Thursday, June 30, 2011

Lemon Blueberry Cupcakes

These are the delicious Lemon Blueberry Cupcakes that I had made for the HART fundraiser a little while ago.  In addition to the treats for the puppies, I also baked up some goodies for the humans too :)

I used the delicious vegan lemon cupcake recipe as a base, adding the lemon zest and juice from a fresh lemon as well as a generous 1/3 cup of wild blueberries.  I love the flavour combination of lemon and blueberries, it just feels like summer in a cupcake.

These were then topped off with classic vanilla buttercream icing and some sprinkles that gave a hint as to what was inside.

I hope everyone enjoyed these at the bake sale!

If you want to learn more about HART which is the amazing organization that we have adopted both of our dogs from, you can check out their upcoming events and current dogs that are up for adoption at


We just got Banjo this week, so I haven't had the chance to get some good shots yet :)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Panini's with Focaccia

Remember that delicious focaccia I had made in my food processor a while back? Well, we are completely hooked on the stuff, it is delicious! It is perfect as a side for dinner, and it makes awesome sandwiches too.

We have recently discovered what amazing panini's it makes as well! The density of the focaccia, along with the flavour, is perfect for a grilled panini at home.

Since we don't own a panini press (I have no idea where we would store it, but how awesome would it be to own one?) we use our George Foreman grill to make ours.  It works awesome! If you don't have a foreman grill you can also use a skillet and place a heavy pan on top in order to smush the sandwich.

This particular sandwich was so delicious.  We used leftover buffalo chicken dip (the image of health, that's what this particular sandwich is) and cucumber slices.  Oh man, this sandwich was good!

The outside of the sandwich crisped up to panini perfection, and the rest was warm and tasty.  

Here is the link to the focaccia recipe where I originally found it over on, and here is the link to when I had first made it myself.

I hope you enjoy your panini's!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Phyllo to Baklava! - Daring Bakers Challenge

Erica of Erica’s Edibles was our host for the Daring Baker’s June challenge. Erica challenged us to be truly DARING by making homemade phyllo dough and then to use that homemade dough to make Baklava.

OK, let’s talk Baklava! I had never had baklava before but after reading everyone’s excited reactions to this challenge I couldn’t wait to give it a shot.  I made the dough, rolled the phylo sheets one by one, crushed the nuts, layered, layered, layered, baked it, and then doused it in the honey/syrup.  Then I waited impatiently for the epic moment that would be my first bit of real homemade baklava.

Then the moment of truth came! With sore arms from rolling the living poop out of the dough and sticky countertops from the syrup somehow travelling on it’s own, I took my first bite.

And discovered that I don’t really care for baklava

I thought that maybe I had done something wrong, or somehow missed an important step.  So I let some people who loved baklava try it, and they really enjoyed this one.  So it’s just me, and I’m OK with that :) I guess the super sweetness of this particular dessert just isn’t my thing, now I know!
**the more you know**

I am really glad that this challenge taught me how you can make a delicious and flaky phyllo dough at home.  I cannot wait to try it again for a ton of new desserts and maybe some savory creations as well.

The addition of dark chocolate helped me eat as much as I did because I think it helped cut some of the sweet factor from the honey.

Originally I had intended to make 2 loaf pans worth: one with this recipe and the other without honey and with a chocolate and dried cranberry filling.  Sadly I didn’t realize that the host had doubled the recipe to fill a 9” x 9” pan, and by the time I realized this I didn’t have the time to make another batch of dough and let it rest.  That will teach me to skim a recipe!

This was a really fun challenge because I learned a lot and gained some new and valuable skills in the kitchen. Thank you Erica for putting this great challenge together!  I managed to roll the dough so thin that you could read through it, mission accomplished on the phyllo front!

This is the recipe that I had used that was provided by Erica.  It is enough to fill a standard loaf pan perfectly!  I cut the dessert into 16 pieces.  The only change I made was to add dark chocolate chips instead of the pistachios.

