Thursday, December 30, 2010

Cranberry Lemon Squares

Another holiday season come and gone. Who can believe that tomorrow is the last day of 2010? I certainly cannot! This year has flown by at a frightening pace, leaving all of my many crazy nights, hazy mornings, thrilling adventures, laughter, tears, mistakes, inside jokes, unexpected turns of events, and so on in a blur in my mind. It amazes me how much my life has changed over the past year and, more significantly, how I have changed as a result of it. Come to think of it, it wasn't so much me changing as a result of life changes, but my life changing as a result of my own personal growth. This year I learned that life can throw you some pretty big curve balls that can throw your mind out of whack for whatever reason. Just when you think you have it all figured out, something new and unknown, or even ghosts from your past that you thought you had shaken, are sure to enter your life again. But hey, you live and you learn, and some of those scary curve balls can turn into a home run. It's all about rolling with the punches, embracing all of those mistakes, and learning from them in the future.

A few months ago a sniffly cold and lack of focus left me making a big mistake when making Cranberry Coconut Lemon Squares. I accidentally made the squares in a pan much smaller than the recipe had called for. At first I was really mad at myself for being so careless, thinking that I had wasted all of those ingredients and my time. I kept telling myself how stupid I was, and I thought it was just so typical for me to do something so silly. Low and behold the squares turned out incredible! Because I baked them in a small pan, they were extra ooey gooey and each bite gave you an almost overwhelming burst of extra tangy lemon flavour. Who would have thought that my mistake would turn into such a hit. Despite how delicious my Ooey Gooey Cranberry Coconut Lemon Squares were, I couldn't help but want to try my hand at them again, but this time with a clear mind, remembering my past mistake. I decided to try out a new recipe this time to switch things up a bit, so I used a recipe for Cranberry Lemon Squares with coconut from Canadian Living, changing a few things here and there to suit my taste. I secretly thought that they really would taste better making the squares in a larger, correct pan (I apologize for my past dishonesty), but in the end they were both just as tasty. I couldn't even pick which ones I preferred. Despite how much control I had over the recipe this time and how careful I was, it turns out that mistakes can end with just as positive of a result. So let go, embrace your mistakes, and look at how much more you have gained in the end...even if that may be weight from eating so many of your delicious mistakes. Cheers to more mind blowing mistakes in 2011!

Tip: To add just a touch of extra sweetness, dust the baked squares with icing sugar.

2 cups flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup butter, cubed and softened
2 tbsp flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3 eggs
1 3/4 cups sugar
1/3 cup lemon juice
zest from half of a lemon
2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries, cut in half
1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, mix together the dry ingredients for the crust: flour, sugar, and salt. Add in the butter and mix until butter is well incorporated, crumbly, and holds together when pinched.

2. Evenly, pat mixture into the bottom of a greased 13 x 9-inch cake pan. Bake in a 350º oven for 20 min, or until golden.

3. In a small bowl, mix together the dry ingredients for the filling: flour, baking powder, and salt, set aside.

4. In the bowl of an electric mixer, whisk together eggs, sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Mix in the flour mixture. Stir in cranberries and coconut.

5. Reduce heat to 325º, and bake until filling is firm in the centre, 45-50 minutes. Let cool, then cut into squares.

Listening To:
La Roux - Quicksand (Alex Metric Remix)

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Sunday, December 19, 2010

Chocolate Almond Biscotti

Less than a week till Christmas, which means jingle bells a-ringing, carolers singing, cookies baking...oh and long line ups, crowds, crying children, and most of all, stress from not having all of your Christmas gifts ready in time! Sure it's a pretty pessimistic way of looking at the holiday season, but let's face it, that's a reality when it comes to Christmas shopping during those last two weeks before the big day. So if you're like me and you still have those few last minute gifts to get, take my advice and avoid shopping altogether! I don't know about you, but it seems like no one even has a Christmas list this year anyway. Whenever I ask anyone about what they would like for the holiday this year, I always get the same few responses, either "I don't know", "I don't need anything", and lastly (and the most sappy of all) "just time with you". I have to admit, that I'm actuallJustify Fully one of those people this year who doesn't have anything on my list. I'm at a point in my life where I would much rather receive something personal and/or sentimental rather than some new clothes or jewelry.

So this year when my mom was stressing over what to get her staff for Christmas, we decided upon homemade baked goods. Sure, there are some nice gift baskets out there, and hey, who doesn't need another Santa figurine (I kid!), but a nicely gift-wrapped bag of homemade treats tops any gift you can buy at the mall. Making homemade treats as holiday gifts allows you to give the people you care about something unique, personal, and most importantly, it shows that you took the time to make them something really special.

