Wednesday 31 December 2014

Christmas Goodies & Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!!!!.....'s eve.

Long time no blog -- at least it feels that way anyways. I am the kind of person who the second a day off comes along I come down with a cold or virus bug of some sort. It was true while I was in school and it seems the tradition carries on! Hallelujah!

I just stopped by to say HI! And to share with you SOME, yes SOME of the goodies I made for Christmas this year as well as links to the recipes I used for them. Now you know me -- I love to experiment. That's why I have this blog, right? But in a pinch I always always fall back to tried and true recipes. Christmas and other holidays just isn't the time to mess around. And knowing me the tears would never stop if I messed up!

This will be a primarily food porn based post. So you are WELCOME. But before that I want to say THANK YOU!

Thank you to every single person who messaged, texted or simply told me in person that they appreciate my blog and posts. You don't really know how much it means and I remember every singly kind word. And that's not a joke. I really do -- I have a weirdly good memory that way!

If you have ever commented on the blog or on my Facebook page or e-mailed me -- that means so much. I am on a mission with this blog and you being a part of it with me is the most wonderful thing you could do. So thank you. I send a million and one cookies your way straight on through to 2015. Maybe I will send you 2, 015 cookies. Yes. That seems fair.

So onto the nom noms, mmmmmmk??

These are my ever so famous sugar cookies (seriously they are so delicious) and I use this recipe right here! For royal icing I use a variation of this one but I usually only make 1/2 batches at a time. The recipe never fails me, ever. Okay once -- but that was my fault!

Next I made these beautiful cake pops -- check them out!

Tuesday 23 December 2014

Healthy Christmas Dessert Round-Up

Ah, it's the most wonderful time of the year.

And by wonderful -- may I also include stressful, sugar-filled, debt-inducing and full of panic. But it is MOSTLY wonderful. I had a million and one recipes planned for Christmas. Vegan egg nog treats and wonderful truffles and more!

But it is also the busiest time of year and I found myself going from work to the mall to bed and repeating the process all over again while trying to jam events and functions in between.

Ah well. Maybe next year? If only one could give the gift of time!

I think even for people who don't celebrate Christmas there is an expectation that you will at least buy in to a certain extent. Maybe that means giving gifts around the office or to friends. Or perhaps bring some foodie treats to a party!? I laugh when anyone says I am difficult to buy for. I love food, chocolate, Hello Kitty -- and any combination of those things together is more or less a dream. EASY!

So if the stress of the holiday season is much and the loop on your belt seems tight...
And you wake up sweating and fearful in the dead of the cold winter night
Then perhaps some healthy treats in your belly are just what you may need
To counteract the anxiety of the quickening holiday speed!

There is a little jingle I wrote for you....your welcome. 

But really -- I know how terrible it feels to look at an array of food and worry and panic about what you can eat and what you can. What will make you bloated and uncomfortable or ill -- or just make you feel guilty and bad. It's frustrating. And I am NEVER one to advocate restricting of any kind. It's the holidays! Live your life and enjoy it. But for some of us there is a bit of pragmatic element to not being able to tolerate certain things (allergies, intolerances, ethical reasons, etc). 

So if you want to save the day for yourself and other health conscious/gluten free/vegan peeps -- please try one of the recipes I have compiled for you below! It includes three of my most popular recipes: the Coconut Cranberry Breakfast Cookie (perfect for Christmas morning), my Healthy Gingerbread Cookies (also perfect for the morning?) and my World's Healthiest Apple Pie (duh -- also breakfast food).  

I included an assortment of goodies that can take you from breakfast (cookies and scones and muffins!) to dessert (brownies and pies, oh my!) to healthy snacks and perfect gift ideas (protein truffles? yippee)! 

In the spirit of holiday cheer I offer you warm internet hugs and kisses from over here in the Arctic North...of Canada. Don't stress out -- at the end of the day there is much to be grateful for. Years from now the memories of you being stressed about not doing enough won't be the ones that stay. Because chances are if you are worrying about it -- well, then you are already doing enough! Enjoy the moment -- recruit helper elves and make delicious healthy treats for those special little  moments.

Now let's oogle at some noms, shall we?

Thursday 18 December 2014

Feeding My Kitchen Addiction: FoodSaver 4400 Review

Something I don't post as much about is my fascination, obsession and over-purchasing of kitchen and food related products. You would likely faint if you saw my room, kitchen and overall living space due to the sheer volume of things I own.

The composition of those things varies from scoops to pans, sheets and spatulas to sprinkles, glitters, flours, sauces and then of course photo props, lighting, accessories and most importantly: appliances.

I was gifted a Kitchen-Aid Stand- Mixer and a Kitchen-Aid Hand Mixer (thank you, you guys!) for my birthday this year. And that was my first glimpse into the world of legitimate mixers. I had been doing everything by hand up until that point (late August of this year).

