Sunday, August 29, 2010

Cupcake Flowers

I made up some Devil's Food Cupcakes for my fiance to take to a BBQ on Friday, and decided to give some simple flowers a try.  We had learned how to make these in class, but this is the first time I have tried them outside of the classroom!

The first few were a little sketchy, but after a while I think I started to get the hang of it!

I did both regular and mini cupcakes for the BBQ. Lately I have been noticing that most people prefer the mini cupcakes to the regular, maybe it is because you can eat 2 or 3, and still not feel guilty? :)

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Spicy Sweet Potato Fries

I made these earlier this week to go with the Big Macs we had made. These are so delicious, I love how the sweetness of the sweet potato mixes with the spiciness of cayenne pepper! 

These fries are also much healthier than most frozen ones that you buy at the store, and they are also great because you can control exactly what goes on them.

Spicy Sweet Potato Fries

  • 1 large sweet potato, sliced into 1 cm wide slices
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  1. Preheat your oven to 450F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. If you don't have parchment paper, then spray it well with cooking spray
  2. Slice the sweet potato into fries that are about 1 cm thick, and then place all of the raw fries in a bowl
  3. Add the olive oil, paprika, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper
  4. Mix thoroughly, then spread the fries out on the prepared baking sheet
  5. Bake for 25 - 35 minutes, stirring occasional to ensure that the fries bake evenly

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Homemade Big Macs

If there is one thing that I have a weak spot for, it is Big Macs. Not only are they too delicious for my own good, but they are the tastiest thing you can eat at 2 AM after a night out!

I found this recipe for Mini-Mac Sliders on, and printed it off immediately. If there was a way to get Big Macs in my own kitchen, I had to try it out!

First I started off with mixing together my burgers.  They include really simple ingredients and I was able to make them quite quickly.  One thing that I would do differently next time would be to make my burger patties much thinner. I was trying to make only 6 burgers to cut down on the number of leftovers, and they were a little thick for a Big Mac :)

Next up? The delicious secret sauce! It is mostly just a mixture of mayo, creamy french dressing, and sweet green relish. So good!

I then topped off my bun with the simple remaining ingredients, iceberg lettuce and pickles. (Yes, I know the lettuce should be shredded, but I was just in too much of a hurry to eat my burger!)

So good!

I only had marble cheese at home, but cheddar or colby jack cheese would be even better on this!

I served up my Big Macs with spicy sweet potato fries, what a great supper!

This recipe makes 6 to 8 regular burgers, or about a dozen sliders (mini burgers). Enjoy!

Homemade Big Macs
  • Burgers
    • 1 to 1.5 lbs ground beef, extra lean
    • 2 green onions, both white and green parts diced
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 1 tsp pepper
    • 1/2 tbsp olive oil
    • 1 egg
  • Secret Sauce
    • 1/2 cup mayo
    • 2 tbsp creamy french dressing
    • 3 tbsp sweet green relish
    • 1 1/2 tbsp white onion, finely diced
    • 1 tsp vinegar
    • 1 tsp sugar
    • dash of salt
  • buns (6 - 8 if making regular burgers, 12 dinner rolls if making sliders)
  • cheese slices
  • pickles (sliced)
  • iceberg lettuce (shredded)
  1. Place the ground beef, diced green onions, salt, pepper, olive oil, and egg in a medium mixing bowl
  2. Mix well with your hands, and then press the meat mixture into patties.  
  3. You can either cook the burgers on the BBQ, in the oven, or in a pan on the stove top, whichever method you prefer best!
  4. Mix together the mayonnaise, french dressing, green relish, diced onion, vinegar, sugar, and salt in a small mixing bowl.  Taste test, then taste test again. 
  5. Spread some of the 'secret sauce' on both the top and bottom of each bun
  6. Place the lettuce on the top half of the bun, and the sliced pickles on the bottom half
  7. When the burgers are ready, place the cooked patty on top of the pickles, then add the cheese
  8. Close it all up, and fall in love!
I will post my recipe for the spicy sweet potato fries later this week :)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Wilton Cake Decorating - Level 1, Flowers!

