Monday, 30 January 2012

Skor Caramel Brownies

Sunday night dinners have been a thing with Matt's family ever since we got married 6 years ago. I truly love these dinners, for the following reasons:
 a) I love Matt's family. They are the amazing in-laws to me and grandparents to my boys. They are just  plain fun.
b) I don't have to cook (because it's no secret that I would much rather bake than cook).
c) My mom-in-law is a fab cook. Really truly great.
d) I am in charge of dessert. I try not to repeat, unless by request, so it means I try new things out once a week. Plus, I take it out of my house and to someone else's, which helps my self control. Slightly.

This week, the only request was for chocolate cake from my 5 year old. I was going to, too, but when I looked I discovered that we were out of powdered sugar, and you can't very well have a decent chocolate cake without frosting. In keeping with the chocolate theme (I wasn't about to go and break any hearts, now), I decided on brownies instead. Ooey-gooey, slap-in-the-face delicious. These have a layer of creamy caramel and skor bits sandwiched between fudge-like chocolate chip brownies. Not a bad end to the weekend.

Skor Caramel Brownies

  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1  1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup pre-made caramel sauce
  • 3/4 cup Skor baking bits

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees ferenheit.
-Melt butter in a microwave safe bowl.
-Add sugar and vanilla and stir until smooth.
-Beat in the eggs, one at a time.
-Stir together flour, cocoa and salt.
-Add to butter mixture.
-Fold in chocolate chips until combined.
-Spray a 9x9 baking dish with non-stick spray.
-Pour in half of the brownie batter.
-Pour on caramel and sprinkle Skor bits on top.
-Top with remaning brownie batter and bake for 35-45 minutes.
-Let sit for at least 15 minutes before digging in.
-Serve with vanilla ice cream or a cold glass of milk!


Friday, 27 January 2012

lemon raspberry cupcakes

Usually when I bake, or crave a treat, I go for chocolate. But, today was so sunny and bright, (which is a big deal in Washington in January), and I just felt like something light and fluffy.  What is lighter and yummier than  raspberries and lemon? So, here is my concoction:

Lemon raspberry cupcakes

  • 24 vanilla cupcakes ( I am still in search of an awesome recipe....if you have one, pass it along!)

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  •  2/3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 cup raspberries

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup prepared lemon curd
Lemon curd:
  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp lemon zest
whisk together eggs, sugar and lemon juice.  put in double boiler and cook for about 10 min. (or until thick like sour cream) while stirring constantly.    Remove from heat, and add butter and lemon zest. stir it up. (it is soooo yummy!)


Whip together whipping cream, and 2/3 cup of powdered sugar. When stiff, fold in raspberries.

Cut tops off cupcakes.  Pipe a large dollop of filling onto bottom of cupcake.  Place top back on.

Cream together butter, shortening, vanilla and milk. Add powdered sugar and beat until creamy. Add lemon curd, and beat until creamy. 

Pipe onto cupcake, and add a raspberry and some lemon zest for prettiness.


вареники (Ukrainian Perogies)

See that girl up there? That's Leah. This is her with her Ukrainian dance group at a competition when she was about 15. We all danced, but Leah is our favourite one to reminisce about make fun of. Was Leah good at Ukrainian dancing? Heck no. Is she good at Ukrainian cooking? You better believe it.

We are Ukrainian, through and through. Our Mom's parents immigrated to Canada just a few months before she was born. She didn't even speak English until she started elementary school. We grew up with a huge Ukrainian influence in our home, which is pretty much translated into food. Our favourite of which is Varenyky (or perogies, as you probably know them).

Last week,  Jessica was visiting Leah in Seattle and we realized that because of the miles between us, we had never (as adults) actually made them together. With the incoming snowstorm we knew we would be stuck in the house, so the timing seemed perfect.

This recipe will yield about 200 perogies. Just to give you an idea, if you are making dinner for 4 people, you will probably want about 30.

Varenyky (Perogies)

  • 5 pounds of russet potatoes
  • 1 big onion
  • 1/2 cup butter, divided
  • 4 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2 tsp salt

*These are the ingredients for ONE batch of dough- if you are making this much filling, you will need about 3 batches, but don't make them all at once. 
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour  
  • 1 cup potato water
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp salt


 Peel and quarter your potatoes, and boil just like you would if you were making mashed potatoes.

Chop up your onion and sautee it in 1/4 cup of the butter, until it's transluscent.

When your potatoes are soft, drain them, but KEEP the water! The easiest way is to put your colander into a stainless steel bowl, like this.

Add the cheddar cheese, sauteed onions, 1/4 cup of butter, and salt. Put a lid on and let it sit for 5-10 minutes to let the cheese and butter melt. Take the lid off and mash away. We like to start with a potato masher until it's all mushy, and then take a hand-held mixer to it. Try to resist the urge to just eat the filling by itself. Ok, you can sneak just a bit.

Now is when you make the dough. You need to do it in 3 batches for a few reasons. It's a somewhat stiff dough. so if you make it all at once, it will be too hard by the time you get to the end of it. Also, you want the dough warm when you work with it (which it will be from the potato water).

Put the flour, oil, salt, and reserved potato water in a large bowl, and knead with your hands. Work until you form a large ball.

Roll out your dough with a rolling pin until it's about this thick.

