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Happen Bakers: Sophie Boulos

10/26/18


Alright party people, please get ready to meet the newest member of my Happen Bakers series...

Sophie Boulos is a 16 year-old girl living in Montreal and is an extremely talented baker.  Chiffon cakes, chocolate mousses, Belgian waffles, even homemade pizza...you name it, she's baked it!  Besides being a skilled baker, she's an athlete, an active participant in various community services (such as animal adoption) and a nearly-graduated high schooler busy looking towards the future.    

We all know that teenage life can be stressful - especially the last year of high school - and Sophie turns to baking for comfort.  While she finds the process calming, she also appreciates how gratifying it is to share her creations with friends and family, or even members of her community.  How refreshing to see a young female driven with the desire to give back!  And after one glance at her Instagram, I'd like to move to her community to be on the receiving end of such donations, thanks.

I'm particularly excited that she decided to bake a Pumpkin Pie for her Happen Bakers post, and not just because it's perfectly appropriate for this time of year (I wrote a lot of words that begin with 'P' in that sentence).  If you've been a loyal follower of this blog, then you know it's the one food I just can't do...but my aversion shouldn't prevent you wonderful readers from acquiring a delicious recipe of the classic dessert!  So, now you have one, and you have Sophie to thank.  Thank you, Sophie!  
Read on for the recipe, and to learn even more about this talented young individual..


Click HERE to get the recipe for Sophie's Not Your Grandma's Pumpkin Pie!  
What she has to say about it:

Everybody knows that grandmothers are some of the best bakers around.  Their simple recipes make you feel warm inside and are very hard to beat.  Now, I am not saying that their recipes get old, but sometimes making a few adjustments can turn a classic into something unique and out of this world.  Being from Canada, I had to use maple syrup, and this addition is but one of the few simple changes I made to the original.  This is the best pumpkin pie around!  


When did you start baking?

I've been in the kitchen ever since I can remember.  There are even photos of me as a baby watching Food Network!  Since my mom is a stay at home mom, I would spend lots of time with her cooking in the kitchen.  I cooked much more when I was younger and started to bake pretty seriously starting at about 10 years old.  What inspired me to start baking were my grandmothers, my mother and the Food Network.  

How did you learn?

I learned on my own by watching TV shows, videos on YouTube and by practicing non-stop.  I also spent much time in the kitchen with my mom as a young child and was always eager to participate in the making of whatever she was preparing.  My grandmother and I would bake mini muffins and other goodies from time to time, so baking definitely makes me feel nostalgic.  

What do you love most about it?

The fact that it helps to relieve my stress when I'm feeling overwhelmed at school and it also allows for me to do something special for the important people in my life.  For example, I bake all the time for people's birthdays at school and for my family and when I see the joy it brings them, that is the best feeling.  I also love to give back to my community through my food and the joy a small gesture brings people never gets old.     


What's the most challenging thing you've attempted?

Definitely a chocolate soufflĂ© and cherry clafoutis.  

What's your dream dessert?

Either anything with chocolate like a warm chocolate molten cake with vanilla bean ice cream or something lemony and delicious like lemon meringue pie.  

Name 3 celebrities you'd love to bake with...

Definitely Ina Garten as I absolutely adore her and her recipes, Yolanda Gampp and Christina Tosi.  

Most epic kitchen fail?

I was baking some oatmeal raisin cookies and the first batch came out scrumptious.  I forgot to set the timer for the second batch and by the time I remembered that they were in the oven, they had gone black!  


Any favorite songs you listen to in the kitchen?

I love to listen to soul music and old classics.  Anywhere from "I Feel Good" by James Brown to "Smooth Sailing" by Leon Bridges to "One Love" by Bob Marley.  

Favorite food site or YouTube channel?

Probably Yolanda Gampp's channel, How to Cake It, because everything she makes is ridiculously impressive.  

When you're not baking, you are...

Playing sports (soccer, volleyball, basketball, badminton, touch football), hanging out with my friends and my dog, volunteering in my community or painting.  

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

That's a really hard question because I'm graduating high school this year and am not quite sure what I would like to do just yet.  In a perfect world, I would like to have completed my MBA and Juris Doctor as well as have graduated from the Cordon Bleu.  I know that this is not realistic to accomplish in only 10 years, but I see myself attaining these goals eventually.  I see myself remaining involved in my community and having a catering business where I can showcase my desserts and make some money to put towards my further education.    


Thank you Sophie!  I am certain that your future will be sweet :)
(Pun intended).  

Orange Soup

10/19/18


It's officially Soup Season.  Fall ended abruptly over here and left us all scrambling for our dusty winter coats.  My daughter still doesn't understand why she can't wear sandals to school because it's "sunny" outside but I think yesterday, she finally understood.  It's freezing!  Therefore, it's time to hunker down over the stove making soup after soup after soup... all of the soups.  

We all know that I have picky eaters, but my girls do love their soups.  Under one condition: I label them by color.  White, green, orange... NEVER DO I EVER call it by what it really is: Cauliflower, Broccoli or in this case, Carrot, Sweet Potato and Butternut Squash.  No sir, it is simply called "Orange Soup" in this house and then it gets eaten.  It's not lying, it's being CLEVER.  

