Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Another Wonderful Wednesday!

Last week's blog hop made it to 227 links.
I can hardly wait to see what's in store for us this week over at Ducks 'n a Row.I am sure you will find something among the many, crafts, DIY projects, organizing tips and family fun.

Welcome to this week'sWonderful Wednesday Blog Hop!
My post is #23

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Don't Get Your Knickers In A Twist!

     My niece is moving to London England in a few weeks and we are in the midst of planning a going away party that's fit for royalty.  This afternoon, as we surfed the world wide web for ideas, we got distracted by a website that offered a British slang directory.  Being that she will be living overseas for two years, her mother and I thought it would be wise for her become familiar with some common terminology.  We didn't expect to spend the next twenty minutes laughing hysterically! 
     Suffice it to say, I now have some new words to add to my lexicon. I can now say that I think what my niece is doing is the bee's knees (awesome) and that I am very chuffed (proud) to be her aunt.  I am gobsmacked (amazed) that she has the bollocks (nerve) to move 6000 kilometers away to teach in a different country.  It just proves that she knows her onions (is very knowledgeable) and is not all fur coat and no knickers (attractive but not really very interesting or smart).
     Well, Bob's your uncle (there you go). It's time I stop waffling about (talking unendingly) and give you what you've been waiting for, the recipe. Keep in mind though, this nosh (snack) is meant for afters (dessert)!

Chocolate Covered Pretzel Cupcakes
These really do take the biscuit!
 (are all that!)

For the chocolate cupcakes you will need:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) of butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 cup sour cream
2/3 cup water
12 small chocolate covered pretzels, chopped (it should equal 1/2 cup when chopped)

  • Heat oven to 325 degrees and line muffin pans with paper liners
  • In a small bowl, whist together flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt
  • In a large bowl, beat together butter and sugar
  • Beat in eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition
  • Beat in sour cream
  • On low, beat in half the flour mixture
  • Pour in 2/3 cup water and beat on low until blended, scraping down sides of bowl
  • On low, beat in remaining flour mixture
  • Fold in chopped pretzels
  • Fill cups 3/4 full and bake for 19-22 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean

For the chocolate ganache you will need:

1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

  • Place chocolate chips is a heat proof bowl and add heavy cream
  • Microwave for 20 seconds, remove and stir
  • Continue to microwave in small increments until mixture becomes smooth and creamy
  • Dip the tops of the cooled cupcakes into the ganache and let set while you make the frosting


For the frosting you will need:

3 oz semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped, or use chocolate chips
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
2-3 cups confectioners' sugar
2 tbsp milk
chocolate covered pretzels to garnish

  • Melt chopped semisweet chocolate or chocolate chips in microwave for 1 1/2 minutes, stirring occasionally until smooth
  • Cool slightly
  • Beat butter until fluffy and add confectioners' sugar, 1 cup at a time alternating with milk
  • Beat in 2 tbsp of melted chocolate and mix until combined (You can use any remaining melted chocolate to drizzle over the top of the frosted cupcakes if you wish. To do so, simply transfer remaining chocolate to a resealable plastic bag.  Snip a small corner from bag and drizzle chocolate over cupcakes. Reheat if needed.)
  • Pipe onto cooled cupcakes and garnish with chocolate covered pretzels
 Happy Treat Tuesday!

Friday, July 26, 2013


    As I mentioned in my previous post, I'm searching for the remote control of life; I've even looked for it under the sofa cushions.  My guess is that it's not meant to be found. In the meantime, I find myself conciously trying to take it all in.  Perhaps it is my impending birthday that has me so retrospective. Whatever the reason, I am relishing life.  I recently saw this quote that pretty much sums it up:

"Life is short.
Time is fast.
No replay, no rewind.
So enjoy every moment
as it comes."
     That said, here is the recipe for my truly decadent Rolo cupcakes.  As the saying goes, you only live once, you might as well enjoy it.  As my kids would say #YOLO. It's no coincidence that YOLO and ROLO rhyme,  I believe that it's a match that was meant to be! 

