for breakfast.

I don’t know the history behind hot cross buns nor will I pretend to. What I do know is that their soft, fluffy, cinnamon body, topped with the perfect consistency of icing and unfortunately filled with raisins, which I religiously pick out, beat any breakfast muffin at a five star hotel. Maybe not any muffin… but you get the point.

Word of advice, if you’re like me and raisins remind you of rat turds and taste like grapes that have been left in the sun far too long – see what I did there? – be sure to half the amount of raisins used in the recipe. Although, half turned out to be more than I cared for. Otherwise, just skip them out altogether or replace them with craisins. Wish I’d thought of that before I made these.

But you’re in for a yummy treat if you like ze hot cross le bun buns. I got this recipe from sophistimom, five kudos for that cool lady. Get it. Make it. Eat it. Enjoy it. However you choose to celebrate this good day, I hope that you take some time to reflect on Jesus’ selfless act on that old rugged cross.

“In that old rugged cross, stained with blood so divine, a wondrous beauty I see, for ’twas on that old cross Jesus suffered and died, to pardon and sanctify me.” 

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Mini Hummingbird Cakes

cute and nummy

Hummingbird Cake. Don’t write it off until you’ve tried it. The first time I heard about hummingbird cake, I was very much in opposition of it. Bananas, pineapple and crushed pecans? Why would anyone put those ingredients in cake… all at once? It wasn’t until a couple weeks ago I over heard some friends talking about its scrumdiddlyumptiousness, that I became curious and concluded that trying it was the only way to be sure it is all that they say it is.

Sit back, pull out your recipe book and start scribbling the awesome that is hummingbird cake.  

HEAR YE, HEAR YE!: This recipe calls for self-rising flour. Don’t do like me and use regular all purpose flour, only to realise the dim-witted mistake you made 5 minutes after putting your batter into the oven.

After an effortless search, I found a recipe to make your own self-rising flour here. Then my cakes were perfection.

What you need:

For the cake

Butter & flour for greasing & flouring ramekins

1 ½ c. self-rising flour

1 c. granulated sugar

¼ & 1/8 c. vegetable oil

¼ c. finely chopped pecans

1 very large ripe banana, mashed

4-ounces crushed pineapple, with juice

½ tsp pure vanilla extract

½ tsp group cinnamon

2 large eggs, beaten

For the frosting

¼ c. shortening

¼ c. (half stick) unsalted butter @ room temperature

4 oz. cream cheese @ room temperature

½ tbls white vanilla extract

4 c. powder sugar

¼ tsp salt

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour eight-5oz. ramekin, tapping out excess flour; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, stir to combine self-rising flour, sugar, oil, pecans, bananas, pineapple, vanilla, cinnamon and eggs.
  3. Divide batter evenly between prepared ramekins. Bake for 28 – 30 minutes.
  4. After removal from oven, let cool in ramekins for 15 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  5. While cakes are cooling, prepare frosting. Cream together shortening, butter and cream cheese until nice and smooth. Add vanilla into mixture and combine. Sift together sugar and salt and slowly add to shortening, butter and cream cheese mixture. Make sure all sugar is incorporated.
  6. Using a serrated knife, trim tops of cakes to make level. Spread frosting on top of first mini cake, and then place your second mini cake on top of first. Spread frosting on both cakes and set aside. Repeat for remaining 6 cakes until you have 4 mini cakes with two layers, fully frosted. Optional: Sprinkle tops with crushed pecans. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

 Bon Appétit.

            Makes 8 mini Hummingbird Cakes. Cake recipe adapted from Martha Stewart

I used some flowers from my V-day arrangement to decorate the cakes. I figured the decor should represent some aspect of a hummingbird and flowers did the trick! Aren’t they cute? And the cakes taste just as good as they look too! If you’re concerned about what type of flowers to use these links here & here helped me. 

Strawberry Mini Pies

Happy Tuesday yal! Today’s February 4th which means two of many things! Some of you are probably eagerly looking at your calendars counting down the days, hours & minutes till Valentine’s Day. While… others are probably wishing the universe would magically do away with February 14th altogether.

