Sunday, July 26, 2015

When Life Gives You Zucchini...

    I recently posted on my Facebook page that a friend gave me a rather large zucchini from their garden. I asked for suggestions as to what I should bake with it and was both surprised and pleased at the many responses I received.  My friend Sarah gave me this one. It was handed down to her and is her go to recipe for zucchini. I decided to give it a try and I was not sorry I did. It got rave reviews from all of my family (5 out of 5 is hard to come by in this house!) and my co-workers enjoyed it as well. The recipe yields two loaves so it's perfect for sharing! Give it a try, you'll be glad you did!

Chocolate Zucchini Bread
You will need:
  • 1 stick of butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup of vegetable oil
  • 1 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 4 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  •  1 tsp salt
  • 2 cups unpared zucchini, shredded
  • 1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

  •  pre-heat oven to 350 degrees
  •  in a mixing bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until creamy
  •  add in the oil, eggs, vanilla and buttermilk and mix until combined and set aside
  •  in a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda  and salt
  •  add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and beat until just combined, do not overmix
  •  stir in the zucchini and chocolate chips

  • Pour mixture into two greased loaf pans and bake for 50 ~ 60 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean from the centre

  • allow loaves to cool completely before slicing
  • wrap bread in plastic wrap or store in an air tight container

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

To Have and to Hold...

 ...and to eat and to enjoy!

   For those of you who don't have Facebook, I thought I'd post some pictures of the wedding that I baked for back in May. It was a beautiful day and the bride was gorgeous. I felt very honoured to be a part of their special day.

      I baked 14 dozen cupcakes for the occasion, an assortment of vanilla, chocolate and red velvet...

 as well as 4 dozen red velvet cake truffles. 

 With the help of my family, we also set up a pretty impressive candy bar. Guests were asked to take a treat bag home with them, and it was a big success!

"Love is sweet, take a treat!"

If you do have Facebook and you'd like to see more up to date posts from me you can do so by 

Monday, July 20, 2015

Do What Makes You Happy...

   I often get asked why I bake. More specifically, why I bake for no apparent reason.  It's a known fact that I don't need a special occasion to bake. I just do. And I like it. It may seem odd, or difficult to understand, but that's just me. I have finally reached an age where I no longer feel the need to explain myself. Wisdom comes with age they say. So does self awareness. Baking makes me happy. Giving my sweet treats away, even more so.  Recently I came across this quote that pretty much sums it up...

     My inspiration often comes from what is around me. Lately it has been the abundance of our summer harvest. Today it was fresh strawberries. I enjoyed these muffins, but even more so, I enjoyed sharing them with friends.

Strawberry Coffee Cake Muffins
*This recipe makes 12~18 muffins

For the muffins you will need:
  • 1/4 cup (half a stick) butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk 
  • 1 1/2 cups diced strawberries

Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees
~ Line your muffin tins with pretty liners
~ In a medium bowl, cream together the butter and sugar
~ Beat in the egg and the vanilla until combined
~ In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder & salt
~ Slowly add the dry flour mixture to the wet mixture, alternating with the buttermilk and beat until combined
~ Gently fold in half of the diced strawberries
~ Scoop batter into liners until they are each half full
~ Top muffins with remaining diced strawberries

For the crumble you will need:
  • 1/4 cup (half a stick) butter, cold & cubed
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
~ In a small mixing bowl, combine all ingredients with a pastry cutter or a fork until a crumble forms
~ Sprinkle crumble generously over the strawberries and muffin mixture
~ Bake 18~20 minutes until golden brown

*note: these muffins are best consumed within a day or two as the fresh fruit makes them turn soggy quickly.

Thanks to Living Better Together for inspiring this recipe!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The Taste of Summer...


   Warm, juicy berries, a crunchy crumble topping and creamy vanilla ice cream... the taste of summer!  It doesn't get any better than warm summer nights, al fresco dining, and a decadent dessert to share with friends and family.  Bake up some memories and enjoy the season and all its goodness.

You Will Need:

~ 6 cups of assorted berries (I used strawberries, blackberries, blueberries and tossed in some golden delicious apples)
~ 1/4 cup granulated sugar
~ 1 teaspoon of vanilla
~ 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
~ 1/2 cup all purpose flour
~ 1 teaspoon cinnamon
~ 3/4 cup rolled oats
~ 1 stick of butter cut into pieces, room temperature
~ 12 frozen tart shells (baked according to package directions before filling)

  • Combine berries, white sugar and vanilla in a medium bowl and toss to combine
  • Fill baked tart shells with the fruit mixture
  • For the topping mix the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and oats together in a dry bowl
  • Using a pastry blender (or a fork) cut the butter into the dry mixture until a crumble starts to form
  • Sprinkle topping evenly over each berry filled tart
  • Bake in an oven pre-heated to 375 until the berries are bubbling and the topping is golden brown
  • Serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top 

Thanks to Sunshine & Hurricanes for inspiring this recipe!