For the Cupcakes:
1 Box Devil's Food Cake Mix
3 eggs
1/2 cup oil
1 cup buttermilk 
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tsp vanilla extract
  •  Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line pans with cupcake liners (the prettier the better!)
  •  Sift cake mix into a small bowl and set aside
  •  In a large bowl, combine eggs, oil, buttermilk, sour cream and vanilla extract
  •  Add cake mix and stir until smooth
  •  Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full and bake for 17-20 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean
  • Allow cupcakes to cool before going on to the next step
 For the Filling:
  • Using a large frosting tip, scoop out the centre of each cupcake
  • Simply push down and twist to remove cake from middle
  • Use a toothpick to remove middle from tip
  • Don't throw out those middles! You can either crumble them up and use them as a garnish over the caramel sauce or let your children eat them as I did
  • Fill each hole with a rolo placed upside down

For the Chocolate Frosting:
1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tbsp milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
3-4 cups powdered sugar
Rolos for decoration 
  • Beat butter until light and fluffy
  • Add cocoa, 2 tablespoons of the milk and the vanilla extract
  • Beat again until all ingredients combine
  • Slowly add in powered sugar, 1 cup at  time,  until you reach your desired consistency, add more milk of needed
  •  Pipe onto cooled cupcakes covering the hole with with the Rolo in it
  • Drizzle caramel sauce over the top and finish with a Rolo (I used President's Choice Caramel Syrup)


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Treat Tuesday!

   It's Treat Tuesday once again!  This summer sure is flying by.  While I am enjoying these relaxing summer days at home with my children I really need to press pause.  So much will be changing come September.  The kids will be returning to school; which means I will officially have two boys in high school!  My daughter isn't too far behind.  She's so anxious to become a teenager that she somehow talked me into celebrating her 'half' birthday this week.  "Only one and a half birthdays until I'm a teenager Mom!" - Yikes! 

    Seriously, where is the remote control of life? I need to do more than press pause I need to hit record! I don't want to forget a moment of this time we are so fortunate to be sharing. I recently read a book called The Gift of an Ordinary Day; A Mother's Memoir by Katrina Kenison. It spoke volumes to me, particularly in terms of my thoughts.  Here is a quote that altogether encompasses how I've been feeling as of late:  

 “I know I can't make time slow down, can't hold our life as it is in a freeze frame or slow my children's inexorable journeys into adulthood and lives of their own. But I can celebrate those journeys by bearing witness to them, by paying attention, and, perhaps most of all, by carrying on with my own growth and becoming. Now it dawns on me that the only way I can figure out what I'm meant to be doing is to try to understand who I'm meant to be...I will not waste this life, not one hour, not one minute. I will not take for granted the blessing of our being here...I will give thanks...” 
          ~Katrina Kenison

    This book really made me realize that I need to stop and smell the cupcakes. That said here is my Tuesday recipe. Treat yourself by baking up a batch of these succulent summer cupcakes. They will have you pausing at least long enough to say "Yum!"  Savour the moment. 



1 box white cake mix
3 eggs
1/3 C. oil
zest of 1 lemon
1/4 C. lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 C. milk
1/2 C. sour cream 
  •  Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line pans with cupcake liners
  •  Sift cake mix into a separate bowl breaking up any lumps, and set aside
  •  In a large bowl whisk together eggs, oil, zest, lemon juice, vanilla, milk and sour cream until smooth
  •  Stir in cake mix and blend until combined
  •  Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full and bake for 17-20 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean
Lemon Glaze: 
zest of half of a lemon
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 2/3 cup powdered sugar
  •  Combine all ingredients in a small glass bowl and whisk together with a fork until a smooth paste forms
  • When cupcakes have cooled spoon glaze over tops and let set (about 10 minutes should do it)
Blackberry Buttercream Frosting: 
1 cup butter, softened
4-5 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup blackberry puree (Simply toss a handful or two of fresh blackberries into the blender and puree.   Be sure to run the puree through a strainer to remove seeds before incorporating them into your frosting.)
  • Beat butter until smooth
  • Add powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, enough to make the frosting stiff
  • Slowly add in blackberry puree 1 tablespoon at a time until you reach your desired consistency
  • When lemon glaze is firm, pipe frosting on top and garnish with a fresh blackberry
*Thanks to YourCupOfCake for inspiring this recipe.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Happy Monday!

  How can it be Monday again? I'm sure we were all just saying TGIF! Oh well, there is nothing like a cupcake to brighten your day. Join me over at Cupcake ~n~ Bake for the Manic Monday linky party.   You'll surely find something there to make your day.


Friday, July 19, 2013

Cupcakes on Parade

     I am very excited to announce that TWO of my cupcake recipes have been featured in  the cupcake parade on the Ducks n' a Row blog! Please stop by to see the parade. There are some wonderful cupcakes featured!

