Friday, June 14, 2013

Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake Muffins

Those raspberry cheesecake suckers hooked me! Cream cheese in muffin batter is a MUST TRY for everyone!! These guys were very similar but I changed up the flavours a little. I also remembered baking soda so they weren't as stubby as the first round of raspberry ones.

To be honest, I'm not even a huge fan of lemon or blueberry but I think that is changing because these were out-of-this-world good!!!


5 oz low fat cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoon butter, softened
3 tablespoon unsweetened applesauce
1 ½ cups sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large egg whites
1 large egg
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup low-fat buttermilk (keep reading for a substitute)
4 tablespopon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons lemon zest
2 cups blueberries

NOTE - My heart always sinks when I find a recipe that calls for buttermilk. Since it is only available in a larger container (and I don't bake THAT often) it means it always goes to waste. A quick and easy substitute is one cup of milk (whatever you have on hand) and one tablespoon of vinegar. Combine the two and let it sit for at least 5 minutes while the milk "sours", then use whatever you need from that for your recipe.


1. Preheat the oven to 350. Line 24 muffin cups with cupcake liners.

2. In a large bowl, combine the cream cheese, butter and applesauce and beat with an electric mixer until blended. Add sugar and beat until combined. Add vanilla, eggs and egg whites and beat until blended.

3. In a separate bowl, combine the flour (lightly spoon into measuring cups and then level with a knife), baking soda, baking powder and salt and stir together. In the bowl containing the wet ingredients, use the mixer on a low speed while pouring in the flour mixture until thoroughly combined. Add the lemon juice, zest and buttermilk and beat until blended. Add the blueberries and fold in gently.

4. Spoon the batter evenly into the liners. Bake for 25 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

Here's a rather unflattering shot of the inside of one of these bad boys...look at all that blueberry goodness!!!


Serving Size - 1 muffin
WW Points - 3
Calories - 137
Carbs - 23g
Fat - 4g
Protein - 3g
Fibre - 1g

Monday, June 10, 2013

Chicken Parmigiana Casserole

This was another weekday lunch make-ahead meal. Although it has few ingredients and is really quite simple it was still really yummy and I enjoyed eating it five days in a row.

The major pro of this dish is that it is minimal on all fronts. Only some basic chopping and the oven does the rest of the work. No browning things ahead of time, adding ingredients in stages…just chop it up, throw it in the pan and bake away.

This would be a REALLY easy weeknight dish….as I’m typing this I’m trying to make a mental note to remember this fact!!


2 lbs raw boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ t crushed red pepper flakes (or more to taste if you want it hot)
¼ cup fresh basil, finely chopped
2 cups marinara/pasta sauce
1 ½ cups light shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
2 oz Parmesan cheese, freshly grated divided
1 package garlic croutons, roughly crushed, leaving some larger pieces (I found a multigrain variety that worked quite well)


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly mist a 9 x 13 baking dish with cooking spray.

2. Spread the cubed pieces of chicken across the bottom of the baking dish in a single layer. Sprinkle the minced garlic, red pepper flakes and basil evenly over the chicken. Spread the sauce evenly across the top. On top of the sauce layer, sprinkle ¾ cup of the Mozzarella and one ounce of the Parmesan evenly across the dish. Sprinkle the crushed croutons across the top and follow with the remaining cheese.

3. Bake for 40-45 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.


8 Servings
WW – 8
Calories – 303
Carbs – 15g
Fat – 11g
Fibre – 1g
Protein – 37g

Ham & Egg Cups

Who doesn’t love an edible bowl? These guys come together really quickly, can be adapted to a large crowd, or enjoyed at a breakfast party of one. Plus they are really filling.

Mom came home with “breakfast ham” the other day and after realizing that all that meant was ham sliced into strips to somewhat resemble bacon it seemed less exciting. Although, lets be honest, it wasn’t THAT exciting to begin with.

Anyway, I decided to make it more appealing by crisping it up in the oven and then baking some eggs and cheese in it. Very yummy and probably could even be made ahead of time and then re-heated…although fresh out of the oven was pretty damn good!!
INGREDIENTS (can be adapted to your own desired quantities)

Ham (breakfast ham, deli sliced ham…its all good)
Cheddar Cheese, grated
Green Onions, chopped


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray muffin tin with oil.

Line muffin cups with ham (its ok for them to hang over or stick out) and place in the oven while it is preheating.

