strawberry tart (with puff pastry crust!)

So I have some exciting news....I'm moving!  I've been living with my parents on our farm since moving home from university, but a few weeks ago (after months of looking and rejected offers!) I had an offer accepted on a condo, and I'll be getting the keys THIS FRIDAY!  Yahoo!  I'll be doing a few little renos before fully moving in, and I'll likely be sharing a few diy projects here on the blog in the coming months.

Anyway....back to food!  Today I'm bringing you a ridiculously simple dessert that you can whip up in no time at all!  Puff pastry is the key, and nearly steals the show with its flaky deliciousness!  Add in whipped cream and fresh strawberries (you could easily swap in other fresh fruit you have on hand!) and you have ridiculously easy and good-looking dessert!

And, if you're feeling adventurous, you can take it one step further and make some pastry cream to layer under the strawberries for added sweetness and creaminess!

Now I'm determined to make my own homemade laminated dough one day soon....I just have to wait until butter goes on sale, haha!  Seriously though, I have danishes on my mind, and of course....croissants!  This puff pastry has sparked a host of recipe ideas, and I can't wait to experiment.


Strawberry Tart

recipe: slightly adapted from Camille at Pop Sugar

Ingredients:

1 square of puff pastry

2-3 cups strawberries, sliced

1 cup whipping cream

1 tsp icing sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Optional: Pastry Cream - here's a good recipe to use (cut in half)

 

Directions:

*Optional: If you want pastry cream on your tart, make it first thing. (The tart doesn't need it, but it does take it to the next level.)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.  Cut up your strawberries, and set aside as you work with the puff pastry.

Roll out your square of puff pastry into a rough rectangle, about 1/4 of an inch thick.  Spread pastry cream overtop - if using - and leave a 1/4 to 1/2-inch border around the tart.  Arrange the strawberry slices on top, having them slightly overlap each other (see picture below).

Bake for about 15-20 minutes, or until pastry is golden brown, and strawberries start to bubble a little.

Set aside to allow to cool, and prepare whipped cream.  Whip heavy cream with icing sugar and vanilla until firm peaks form.

Serve tart with whipped cream (and or ice cream!).  Enjoy!

*Note:  This dessert is best eaten the best day, but will keep for a day or two in the fridge in a sealed container (without whipped cream on top).


Happy tart baking friends!

-Kels

strawberry mint pavlova

I can't believe that Strawberry season has already come and gone!  If I had it my way, it would last ALL year.  Come on local strawberries, I need you 365 days a year. 

This is especially true since strawberries are one of the only berries that I enjoy eating fresh.  I know, I know!  I'm a little crazy.  I like most other berries as long as they're baked into something sweet, or blended up into a smoothie.  

Anyway, today we're talking about pavlova.  Aka: delicious meringue with whipped cream and strawberries on top!

I had never tried baking pavlova before, and man does it take a lot of patience!  Honestly, I would be tempted to make it way more often if it wasn't such a time commitment.  In fact, I left this guy cooling in the oven while my family and I rushed off to go see Captain America (finally!!).  It took my mind of having to wait for the darn meringue to cool, so that was a win win situation.

I love the contrasting crunch of the pavlova, the fluffiness of the whipped cream, and the sweet juiciness of the strawberries.  So many wonderful textures going on in this dessert.  Oh and I can't forget about the mint!  I diced some fresh mint to sprinkle on over top, and I think it is the loveliest complement to the strawberries. 


Strawberry Mint Pavlova

recipe: Shiran - Pretty.Simple.Sweet
yields: one 9-inch pavlova

ingredients:

Meringue:

4 large egg whites

1 cup sugar

1/2 tablespoon cornstarch

1 tsp lemon juice (or white wine vinegar)

pinch of salt

1 tsp vanilla extract


Fresh fruit for topping

(Optional: mint leaves, diced)


Whipping cream:

1 cup heavy cream

1 tablespoon of icing sugar (or to taste)

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

 

directions:

Preheat oven to 325F.  Trace a 9-inch circle (I traced a cake pan) onto a sheet of parchment paper, and use that to line a baking sheet.

Place egg whites into a large bowl, and beat on high until they start to foam and soft peaks start to form.  Reduce speed slightly, and slowly add in sugar.  Increase speed once all the sugar has been added, and beat until stiff peaks form.  