"Cupcakes on Parade"
A weekly celebration of great cupcake recipes!



Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Wonderful Wednesday!


   Welcome to the Wonderful Wednesday Blog hop!  This week is full of great posts. I'm happy to be #149... wow! That means there are lots and lots of links to inspiring ideas and family friendly posts.  You'll find everything from organizing, crafts, DIY projects, recipes, how-tos, fashion, and the list goes on!

Hop on over and check it out!

Ducks 'n a Row

Sugar Me Pretty

Sweet 2 Eat Baking - Decorated Cakes, Cupcakes, Cookies, Desserts & more!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Treat Tuesday

    A few years ago, a co-worker and I started a tradition at work that became known as "Treat Tuesday." Needless to say, Tuesdays soon became a much looked forward to day of the week. We'd surprise each other with some sweet indulgence, often leaving a little note, and it never failed to brighten my day; both the giving and receiving.  To honour that tradition I have decided to incorporate "Treat Tuesdays" into my blog.  Each week I will post a sweet treat for you to bake up and enjoy.  It just might have you saying "Thank Goodness It's Tuesday!"
     As promised, here is the recipe I baked up for my favourite cookie monster. Simply follow the directions and you'll have a big batch of happiness.

No Fail Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 1/2 cups oatmeal, blended (approx. 2 cups quick oats)
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 cups chocolate chips
  • Measure oatmeal and blend in blender to a fine powder
  • In a large bowl cream butter and both sugars
  • Add eggs and vanilla
  • In a medium bowl mix together flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda and stir in oatmeal
  • Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix well
  • Stir in chocolate chips
  • Roll into balls and place on parchment lined cookie sheets with enough room for them to expand
  • Bake @350 for 10 minutes
  • Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 2 minutes before moving to wire cooling racks

Saturday, July 13, 2013

What do you mean you don't like cupcakes?!

    Another birthday, another simple request. Same family, same great children.  This time the birthday boy, who surprisingly is not a fan of cupcakes (what?!) asked me to bake him some birthday cookies. Nothing fancy, just chocolate chip; his favourite. So of course I obliged and baked up a batch of my go to, no fail, chocolate chip cookies (stay tuned, I'll post that recipe too!).  However, the baker in me wanted to rise to the challenge of creating a cupcake that this birthday boy would love.  To do so, I resorted to a secret weapon... his favourite cookie in the entire world ~ Chewy Chips Ahoy. I knew that in order to win him over I had to somehow incorporate this cookie into my recipe.
     Thanks to an invite for all my kids to join in the birthday festivities, I had the afternoon to myself  so I tied on my apron, got out my mixing bowls and put on my creative thinking cap.  I'll be honest, I enjoyed perusing various cookbooks and recipe related web sites  for inspiration.  It's amazing how much time can be wasted on the Internet, not to mention how many cups of coffee I drank while doing so!  In the end, I combined a cup of this, a spoonful of that, and came up with the recipe that's posted below.  The frosting was tested until it was perfect.  I must publicly thank my neighbour for being my taste tester. She didn't even laugh at me when I came running outside in my apron, piping bag in hand saying "taste this!"  After a few tweaks it came out truly tasting just like chocolate chip cookie dough; heavenly!
      Judging by the reactions of the tasters, birthday boy included, this recipe is a keeper and quite possibly a new favourite. The surprise inside elicited the desired response, a joyful grin from ear to ear.  Happy birthday Michael, always remember to try new things and keep searching for that special something inside.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cupcakes
With Cookie Dough Frosting
You will need:

24 Chewy Chips Ahoy Cookies, Frozen
* (I like to freeze ingredients like cookies that are already baked before I bake with them. This allows them to be incorporated in my recipe without becoming soggy)
1 box white cake mix
2 egg whites
2 eggs
1/3 cup oil
3/4 cup buttermilk
*(Place 1 tbsp vinegar in a glass measuring cup then fill with milk to the 1 cup line. Stir and let stand for 5 minutes.) 
3/4 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup Chocolate Chip Cookies, chopped (I used President's Choice Decadent Chocolate Chip Cookies. To chop simply place a few cookies into a resealable bag, close and use the back of a spoon to crush. A very satisfying way to take out any frustration you may have!)
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line pans with cupcake liners
  • Sift your cake mix into a small bowl and set aside
  • In a large bowl, gently whisk egg whites, eggs, oil, buttermilk, sour cream and vanilla extract together
  • Add cake mix and mix until combined
  • Fold in  3/4 cup of chopped cookies
  • Fill cupcake liners 1/4 full, place frozen cookie on top, and then fill the liner 3/4 full
  • Bake for 16-20 minutes or until and inserted toothpick comes out clean

