Sunday, December 19, 2010

Toffee Shortbread Meltaways

Christmas to me means shortbread. My grandma always had rolled shortbread cookies around the holidays. My favourites were the stars (yes they taste different!). I love the buttery richness of shortbread. I love it plain and I love it with add ins like fruit and chocolate.

A good friend of mine brought me some of these cookies in a care package when I had my second daughter 2 years ago. After trying 1 cookie I emailed her begging for the recipe. They are incredibly delicate, soft cookies with a hint of toffee flavour. I have a hard time eating only 1 or 2 of these at a time, if I'm having coffee I can make 6 of them disappear!

Give them a try this Christmas, your family and friends will love them!

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Toffee Shortbread Meltaways adapted from the 2006 Robin Hood Baking is Back booklet
1 c. butter, softened
1/2 c. icing sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1 3/4 c. all purpose flour
1/2 c. corn starch
3/4 tsp baking powder
1 c. Skor toffee bits


1. Beat together the butter, icing sugar and vanilla.
2. In separate bowl combine flour, corn starch, and baking powder.
3. Add the butter mixture to the flour mixture and combine, stir in toffee bits.
4. Roll tablespoonfuls of dough into balls and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, about 2 inches apart.
5. Bake at 350˚F for approx 12 - 15 min, until lightly golden. Let cool on pan for 5 min.

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Smartie Bars

I'm on a candy (bar) theme this week it seems (have you seen my Toblerone Shortbread and Snicker Squares?) and I'm okay with that. I have a pantry full of those little boxes of Smarties left over from Halloween (my weirdo kids have decided they don't like Smarties anymore) and they were driving me nuts. So I googled "Smarties" and came across this recipe from Chelsea Sugar.

The recipe is like a chocolate macaroon cookie topped with more chocolate and smarties. Uh... yum! The bottom is soft and coconutty (oh yeah, I'm trademarking that one) and the top is chocolatey and crunchy. The perfect balance.

It's festive looking and appeals to kids and adults alike... I'll bet even Santa would love them!

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Smartie Bars adapted from Chelsea Sugar

1/2 c. butter
1/2 c. light brown sugar, firmly packed
1 egg, beaten
1 c. shredded coconut
3/4 c. flour
2 tbsp cocoa
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 c. chocolate chips
2 packs Smarties (50g each)

* Make sure you press down all the smarties into the melted chocolate otherwise they'll fall off when you cut the squares.

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Snicker Squares

Nougat. Say it with me, Noooooougat. It's a funny word. I've never really given it much thought either. Caramel, I enjoy. Chocolate, I obsess over. But Nougat? Meh. Ranks up there with eating soda crackers or watching football in my books (What are "things I don't usually enjoy doing unless necessary" Alex?").

But then I came across a recipe that changed my opinion, dare I say my life (Praise Nougat!) and now I will share with you my new love. Home made Nougat! Oh. Mah. Gawd. Nougat in commercially prepared chocolate bars, or candy bars if you will, tends to be chewy, and sometimes hard. Home made nougat is the stuff angels sing of. It's fluffy and rich and melts on your tongue. (is it getting hot in here or is it just me?) This recipe very closely rips off pays homage to a very popular chocolate bar that is totally satisfying (hee hee!).

You must try the Nougat. Just try not to eat the whole pan yourself, I'm pretty sure nougat isn't low-fat...

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Snicker Squares
adapted from Taste of Home Best Holiday Recipes 2009 edition

Base layer:
1 c. milk chocolate chips (I used 1/2 chips, 1/2 PC Mini Fudge Melts)
1/2 c. butterscotch chips
1/2 c. creamy peanut butter

1/4 c. butter
1 c. sugar
1/4 c. evaporated milk
1 1/2 c. marshmallow fluff (if you buy Kraft it's the whole jar)
1/4 c. creamy peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 c. chopped salted peanuts

Caramel layer:
1 package (14oz) caramels
1/3 c. heavy cream

Top layer:
1 c. milk chocolate chips (I used 1/2 chips, 1/2 PC Mini Fudge Melts again)
1/4 c. butterscotch chips
1/4 c. creamy peanut butter


