Monday, September 28, 2009

Gingerbread Latte at Home

The closest Starbucks to me is a 2 hour drive away. When we moved here I went through some pretty nasty withdrawal. Lately on Twitter I've been hearing people mention all the yummy fall drinks they've been enjoying and it's got me jonesing for a Gingerbread Latte. Now, a craving is a craving, but I ain't driving 4 hours with 2 kids just for a latte, so I figured there must be a way to re-create it at home.

I found a recipe on but it calls for store-bought gingerbread syrup. Not having any or anywhere close to buy some (again, Starbucks is 2 hours away!) I had to make my own.

A syrup is essentially water and sugar with flavourings boiled down to create a thicker, sweet liquid. So taking that idea and adding the dominant flavours of a gingerbread cookie, I got what I think is a fairly reasonable facsimile of a store-bought Gingerbread Latte.

The syrup reducing by half

Gingerbread Latte

1 c. water
3/4 c. sugar
2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
splash vanilla (I never measure vanilla!)

2 shots espresso (or if you're not fancy like me, 1/4 cup REALLY strong coffee)
1/2 c. steamed milk or cream (again, not fancy, I microwaved mine)
1/4 c. syrup

1. Put ingredients for syrup in a large pot and bring to a boil. (careful, the syrup gets very hot and boils over easily)
2. When the syrup has reduced by half and all the sugar is dissolved remove from the heat.
3. Brew your coffee and steam the milk.
4. Pour hot coffee into the bottom of a mug, add syrup and stir. Add steamed milk and top with whipped cream and freshly grated nutmeg.



Thursday, September 17, 2009

Better than Sex Cake

I was on twitter the other day musing about how I should do more recipes with the word sex or orgasms in the title (since my posted fudge recipe is so popular), and thought "That IS a good idea!", so off I went in search of some pleasure inducing recipes. I came across this one and knew I had to try it out, cause I like cake, but the title makes some lofty claims.

Chocolate, caramel, Skor bar... hello? Have you slipped into a sugar-coma yet? It was TO DIE FOR. This cake comes together pretty quickly which is great cause we invited my in-laws over for an impromptu dinner and I was able to whip this bad boy up in an hour.

If you liked the fudge, this cake won't disappoint. Give it a try and let me know if you think it's better than sex?

Better than Sex Cake adapted from

1 boxed devil's food cake mix (you can make a from scratch cake if you like, I was impatient!)
1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
1 pkg. Kraft Caramels
4 (1.4 ounce) bars chocolate covered toffee, crushed
1 (8 ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed


1. Bake cake according to package directions BUT use only 1/2 the oil the recipe calls for.
2. Remove cake from the oven and poke several holes (like 15-20) about 3/4 of the depth of the cake all over with the handle of a wooden spoon.

3. In a bowl combine the milk and caramels and microwave until the caramels are melted. Mix well.
4. Pour the warm topping mixture over the top of the warm cake, letting it sink into the holes.
5. Sprinkle the crushed chocolate bars over the caramel while it's still warm reserving a bit for the top of the cake.

6. Let the cake cool completely, then top with whipped topping. Decorate the top of the cake with some more chocolate toffee bar chunks and swirls of caramel topping and melted chocolate.
7. Refrigerate until set (about 20 minutes) and serve.


While I was taking pictures, my 3 year old came wandering by and said "Ooooo, look mommy, chocolate!" and before I knew it she had scampered up on a chair and was reaching for a hunk of Skor bar as I was snapping a picture. Sneaky bugger!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Dip

When I want cheesecake I want it noooooooow! Cheesecakes take time, I make them for special occasions or to take to parties, but on a Friday night when I'm curled up watching a chick-flick and I start craving something sweet, this is my snack of choice.

I went to a baby shower a couple of years ago and someone brought a similar dip to the party. When I tasted it I thought I'd died and gone to buffet heaven. I tracked down who brought this luscious (perfect word to describe it!) dip and asked for the recipe. She vaguely mentioned that there was cream cheese and cool whip in it and then turned her attention elsewhere. A little later I asked again and she changed the subject. Okay, so it was a secret recipe, whatev, but that wasn't going to stop me. A little research online and some experimentation and I re-created the dip, but added in some chocolate chips (cause I like to rock the chocolate wherever possible) and a touch of vanilla cause I put it in everything. I serve fresh fruit, teddy grahams (the kiddos love these), chocolate covered graham crackers, and chocolate squares for dipping into the dip, but anything works, even your finger!