Yesterday I had my third Level 1 class at Michael's, and we tackled some flowers!  It was actually a lot of fun, and I love the way they dress up a cupcake.  The icing colors aren't prime, but they worked for practicing purposes!

We used almost every tip that came in our beginners cake in this class; it was amazing to see how much we have learned already!

I don't have pictures of the first few we tried in class (simple flowers and rosettes), or of the shell borders, but these are an idea of what we have learnt so far.

The first large flower we tackled was the 'pompom flower'. It is really cute, and I think the techniques for this flower can be applied in so many fun ways!

The second large flower was the 'shaggy mum'.  I am not quite sure what kind of flower that really is, but it was super fun to make! And the techniques for this flower can be applied to making animals, grass, hair on characters, and so much more!

Next week is our final class, and we get to apply all that we have learned so far to a final project - a fully decorated cake! I have no idea what I am going to make yet, so I am currently on the search for some inspiration.

This class has been so much fun, and I have learned so many new techniques.  I would recommend it to anyone who wants to know the basics of cake decorating.

Between classes, I have also been practicing the first few techniques we had learned. Slowly but surely I am figuring this decorating thing out!

Half of the batch I had a layer of icing on top of the cupcake, and the second half didn't because both my fiance and I prefer our cupcakes with very little icing.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Raspberry, Walnut, and Chocolate Blondies

Let me be straight with you, I have little to no experience making squares of any kind.  I am not really sure why I have never had the urge to try them before, but I am currently very inexperienced in the dessert square department.  

A couple months ago I tried a fantastic sounding recipe for fudge-y squares, and disaster! They tasted nasty!

Then I saw this recipe on, and I figured, "these looked way too delicious to go as badly as my first attempt!".  So I gave squares a second chance.  And you know what? I am glad I did! These were so delicious, and the recipe is really versatile.  I used what I had left in my pantry instead of buying the almonds the recipe called for, and the blondies were fantastic!

I topped mine with red and yellow raspberries, walnuts, and chocolate chips.  The raspberries tasted amazing in this recipe. The original recipe can be found here.

Raspberry, Walnut, and Chocolate Blondies

  • 1/2 stick plus 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 2/3 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 cup (generous) raspberries
  1. Line a square baking pan (8") with parchment paper and butter the lining
  2. Preheat your oven to 325 F
  3. Mix together the flour, baking powder, and the salt in a bowl
  4. Beat together the sugar and the butter until it is well mixed and fluffy in a second bowl
  5. Add the 2 eggs and the vanilla to the sugar mixture, mix well
  6. Add the dry ingredients to the wet, and mix thoroughly
  7. Add 1/4 cup of walnuts and 1/4 cup of chocolate chips to the batter and mix until evenly distributed
  8. Pour the batter into the square pan and spread it around with a spatula to level it
  9. Cover the batter with the raspberries, remaining walnuts, and remaining chocolate chips
  10. Place in oven and bake for about 50 minutes to 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean
  11. Cut into squares, and enjoy! 

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Wilton Cake Decorating - Level 1

I am currently taking a Wilton Cake Decorating class at Michael's in an attempt to learn the basics about cake and cupcake decorating.  I know how to make these things taste good, but anything more than a decorative swirl is beyond me!

I decided to go with a vanilla cake and fill it with chocolate pudding. The buttercream I used was a classic vanilla buttercream, but I think I might play around with the fillings and the buttercream flavors more next time to keep things interesting!

We had the option of trying out a 'gel transfer' too, so I chose a simple starfish. I figured if my cake was already blue, let's go with an underwater theme.  I filled the starfish with classic stars (which we learnt how to make last class), and I think it came out pretty decent.

Then I finished it all off with a simple border, mostly because I was running out of time in the class!

Next week we are decorating cupcakes! My favorite! We will be learning how to pipe flowers, leaves, how to fill cupcakes, and who knows what else. I can't wait!

