Monday, November 28, 2011

Jungle Baby Shower Sweets (Vegan Sugar Cookies)

Last Saturday I attended a baby shower for one of my best friends! She is due in the middle of December, and her family decided to throw her a Jungle themed baby shower. So excited!

I was asked to do the desserts (yay!) and was given free reign with the design. The only request were "mini cupcakes (carrot cake and lemon funfetti) and ninja cookies".  The ninja cookies are kind of an inside joke, just go with it.

Oh, and everything had to be vegan. After making these sugar cookies I have to admit that this is the best sugar cookie recipe that I have come across so far. I love how they rolled out, baked up, and tasted! I am also really happy with this vegan icing (ie: no meringue powder could be used!) that I used to decorate the cookies, one batch was enough for 3 dozen of these! Since cookie decorating isn't my forte, I think I will stick with this icing recipe for now.

In addition to the cupcakes and cookies I decided to make a jungle-themed cake to highlight the main baby shower theme. It is sometimes hard display a theme with something as small as mini cupcakes and I had some fun ideas for the cake.

The cake was an 8" vanilla funfetti cake that I topped with chocolate fondant.  This was the very first time that I was able to completely cover a cake in fondant with NO rips or tears!! I happy-danced all over the kitchen over this one.  

I then rolled out two different colours of green fondant and cut it with a variety of cookie cutters. I realized quickly that I only own two different leaf cookie cutters! A maple leaf and a tiny 1" leaf.  Oops.  So I used a funky heart cookie cutter and a snowflake cookie cutter as well to add some extra shapes. Since I was going to be layering the leaves I wasn't too worried about people noticing snowflakes and hearts on the jungle cake :)

The animals were also made completely out of fondant.  I think the Elephant and the Giraffe are my favourites! My idea of Lion needs some work though... I still can't believe I was able to make something like these out of fondant.

I hope everyone enjoyed the desserts at the shower! I had an absolute blast and I CANNOT WAIT to meet this little ninja!

This cookie recipe made 3 dozen ninja cookies. The original recipes for both the cookies and the icing are from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar.

Vegan Sugar Cookies

  • 2 1/3 cups flour
  • 2 tbsp corn starch
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup margarine, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp additional extract (could be lemon, maple, almond, more vanilla, etc. I used maple)
  • 1/4 cup soy milk
  1. In a large bowl whisk together the flour, corn starch, salt, and baking powder
  2. In a second large bowl cream together the margarine, shortening, and sugar until light and fluffy
  3. Add the vanilla, other extract of choice, and the soy milk to the sugar mixture and beat well to combine
  4. Add half the flour to the wet ingredients and mix well
  5. Add the remaining flour and mix until a soft dough just begins to form
  6. Divide the dough in half and press each half into a disk that is 1" thick
  7. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap, and then place in a ziploc bag and set them in the refrigerator
  8. Let the dough chill for a few hours, or overnight
  9. When ready to roll the dough, preheat the oven to 350 F and line your baking sheets with parchment paper
  10. Flour the counter, and then roll one disk (keeping the second disk in the refrigerator until you need it) until it is about 1/4 - 3/8" thick
  11. Cut out the desired shapes and place on the prepared baking sheet
  12. Bake for 8 - 10 minutes until the edges just start to turn golden brown
  13. Repeat with the remaining disk of dough
  14. Let cool completely before decorating
  15. Enjoy!

Vegan 'Royal Icing'
  • 4 cups icing sugar
  • 4 tbsp soy milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • Food colouring (optional)
  1. In a large bowl sift the powdered sugar until no lumps remain
  2. Whisk in the soy milk and vanilla until smooth
  3. Divide the icing into several bowls and dye the icing any colour you like
  4. Using a pastry bag with a small round tip, or a ziploc bag with the corner snipped off decorate the cookies until your heart is content
  5. Let dry completely before storing (they can be stacked with layers of parchment paper between the cookies)
  6. Enjoy!
I'll post the vegan Carrot Cake Cupcakes and the vegan Lemon Funfetti Cupcakes recipes later this week :)

Monday, November 21, 2011

Baked Taquitos

OK, let's be real.  We can be real with each other right? I mean, we talk about sugar, butter, and share a mutual love of bacon, so that has to make us friends. 