Once oven is hot, place a small amount of cheese in bottom of each ham cup, crack an egg into each cup and season with salt and pepper. Bake until desired doneness. I baked for about 15 minutes but we prefer our eggs hard.

Remove from oven, sprinkle with remaining cheese (if there is any) and green onions.



WW – 3 per cup
Calories - 128
Carbs – 1g
Fat – 7g
Fibre – 0g
Protein – 14g

Monday, May 27, 2013

Beef Bourguinon

Is this not the most beautiful thing you have ever seen??? My lovely cousin gave me this gorgeous Le Creuset pot for my 30th birthday last month (she knows me well). I have been so taken with it that it has been sitting unused in the dining room for the last 4 weeks. I would stare at it every day and marvel at its finish, colour and size, all the while being terrified of actually putting it to use.

I felt that it's maiden voyage needed to produce something special...something worthy of the gourmet cookware it was being prepared in.

So, Beef Bourguinon it was! A relatively simple dish, with minimal ingredients but anything that calls for a full bottle of red wine is DEFINITELY special.


2-3 tbsp olive oil
50g butter
2 tbsp seasoned flour
1.2 kg chuck or shin steak, cut into large chunks (about 5cm)
18 small shallots or button onions
18 button mushrooms
1 large onion, sliced
100g bacon or pancetta, cubed
4 cloves garlic, crushed but left whole
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs thyme
750ml red burgundy wine

Heat olive oil and butter in casserole, toss beef in seasoned flour then brown in batches over medium-high heat.

Remove and set aside. Add shallots and caramelise, set aside on separate plate, repeat with button mushrooms and add to shallots.

Add little more oil if necessary and fry sliced onion and bacon until onions softened and bacond browned.

Add garlic, bay and thyme then return beef and any juices to casserole and stir together.

Pour in the wine, season, bring to a simmer then lower heat and simmer gently on the stove, partly covered, for two hours (or cover and transfer to oven at 140C). 

Add the shallots and mushrooms and simmer for a further half an hour. Check for seasoning and serve. This gets better and better as leftovers also!!

Sadly, the picture of the finished product does not look as spectacular as it tasted. I guess I had tired myself out from playing badminton and volleyball all afternoon while it simmered.

An indulgence...just leave it at that.

Parmesan Zucchini Crisps

I made these for a family BBQ a few weeks ago and they were gobbled up immediately. I put out some Tzatziki in case people wanted to dip them in something but most seemed to prefer them on their own. A simple marinara sauce might be a good dip option as well.

1 oz Parmesan, freshly grated
1/4 cup bread crumbs panko
black pepper, to taste
garlic powder, to taste
2 egg whites
2 ½ cups zucchini rounds, sliced about 1/4” thick (this was about 2 small zucchini)


1.    Preheat oven to 425. Line two baking sheets with aluminum foil and place a wire baking rack on top (I used two metal cooling racks).Lightly mist the racks with cooking spray.
2.    Combine the Parmesan, bread crumbs, pepper and garlic powder in a shallow dish and mix together.
3.    In a small bowl, beat the two egg whites. Dip each zucchini round in the egg whites to coat both sides and then press each side of the round into the bread crumb/Parmesan mixture. Place the coated round on the wire rack on the baking sheet. Repeat with remaining zucchini rounds.
4.    Bake for 30-35 minutes until the Parmesan and bread crumb coating is browned and crisp. Serve immediately.

Serves 4
WW Points - 2
Calories - 71
Carbs - 7g
Fat - 2g
Protein - 6g
Fibre - 1g

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

(Lightened Up) Raspberry Cheesecake Muffins

First off, don't let the name fool you. These guys are WW friendly (I actually am eating them for breakfasts all week) but I had to give them such a decadent name because they taste like they should be a gourmet dessert!


5 oz 1/3 less fat cream cheese, softened
3 tbsp butter, softened
3 tbsp unsweetened applesauce
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 large egg whites
1 large egg
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 cup raspberries (fresh or frozen)

NOTE: I couldn't find the baking soda when I was making these so I omitted it, but it really is necessary for a less dense/more airy texture (as you can see from the stubby muffin in the pic below). Clearly not necessary for taste though, since these were still out of this world!!


Preheat the oven to 350. Line 24 muffin cups with cupcake liners.