Monday, July 13, 2015

Sometimes I actually cook...

I do. Really!

    While baking is my passion, I can't whip up a batch of chocolate cupcakes and call it dinner. Well, at least not on a regular basis. Tonight I decided to try this recipe that I pinned on Pinterest (over a year ago!).  I am currently kicking myself for not trying it sooner. It's that good. Two out of three kids approved, and in my house that's considered a winner. Not only that, it cooks up in one pot. One. I know, it sounds too good to be true. Trust me, I thought the same thing. It's not. Give it a try and you'll see for yourself.

You will need:
  •  12 ounces of spaghetti
  •  (How do you measure spaghetti you ask? I had the same question so I used Google to find this handy tip from Canadian Living.)
  • 1 15 ounce can of diced tomatoes with liquid
  • 1 large sweet onion cut in julienne strips
  • 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 teaspoons of dried oregano leaves
  • 2 large sprigs of fresh basil, chopped
  • 4 1/2 cups vegetable broth 
  • 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • Parmesan cheese for garnish

~ Place pasta, tomatoes, onion, garlic and basil in a large stock pot. Pour in vegetable broth. Sprinkle in the pepper flakes and oregano.  Drizzle the olive oil on top. 
~ Cover the pot and bring it to a boil. 
~ Reduce to a low simmer and keep covered for about 10 minutes, stirring every 2 minutes or so.  Cook until almost all of the liquid evaporates, leaving approximately 1 inch of liquid in the bottom of the pot. 
~ Stir several times to distribute the liquid and season to taste with salt and pepper.
~ Garnish with Parmesan cheese.

*Note: above is the recipe as it was posted on Pinterest. I used my creative licence and added a few extra ingredients. I tossed in a few handfuls of chopped mushrooms and zucchini before pouring in the vegetable broth. About 5 minutes before the the dish was done, I added in some cooked, sliced chicken breast that was leftover in our refrigerator. It made the dish a bit more hearty and tasted wonderful!

Thanks to MyFridgeFood for inspiring me!

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Showered With Love...

 Here are just a few pictures of cupcakes that 
I recently  made for a friend's bridal shower.
It was such a beautiful party!

A special thank you to Febe at After February
 for providing the wonderful and elegant cupcake toppers!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

People we Meet Along the Way...

     I'm not sure if it's the time of year (Lent), the season (Winter) or simply just my female hormones that have me feeling so introspective lately. Whatever the reason, I've been thinking a lot about the people in my life. Not in a melancholy way, but in a gratified way. We are so often caught up in our destination that we forget to appreciate the journey, especially the goodness of the people we meet along the way.  It may sound simple but, I feel that the best things in life are the people we love (and those who love us), the places we've been, and the memories we have made along the way. It's rewarding to stop and remind ourselves of that once in a while.

    Yesterday was what I like to call "Treat Tuesday."  It's my little way of letting my co-workers (and a few select patrons... you know who you are!) know how much I appreciate them. It's also a way to show my gratitude for once again having a job that I love. These truffles were a hit (if I do say so myself) and didn't last long! I did manage to hide a few in the back of our freezer (they freeze well) but I highly doubt they'll be in there long enough to get freezer burn.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Truffles

You will need:
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) butter, softened
  • 3 3/4 cups icing sugar
  • 1 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1 sleeve of graham crackers, crushed
  • 3 cups semi sweet chocolate chips, melted

  • Place graham crackers in a large resealable freezer bag and crush them with the back of a large spoon on your counter top until they are a fine consistency
  • In a large bowl, mix butter, icing sugar, peanut butter and crushed graham crackers together until combined
  • Roll into 1" balls (or use a small cookie dough scoop as I did) and place them on a parchment lined cookie sheet
  • Place cookie sheet in the freezer for at least 20 minutes to allow them to set before dipping
  • To make the dipping chocolate, melt the chocolate chips in the microwave for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring after each 30 second interval (be careful not to burn your chocolate!)
  • If your chocolate seems too thick you can add a few tablespoons of milk to thin it out
  • Once the peanut butter balls have had time to firm up in the freezer, dip them in the melted chocolate using a fork, being sure to tap and scrape off the excess
  • Place dipped peanut butter balls back on the parchment lined cookie sheet and allow the chocolate to harden

