February 12, 2016

Ready, Set, Weekend with Simply Beautiful Eating

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Sometimes I get ideas in my head and I have no clue where they come from. Last week, I decided that fondant was a good thing to try. Why would I even think this would be a good idea? Who needs to futz around with fondant if they don’t have to? Apparently, I do.

Now listen. If you want to attempt to make your own fondant, go right ahead. It’s fairly easy to do and aside from the fact that it’s “sticky business”, it can be fun to get your hands into globs of sugar and gooeyness.

For this shoot, I used a store bought vanilla fondant that came in a big tub. I found it at the local bulk food store BUT my friend Francesca shared her recipe for fondant with me and I will be sharing it with you today. She’s so NICE! It looks easy enough, but I was thinking I may end up in the same scenario as I did when I tried making cobwebs out of melted marshmallows for Halloween cupcakes. Remember that? I’m trying to forget it.

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I wanted to make something special for Valentines Day, which is coming up this weekend. Guess what? It involved oodles and oodles of hearts. I have all sizes of cookie cutters in heart shapes, so I hauled out my gear and went to town. My intent was to make a “few” hearts. What happened here (and happens many times in my kitchen) is that I misjudged the amount of fondant I was using and ended up with A MILLION hearts.

I had no idea what I was going to do with ALL OF THESE. I paced and circled the kitchen and finally decided on two recipes that would be perfect for these little cuties.

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A simple vanilla slab cake and some pink sugar cookies. Now these are not just your average sugar cookies. Sticking to my diet of gluten and dairy free, I decided to make them without all purpose flour and milk. Wanna know something? They came out great! I also wanted to add some pink to the dough, so I used beetroot powder which I also came across at the bulk food store and LOOK how stunning they are! I mean really.

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What did I do with the rest of the hearts? They are currently lurking behind the yogurt and leftover roast chicken in my fridge. If anyone out there needs hearts, just let me know. I will even drop them off at your house.

EASY FONDANT

-4 cups of miniature marshmallows (8 ounces)
-1 pound of powdered sugar (4 cups) , plus extra for dusting
-2 tbsp water
-Food colouring or flavoured extracts, optional

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1) Place marshmallows in a microwaveable bowl.
2) Add water into the bowl of marshmallows.
3) Melt the marshmallows in the microwave for 30 second increments. (stirring in between, about 90 seconds in total will do the trick)
4) Once marshmallows are melted, fold in ¾ of the powdered sugar, then take it out of the bowl on to a surface dusted in powdered sugar and begin kneading the fondant. Continue to add powdered sugar if fondant is still sticky.
5) Once the fondant is ready, you may knead in the food colouring or flavouring of your choice.

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6) But when doing so, you may need to add some more powdered sugar as the liquid will loosen the fondant.

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VANILLA CAKE WITH BUTTERCREAM FROSTING

-1 recipe – Vanilla Cake with Buttercream Frosting – Click Here

1) Make the cake according to directions and use a 9 X 13 baking pan instead of the 3 round baking pans. Bake for 35 minutes and let cool before frosting with buttercream.

GLUTEN-FREE BEET INFUSED SUGAR COOKIES

-1 cup granulated sugar
-½ cup butter, softened
-1 large egg
-1 tablespoon water or milk (you can use almond, rice, coconut or soy – I used a combo of almond and coconut)
-1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
-¼ teaspoon salt
-½ teaspoon xanthan gum (leave it out if your gluten free flour already has it incorporated in it)
-2 cups gluten-free all-purpose flour + more for rolling/dusting
-½ teaspoon beet powder (you may have to adjust this depending on what colour pink you want to achieve)

1) In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the sugar and butter at medium speed.
2) Add the egg, water, vanilla, salt. Blend until mixed well.
3) Add the xanthan gum (if needed), flour and beetroot powder. Adjust the beetroot powder until the desired colour of pink is achieved. The cookie colour may lighten after baking so don’t worry if you think they are too dark. Mix at a low speed until well combined.
4) Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight.
5) Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat and set aside.
6) Roll out the dough onto a lightly floured surface, about ¼-inch thick.
7) Cut out the dough with heart shaped cookie cutters (or other desired shapes), and place the cookies on the baking sheet. Make sure the cookies are not touching or you will end up with one large cookie and that’s just dumb – How do I know this? I’ve done it.
8) Gather up your cookie dough scraps and re-roll the dough, then continue cutting more cookies until all the dough is used up. I usually end up with one tiny blob of cookie dough at the end and make a really stupid looking cookie just for me.
9) Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from the oven, and let the cookies cool for 5 minutes on the cookie sheet before removing them to a cooling rack. They will still be soft so this is an important step – LET THEM COOL ON THAT SHEET OR THEY WILL FALL APART.
10) Once the cookies are completely cooled on the rack, decorate as desired. I used turbinado sugar infused with beet powder to get that pink colour.