If you're craving cheesecake and don't have the time to put into baking one, or you want a lighter (hello, light cream cheese and low-fat cool whip, this is practically diet food!) version, try this out!

My favourite dippers

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Dip

1/2 pkg. Light Philadelphia Cream Cheese, room temperature
3 tbsp. sugar
2 tbsp. milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 c. Light Cool Whip
1/4 c. mini chocolate chips


1. Beat softened cream cheese with the sugar and milk until smooth
2. Add the vanilla and mix.
3. Gently fold the mixture into the cool whip.
4. Stir in the chocolate chips and put in the fridge for 10-20 minutes to rest.
5. Serve with various fruits, crackers, and chocolates for dipping.

It tastes just like cheesecake, just a little fluffier!

Ohhhh yeaaaahhhh


Friday, September 11, 2009

Homemade Baby Food

Simple Puréed Squash (in Cuisinart) and Sweet Potato (in bowl)

I make homemade baby food. I'm not a snob about it, I just enjoy doing it. When I was pregnant with my first little girl, Lilianna, I was walking through Costco with my mom and saw Annabel Karmel's book Top 100 Baby Purées and picked it up. I never had any intention of making my own baby food (Gerber has been doing it for decades, who am I to think I could do a better job?) but I was drawn in by the bright colourful pictures and the idea of being that kind of mom, so I bought it.

Flash forward to when Lily was 4 months old. I was a happy mommy, everything she did was amazing to me and I worshipped her. My husband and I started talking about getting her on solids so we could get more sleep (she was a hungry little girl) so I got out the recipe book and started reading. I loved Annabel's views on cooking for babies and agreed with a lot of her principles. Like flavouring baby food makes the transition to eating the family meals a lot easier, which I totally found to be true (Lily is a garlic fiend). Lilianna loved everything I made for her from that book.

So ever since then I've made my own baby food. It's cheaper, you know exactly what's in it, you control the quality and you can customize it to what your baby likes. Our second baby, Emily, never liked puréed foods, she wanted what everyone else was having (her first food was french fries... sigh) right from the get-go. But this one particular recipe she wolfs down. I'm going to share it with you and encourage you to get Annabel Karmel's book and give making your own baby food a try. It's not as hard as you'd think!

Chicken with Sweet Potato and Apple

Suitable for 6 months +
Cooking time = 20 minutes
Great for freezing.

1 tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 cup chopped onion
4 oz. boneless, skinless chicken breast, chopped
1 large sweet potato, peeled and chopped
1/2 an apple, peeled, cored and chopped
1 c. chicken stock


1. Heat the butter in a saucepan, add the onions and sauté for 2-3 minutes.
2. Add the chicken and sauté for a coupelof minutes until it turns opaque.
3. Add the sweet potatoe and apple and pour in the stock.
4. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until the potato is soft.
5. Purée to the desired consistency.

Tip: I spoon purées into ice cube trays and cover and freeze. When frozen, I pop them out and put them into labeled freezer bags. Perfect portion sizes!

Emily enjoying her lunch


Monday, September 7, 2009

Asian Crunch Salad

I am all about texture. I love mixing crunchy things with smooth things (except peanut butter, don't mess with my smooth PB if you value your life) and mixing flavours like sweet and tangy. That's why this salad speaks to me.

As a mom I rarely make time for me (hence why my baby weight is sticking around longer than I'd like) and lunch is a rare treat. I went looking for some lunchtime inspiration and found this basic salad concept and fell in love. One of the main ingredients: Ramen Noodles! How complicated or time consuming can a dish with Ramen Noodles be right?

This is a real budget friendly recipe because Ramen Noodles are ridiculously cheap and one bag of the colelsaw mix will give you 4-6 servings (depending on how hungry you are!) of this salad. Great for lunch, a side dish with dinner or for a pot-luck or picnic.

A sweet & tangy dressing over store-bought coleslaw mix (hello timesaver!) with a few add-ins and garnishes and you've got a delicious lunch that isn't table scraps from your kids!