Phyllo Dough
  • 1 1/3 cups flour
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  1. In a medium bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the flour and salt
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the water, oil, and vinegar
  3. Slowly add the liquids to the flour while mixing, and continue mixing until a soft dough forms that sticks together
  4. Knead the dough by hand for a few minutes until soft and smooth
  5. Form a ball, and lightly cover it with oil
  6. Wrap tightly in saran wrap and let rest for 1.5 to 2 hours
  7. While the dough is resting, you can make the filling (recipe below)
  8. When the dough has finished resting, remove a small portion of the dough (about 1 tbsp worth of dough) and roll it as thin as possible on a well floured surface. I rolled mine with a rolling pin, and stretched it occasionally to get it as thin as possible
  9. When a piece is rolled as thin as you can get it (ex: you can read notes on a piece of paper through it) set it aside on a floured baking sheet and repeat with another piece of dough (I had about 16 sheets when I was finished)
  10. After all of the dough has been rolled as thin as possible, pile it up neatly and place the loaf pan on top of the pile
  11. Using a sharp knife, cut the dough so that it will fit neatly in the loaf pan
Baklava Filling and Layering the Baklava
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 pinch allspice
  • 1/2 cup toasted almond slices
  • 1/2 cup toasted walnuts
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  1. In a food processor add the cinnamon, allspice, nuts, and chocolate chips
  2. Pulse until finely chopped
  3. When ready to assemble the Baklava, preheat the oven to 350 and generously grease the loaf pan 
  4. Brush the bottom of the loaf pan with butter, and then cover it with the first phyllo sheet
  5. Brush the phyllo sheet with butter and then place another phyllo sheet on top.
  6. Repeat until you have four phyllo sheets on top of one another, and the top sheet is brushed with butter
  7. Sprinkle 1/3 of the filling mixture on top
  8. Cover with a phyllo sheet, brush with butter, and repeat until four phyllo sheets are stacked on top of each other
  9. Again sprinkle 1/3 of the filling on top
  10. Repeat the process (4 phyllo sheets each brushed with butter, 1/3 filling) until you end with four phyllo sheets on top
  11. Cut the baklava into 16 pieces, trying to cut all the way through if possible
  12. Generously brush the top with butter, and then place the baklava in the preheated oven
  13. Bake for 30 minutes, while the baklava is baking make the syrup (recipe below)
  14. Remove the baklava and cut the pieces all the way through
  15. Bake for another 30 minutes or until the baklava is a golden brown
  16. Remove the baklava from the oven and immediately pour the syrup evenly over the dessert
  17. Let the baklava cool, then cover and let sit overnight for the syrup to soak in
  18. Enjoy!
Baklava Syrup
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cinnamon stick
  • 1 piece (about 2" x 2") lemon peel
  • pinch of ground cloves
  1. While the baklava is baking, prepare the syrup
  2. In a small pot over medium heat, combine all ingredients 
  3. Stir until all of the sugar has dissolved, and let it gently boil for about 10 minutes
  4. Remove from heat, and take out the cinnamon stick and lemon peel
  5. Set aside until ready to pour over the baklava
  6. When the baklava is finished baking, evenly pour the syrup over the dish
  7. Let sit overnight to soak in
  8. Enjoy!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Chocolate Bundt Cake with Fresh Berries

Last weekend we had attended a BBQ over at my best friend's place, and once again I was on dessert duty.  I'm as surprised as you are. Really, I am. I guess they just know me so well!

I was told that one of the guests loved 'gooey chocolatey desserts', and I knew other guests loved desserts with fresh berries and whipped cream in the summer. So I started searching around to try and find something that would satisfy everyone.

I found a couple different recipes that looked delicious, but instead of using something completely new I used my favourite chocolate cupcake recipe and was delighted to discover that it baked up perfectly in the bundt pan.  This was awesome news as I had no time to implement a back-up plan :) I also threw in chocolate chips, more chocolate is always a bonus in dessert. True story.

After the cake cooled I filled the middle with fresh blueberries and sliced strawberries. Then everything was topped off with a drizzle of caramel and chocolate.  I found the recipe for the chocolate glaze on, but you could pick up a bottle of chocolate sauce at the store and it would be perfect.

When we served the cake we plopped on some whipped cream, and it was awesome! I didn't get any pictures of the final product with whipped cream, but you can trust me when I say it went really well together.