In a large bowl, combine the cream cheese, butter and applesauce and beat with a mixer until blended. Add sugar and beat until combined. Add vanilla, eggs and egg whites and beat until blended.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour (lightly spoon into measuring cups and then level with a knife), baking soda, baking powder and salt and stir together. In the bowl containing the wet ingredients, use the mixer on a low speed while pouring in the flour mixture and the buttermilk. Beat until blended. Add raspberries and fold in gently.

Spoon the batter evenly into the liners. Bake for 25 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.


Serving Size - 1 Muffin
WW Points - 3

Mexican Ranchero Casserole

Every sunday I generally spend the day in the kitchen prepping and cooking a dish that I portion up for weekday lunches. I've been growing tired of all my regular rotation items (Baked Beef Ziti, Stuffed Chicken Breasts, Chili, etc) and was trying to come up with something a little bit different.


This is an incredibly simple dish with LOTS of flavour!! You could easily sub the ranchero sauce for enchilada sauce, salsa verde or anything else that has a strong flavour.

I just ate the first round of it a few minutes ago and it has an awesome creamy texture that balances well with the spicy sauce.


1 lbs extra lean ground turkey
1 medium onion, chopped
10 oz can ranchero sauce
1 small can of chillies in adobo sauce, chopped (these can make it quite spicy so adjust to your own taste)
1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can Pillsbury biscuits, cut into quarters
1 cup shredded cheese (I used mozzarella and cheddar)

1.    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly mist a 9 x 13 baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.
2.    Brown turkey and onions in a large skillet or sauté pan.
3.    Add the ranchero sauce, tomato sauce, chillies and black beans and stir to combine. Stir the biscuit pieces into the meat mixture.
4.    Transfer the entire mixture to the prepared baking dish and spread out evenly. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle the cheese on top. Bake an additional 10 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Here's a pic before the cheese was added


Serves 6-7
WW Points - 7
Calories - 307
Carbs - 34g
Fat - 6g
Protein - 32g
Fiber - 4g

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Stanley Cup Peanut Butter Cupcake Face-off

So, what do you do when you are trying to not eat cupcakes but you are craving them so violently that it is effecting your day???

Go home and make a double batch of course!!!! Oh and then maybe throw some blue and white sprinkles on them and tell people its in honour of the Maple Leafs kick-off play off game. That way they won't think you are some crazy person who gets home from a long day of work and crazily sets about baking two batches of cupcakes JUST to audition icing flavours...because that would cray cray!!

Clutterbuck and I have been obsessing over a local cupcakery’s chocolate peanut butter cupcake lately. It is so good that we are having trouble controlling ourselves…OK, I am having trouble controlling it but Clutterbuck is ALWAYS game to join in.

Anyway, his Mother’s Birthday is coming up so I figured I’d use that as an excuse to make my own version of this glorious cupcake. However, I have a dilemma….Of all the countless times that I scarfed down the original PB creation I never once stopped to assess what exactly I thought was in the icing. So off I went to the internet for some inspiration. Well….it turns out there are several different versions of PB icing out there, I got a little overwhelmed with the options so I did what most people would do and made two different batches, obviously!

On the left side we have Cupcake A and on the right side we have Cupcake B:

Cupcake A - found online and adapted to my taste

4 oz unsalted butter, room temperature
4 oz cream cheese, room temperature
2-3 cups icing sugar, until desired sweetness is reached (I tend to reduce this amount usually)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2-3 tbs milk, if needed to reach desired consistency
1/3 cup (approx.) natural, unsweetened peanut butter

*NOTE: There have been some reports online that using natural peanut butter will cause the oil to separate in the icing after its been sitting for a while. I have not found this as of yet (They've now been sitting for 16 hours and show NO signs of separating. Plus, consider the amount of sugar that goes into these recipes, personally I think that using a sweetened peanut butter would end up sacrificing the peanut flavour and just adding more sweetness.


Cream butter and cream cheese together with electric mixer (I used my beloved Kitchenaid). Add vanilla and then gradually add in sugar until icing is smooth. Make sure to scrape the sides of the bowl occasionally. Then gradually add peanut butter until desired taste is reached and mix in milk one tablespoon at a time if icing appears to be too dry (I didn't need any milk this time).