One of my favourite cookies, and a good ol' no fail standby, is my Almond Cranberry Biscotti. Perfect for gift giving, this biscotti has just the right amount of sweetness to keep everyone happy, it's really easy to make, looks pretty and festive with flecks of ruby red cranberries, and the best part...drum roll can make these cookies as much as a week in advance because of their dry and crumbly texture. Because we were giving the biscotti as gifts, we thought it would be extra special to give two different flavours of biscotti. So I developed a recipe for Chocolate Almond Biscotti. Although the most prominent flavour in the cookies is chocolate, they aren't too sweet, making them a great accompaniment to your morning coffee. I promise you, your friends and family will light up like a Christmas tree when you hand them a beautiful bag of my homemade biscotti!

Tip: If you prefer your biscotti on the sweeter side, melt some semi-sweet chocolate to drizzle over the baked biscotti. This also makes the biscotti look more "store-bought".

1 cup whole almonds, toasted and chopped
1 1/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup butter
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar at high speed until light in colour and the mixture no longer feels gritty when rubbed between your fingers.

2. Add the eggs, one at a time, at low speed until combined. Add the vanilla and combine at low speed.

3. In a medium bowl, sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together. Add the flour to the sugar and egg mixture in several increments, while mixing at low speed. Stir until just combined.

4. Stir in the almonds. Separate the dough in half and, on a floured surface, form each half into a log about 3 1/2 - 4 inches in width. Carefully transfer logs to a lined baking sheet and bake at 350º for 30 minutes.

5. Remove from oven and carefully transfer logs to a wire rack. Let cool for about 10 minutes.

6. Using a serrated knife, cut the logs into slices about 3/4 of an inch thick. Lay cookies on their side on baking sheet and bake for an additional 15 minutes. Let cool and serve with coffee. Store in an airtight container.

Listening To:
Marilyn Monroe - Santa Baby

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Saturday, December 18, 2010

Tetley Colour Therapy Contest WINNER!

I placed the names of everyone who entered my Tetley Colour Therapy Giveaway in a bowl, and had my mama randomly select the lucky winner! Congratulations to Jamie M.I.T. our lucky winner!

Thank you to everyone who entered! This won't be the last Ginger Rose giveaway, so be sure to check back often!

Lots of love
xoxo Danielle AKA Ginger Rose

Listening To:
Frank Sinatra - Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!

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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Potato & Leek Soup

I've been getting the dreaded closing shift at work more often than I'd like lately. Sure it means I can sleep in and take my time making a great breakfast, but it also means missing out on dinner at home. Because I refuse to spend money getting takeout or fast food every day, I always pack a dinner for me to bring...and I admit, it's kinda fun making everyone else at work jealous as they eat their stale Starbucks baked goods (Seriously guys? When do you think that stuff was made?). If I'm going to be eating my dinner at work, it better be just as tasty and satisfying as what I could have had at home. So I've been trying to come up with some interesting winter dishes that I can make in advance and bring with me to work throughout the week.

My Potato and Leek Soup is the perfect example of a warm, filling, tasty, healthy dish that you can easily make on the weekend and keep in your fridge all week, ready to pack up and re-heat! The classic flavour combination of potatoes and leeks is enhanced by additional hearty veggies, herbaceous thyme, tart lemon, and aromatic bay leaves. Top it all off with some finely grated cheddar cheese and you're sure to get the whole office talking!

Tip: You can easily turn this into a vegetarian soup by using vegetable broth instead of the recommended chicken broth.

3 tbsp butter
1 onion, chopped
3 leeks , white and light green parts only (equals about 4 cups)
4 potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
4 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 cups water
1/4 tsp thyme
2 bay leaves
juice from 1/4 lemon
salt and pepper
shredded cheddar cheese for garnish (optional)

1. In a large soup pot, melt butter on medium-high heat (you may add a little olive oil if you like at this point so that the butter doesn't burn). Add the onions, leeks, carrots, and celery. Cook until soft, about 8 minutes.

2. Add the potatoes, chicken stock, water, thyme, and bay leaves. Cook, with the pot top on slightly, on medium-low heat until potatoes are very soft, about 20 minutes.

3. Remove bay leaves. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup mixture until it has reached desired consistency. Add the lemon juice and taste. Season accordingly with salt and pepper. Serve hot, garnished with finely shredded cheddar cheese (optional).

*Don't Forget to enter my Tetley Colour Therapy Giveaway!
Listening To:
Blonde Redhead - 23

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Sunday, December 12, 2010

Tetley Tea Giveaway! What's Your Colour?

