April 21, 2017

Ready, Set, Weekend With Simply Beautiful Eating

Before I begin, I need to clarify something with all of you. Ready?

Is it a woman’s prerogative to change her mind OR is it NOT?

Now, don’t just jump up and scream YES before reading the rest of this story because that wouldn’t be fair to Steve.

As you know, our home is under renovation. It’s been exactly 6 weeks since D DAY (demo day). I have been running around to various places trying to pick out all the stuff we need to put this Simply Beautiful “kitchen puzzle” together. I will keep this brief because I want to save all the juicy details for my REAL RENOVATION blog which will be coming up soon if we ever finish this project.

So here’s the thing.

I’m wondering how I have still have a husband – because he literally wants to L.E.A.V.E.

Why?

Well….it’s like this.

I KEEP CHANGING MY MIND.

First it was the paint colour and my quest for the PERFECT grey (which I’m happy to say I FOUND – well sort of found….12 samples later, one wasted can of paint and a few hundred trips to Benjamin Moore, I had my GREY mixed and remixed 3 times to get it JUSSSSTTTT RIGHT).

Then it was the hardwood flooring which was ordered, cancelled, ordered, cancelled, ordered and finally installed.

Oh ya. The lighting. Don’t get me started. All I’m going to say is….last night I threatened to sell the house because of my sheer unadulterated hatred for the LED pot lights Steve installed.

YES. That’s right.

FOR SALE – AS IS– NEWLY RENOVATED, 4 BEDROOM, DOUBLE CAR GARAGE, SINGLE FAMILY DWELLING WITH HIDEOUS LIGHTING (OFFERS READILY ACCEPTED EVEN THOUGH I AM POSITIVE NO ONE IS GOING TO BUY A HOUSE WITH STADIUM LIGHTING)

The island.

I always wanted a kitchen island. This was supposed to be my dream work station, with tons of space for rolling dough, creating dishes, and storing all kinds of kitchen crap in and on top of. AH….MY OWN OASIS….I could not wait.

So.

It (the island) arrived.

AND…..

it was too small.

SO?

I told my husband that it needs to be bigger

(I said it really fast by the way….kinda like this…..

“Steve? Theislandneedstobelarger…I’mgoingoutnowBYE!”

That’s when I realized that there was a good chance he would ensure I wake up on a REMOTE deserted island yelling…WILSON….WILSON!!!!

To conclude there are two things you need to know today.

1) Steve is the best (let’s just refer to him as SAINT STEVE – Master of Patience once in a while or practically never
2) I made these brownies eons ago and saved them to post now because who can bake brownies with no oven? I was tempted to go out and buy an Easy Bake Oven. Only problem is, the last time I had one in the house all three of my children ended up with salmonella poisoning from our experiment of baking a cake with a LIGHT BULB.

Needless to say, I’m going stir crazy without the ability to cook, bake, photograph and do my usual shtick on here. We just have to wait for the rest of the puzzle to come together – unless I change MY MIND.

TRIPLE CHOCOLATE CHUNK PRETZEL BROWNIES
– ½ cup unsalted butter
– 1 cup chopped good quality dark chocolate
– 1¼ cups granulated sugar
– 3 large eggs
– ½ tsp. salt
– 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
– ¾ cup all-purpose flour
– ½ cup cocoa powder, sifted
– 1 cup chunks of good quality chocolate (dark, semi-sweet, milk and/or white chocolate), divided
– 1 cup pretzels

1) Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Butter a 9” x 9” brownie pan and line it with parchment paper so that it hangs over two of the sides. Dust the two other edges with cocoa powder. Set aside.
2) In a medium saucepan, heat the butter and dark chocolate on medium, stirring every so often. When everything is melted, take the pan off the heat.
3) Add the granulated sugar and stir it in, then add the eggs, one at a time, making sure to stir well after each addition. Mix in the salt and vanilla.
4) Stir in the flour and cocoa powder. Next add three-quarters of the chunks of chocolate.
5) Pour the brownie batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface with the back of a spoon or small offset spatula. Scatter the remaining chocolate chunks on top.
6) Bake the brownies for 30 to 40 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the centre comes out clean. For fudgier brownies, bake them for 30 minutes.
7) Cool completely at room temperature before cutting.
8) Top with pretzels if desired. Makes  24 bite size, 16 small squares or 8 giant size ones.

See you next week!

debi
@simplybeautifuleating
Simply Beautiful Eating

xx, Debi
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March 17, 2017

Ready, Set, Weekend With Simply Beautiful Eating

Green isn’t limited to shamrocks and leprechauns. At this epic spread, it’s the inspiration for a healthy, yet hearty lunch that offers a spread of crudités with green goddess dip, mini fruit-topped pavlovas, and iced green tea.

