Teeny Tiny Tuna Patties

This was another attempt to feed LongJohn as well at home as he eats at daycare. He ended up not being a huge fan of these (despite, of course, him loving them at daycare), but I enjoyed them so much I’ve made them for myself and others since. It’s a great easy lunch when the thought of another boring sandwich just does not appeal. Not to mention that it’s one of those great flexible recipes that requires no measuring. The only ratio that is really important is one egg to every can of tuna you use. Other than that, play around!

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When I’m doing stuff like this, I always start with my seasonings: what do I want the flavour to be? In this case I have some chives, garlic chives, tarragon, and sage growing out in my garden so that was an easy choice.

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Other good options would be diced caramelized onions or green onions, shallots, fresh rosemary, basil … you get the picture. Chop those babies up.

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Tip your handful of fresh herbs into a bowl with about half a cup panko bread crumbs (you can use regular bread crumbs but I like the crunch of panko). Season with salt and pepper, maybe a little bit of onion and garlic powder if you’ve got ’em.

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Tip in as well some grated parmesan cheese, to your preference.

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And an egg! One egg for every can of tuna ensures maximum patty cohesion.

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Mix it into a gross paste.

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Now, your can of tuna: this is a chunk white albacore.

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Break that up and chuck it in the mix as well.

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Now melt a gob of butter and a dash of vegetable oil (to keep the butter from burning) in a large frying pan and let that heat up.

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Form the tuna paste into patties any size you like. These ones are about 2″ in diameter and I ended up with 8 in total.

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Slide those patties carefully into the hot butter and let them fry!

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Flip them after a few minutes, or when the bottoms are a nice golden brown.

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When they are brown on both sides, slide them onto a piece of paper towel to drain and cool slightly before taking a HUGE BITE.

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I served these with some plain yogurt mixed with Dijon mustard and those avocado fries I made in the last post.

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Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting: Redux

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Two years ago yesterday I made this post, and to date it’s my most popular post of all time. It didn’t garner a lot of attention when I stuck it up there, but daily it’s my most-visited, most-pinned item – by thousands. AND I HAVE NO IDEA WHY. My second-most popular post of all time? Wattle fencing. Third? Cleaning your dishwasher. What is WRONG with you guys? You have seriously weird tastes.

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So the Pie thought it would be fun for me to re-create the post to see if it’s just as good the second time, so here I go: but with way more pizzazz than the first time. HOLD ON TO YER BUTTS.

Pumpkin Cake Redux 1

Making this for a second time, I’m reminded of how stupidly easy it is, which might be part of its allure. I mean, it feels like I’m making it out of a box, it’s so simple. Start by preheating your oven to 350°F and spraying a 9″ x 13″ baking dish. I am doubling this recipe so don’t be alarmed by the sheer amount of pumpkin cake you see here.

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Grab a large bowl and dump in 1 15oz can of unsweetened pumpkin purée. Crack in 4 eggs,  tip in 1 cup vegetable oil, and plop in 1 cup sugar (I reduced this from the last recipe). Give it a thorough whirl with a whisk so it’s gloriously and uniformly orange. Next, in a whole other bowl, whisk together 2 cups flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1 teaspoon baking soda, and 5 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (that’s another small change from the last one).

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Dump that flour stuff carefully into the pumpkin stuff and be thorough with the mixing again.

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Smooth the batter (wasn’t that easy?) into your baking dish and shove it in the oven for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.

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Set that glorious orange cake on a wire rack to cool completely. Now you can whip together your amazing cream cheese frosting. I’m doubling the icing amount on this one because I believe that cream cheese icing is the greatest thing in the world and everything needs more of it (this is also why I reduced the sugar in the batter).

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In the bowl of a mixer, plop 8oz/250g plain cream cheese that is room temperature (to avoid lumps) and 1/2 cup softened butter, with a few drops vanilla extract. Beat that smooth and then add in 2-4 cups icing sugar until it’s the consistency that you like.

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Spread that amazingness generously on your lovely dark orange cake and EAT IT.

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Thrifty me, I still had some cream cheese icing leftover from the General’s Spider-Man cake, so I used it on my second cake. It looks a little funny but it tastes just as good!

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White Lace Brownies

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These not-too-sweet brownies are accented with a pretty “lace” overlay of white chocolate. Preheat your oven to 350°F and line a 9″ x 13″ baking dish with parchment paper (you can skip that but it makes it easier to pull the baked brownies out later).

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In a bowl, whisk together 3/4 cup flour, 1/2 cup cocoa, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, and 1/4 teaspoon salt and set that aside for a second.