Well, we all know how much I love Mexican food.  But what you may not know is my secret love for those grocery store taquitos that you find in the freezer aisle.  Yes, the ones found in that section of the grocery store where those frozen 'dinners' reside and I tend to avoid like the plague.  And while I may be hanging my head in shame over this confession, now I can't get them out of my head. So. Good. AND, I know you love them too. How can you not? They are a guilty pleasure for sure!

Well, one day I came across these on the Pink Parsley blog and I practically heard angels rejoicing. YOU CAN MAKE THESE AT HOME?!?! I was a little bit excited, just a little.

Oh my, these are good. Make these, please? I don't usually like telling you what to do, but please humour me and make these. I know you'll thank me!

This makes 8 - 12 taquitos, depending on how fat you make them. We have tried using corn tortillas twice, and had epic failures each time so we tend to stick to the 6" flour tortillas.

Baked Taquitos
  • 3 oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup salsa
  • Juice of 1/2 a lime
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • dash of cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 2 cups cooked and shredded chicken
  • 1/2 cup shredded extra shard cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded pepperjack cheese 
  • 8 - 12 flour tortillas (6")
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • cooking spray 
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper (or spray it with cooking spray)
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the cream cheese, salsa, lime juice, chili powder, cumin, cayenne, onion powder, garlic, green onions, and a dash of salt
  3. Add the shredded chicken and the cheese and mix well
  4. Season with salt and pepper to taste
  5. Add 2 - 3 tablespoons of the filling to each tortilla and roll them up tight. (If your tortillas start to break, microwave them between damp paper towels for 20 to 30 seconds before filling and rolling)
  6. Place the rolled taquitos seam-side down on the prepared baking sheet
  7. When all are filled and rolled, lightly spray them with the cooking spray
  8. Bake for 15 - 20 minutes, or until golden brown and crispy
  9. Serve with salsa, sour cream, guacamole, or all by itself
  10. Enjoy!!!!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Chai Cupcakes

I recently had a request for some Chai Cupcakes from a friend of mine. Since I have never had a chai cupcake myself, or even seen any recipes during my internet wanderings, I got right to work to find the perfect recipe.

I thought that the Snickerdoodle cupcake recipe would be the perfect base because the batter lets whatever spices you add shine through.  I mixed up a quick spice mixture with the common flavours used in chai-flavoured lattes and desserts and got to work taste testing!

I found that a mixture of cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and cardamom was the best received by my willing taste testers.  Since the cupcake had such a distinctive flavour, I used a Vanilla Bean Swiss Meringue Buttercream to complement the cupcake so that the frosting wouldn't compete with the cupcake.

I was so happy with how these turned out, and I really hope my friend enjoyed them as well :)

This recipe makes about 26 regular-sized cupcakes.  Feel free to add the spice mixture a couple of teaspoons at a time until they are as spicy as you like your chai tea.

Chai spice mixture
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp ground cloves
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp ground cardamom

Chai Cupcakes
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 to 2 tbsp chai spice mixture (to taste)
  • 1 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F and line you muffin pans with cupcake liners
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, salt, and 1 tbsp of the spice mixture
  3. In a second bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy
  4. Add the eggs to the butter/sugar two at a time, mixing well after each addition
  5. Add the vanilla and again mix well
  6. Add half of the dry ingredients to the wet and mix well
  7. Add the milk, mixing until well incorporated
  8. Mix in the rest of the flour mixture and then give it a quick taste test.  Feel free to add more spice mixture if you want it to be stronger in flavour (I added about another 1/2 tbsp at this point)
  9. Fill your cupcake liners, and bake for 18 - 22 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the middle of a cupcake
  10. Let cool completely before frosting
  11. Frost with your favourite vanilla frosting, or enjoy the delicious chai flavour in a naked cupcake!
  12. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Beef and Greens

Sometimes when you think you have nothing that can make a simple meal in your fridge, a quick search on the interwebs can quickly prove you wrong!  The other night we had absolutely no idea what to whip up for supper, but we knew that we wanted some sort of comfort food due to the fact that the dreaded snow had finally arrived.