1. Spray a 9" x 13" pan with cooking spray (or grease with butter).
2. In a double boiler, melt the chocolate chips, butterscotch chips and peanut butter together.
3. Spread the melted chips and peanut butter mixture over the bottom of our pan and refrigerate until set.
4. For the filling, in a sauce pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the sugar and the milk and bring to a gentle boil.
5. Reduce heat to medium-low and stir for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the marshmallow fluff, peanut butter and vanilla. Add peanuts and stir to incorporate.
6. Spread nougat over chocolate base and refrigerate until set.
7. For the caramel layer, in a double boiler, combine cream and caramels and melt until creamy and smooth. Spread caramel over nougat layer and refrigerate until set.
8. For top layer, in a double boiler, melt the chocolate chips, butterscotch chips and peanut butter together. Spread over caramel layer and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
9. When ready to serve, remove from the fridge and allow to warm up for 10-15 minutes. Cut and serve immediately. Store in the refrigerator.

It's a lot of steps but totally worth it!

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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Gingerbread Muffins

I bought myself a Christmas Gift this week. I do that sometimes. This sexy and functional recipe binder is ALL MINE!

It holds 8.5 x 11 sheets of paper vertically so you can stand it up on your counter and flip the pages. The best part... it's perfect for the printed recipe sheets from The Best Mom on the Block! (oh yes, I did just shamelessly plug my blog ON my blog)

So anyways, I was printing off some of my recipes when I came to my famous Muffins that Taste Like Donuts recipe (more shameless plugging). As the recipe was printing out, my mind started to wander to what else muffins could easily taste like. Then it hit me, gingerbread! With a few tweaks I had a muffin that tasted like a soft, moist gingerbread man. I made a a dozen plain gingerbread and then got all crazy mad-scientist-like and added mini chocolate chips (not unlike my favourite Gingerbread cookie recipe). I firmly believe any recipe is made better by adding chocolate! I also topped them with coarse sugar to give them a nice crisp top, and bonus, it makes them sparkly! Perfect for your holiday breakfast table.

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Gingerbread Muffins

1 3/4 c flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp ginger
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 c. sugar
1/2 c fancy molasses
1/3 c vegetable oil
1 egg, lightly beaten
3/4 c milk
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp coarse sugar (optional)


1. Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and ginger until combined.
2. In a separate bowl, mix together the oil, egg, milk and vanilla.
3. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture, and blend in the molasses (and chocolate chips) mixing only until incorporated.
4. Spoon into greased muffin tins And sprinkle with coarse sugar.
5. Bake at 350˚F for 15-20 minutes.

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Saturday, November 27, 2010

Fudge Dipped Triple Chocolate Brownie Biscotti

I've started my holiday baking! I LOVE holiday baking I love everything to do with the holidays really (except the inevitable panic that hits me every Christmas Eve at about 10pm when I start to think I forgot someone on my gift list). The shopping, the wrapping, the Boney M Christmas album (if you don't have it you need to go to iTunes RIGHT NOW and buy it). Every year my tree goes up earlier and earlier.

I'd like to say the majority of my Christmas baking gets shared but sadly, I end up eating most of it, which is why every January it seems I'm buying a new piece of gym equipment... a small price to pay for cookies! This year I couldn't get the thought of Biscotti out of my head. I went looking for a recipe and found the one I based this recipe on. Chocolate, chocolate, and ... oh yeah, more chocolate. You can wake me from my sugar coma on January first with a mimosa and a Bowflex cause I'm going to have a hard time sharing these!

Like crispy little brownies, these cookies are great served with coffee or hot chocolate (spiked or virgin). They're not too sweet and have a rich chocolate flavour. They can be made with plain ol' chocolate chips but if there's a store that sells President's Choice products within 100km of your house I highly recommend you use the Fudge melts, they're to die for!

I'll be posting more Christmas cookie and treat recipes over the next few weeks, come on back for some more yummy holiday nibblies!