Cookie Dough Frosting:
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ cup brown sugar, packed
3½ cups confectioners’ sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
¾ tsp salt
3 tbsp milk
2½ tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup finely crushed chocolate chip cookies (I crush my cookies and then put them through a sifter, and only use what goes through. This way you don't get chunks that won't go through your piping tip in your frosting.)  
  • Beat butter and brown sugar on high speed until creamy and fluffy
  • Mix in the confectioners’ sugar 1 cup at a time and mix until smooth
  • Beat in the flour and salt
  • Mix in the milk and vanilla extract and beat until smooth and combined
  • Fold in the finely crushed cookie crumbs
  • Pipe frosting onto cooled cupcakes and decorate with mini chocolate chips and a mini cookie 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Sunshine & Strawberries

     Nothing says summertime like the taste of a juicy red strawberry.  They are in peak season here in our region and they are ripe for the picking.  I love to pair my strawberries with chocolate. Actually, I like to pair pretty much everything with chocolate!  It's a  flavour combination made for savouring. 
     These cupcakes are moist and delicious and the strawberry buttercream  is the icing on the cake; literally and figuratively!  The strawberry puree flavours the buttercream and turns it a beautiful shade of pink.  Whip up a batch of these cupcakes and enjoy the taste of summer.

Strawberries & Chocolate Cupcakes

For the cupcakes you will need:
1 Box chocolate devil's food cake mix
1/2 cup melted butter, cooled 
3 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup sour cream

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line pans with cupcake liners (the prettier the better!)
  • Sift cake mix into a small bowl and set aside
  • Combine all other cake ingredients in a large bowl and mix until well combined
  • Stir in cake mix until smooth
  • Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full and bake for 17-22 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean

For the chocolate ganache you will need:

1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1 heaping amount of self control so as not to lick the bowl clean!
  • Place chocolate chips is a heat proof bowl and add heavy cream
  • Microwave for 20 seconds, remove and stir
  • Continue to microwave in small increments until mixture becomes smooth and creamy
  • Dip the tops of the cooled cupcakes into the ganache and let set while you make the frosting

For the strawberry buttercream you will need:
3/4 cup butter, softened
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
2-4 tbsp strawberry puree (put a handful or two of strawberries in a blender and puree until they reach a liquid consistency - be sure the lid is secured tightly!)
3-4 cups powdered sugar
Fresh sliced strawberries to garnish
  • Beat butter and cream cheese until smooth
  • Add vanilla extract and 2 tbsp. strawberry puree
  • Slowly add powdered sugar until you reach your desired consistency
  • If mixture becomes too thick, add more strawberry puree
  • Pipe onto cooled cupcakes and top with sliced strawberries


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Blog Hoppin'

I'm new to Blog Hopping and quite frankly didn't even know what it was until a few weeks ago. Since I made the discovery though, I'm happy to say that I've become hooked! I love the concept of linking with other blogs and 'meeting' other bloggers. It's a vast and wonderful world out there and so many talented people have great things to say!  

This week I am happy to be a part of the "Wonderful Wednesday Blog Hop"  at Sugar Me Pretty.  My link is #34 of many unique and inspiring posts. If you have a minute please check it out. You won't be disappointed!

Wow Wow Wednesday with This Girls Life
Sugar Me Pretty

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Just Another Manic Monday!


It's a Manic Monday link party!   Join us over @

Friday, July 5, 2013

A Simple Request...


     Who said teenagers are difficult?  Our dear family friends have a son turning sixteen today.  Is he demanding an over the top birthday celebration? A new car? Some cold hard cash?  No.  When I asked him what he would like for his birthday he simply asked me to bake him some vanilla cupcakes.

    "Vanilla?" I said in disbelief. "I can make you something more fun and exciting!"

    "No thank you." was his reply "Just vanilla." 

     It was a simple request, but of course I couldn't just make any old vanilla cupcakes. After all, this was a monumental birthday!  I  had to search the Internet for one that would be creamy and flavourful, even if it was merely vanilla.  Once I started to search I realized that there really is no such thing as 'just vanilla.'  There are so many variations to the classic recipe!  I'll be honest; I had a hard time choosing.