Whatever you call it, you will love this creamy soup made up of yummy, fall vegetables.  The small amount of cream is optional, but come on, just add it...you know you want to :)   


"Orange Soup"
Serves: 6

Ingredients:

2 tbsp olive oil
1 heaping cup chopped carrots
1 heaping cup chopped sweet potato
1 heaping cup chopped butternut squash
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp turmeric 
Salt and pepper to taste
1 32 oz. container chicken stock (approx. 4 cups)
1/4 cup heavy cream (optional)

In a heavy pot, heat olive oil over medium heat.   Add onions and season with a little salt and pepper. Cook onions for 5 minutes or so, until they start to sweat.  Add garlic, and cook for another minute or so.  Add your orange veggies, and season with some more salt and pepper.  Add the other spices, and cook for about 5 minutes.  Then, add your chicken stock, bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until vegetables are cooked through.  Turn off heat, and using an immersion blender, puree soup to desired consistency.  (If you don't have an immersion blender, you can transfer soup to a blender.)  Add cream and stir, and season once more with salt and pepper to taste.  

Caramel Apple Upside Down Cake

10/3/18


It's October!  It's time to wear sweaters and drink pumpkin lattes and listen to your children change their minds over their Halloween costumes every 7 minutes!  That last part aside (make up your damn mind!), I really do love this time of year.  It takes me a hot second to fully embrace that appreciation, however.  If you ask me in mid-August if I'm looking forward to fall, I'll cry in your face.  But now that it is upon us, I'm totally in the mood for it.  Football Sundays, pumpkin patches, soup weather and baking up all the traditional autumn goodies.  BRING IT ON, CINNAMON AND NUTMEG AND GINGER.  Sorry for shouting.  

The other day, I watched my "virtual friend" Audra make this live on her Instagram, muted, because I was supposed to be watching my daughter's karate class.  Anyway, even with no sound I knew I had to make it myself.  So I did, and let me tell you... WORTH IT!  It's good for breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, snack, whatever you fancy, and best served in my opinion with ice cream or coffee.  Or both. Go wild!!  And enjoy the season.

Recipe HERE.


The cutest little helper in all of the land...

Happen Bakers: Faith Quintero

9/25/18


Hello!  New Happen Bakers time!

Meet Faith, a 14 year-old girl who reached out to me on Instagram.  After checking out her page - named FaithfullyCreated - I was COMPLETELY blown away by her talents.  A true artist, Faith whips up sweet confections that rival those displayed in the trendiest of bake shops.  Um, hello Kids Baking Championship??  Scoop this girl up at once!  Many of her recipes are her own, and they are all decorated in the most original way.  Catered for friends and family, Faith's attention to detail is beyond anything I've seen from someone so young, and it's evident her skills will take her far.  In a world where kids can be absorbed by tablets and social media, it's so refreshing to see what someone like Faith can accomplish.  

Go check out FaithfullyCreated now, and continue reading below to learn more about this talented baker!  By the way, gotta give the girl a shout out for the name pun... wink wink :)    


Click HERE to get Faith's original recipe for her FaithfullyCreated Chocolate Cake.


When did you start baking?

My grandma inspired me to bake when I was 2 years old. 

How did you learn?

I learned how to bake by watching and helping my grandma bake cookies and brownies.  But now I learn new tips and tricks by watching hours and hours of YouTube.

What do you love most about it?

The thing I love about baking most is the joy on the faces of the people I bake for and the fact that it helps me through tough times and to de-stress.  


What's the most challenging thing you've attempted?

Macaroons!  

What's your dream dessert?

To eat the world's most expensive ice cream or to make a cake taller than me.  

Name 3 celebrities you'd like to bake with...


Most epic kitchen fail?

My most epic kitchen fail were my first four attempts at a vegan cake (IT WAS DISGUSTING).  


Any favorite songs you listen to in the kitchen?

I love to listen to anything I can dance to while baking (but no cursing or country music).  Mostly Shawn Mendes. 

Favorite food site or YouTube channel? 

My all-time favorite YouTube channels are ManAboutCake and HowToCakeIt...I watch hours of them!

When you're not baking, you are...

...doing homework, sleeping or hanging out with friends. 

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

 I hope it doesn't take me 10 years, but I am saving up for a 36-inch KitchenAid oven so that I can take my business to the next level and open a bakery!


Thank you Faith!  Continue to blow the world away!    

Ricotta-Stuffed Squash Blossoms

9/19/18


If you follow my Instagram Stories (also referred to as compete-and-utter-nonsense) then you know I recently grew a pumpkin plant that rival's Jack's giant beanstalk.  Well, it didn't quite reach the sky, but it did coil itself around every other living thing in my front yard and crept its way towards our porch door.  Because it wanted to come inside.  And live with us.  And eat my children.  
  
No, no, I kid...this was not a scary pumpkin plant!  It was my friend!  Every morning I would sit beside it with a cup of coffee, and we would chat.  Or, I would chat, and it would listen.  The chats led to songs, which led to me deciding I should share my morning ritual with the Internet World.  Was that a good decision?  Hahahahaha.  Hahaha.  I mean, what even is a good decision, am I right?