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In another bowl, beat together 3/4 cup vegetable oil, 1 1/2 cups sugar, and 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract.

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Beat in 3 eggs until smooth.

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Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and beat until smooth again.

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Pour the batter into your baking dish and shove it in the oven for about 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the dish comes out with just a few crumbs on it.

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I pulled the still-warm brownies out of the pan and set them on a rack to cool completely.

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While that was going on, I melted about 3 oz white chocolate in a double boiler and let that cool as well.

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When both were cool, I piped the white chocolate in an overlapping pattern onto the surface of the brownie and let it harden.

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Then you just cut it into pieces and serve!

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Krystopf’s Chocolate Chiffon Birthday Cake

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Because we were running around on my birthday, the Pie and I broke with our tradition of making each other birthday cakes from scratch and bought one from a local bakery.  It was lemon chiffon, and we liked it so much we immediately vowed that it would be on our list of things to learn.  It was Krystopf’s birthday on Saturday (my biggest brother is 37, how scary is that?), and he requested something chocolatey for his cake.  So instead of lemon chiffon, we’re making the Joy of Baking’s chocolate chiffon cake.  While the cake has multiple steps, they’re all pretty easy.  It’s also a good cake to make the day before and store in the fridge overnight.

Start by separating 6 eggs (add an extra white to the whites pile so you have 6 egg yolks and 7 egg whites) and let those come to room temperature.

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Now go ahead and preheat your oven to 325°F and grab your favourite tube pan.  Resist the urge to put any grease of any form into it.

Next, seize your sifter and, in a large bowl, sift together 2 cups cake flour with 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, 3/4 cup granulated sugar, 2 tablespoons baking powder, and 1/4 teaspoon baking soda.

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In a smaller bowl, whisk together 6 egg yolks, 1/2 cup vegetable oil, 3/4 cup room temperature coffee, and 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla.

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Make a well in your flour mixture and add the egg stuff to it.

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Mix well, scraping down the sides of the bowl, until you get this lovely glossiness.

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Now we can start beating up those 7 egg whites.  Add in 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar and use an electric mixer to whip them to soft peaks.

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While still beating, slowly add in 3/4 cup granulated sugar and keep whipping those up until you get nice stiff peaks that stand on their own.

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Gently fold the meringue into the rest of the cake batter in three separate additions.

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I found it a bit tricky to get it all properly mixed, so mine is a little marbled.

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Pour the batter into your tube pan and smooth it down.  If you think there are large air bubbles in there, cut through it a few times with a knife to break them.

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Bake the cake for 55-60 minutes, and then immediately invert your tube pan to allow the cake to cool completely without collapsing under its own weight (this is why you don’t grease the pan).

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Use a bottle to prop it up if your pan doesn’t have feet.

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Now that the cake is cool we can work on the glaze and filling.  Chuck a bowl and the wire whisk from your electric mixer into the freezer for about 30 minutes.

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Chop up 6oz semisweet chocolate and heave that into a heatproof bowl (or double boiler) with 1/4 cup butter and 2 tablespoons light corn syrup.

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Heat that over a pot of barely simmering water until it’s all melted and lovely, and then set it aside to cool slightly.

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While it’s cooling down, you can decant your cake.  Use a sharp knife around the edges and tip it upside down onto a plate.

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Use the knife again to remove the bottom part.

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Then cut the whole thing in half horizontally.

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Haul your frozen whisk and bowl out of the freezer and throw 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, 2 teaspoons cocoa, and 1 teaspoon instant coffee into the bowl.

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Pour out 1 cup cold whipping cream and add a few drops of that to the mix in the bowl.  Give it a good stirring, then beat in the rest of the whipping cream until it’s a frothy mocha masterpiece.

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Take about 3/4 cup of the mocha cream and spread it on the cut side of the bottom half of the cake.

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Put the top half back on and then drizzle the glaze over the top so it runs down the sides.  Spread it smooth with a spatula.

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Pipe the remaining mocha filling on top.

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I let the cake chill for a bit to set the glaze.

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Oh man it was good!

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Sexy Chocolate Cherry Cupcakes

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Check out these sexy puppies.  I made them as a killing-two-birds-with-one-stone for both Valentine’s Day and Mags’ and Papa John’s joint birthday.  So very very good.

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For the cupcakes, preheat your oven to 350°F and line a 12-capacity muffin tin with cupcake liners.  I used fancy schmancy pink polka dot ones.  Because I am that cool.

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Drain a 375mL jar of maraschino cherries, reserving the juice.  Let the cherries dry a bit on a paper towel before roughly chopping them.

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In a large bowl, whisk together 3/4 cup granulated sugar, 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, and 1/2 cup fine cocoa.