With that being said, note that this post is in favour of the upcoming “pink & red” day. I want to share a sweet and easy dessert for you and your lover punch. It’s perfect for V-day or any other day for that matter, which ever you prefer.

Strawberry Mini Pies

This recipe has been adapted from two sources: A cookbook we got as a wedding present: Bride & Groom First and Forever Cookbook and a food blog It Bakes Me Happy.

First things first: Let’s make some dough!

 

MDP-3 MDP-7

Your needs:

1 ½ c bleached all-purpose flour {I used unbleached}

1 tbls sugar

1 tsp kosher salt {I used regular}

5 tbls cold unsalted butter, cut into ¼ -inch pieces

4 tbls cold solid vegetable shortening, such as Crisco

3 ½ to 4 ½ tbls ice water

Your Method:

Put the flour, sugar and kosher salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse briefly to mix. Scatter the butter over the flour mixture and using a spoon, toss lightly to coat. Pulse 5 times at 1-second intervals. Add the shortening in small pieces and pulse about 4 more times at 1-second intervals. The texture should resemble course meal, with the butter and shortening bits no bigger than peas. Sprinkle 3 ½  tbls of water over the mixture and pulse until the dough begins to hold together, about 6 times. Pinch a small amount of dough and if it doesn’t hold together, add ½ tbls of water and pulse 3 times. Pinch the dough again, if necessary adding the remaining ½ tbls water and pulse 3 more times. When the dough holds together when pinched, it is ready. Do not allow it to form a ball in the processor. Transfer dough to a large sheet of plastic wrap, pressing gently, form the dough into a 5-inch disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 45mins, preferably overnight. (The dough maybe refrigerated for up to 2 days or frozen up to 3 months.)

Next: Let’s make some strawberry filling!

MDP-4 MDP-6

Your needs:

1 c strawberries, sliced

2 tbls sugar

2 tsp cornstarch

1 tsp lemon juice

1 egg, beaten

Your Method:

In a medium sized saucepan add the strawberries, sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice and cook for about 5 minutes, until thickened. Set aside to cool {or not}.

Lastly: Let’s make a pie.

Let the chilled dough soften at room temperature for 10 – 15 minutes (longer if frozen). Using the rolling pin, tap the dough firmly to flatten it. Divide dough in half, placing each half between two large pieces of plastic wrap and roll out to 1/8-inch thickness. Place a 5 ounce ramekin directly on the pastry. Using a knife cut two 1-inch circles wider than the bottom of the ramekin. Now you should have two circles from each half of dough. Roll out one piece of dough for each half. This is then draped over the ramekin and fitted until snug inside the ramekin, so it serves as your piecrust. You may or may not have dough draped over your ramekin. If you do, please cut off excess and put aside. Repeat with remaining ramekin/s. Scoop your strawberry filling into your crusted ramekins. Once filled, drape the pastry (your second circle), over the ramekins and seal by pressing gently on the sides of the ramekins. Cut pastry scraps into your lover-punch’s initials, into hearts, or other decorate shapes. Place on top of the extra pastry circle and brush with the beaten egg. Bake for 20-30 minutes until golden brown, remove from the oven and cool; serve warm. And if you’re feeling a little daring, add a scoop of vanilla/chocolate ice cream to the side. Bon Appétit.

Yields 4 mini pies.

 

 

One Cold Day & Pancakes

Yesterday afternoon while Rob was at work he messaged to inform me that Houston was expecting some beyond usual cold weather that night (last night) & tomorrow (today). He said that some areas were even going to experience snow. I was like, “Say promise! Who tell yuh dat babes?” He then emailed me a link to an online weather site that predicted our forecast & conditions. Instantly, I became excited. I really wanted to see snow. This little island gal has never seen snow. Ever. I refuse to visit a snowing country or state in the winter. Back home in Trinidad the only time we experience cold is when the a/c is blasted on 18 degrees Celsius. Don’t think I would survive a snowy winter well.