Recently my mother purchased a new blender which I must say was equally as exciting. I do a lot of smoothies and recipes like my protein soft-serve as post-workout shakes and the new blender (it's a Ninja) makes my life so much easier. I had been using my Magic Bullet which is great -- but it doesn't really grind ice and frozen fruit as much.

Anyways the POINT is that my love for new gadgets and kitchen gizmos has exponentially increased since I started the blog. I think if you spend enough time in the kitchen anything to help that process flow more easily is hugely important.

Cue: the FoodSaver. When they initially sent me this product to review I did research on YouTube to see how it worked (a great resource if you really want a better sense of how to operate it) and it looked...So....FREAKIN' COOL! 

So what is it? It's a vacuum sealing appliance for the home which extends the freshness of foods and other by five times. This is because it essentially removes all the oxygen from the bag. Without the oxygen the growth of bacteria is inhibited significantly keeping food fresher longer!

It also reduces the space of many bulky items and allows you to keep items safe (you could, for example seal up perfume in luggage to keep it from spilling). You can find a lot of uses for it all over the internet -- the machine itself is really cool and does an AMAZING job of vacuum sealing items. It  really does extend the life of products and I can see this being great for folks who like to prep their meals in advance and store raw meat products in the freezer. 

Immediately I started to think of all the things I could use it for in strictly a baking capacity:

  • Storing cookie dough in the freezer and preventing freezer burn
  • Storing leftover cookies at room temperature for longer
  • Storing gluten free flours that I use less frequently
  • Storing large bags of nuts, grains and powders to keep them fresher and take up less space
  • Sealing chocolate chips, sprinkles, ingredients I use less often to keep them fresh
  • Storing baked goods in the fridge for longer

I wanted to vacuum seal all of the things! I was sent the FoodSaver 4400 and I have seen it sold at local retailers including Target and Wal-Mart. The price when I checked at Target for this model was 189.99 but I am sure with the holidays there will be sales!

Before I get into the meat and potatoes of the review -- let's do a quick unboxing!

The product is packaged really well with stryo-foam inside of this fun box!

So let's see what's inside!

Wednesday 17 December 2014

Sophia the First Cupcake Cake


I don't have a lengthy post for today, sadly. While there has been A LOT. I mean A LOTTTTTTTT of baking going on in my kitchen sometimes it's overwhelming to photograph everything as I go. So when I have cake pops, cupcakes, two kinds of cookies and a whole ton of other baking to do in a week my kitchen becomes a flurry of icing sugar and buttercream smeared yoga pants.

Don't feel bad for me though -- I love it! I thought I would share this cupcake cake I did for a little princesses first birthday! It's a cupcake pull-apart cake with a Princess Sophia the first theme.

I love the purple sooo much. I wanted to dive into this frosting!

I won't get into too much detail with ingredients -- you can get a sense of the technique over here with the rosette cake I did and I do have a vanilla cupcake with buttercream recipe on the blog as well. As for the frosting options if you visit my recipe index I have a whole bunch to choose from. You do want something that pipes really well so I would NOT suggest a meringue or whipped frosting for this idea.

I did a double batch of buttercream for this. So it yielded about 8- 10 cups. I had a touch left over but I will use it so it's no big deal!

For the design simple arrange the cupcakes however you would like to form a dress shape and adhere all of the cupcakes to the cake board with frosting. Pipe some frosting in between large holes, too. Otherwise it will droop and be all funky looking. Another tip: place the cupcakes as close together as possible!

I made fondant flowers, diamonds and a crown and decorated the necklace with white dragees and silver dragees.

I did brush the fondant accessories with lustre dust for some added oomph.

As you can see I piped some white rosettes at the bottom for Sophia's dress and some little buttercream rosettes for the bottom.

The white pearl dragees add such a beautiful elegance to the dress, I think.

This was a 28 cupcake cake. It ended up being quite large so I did glue two cake boards together for stability. Also I hunted quite a few places for a box big enough! It was a behemoth, that's for sure!

But so pretty!

And of course, some beautifully dainty cake pops, too! Oh cake pops. You are so moist and delicious and sweet, I love you.

But I don't love you when you fall off the stick into my vat of purple chocolate. Why you gotta be like that!!!!!

I hope you enjoyed this brief post. I know if you are anything like me, this time of year is full of chaos and cookies are flying left right and centre -- into my mouth, into boxes and containers -- it's a whirlwind, folks.

Until next time,

Happy Cupcake Cake'n!


Monday 15 December 2014

Chocolate Fudge Protein Bars

Do you ever have those recipes that never fail you? You make it countless times because it is reliable and delicious?