Chocolate Bundt Cake with Fresh Berries

  • 3/4 cup butter, room temperature
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 tbsp coffee
  • 1 3/4 cup flour
  • 1 cup cocoa
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • Fresh berries of your choice
  • Caramel Sauce
  • Chocolate Sauce/Glaze (store-bought or recipe follows)
  • Whipped Cream
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 and generously grease the bundt pan
  2. In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt
  3. In a second bowl whisk together the buttermilk, sour cream, and coffee
  4. In a large bowl cream together the butter and two sugars until fluffy
  5. Add the eggs one at a time to the sugar mixture, mixing well after each egg
  6. Add the vanilla to the sugar/egg mixture and mix well
  7. Add 1/3 the buttermilk mixture to the sugar/egg, and mix well
  8. Add 1/3 the flour to the wet ingredients and mix well
  9. Continue until all buttermilk and dry ingredients have been added then fold in the chocolate chips
  10. Pour into the bundt pan and smooth the batter
  11. Bake for 40 - 50 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the middle of the cake
  12. Let cool, then invert onto your serving dish
  13. Fill with berries, then drizzle on the chocolate and caramel sauces until your heart is content
  14. Serve with whipped cream if desired
  15. Enjoy!
Chocolate Glaze
  • 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp light corn syrup
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  1. In a heat-safe bowl, microwave the chocolate chips, butter and corn syrup at 30 second intervals, stirring between each interval until smooth
  2. When smooth, stir in the vanilla
  3. Place the glaze in a ziploc bag, cut off a corner of the bag, and drizzle over the cooled cake
  4. Enjoy!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Rhubarb White Chocolate Muffins

This is the second of four rhubarb recipes I have made in the last couple of weeks, and I am still looking for more! 

Since we leave so early in the morning for work, I love to have something quick and delicious like muffins on hand so we can grab them on our way out the door.  It only made sense to get some rhubarb in my next batch!

I modified a recipe from Company's Coming Mostly Muffins and I am so happy with how the muffins turned out! They are so delicious.  The white chocolate balances out the tart rhubarb nicely but they are not too sweet to enjoy for breakfast at insanely early hours.

You could also substitute another tart fruit like cranberries, or milk chocolate would taste great too.  I usually like to substitute unsweetened applesauce instead of vegetable or canola oil in my muffins, but I was all out this time.  It works great in muffins though!

This recipe makes 12 muffins.

Rhubarb White Chocolate Muffins

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil (or unsweetened applesauce)
  • 1 cup chopped rhubarb (small pieces)
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F and line a muffin tin with paper liners (or grease well)
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt
  3. In a small bowl, lightly whisk together the egg, buttermilk, and vegetable oil
  4. Make a small well in the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients in
  5. Add the rhubarb and chocolate chips to the well, and stir until just moistened
  6. Fill the prepared muffin tin, and bake for 20 - 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted
  7. Let cool before serving
  8. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Brownie Coconut Bites

I actually made this dessert a little while ago, and I am currently considering making them again as soon as I am done this post! These are awesome, they combine brownies, coconut, and more chocolate. yum!

This recipe is from the awesome Kristan at Confessions of a Cookbook Queen.  She comes up with the most amazing and fun desserts.  These are so unique; she suggested that this is the result of an almond joy and a brownie bite getting together, and the result is amazing!

These are so easy to put together and I think they make the cutest dessert.  I liked mine best without the chocolate coating, but I know that most of my friends preferred them as they were originally intended to be eaten.

Maybe when I make them next (aka tonight, regardless of the fact that I already have a rhubarb cobbler cooling on my counter) I will try toasting the almonds, just to get a richer almond flavour when you bite into them... I will let you know if I do!

These little desserts are perfect for a potluck or party as the guests can just grab them and go. And then come back again!

Brownie Coconut Bites

  • 1 box brownie mix (and whatever it requires)
  • 4 cups sweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
  • about 3 - 4 dozen almonds
  • chocolate candy melts or chocolate chips
  1. Spray a mini muffin pan with baking spray, or generously grease it with butter, and preheat your oven as per the back of the brownie mix box
  2. Prepare the brownie batter, and fill each mini muffin cup about 1/2 full (I made 48 mini brownies, so two full mini muffin pans)
  3. Bake as per the brownie directions, and then let cool completely
  4. After the brownies have cooled, remove them from the pan and set them all right-side up on a baking sheet
  5. Mix together the coconut and condensed milk
  6. Roll approximately a tablespoon of the coconut mixture into a ball and press it on top of a brownie
  7. Repeat 47 times. Or if you are like me, repeat about 40 more times after taste testing multiple brownie bites (quality control, it's important)
  8. Press an almond on top of each ball of coconut
  9. Place the cookie sheet of brownie coconut bites in the freezer for 15 - 20 minutes
  10. While they are in the freezer, place the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave at 30 second intervals, stirring between each until the chocolate is smooth
  11. Dip the top of the brownie coconut bites into the melted chocolate and let them set
  12. Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Chocolate Cupcakes with Toasted Marshmallow Frosting

Yum, chocolate + marshmallows = delicious! I have had chocolate and marshmallows on the brain lately, ever since we had s'mores a few weeks ago.  Also, ever since I saw this cake on, I knew marshmallows would be making their way onto a cupcake soon!