Add in cornstarch, vinegar, salt, and vanilla, and gently fold in by hand with a spatula until just combined. (You don't want to deflate the meringue too much!)

Carefully spread the meringue onto the parchment paper, and shape into a circle.  The edges should be slightly higher than the center.

Place the meringue into the oven, reduce temperature to 230F, and bake for 75-90 minutes.  The outside will have a hint of colour and look dry.  Turn off oven and let the meringue dry completely inside.  It will crack as it dries, and that's totally normal!

Meanwhile, whip the heavy cream with icing sugar and vanilla until soft peaks form.

Wash and prepare strawberries.  I left mine whole, but it's a little more practical to cut them up properly before serving.

Spread whipped cream over cooled meringue, top with strawberries (or other fresh fruit), and sprinkle with a bit of diced mint leaves.  Serve!

*Meringue is best the first day, but will keep in the fridge for a day or two.


Happy pavlova making!  And may your patience be never-ending.

-Kelsey

tacos al pastor

Hello tacos!

It's no secret to anyone that knows me well (or even not that well...haha) that I love tacos.  My whole family does, and fish taco friday was a consistent thing in our household until we realized how expensive and how much work it was!  We still have them often though, and I thought it was time we mixed things up! 

So....let me introduce tacos al pastor!  There's pork!  And grilled pineapple!  And spiciness!  

I love how all of the flavours come together, from the smokiness of the pork marinade and sauce, to the sweetness of the grilled pineapple.  Of course it'd be remiss of me to leave out the guacamole or homemade pico de gallo we made!

I'm so excited to be working with Le Creuset again for this post! I used their rectangular dish for marinating my pork, and the lid doubles as a serving platter. I love pieces that are multi-functional, and the fact that these are gorgeous and excellent quality make me a very happy girl. Also spotted in this post is their cute little sauce jar which was great for serving as well.

Also, may I recommend you make my simple lime daiquiris to serve with these tacos?  Easy and refreshing!


tacos al pastor

 

directions:

For the sauce, place 3/4 of the onion, 1/2 of the entire pineapple, vinegar, chile powder, garlic, salt, oregano, cumin, chipotle chiles, and adobo sauce in a blender and blend the mixture until it's nice and smooth. *Set aside 1/4 cup of sauce to serve with the tacos.

Cut your pork roast into 1/2-inch thick slices, and layer in a casserole dish, alternating with sauce so that the pork is all covered by sauce.

Allow the pork to marinate for 2-4 hours.  

While the pork is marinating, I suggest making your pico de gallo and guacamole if you're doing those from scratch!

Cook the pork in a frying pan on medium-high heat for 2-4 minutes per side.  (Use a meat thermometer to check their doneness if you'd like!)

Grease the pan between each batch of pork to keep the sauce from sticking too badly.  I liked to clean out any extra sauce or fat out of the pan between batches as well to keep them from burning onto the pan. (This would also be great grilled on a bbq!  I was out of propane, otherwise I would have!)

Once the pork has been cooked through, cut each slice into smaller strips for serving in tacos. (*It's easier to work with and cook larger pieces of meat, and easier to cut once they're cooked).  Toss all of the pork back into the frying pan to warm up right before serving.

Meanwhile, cut the other half of the pineapple into 1/2-inch strips, and use a grill pan to cook them for about 1 minute per side on medium-high heat, or until they have grill marks! 

Warm up corn tortilla shells right before serving!

I loaded up the tacos with guacamole, pico de gallo, diced onions, pork, cilantro, pineapple, and a bit of the marinade that I had kept separate.  Enjoy!

 

recipe adapted from: Emily - Bound by Food

ingredients:

1 large white onion, divided (3/4 in sauce, 1/4 for plating [optional])

1 large fresh pineapple, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch thick long strips

1/4 cup white wine vinegar

1 tablespoon chile powder

4 garlic cloves

1 1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp oregano

2 tsp cumin

2-4 canned chipotle chiles (these are spicy, adjust according to your taste buds!)

1-2 tablespoons adobo sauce (*this is what the canned chiles are in)

3 lbs pork roast (I used a butt roast)

corn tortillas

cilantro

cotija (not picture, but recommended)

lime wedges

guacamole

pico de gallo


There you have it...tacos al pastor!  Perfect for Summer, or for whenever you want the taste of Summer!