That is absolutely the case with these protein bars which were initially a granola bar that escalated to this chocolate fudgy protein madness.

All was well until the day I tried to blog the recipe. I actually had to throw a batch out. I HATE having to get rid of beautiful edible food. As someone who truly knows the value of a dollar...I HATE DOING THAT.

Can we admire these adorable Branch Pencils I bought a few weeks ago??

I don't know what happened! It was a stressful week, I was in a rush to make the bars and I made countless silly mistakes that I normally wouldn't do! Sometimes when the wheels in my brain get to spinnin' they really don't stop. Usually I can keep them quiet enough to do some baking but sometimes I make the silliest mistakes. Being in the kitchen is a great stress reliever but not if your spacing out!

One batch I made I used way too much almond milk and they essentially turned into gooey messes. The next batch was with a protein powder that just didn't taste good and it made the bars taste really terrible.

Failure after failure. However rest assured that these are not the failure -- as long as you pay close attention and don't do anything crazy it will work out perfect! The bars themselves have a wonderful chewiness to them which is punctuated with sweetness from the chocolate chips and coconut. The added protein is a bonus! Making these the perfect snack.

Word of caution: use the almond milk very very sparingly. You want them to stick together, right?! If you do add too much simply stir in some oat flour or flax seeds to soak up some of the moisture!

And also: press those bars down nice and firm. Otherwise your bars won't hold together as nicely!

Enough of the jibber jabber, let's get to the recipe!

Wednesday 10 December 2014

World's Healthiest Shortbread Cookies

Sometimes when I make cookies the aroma seems to fill the entire house with warmth. Of course this is universal with cookies, unless your cookies light on fire.

But with these cookies it was special. It was a scent I associate specifically with the winter and holidays. Time with family. Or with Netflix. Or both!

Healthy shortbread cookies of course seem a bit of a contradiction don't they? Shortbread has three main and crucial ingredients: butter, sugar and flour.

C'est tout! The holy trinity of delicious baked goods.

So how would one approach such a delicate situation without the use of the aforementioned crucial ingredients? With tissues (for the inevitable failures and tears which accompany them) a whisk, a spatula, a rolling pin...oh and chocolate.

Chocolate for the recipe and afterwards for rewarding my many attempts.

I have tested both versions of this recipe and both are absolutely LOVELY!

The flavours of butter and sugar, crumbly sweet cookie and a wonderful dark chocolate coating creating a cookie that tastes EXACTLY (and I mean everyone who tried these said this) like those tins of specialty cookies you get around the holidays. Do you know the ones?? What are they called?!! They came in like a royal blue tin and the cookies were all placed in muffin liner looking things...They remind me so much of my grandparents house during the holidays. I always went for the pretzel looking ones!

Anyways, these cookies are beautiful. Delicate and full of flavour. Really a wonderful gift to give this time of year all sitting nicely in a decorative tin, perhaps?

It's always nice to give edible gifts, I think. The crackled tops and uneven fork holes make these especially charming. Although to avoid the crackles tops simply roll the dough out onto parchment as opposed to a floured surface!

I think they look beautiful plain. Personally I find the chocolate really does something magical to the flavour and the pinch of cinnamon in the dough. But hey -- that's just me!

Without further ado I present to you, the World's Healthiest Shortbread Cookies!

Monday 8 December 2014

White Chocolate Chip Brownie Cookies

I think it's pretty obvious I am a chocolate lover.

Chocolate aficionado even.

The idea that a cacao bean shortage AND a coffee bean shortage are looming in the distance instills within me a sense of sadness so deep and dark the only thing to do is appreciate having BOTH things in my life by consuming them in high quantities until the inevitable demise of both crops. Buying sustainably in the meantime, of course.

What as I saying?

Oh yeah CHOCOLATE! Well the one baked dessert that just screams CHOCOLATE is the brownie. The quintessential chocolate dessert. It is neither cake nor cookie but occupies a whole world on it's own.

The only thing with brownies is they aren't really portable are they? Sure you CAN take them places but their true form is often compromised by sloshing around in a tupperware or squishing in a baggie.

For a long time I have been wanting to make a dark chocolate cookie with white chocolate chips.

And if you read the title of the post, which I am assuming you did (if you didn't, good for you for living life on the wild side) then you already know what happened.

The cookie was not meant to taste like a brownie. But by gosh, it sure tastes like one. And I think the addition of the white chocolate chips just makes it that much prettier.

BUT if you are vegan and can't find vegan white chocolate chips use dark chocolate chips or walnut pieces to really give it that OH YEAH I AM A BROWNIE LOOK AT ME vibe.

Because that's what we all should be going for, I think.

Wednesday 3 December 2014

A Very Happy Birthday & A Rosette Cake Tutorial

Things have been busy. 