I made this version first and thought it was a winner. The taste is a perfect balance between cream cheese and peanut butter (seriously, what could be better??). Its a bit on the softer side because I didn't really want to add any more sugar to it. It was OK to pipe with once it chilled in the fridge for a while. However, once I compared it with the next recipe I was still confused because there is something nice about the purer peanut butter flavour in the buttercream version as well.

Cupcake B - The classic buttercream recipe with peanut butter mixed in

1/3 cup shortening, room temperature
1/3 cup butter, room temperature
3/4 cup natural, unsweetened peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
3-4 cups of icing sugar, I went with 3
4-6 tbs of milk

Cream shortening and butter together with electric mixer. Add peanut butter and vanilla. Gradually add sugar, one cup at a time, beating well on medium speed. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl often. When all sugar has been mixed in, icing will appear dry. Add milk, one tablespoon at a time, and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy.

This recipe was definitely the winner in terms of piping ability. You really can't beat the consistency that shortening brings to the table. However, it definitely had that traditional buttercream icing taste which wasn't necessarily what I was looking for alongside the peanut butter...but it was still divine!!

The taste test is happening all day today and I even have two extra-minis on my desk waiting to be compared after my lunch. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that....there was a method to my madness because baking and decorating the cupcakes satisfied the craving completely. I actually haven't eaten one yet.

I will report on any findings, but I think the moral of the story here is that you can't go wrong either way!!!

Sorry folks, no nutritional information probably wouldn't want to know it anyway!!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Chunky Pork and Bean Stew this a stew or a Chili?? Who knows, but I can confirm one thing for you, It is definitely yummy!!!

Stew (Wikipedia) - A stew is a combination of solid food ingredients that have been cooked in liquid and served in the resultant gravy.

Chili (Wikipedia) - is a spicy stew containing chili peppers, meat (usually beef), tomatoes and often beans. 

This recipe is a variation on a Weight Watchers Recipe (they call it Chili) but I made several changes to suit my own tastes. One thing to note is that it makes A at least 10 servings, so its a perfect recipe to make ahead of time and freeze or portion out for weekday meals (like I did). 


1 medium-large spanish onion, chopped   
4 garlic cloves (medium), chopped 
1 cup baby carrots, chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped
1/2 cup frozen corn   
2 jalapeño peppers, I left the seeds and things in because I like the heat but feel free to scrape them out if you aren’t interested in it being spicy
1 1/2 Tbsp chili powder
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp garlic powder   
1/2 tsp table salt   
1/2 tsp black pepper, freshly ground   
1 pound uncooked lean pork tenderloin, trimmed of fat and cut into 1-inch chunks   
19 oz canned black beans, drained and rinsed   
19 oz canned kidney beans (I used red), drained and rinsed   
1 cup canned tomato sauce
29 oz canned diced tomatoes, undrained   
6 oz canned tomato paste   

Here's a pic of just the veggies and seasonings


Throw everything in the crockpot (no smaller than 5 qt or it will overflow), give it a stir and cook it on high for 6-8 hours, or until the pork is at your desired doneness.  

I was out all day so I cooked it on low for about 7 hours and then on high for about an hour and a half. It was done enough that the meat was tender but still chunky, which is exactly what I was aiming for. 


Serving Size - 1 cup
WW points - 6
Calories - 294
Fat - 4g
Carbohydrates - 34g
Protein - 33g
Fibre - 10g

Monday, April 8, 2013

Light and Crispy Granola

Another recipe to make my weekday mornings easier (and tastier!). This granola was incredibly easy to throw together and is the perfect addition to some yogurt. It has a very satisfying crunch without using all the oil most granola recipes call for.

Even as I’m writing this my mouth is starting to water a bit because its sitting on my desk ready to be eaten as this morning’s breakfast.

3 cup(s) uncooked quick oats
2 oz ready-to-eat crisp rice cereal, about 2 cups
6 Tbsp honey
1 tsp canola oil
1/4 cup(s) apple juice
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup(s) slivered almonds
1/4 cup(s) dried cranberries
1/4 cup(s) raisins

Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C). Mix uncooked oats and puffed rice cereal and spread on a non-stick baking sheet with sides. Bake for 10 minutes, stirring once.

Meanwhile, mix honey, oil, apple juice, spices and vanilla. When oats and puffed rice are done, remove from oven and mix with almonds. Pour spice mixture over cereal and mix thoroughly to distribute and coat completely.

Return to pan and bake for 15 to 20 minutes more, stirring every few minutes. Be careful that granola doesn`t burn, especially cereal along sides of pan.