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Fudge Dipped Triple Chocolate Brownie Biscotti

1/3 c butter
2/3 c white sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 3/4 c all-purpose flour
1/3 c unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
1 c PC fudge melts (or chocolate chips)
1/2 c white chocolate chips
1/4 c chopped almonds
1 egg yolk, beaten
1 tbsp water

1. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth.
2. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla.
3. Combine the flour, cocoa and baking powder; stir into the creamed mixture until well blended. Dough will be stiff, so mix in the last bit by hand.
4. Mix in the almonds, white chocolate chips and a 1/2 c of the fudge melts.
5. Divide dough into two equal parts. Shape into 9x2x1 inch loaves. Place onto baking sheet 4 inches apart.
6. Brush with mixture of water and yolk.
7. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in a 375˚F preheated oven, or until firm.
8. Cool on baking sheet for 20 minutes. Using a sharp knife, slice the loaves diagonally into 1 inch slices.
9. Return the slices to the baking sheet, placing them on their sides.
10. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes on each side, or until dry.
11. Cool completely.
12. Melt the remaining fudge melts in the microwave. Dip 1 end of the biscotti in the melted fudge and sprinkle with quinns, crushed candy cane or leave plain.

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Monday, November 15, 2010

Stacked Meatloaf with Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Caramelized Onions

Say 'meatloaf' out loud. Doooo iiiiiit. What happened? Did your kids run screaming from the room? Did your husband/wife? Did your dogs ears perk up? Meatloaf doesn't exactly have the best reputation. Most kids hate it before they even try it. It's the name. Meat Loaf. Not exactly yummy sounding. Some people can't get past the taste. Crazy!

I grew up LOVING meatloaf. My mom hated it though so I only ever got it at my grandma's house. Meatloaf, mashed potatoes and brussel sprouts was my favourite dinner at grandma's... yes I was a weird kid, quit making fun of me! My husband however, not a fan. I usually only make meatloaf when he goes away on his semi-annual golf trips, and then I gorge myself on it. (Seriously, gorge.) But I've grown tired of only having it once a year so when I was watching a restaurant review show on TV and they showed a picture of a meatloaf dish from a restaurant that was beyond your standard loaf smothered in ketchup I knew I had just witnessed the answer to my husband's meatloaf snobbery. (Yeah, that's right, I said it. Snobbery. He thinks he's too good for meatloaf.)

A thick slice of garlic bread, topped with a thick slice of juicy meatloaf, a dollop of roasted garlic & cream cheese mashed potatoes, rich gravy and caramelized onions take meatloaf Monday to a whooooole new level. Not only does this dish sound delicious, it IS delicious, and it's so pretty it's fancy enough to serve at a dinner party! I put this bad boy down in front of my husband and he said "THIS is meatloaf?". He gave me his best "okaaaaay, I'll try it for the kids" look and then proceeded to have two plates of it. A forkful of bread, meatloaf, mashed potatoes, gravy and onions is just the definition of comfort food in my books.

Even if you've never liked meatloaf in the past, give this a try, it's unlike any other meatloaf you've ever had before! (Just ask my husband.)

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Stacked Meatloaf with Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Caramelized Onions

For the meatloaf:
1 lb ground beef
1 lb ground pork
1 egg
1 c bread crumbs (I use seasoned)
1/4 c shredded parmesan
1/4 c ketchup
salt & pepper
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder

For the potatoes:
1 bulb of garlic
1 tsp olive oil
5-6 medium sized potatoes
1/2 pkg garlic & onion cream cheese
salt & pepper

For the gravy:
2 c beef stock
1/4 c flour
1 tsp worcestershire sauce
(or you can use your favourite canned/powdered gravy mix)