  • In a small (sandwich sized) resealable bag, place a few tablespoons of peanut butter.
  • Seal the bag and place it in the microwave for approximately 30 seconds, watching it closely (trust me, you don't want that bag to burst!)
  • Once the peanut butter has melted, cut one of the bottom corners of the bag with a pair of scissors. Be sure you are holding the bag over your parchment lined, truffle filled cookie sheet. The smaller the hole the better.
  • Begin drizzling the melted peanut butter over the tops of your truffles in a diagonal pattern.

A bit of a messy endeavor, but very much worth it! 
*This recipe yields approximately 60 truffles 
(enough to share, indulge in, or store in your freezer).

Thanks to Six Sisters' Stuff for inspiring this recipe.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

A Day By Any Other Name...


     There is something about Tuesday that calls for recognition.  We made it through Monday. That in itself is deserving of a reward.  It's not "Hump Day" nor is it the day before Friday, which is a treat in and of itself. Tuesdays don't really have a significance (other than the fact that you can go to the movies for half price).  Because of this, I have deemed this day "Treat Tuesday." It has a nice ring to it doesn't it? 

 "Mike! Mike! What day is it?  Treat Tuuuuesssdaaaay!" I like it. 

     If you know me, you know that I like to bring treats along with me just about any place I go.  Work is no exception.  Treat Tuesday has taken on a life of its own at the Library. Today, I am bringing in some of these two bite wonders. They are relatively easy to make, don't require an oven and yield fantastic results. They just may have you saying "TGIT!"

Cake Batter Truffles
You will need:

1 ½ cups flour
1 cup yellow cake mix
½ cup unsalted butter, softened
½ cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon salt
3-4 Tablespoons milk

Truffle Coating:

2 cups of white candy melts

~Beat together butter and sugar using an electric mixer until combined.
~Add cake mix, flour, salt, and vanilla and mix thoroughly.
~Add 3 Tablespoons of milk,  more if needed, to make a dough consistency. 
~Roll dough into one inch balls and place on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet.
~Chill balls in the refrigerator for 15 minutes to firm up.

~Once dough balls have chilled, place candy melts in a glass bowl and microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring in between, until melted. 
~ Using a fork, dip truffles into melted chocolate and remove excess by tapping the bottom of the fork on the side of your bowl.

~ Place truffle back on the cookie sheet and top with sprinkles.
~ Repeat with remaining balls until finished.
~Chill cake batter truffles in an air tight container in the refrigerator until serving (they also freeze well).
~ Makes  24-30 truffles.

*Recipe adapted from: The Girl Who Ate Everything

Monday, February 2, 2015

Let's Bake Some Memories...

     It's a snow day here in our neck of the woods. Schools are closed and that rarely ever happens in Canada. It's a big deal. My kids are thrilled and, I have to admit, so am I.  Now that all three of mine are teenagers now, I find that the special moments are becoming few and far between.  No longer can I plan their play dates and pick their friends. I have to seize the moment and commandeer the snuggles. Today's the day! We are going to bake some memories...

Banana Cinnamon Swirl Muffins

You Will Need:

  • 3-4 overripe bananas, smashed up
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

  • For the Swirl:
    • 1/3 cup sugar
    • 1 tbsp cinnamon

    • Preheat oven to 350°F
    • Line your muffin pan with 12 paper liners or spray a 9×5″ loaf pan with cooking spray
    • Mix bananas, butter, sugar, egg, and vanilla together
    • Sprinkle baking soda and salt around on top of the banana mixture; then gently stir in flour
      • Be careful not to over-mix!
    • In a small dish, mix together the 1/3 cup sugar and 1 tbsp cinnamon
    • Fill the paper liners halfway with batter then evenly distribute 1/2 the cinnamon-sugar mixture over the batter (or add 1/2 of the batter to the loaf pan and then sprinkle half, or a little more than half of the cinnamon-sugar mixture all over the batter in the pan)
    • Add the rest of the batter to the paper liners and then sprinkle the leftover cinnamon-sugar on top (or sprinkle the rest of the cinnamon-sugar all over the loaf)
    • Bake for 20-25 minutes (50-60 minutes for a 9×5″ loaf)

    *Recipe adapted from DeliciouslyDeclassified