Using a biscut cutter (or a glass, if you don't have a biscut cutter), make circles.

Here's where it gets fun. Spoon about 1 tbsp worth of filling into the middle of a dough circle.

Close the circle into a half-moon shape and pinch along the edges. And I mean really pinch. You don't want it to open when it's cooking.

Have a cookie sheet ready and sprinkled with flour. Put the finished perogies on the sheet. If you're planning to freeze and save your perogies, stick the cookie sheet right into the freezer once the cookie sheet is full.

Once frozen, put into a large ziplock freezer bag until you're ready to cook them, unless you're going to eat them right away.

Get some salted water at a good boil. Put in your perogies, one by one (they splash!). You will know they're ready when they float at the top. Let them float for about 1 minute before taking them out. You can use a colander or a slotted spoon. Serve with a dollop or sour cream and fried onions.

Although not traditional, our favourite way is to fry them (in more butter, of course) after they have been boiled. But you really can't lose either way.

-Jessica and Leah

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Orange Chocolate Chip Muffins

My mama used to tell me that her eyes used to be blue, but she ate so much chocolate that it turned them brown. I believed her. You may say you like chocolate, but I would put money on the fact that my mom liked it more. At any given time, there were at least 5 chocolate bars stashed somewhere in her bedroom, just in case of a must-eat-chocolate-now emergency. It would absolutely amaze me that she could have chocolate just sitting there, waiting to be eaten. I liked my chocolate right here and now, thank you very much. But she taught me to savor things. The anticipation of something is almost as good as the thing itself.

I can't say that I have learned the truthfulness of this completely yet- I am pretty darned impatient. Good things come to those who wait? Who cares. BUT, I have learned to save my chocolate. After all, what if we get snowed in for a week and I can't get to the store? I have a  basket on the topmost shelf of my cupboard with basically the entire edible contents of my Christmas stocking in it. Don't get me wrong, I have eaten lots of it already, but my hubby  Santa was good to me. And in that basket is a Terry's chocolate orange. Oh how I love chocolate and orange together.

This morning I was looking for some breaky and I accidentally found my way into the basket. As I was brainlessly munching away, I thought that I should probably come up with a way to eat this for breakfast without feeling so guilty about it.

Orange Chocolate Chip Muffins

  • 1 orange quartered and seeds removed (with peel)
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup butter or 1/2 cup margarine
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cup sall-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips


  • Preheat oven to 400F; spray a muffin tin (12) with non-stick cooking spray like Pam and set aside.
  • Put orange quarters in food processor (or blender) along with orange juice and process or blend until pureed.
  • Add egg, butter, and vanilla to food processor and combine; pour into large bowl.
  • Combine dry ingredients together in a separate bowl, then add all at once to orange mixture.
  • Add chocolate chips
  • Stir to combine.
  • Fill muffin cups about 3/4 full.
  • Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes; remove from oven and let stand in tin for 5 minutes before removing muffins.

I like them fresh out of the oven with a bit of butter and a cup of tea. Now that's a breakfast!


Recipe adapted from this recipe.


Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Lemon Bars

Have I mentioned I love lemon? I may have. Like in my previous post. This is the beginning of a lemon addiction, I tell you. Just so you're prepared.

I wasn't even planning on making these today. I was going to make a chocolate pie, because my book club is discussing "The Help" by Kathryn Stockett today, and if you've read it, you know why I should make that pie. But then I was walking through the grocery store and these lemons jumped into my cart. It was really quite phenomenal. I've never before seen fruit that can move of its own accord, but I tell you, these lemons did. 2 hours later these were in my oven. It's a pretty good thing I have somewhere to bring them tonight, because if I didn't, I would be eating them all. The hubs doesn't get my love affair with cirtus fruit. Anyway, I will make a chocolate pie later, I promise. But for today, I'm sticking with these. They grow lemons in Mississippi, right?

Pinterest was good to me. I found several recipies that looked good, but I liked the look of these from here.


Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Lemon Loaf

Is there anything better than lemons? I dare you to find another fruit that tastes just as good with salmon as it does caesar salad. Or one that is refreshing enough to make into a drink to cool you down on a hot day, and yet is just as delicious in a pie, a cake, or a bread? Good luck. I think that lemon takes the cake. Or in this case, the loaf. A good friend of mine gave me this fabulous recipe.

One the holidays are over, I am completely done with winter and impatiently awaiting the spring. Well, summer really, but I'll take what I can get. I can't wait for the cherry blossoms, daffodils, blue sky...the list goes on. For me, lemons and spring go hand in hand. I think it must be something to do with the fresh yellow colour. Or maybe the association comes from a lifetime or spring cleaning with lemon scented cleaning products. Either way, bring it on. I am waiting.

Easy Lemon Loaf

1 cup butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
4 eggs
1 cup milk
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
dash of salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp lemon juice

- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Mix all ingredients up to salt in a mixer or with beaters.
- Generously grease 2 loaf pans with butter or non-stick spray.
- Pour mixture into pans and bake for 45-60 minutes, until a knife comes out clean.
- Immediately after removing from oven, combine 1/2 cup of sugar and lemon juice, poke holes in the loaf with a toothpick, and pour lemon sauce over loaves.
- Leave in pan to cool for about 15 minutes before removing.

Eat it and think of spring!