For the onions:
2 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, sliced

For the Base:
Sourdough Bread (or any other dense bread you like)
garlic butter

1. Preheat your oven to 350˚F. Cut the top off a bulb of garlic and drizzle with a little olive oil and wrap it in tin foil. Roast in oven for 20-30 minutes or until the cloves are soft.
2. For the meatloaf: In a bowl combine the egg, bread crumbs, parmesan, ketchup, salt, pepper, onion powder and garlic powder.
3. Add the ground pork and beef and knead with your hands until just combined. Place meat mixture into a loaf pan and shape into a loaf.
4. Bake at 350˚F for 30 minutes, then remove from oven, drain excess fat and return to oven for another 15-20 minutes.
5. While the meatloaf is baking, peel and boil potatoes until fork tender.
6. For the gravy: Heat the beef stock in a small pot over medium-high heat until just boiling. Combine flour with a bit of water to form a runny paste and whisk into the stock stirring constantly until the mixture thickens. Reduce to low heat and season with worcestershire and salt and pepper and allow to simmer. (You may wish to add a gravy browner to enhance the colour of the gravy)
7. For the caramelized onions: Slice onions into rings. Heat olive oil in a skillet and add the onions. Cook on medium heat stirring often until they reach a rich caramel colour. Remove from the heat before they start to go too dark as they become burnt tasting.
8. When potatoes are done cooking, drain the water and return the potatoes in the pot to the burner for a minute to evaporate the excess water.
9. Remove from the stove. Squeeze the cloves of garlic from the roasted bulb into the pot with the potatoes and add the cream cheese, milk, salt & pepper. Whip until creamy.
10. Remove the meatloaf from the oven and drain any additional excess fat and allow it to rest for 10 minutes.
11. Slice the bread and place on a cookie sheet. Place under the broiler until the top side is lightly browned. Flip the bread slices over and butter with garlic butter. Return to the oven garlic butter side up and allow to brown lightly.
12. Assembly (not a necessary step but it sure is purdy!): Place a slice of garlic bread on the plate. Top with a thick slice of meatloaf, then a dollop of mashed potatoes and ladle on some gravy. Top with the caramelized onions and serve.

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Sunday, October 24, 2010

Roasted Red Pepper Tomato Soup

Yesterday it snowed in my home town. Snowed. It's October. I don't like how fall seems to be being skipped this year. Fall is my favourite season! The colours, the smells, the fact that I can put on a chunky warm sweater and enjoy a cup of hot chocolate. Bliss!

Another of my fall faves is soup. I love a pot of homemade soup on a wet, cold, fall afternoon. A creamy soup is always a bonus. Now, what some of you may not know about me is that for a year I worked as a sous chef in a restaurant. It was a great experience and I stole learned a lot! This recipe is one we came up with as a special when we got a double order of red peppers.

You can use jarred red peppers or if you're feeling ambitious you can roast your own. Read my tutorial on how to roast red peppers here!

Tomatoes, red peppers, cream... it's a bowl full of yum!

Sautée onions, celery and carrots in butter and season with salt, pepper and thyme.

Add chicken stock and simmer until the veggies are tender.

Add crushed tomatoes. If you have fresh great, but canned are just fine.

Simmer on med-low until the soup is heated through.

Pour soup into a food processor or blender and add the roasted red peppers. Purée until smooth. (Do small batches as the hot mixture can splatter and burn you.) If you plan to freeze this is where you'd portion out the soup and prepare for freezing. If you're eating the soup right away, return the puréed veggies to the pot and add the cream. Heat through and serve.

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Roasted Red Pepper Tomato Soup

1 med. onion, diced
2 med. carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
4 tbsp butter
1/2 tsp thyme
3 c chicken stock
1 28oz can of crushed tomatoes
3 whole roasted red peppers (or 1 jar)
1 c 10% cream


1. Sautée onion, celery and carrots in butter over medium heat. Season to taste with salt, pepper and thyme.
2. After about 5 minutes add chicken stock and simmer until vegetables are tender.
3. Add tomatoes and heat through.
4. In small batches, add soup mixture to a blender or food processor and purée until smooth.
5. Return purée to pot and add cream. Stir to incorporate and heat through. Serve with croutons, baguette and/or a swirl of cream.

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Monday, September 13, 2010

Granny's Banana Bread (with a twist)

I don't like cooked bananas, but one of my favourite things to make is banana bread. The smell is heavenly and it's a great way to use up bananas that are about to go bad cause my kids have gone on a sudden banana strike after I bought 6 of them. (Infuriating!)

Luckily the kiddos and most of my extended family loves banana bread and are only to happy to take it off my hands once it comes out of the oven. Banana bread is one of the smells I always associate with my grandma's house. She always had some on hand. So naturally I use her recipe when I make a loaf. I used to make it exactly as she had it written but over the years I added my own spin on it: a few extra spices, a cinnamon-brown sugar topping and occasionally, chocolate chips if my 4 year old happens to be helping (she wants to put chocolate chips in everything... I taught her well).