This picture totally makes me giggle, and I have no idea why

A few weeks ago we had a birthday party for my mom, aunt, and their cousin. I was in charge of dessert (odd, I know!). In addition to making some lemon cupcakes with vanilla bean swiss meringue buttercream (my family loves lemon cupcakes as much as I do), I decided to make these delicious chocolate cupcakes (originally from the awesome Rachel at and top them with some toasted marshmallow icing (from

To be honest, I totally thought that I could pipe the marshmallow icing onto the cupcakes and then maybe brown it a bit with a flame or sprinkle on some bright fun sprinkles.  The first swirl looked a little soft but it looked alright, but after I returned to the cupcake this is what I found!

At first I thought it looked horrible, then I decided that I actually liked the ooey gooey melted marshmallow look and ran with it.  I used a Wilton 1M tip to put a star of marshmallow icing on each cupcake and then let it do it's thing and become cupcake art.  As the marshmallow stars slowly spread, I sprinkled on some bright star sprinkles and topped everything off with a toasted mini marshmallow so that you could get a hint of what you were about to bit into.

The verdict? These were fabulous! I am totally going to do this again. I think that I will try using it as a filling in a chocolate cake (or to fill a cupcake) one day soon.  It was just such a delicious addition to the rich chocolate cupcakes.  I had about a 1/3 of the batch leftover after decorating 2 dozen cupcakes.

Toasted Marshmallow Frosting

  • 16 white marshmallows
  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 1 cup butter or margarine, room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 jar marshmallow fluff (about 8 ounces)
  1. Line a cookie sheet with parchment and turn on the broiler
  2. Spread out the marshmallows on the cookie sheet and broil until golden brown (watch out! they can burn fast!)
  3. Mix together the butter and icing sugar until well blended
  4. Add the vanilla and mix well
  5. Add the marshmallows and marshmallow fluff and mix well
  6. Use to decorate or fill your favourite cake or cupcakes
  7. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Light Potato Salad - Daring Cooks

Jami Sorrento was our June Daring Cooks hostess and she chose to challenge us to celebrate the humble spud by making a delicious and healthy potato salad. The Daring Cooks Potato Salad Challenge was sponsored by the nice people at the United States Potato Board, who awarded prizes to the top 3 most creative and healthy potato salads. A medium-size (5.3 ounce) potato has 110 calories, no fat, no cholesterol, no sodium and includes nearly half your daily value of vitamin C and has more potassium than a banana!

If there is one thing that goes with any BBQ in the summer, it is potato salad!  I love both creamy potato salads, and dill potatoes, so I decided to combine the two and make a creamy dill potato salad. Yum!

I decided to use light sour cream instead of mayonnaise and it worked out really great.  With the addition of dill I didn't miss the 'tang' of the mayonnaise at all.

I also lightly sauteed my other vegetables in order to ensure that all the flavours would meld really well together. My husband gave me the thumbs up to make this again!

I am happy to say that this recipe was from: Me! :)

Light and Creamy Dill Potato Salad
  • 1 lb baby red potatoes
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 small red onion, diced
  • 2 green onions, diced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
  • 3 tbsps chopped fresh dill
  • 2 tbsp light sour cream
  1. Wash and quarter the potatoes and boil until soft (about 10 minutes)
  2. While the potatoes are boiling, heat the olive oil in a small frying pan over medium heat
  3. When hot, add the vegetables and stir-fry for 3 to 4 minutes
  4. Add the fresh dill, give it a quick stir, and then remove from heat and pour the vegetables into a large bowl
  5. When the potatoes are soft, drain and let cool
  6. When the potatoes have cooled to room temperature, stir the sour cream in with the vegetables
  7. Add the potatoes and toss until coated
  8. Refrigerate until ready to serve
  9. Enjoy!