Anyway.  Then one day I cooked my plant and murdered it, The End!

FINE.  I'll tell you more than that.  Over time, the plant bloomed blossoms.  Is that a sentence?  But there were no pumpkins.  I turned to the Internet World once more, and asked them where my pumpkins were.  7913 answers later, I came to the conclusion that my blossoms were NOT, in fact, going to produce pumpkins for me this year.  I confirmed this with a professional, and thhheeennnn I cooked my plant and murdered it.  The End Again!   

For those curious about the method I chose to make my stuffed, fried squash blossoms... 
I followed this recipe.  They were delicious, but next time I might try a tempura batter instead of using bread crumbs.  See below for more things I learned along the way... and thank you for joining me on my pumpkin plant journey!    


1. If you fry a cheese-stuffed shoe it will probably taste good.
2. You can have a black thumb and still grow a pumpkin plant.
3. All of my Instagram followers are pumpkin experts.
4. Regina Falange lives on.
5. My neighbors don't mind me singing to nature.   

1-Minute Lentil Dip

8/30/18


You guys, I've discovered the most delicious, effortless dip in all of the land.  Me, I've discovered it, no one else, ALL the credit lands HERE.  No, that is a lie.  My friend's mom made it for me, and she discovered it from Trader Joe's.  In fact, when I went to TJ's to buy the 3 ingredients - that's right, THREE ingredients - required to make it, the employee ringing me up said, "best. dip. ever."  He knew.  From eyeing my feta cheese, cooked lentils and bruschetta sauce, he knew what I was up to...
  

There's really no recipe.  You combine everything and, voila!  You have a dip that's best served, in my opinion, with Trader Joe's Pita Crackers.  (By the by, this post has NOT been sponsored by TJ's...I'm just a loyal fan.  Remember "2-Buck Chuck?"  Oh, those were the days...)  

However, if you like measurements and all that jazz, you can find the recipe HERE.


Carson pointed out it's not the most appetizing dip in all of the land, and he has a point, but that doesn't matter.  One bite and you will agree.  

Also, TJ's calls it a "salad" - but I'm not down with that.  It's a dip, if you ask me, and that's where I stand.  The End.

Happen Bakers: Judith

8/15/18


Meet Judith, the newest member of the Happen Bakers club!

I'm particularly excited about this one, because unlike Michelle and Lilah, I have never officially met Judith... which means young bakers are now reaching out from across the country to share their talents!  In this case, Judith is a 13 year-old girl living in South Carolina who has been baking for the past five or so years.  What began with simple sugar cookies quickly developed into more challenging desserts, such as scones, tartlets, muffins and impressive cakes.  Now, her friends and family come knocking and requesting her decorated confections for birthdays and celebrations, and Judith is happy to comply.  In her own words, she wants to "use her abilities to serve others" - um, do you think her mom is proud?!  I'm not her mother, but I sure am, and it's precisely young females like Judith that define what a Happen Baker is: a positive individual, creatively paving their way through this world in the most delicious way.   

Learn more about Judith below as she whips up these delicious Lemon Tartlets!  
(My younger self is saying... what is a tartlet??)  


Recipe for the Lemon Tartlets with Lemon Curd HERE.  


When did you start baking?

I started baking when I was about 8 years old and I was inspired by watching my mom bake.  I also had been getting into baking and cooking shows and, of course, I wanted to try it too!

How did you learn?

The first thing I baked was simple sugar cookies which led me to learn a lot about baking.  I also learned a lot from watching my mom bake and watching videos and tutorials online.

What do you love most about it?

I love baking for many reasons.  One thing I love most about it is it is a way to be creative and express myself.  I think of it as my form of art.  


What's the most challenging thing you've attempted?

The most challenging thing I've baked was a unicorn cake because the decorations were very difficult.  

What's your dream dessert?

My dream dessert is a lemon cake with blueberry frosting and simple and elegant decorations.

Name 3 celebrities you'd like to bake with...

Duff Goldman, Rosanna Pansino and Linsey Lam who won the Kids Baking Championship season 4.  

Most epic kitchen fail?

My biggest fail in the kitchen was when I was making a cookie cake for a birthday.  I pulled it out of the oven and was trying to slide it onto a plate when it slipped out of my hands and I dropped it in the oven and it made a huge mess.  I had to make another one quickly because the birthday was very soon!


Any favorite songs you listen to in the kitchen?

I haven't listened to music while baking, but I may give it a try.  Until now I usually hear my little sister and brother whooping and hollering in the background.  

Favorite food site or YouTube channel?

I love the Food Network website and I also enjoy watching Rosanna Pansino's YouTube channel.

When you're not baking, you are...

When I'm not baking I'm running, singing in my choir or playing the piano.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

In 10 years, I want to be using my abilities to serve others.  I also want to open a bakery and want to have been on a baking competition TV show.  I want to give to others and provide my services in many ways.


Judith - you are a superstar and your creative, kind spirit shines through your baking!
Until next month, Happen Bakers...

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