This is a great back-to-school lunch box addition. Give it a try and tell me if it's not totally yummy... I dare you!

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Granny's Banana Bread

2 eggs
1/2 c vegetable oil
1 c sugar
2 c flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
3 ripe bananas, mashed
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp vanilla

brown sugar topping

1 tsp cinnamon
1/3 c brown sugar
2 tbsp butter, melted


1. Mix together the eggs, oil, sugar and vanilla.
2. In a separate bowl mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg.
3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix just until incorporated.
4. Add the mashed banana and mix to combine.
5. Pour into a greased loaf pan.
6. Melt the butter in the microwave and add to the sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle over the top of the batter.
7. Bake at 350˚F for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.

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you have to eat it with a little schmeer of buttah!


Sunday, September 5, 2010

Pumpkin Spice Latte

I LUVVVVVV me some Starbucks. Alas, the nearest one is 2 hours away. Yes I live in the middle of nowhere. Recently I heard their Pumpkin Spice Latte had been released for fall (I heart fall!) and I've been stuck in my country town reading about everyone in the city enjoying the yummy, sweet, goodness of the latte. This makes a pregnant lady very jealous!

They say necessity is the mother of invention, and oh man, this is SO necessity! I sent my husband off to the store for canned pumpkin pureé (yes I know I could roast my own pumpkin, but they're not in the stores yet, and besides, I want my latte NOW, not an hour from now!) and some other supplies and I set out to recreate the yummiest fall coffee concoction since pumpkin pie itself. I used my Tassimo to make this but you can certainly use regular drip coffee (made strong) or your own specialty coffee maker (espresso machine).

Even if you pass a Starbucks everyday you should give this a try, maybe on a wet Sunday morning when leaving your house just ain't gonna happen.... like today!

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Pumpkin Spice Latte

1 c half and half (I like to live dangerously, you can use milk if you want)
2 tbsp pumpkin pureé
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 Starbucks Espressso T-Disc or 1/4 c really strong coffee


1. Place the half and half, pumpkin, sugar and spices in a small pot and heat over medium heat until the milk is hot and the pureé has melted and the sugar has dissolved.
2. Pour the cream mixture into a blender (or you can use an immersion blender in the pot) and blend for a minute or two*.
3. In the meantime brew your favourite espresso or coffee.
4. Pour your espresso in to a large mug and add the hot, blended pumpkin/cream mixture.
5. Top with whipped cream and some pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, or freshly ground nutmeg.

* Note: blending isn't 100% necessary, but you may find the cream mixture a little gritty if you don't as pumpkin pureé is fairly fibrous. The blending smooths everything out.

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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A well stocked pantry (and fridge and freezer) is a beautiful thing

With a new baby arriving any day now my thoughts are turning to those first few weeks of complete and utter chaos as the fam adjusts to the new regime. With both our girls I prepared for the exhaustion by cooking like a woman possessed during those blessed weeks of nesting. I seriously went crazy. I would cook from 9am until 1am and then cry about the dishes. I've been so busy this go around though that I haven't had a chance. Instead I'm stocking my pantry with all the staples so that making dinner will be easy and fast without needing to run to the grocery store cause I'm missing 1 or 2 things for a recipe, annoying!

I try to keep a well stocked pantry year round regardless of the state of my womb. Inspiration hits me often and I don't like to wait to try out a new recipe or invent something on the fly. I buy a lot of items on sale and really stock up, like when the grocery store has pasta on for 99¢ a bag or cases of soup for 1/2 price (Canada doesn't have the amazing coupon deals the US has, I be jealous), this saves a ton of money in the long run.

With school about to start up again this is also a great way to prepare for that big readjustment. School and activities can leave a lot of parents struggling with what to make for dinner in the 15 minutes before they have to race out the door again, having everything at your fingertips can ease the strain a bit!