-Kelsey

orange pistachio doughnuts

Well hellooooo and happy national doughnut day!  

As if any of us need another excuse to eat doughnuts....right?  Ha!  But, today is as good a day as any to stuff your face with some delicious doughnut-y goodness.

Now, this flavour combo was inspired by a doughnut I ate from Lucky's Doughnuts in Vancouver on a breakfast date with the ever lovely Amy of Constellation Inspiration!  It was orange and pistachio heaven.  There was crunch, sweetness, and a fresh, subtle citrus twist.  I was in love.

That was also the morning after the very traumatic cake chaos of 2016, where you can read more about here.  We were running on less than three hours of sleep, and the thought of doughnuts had kept us going all night.  (Not even kidding!)  Running late, we rushed into 49th Parallel, ordered drinks and doughnuts, CHUGGED our drinks (mostly me...Amy was much more ladylike), and then hustled over to her parents house to meet with Victor and take photos of our cake!  (Our cake that could have been a disaster, but was miraculously....not a disaster).

SO, long story short, these doughnuts are incredibly delicious and also bring up hilarious (and fond) memories of my second baking date with Amy.


Orange Pistachio Doughnuts

recipe by: Kelsey Siemens

Ingredients:

1/4 cup hot water (not boiling)

1/2 tsp sugar

2 1/4 tsp yeast

2/3 cup milk

1/4 cup white sugar

1/8 tsp salt

1 egg

3 Tbsp shortening

1 tablespoon orange zest

2 1/2 cups flour

Glaze:

2.5 icing sugar

1/4 cup cream 

1/2 tsp vanilla

1 tsp orange zest

 

*chopped pistachios for topping

Directions:

1)  In a small bowl, mix together hot water, sugar, and yeast.  Set aside for about 10 minutes until nice and frothy.

2)  In a large bowl, whisk together yeast mixture, milk, sugar, salt, egg, shortening, and orange zest.

3)  Slowly whisk in 1 cup of flour.

4)  Gradually add in remaining flour (1 1/2 cups), half a cup at a time, stirring with a wooden spoon (or you can use your mixer and a dough hook) until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. *You may not need to use all of your flour!

5)  Knead by hand for about 5 minutes, or until your dough is nice and smooth.

6)  Place the dough into a greased bowl, cover with a clean dish towel, and place somewhere warm to rise until it has doubled in size (about half an hour).

7)  Turn the dough onto a floured surface, and use a rolling pin to gently roll it out to about 1/2" thickness.

8)  Cut with a doughnut cutter (or you can use two round cookie cutters, one large and one small).  Cover all doughnuts with the towel again, and let rise until doubled.

9)  Heat oil in a deep-fryer or a large electric skillet to 350 degrees (you can use a large, deep skillet on your stove, but it's harder to control the temperature of your oil safely).

10)  Very carefully, place your doughnuts into the hot oil.  Fry doughnuts on each side until they are a light brown.

11)  Remove doughnuts from hot oil, and place on a cookie sheet lined with paper towel.

12)  Repeat until all the dough has been used, including the leftover doughnut holes from the middle of the doughnuts!

For the Glaze:

Mix together icing sugar, cream, vanilla, and orange zest until combined.  Dip doughnuts into glaze once cooled and top with chopped pistachios.

*I suggest testing one doughnuts with the glaze and then adjusting the thickness of the glaze until you're happy with it!

These doughnuts are best served the same day, but we found that they freeze very well when unglazed!


Happy National Doughnut Day!  Now go on and eat some doughnuts!

-Kelsey

homemade granola

Oh my word.  THIS GRANOLA!!!

So, it's become a tradition for my sister, Jordyn, to make a batch of granola every Sunday night, and I swear it doesn't ever make it through the week.  It is so stinking delicious!  I suppose the only downside to it is that we all apparently lose any self control around it....but at least it's pretty healthy!

Homemade granola is just the best.  I love seeing exactly what goes into it, and you can tweak it each week according to your mood.  Plus, it makes your house smell divine!

Another thing I love about this recipe is that you get some nice big chunks of granola....because come on, the chunks are the best parts!  Just be sure to let it cool completely before digging in to ensure maximum chunks!

