30 June 2014

Speaking My Language

A friend of mine recently posted a link to an Entertainment Weekly article that I couldn't not click: The 55 Essential Movies Kids Must Experience (Before They Turn 13.)

I can't remember a time when my day-to-day dialogue wasn't riddled with pop culture references. When the well-timed insertion of a movie quote into conversation didn't have the effect of creating instant and universal understanding - and sometimes the ties of lasting friendship - between participants.

It's even fair to say that at my advanced age (38), I've been employing certain turns of phrase for so long, I've forgotten where they originated. They're so fully integrated in my vernacular I can't even tell when or where I adopted them.

So this list caught my eye and I gotta tell you: it's pretty terrific. Very comprehensive. And almost completely bang on.

I won't give you the whole list - you can find it here - but it inspired me to write my own list: the most important contributors to April-speak. Really, the ones you need to fully know (and maybe memorize) to truly 'get' me.

Author's note: the list is pretty kid-friendly, but not 100%. Overall? I'd say PG-13.

The Essentials of April-Speak:
  1. The Princess Bride
  2. Star Wars collection
  3. Zombieland
  4. Harry Potter (books AND movies)
  5. The Colbert Report
  6. Se7en
  7. Fairly Odd Parents
  8. Get Smart (Steve Carrell version)
  9. The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius
  10. Transylvania 6-5000
  11. Phineas & Ferb
  12. The Muppet Show
  13. Monty Python & The Holy Grail
  14. Monty Python & The Meaning of Life
  15. Office Space
  16. Robot Chicken
  17. Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story
  18. Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery
  19. Friends
  20. Family Guy
  21. The Far Side
  22. Wedding Crashers
  23. The Walking Dead
  24. Dirty Dancing
  25. Ron Swanson (I would say 'Parks and Recreation' but really, it's just Ron.)
  26. So I Married an Axe Murderer
  27. The Matrix
  28. The Long Kiss Goodnight
  29. Chicken Run
  30. The Crow
  31. Babe
  32. Blade Trilogy
  33. Modern Family
  34. Grosse Point Blank
  35. Animaniacs
What about you? What pop culture references pop up most often in your conversation? What's on your list?
   

17 June 2014

Foodie Tuesday | Strawberry Shortcake

The strawberries are here! The strawberries are here!!!

Dudes, did you hear? The strawberries are here.

Living in Canada, in Ontario, in the suburbs, we can't really say the summer has started without an obligatory strawberry-picking excursion to a local farm. For us it's a mostly annual tradition: 40 minutes of picking berries under a gruelling hot sun, then an equal amount of time standing in line to pay premium prices for the berries you just picked yourself, and then home to make yourself sick eating all the berries in one go that you just paid a mint for. It's awesome.

If you're feeling adventurous, though, those berries can be more than just a bowl-full with milk and sugar. You can make all kinds of strawberry things: strawberry jam, strawberry compote, strawberry ice cream, dried strawberries and my favourite, strawberry shortcake.

Warning: my strawberry shortcake is no beauty queen. Don't serve this to people you want to impress, like a co-op board you're petitioning, or your future mother-in-law. Everybody else is fair game, though, and they'll thank you for it.



STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE
Preparation: 1 hour | Cooking Time: 20 minutes | Serves: 8
    
Ingredients:
Sponge cake
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup salted butter, melted
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup 2% milk
    
Ingredients:

Strawberries

  • 3 cups fresh strawberries, sliced
  • 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup fresh (small) strawberries, hulled but whole
 
Ingredients:
Whipped cream
  • 500 mL (roughly 2 cups) heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tsp. granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  
Cooking Directions:
  1. Wash and hull all your strawberries. Set aside 1 cup of small berries for the top; slice the rest into thin slices. Toss the sliced berries in a bowl with lemon juice and balsamic vinegar. Set aside.
      
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 9" round baking pans lightly with canola oil and set aside.
      
  3. In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt.
      
  4. In a larger mixing bowl, combine melted butter and sugar. Beat together with a handheld mixture on medium speed, for 2-3 minutes until it becomes "crumbly." Beat in eggs one at a time until thoroughly combined, then beat in vanilla.
      