Stir in raisins and cranberries and let cool. Store in an airtight container. Makes 12 half-cup servings or 24 quarter-cup servings (which is all that will fit in my yogurt containers)

I might also add some chia seeds to the mix to increase the fibre and protein content a little but that’s totally optional.
Serving Size: 1/2 cup
Points: 4
Calories: 182
Fat: 3g
Carbohydrates: 36g
Sodium 36g
Protein: 56

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Overnight Apple Cinnamon Oats

If you are like me you need speedy and portable options for weekday breakfasts. I am not the type that gets up hours prior to work so that I can have a nice leisurely morning of reading the paper, making breakfast, picking out your outfit, grooming, etc etc. People who start their days like this are crazy people and I don't get it. YOU COULD BE SLEEPING DURING ALL THAT TIME!!!

I am more the type to set everything up the night before, set my alarm for 20 minutes prior to my departure time and then enjoy that extra glorious hour of sleep. However, keeping with all the arguments about how important breakfast is, I do find myself very limited with this type of schedule. For the last two months I've been eating the same thing for breakfast every weekday morning. 

A cup of yogurt with some chia seeds mixed in and a banana. Its a great option but I am growing tired of it and it was time to start looking for other options. 

Well, I found one!! Steel Cut Oats. These are not new by any means, just new to me. They sort of look like chopped up rice in size/shape and they need significantly more cooking (and digesting) time than the usual rolled oats that we all know so well. 

You can prepare them on these stove. They take about 30 minutes to simmer, but I much preferred throwing everything into my slow cooker and letting it do all the work. 

Baked Apples and Cinnamon has got to be one of my top favourite combinations and flavours so that was the inspiration for this version of overnight oats. I have a few other combinations I am planning to try next. The texture of these oats is similar to a rice pudding and the oats themselves have this very interesting nutty flavour. Once prepared feel free to top with more sugar, nuts, maple syrup, fruit...the possibilities are endless. 


2 baking apples (I used Fuji because they are sweet)
1 1/2 cups milk 
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup steel cut oats
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1/4 teaspoon salt

Spray slow cooker with non-stick cooking spray (this may sound unnecessary but these bad boys will make a mess of your slow cooker if they stick!). Combine all the ingredients. Cover and cook on low for 7 hours. Serves 5-7.

Here's a picture of everything ready to go in the slow cooker. I chose to peel the apples because i hate chewing the skin, but it could be left on.
A few tips:
  • This can be stored in the fridge for about a week or the freezer for even longer. If freezing than just take it out the night before to let it thaw in the fridge. 
  • To reheat add a little more milk or water before microwaving. It will harden quite a bit so it will need the liquid to get its creamy texture back
  • Know your slow cooker before attempting this as an overnight project. You want the oats to start to brown along the sides of the slow cooker because it creates these yummy caramelized bits of oats and apples. However, once the brown starts to form they can burn very quickly so you might want to make this during the day where you can keep an eye on it for the first time. 
  • I portioned the leftovers (there weren't many once the family had a go of it) into individual Tupperwares and will take one to work and reheat it with a little water there. 
Serving Size: 3/4 cup
Points: 4
Calories: 149
Fat: 3.6g
Carbohydrates: 27.3g
Fiber: 3.9g
Protein: 4.9g

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Cake decorating = GOOD TIMES!

My only memories of home-made and decorated cakes from my childhood are that they were exactly that. All of my friends would have these commercially produced store-bought cakes with Barbies and the Little Mermaid piped on top of them while I would have to settle for a made-from scratch cake with edible daisies or some other creative decorating idea that did not appeal to my young, and somewhat tasteless, mind.

It wasn’t even really about the decorative part, it was more about the synthetic, super sweet, shortening based icings that these cakes were laden with. Although I will admit that Barbie was a HUGE draw! In my teen years I learned to pre-empt the dreaded home-made cake by requesting a store-bought one as a birthday gift (or as ONE of my birthday gifts…I am an only child after all).

Its amazing how things have changed. Now I live for the days that allow me to bake and decorate cakes for those around me. The baking part is nice but it’s the decorating that I really get excited about. Here are two cakes I have created in the last few months.

This one is a three layer chocolate cake with a chocolate cream cheese icing and topped with fresh strawberries and white and dark chocolate curls (also made by me). My Dad loves chocolate cake…or chocolate anything, for that matter, so I went all out on this chocolate monstrosity.