A huge thanks to Jordyn for writing out her methods below!  (And for continuing to make this week after week...so good!)


homemade granola

adapted by Jordyn from: cookie + kate
yields: about 6 cups

Ingredients:

4 cups rolled oats

3/4 cup chopped raw pecans

3/4 cup chopped raw almonds

1/2 cup large flake coconut

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup melted coconut oil

1/2 cup honey

1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In a large bowl mix the oats, pecans, almonds, coconut, cinnamon and salt. Add the coconut oil, honey, and vanilla, blend well.

Press the mixture firmly and evenly into a large cookie sheet lined with parchment. Bake for a total of 20-22 minutes. Stir or flip halfway through, and firmly press back down.

Once the granola has turned golden brown, take it out of the oven and let it cool completely on the pan before breaking apart. This should ensure large chunks!

Store in an air-tight container and try and make it last more than a week! 


Happy granola making friends!

-Kelsey

Pecan Pie

Well now....this pecan pie is embarrassingly overdue since I made this pie for pi day.  Which was in March.  Oops?

At the time, I wanted to try something different than your average fruit pie, and my mom suggested a caramely pecan pie!  Now...since I'm new to this whole "liking pie" business (long story...don't judge me), I had never actually tried pecan pie.  

Let me tell you, my eyes were opened!  

It's rich, caramely, stuffed full of pecans, and just so heavenly.  I think it's worth noting that this recipe doesn't have corn syrup in it, like a lot of pecan pies tend to have.  It also creates almost a souffle type crunchy top, and then the middle is ooey-gooey pecan-y goodness.


Pecan Pie

adapted from: Elaine Helms

Ingredients:

1 unbaked 9" pie crust (find my favourite recipe here)

2 large eggs

1 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup white sugar

1/2 cup butter, melted

1 tablespoon milk

1 tablespoon flour

1 tsp vanilla

1 1/2 cups chopped pecans

*extra whole pecans for decorating the to

Directions:

1)  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2)  In a large bowl, beat the eggs until they get nice and frothy, and then stir in melted butter (make sure butter has cooled before adding it so that it doesn't cook the eggs).

3)  Add in the brown sugar, white sugar, and flour, and mix it all together well.

4)  Finally, mix in the milk, vanilla, and chopped pecans.

5)  Pour mixture into your unbaked pie shell.  Gently press pecans into the top of the pie for an optional decoration (don't worry, they won't burn!)

6)  Bake at 350 for 10 minutes, and then reduce oven to 300 and bake for an additional 50-60 minutes (until the top just starts to crack, or an inserted knife comes out clean).

7)  Cool slightly and enjoy!


There you have it!  Now go on and bake some pie!

-Kelsey

rhubarb scones with lemon glaze

Oh hey there!  Sorry for the radio silence lately.  I've been in a bit of a blogging funk lately, and life has been a little nuts, but I'm hoping to get back into the swing of things here!

And guess what?  It's officially RHUBARB season!  Heck yes!  We grow a ton of rhubarb on our farm, which is pretty dang awesome.  I have basically a never-ending supply from now until the end of Summer!  That means lots of rhubarb cake, crisps, and of course PIE!  (Keep your eyes peeled for my rhubarb pie recipe which will be coming up next week!)

I used our favourite, fluffy scone recipe and adapted it to include rhubarb....as well as added a lemon glaze.  Honestly, I think that a lemon glaze is my very favourite type of glaze.  Sweet and tart all at the same time! 

I also loved the bits of pink rhubarb that peeked out of each scone, adding a lovely pop of colour!  


Rhubarb Scones with Lemon Glaze

recipe by: Jordyn and Kelsey Siemens

Ingredients

1 cup sour cream (OR: you can use 1 cup of milk with a TBSP vinegar added)

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 lemon, juiced

4 cups flour

1 cup white sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 tsp cream of tatar

1 tsp salt

1 cup butter (cold)

1 egg

1 cup finely chopped rhubarb

Directions

1. In a small bowl, mix sour cream, baking soda and juice of half a lemon.

2. Lightly grease a cookie sheet or line with parchment paper (or silpat).

3. In a large bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, cream of tartar, rhubarb, and salt. Cut in butter. Stir the sour cream mixture and egg into flour mixture until just moistened. 

4. Turn your dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead briefly. Divide dough in 1/2 or in 1/3s (depending on what size scones you want), and form 2 or 3 circles. Cut each circle into 6 or 8 wedges, and place onto your cookie sheet.

