I started this blog so my daughters could find all of our family favourite recipes in one place. It has actually grown into more than just the family favourites but also other recipes we've tried out in our kitchen. I don't like to fill up the post with alot of chatter. Sometimes there's a little story to tell, but usually I like to get right to the point. So this is for them, but hope you find some recipes that you like as well. I'll be sharing a lot of recipes, and along the way you'll find some crafty things and maybe some helpful hints too!

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Goat Cheese and Honey

Just one more bite!

herbed goat cheese
liquid honey
crisp crackers

Unfortunately these cannot be made ahead of time as the crackers will go soft, but they are easy to put together.

Or you could put everything out on a tray and let your guests build their own!

A dab of cheese on the cracker. I used beet crisps here because I liked the colour but the beet taste may have taken away from the other flavours.  A plain wheat cracker might have been a better choice.

Top with a blackberry and drizzle with honey.

Pop it in your mouth!

Pimm's Cocktail Punch

Who is ready to ring in 2018?

2-3 slices lemon
2 tbsps sugar
2 sprigs fresh mint

2-3 more slices lemon
1 orange sliced
12 oz Pimm's
6 oz orange juice

750 ml champagne or sparkling white wine
6 strawberries, halved or sliced
a few cucumber slices
a handful of cranberries

Muddle 2-3 lemon slices, sugar and mint leaves together, cover and let sit at least 1 hour, then discard lemon and mint.

In a pitcher or punch bowl mix 2-3 more lemon slices, orange slices, Pimm's, orange juice and the fragrant sugar.

To serve pour champagne or sparkling white wine into the punch along with cucumber, strawberries and cranberries.

Happy New Year !

serves 6

Mini Caprese

Just a few simple ingredients for this one-bite wonder!

cherry tomatoes
fresh basil leaves
olive oil
balsamic vinegar

Use a small spoon or melon baller to remove the seeds from the cherry tomatoes.

Turn them upside down on a paper towel to drain, then store on paper towel in a covered container until ready to use. I would suggest not more than a couple of hours.

Press a basil leaf inside the tomato along with a cube of mozzarella. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic.

Friday, December 29, 2017

December Birthday Cake

When your friend has a milestone December birthday, and she's a pro cake decorator but you're just trying your best...

1 - 2 layer devil's food cake

1 icing recipe that I got from this friend:
1  1/2 cups shortening
1/2 cup vegetable oil-based margarine
1 lb icing sugar
1/2 tsp each vanilla, almond and lemon extract
1/3 cup carnation evaporated milk or regular milk

Store bought (Ssshh!) cookies

1/3 cup chocolate ganache (optional)

Bake the cake in 2 - 8" round pans as directed on package and cool completely. I had time to freeze them to make it easier to frost.

Beat the icing ingredients together.

Set the bottom layer on a plate then spread a layer of ganache on if using. I had this leftover from my Tiramisu Yule Log.
You can find the recipe here:

Set in fridge 5 minutes then add a layer of frosting. Top with second cake layer and spread a thin crumb coat of icing over all.

Finish up with  a nice smooth(ish) coat and top with sprinkles. If you want add M & M candies to decorate the cookies then smear some icing on the back of each cookie and place along the side of the cake.

I was worried that the cookies might get soft after being on the cake so I put them on only a couple of hours before serving. But they were still ok on the leftover cake 24 hours later!

It may not be the prettiest cake but it was made with love.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Tiramisu Yule Log

Made this cake for Christmas, but you still have time to make one for New Year's!
It's a showstopper!

It isn't difficult to make but there are several steps involved. Good thing is that each part of the finished product can be made ahead of time. I had everything made on the 22nd of December except the ganache which I should have made then too.

1 - 21 X 15" baking pan
1 - 17 X 11" AND 1 - 6 X 10"

6 eggs, room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup all purpose flour

1 cup strong brewed coffee, cooled to room temperature
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp coffee liqueur (optional)

1  1/2 cups whipping cream, cold bowl and whisk
8 oz (250g) cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar

Chocolate Ganache:
1 1/3 cups semi sweet chocolate chips
1 cup heavy whipping cream

Meringue Mushrooms:
2 egg whites, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp cream of tartar
3 white chocolate melting discs
cocoa powder to dust

1/4 cup crushed pistachios
1/4 cup chocolate oreo crumbs

So, I started with the meringue mushrooms. 
Beat egg whites, sugar, salt and cream of tartar together using the whisk attachment. It should take about 5 minutes to form stiff peaks. Don't overdo it as the stiff peaks will turn into grainy runny blobs!