There's nothing like curling up on the couch in your favourite cozy sweater, candles burning, music playing, reading a great book, with a steaming hot mug of tea. All your senses become active and your mind is able to forget the days stresses to relax and feel comfortable and safe. No matter where your head was at that morning, this relaxing ritual allows you to escape into whatever mood you choose. Depending on the mood I feel (or would like to feel), I always pick my music, book, and tea accordingly. Tetley Tea has taken this experience to the next level with their new line of Colour Therapy Herbal Teas. Tetley has taken the concept of colour therapy (the idea that every mood or feeling can be associated with a different colour) and pushed it to a whole new level, designing teas that fit every mood on the color wheel. Everything from Turquoise - a calming blend designed to bring calm and serenity to your day, to Pink - a blend meant to induce feelings of warmth, hope, and inspiration, Tetley Colour Therapy has it all!

After seeing a commercial for Tetley Colour Therapy last week, I couldn't wait to get my hands on one of their many different colours to choose from. So you can imagine my excitement when, that very same day, I was contacted by Tetley Tea, kindly (understatement of the year!) offering one of my lucky readers a beautiful and incredibly abundant gift basket (shown in the image above) containing not one, but two containers of each of the ten types/colours of tea from their Colour Therapy line, as well as a Tetley teapot, and 50 mood influencing greeting cards! How incredible is that?! I have actually tried both the Turquoise tea (a calming, stress relieving tea) and the Mint Green tea (which helps make you feel more fresh and energized) and fell in love with both! They were both so delicious and full of flavour, and truly influenced my mood in the best way possible!

For a chance to win this fantastic gift basket, check out the Colour Therapy website and leave a comment below, telling me what colour you are today and a little about your tea drinking ritual. A winner will be selected at random this Friday December 17th!

Lately i've been feeling very Violet and Pink, ready to take on whatever comes my way, feeling positive about opportunities in the new year, motivated, and most of all INSPIRED! So tell me, what's your colour today?

Good luck! xo

Listening To:
Serge Gainsbourg & Francoise Hardy - Comment Te Dire Adieu

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Sunday, December 5, 2010

My Mama's Lasagna

You know, me and Garfield have a lot in common, we both have orange hair, were very sarcastic, moody, we don't like exercise (although I've been forcing myself to at least 3 times a week for the last few weeks), we love a good cat nap, and we both have a deep and passionate love for the Italian miracle lasagna! Despite how crazy lasagna made Garfield, I can bet that he would have been driven into an insane asylum if he had tried my mom's lasagna.

I know, everyone says that that their mom makes the best lasagna...but really, mine does! I think it's the simplicity of my mom's lasagna that makes it so perfect. Just the right amount of cheese, ground beef, and noodles allow you taste every savory flavour in this dish. My mom has been telling me for years how easy it is to make her lasagna, but the sheer size and weight of this pasta dish had me too intimidated to ever attempt. I finally gave in this past weekend and we made it together. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it took hardly no time or effort at all to complete this masterpiece. An added bonus was that we could wrap it up and keep it in the fridge days before baking, so that we could do all the prep in advance and simply pop it into the oven when we were ready to eat! Hey Garfield, where you at?

Tip: To prevent the cheese from sticking to the aluminum foil, place a sheet of parchment paper on top of the top layer of cheese before covering with the foil. Unfortunately I heard about this tip a little late to use it this time around, but it's great to know for next time!
Tip: This is a great entree for feeding a crowd!

1 650 mL jar tomato sauce
1 package fresh lasagna pasta sheets
1/2 250g container cottage cheese
1 egg
1/4 - 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 package lean ground beef
1 garlic clove, finely grated
1/4 cup water
1 500g package mozzarella cheese, cut into thin slices

1. In the bottom of a large lasagna dish, spoon in a thin layer of tomato sauce. Layer 1/3 of the lasagna sheets evenly over the sauce. Set aside.

2. In a medium-sized bowl, blend cottage cheese, egg, and parmesan cheese together using an immersion blender. Set aside.

3. In a large skillet, warm the olive oil. Add in chopped onions and saute until soft and transparent. Add the beef, break up using a spatula, and continue cooking until all the beef is cooked through. While the beef is cooking, grate in the garlic.

4. Add the tomato sauce and water into the meat and onion mixture. Stir to combine. Set aside.

5. In the lasagna dish, layer over 1/3 of the meat mixture evenly over the lasagna sheets. Spoon over 1/3 of the cheese mixture, and 1/3 of the sliced mozzarella cheese. Top that with another 1/3 of the lasagna sheets, 1/3 of the meat mixture, 1/3 of the cheese mixture, and 1/3 of the sliced mozzarella. Repeat.

6. Cover with aluminum foil and bake in a 350º oven for 1 hour. Remove foil during the last 15 min of baking to brown the cheese slightly.