5. Bake at 350 F, for 12-15 minutes.  

6.  Glaze scones and serve!


Lemon Glaze

To make the glaze, use the juice of one lemon and add enough icing sugar to form a runny glaze (you can't really go wrong with this, so don't worry about being technical about it!)   I like to test out my glaze on one scone first to see how it sets, and then add more icing sugar or lemon juice if necessary.

Ingredients

1 lemon, juiced

Icing sugar


Now go out and find some rhubarb to bake with!

-Kelsey

mint ruffle chocolate cake topped with cherry blossoms

YOU GUYS!  I finally had the courage to try a ruffle cake, and guess what?  It was actually super easy, and so fast!  Seriously, I think it was way faster icing it this way compared to what I usually do.  Crazy!

Also, our cherry trees are blossoming, and it's pretty much heaven.  I really wish the blossoms would last all Summer!  They are just so bright and happy.  Oh well, I'll enjoy them while they're here!  And that means putting them on a cake.  Heck yes!

So for this cake I kept it nice and simple with my go-to chocolate cake recipe, and then used Linda Lomelino's Swiss Meringue Icing recipe for the icing.  I love the SM icing since it's fluffy, but sturdy, and it's not so sugary sweet like buttercream!  


Chocolate Cake

(adapted from Our Treasured Recipes by Central Heights MB Church)

directions:

1) Mix together all dry ingredients; then pour all wet ingredients over top and mix until moist.

2) Pour batter into three 6-inch round cake pans.

3) Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes for [or until a toothpick comes out clean].

Ingredients:

3 cups Flour

2 cups Sugar

2 tsp Baking Soda

1 tsp Salt

2/3 cup Cocoa

1 TBSP Vanilla

2 TBSP Vinegar

3/4 cup Margarine (melted)

2 cups Warm Water


Swiss Meringue Icing

recipe by: Linda Lomelino

ingredients

whites from 8 large eggs

1 3/4 cups granulated sugar

1 3/4 cups unsalted butter

4 tsp vanilla sugar

 

 

directions:

1)  Place your egg whites and sugar into a heat proof (stainless steel or glass) bowl, and put the bowl over a sauce pan on the stove with simmering water.  (The water shouldn't be touching the bowl).

2)  Whisk the eggs and sugar constantly until the sugar has melted, or the mixture has reached 140-150 degrees F (or 65 degrees C).

3)  Remove from heat, and beat on high until your mixture is cool, white and fluffy.  This may take 5-10 minutes, so just keep mixing!

4)  Once the mixture is cool, start adding butter, very gradually.  The mixture may look curdled, or soupy, but just keep mixing!  You may need to mix it for 10-15 minutes to help the egg whites and butter come together nicely.  *Linda also says that you may need to refrigerate it for a few minutes if it's too soft, or place it back over the heat if it's too stiff.  It's a tricky one, but it's worth it!  I always find mine gets too soft and I have to cool it for a bit before it works.


Cake Assembly:

First, use a large serrated knife to level the tops of your cakes.  Place the first layer onto your cake plate, spread icing onto the layer as even as you can (and as thick or thin as you'd like).  Add the next layer, spread icing onto it, and finally add the top layer of cake.  Spread icing over the entire cake in a thin layer.  Allow to chill in the fridge for a bit if it feels unstable at all before you start icing the ruffles.

Use a large piping bag with a petal icing tip (mine was a #103).  I like to place my piping bag into a very large cup to make filling it with icing nice and easy.  Fill the icing bag, and twist the end securely so that you have a good grip on it.  (Sometimes I'll clip mine shut with a bag clip to make twisting it down even easier as my icing is used up.)

With the fat part of the icing tip closest to the cake, you'll want to hold your piping bag almost straight up and down, parallel to the side of the cake.  Slowly start squeezing out the icing, and start to make a back and forth motion of consistent lengths.  This is hard to explain, and I found this youtube tutorial very helpful to watch!  You want to keep your icing bag a bit higher than where the next ruffle edge should sit, so that it gently folds down as you continue moving up.  You'll get the hang of it once you start piping.

Make sure that when you get to the top, you do a ruffle right up to the edge and over the top.  Repeat your ruffles all the way around the cake.   I chose to just smooth out the top of my cake and top it with cherry blossoms, but feel free to finish it however you'd like!

Serve and enjoy!


Happy Cake Baking friends!

-Kelsey