Once again came to the rescue! One of my husband's favourite dishes is Beef and Greens, so with some tweaking to this recipe based on what we had available, we were able to make a tasty supper and have some awesome lunches the next day.

This makes enough for 4 - 6 servings. We served this with some brown fried rice and it was a perfect meal on a chilly night.

Since my husband is still talking about this, it is a definite keeper! I know we'll be making this again, very soon!

Beef and Greens

  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 can beef broth (10.5 oz)
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb steak, cut into strips
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 generous cup chopped broccoli
  • 1 generous cup bean sprouts
  • 1 generous cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1 generous cup sugar snap peas, sliced
  1. In a small bowl add the flour, beef broth, sugar, and soy sauce and mix well
  2. In a large wok or skillet, heat up the olive oil over medium heat
  3. Add the beef strips and cook for 2 - 4 minutes, or until browned
  4. Add the vegetables, garlic, and ginger and mix well
  5. Pour in the sauce, and mix to coat all of the beef and veggies
  6. Bring the mixture to a boil, and then reduce heat to low and let simmer for 10 - 15 minutes to let the sauce thicken while stirring occasionally
  7. Serve alone or over rice
  8. Enjoy!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Pecan Pie

Keeping with my new infatuation with pecans, I had a random craving for Pecan Pie last week. I've never actually had pecan pie before, so I had no clue what I was getting into. I just new that I needed one in my life asap.

I searched around for a bit and most recipes had a very common review: delicious but very sweet!

While I do like my sweets, I wanted a recipe that let the buttery goodness of pecans shine through.  This recipe that I found on seemed to fit the bill! Still a sweet and delicious pecan pie, but not so sweet that it felt like you were eating a massive piece of candy.  

I will admit that I used a Pillsbury refrigerated pie crust (so handy!) because I had one on hand, but I know this would be even better with a flaky homemade pie crust.  I will get over my fear of pie crust soon, I will!

Pecan Pie

  • 1 refrigerated pie crust, room temperature
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/4 cups chopped pecans
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F
  2. Line an un-greased pie plate with the pie crust, and set aside
  3. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs until foamy
  4. Add the melted butter to the eggs and mix well
  5. Add the brown sugar, white sugar, and flour and again mix well
  6. Add the milk, vanilla, and pecans and mix until the pecans are well distributed
  7. Pour into the waiting pie crust, and bake for 10 minutes
  8. Lower the temperature to 350 F, and bake for an additional 30 - 45 minutes, or until the middle is fluffed up and the pie is a wonderful dark golden brown
  9. Let cool before serving
  10. Enjoy!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Simple is Beautiful!

Sometimes the simplest dessert is the most beautiful!  

These cupcakes are a vanilla bean cupcake with a vanilla buttercream. Classic and delicious.

After icing with a classic swirl, I then sprinkled on some gold sprinkle flakes and white sanding sugar and called it good! 

These cupcakes make me smile :)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Butter Pecan Cupcakes

I was asked to make some Butter Pecan Cupcakes this summer, and while I had never had a Butter Pecan Cake before, it sounded like something I would love to try!

These cupcakes turned out delicious! They are definitely up there in my top 5 favourite cupcakes. The browned butter, toasted pecans, and not-to-sweet vanilla cake base are amazing when all combined.

These were topped with a swiss meringue buttercream and extra toasted pecans. The buttery flavour of this buttercream is the perfect finish to these cupcakes. 

I have a huge bag of pecans just waiting to be toasted up and folded into this batter :)

The original recipe was found on and makes a 3-layer 9 inch cake. I make about 3 dozen cupcakes from this recipe.