I've compiled a list of items I always keep on hand for anyone who would like to keep their kitchen well stocked:

Extra virgin olive oil
Canola/Vegetable oil
Cooking spray
Chicken, Beef and Veggie broth in tetra packs
Canned Tomatoes
Canned Tomato Sauce
Canned beans
Canned soups (Cream of Mushroom, Tomato & Cream of Celery)
Dried pasta (in many shapes)
Worcestershire sauce
BBQ Sauce

Dried Herbs and Spices
Bay leaves
Cayenne pepper
Garlic powder
Onion Powder
Whole Nutmeg
Sea Salt
Kosher salt
Smoked Paprika
Italian Seasoning
Steak Seasoning
Vanilla Beans

Baking powder
Baking soda
Brown sugar
Granulated sugar
Powdered Sugar
White flour
Whole wheat flour
Chocolate (Chips, Squares, Chunks)
Unsweetened cocoa powder
Pure Vanilla Extract
Fat Free Pudding Mix

In the Fridge
Low fat milk
Homogenized Milk
Whipped Cream
Half & Half
Ranch Dressing
Italian Dressing
Unsalted Butter

In the Freezer
Frozen veggies (peas, corn, broccoli, etc.)
Frozen fruits (berries, pineapple, mango, etc.)
Frozen Pizza Dough Balls
Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts (I get mine at M&M Meatshops, cheap!)

Peppers (of every colour)
Green Onions
Pita Bread
Naan Bread

Breakfast Drawer*
Peanut Butter
Cinnamon Sugar Mix
English Muffins

*The Breakfast Drawer

I mentioned my Breakfast Drawer on Twitter a while back and got a lot of response on it. Everyone wanted to know WHAT it was. The Breakfast Drawer is a pot drawer in my kitchen island that has everything related to breakfast in it. I keep the bread, toaster, peanut butter, Nutella, honey, cereal, oatmeal, etc... in there. Why? Well, I have this great wish that when my kids are old enough to wake up on Saturday mornings and come down without waking us up, they can easily get themselves a bowl of cereal or some toast cause everything is all together and completely accessible to them (I keep their plastic plates and cutlery in the drawer right above the Breakfast Drawer). I like having the toaster in there cause it keeps it off the counter freeing up space and keeping the kitchen less cluttered looking. It sits on a cookie sheet to catch crumbs making it easier to keep the drawer neat and clean.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Chocolate Cavity Maker Cake

I have no idea know what to write here. I seriously contemplated just letting the name of this cake speak for itself. Chocolate. Cavity. Maker. Cake. 'Nuff said? No? Okay.

I was puttering around online looking for a dessert to make to take my mind off my husband painting the nursery. I'm the painter in the family but my husband has banned me from paint fumes and any sort of physical activity greater than making dinner (thinks with his stomach!) so as not to go into premature labour. I hate not being in charge of this project, especially considering he's never really painted anything and I keep hearing things like "I suck at this." and "Oh crap!" coming from upstairs. I was going insane. So I thought baking was the way to distract myself. I was considering a recipe when I started reading the reviews and the name of another recipe jumped off the screen like it was on fire. Chocolate Cavity Maker Cake. I couldn't Google fast enough. I swear, the 2.3 seconds it took to do the search felt like 35 years. And there it was, in all it's perfectly simple, fudgey, delicious glory. I got excited and hit the print button about 7 times and ran to the store (okay, I drove, it's far) and was making this cake about 17 minutes later.

I have never had such a moist and fudgey cake. It is rich without being TOO sweet and has just the right amount of chocolate to make you weep. It doesn't need icing, a light dusting of powdered sugar, some whipped cream or some ice cream compliment this cake wonderfully.

Give it a try. You'll thank me later when you come out of your chocolate coma!

Look at how moist that is!

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Chocolate Cavity Maker Cake from

1 (18.25 ounce) package dark chocolate cake mix
1 (3.9 ounce) package instant chocolate pudding mix
1 (16 ounce) container sour cream
3 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup coffee flavored liqueur
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips


1. Preheat oven to 350˚F . Grease and flour a 10" Bundt pan.
2. In a large bowl, combine cake mix, pudding mix, sour cream, eggs, oil and coffee liqueur. Beat until ingredients are well blended.
3. Fold in chocolate chips. Batter will be thick. Spoon into prepared pan.
4. Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour, or until cake springs back when lightly tapped.
5. Cool 10 minutes in pan, then turn out and cool completely on wire rack.