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Happy Valentine’s Day from Simply Beautiful Eating!

debi @simplybeautifuleating
simplybeautifuleating.com

 

xx, Debi
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February 9, 2016

Valentine’s Champagne Spritzer

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Well friends, it’s that time of year again – Valentine’s Day! Bringing with it an overload of pink, hearts and sugar.  I love all of the typical Valentine traditions, and have especially become a fan of the rise in popularity of Galentine’s Day celebrations.  I am a singleton, and love that I have an excuse to celebrate the holiday of love with my best lady friends.

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For my Galentine’s Day celebrations drink idea, I had to go with a champagne-based cocktail recipe, because i’m sure that we can all agree that nothing says Valentine’s Day like some bubbly.  To take it one step further, I decided to make the drink girly and red.  No explanation needed.  Thankfully, we had some leftover pomegranate juice in the LMP studio fridge, which I used to give this cocktail some color.

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Here’s what you’ll need:
-bottle of your favorite sparkling wine (I used prosecco)
-strawberry soda
-glitter sprinkles for garnish

Here’s what to do:
1) Sprinkle some glitter onto a flat plate.
2) Wet the rim of your glass, and then dip into the plate of sprinkles to garnish your glass.

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3) Pour some strawberry soda into each glass, about 1-2 inches worth depending on how big your glass is.

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4) Fill the rest of each glass with your sparkling white wine.

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And that’s it! You should get a nice deep pink or red color from mixing the strawberry soda in there.  This cocktail is light, sweet and simple, and perfect for sipping and sharing with your girlfriends!

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To style this bad boy, I took some conversation hearts to line the bottom of a tray, which added some pops of color and dimension to my drink display.  Also adding some color were these gorgeous ranunculus, which we had used for a Bat Mitzvah last weekend AND a special Valentine’s Day brunch that we had in our studio.  Those flowers just kept on giving!

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I also thought it would be nice to serve these drinks with some mini vanilla cupcakes, which I topped with red glitter lip toppers, and placed on a white paper plate with silver stars, both of which can be found in our Pink Party in a Box! Be sure to grab your own Pink Party for all the decor and tableware that you need to throw a chic Valentine’s Day celebration.

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Happy Valentine’s and Galentine’s Day to you all!

xx, Abby
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February 5, 2016

Ready, Set, Weekend with Simply Beautiful Eating

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I have to be honest. I really have trouble coming up with lunch dishes lately. On occasion, there are days where I will just open the fridge and eat what falls out. This folks was one of those days. The first thing I spotted was some leftover Foccacia bread which I had made the night before to accompany our pasta.

Ever make this bread from scratch? It’s the same concept as making pizza dough and but even easier. OR even easier than making the dough from scratch is buying a ready made pizza dough and following the steps to make the Foccacia. Or wait. Even easier than all of that is buying a foccacia bread at the market. I like option 3 best but it really is fun to make it yourself.

I had a few pieces hanging around, some suspect goat cheese, frozen sweet peas and when I moved over the peas I found some edamame.

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All good ingredients to slap on top of this bread right?

Before I get to the recipe I wanted to tell you about the brunch I made for my son this past weekend. Yep. The baby turned 25. A quarter of a century old. OH to be 25 again. He was such a cutie as a baby and his brothers were pretty darn sweet too. These are my three musketeers who look a bit different now. I can’t with these guys….I just cannot.

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My eldest son is turning 30 in May, the second eldest will be 28 in March and the little guy just turned 25 last week.

The whole family joined in on the celebration and it was great success. So where are the pictures from this brunch? There were NONE. It was the first time no one took out a camera. I have no clue why. My only guess was ….everyone was so hungry they didn’t want to do anything but EAT. And eat they did. At one point I was the only one in the kitchen and there was complete silence coming from the dining room. I thought they left but they actually had their mouths too full to speak.

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The sign of a good meal is silence and forks moving around.

Here was the menu:

Berry Mimosas
Pan Fried Cajun Shrimp
Cheese Noodle Kugel
Spinach Salad with Strawberries, Pecans and Poppyseed Dressing (thank you Daniella)
Cold Soba Noodles with fresh vegetables and snap peas (thank you Mandy)
Egg Salad
Tuna Salad
Smoked Salmon (lox)
Cream Cheese
Assorted bagels
Chocolate Chip Banana Bread
Cinnamon Walnut Coffee Cake
Chocolate Babka
Fruit and Berry Cheesecake (thank you Cruz)
Mixed Berries

Um.

I have to tell you. I made enough to feed an army and there was hardly any leftovers. I love leftovers ya know why?

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Because today’s leftovers are tomorrow’s lunch.

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FOCCACIA WITH GOAT CHEESE, AVOCADO, SWEET PEAS & EDAMAME

One Recipe Foccacia –Click Here or feel free to use store bought

-1 avocado, smashed
-¼ cup each steamed sweet peas and edamame
-¼ cup of shredded red cabbage if desired
-¼ cup crumbled goat cheese
-extra virgin olive oil
-salt and pepper to taste

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1) Toast a few pieces of foccacia that have been been shmeared with olive oil
2) Layer avocado, sweet peas, edamame, red cabbage and crumbled goat cheese
3) Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Serve warm

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xx, Debi
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January 29, 2016

Ready, Set, Weekend with Simply Beautiful Eating

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Did I tell you that I got a Vitamix as a holiday gift from thefeedfeed and Vitamix? Well. Yessiree I did and I’m very thankful to both of them for sending this my way. The only way I can describe this piece of machinery is…..

