Monday, February 28, 2011

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Icing

Last week I made a total of 3 birthday cakes. That's a lot of cake for one week!

The second cake that I had made (the first was this delicious Black Forest Cake) was a Carrot Cake.  I didn't think my Carrot Cake Cupcakes recipe would be sturdy enough for layers, so instead I turned to for a new recipe.

I ended up finding this recipe; with over 3000 positive reviews I was pretty confident that it would be an amazing cake!  

I made a couple minor changes to the recipe and it came out perfectly! It was moist and delicious, everything that a carrot cake should be.  This cake took 3 whole cups of shredded carrots, so delicious.

I used cream cheese frosting for both the inside layer and to frost the outside of the cake.

The writing, shell border, and mini carrots on the top of the cake were all made out of cream cheese frosting as well. I ended up doubling the frosting recipe (compared to what was suggested on the site) in order to frost and decorate the whole cake. I have included the amount that I made in the recipe below.

I cannot wait for an opportunity to make this cake again.

Carrot Cake

  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 3 cups grated carrots (I shredded 8 regular carrots to get 3 cups worth)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F and grease and flour two 8" round baking pans (or spray with baking spray)
  2. In a large mixing bowl, beat together the eggs, oil, applesauce, sugar, and vanilla
  3. In a second bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg
  4. Add the dry ingredients and the shredded carrot to the wet ingredients, and mix until the batter just starts to come together
  5. Pour into the two prepared pans, and bake for 30 - 35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into a cake
  6. Let cool on a wire rack before frosting
  7. When cool, level cake (if needed) before layering and adding the icing
Cream Cheese Icing
  • 1 cup butter, room temperature
  • 500 g (two packages) cream cheese, room temperature
  • 8 cups icing sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • heavy cream, optional
  • food colouring for icing, optional
  1. Beat together the butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy
  2. Add the icing sugar about 2 cups at a time, mixing thoroughly
  3. Add the vanilla, and beat well
  4. If necessary you can add heavy cream a couple teaspoons at a time (if the icing is too thick) until the desired consistency is reached. I usually don't need to add any, but it is an option.
  5. Frost your cake (or cupcakes!) as desired
  6. Enjoy!

I baked it up in two 8" round cake pans, but you could also make a sheet cake by using a 9" x 13" pan.

This was my second cake in a row to bake up flat! Almost no levelling was required!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Mocha Frosting

I was craving a dessert with a coffee/chocolate combo for a couple weeks. I have no idea why since I don't even drink coffee, but who can explain cravings? 

So then when I came across the Cafe Mocha Cupcakes recipe on, they looked incredibly delicious!

The frosting was so good on these cupcakes, I am definitely adding it to my list of favourites.  This would be awesome on a variety of cupcake or cake flavours, but I think it was perfect on top of chocolate cupcakes.

This recipe is enough to frost a dozen cupcakes.

Mocha Frosting

  • 1 1/2 sticks butter, room temperature (3/4 cup)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 4 cups icing sugar
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tbsp (heaping) of instant coffee granules dissolved in 1/2 tbsp hot water
  • 2 - 4 tbsp heavy cream
  1. In a medium bowl whisk together the icing sugar and cocoa powder
  2. In a separate bowl, cream the butter until light and fluffy.  
  3. Add the icing sugar/cocoa powder about a cup at a time to the creamed butter
  4. After all of the icing sugar and cocoa powder has been added, pour in the vanilla and coffee/water and mix well on high
  5. Add the heavy cream 1/2 tbsp at a time until the desired consistency is reached
  6. Decorate your favourite cupcakes
  7. Enjoy!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

John's Chili

While I love to cook and bake on a regular basis, there is nothing as good as when someone else makes supper!  We were craving some warm comfort food one day and so John decided he was going to make a pot of chili in our crock pot.

He looked around on, and found Boilermaker Tailgate Chili.  The recipe had over 2000 positive reviews, but it was huge!  So he decided to halve it and got to work using the recipe as a guideline. I really do love when he makes supper.