Monday, August 16, 2010

Meal Plan for August 16-22

I've been slacking off in the meal plan posting. It's been a crazy, hectic summer. Trips to my parent's, the zoo, visitors at our house, preparing for baby and the heat... omg the heat! But I realized I need to get back in the habit for two reasons, 1. Juniour is going to through us off course for a while so until we get our family routine re-established I need to be organized wherever I can be; and 2. my oldest starts school in the fall and I want to plan some great lunch and dinner (leftovers for lunch!) ideas ahead of time and try them out to see what she'll eat!

Here is this week's plan. It's pretty basic, my husband has the next 10 days off and in that time we need to paint the nursery, paint the furniture we bought for my youngest daughter's room, move furniture into the nursery, and get ready with little things like packing the hospital bag and whatnot. I needed a week where dinner was a no-brainer.

download the PDF


Mac & Cheese - done on stove top: macaroni, velveeta, diced tomatoes from the garden... c'est tout!
Steak & Potatoes
Tacos & Mexican Rice - cheating on this one and buying a kit. Thank you Old El Paso!
Chicken Parmigiana
Meatballs & Mashed - frozen italian meatballs simmered in BBQ sauce with mashed potatoes
Pork Tenderloin & Rice
Roast Beef with Roasted Potatoes & Carrots - crockpot cooking at it's best!


Sunday, August 15, 2010

Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Creamy Mushroom Sauce

I love home cooked "Sunday" meals. Especially when they don't just have to be made on Sundays. There are a lot of ways to speed up and simplify recipes to make them accessible during the week without resorting to buying frozen lasagnas (shudder) from the grocery store.

This recipe is one of my faves. My husband's too... he's a cream sauce fiend! However, heavy cream is no longer his friend. So I make my cream sauce with acan of good ol' reduced fat cream of mushroom soup. Yes, I said soup! From a can! Get over it! It's yummy. Simply by adding a few ingredients and spices to that can you can make a yummy sauce that would be great on beef, chicken or pork. Easy right? I'm all about easy. (That didn't come out the way it sounded in my head...)

Pair this pork tenderloing and sauce with your favourite rice *cough*Uncle Ben's*cough* and you can have Sunday Taste on Tuesday Time.

Rub the tenderloin with seasoned salt and garlic powder. Give it a good massage. Then heat 2 tsp oil in a frying pan and add the meat. Brown on all sides.

Place on a baking sheet. I like to use a digital thermometer when cooking this cause nothing ruins a tenderloin faster than 5 minutes of over-cooking. You want to pull it out of the over when it reaches 165˚F. I know it says done is 170˚F but trust me, 165 is what you're looking for.

In the frying pan you seared the tenderloin in, add a wee bit more oil and brown some diced onion and mushrooms. If you prefer sliced mushrooms go for it, I like the look of the diced.

Add 2 minced garlic cloves. Mmmm garlic. Throw in a bit more garlic powder and seasoned salt too, just a smidge.
Next add your can of soup. Add 1/2 can of water as well. You want to think it out a bit but not too much, you want it thick & creamy. Turn it down to low and let it simmer while the tenderloin is doing it's thing.

When the temperature reads 165˚F take the tenderloin out of the oven and loosely wrap it in tin foil. This is where the trust comes in. It will continue to cook those last 5˚s, and by allowing the meat to rest for 10-15 minutes it will re-distribute all the juices back into the tenderloin so you have a super tender, juicy roast without losing all the juices all over the cutting board when you slice this bad boy.

Slice the tenderloin and plate topped with the mushroom sauce and your favourite rice, or potatoes, or whatever else strikes your fancy!

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Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Creamy Mushroom Sauce

1 pork tenderloin (there is enough sauce for 2 tenderloins , I only do 1 cause hubs is a sauce hog)
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp seasoned salt
2 tsp vegetable oil
1/2 onion, diced
1 1/2 c mushrooms, diced or sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can cream of mushroom soup, I use reduced fat
1/2 can of water


1. Rub the tenderloin with the seasoned salt and garlic powder.
2. Heat 2 tsp oil in a frying pan and add the meat. Brown on all sides.
3. Place on a baking sheet. Roast at 350˚F until internal temperature reaches 165˚F.
4. In the frying pan you seared the tenderloin in, add a wee bit more oil and brown the onion and mushrooms.
5. Add the minced garlic and a bit more garlic powder and seasoned salt to taste.
6. Add the can of soup and 1/2 can of water. Stir to combine. Turn the sauce down to low and let it simmer.
7. When the internal temperature of the tenderloin reads 165˚F take it out of the oven and loosely wrap it in tin foil allowing the meat to rest for 10-15 minutes.
8. Slice the tenderloin and plate topped with the mushroom sauce and your favourite rice, or potatoes.

