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!