Friday, 24 February 2012

Baby elephant for a baby boy

My sweet, darling little nephew was born last week. 11 days late. And let me tell you, that extra week and a half in the oven really made him smushy. His hands are the same size as my 7 month olds. And his feet? He'll be running by next month, most likely. He was 23 inches long. Yowza. Basically, he was a baby elephant. My poor, tiny little sister in law, with her 5 foot 3 inch frame and a baby elephant inside.

So, for the baby shower that we had last night, this cake seemed a fitting one. He really is a sweet little bundle. Happy birthday baby boy!

This cake was made with my classic chocolate cake recipe, the one I love and use for everything. You can find it here, just omit the lime.

I used a standard chocolate buttercream and added some orange, and covered it in fondant. The store bought kind -hello Wilton, thank you for making my life easier. If you want a fondanting tutorial, just give a shout out and we can do one with pics. I did this one solo, and it's hard to take pictures of yourself fondanting when you only have two hands.


Wednesday, 22 February 2012

this is NOT about food....

I like things pretty clean at my house.  My kids challenge this daily. I think they secretly leave things messy and gross just to see if they can get away with it. I think they laugh to themselves in an evil maniacal screech whenever they know I am about to find something nasty that they have left lying around.  The worst is their bathroom.  It is usually beyond description. Some one please explain to me how they get toothpaste on the walls, cupboards, floor, shower curtain, toilet, mirror, and anything in (or out of) sight.
This is what their toothbrush drawer usually looks like after about1 day of cleaning it.  Clearly lids must be  for losers. I finally couldn't take it anymore. I bought a cheap ($0.98) soap pump and squeezed their toothpaste into it.
See how easy it is t use? This is my 4 year old trying it out. He actually brushed his teeth about 10 times the first day, since toothpaste that looks like soap is pretty darn awesome...(to a 4 year old at least).
It has been almost 2 weeks, and I have not had any globby mounds of toothpaste plaguing me. I actually kinda think I might deserve a prize.


Thursday, 16 February 2012

Creamsicle Cookies

Remember my citrus problem? I have an unhealthy obsession with all things citrus. Lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit. I guess my obsession isn't really that unhealthy. It's better than, say, a chocolate obsession (because I definitely don't have one of those) or a chips and salsa obsession (we'll leave that to my husband).

I found the recipe for these cookies and they pretty much consumed my mind until I broke down and made them. We are moving in about a week, and I was trying really hard not to use my oven. I already cleaned it, and although I do enjoy cleaning most things, an oven is definitely not one of them. I wanted it to stay shiny, thank you very much. But in all seriousness, I could not stop thinking about these.

Yesterday after dinner I seized the moment, the boys were playing Wii Sports (their new obsession- at least it doesn't involve food) and Matt was playing with the baby. These were super quick and easy to throw together, and the house smelled deliciously orangey for the rest of the night.

As a Valentine's day gift to myself  my scale, I sent most of them to work with Matt. But not after having a few. And then a few more.

Creamsicle Cookies
    from this blog.

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Zest of 2 oranges
  • 1 3/4 cups white chocolate chips
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. In a small bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, and salt. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugars together until creamy. Beat in egg and vanilla until thoroughly incorporated. Gradually beat in flour mixture, being careful not to over-mix. Lastly, mix in orange zest and white chocolate chips.
Line your baking sheets with parchment paper. Roll dough into balls, and bake for 8 minutes or until just golden around the edges. Let cool on wire rack.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Thai Peanut Soup

When we were newlyweds, Matt delivered Chinese food to put himself through school. He would get home at around 10:30 or 11:00 reeking like chicken chow mein and sweet and sour pork. Not a smell I loved. In fact, I kind of lost my taste for Chinese food altogether. Not that there was much to lose, I never was a huge fan of the MSG soaked, deep fried food.

I kind of had this perception of Asian food that it would all taste like a vat of Fried Rice. Well, I could not have been more wrong. My favourite restaurant is Japanese Village- their sesame sauce is what dreams are made of. I have had some really delicious Vietnamese food too. So when I came across this recipe for Thai peanut soup (thank you Pinterest), it sounded dee-lish.

It was easy-peasy to make too, and it's Vegan AND Gluten-Free. Mental note to make this for my allergic-to-flour brother in law!

You can find the original recipe here.

Thai Peanut Soup
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 carrot, sliced
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 1/2 cups diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 cup natural peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth
  • juice from 3 limes
  • 1 tsp salt
  • cilantro, chopped, to garnish
  • dry roasted peanuts, unsalted, chopped, to garnish
In a large pot, cook onions, peppers and garlic until tender (5 minutes). Add all other ingredients except cilantro and peanuts. Simmer until cooked through. Top with cilantro and chopped peanuts. The original recipe says it will feed 5-6 people, I'm going to say more like 4.


Friday, 3 February 2012

Chocolate Lime Cupcakes with Lime Cream Cheese Frosting

Yesterday was Groudhog Day. Maybe you've heard of it. Or maybe you've heard of the movie. I love me some Bill Murray, especially in Groundhog Day. And since it's (to my knowledge) the only movie based on this holiday, I get to watch it once a year. Well, yesterday, Punxsutawney Phil predicted 6 more weeks of winter for those in the US of A. Suckers. His Canadian cousin, Wiarton Willie said that those of us in the Great (not so white) North will be getting an early spring. Meaning me. Ha. And so far, it's been true. February 3rd and it was so warm and sunny I had my living room window open all day.

So, naturally, I had to make something spring-y. Had to. Plus. limes were on sale and I had 8 plump and juicy ones sitting in my fruit bowl.

Chocolate and lime is not a typical flavour combo, but I really don't know why. Alone they're great, but together, they're amazing. Something about the richness of the chocolate and the tart but soft lime flavour really works. Is you're with me here in Canada, make some to celebrate early spring. If not, you need something to drown your sorrows in anyway.

I found this chocolate cake recipe a few years ago online somewhere. I don't remember where, but it's my favourite cake recipe. I adapted it a little for this.

Chocolate Lime Cupcakes
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1  3/4 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup cocoa
  • 1  1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1  1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 3 tsp vanilla
  • zest of one large lime
  • 1 cup boiling water
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Stir together dry ingredients.
Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla. Whisk for about 2 mins (or use hand-held beaters or stand mixer).
Mix in lime zest.
Stir in boiling water.
Pour into cupcake liners (I used medium, but you could use mini or large as well).
Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until a knife comes out clean.

Lime Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Juice of one lime
  • Zest from 3 limes
Put all ingredients into stand mixer and beat until smooth and creamy. You can use hand held beaters too. Put in piping bag with your favourite cupcake tip and pipe on cupcakes.


Wednesday, 1 February 2012

pre-made frozen sugar cookies

I happened to have some sugar cookie dough sitting in my fridge today that I needed to either use, or throw away.  I was really not in the mood to decorate cookies, or really put much effort in them at all.  I thought my kids might want to bake them after school though.  So, I decided to try making my own version of the ones you buy at the store. 
I started by rolling out the dough, and cutting it into circles.  Then I used a small heart cutter in the center of the cookie.  
  I saved 1/3 of the dough, and colored it pink. Then I used the same heart cutter to cut out little pink hearts.

I placed the pink heart into the center of the circle and put in on a waxed paper-lined cookie sheet.  I stuck the cookies in the freezer for about 20 minutes. 
After they were frozen hard, I stacked them with waxed paper in between each one.  Then I put them in a ziplock bag and back in the freezer until someone wants to make them.

To bake, set your oven to 325, and bake about 12 minutes.

These could not have been easier, and my kids are going to love baking them!