It’s the Ferrari of blenders.

Here are some of things IT MAKES:

1) the best smoothies EVER
2) HOT soup….yes HOT
3) frozen desserts – I can’t even
4) juice
5) milk from nuts and other things
6) dough
7) batters
8) nut butters
9) dressings
10) ground flour
11) purées
12) dips and spreads

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And to top it all off…….it cleans itself….yes there’s a cleaning program button too.

What more do you need? I wish it would also do my laundry but I won’t push my luck.

My husband has been using it more than me lately as he is juicing and smoothiefying all his vegetables – Yes, it’s January and he’s on a diet.

This past weekend, I thought it might be a good idea for me to finally take this baby for a whirl. I had all the necessary ingredients to make a berry frozen yogurt (two is all you need….can you believe that?)

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Oh and I wanted to dress it up with mint. Mint is one thing that grows in our garden. I think I may have mentioned that in the past. The thing about mint is this…..when it grows…….IT GROWS. It actually takes over. Like a viral plant. I have seen cases where mint can grow from one backyard to the neighbours. It’s insane. Well, up until a few weeks ago I picked my last sprig of parsley from the garden.

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Believe it or not, there was still some hearty mint out there. Last week it snowed – A LOT. I wasn’t sure if the mint had endured the frost and amount of snow that came down but I needed to check it out. This was it folks. Buried beneath a heap of snow, I struck gold, or mint in this case. I think I have finally come to the conclusion that our garden is closed for the season.

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Here’s what I ended up with. A bowl of heavenly deliciousness. This was the easiest thing ever to make and you can serve it straight from your Vitamix OR do what I did…….freeze it a bit longer so that you have a nice solid scoop to work with.

I’m sorry but I can’t stop looking at this.

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The colour.

The texture.

The everything.

I love you Mrs. Vitamix.

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2 Ingredient Black & Blue Frozen Yogurt
-1½ cups (360 g) yogurt (for Vegan you can use coconut yogurt)
-1½ lbs (680 g) frozen berries (I used blackberries & blueberries)

1) Place all ingredients into the Vitamix in order listed.
2) Select the Frozen Dessert program.
3) Start machine & blend for 55 seconds.
4) I needed to use the tamper to get all the frozen berries to blend.
5) Serve immediately or place in freezer to firm up a bit more.

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xx, Debi
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January 22, 2016

Ready, Set, Weekend with Simply Beautiful Eating

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I don’t usually have to much time to experiment with recipes, but clearly this challenge was begging to be made in my “test” kitchen this weekend.

Waffled v.s. Skilleted

Are those even words? I think so.

So this is what I did.

Threw together a cinnamon roll recipe and divided up the pieces. Some went into the waffle maker and the rest into an iron skillet.

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Here are the results and my conclusions on the positives and negatives of doing each:

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Waffle maker:

POSITIVES

1. Quick
2. Easy
3. Really pretty – I mean….look at these?

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NEGATIVES

1. They burnt on the bottom (this was my fault because I was too busy snapchatting and wasn’t paying attention to the clock
2. They seemed to dry out quickly when I took them off the waffle maker.

Skillet:

POSITIVES

1. I love making stuff in iron skillets
2. They came out nice a fluffy
3. Didn’t dry out
4. Also really pretty

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Try them both ways and  you be the judge. Let me know what you prefer because frankly, any way you look at it as long as there is a cinnamon roll involved you can’t go wrong.

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Oh and one more thing….

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AND I wanted to let you in a little secret, let’s just keep this between you and I okay? The majority of my recipes are based on science and theory. Sound complicated? It’s not.

My theory is simple:

WHATEVER I have on hand becomes the ingredients for the recipe. Let me give you an example of what I mean.

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I made this yummy glaze with 3 things: An old tangerine, powdered sugar and vanilla extract.

Basically it’s like this…..I open the fridge and cupboards and whatever happens to fall out (that’s the scientific part) I use in my recipe.

Orange ya glad I told you this? I’m sure  you are.

Cinammon Rolls Two Ways with Tangerine Glaze

INGRDIENTS
-Basic Cinnamon Roll Recipe –Click Here
-Tangerine Glaze
-2 tablespoons tangerine juice (and zest from one tangerine)
-1 – 2 cups powdered sugar
-1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
-Optional garnish – nuts, dried fruit or tangerine slices – I used pistachios

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1) Prepare dough for cinnamon rolls and slice into 1 inch pieces. Preheat both a waffle iron and the oven to 400F.
2) Place half of the rolls (or as many as you can fit into the iron skillet) Bake for 15 minutes.
3) Place the other half (you will probably be able to make 4 at a time) onto the waffle maker for 3 – 4 minutes.
4) Once everything is nicely browned serve immediately with tangerine glaze and garnish with nuts or dried fruit if desired. Makes approx. 14-16 rolls.

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xx, Debi
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