Such is life, though, right? I think busy for the most part is good. I always like to bite of more than I can chew, pun intended (isn't it always with me, anyway)!

Which is a bit of a double-edged sword, sometimes. Baking for me seems to be a constant. I am always up to something in the kitchen. Whether it's just for fun or testing out new ingredients -- there are an infinite amount of possibilities I have yet to explore -- and more often than not the stress of photographing and editing as well as praying for good lighting can be overwhelming.

Moral of the story is bear with me -- new things are coming, I promise. But while things may be slowing down in the posting arena things are not slowing down in the kitchen. More importantly, this post is dedicated to my beautiful sweet mother whose birthday we just celebrated. I had a wonderful time making cookies and decorating cakes. I didn't worry about photographing them as much because the point of birthdays is to spend it with that person! It's not to worry about lighting or details. It's about the look on their face when they see what you made for them and admire your little details that you placed there especially for them.

And that to me is worth the world. I gathered around my family for brunch reservations at a beautiful downtown location and surprised my mother with brunch and dessert when we got back. For those who don't know, my mother is my best friend. I have had a bit of a complicated past and I truly think that what got me through those times was the love and unwavering support of my mom. She did not always understand what was happening, nor did I expect her to. But her persistence, her hugs, her thoughtful heart to hearts and warmth have allowed me to accomplish so much more in life than I ever would have thought possible.

There are not enough words in the English language to convey my love for her kind spirit. So, again, Happy Birthday Momma! I love you so much. Thank you for being my light and my hope when I could not find it, I hope that you enjoyed your birthday!

So let's have a peak at the desserts, shall we?  I will also share a brief tutorial on how to make a Rosette Cake (it's NOT my original idea, I see these all over Pinterest but this is just how I did it).

Thursday 27 November 2014

Simple Healthy Cornbread Muffins with Maple Drizzle

I think there comes a time in a girls life when she has to suck it up and address the fact that pumpkin season is over.

But I ain't about that life! Plus it's American Thanksgiving! Happy Thanksgiving, Merica! I decided to go traditional and make a healthy cornbread recipe to share with you!

My first time having cornbread was when I was staying in the States -- I had never heard of it before! And I thought it was so magical. Since then I have been wanting to make it home.

I figured now would be the perfect time to share it with you!

I hope you all have a wonderful day to spend with loved ones, watching football and eating pie. Because that is what holidays are all about, right!?

And getting up early on black friday to risk your life   get some great deals ;)

Canadian retailers have actually started to jump on the Black Friday thing -- this year the local malls are even having longer hours! Not sure if I will be brave enough to go to the mall but I still do have Christmas shopping to do.

Any who, the recipe is super simple -- it took NO time at all to prepare and clean up was easy. This is perfect if you only have a few guests but you can easily double the recipe to make a full dozen!

Just in case you are panicking and need some pumpkin recipes, STAT! I have included some of mine:

I made No Bake Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake Squares.

I made Pumpkin Pie Muffin Top Cookies!

I made Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Scones!

I made Pumpkin Patch Brownies...with PUMPKIN IN THEM!

I even made Pumpkin Pie!

Let's make muffins!

Monday 24 November 2014

Peppermint Hot Chocolate Donuts

This is the time of year when limited edition goodies are out. The new lattes, the mint chocolate everything -- the...donuts? (P.S Don't forget I made Candy Cane Cheesecake Brownies!!!!) (P.P.S I installed a new feature on the website so you can pin/tweet/facebook my recipes and photos easier! What do you think??)

Well if you live in Canada then you know Tim Hortons. OH TIM! How I owe so many of my successful early classes to you. You with your reliable favourites and sadly gluten everything. Well I saw some of their holiday donuts and the chocolate candy cane one caught my eye. I swooned, I fell so hard I could barely see straight! But I knew for certain one thing was true: that donut would lure me in, it would whisper sweet nothings in my ear and then it would tear me up from the inside out!

So while that seems lovely in everything, let us instead take a more, ahem, gentle approach:

A yes...a soft, moist, rich velvety chocolate donut with a chocolate mint glaze and all the sprinkles a gal could ask for. Without the tummy ache. Sorry, Tim...I win this time!

The fluffiness of these donuts are something I have never before experienced. They are SO soft, fluffy and delicately sweetened. Ahhh....all that, and vegan too. How kind of you, little donuts. I appreciate you.


Plain is beautiful but those Tim's donuts have a gorgeous chocolate glaze and candy candy topping. And so, too, will mine. 

Because I never liked simple, anyways. Although if you want to forgo the chocolate, that's okay, too....I guess.

In the end they are beautiful whichever way you want them!

So while I dive into one of these bad boys with a warm cup of almond milk, I cannot emphasize enough how much you MUST MAKE THESE. You simply must. Really.