Here’s what comes to mind when I think about St. Patrick’s Day: loads of green food, rainbows, pots of gold, shamrocks and of course, leprechauns. Even if you’re not Irish, you can create, style, cook, bake and host a gorgeous and elegant St. Patrick’s Day party!

This table offers a lush meets luxe dining experience. Think green and leafy intertwined with white and gold accents for your table settings. In keeping with the traditions of this theme, I used all of Martha’s recipes to blend together a wonderful, healthy lunch for family and friends.

One of the most eye-catching details at this table? The four-leaf clover napkins! Since this holiday is always fun and festive, I wanted to try my hand at napkin-folding. The only problem I have with this type of challenge is following instructions. This was a perfect job for my husband to tackle. (I bet you didn’t know that he is an expert napkin folder. Now you do!) He has so much more patience when it comes to tasks like this, it’s wonderful. Here’s how!

One thing I loved doing for an anniversary party I hosted recently, was a DIY garland for the table runner. It was super easy, reasonably priced, and packed a punch as a focal point for a simply beautiful centerpiece. For this garland, I included frisée (pronounced “free-ZAY”), which is used to refer to a variety of endive with curly, pale green or yellow-ish leaves. I created the garland with an edible factor, which is also appealing to the eye.

Let’s get back to the food. I chose these recipes carefully, based on three ingredient colors: green, white, and a pop of gold. For a quick appetizer, I created a wonderful crudité platter with green goddess dip.

My main course dishes were super healthy, green, and packed with protein. A warm quinoa and chicken salad, baby bok choy with ginger and garlic plus a refreshing salad with buttermilk dressing.

Don’t forget a signature mocktail. I served a cool and refreshing iced green tea with cucumber, which paired perfectly with the meal.

Lastly, dessert was easy: mini pavlovas garnished with fruit and a fresh herb that kept the St. Patrick’s day theme going — green grapes, kiwi, and mint.

Wishing you a pot of gold and all the joy your heart can hold.

Here are some quick tips for hosting this party:

Get festive with your food, think green and clean.

Showcase your creativity by cutting foods into pretty themed shapes. For example, a green pepper sliced width-wise looks exactly like a shamrock or four-leaf clover.

Give your tablescape a focal point, like the DIY garland.

Incorporate traditional with a modern twist: a four-leaf clover napkin, gold drinking straws, confetti and a menu filled with color themed food.

Include a signature “green” drink.

Have fun!

Credits
Author/Photographer/Stylist: Debi Traub | @simplybeautifuleating created exclusively for

Martha Stewart Living

Party props: Little Miss Party

Tableware, Props: Pier 1 Imports

Florals: Irene’s Floral

Tableware, Props: HomeSense (U.S. readers can shop similar product at HomeGoods)

View all recipes by clicking on the pictures above

xx, Debi
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March 14, 2017

St. Paddy’s Day Spiked Shamrock Shake

Now that St. Paddy’s Day is almost here, not only am I seeing ads for McDonald’s Shamrock Shakes everywhere, but pretty much everyone I know has expressed their craving for one to me within the past few weeks.

Personally, I’ve never had one, but there’s gotta be a reason for all the hype, right? I decided to try my hand at a boozy version of one, and I gotta say, it turned out pretty delicious.  You guys will have to be the judges as to whether or not it is as good as the original!

Here’s what you need:
-whisky
-vanilla ice cream
-milk
-mint simple syrup (recipe below)
-green food coloring
-fresh mint
-maraschino cherries
-whipped cream
-blender

Here’s you need for the mint simple syrup:
-sugar
-water
-fresh mint
-small saucepan
-fine mesh strainer

Here’s what to do:
1) Combine 1 cup water and 1 cup sugar in a small saucepan.
2) Add sprig of mint to saucepan, ripping up to release flavor.
3) Bring mixture to a boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved.  Reduce to a simmer, leaving on stove top for 2 minutes.


4) Remove saucepan from heat and leave to steep for 20 minutes.
5) Once thoroughly steeped, pour mixture into a bowl through a fine mesh strainer to remove mint leaves.

Now, you’re ready to make your shakes!

Here’s what to do:
1) In blender, combine 4 cups vanilla ice cream, 2 oz. of whisky, 1 oz. of your mint simple syrup, and 1/2 cup of milk, and food coloring.  Blend until shake reaches your desired thickness.


2) Add drops of food coloring as needed until you reach your desired shade of green.