He cooked the chili for about 5 hours on low in the crock pot, and it was amazing! Sometimes I seem to forget how well he can cook because I am always in the kitchen :) I think I need to let him take over more often.

This recipe has some good spice, so if you don't want it to have so much heat you can half the chili and chipotle chili powders.

I was so sad to eat the last bowl of leftovers on Thursday. This is easily our new favourite chili recipe.

John's Chili

  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1/2 lb ground Italian sausage
  • 1 can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can beans in chipotle sauce
  • 1 large can (about 28 oz) diced tomatoes with juice
  • 1 small can (5.5 fl oz) can tomato paste
  • 1/2 large onion, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 serrano pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1/4 pack of bacon, cooked and chopped
  • 3 tsp beef bouillon powder
  • 1/4 cup beer
  • 1 tbsp chili powder (you can halve this if you don't enjoy spicy food)
  • 1 tbsp chipotle chili powder (you can halve this if you don't enjoy spicy food)
  • 1 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp hot sauce
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • sour cream and shredded cheese for toppings (optional)
  1. Cook the ground beef and ground Italian sausage in a frying pan until cooked through.
  2. Drain off grease and place the cooked meat in the crock pot
  3. Add the rinsed kidney beans, chili beans with chipotle sauce, diced tomatoes (with juice), and tomato past and stir well
  4. Add the diced onion, celery, bell peppers, serrano pepper, bacon, beef bouillon powder, and beer, stir well
  5. Add the seasonings (chili powder, chipotle chili powder, Worcestershire sauce, minced garlic, oregano, cumin, hot sauce, basil, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, paprika, and sugar. Once again stir well
  6. At this point the chili will appear quite thick, but as it cooks more liquid will be added from the vegetables.
  7. Turn the crock pot on low, and cook for at least 3 hours.  
  8. After 3 hours, stir well and adjust seasonings if necessary. Allow to simmer on low until ready to serve.
  9. Serve with sour cream, shredded cheese, and some buns to clean the bowl
  10. Enjoy!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Chocolate Chip Pancakes

These pancakes are so good, I made them 3 times in about a week and a half. 3 times!  

The first time I made them, I was home alone for breakfast so I used dark chocolate chips and they were divine.  My husband hates dark chocolate, so I took advantage of the fact that I would be enjoying these all alone, and the dark chocolate went perfectly. I didn't even douse them in syrup, they were rich enough all on their own.

The second and third time I made these John was home so I threw in milk chocolate chips instead. They were still amazing, but definitely sweeter than the first time I made them. Again they were awesome on their own, but I was having a major sugar craving so the third pancake-meal I covered them in nutella and whipped cream. Pure bliss in pancake form right there.

This recipe is from, and I halved it because I was only cooking for 1 or 2 people each time. Once or twice I didn't have any buttermilk on hand so I used a substitute (1 tbsp of vinegar in a 1 cup measuring cup, then fill it up with milk and let it sit for a few minutes) that worked perfectly.  

You can also add berries instead of chocolate chips, or mix it up by adding 1/4 cup berries and 1/2 cup chocolate chips!

Chocolate Chip Pancakes

  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tbsp melted butter
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup (heaping) chocolate chips (milk chocolate, semi-sweet, dark, they all work!)
  • cooking spray
  1. In a bowl beat the egg with a fork
  2. In a second bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt
  3. Add the buttermilk, melted butter, and vanilla to the egg and mix well
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet, and mix until most of the large lumps are gone
  5. Carefully mix in the chocolate chips
  6. Let the batter sit for about 5 minutes while the pan is heating up
  7. Spray a non-stick frying pan with cooking spray, and heat up over medium heat
  8. Drop about 2 tbsp of time onto the pan when hot
  9. When bubbles start to form in the middle of the pancake, it is ready to flip.  Make sure the underside is a nice golden brown (you may need to increase or decrease your heat at this point, I find my first pancake always comes out a little funny looking)
  10. Cook the other side until it is golden brown
  11. Repeat with the remaining batter
  12. Serve with syrup, whipped cream, berries, whatever you like!
  13. Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Chai Latte at Home

It may be due to our ridiculously cold weather and the fact that I am beyond sick of being chilly, but I have been hooked on chai latte's lately! The warm spices along with the creaminess of steamed milk make them perfect for winter.