Transfer meringue to a pastry bag and pipe onto a parchment lined sheet.  Try to form round button tops and taller mushroom stems remembering to make a pair of each.

Bake at 200F for 1 hour and 30 minutes (yes that's right!)
Once baked they will easily slide off the paper and onto a cooling rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container several days.

Now for the cake...beat eggs with whisk attachment 1 minute. Gradually add sugar and beat on high for 5 minutes. You want the eggs fluffy.  Sift the flour (very important for texture) and add in thirds, folding in and scraping the sides. Drizzle in the vanilla. Spread into parchment lined pan or pans. I don't own a 21 X 15" pan but my two pans worked well. Just had an extra branch on my log!

Bake at 400 F for 10-12 minutes.

Remove from oven and quickly turn onto an upside down baking pan with parchment on it. Carefully peel off the baking parchment, then roll up the cake with the new piece of parchment starting at the narrow end. Do the same with the smaller cake too. Cool to room temperature while rolled up.
As you can see my cake was quite brown...that was 12 minutes of baking.

Once completely cool you can place the rolls as is in a plastic bag or cover in plastic wrap until needed.

In a chilled bowl, beat 1  1/2 cups whipping cream on high 1-2 minutes until fluffy.

In another large bowl beat cream cheese and sugar on high 2 minutes.

With a spatula, fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture. Refrigerate until needed.

The ganache is the easiest thing to make...simmer cream, stirring occasionally then pour it into a bowl over the chocolate chips. Cover and leave it for 5 minutes then whisk together, beat 1 minute and boom!...Ganache! Let it sit to room temperature.

Just combine coffee, sugar and coffee liqueur for the syrup and you are ready to go!

Unroll the cake or cakes and brush on the syrup. Dollop the filling on and tightly roll up again. 

Trim the jagged ends then cut off a section at about a 45 degree angle.

Place it on top of the main log. And there's my little branch placed on the side.

I covered all the cut edges of the cake with foil to protect from ganache drips (I can be a little messy!)

I started covering the cake while the ganache was still quite runny and found it easy to make sure all the crevices got covered.

The longer the ganache sits the more like frosting it becomes and so for the second coat I was able to brush on some tree texture. You can also use a fork drawn across the ganache for texture. The platter looks messy but don't worry...we have that covered!

To assemble the mushroom use the tip of a knife to make a small hole in the bottom of the mushroom cap. Fill it with some melted white chocolate (20-30 secs in the microwave) then press the point of a stem into it. Stand to set then return to the airtight container until ready to serve the log. 

Just before serving dust the mushrooms with a little cocoa (dirt) powder. And remember the mess along the bottom of the log on the platter? Cover it with chocolate oreo crumbs (more dirt!) and sprinkle crushed pistachios (moss) over the log.

I personalized my log with a little  carved heart and initials.

I was super happy about how this dessert turned out !

Keep refrigerated until ready to serve and Happy New Year!

Original recipe:

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Red Velvet Banana Bread

OK Let's face it...it's not bread, it's cake! So yes, I'm having cake for breakfast Christmas morning!

1 - 468g pkg red velvet cake mix
3 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3 ripe bananas
6 oz mini chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
4 oz white chocolate melting discs
1 tsp shortening

Mix the cake mix, eggs, veg oil and bananas together and beat for 2 minutes. Then stir in the mini choco chips and nuts. Holy cow this batter is really RED! (it's my 1st red velvet anything)

Pour batter into pans. I made 3 - 3 X 5" and 8 - 3 X 2" mini loaves. For the 3 X 5" aluminum pans I lined them with parchment so I could easily remove them baked, decorate then return to the pan for gift-giving.

Bake at 350F for 40 minutes.

Cool on racks. Once cooled remove from pans.