I will be sure to keep you posted with my progress and/or failures in decorating. Who knows what next week will bring. :)

Have a great week!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Strawberry Shortcake Cake

Yesterday we were celebrating my sister's birthday, well, at least I thought we were celebrating my sister's birthday! It turns out that it was all a clever ruse to get me to my surprise bridal shower! It was an amazing time, we had a spectacular Mexican Fiesta bridal shower! It was awesome :)

Since I was under the impression that we were celebrating her birthday, I decided to make her favorite cake, strawberry shortcake cake.  This was my first attempt at making a cake and I was so happy with the results.  I think everyone else thought so too, there was none left at the end of the day!

Luckily, I got a picture of the last piece!

This recipe is from, and it also had a ton of fantastic reviews on so I knew it had to be a winner.

The original recipe stated to bake the cake in a deep pan (at least 2" deep) and then to cut it in half to get the two pieces, but I only own two standard 9" pans and they worked great! I just cut down the baking time in half and they came out perfectly

While the cakes cooled, I prepared the strawberries.  The original recipe called for 1 pound of strawberries, but next time I think I will use 1 1/2 pounds of strawberries so that there is more in each layer to enjoy!

The strawberries were then spread on top of each layer, and placed in the fridge to let everything firm up so that icing would be easier.  Then each layer of strawberries was covered by a layer of the delicious cream cheese icing, and then stacked on top of each other.

The remaining icing was used to cover the rest of the cake, and then the cake was done!

This cake is best kept in the fridge until serving.  This helps keep the icing firm (it can get soft quickly in this warm weather) and helps to keep the cake from getting a soggy texture from all the tasty strawberry juices.

Next time you have strawberries in the fridge, make this cake!

Strawberry Shortcake Cake
  • For The Cake:
    • 1 1/2 cups flour
    • 3 tbsps corn starch
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1 tsp baking soda
    • 1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp butter, room temperature
    • 1 1/2 cups sugar
    • 3 eggs
    • 1/2 cups sour cream
    • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Icing:
    • 1 block cream cheese (250 grams)
    • 1 cup butter
    • 1 1/2 pounds confectioners (icing) sugar
    • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 pounds strawberries
  • 5 tbsps sugar (separated)
  1. Preheat your oven to 350F.  Spray each of your 8" or 9" round cake pans with cooking spray, or coat with butter and flour.
  2. Sift the first 4 ingredients together in a medium mixing bowl
  3. Cream the butter and sugar together until nice and fluffy
  4. Add the eggs to the butter/sugar mixture, making sure to mix in each egg fully before adding the next one
  5. Add both the sour cream and the vanilla to the liquid ingredients, and mix well
  6. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet, and mix until the batter is just coming together
  7. Pour into two 8" or 9" round cake pans and cook for about 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into each cake
  8. When the cakes are done cooking, allow to cool completely before adding the strawberries and icing
  9. As the cakes cool, remove the stems and cut each strawberry in half.  
  10. Place all of the strawberry halves in a bowl, then top with 3 tbsps of sugar, stir, and let sit for half an hour
  11. Separate the strawberries into two bowls after half an hour, and then sprinkle 1 tbsp of sugar over each bowl of strawberries and let sit for another half an hour
  12. As the strawberries are sitting, cream together the butter and cream cheese.  Add the vanilla and mix well.
  13. Add the icing sugar half cup at a time, mixing well after each addition
  14. Pour the first bowl of strawberries over one of the cakes, juices and all. Repeat with the second bowl of strawberries and the second cake.
  15. Place each half in the fridge or freezer for 5 to 10 minutes to make icing easier
  16. Spread about 1/4 to 1/3 of the icing onto one of the cakes on top of the strawberries, then repeat with the second cake
  17. Layer the cakes and then spread the rest of the icing on the sides to complete the cake
  18. Store in the fridge until ready to serve!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Raspberry Cream Pie

I saw this recipe on one hot day, and it just looked to good to be true.  We have still been picking huge numbers of raspberries over the past week, and I have been trying to find new and fun ways to use them up before they go bad or over-ripen on us.