As soon as I saw this insanely cute contraption that allows to you froth your milk by hand, I knew I would start making these warm and delicious drinks at home (the fact that it is covered in cute cows helped too).

I have no idea if this is the proper way to make chai latte's, but it worked for me! First you boil your water, and place your chai tea bag in your coffee cup. Once your water is boiling, pour some into the cup over the tea bag and allow it to steep for a few minutes.

While the tea is steeping, fill up your milk frother about 1/3 of the way with milk and place the container (minus the metal parts!) into your microwave.  Zap the milk until it is hot, and then attach the rest of the pieces. 

Take out any underlying aggression on the steaming milk until it has more than doubled in size.

When your tea is as dark as you like, pour in some milk until the cup is full while holding back the foam.  Dollop some dreamy foam on top of your warm drink, and top with cinnamon if you are feeling fancy.

This is fabulous beverage for chilly days, to enjoy with dessert, or to drink as you are curled up on the couch with a good book!


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Spicy Broiled Salmon

When we came back into town on Sunday we were famished but didn't want to eat out.  We picked up some salmon on our way home and I quickly found this amazing marinade on I made some changes based on what we had in the house, and it was great!

This marinade was quick to make, and was perfect with the salmon. I let it marinate for about an hour as we unpacked, and it was ready to go! I love when a slightly spicy flavour is paired with salmon.

I served this with some sauteed asparagus, and made some quick 'garlic bread' with some buns that I buttered, sprinkled with garlic powder, and threw under the broiler during the last few minutes that the salmon cooked.  This marinade would easily be enough for 4 generous pieces of salmon.

Spicy Broiled Salmon

  • 2 salmon fillets
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup soya sauce
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 4 green onions, white and green parts chopped
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the vegetable oil, soya sauce, vinegar, green onion, brown sugar, ground ginger, garlic, red pepper flakes, sesame oil, and salt
  2. Place the salmon in a glass dish, and pour the marinade on top
  3. Cover and let marinate for at least one hour, flipping after about 30 minutes
  4. When ready to cook, cover a cookie sheet with tin foil and turn on the broiler
  5. Place the salmon on the prepared cookie sheet, and discard the marinade
  6. Broil for 8 - 15 minutes (depending on the thickness of the salmon), until the fish is cooked through
  7. Enjoy!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Black Forest Cake

Yesterday a friend of mine had a birthday! John and I drove down to meet him, his wife (my best friend!), and the rest of his family in Banff to celebrate for the day.  I offered to bake a cake, and one of the suggestions was black forest cake. I had never made a black forest cake before, but I have definitely had some delicious versions of it so I was excited to try it out!

I found this recipe on, and it was as amazing as all of the reviews stated! The chocolate cake portion was delicious by itself, and the additional layers of whipped cream and cherry pie filling made the cake so amazingly moist.  The cake was then iced with vanilla buttercream frosting, and decorated with blue and green polka dots.

The best part of this recipe (from a baker's perspective at least) was the fact that the cakes baked up completely level! There was no time-consuming/cake-wasting levelling required!  All I did was cut each cake in half in order to get 4 layers (and therefore 3 delicious layers of whipped cream and cherry pie filling!).  I still can't believe that I didn't get any pictures of the two cakes when I pulled them out of the oven and they were completely level. :)

This recipe is a definite keeper, I will be making this one again and again.  If you are looking for a great chocolate cake recipe, this one is very tasty and has the amazing bonus that it bakes up nice and level.