3 cups granulated sugar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 cup hot chocolate
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla
4 oz (4 squares) unsweetened chocolate squares melted and cooled slightly

1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup whipping cream
6 oz semi sweet chocolate squares
2 tsp vanilla
1 8oz (250g) pkg cream cheese
1 cup butter. softened


Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly grease bottom and sides of three 9-inch round cake pans. Cut circles of wax paper or parchment paper to fit bottom of pans and place in pans. Lightly grease paper. Set pans aside.

Combine sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Set aside.

In another large bowl, beat eggs on high speed of electric mixer for about 3 minutes, until they have thickened slightly and are lemon colored. Add buttermilk, hot chocolate, oil, vanilla and melted chocolate. Mix on low speed until well blended.

Gradually add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix on medium speed until batter is smooth. Divide batter evenly among pans. Bake for 25-30 minutes until a toothpick inserted in center of cakes comes out clean. Cool pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove cakes from pans, peel off paper, and cool completely before frosting.

To make frosting, whisk together sugar, cocoa and whipping cream in a medium sauce pan. Cook slowly over medium heat, whisking constantly, until mixture comes to a gentle boil. Cook 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in chocolate until melted. Stir in vanilla. Let cool to room temperature.

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and butter on high speed of an electric mixer until smooth. Add cooled chocolate mixture and beat on medium speed until well blended. Refrigerate frosting until desired spreading consistency is reached, about 1 hour. Important! Don’t let it get to firm, or you won’t be able to spread it.

To frost cake, place one cake layer on a pretty plate. Spread 1 cup frosting over top. Repeat with second layer. Place final layer on top. Ice top and sides of cake with remaining frosting. Decorate cake with chocolate curls and/pr chocolate covered strawberries, if desired. Cover and refrigerate. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving

The chocolate curls were made by melting chocolate and mixing with a little bit of coconut oil. Spreading the chocolate on the back of a cookie sheet and letting it cool until firm but not hard. The back of a metal spatula or thick knife is then pressed along the chocolate to create a curl.

This beauty is my latest pride and joy. I just love it when I have an idea in my head about what the end result will look like…and it comes true right in front of my eyes. I saw a picture of something similar to this in a wedding magazine and thought “I could do that”. After some searching online I realized that several people had obviously thought the same and there were several examples of how others had executed this.
The cake is a three layer, gluten-free chocolate quinoa cake and the icing is a buttercream (1/2 shortening and 1/2 butter). This cake was baked by my mom for her friend Valerie’s 65th birthday. After the cake was cooled I went to work decorating. The colours are three shades of teal food colouring. This cake was a huge hit and will be hard to top!


1 cup shortening
1 cup butter
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 cups confectioners/icing sugar
2-4 tbsp milk (to desired consistency)
food colouring


In a large bowl, cream together the butter, shortening, and vanilla. Blend in the sugar, one cup at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the milk, and continue mixing until light and fluffy.

Separate icing into separate bowls and tint each amount with desired colour.

Start with one colour (I started with the darkest shade) and place icing in a piping bag with a 1M rose time attached. Begin piping spiral roses in random order all over the cake. Continue this with the other two shades until the cake is covered in roses. pipe little stars or swirls into any empty spaces and VOILA!

Cinnamon Rolls

The day before the Easter long weekend I wrote my last final exam. It’s the not my last ever as I still have three more courses to complete but it is the last for now because I have decided to take some time away from school to focus on my new job.

In the last two years I have really allowed myself to be 100% absorbed in my studies and I have actively resisted getting involved in any of my usual activities. This covers anything from baking and cooking to keeping in touch with friends and acquaintances. I really have been out of commission for the last two years.

So, when I found myself on Good Friday without any studies to turn my mind to, no work to go to and no stores to browse/shop, I decided to bake.

I’ve wanted to make cinnamon rolls for a while now but they scared me. Yeast is scary and the margin for error seems to be fairly high for me when yeast is involved. I have never been very good at any baking that involves doughs or pastries but I wanted a challenge so I forged ahead.

We wont talk about the first batch of dough that I made and was about to set aside in the microwave to proof when I realized the melted butter was still sitting IN the microwave and NOT in the dough…moving right along….