     In the end,  I chose to bake this one. It uses a French Vanilla Cake Mix as its base, but the added ingredients combine to make a mouth watering cupcake that can rival its more decadent relatives. The addition of the Golden Oreo cookies was a last minute idea. It's a variation of my cookies and cream cupcake recipe and it's a good one! I think this one is a keeper. 

     Thanks Matthew for making me realize that vanilla is quiet, yet complex, gentle, yet strong and has the ability to stand all on its own. Come to think of it, vanilla reminds me an awful lot of you... 

     Happy 16th birthday, it's sure to be sweet!


Vanilla  Cookies & Cream Cupcakes

You will need:  
24 Golden Oreo cookies
1 box French Vanilla Cake Mix
3 eggs
1/2 cup melted butter, cooled
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tsp. vanilla extract
  •  Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line pans with pretty cupcake liners
  •  Break apart Oreo cookies and place the cream side facing up in your cupcake liners
  •  Place the other half of the Oreo in a resealable bag and crush them to a fine crumble
  •  Sift cake mix into a small bowl to remove any lumps and set aside
  •  In a large bowl, combine eggs, melted butter, milk, sour cream and vanilla extract
  •  Stir in cake mix and blend until smooth
  •  Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full and bake for 16-20 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
4 cups conftioners' sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Golden Oreo cookies, crushed
  • In a medium bowl mix the butter with an electric mixer until fluffy
  • Add in some of the sugar, 1 cup at a time, alternating with the milk and vanilla until it is all blended
  • Fold in crushed Oreo cookies (I run mine through a sifter first to make sure that I have a fine consistency for my frosting)
  • Pipe onto cooled cupcakes
  • Garnish with any remaining cookie crumble


Thursday, July 4, 2013

It's Raining Cupcakes!

     As of late, the weather here has not been conducive to lounging by the pool and enjoying the usual pleasures of summertime.  It's been cool and rainy and for the most part, dreary.  While that does not bode well for our pool, it sure does benefit our kitchen (and the sweet tooth's of my family and friends!).  I've been baking up a storm!
     The following is one of the many new recipes that I have tried over the past week or so.  It's very flavourful, but the next time I think I'll make the batter chocolate.  Two of my favourite flavours are incorporated in this recipe and they didn't last long on the cake plate! Whip up a batch and you'll see what I mean.


Peanut Butter Cup Cakes 

For the cupcakes you will need:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 sticks butter, softened
1 cup sugar
3 large egg whites
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup chopped peanuts
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips
  • Heat oven to 325 degrees and line tins with paper liners
  • In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt
  • In a large bowl, beat butter until smooth
  • Add sugar and beat until fluffy
  • Add egg whites, one at a time, beating well after each
  • Beat in vanilla
  • On low, beat in half of the flour mixture, then 3/4 cup of water
  • Beat in remaining flour mixture until well combined
  • Fold in peanuts and chocolate chips
  • Fill liners 3/4 full and bake for 18- 22 minutes
For the Frosting You Will Need:

1/2 stick butter, softened
1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
2-3 cups confectioners' sugar
3 tbsp milk
1/8 tsp salt
mini Reese's peanut butter cups and cocoa powder for garnish

  • Beat butter and peanut butter until smooth and creamy
  • Add salt and the sugar 1 cup at a time, alternating with milk until you reach your desired consistency
  • Pipe over cooled cupcakes and garnish with mini Reese's peanut butter cups and sprinkle with cocoa powder


Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Oh Canada!

    Here is the recipe for a Canada Day party favourite. It feeds a crowd, but best of all it's very easy to make!  I've made this several times and it is always a hit.  Simply follow the directions and you can have your Canadian cake and eat it too!
Canadian Ice Cream Cake
You will need:
  • approximately 20 ice cream sandwiches
  • Nestle Quick Chocolate sauce
  • 1 large container of Cool Whip, thawed
  • strawberries, sliced to decorate

~ Place enough ice cream sandwiches to cover the bottom of a 9x13 pan
~ Spread chocolate sauce on top of sandwiches
~ Top with a layer of whipped topping
~ Repeat layers: ice cream sandwiches, chocolate sauce, whipped topping
~ Freeze uncovered for 2 hours
~ Cover with foil and freeze until ready to serve
~ Top with sliced strawberries (to resemble the Canadian flag if you wish)

 Enjoy with friends!

Now that's Canadian!