Flash forward to this morning:

We woke up a little after 9am and noticed that little droplets had froze on our somewhat alive plants in the back yard. No snow, bummer. We checked the weather app and it read a whooping 28°F. I did what any excited Trini would do: Put on some extra layers of clothing and headed out to investigate. I spent no more than 20 minutes outside and my fingers were painfully numb when I got back in. Check out our plants. I personally think they looked a little decorated with the frozen droplets. I also got a shot of some mini icicles on our neighbour’s roof.

icy leaves MDP-2 MDP-3 MDP-4 MDP-5

After all that cold weather, I was obviously in the mood for a little warmth and figured pancakes were an appropriate solution. Today I introduce Mom’s Perfect Pancakes! This is a recipe my family has used for years. Everyone loves it and its super quick and easy to make too.

Ingredients: 

1 egg

1 1/4 cups flour

1 tbls sugar

3 tsp baking powder

1 cup milk

2 tbls oil or melted shortening

1/2 tsp salt

Method:

Preheat grill. Put all ingredients into a blender, starting with liquids, cover and mix until almost smooth.

Pour about 1/8 cup of batter into lightly oiled pan and bake until nicely browned. Flip & bake until browned. Repeat as many times as batter allows. Re-oil pan if needed. Serve with syrup, berries, jam, Nutella or whatever you fancy on your cakes of pan.  Bon Appetit 🙂

Hope you are having a great and much warmer day than I. Tata peeps!

Oh, for the curious, it did snow in some parts of Houston. Photos and videos were sent into our local news station. Yes. I am a little bit jealous.

I went strawberry picking… Now what?

I celebrated my birthday last Saturday and Rob planned a pretty interesting day but one of the highlights for me was strawberry picking.

I was so excited! If I had to eat one fruit for the rest of my life, it would definitely be strawberry.  It’s sweet and tangy. It’s red. It’s cute. It smells delectable. It’s bite sized. It makes the best jams, jellies, fillings, frostings, toppings, ice creams, juices (I can go on and on but there is more to this post than strawberry picking and I don’t want to bore you to death with ramblings)inhales deeply…AND I read that it helps fight cancer… just saying.

Rewinding to a couple days ago… we got to Froberg’s Farm in Alvin, TX and eagerly bought ourselves a bucket each. At that point, I think we were too giddy to rationally think through how many pounds of berries we would each pick that day.

Glee overwhelmed me. My routine went something like this: spot red juicy berry, pick it, toss it into bucket, admire harvest at hand, smile and scout more berries. When my bucket was half way full I remembered why I carried my camera. Please enjoy the photos below.

As we walked back to weigh and cash our berries… Rob suddenly came to his senses… “Wait! How many pounds of berries do you think we picked?” We looked at each other with brief worry in our faces then laughed it off.

“It can’t be more than two or three pounds man.” Candice replied boldly. I like referring to myself in the third person sometimes. *ehhem*

It so happened that we picked 7.42 pounds; approx. 119 ounces; approx. 30ish cups… of strawberries. That’s probably 50ish of my handfuls.

The challenge: Make use of 7.42 pounds of strawberries in 4 days. Challenge accepted! Let us begin looking at some berry yummy recipes. *snicker*

Uno.

Chocolate Covered Strawberries: These were very easy to make and oh so yummy! Warning: Do not eat more than 6 in one sitting. You are bound to get a tummy ache. Don’t like chocolate? No worries… I gots plenny more recipes to share.

Two.

Strawberry Tart Cake: This cake was the perfect amount of sweet and berry.

Third.

Sharing is caring yo. Give to your family, friends, strangers on the street. Start dispersing dem berries in every which way you can.

4.

Strawberry Jam: This was by far the yummiest jar of strawberry jam I have ever had. Yes, matter of factly, it does have something to do with me actually making it myself. The recipe was simple and result is superb. Try it! Rob and I had some on a couple of Club crackers with cream cheese. Mmmmm mmmm mmmmM.        Note: Be sure to follow proper canning rules to store you jam.

Last but not least.

Strawberry Mini Pies: These were definitely my favourite. As you can see, I could hardly wait to try one… I even used the same jam that I made in no. 4 as my filling. You can use strawberry butter if you prefer.