  5. Add the flour mixture in three parts and the milk in two, alternating between the two (starting and ending with flour.) Beat on low until each portion is thoroughly combined with the butter/sugar/egg mixture.
      
  6. Divide the batter between the two greased pans, smoothing the top with the back of a spoon or spatula to make it an even thickness (you want it as flat as possible). Place in the pre-heated oven on the middle rack for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes away clean. Remove from oven. Cool 15-20 on the counter before turning out on baking racks. Cool a further 45 minutes.
      
  7. Meanwhile, in a large chilled mixing bowl, combine whipping cream, sugar and vanilla. Beat with a handheld mixer on high until it has thickened and doubled in volume. Reduce speed to medium and continue to beat until stiff peaks form.
      
  8. Place one layer of sponge cake on a cake stand (preferably one with a raised edge, since it's a messy cake with potential for spillage). Spread half the whipped cream over the top, leaving a half inch around the edge of the cake. Smooth the top of the cream, then make a shallow divot into the middle (so the berries will pool, rather than spill.)
      
    Next, stir the berries then spread all three cups of sliced berries over the whipped cream. THERE WILL BE SPILLAGE. It can't be avoided.
       
    Place the second layer of sponge cake on top of the berries. Spread the remaining half of the whipped cream on top, all the way to the edges. Top with the cup of whole, small strawberries - I apply them "by hand" in that I scoop up a handful and drop them on top. But you can be more artsy if you like. 

Like I said: NOT a beauty queen. But she wins the taste test every time.


NOTES | SEASONAL, KID-FRIENDLY 
  

10 June 2014

Foodie Tuesday | Lemon Poppy Seed Cake

Let's start first by classifying this recipe as "OM-NOM-NOM" which, like "entrée" and "appetizer" is now an official food category.

Next, let's acknowledge that we here at Casa Kilfoyle might be just a *bit* lemon-obsessed. Oranges? OK. Tangerines? Sure, I guess. Limes? Not bad.

But lemons? Lemons are pretty much the flavor bomb. And when lemon marries cake?

NUCLEAR-LEVEL DELICIOUSNESS.

For realz.



LEMON POPPY SEED CAKE
Preparation: 30 minutes | Cooking Time: 45-60 minutes | Makes: 2 loaves
      
Ingredients:
Lemon Poppy Seed Cake
  • 1 cup salted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups granulated (white) sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup lemon zest (4-6 lemons)
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tbsp. poppy seeds
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • cooking spray
 
Ingredients:
Syrup
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup granulated (white) sugar
 
Ingredients:
Glaze
  • 2 cups confectioner's (icing) sugar
  • 6 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
        
Cooking Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two (2) 9" x 4" loaf tins with cooking spray; set aside.
      
  2. If you have a counter mixer on hand (lucky you), cream together the butter and sugar. If you don't have a stand mixer (like moi), use a hand mixer, but however you cream it, do so until it's light and fluffy (roughly 5 minutes). With the mixer/beaters on medium-low speed, add the eggs one at a time, then the lemon zest.
      
  3. In a second bowl, combine flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder and poppy seeds. Whisk to combine thoroughly.
      
  4. In a third bowl, combine the buttermilk, lemon juice and vanilla extract. Whisk briskly. Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately to the creamed sugar, starting and ending with the flour. Divide the batter evenly between the two pans, and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to 1 hour (until a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the centre emerges cleanly.)
        
  5. When the loaves are 15 from complete, combine a 1/2 cup of lemon juice and a 1/2 cup white sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Cover, set aside.
       
  6. Remove the baked loaves from the oven and allow to stand on the counter for 10-15 minutes, cooling. Turn the loaves from each pan onto a cooling rack. Allow to stand an additional 10 minutes.
        
  7. Place each loaf in a rectangular container that's at least one inch (1") larger on all sides than the loaf itself (I use a glad container.) Using a toothpick, bore small, deep holes randomly over the top of each loaf. Evenly divide the hot syrup over each loaf and allow 20 minutes to absorb, turning occasionally on each side so the syrup is absorbed all over. Place the soaked loaves onto a cooling rack under which you've spread parchment or waxed paper (to catch the drips... because it will drip.)
       