Black Forest Cake

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tbsp vinegar
  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup coffee, cold
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 can cherry pie filling
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 2 tbsp icing sugar
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F then grease and flour two 8" round cake pans (or spray them with baking spray)
  2. In a small bowl combine the milk and vinegar and set aside to sour
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt
  4. In a second large bowl, whisk together the eggs, vegetable oil, cold coffee, and vanilla
  5. Add the sour milk to the wet ingredients and mix well
  6. Add the flour mixture (about a cup at at time) to the wet ingredients and mix until the batter is just coming together
  7. Pour the batter into the two prepared cake pans and bake for 25 - 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when poked into the middle of a cake pan
  8. Let the cakes cool completely 
  9. While the cakes are cooling, whip the whipping cream and icing sugar together until soft peaks form
  10. When the cakes are cool, cut each in half lenth-wise so that you have 4 round cakes
  11. On the first layer of cake, spread 1/3 of the whipping cream, followed by 1/3 of the cherry pie filling
  12. Repeat with the next two layers of cake and the remaining whipping cream and cherry pie filling
  13. Top everything with the last layer of cake
  14. You can ice this with vanilla buttercream, additional whipped cream, chocolate buttercream, whatever you prefer!
  15. Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve
  16. Enjoy!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Easy Chicken Stir-fry

This is one of those quick and easy weeknight dinners that you can quickly pull together with whatever extra vegetables you happen to have laying in your veggie drawer.

This recipe makes enough for 2 people, so it can be easily doubled or tripled if need be.  I had looked around online for a quick and easy recipe to use up my veggies, and this is what I ended up throwing together. :)

I served this with brown rice, but it would be delicious over chow mein noodles or steamed rice too!

Easy Chicken Stir-fry

  • 1 cooked chicken breast
  • 1/2 red bell pepper
  • 3 - 4 medium white mushrooms
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • fresh ginger (1" x 1" piece)
  • 1/4 cup soya sauce
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 cup & 2 tbsp chicken broth (separated)
  • 1 tsp corn starch
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil (or olive oil)
  • 2 tsp rice vinegar (optional)
  • 1 - 2 cups cooked rice (optional)
  1. Chop up the cooked chicken into bite-size pieces and set aside
  2. Dice the onion, roughly chop the bell pepper and mushrooms, and mince the garlic and ginger
  3. Mix together the soya sauce and the sugar in a small bowl, set aside
  4. Mix together the 1/4 cup of chicken broth with the tsp of corn starch in a second small bowl, and set aside
  5. Heat up the sesame oil (or olive oil) in a wok or frying pan over medium-high heat
  6. When the oil is hot, throw in the onion and cook for about 2 minutes
  7. Add the bell pepper, ginger, and garlic. Saute for another 2 minutes
  8. Add the mushrooms, stir, and then add the 2 tbsp of chicken broth and let simmer for a few minutes
  9. Add the cooked chicken and stir everything together
  10. Give the soya sauce/sugar mixture a good stir, and then add it to the pan and let it simmer again for a few minutes
  11. Give the chicken broth/corn starch mixture a stir, and then pour it into the pan. Throw in the rice vinegar at this point if you have some
  12. Mix everything together, and let simmer until the mixture starts to thicken
  13. Serve over rice, noodles, or by itself
  14. Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Our Wedding Pics are Here!

On January 11, 2011 I was lucky enough to get to marry my best friend (and favourite person!), in the most beautiful place in the world.

It was a perfect day! While it rained during the ceremony, the rest of the day was sunny and warm. It was absolutely wonderful!

We were joined by a wonderful group of people. About 45 in total! How lucky are we? 

I have held off on putting up the group pictures (other than with our fabulous wedding party) because some people are not comfortable with having their pictures online. :)

We were so excited when our wedding pictures arrived on Monday, how fitting that it was on Valentine's Day!

I just couldn't wait to share them with you!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Valentine's Day! We definitely enjoyed our first as a 'Mr' and 'Mrs'!