Microwave white chocolate discs 30 seconds at a time on high, stirring until smooth. Stir in shortening. Add more until drizzling consistency.

Spoon it into a pastry bag or ziplock with corner cut out and drizzle away. Don't forget to add the sprinkles.

Once set they are ready to wrap and put away. (After a taste test of course1)

Original recipe:

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Stuffed Butter Cookies

In the homestretch now. Wrapping is done. Baking is done. (Well almost done...you can never have too much baking amiright!)

2 tbsps chopped chocolate chips or minis
1 tbsp chopped dried cranberries
1/2 cup ground almonds
1/3 cup sugar
pinch cinnamon
1  1/2 tsps water

2 cups flour
1/4 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsps sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup butter
2 tbsps milk
1 tbsp water

Mix chocolate chips, cranberries, ground almonds, sugar, cinnamon and water together using the back of the spoon, pressing against the side of the bowl to combine. Set aside.

Add flour, cinnamon, sugar, vanilla, butter, milk and water to a food processor and pulse to form a ball.

Take the dough and roll it into an 18" log. Cut into 1/2" pieces.

Roll each piece in your hands to form and ball then make an indentation in the center and fill with choco/cranberry mixture.

Pinch closed and gently roll in your hands to seal. Place seam side down on a parchment lined baking sheet.

Bake at 350F for 20-25 minutes and cool completely.

Roll in icing sugar and store in a cookie tin.

Makes 36

Oopsie, ate one....35 ; )

Adapted from: http://evilshenanigans.com/2009/04/almond-and-chocolate-filled-butter-cookies/

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Sweet Mincemeat and Pecan Squares

Like a shortbread cookie and a sweet mincemeat tart all in one!

1 cup cold butter
1  1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup semolina
1/2 cup + 2 tbsps caster sugar (superfine, not granulated or icing. See Note)
1/2 tsp vanilla
pinch salt
1/2 cup chopped pecans
cinnamon sugar for dusting
2 cups sweet mincemeat (bought or for homemade see link below)
1 apple, peeled and shredded
1 tbsp rum or brandy
zest of 1 orange

Mix flour, semolina and 1/2 cup caster sugar in a food processor.

NOTE: If you don't have caster or superfine sugar, just whirl granulated sugar in processor until fine then use as caster.

Add butter, vanilla and salt.

Process until the mixture is pea-like. Reserve 2  1/2 cups and set aside. Firmly press the remaining shortbread mix into a greased 7 X 11" baking pan.
(I had divided the mixture in half, 3 cups each, not remembering that the pecans would be added to top layer. That is why my shortbread layers are not even)

It looks like all this shortbread and mincemeat won't fit the pan, but it does!

Mix mincemeat, rum, apple and zest of orange together and pour on top. 

Mix pecans and 2 tbsps caster sugar into the remaining shortbread mix and sprinkle over top, pressing gently.

It's a really full pan!

Bake at 340F for 50-60 minutes, then leave in pan on cooling rack to cool completely. Before cutting sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.

If you'd like to make your own sweet mincemeat check this out:

Original square recipe:

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Coffee Liqueur Truffles

Truffles are a great addition to any holiday platter. 

Some of the favourite coffee liqueurs to use are Kahlua or Tia Maria, but for this one I used Javalley coffee liqueur from Barrelling Tide distillery in Nova Scotia.

2 -200g pkgs original chocolate Tim Tam's
250g pkg cream cheese, at room temperature
60 ml coffee liqueur
100g white chocolate
100g milk chocolate
50g white chocolate melting discs
Cocoa powder

Pulse the cookies in a food processor to form crumbs then add the cream cheese. Once combined drizzle in the coffee liqueur while running processor.

Place mixture in fridge for 20 minutes.

Form into 1" balls (a bit messy to do) and place on a parchment lined sheet and return to fridge to chill for an additional 20 minutes.

Place the white and milk chocolate in a large bowl and microwave for 1  1/2 - 2  1/2 minutes stirring every 30 seconds until smooth. 

Dip balls into melted chocolate and return to fridge to set. Melt white chocolate melting discs and drizzle over top.

 Alternatively the balls can be tossed in cocoa powder.

Makes 60 (but pace yourself, these are rich!)