  8. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together 2 cups icing sugar with 6 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice. Spoon over the top of each loaf, evenly dividing the glaze between the two. Let solidify, then slice and serve... with tea and sweet cream, preferably!
       
You can store your loaves in an airtight container on the counter for 2-3 days, but any longer and you risk it molding. Technically you CAN refrigerate it but honestly, I find storing this or any kind of cake in the fridge just dries it out. I'd rather eat it fresh and moist in two days than dry and crumbly in five, but maybe that's just me. It's your cake. Do what you want with it.

Oh, and any leftover syrup? Pretty fabulous over vanilla ice cream. Just, you know... if you were wondering.

NOTES | KID-FRIENDLY, EASY, VEGETARIAN
 
Thank you, Ina Garten. Your Lemon Loaf is delicious. 
  

04 June 2014

29 Things You Can't Do When You've Burnt Your Legs to Ratshit

 
  1. Shave
  2. Scratch
  3. Slap a biting mosquito
  4. Cross your legs
  5. Sit cross-legged, yoga-style
  6. Basically bend your knees anywhere north of 90 degrees
  7. Sleep with your legs together
  8. Sleep on your stomach
  9. Move your legs at all while you sleep
  10. Sleep
  11. Expose your skin to sunlight
  12. Enjoy an evening foot- and leg-rub from your spouse
  13. Allow children or small dogs to sit on your lap
  14. Accidentally bump anything
  15. Apply lotion
  16. Wear jeans
  17. Wear cotton-blend or polyester pants
  18. Wear any kind of pants, basically
  19. Wear socks that rise above your ankle
  20. Exercise
  21. Sweat
  22. Shower with hot water
  23. Shower with warm water
  24. Shower with water warmer than room temperature
  25. Shower using soap
  26. Shower without crying
  27. Stretch
  28. Touch your skin, either accidentally or on purpose
  29. Move.
    At all.
    Ever.


03 June 2014

Foodie Tuesday | Lemony Caesar Salad Dressing

You might have noticed in all these weeks and weeks of Foodie Tuesdays that we Kilfoyles are not big salad people. Not that we don't like salad- we do. It's just when compared to family favourites like chili and mac & cheese and pasta, lettuce sometimes comes up a bit short.

Unless, of course, that salad is Chicken Caesar Salad. In which case, we all love it.

What I don't love, however, is store-bought dressing. Homemade is always better, right? Right. And when it's this easy to whip up a fabulous handmade dressing (made with ingredients you can pronounce), why spend your moolah on pre-packaged and processed varieties?

This isn't your typical Caesar dressing in that it's heavy on the lemon. Daryn and I are "those people" who basically ask for a whole lemon to squeeze over our salad order, so when it comes to making our own, we lean much more to the citrus-y side of the spectrum than not. We also prefer a creamy texture (versus oily); egg yolks and olive oil combined make a lovely rich emulsion that doesn't taste heavy at all thanks to the crispness of the citrus. All in all, a winning combination that makes an excellent summer staple.



LEMONY CAESAR SALAD DRESSING
Preparation: 5 minutes | Cooking Time: N/A | Makes: 2 cups
   
Ingredients:
  • 4 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp. + 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. minced fresh garlic
  • 1 tbsp. honey
  • zest of one large lemon (roughly 1 tsp.)
  • 3 extra large egg yolks
  • 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 cup olive oil
          
Cooking Directions:
  1. Combine first 8 ingredients (lemon juice through black pepper) in a blender or small food processor. Blend on low until thoroughly combined.
       
  2. With blender still running, slowly add olive oil (drizzle is too slow; dump is too fast. You want somewhere in between.)
      
  3. Once the olive oil is fully added, increase the blender speed to 'high' for 30 seconds, until the emulsion is thickened. Chill for 1 hour before serving.
      
If you don't totally dig the super-lemony lemon flavor, you can reduce the lemon juice by up to two tablespoons and the recipe will still work. On the flip side, if you like it more lemony (like we do) jack it up a notch by adding an extra spoonful. Any way you slice it (or squeeze it, as the case may be) this dressing does not disappoint.

Store in a tightly lidded container in the refrigerator. It will keep beautifully for up to a week... if it lasts that long!
  
   
NOTES | GLUTEN FREE, VEGETARIAN, EASY