Print this recipe

Asian Crunch Salad

1 (3 oz.) pkg. Ramen Noodles, crushed without flavour packet
10 oz. whole blanched almonds (cashews are great also)
1 (16 oz.) package shredded coleslaw mix
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 c. white sugar
1/4 c. vegetable oil
1/4 c. red wine vinegar (any vinegar will do really)
1 tbsp. soy sauce
1 pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
2 green onions, chopped


1. Preheat oven to 350˚F and toast the crushed noodles and almonds until golden brown.

2. In a large bowl, combine the coleslaw and red onion.

3. For the dressing, whisk together the sugar, oil, vinegar, red pepper flakes and soy sauce.
4. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss.
5. Garnish salad with the noodles, nuts and green onion and enjoy.

Note: If you're making this salad to eat over the week, don't add the garnishes until you're ready to eat or the noodles don't stay crunchy.

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"Move Over Aunt Jemima" Pancakes

Aunt Jemima was a wonderful lady who made a fine pancake. Every pancake I've ever had up until 3 months ago was out of a box with her name on it. But being the cocky at-home-chef I am I wondered one day if I could do better. So I went on an internet-wide search for a homemade pancake recipe that could take on the Queen of Batter herself. It took a few tries and I finally found a base recipe I could work from.

The resulting pancake was in a word: fluffy. These pancakes are soft and light and full of wonderful autumn-tasting spices that make you want to go outside and rake jump in the leaves. You may think that homemade pancakes are too time-consuming, or that they're just a weekend treat, but they're pretty simple and fast so they're a great way to send your kids off to school. Throw in some chocolate chips, or blueberries, or banana and make them your own!

"Move Over Aunt Jemima" Pancakes adapted from

1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tbsp. white sugar
1 1/2 c.milk
1 egg
3 tbsp. butter, melted
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg or 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 c. mini chocolate chips (optional, but that's how I roll)


1. Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar making sure they're well incorporated.
2. Make a well in the center and pour in the milk, egg and the cooled melted butter. Fold in the dry ingredients just until they're well mixed and smooth but be sure not to over-work the batter.
3. Stir in any additions such as fruit or chocolate chips.
4. Heat griddle or frying pan over medium high heat and grease well. Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each pancake. Brown on both sides and serve hot with maple syrup, powered sugar or whatever else floats your boat.

Note: I like to warm up my maple syrup, just a few seconds in the microwave will do it. It helps to keep the pancakes nice and hot and totally yummy.


Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Best Dad on the Block bakes! Chocolate Chip Cookies

My husband is not a fan of dessert. He loves pumpkin pie, and 1 kind of cookie that I will blog about someday. Other than those two things, he stay away from sweets. Except when it comes to Chocolate Chip Cookies. He doesn't actually like the cookies though... just the dough. My hubs, the same guy who passes up dessert every night, goes insane for Chocolate Chip Cookie dough.

All it takes is for me to even mention chocolate chip cookies and the next thing I know he's in the kitchen asking me where the measuring cups are. Yes that's right, HE makes the dough. Hubs claims to be the best Chocolate Chip Cookie maker of all time, not that he'd really know cause he never eats the cooked product, but I can attest to the fact that they are quite yummy, and the dough is out of this world.

This recipe used to be on the back of the Crisco box years ago, they've altered their recipe but my husband swears by this version and only this version. Whether you eat the dough or the cooked cookies, these are pretty tasty cookies.

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Jason's Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies adapted from Crisco circa 1995ish

1 c. Golden Crisco
1 1/2 c. packed light brown sugar
1 tbsp vanilla
2 eggs
2 c. all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 c. chocolate chips


1. Preheat oven to 375˚F.
2. Cream together the Crisco, sugar and vanilla for 2 minutes.
3. Add eggs and beat for 1 minute or until thoroughly blended.
4. In another bowl combine the flour, salt and baking soda.
5. Add flour mixture to Crisco mixture gradually and mix until just blended.
6. Add chocolate chips and mix to distribute.
7. Drop by heaping spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 11 to 13 minutes.

Cookies will appear to be slightly under-done, let cool for 2-5 minutes on cookie sheet to complete cooking.

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