1 cup warm milk (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
2 eggs, room temperature
1/3 cup margarine, melted
4 1/2 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup white sugar
1 package yeast (I used quick rise but I believe you could use any kind)

1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1/3 cup butter, softened

1 (3 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt

Dissolve the yeast in the warm milk in a large bowl. Mix in the sugar, margarine, salt, and eggs. Add flour and mix well. Knead the dough into a large ball, using your hands dusted lightly with flour. Put in a bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place about 1 hour, or until doubled in size.
I put my dough in the oven (the “keep warm” function had been on while the dough was being prepared), I let it rise for about 2 hours and it rose to be almost more than double. I wish I had taken a picture, it was almost spilling out of the bowl.
After the dough has doubled in size turn it out onto a lightly floured surface, cover and let rest for 10 minutes.

In a small bowl, combine brown sugar and cinnamon.Roll dough into a 16x21 inch rectangle. Spread dough with 1/3 cup butter and sprinkle evenly with sugar/cinnamon mixture.

Roll up dough and cut into 12 rolls. Place rolls in a lightly greased 9x13 inch baking pan.

Cover and let rise until nearly doubled, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).

Bake rolls in preheated oven until golden brown, about 15 minutes. While rolls are baking, beat together cream cheese, 1/4 cup butter, confectioners' sugar, vanilla extract and salt. Spread frosting on warm rolls before serving

Amazing! These were so good and so worth it! I was very happy with the end result…as was Clutterbuck...clearly...

Coconut Macaroons

Yummy! These were super easy and are super yummy…so a win-win. I have never made macaroons like this before. I seem to remember a no-bake version but since this contains egg whites it was necessary to bake them.

3/4 cup (5 large) egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
pinch of salt
10 oz sweetened coconut flakes
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1-2 oz melted semi-sweet chocolate for drizzling

Combine the egg whites, sugar, salt and coconut in a saucepan and cook on medium-low heat, stirring often.

When the mixture comes together and loses its watery consistency remove it from the heat and add the vanilla. Mix well.

Allow mixture to cool completely (I put it in the fridge).

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Drop tablespoons of mixture onto a silicone lined baking pad (these will stick! So this is vital).

Bake for approximately 30 minutes until edges are golden brown. Cool

Melt chocolate in the microwave and drizzle on top of macaroons

When I make them again, which I will, I think I will reduce the sugar to ¼ cup and increase the coconut a little. These came out quite sweet and a little gooey. They were good but could have been a touch drier and the sweetened coconut didn’t need so much sugar to sweeten them.

Servings: 19
Serving Size: 2 macaroons
WW Points: 3 pt
Calories: 105
Fat: 5.5 g
Protein: 2 g
Carb: 13 g
Fiber: 1 g
Sugar: 12 g
Sodium: 15 mg

Monday, April 1, 2013

A Welcome Back Note

Well…its been 555 days (1 year, 6 months and 6 days) since my last post. By those numbers it would be safe to assume that this blog was long forgotten.

Oh but it has not!!!

During that year and a half Clutterbuck and I have had to turn our attention elsewhere and regrettably, home cooking and healthy eating has had to take a bit of a back seat. Here are just a few of the things we have had going on since my last post:

- I took a leave of absence from full-time work to focus on school full-time. I have recently returned to full-time work in a new position that I am still trying very hard to learn.

- I got a job working part-time at Starbucks, which, although it was still a nice vacation from my real life, the early morning (4am!) shifts were enough to render me useless for the rest of the day.

- We have downsized our living arrangement and moved (AGAIN!) and have placed most of our belongings (i.e. my kitchen) in storage. How can we survive with all of our kitchen items being in storage you ask? Well, it means we are now sharing a kitchen with my parents…that’s right, we are THOSE grown-ass children that have moved home. This was a temporary measure to support the following two points.

- Clutterbuck has executed a complete career change, leaving his full-time job to attend school full-time for the next 2 years (with no breaks!!).

- We are engaged (yay!) and planning our wedding for August 2014

Thankfully, for our waistlines, I’m resurrecting this blog to again keep a record of all the successful and unsuccessful meals, snacks and edibles prepared in our house. I’m going to try out some new looks/layouts, so bear with me if you return and the page looks different every couple of days. Also, I am going to attempt to post the recipe details and the nutritional information. I very seldom create my own recipes from scratch but I do usually modify the ones that I use and even I get frustrated looking back at previous posts and wondering what EXACTLY did I do to achieve that result.