3) Once you are satisfied, pour shake into each glass.


4) Top with whipped cream, a cherry, and a sprig of mint.

Add a straw, and sip away.

Happy St. Paddy’s Day… Stay green!

xx, Abby
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February 24, 2017

Ready, Set, Weekend With Simply Beautiful Eating

Do you ever bring sweet treats to your doctor’s office when you go for a routine appointment? I DO!

The issue is….all of the front desk office staff know what I do part time and that is….bake….a lot.

Every few months, I bring a little something for this crew and to be honest, they WAIT FOR IT. I also time my appointment strategically after lunch. This way, it’s a great excuse to HAVE DESSERT on an otherwise mundane patient swamped afternoon.

When I baked this cake last week, I posted it on Instagram prior to me leaving the house. Within minutes I received a comment from one of my favourite receptionists at this office….”HOPEFULLY THAT IS THAT COMING TO US?

So here’s the thing. My baking usually causes a bit of a delay to my doctor’s schedule. How you ask?

Well, I walk in with the goods and it is quickly taken away to the “back room”. The waiting area is usually full at this point.

Where’s the doctor?

Eating cake.

Where is he now?

Eating another piece of cake.

Who is waiting to see him?

ME and about 5 other people.

My apologies to those who have to wait and wait and wait and wait because of ME and my sweets.

When I decided to make this, it was a last minute effort to use what I had hanging around the house. I quickly opened my pantry and found a bunch of ingredients that would come together to create a super moist and decadent dark velvet cake with a heavenly white chocolate ganache drizzle.

Bundt cakes happen to be my favourite to make simply because of the pan. It’s a one shot deal. Make your batter, plunk it in and bake. Then drizzle with just about anything because really? This is an idiot proof way to decorate a cake. No crumb coating or fondant needed. Just pure unadulterated CAKE.

And if you’re like me, I’m not really crazy about wasting time decorating and futzing around with cakes. Let me just unleash my bundt and be done with it.

One thing is for sure.

Sometimes it pays to sweeten the lives of those who take such good care of you.

Dark Velvet Bundt Cake With White Chocolate Ganache

– 1 1⁄4 cups vegetable oil
– ¾ cup buttermilk
– ¼ cup espresso or coffee, cooled
– 2 eggs
– 1 tablespoon red food coloring, (I use organic from Whole Foods)
– 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
– 1 teaspoon vanilla
– 2 1⁄2 cups all-purpose flour
– 1 3⁄4 cups sugar
– 1 teaspoon baking soda
– 3⁄4 teaspoon salt
– 1 1⁄2 tablespoons cocoa powder
– 1 3.5 oz package Hersheys Instant Chocolate Pudding
– White Chocolate Ganache Recipe for Drizzle – See below

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2) Grease and flour bundt pan.
3) In stand mixer combine oil, buttermilk, espresso (or coffee), eggs, food coloring, vinegar and vanilla.
4) Mix at medium speed until well blended.
5) In a separate bowl, sift together dry ingredients. Gradually add to wet ingredients (slowly so they don’t explode in your face). Beat until smooth (about 2 minutes on medium high speed).
6) Pour into prepared pan. Bake 45-50 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool on rack for 15 minutes, then turn out onto cake plate to finish cooling.
7) Prepare ganache recipe below and drizzle on cooled cake.

White Chocolate Ganache

– 1 cup chopped white chocolate – bar or chips is fine
– ¼ cup heavy cream

1) Place a medium size saucepan filled with 1 inch of water on the stove and bring to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer.
2) Place chocolate in a heat safe bowl that fits over the saucepan ensuring that the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. Melt the chocolate slowly over the water, stirring constantly.
3) In a separate small saucepan, heat heavy cream. DO NOT BOIL, otherwise it will scorch.
4) Add melted chocolate to heavy cream and stir to blend. It should look nice and glossy.
5) Let cool slightly and drizzle over cake.

See ya next week!
debi@simplybeautifuleating

xx, Debi
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February 10, 2017

Ready, Set, Weekend with Simply Beautiful Eating

As Valentine’s Day quickly approaches, it’s time to bake from the heart. I tend to get bit carried away with this occasion. What can I say? I’m a hopeless romantic sap.

The good thing is, my husband Steve is also into the hearts and flowers shtick so we really are a good match. Each year we exchange some type of gift and card. Steve usually spends more on my gift than I do for his and that’s the way it should be right?.

He also has this “thing” with cards. He tends to lean towards the ones that POP and I’m not referring to colour, I’m talking about the ones that flip open and something obnoxious unfolds from inside and BOOM something EXPLODES into your face. Ya. Those are fun.