Butter Pecan Cupcakes

  • 1 1/4 cups butter
  • 2 cups chopped pecans
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F and line your muffin pans with cupcake liners
  2. Melt 1/4 cup butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the pecans and brown the butter and pecans for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until fragrant. Remove from heat and set aside
  3. In a large bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt
  4. In a second large bowl cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy
  5. Add the eggs two at a time to the butter/sugar, mixing well after each addition
  6. Add half of the flour mixture and mix well
  7. Add the milk and vanilla, again mixing well
  8. Mix in the rest of the flour and then fold in the pecans
  9. Bake for 18 - 22 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into a cupcake
  10. Let cool before frosting (I frosted these with a swiss meringue buttercream, and topped them with some extra toasted pecans)

Monday, November 7, 2011

Donair Pizza

One of our favourite things to make at home lately are Donairs! I am still in awe of how easy they are to make and how healthy they can be too.  I was in the mood for something a little more warm and toasty the other day, so I decided to make a donair pizza, my way!

I warmed up some slices of the meat in a hot pan, and then spooned some tzaziki onto a whole wheat pita and topped it with some provolone and fresh tomatoes. This was then covered the warmed donair meat and some shredded mozzarella.

Into the oven it went until the cheese was toasty and bubbly, yum! Right before serving I topped it with some fresh red leaf lettuce, and proceeded to chow down.

I wonder what other donair-related concoctions there are to be made? Donair skewers, kind of like caprese skewers? Mini donairs as an appetizer...hmmmm.  sorry, distracted.


Friday, November 4, 2011

Cheesy Chicken and Spinach Lasagna

Here is another winner that was sent to me by my mom!  She found this recipe on and said that the family loved it.  With a dish that is made up of chicken, cheese, and pasta, how could one go wrong? Plus, who can argue with the approval of the fam?

Since there are only two of us in our house I decided to half this recipe and make it in a 8" x 8" pan.  I found that having everything ready to go before making the cheese sauce made the whole process very easy.  For the cooked chicken I poached a couple of small chicken breasts, but a rotisserie chicken would be perfect as well!

The recipe fills a 8" x 8" or a 9" x 9" pan, but the original recipe makes enough to fill up a 9" x 13" pan.

Serve this with some warm bread and veggies and you have yourself an awesome weeknight meal! The leftovers are definitely something to look forward to as well :)

Cheesy Chicken and Spinach Lasagna

  • 6 oz no-boil lasagna noodles (about 6 noodles)
  • 1 cup cooked chicken, shredded
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup cottage cheese
  • 1 package of chopped spinach, thawed and drained
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/4 tsp dried oregano
  1. In a medium bowl mix together the onion, basil, oregano, pepper, 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, mozzarella and cheese, set aside
  2. In a large saucepan melt the butter
  3. Add the flour and whisk over medium heat until bubbly
  4. Remove the pan from the heat and add the milk and chicken broth
  5. Return the sauce pan to the heat and whisk it while bringing it to a boil
  6. Let boil for about a minute, and then add the cheese/onion/spice mixture
  7. Continue stirring over medium heat until the cheese is melted and the sauce begins to thicken
  8. When ready to assemble, preheat the oven to 350 F
  9. In a 8" x 8" (or 9" x 9") square pan, add 1/4 of the cheese sauce (a generous 1/2 cup)
  10. Cover the cheese sauce with some of the lasagna noodles
  11. Add 1/2 cup cottage cheese on top of the noodles, spreading evenly
  12. Top the cottage cheese with another generous 1/2 cup of cheese sauce, and then another layer of noodles
  13. Cover the noodles with the remaining 1/2 cup cottage cheese, the chopped spinach, the chopped chicken, and another generous 1/2 cup of cheese sauce
  14. Add the remaining noodles, cover them with the rest of the cheese sauce, and then top the dish with the remaining 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese
  15. Bake for about 40 minutes until the top is lightly browned and the edges are bubbly
  16. Let sit for about 10 minutes before serving
  17. Enjoy!