So there you have it. If ever you are in a similar predicament as I, here is a simple guide to give you a start on using up your berries before they go bad.

Enjoy!

Easy Donuts

My first attempt at making donuts was a failure. I found the recipe online and they were suppose to be baked. I think they were called apple baked donuts or summin. Anywho, I wasn’t going to allow one failed attempt the discourage me from trying them again.

While browsing one of my favourite blog sites, A Beautiful Mess, I found a super easy recipe for making donuts! Just my luck right?

So here’s what you need and how you do it.

1. Store bought canister of biscuits.

{I actually had a canister of butter crescents so I used that instead but either shall do. Also, I added a bit of flour to my surface so that the dough won’t stick to it}

2. Roll dough out and cut donut holes. A cookie cutter or drinking glass or cup would suffice.

3. Heat oil for frying. You can use the donut holes to test the oil’s temperature.

4. Fry until golden brown.

{After frying, let cool}

5. After they are completely cooled, glaze and decorate.

{mmm mmm good…}

6. Finally… enjoy!

{Lick your fingers good}

For your dough you will need:

-1 or 2 store bought canister of biscuits (I got 10 donuts from my one canister of crescents)

-A little flour for rolling

-Enough oil to fry your donuts

For glaze you will need:

-2 cups powdered sugar

-3 tablespoons hot water

-2 tablespoons milk

-1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (use clear extract for white icing)

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl and dip donuts into glaze. Place on a cooling tray until glaze is set.

Go forth and make donuts! 

Lemon Bars

Once upon a time, I avoided lemon flavoured desserts. It seemed wrong to me that dessert would be made with lemons. They’re acidic and too tangy people! They will just ruin the perfect dessert!

Silly Candice. One should not make an opinion about something unless one has tried it thyself. Then one is granted all privilege to make judgements on said thing.

My view changed when I had a slice of Lemon Meringue Pie from a friend. I was in disbelief that something so err …unpleasant… would make my taste buds dance and sing to the heavens! “If lemon be the food of love, eat on!” Sayeth my tongue. 

On Sunday night, I decided to try Lemon Bars. We were expecting my uncle for dinner and I needed a dessert that was little prep and little bake time. On my first attempt I made one blunder. In the original recipe, the baker made her bars in a 9 x 13 pan. I on the other hand, made mine in a rectangular shaped cupcake baking pan. So the dimensions were smaller. Shamefully, I baked my bars in the same amount of time it took the 9 x 13 pans and burnt them all. *hangs head in shame* They were surprisingly good though. My uncle ate and licked his plate to boot. No, that last part did not happen but he said it was good and ate all of it!

Two tablespoons of perfection, a cup of determination and a constant nagging in my head pressed me to revisit the recipe with minor alterations. I baked the crust in half the original time but baked the filling in its original time, which equaled to SCRUMDIDDLYUMPTIOUSNESS!

P.S. I also halved the original recipe.

Here! The recipe [plus pictures] for all, from Bakerella.

Lemon Bars

Crust:
1 cup butter
1 3/4 cup flour
2/3 cup confectioner’s sugar (plus more for dusting)

Topping:
1 1/2 cup plain sugar
1/4 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
4 eggs, slightly beaten
1/2 cup lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Grease and flour a 9 X 13 pan

To make crust:

  • In a medium bowl, whisk together flour and confectioner’s sugar
  • Cut in butter until combined and crumbly.
  • Press mixture into bottom of pan.
  • Bake for 20 minutes or until golden.

To make topping:

  • While crust is baking, prepare topping.
  • In a larger bowl, add sugar, flour, and baking powder.
  • Then add slightly beaten eggs and lemon juice.
  • Mix well and pour on top of warm baked crust.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes.
  • When cool, dust with confectioner’s sugar and refrigerate.
  • Cut into bars and enjoy them cold!

{Getting my hands dirty. Pressing the crust into the pan}

{They look so ugly when they’re done. Urgh. I will spare you the details of my sister’s description of them}

{Half a cup full of powdered sugar helps the lemons go down -tehe}

{Bon Appetit}