Archive for September, 2011

I know that it’s still only September, but I really couldn’t resist. The rain and wind came this weekend and with it I decided that some pumpkin baking would remedy my post summer blues. Embrace the crappy weather, drink a few pumpkin spice lattes and chai teas. I’m already much happier just thinking about some of my favourite things.

It was a hard decision trying to figure out what to bake. Last years pumpkin cookies were so delicious but it was time to venture out and make something new. And so after much blog and Pinterest surfing I found these…pumpkin oatmeal cookies.

Normally pumpkin cookies end up tasting just like cake, but these are a bit heartier thanks to the oatmeal. Fresh out of the oven they were nice and crispy but within a day they softened up. No complaints from my end though.

These are the kind of cookies that you can change up. Like nuts? Throw them in there. Raisins, dried cherries, chocolate chips? You name it, it can happen. I decided that half of the batch would have butterscotch chips in it, while the other half would be saved for white chocolate chips and craisins. My favourites are the white chocolate chip cookies, I think it’s a texture thing, loving the craisins!

Ps. Does it sound weird to combine butterscotch chips and pumpkin? Or pumpkin with white chocolate chips and craisins? Just trust me, the pumpkin still shines through and these are both delicious combo’s.

Picture sitting in Starbucks, drinking a pumpkin spiced latte and eating a homemade pumpkin cookie, all the while crushing your competition at a Suduko race. It doesn’t get more perfect than that.





Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies

Adapted from My Baking Addiction


2 cups flour             1 ½ cups old-fashioned oats
1 tsp baking soda    ½ tsp nutmeg
1 ½ tsp cinnamon   ½ tsp ginger
½ tsp salt                ½ tsp all spice
3/4 cup butter         1 cup brown sugar
1 cup sugar             1 ½ cups pumpkin
1 egg                      1 tsp vanilla
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup dried craisins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line your baking sheet with parchment paper.

Beat butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar in large mixer bowl until light and fluffy.

Add pumpkin, egg and vanilla extract; mix well.

Add flour, oats, baking soda, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice and salt. Combine until all ingredients are incorporated.

Fold in white chocolate chips and dried craisins, or whatever additions you choose.

Drop by rounded tablespoons onto prepared baking sheets.

Bake for 12-14 minutes or until cookies are lightly browned (I baked mine for 13).


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If you follow this blog you may have noticed that I’m often a season behind in my updates. Christmas recipes come out in January and in today’s case, I give you a strawberry rhubarb upside down cake. Perfect, right? Strawberries and rhubarb are abundant at this time…yeah right. Well, no need to thank me when you make this next year!

At least there’s always chocolate. Chocolate never goes out of season.

We didn’t actually eat this cake fresh from the oven. Instead it was frozen and has recently been brought out to enjoy, with ice cream of course. I feel like this would be the perfect dessert for an afternoon tea. Not that I have afternoon tea, or live in England. Seriously I can’t wait to be 80 years old and have friends over for afternoon tea all the time. You’ll come visit me right?

On a completely unrelated note, I have some advice to pass on. When you are camping and you go to the bathroom always remember to take your iPhone out of your back pocket. You wouldn’t want it to fall out and end up in the toilet bowl, unless of course you want to hear about your crappy phone or your shitty phone for a week…not that I’d know…

Strawberry Rhubarb Upside-Down Cake


3 tbsp butter                  1/2 cup sugar

2 cups chopped rhubarb  1/2 cup strawberries

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour a 9 inch springform pan.

Melt the butter in a saucepan, add in the sugar. Stirring constantly, cook until sugar begins to melt and starts to turn a light caramel colour.

Add the rhubarb. Continue stirring and cook for 3 minutes or until syrup starts to thicken.

Pour rhubarb mixture into bottom of prepared springform pan. Sprinkle sliced strawberries on top. Set aside.


3 oz almond paste  1/2 cup sugar

5 tbsp butter          1 egg

1 1/2 cups flour      1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt             1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/2 cup milk

With a mixer, beat almond paste and sugar on low speed until the texture of small crumbs.

Add butter and mix until combine. Beat on high for 2 minutes.

Add egg and beat until very creamy, about 3 minutes.

Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg. Add flour mixture and milk to almond paste mixture.

Mix on low speed until just combined. Drop spoonfuls of batter on top of fruit. Spread batter evenly across the top.

Bake for 50-55 minutes.

Cook cake in pan on wire rack for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the cake and unmould the springform. Tip cake upside-down onto serving plate and carefully lift off bottom of pan.

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What happens when you allow your father to try something that you bake? He asks that you transform the same cupcake recipe into a massive birthday cake. And not just any birthday cake, HIS birthday cake.