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In a smaller bowl, whisk together 3 tablespoons cherry juice, 2 eggs, 3 teaspoons vanilla extract, 3/4 cup vegetable oil, 1/2 cup sour cream, and 1/2 cup milk.

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Add the flour mixture to the liquid and beat until smooth.

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Fold in the chopped cherries.

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Drop into cupcake cups until about 3/4 full and bake for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the centre cupcake comes out clean.  Let cool slightly in the pan and then remove to a rack to cool completely.

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I ended up having enough after my doubled recipe to make a wee sheet cake as well.

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For the ganache, in a double boiler, melt together 2 ounces chocolate (your choice) with 1/4 cup whipping cream.  Whisk until fully combined and chill for 30-40 minutes (any longer and you might have trouble spreading it).

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For the icing, we’re going with our old favourite.  Beat together 1 cup room temperature butter with 1 250g package room temperature cream cheese until fully combined and un-lumpy.

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Slowly add in about 2 cups icing sugar (more if you want it more stiff) and a few tablespoons cherry juice (from the jar of maraschinos).

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For the garnish, take 12 cherries, fresh or maraschino (but with stems if you can) and dip them in a couple ounces melted chocolate.

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Let those cool on a sheet of waxed paper until solid.

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To put it all together, take your cooled cupcakes and spread a little ganache on top as a chocolatey base.

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Chuck them in the fridge for a few minutes to set.

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Shove your cream cheese icing into a piping bag and squeeze it out all over your cupcakes.

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Save yourself some heartache and buy a decent bag, too.

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I’m sure you can do a more artistic job than this, but I’m also sure it will taste the same regardless.

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Top with a chocolate-dipped cherry and serve.  SO AWESOME.

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And here’s the sheet cake with the leftover icing.

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Brussels Sprout Hash

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This recipe comes from the Globe and Mail‘s 12 October food page, and worked really well as a side dish for our Thanksgiving celebrations.  And it’s easy peasy and a great way to jazz up Brussels sprouts for those picky eaters.

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Cut about 8oz Brussels sprouts in half and remove the crappy outside leaves.  Set those aside for the moment.  Now, dump 6 large shallots and 8 garlic cloves into a pot (we doubled the recipe here).  Don’t even bother to peel them.

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Add water and bring them to a boil.  Let that cook for 2 minutes, then drain them and peel them all.

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Cut the shallots in half if they’re giants.

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Chuck a nob of butter and a glob of vegetable oil into a heavy lidded sauté pan and let that melt over medium heat.

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Toss in the garlic and shallots and stir for about a minute, then add in the Brussels sprouts and chuck them around.  Reduce the heat a bit and pop the lid on.  Leave that on the go, stirring occasionally, for about ten minutes, or until the veggies are tender to your liking.

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When you’re ready to serve, toss with salt and pepper and a generous helping of chopped fresh parsley and let ‘er rip!

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Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

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I think this wee cake is the easiest and quickest way to enjoy this season of pumpkiny goodness, and is adapted from Disney’s Spoonful (Yeah.  Disney.  Who knew?).  Spray a 9″ x 13″ pan with cooking spray or line it with parchment paper (the spray actually works better in this particular case) and preheat your oven to 350°F.

In a large bowl, mix together 4 eggs, 1 15oz can pumpkin purée (that’s half of one of those giant E.D. Smith cans, FYI), 1 1/3 cups sugar, and 1 cup vegetable oil.

Pumpkin Cake 1

In a measuring cup or small bowl, whisk together 2 cups flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, 1 teaspoon nutmeg, and a teaspoon each ground cloves and allspice, if you’re feeling adventurous and SPICY.

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Add your floury ingredients to your pumpkiny ingredients and give that a good whisking.  TADA.  There’s your batter.  That was easy.

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Spread the batter into the baking dish and bake for 25-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.  Set that sucker on a wire rack to cool completely.  You can either tip it out onto another plate or leave it in there, your choice.

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While that’s on the go, get out another bowl and chuck in 4oz plain cream cheese (that’s half the 250g-ish blocks you get in the store), 1/4 cup softened butter, and 2 teaspoons vanilla and beat the crap out of it with an electric mixer.

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Sift in 2 cups icing sugar and beat more crap out of it until you get icing.  Such beauty from such violence.

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Spread that luscious cream cheesiness on your cooled cake and cut that baby into squares.

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So moist and fantastic.  If you don’t like your pumpkin cakes to be super sweet, then I’d cut the sugar to 1/2 or 3/4 of a cup.

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There was none left before long, so make sure you get a taste before they’re all gone!

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