I have been trying to figure out what to buy him for months. I do have something in mind however it isn’t the least bit romantic at all. All I can is say is this….his gift will alleviate a job that I hate doing on a yearly basis. So technically this gift is more for me than for him. Gawd, I’m awful.

Oh. Can I just swing over to another subject for a sec? A few weeks ago, Steve installed a new system in the house to allow us to see who is at our front door when we are not home. It’s incorporated into the doorbell and acts like a two way intercom which includes a video recording device and a camera. Here’s how it works…..

1) Someone arrives at our front porch/door.
2) My cellphone starts making a sound like Peter Pan is flying into the room – It’s not a jingle or a jangle, it’s something like fairy dust is being sprinkled on my head.
3) By the time I figure out how to answer the jingle-ringle-dingle, the person who was at the front door has already left the premises.
4) Whenever I exit the house or come to the front door my husband talks to me through the doorbell and scares the sh*%t out of me (It goes like this:  I’m trying to put the key in the door and I hear – HELLOOOOOOHELLOOOOO and then he laughs which in my opinion is funny and sad at the same time because I’m wasting time talking to a DOORBELL)
5) The first week, I thought I would be a joker and literally do a full song and dance in front of this gizmo. I would also have a full conversation with myself through the doorbell and watch it on my phone later for my own skewed entertainment purposes. Then I discovered that my neighbours could see me across the street. So that ended.

I decided to outsmart this device by doing what I needed to do. DELETE the app off my phone. 

BEST.

IDEA.

EVER.

The other day when I was in the shower, my husband called me and this was our conversation as I stood soaking wet in the bathroom:

Steve: “Helloooooo, didn’t you hear the doorbell”?

Me: “NO, I was in the shower”.

Steve: Hmmmm…..someone was at the front door”.

Me: “Okay, who?”

Steve: “I don’t know, there wasn’t anyone there”.

Me: “There was no one there yet the doorbell rang”?

Steve: “No, the doorbell didn’t ring, I received a notification that there was motion at the front door“.

Me: “It was clearly a moth that was causing this commotion on your phone, my suggestion is to delete the app like I did and that way, when I’m in the SHOWER and can’t answer the door AND you are 25 miles away, the moth will leave his calling card and you can get back to him when he comes near the door again”.

Now.

This dessert.

Well?

You know what’s in my freezer at all times. Yep. Puff pastry.

And you also know that puff pastry is my best friend AND there is no way on earth I would EVER make my own dough because really? The butter, the rolling, the butter, the rolling, the butter and more rolling (I think I may have missed a few rollings) is just too much for me to even comprehend. So….ready made puff pastry it is!

And these cherries? Which are clearly NOT IN SEASON AND STUPIDLY EXPENSIVE? Another story. I had them leftover from the shoot I did for the previous post so what was I going to do with them?

Chocolate cherry hand pies. That’s what. These are cute, romantic, super delish and you can eat as many as your heart desires.

Happy Valentine’s Day !

HEART SHAPED CHOCOLATE CHERRY HAND PIES

– 2 rolls of puff pastry, thawed
– Filling
– 2 cups fresh, pitted and chopped fresh cherries (not frozen)
– 1 tbsp sugar
– 1 tbsp flour
– ¼ cup chopped 70% dark chocolate or chocolate chips
– 1 large egg beaten – for egg wash
– coarse sugar
– powdered sugar – for dusting
– heart shaped cookie cutter
1) Place the cherries and sugar in a bowl and stir to coat. Add flour and stir until the cherries are evenly coated and place into fridge for one hour.
2) On a lightly floured wood board, roll out your puff pastry slightly, you don’t want it too thin.
3) Cut out as many heart shaped pieces as you can – you will need two per hand pie – one for the bottom and one for the top.
4) When ready to assemble, preheat oven to 400°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside.
5) Transfer one set of hearts to the prepared baking sheets.
6) Spoon cherry filling into the center of each heart, keeping a ¼ inch border on the outer edge. Top with chopped chocolate or chips. Brush the edges with the egg wash. Place a second heart shaped pastry on top the first filled piece, using your fingertips to press firmly around the pocket of filling, sealing the pastry well on all sides.
7) Press the tines of a fork all around the edges of the hearts. Repeat with remaining hearts.
8) Brush the top of the tarts with egg wash and sprinkle with coarse sugar.
9) Bake for 25-30 minutes, until lightly browned. Cool for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
10) Dust with powdered sugar and enjoy!

See you next week!

debi @simplybeautifuleating

xx, Debi
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