Let’s be honest though, this recipe is amazing so why not have my cake and eat it too?

I ended up using two 8″ cake pans for this dessert and strategically placed a handful of mini Reese’s peanut butter cups into both tiers. In between the two layers, and all over the cake, was the greatest peanut butter icing ever created. Crushed peanut butter cups topped everything off. Note: cooking time for these babies was 38 minutes, otherwise follow the recipe for the cupcakes.

This was delicious but felt like a bit of a work out to get through. Stick to the cupcakes if you’re after a “lighter” treat, otherwise eat your heart out, just like my dad did.

Happy Birthday to the greatest Dad!

Link to the recipe

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Hello Dolly Bars

And just like that, it’s officially not summer any more. Where did the sun decide to disappear to and why am I not there? I don’t like all of this gray sky, but regardless I’m still in my glory because it’s September.

Do you have a favourite month? Hands down September is mine. Call me a nerd but I love the start of a new school year; think new clothes, new binders, new classes to teach, new students to get to know, a new volleyball season to coach, a new soccer season to play in, and this year…a new run club!

Football season has started, the leaves are starting to change colour even though the weather is still warm, I can wear shorts in the day and then snuggle up in sweats at night, and it’s almost time to start baking with pumpkin. Seriously, this time of the year is perfect.

Want to know what else is perfect? These hello dolly bars. What’s not to like? They’ve basically got everything in them minus the kitchen sink. Coconut, pecans, graham crackers, chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, what more could a girl want?

A word of warning though. Even though I think that these are perfect, if you aren’t a big sweets person you might think that these are, for lack of a better word, too sweet. Should that be the case, you know where to find me, I can take them off of your hands for you, no need to thank me…

Hello Dolly Bars

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

1/2 cup butter, cut into large pieces
1 1/2 cups graham crackers crumbs
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips      1 cup butterscotch chips
1 cup shredded coconut          1 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup sweetened condensed milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Melt butter in microwave until just melted. Add graham cracker crumbs. Mix and then press evenly into the bottom of an 8×8 baking pan.

Layer coconut, pecans, butterscotch chips and chocolate chips on top of the graham cracker base.

Pour sweetened condensed milk over the whole mixture.

Bake in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the top is light brown.

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I’ve never been a cupcake person. I don’t understand what all of the fuss is about. They are mini cakes, but unlike cake you don’t get to put ice cream on them. That doesn’t make any sense. The ice cream is what tops off the cake, what brings it to perfection, what makes me happy…

Then these happened and I began to understand the obsession.

Back to work means back to Friday treats. Naturally, I opted to bring treats the first week, try to set the bar high, let people know that this isn’t something that we take lightly, you know how it is. It was also a co-workers birthday so hello cupcakes!

Seriously I work at the best school. Have you ever heard of a place where 3 teachers take all of their students into another teachers class to sing happy birthday to her? Have you seen teachers celebrate a birthday at recess with banners and Disney princess party hats? Welcome to my daily life, it’s amazing.

Back to the cupcakes. These were incredible. The chocolate cupcakes are surprisingly light and inside of them you will find hidden mini Reese’s peanut butter cups. The icing is a peanut butter frosting that is to die for, unless you don’t like peanut butter, in which case you might not like these, in which case you are crazy. Sorry. To top it all off, cut up pieces of peanut butter cups are sprinkled onto the icing. Decadent.

Eat these, die and go to heaven…or maybe just eat another cupcake?

You don’t believe me that these were that good? Have a talk with one of our male co-workers who couldn’t stop talking about the cupcakes hours later. Maybe he’ll convince you…

Peanut Butter Cup Cupcakes

Adapted from My Baking Addiction


1 (18.25 ounce) package devil’s food cake mix
1 (5.9 ounce) package instant chocolate pudding mix
1 cup sour cream        1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs                        2 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp instant coffee dissolved in 1/2 cup warm water (I used Starbucks Vanilla)
Reese’s Miniatures

Freeze Reese’s Miniatures for at least an hour.

Preheat oven to 350F. Line muffin tin with paper liners.

In a large bowl beat together the cake and pudding mixes, sour cream, oil, eggs, vanilla and espresso water mixture. Beat on medium speed until well combined (about 2 minutes).

Pour the batter into the muffin wells (I ended up getting 21 cupcakes).

Depending on the size of your Reese’s Miniature press 1 peanut butter cup into the center of each cupcake (my mini’s were very mini so I used 2 for each cupcake). Using a spatula, cover the imprint with cake batter.

Bake for 18-22 minutes or until the tops of the cakes spring back when lightly touched.