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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Double Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Cheesecake Frosting

This has been one crazy summer. We've traveled, done some home renos, had visitors and are trying to get ready for our little man's arrival. The heat has been killer too. Figures I'd be pregnant during the hottest summer we've had in a few years. All this has led me to be neglectful of my beloved blog! (and my sweet tooth) But being pregnant has it's advantages, like cravings stronger than the 30+˚C weather. Last night my hormones said "Heat wave be damned, we want cupcakes!" So cupcakes were made. I had a strong desire for chocolate and peanut butter so I went looking for a peanut butter frosting.

I found a cream cheese frosting recipe at and threw some peanut butter and extra icing sugar in and it was yummy. The reason I call it cheesecake frosting is because of the strong cream cheese taste to the frosting, it's more like cheesecake than cream cheese icing. The heat made it a bit soft, but it was silky and smooth and made my boxed mix cupcakes taste like the I-spent-30-minutes-baking-from-scratch-even-though-I'm-sweating-like-a-pig-cause-I-love-my-family kind. Pair these up with some ICE cold milk and you've got one tasty little chocolate peanut butter treat!
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Double Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Cheesecake Frosting adapted from


1 box Devil's Food cake mix (I used Betty Crocker, I love Betty)
eggs, oil and water as per your brand's instructions
1/2 c. chocolate chips


1 8 oz. pkg cream cheese, softened
1/4 c. butter, softened
1/2 c. peanut butter
1 tsp. vanilla
2 1/2 c. icing sugar


1. Prepare your cake mix as per your brand's instructions adding chocolate chips into the batter and bake cupcakes until cooked through.
2. Remove from oven and cool completely.
3. Beat cream cheese, butter, vanilla and peanut butter until smooth.
4. Slowly mix is icing sugar until thoroughly combined.
5. Pipe or spread onto cupcakes and enjoy!

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Sunday, July 11, 2010

Chocolate Chip Coffee Muffins with Cinnamon Toffee Crunch Streusel

I think I've become a guinea pig. My friend Michelle has been emailing me recipes for the past few months. I assume she wants me to try them out before she gives them a whirl. Luckily, she has good taste and most of what she sends me has me wiping drool of my iMac screen.

I've been meaning to whip up these muffins for a while now but with the heat wave we've been having turning to oven on hasn't been a good idea. The heat broke yesterday and today I finally got a chance to make them!

They incorporate a lot of my very favourite ingredients, coffee, chocolate, brown sugar, cinnamon and now, toffee. The original recipe didn't have toffee in the streusel but as I was mixing it I couldn't help myself and threw some in!

These are going to go perfectly with my Iced Coffee tomorrow morning for breakfast... and as a mid-afternoon snack... and as dessert... oi, there goes the scale again!

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Chocolate Chip Coffee Muffins with Cinnamon Toffee Crunch Steusel
*Adapted from

1/3 c brown sugar, packed
1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ tsp cinnamon
1/4 c toffee bits

2 ½ c all purpose flour
2 tbsp instant coffee powder
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp salt
1 c buttermilk
3/4 c brown sugar, packed
1/3 c vegetable or canola Oil
1 egg
1 c semi-sweet chocolate chips


1. Preheat oven to 375ºF (190ºC). Grease a 12-cup muffin pan or line with paper liners.
2. Topping: combine brown sugar, cocoa, cinnamon and toffee bits in a small bowl and set aside.
3. Muffins: combine flour, instant coffee powder, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl.
4. In a separate bowl, combine buttermilk, brown sugar, oil and egg.
5. Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients and add in chocolate chips.
6. Spoon batter into prepared muffin pan.
7. Sprinkle muffins with reserved topping.
8. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into center of muffin comes out clean.

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