This recipe was so easy to make, and it didn't involve turning on the oven at all! Since we don't have AC in our house, the thought of turning on the oven when it is 28C outside, and a cool 27C inside, is a little bit crazy.

These pies were ready so quickly, it really surprised me.  And they looked so yummy, I had a hard time waiting for them to set in the freezer!

I made two pies with traditional red raspberries, and two pies with yellow raspberries.  The red raspberries produced a more 'raspberry' tasting pie, but the yellow raspberry pie was really good as well.

I am sure you can use this recipe with any type of berry that you currently have an abundance of, just be sure to change the yogurt flavor accordingly. I think this would make an amazing strawberry pie, or a really great blueberry pie too!

The original recipe can be found here.  This recipe makes 2 raspberry cream pies.

Raspberry Cream Pie

  • 2 1/2 cups oreo crumbs
  • 1/2 cup butter (melted)
  • 2 to 2 1/2 cups raspberries
  • 6 tbsps sugar
  • 24 ounces raspberry yogurt
  • 2 packages of instant vanilla pudding mix (Jello brand has a really good mix)
  • 2 cups whipping cream
  1. Mix your oreo crumbs and butter in a bowl, then split the oreo crumb mixture between two pie plates
  2. Press the crumbs into a solid crust with the bottom of a glass, and up the sides of the pie plate with your fingers
  3. Place the two pie plates in the fridge or freezer so they can set while you make the filling
  4. Smash the raspberries in a bowl, and then cover them with the sugar.  Let sit for about 15 minutes so they get all nice and juicy
  5. Mix the raspberry yogurt with the vanilla pudding mix until completely combined
  6. Add the whipping cream, and stir until mixed. Then beat on high for a couple of minutes; it will be nice and fluffy!
  7. Fold in the raspberries until evenly distributed, then pour into the prepared pie plates
  8. Place in your pies in the freezer to set for a couple hours.  
  9. If not serving right away (if pie is going to be in the freezer longer than a couple of hours), cover with saran wrap after about half an hour.  Then remove the pie so that it can properly thaw before serving.
  10. Serve with whipped cream, or more raspberries. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Lemon Buttercream Icing

I really love citrus flavored desserts: lemon poppyseed muffins, lemon meringue pie, citrus glazes, lemon cupcakes, mmm I will eat those any day! So what better way to top a cupcake then with lemon buttercream icing?

This lemon buttercream is really easy to make, and it as amazing on the lemon poppyseed muffins (these are so light, some people have told me they are closer to a cupcake, so they definitely deserved some icing treatment!).  This icing recipe is from, and the actual recipe can be found here.

This icing tastes the best when you use real lemon juice instead of the bottled lemon juice that you can buy at the grocery store.

The lemon buttercream icing has a strong lemon flavor due to the addition of lemon zest, so it would be great on vanilla cupcakes as well!

Lemon Buttercream Icing
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening (not the kind that is butter flavored)
  • 1/2 cup softened butter or margarine
  • 1 lemon juiced and zested
  • 4 cups sifted icing sugar
  1. Cream the shortening and the softened butter together
  2. Add the lemon juice and the lemon zest, then beat well with a handheld mixer or with a stand mixer until fully mixed
  3. Add the icing sugar 1/2 cup at a time, beating until it is fully mixed before adding the next 1/2 cup
  4. If the icing seems really stiff, you can add some more lemon juice, milk, or water and beat until it is nice and fluffy.
  5. Top your favorite cupcake! Enjoy!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Chocolate Butterscotch Bliss Cupcakes

I made some cupcakes to bring to work last week, and the request was 'butterscotch'! I was excited because I have never made butterscotch anything before, so this was a great opportunity to try something new.

I made chocolate cupcakes using the chocolate mint cupcakes recipe, but used vanilla instead of the peppermint extract.  These are an awesome chocolate cupcake recipe, make them for the next birthday!