Once cooled, remove cupcakes from muffin tins and allow to fully cool on a wire rack.

Once cupcakes are cool, prepare your frosting.

Peanut Butter Buttercream frosting

2 sticks (1 cup) butter, softened     2/3 cup creamy peanut butter
1 1/2 tbsp vanilla                           2 1/4 cups icing sugar
1/3 cup milk

In a large bowl, cream butter and peanut butter on medium speed until fluffy.

Turn the mixer down to low speed and slowly add the icing sugar, and continue mixing until well blended.

Add vanilla and milk. Blend on low speed until moistened.

Add an additional 1 to 4 tablespoons of milk, if necessary, until you reach the desired consistency. Beat on high speed until frosting is smooth and fluffy

Pipe the frosting onto cooled cupcakes and finish with chopped Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.

Be sure to refrigerate the cupcakes until ready to serve.

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Reality check. School is back in session, lessons are being created and taught, and the marking will soon hit.

Fortunately, before reality set in, I was able to get away for one last weekend. Thanks to an amazing friend of mine, and her gracious family, I spent my last days of freedom soaking up the sun on a lake in the interior of BC. Lying on a dock in the mornings reading a good book, spending time on the speed boat one afternoon, water skiing everyday despite the frigid water, having a dance party on a barge in the middle of the lake under the stars, and roasting s’mores around the campfire every night? Tough life. Thank you again, I loved every second of it!

What else did we do? Holy toledo did we ever eat! I’m not sure if there was ever a second when I wasn’t stuffed to the max. So so good. Can you tell that I’m already itching to go back!?

Part of my contribution to the weekend was these blackberry brownies. I had seen a recipe for raspberry brownies and figured that using blackberries would be even better. Um, understatement. I’m obsessed with these. So moist, so full of flavour, so friggin delicious. Chocolate and blackberries. Genius. Just like the time I spread Nutella and blackberry jam on my toast.

Go and pick some fresh blackberries while they’re still around and make these brownies. Just don’t leave stuck prickles from the blackberry bushes in your finger. Pull them out asap, not a week later. Trust me on this one…




Blackberry Brownies

Adapted from Sunday Baking Adventure

3/4 cup cocoa                 ½ tsp baking soda

2/3 cup melted butter     ½ cup boiling water

2 cups sugar                   2 eggs

1 1/3 cups flour              1 tsp vanilla

¼ tsp salt                       Blackberries

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 13×9-inch baking pan.

Stir together the cocoa and baking soda in a mixing bowl. Add 1/3 cup melted butter, mix well.

Add boiling water and stir until the mixture thickens.

Stir in sugar, eggs, and remaining 1/3 cup melted butter.

Add flour, vanilla, and salt. Blend completely.

Pour half of the batter into prepared pan. Gently place blackberries on top of batter.

Cover the berries with the remaining batter.

Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until edges begin to pull away from the sides.

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These days we’ve got berries coming out the ying-yang! All of the jamming has been completed, pies have been frozen for the winter (how great is that!?) and the refrigerator has been stocked with frozen strawberries, blueberries and blackberries. What else could a girl want? Oh right, muffins.

Left to right: Tayberry, Blueberry and Raspberry Muffins

Have I mentioned that I’m obsessed with muffins? Love them. Almost every single type. Maybe not those bran ones though. Let’s be honest, they are way too healthy for me! But these? These muffins are perfect. The best thing about this recipe is how versatile it is. The original recipe was for a rhubarb and oat muffin but this summer it has become the basic recipe for all berry muffins.

Raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, tayberries (seriously you NEED to get on the tayberry wagon!), they’ve all been done. And will be done again, and again. Other fruits could definitely be used as well, whatever your preference is, just add the same amount of that berry or fruit.

Personally the rhubarb is still tops for me, followed closely by the tayberries.

Ps. have you seen these muffin liners before? They’re silicon liners so they can be used over and over again. Such a great money saver, super cute (they come in all sorts of designs), and you can buy them at any kitchen store. Thank you genius/amazing past roommate for this birthday present! Martha would for sure say that they are a “good thing.”

Fruit and Oatmeal Muffins

2 1/2 cups flour    1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar

1 cup oats            1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt              1 large egg

1 cup buttermilk   1/2 cup oil

1 tsp vanilla          1 tbsp orange peel

1 1/4 cups berries of your choice or rhubarb

Preheat oven to 350F.

In a large bowl combine flour, sugar, oats, baking soda and salt.

In another bowl whisk the egg. Gradually mix in the milk, oil, vanilla and zest until well blended. Add all at once to the flour mixture, stirring until the dry ingredients are moistened.

Fold in the fruit until just combined.

Bake 23-25 minutes.

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