I then made some homemade butterscotch which turned out so amazing, I wanted to eat it all before it had even cooled! So good! The butterscotch recipe is one I had found online, the original post can be found here.

I cut out a small cone in the top of each cupcake, and then placed about 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons of butterscotch in each cut-out.  The little cone pieces were then placed back in their original spot, sealing in the butterscotch filling.

For the icing, I used some of the butterscotch I had made previously to give the icing a slight butterscotch flavor. This worked out really well, and I think this butterscotch icing would be great by itself on a plain chocolate or vanilla cupcake. I can't wait to make it again and try it with vanilla cupcakes!

After the cupcakes were iced, I drizzled the remaining butterscotch sauce on top, and they were ready to go!

The chocolate cupcake recipe makes about 18 cupcakes, and the butterscotch and butterscotch icing recipes work perfectly for the 18 cupcakes.  The chocolate and butterscotch paired really well, they were so tasty and were the first cupcakes to disappear!

Butterscotch Filling/Drizzle
  • 4 tbsp btter
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 4 tsp corn syrup
  • 1/2 tsp vinegar
  • 2/3 cup whipping cream (or heavy cream)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  1. Place the butter and the brown sugar in a small saucepan on low heat and stir until the butter has completely melted.
  2. Add the corn syrup, vinegar and heavy cream and bring to a boil
  3. Let the mixture simmer for about 5 minutes on low heat, then remove from heat and add the vanilla and salt
  4. Let mixture cool and thicken before placing in cupcakes and drizzling on top.
Butterscotch Frosting
  • 2/3 cups butter
  • 2 tbsp of butterscotch 
  • 2 cups icing sugar, sifted 
  • 2 tsp whipping (or heavy) cream
  1. Cream the butter and butterscotch together in a medium mixing bowl
  2. Add the icing sugar 1/2 cup at a time, beating until fully incorporated before adding the next 1/2 cup
  3. Pour in the whipping cream, and continue beating until fluffy and smooth

Friday, August 6, 2010

Cedar Planked Salmon with a Maple Glaze

If there is one thing that always tastes amazing on the BBQ, it is salmon! We bought some cedar planks at the grocery store at the beginning of this summer, and have been on the lookout for a good recipe for salmon to use them with.  We found this on, and the original recipe can be found here.

The glaze was really easy to make, and the leftover glaze makes an awesome sauce to put on top of your salmon and any veggies you are having with it.  We cut our salmon into pieces before glazing and cooking it, because we wanted to get as much of that delicious glaze on each piece as we could!

Cooking with the cedar plank was really neat, and gave the salmon an extra dimension to the flavor that was so good!  I think next we are going to try cooking our veggies on a cedar plank to try to infuse that yummy flavor into them as well.

We served our salmon with grilled asparagus and some perishke's that we had picked up at the farmer's market that day.  The remaining glaze was delicious on our asparagus as well.

Cedar Planked Salmon with a Maple Glaze

  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp grated gingerroot
  • 4 tbsps lemon juice (with 1 tbsp set aside)
  • 3 tbsps soya sauce
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • untreated cedar plank
  • 2 to 2 1/2 pound salmon filet, with our without skin
  1. Soak your cedar board in water for half an hour
  2. In a small saucepan, bring the first 5 ingredients to a bowl (leaving the remaining tablespoon of lemon juice aside for now), and then let it simmer on low for about half an hour
  3. Place your soaked cedar board on the grill for a couple minutes to heat up
  4. While the cedar board is heating up, cover the salmon (skin side down, if it has the skin on it) with about half of the glaze.
  5. Transfer the glazed salmon to the cedar board, and cook until the salmon flakes apart with a fork (cooking times vary depending on the thickness of the salmon)
  6. While the salmon is cooking, heat the remaining glaze again and add the remaining tablespoon of lemon juice to make the sauce
  7. Enjoy on a patio in the warm sun!