I'm posting this photo so I can tell you about the jealous feelings I'm currently experiencing.

You see, my Mom is on vacation with her sister and their high school best friend and they've gone to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. I'm super jealous because the weather there is amazing (30°C/86°F) and this photo was taken from the balcony of the place they are staying. I want to be that close to the beach!

Let's all just gaze upon this photo longingly, especially if we live in a region that is still hovering around 10°C (50°F).

Posted by Jen B On Wednesday, April 30, 2014 2 comments
I recently learned that I can easily make sweet potato puree and then substitute it in for any recipe calling for pumpkin puree. Sweet potato puree is incredibly easy to make and I always have sweet potatoes on hand, so I think it is going to be part of my life for the next while.

I have a giant bag of Craisins so I thought I would mix the two and make some breakfast muffins.

This recipe is slightly adjusted from a recipe found here.

2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 tbs baking powder
1 tbs pumpkin spice
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup sweet potato puree (about 2 small sweet potatoes)
1/2 cup applesauce
2 eggs
1 cup sweetened dried cranberries

1. In large bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, pumpkin spice, and salt.

2. In a separate bowl, mix sweet potato puree, applesauce, and eggs until mixed. Add cranberries.

3. Add wet mixture to dry mixture and stir until just moistened. Divide batter into 12 muffin cups.

4. Bake at 400°F for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Suggested Serving: pair the muffin with your favourite warm beverage.

Posted by Jen B On Tuesday, April 29, 2014 2 comments
I signed up to participate in the David Suzuki Foundation 30 x 30 Nature Challenge for the month of May. The challenge? Spend 30 minutes in nature for 30 minutes a day. You can do that without signing up, but signing up involves doing a pre and post survey of the challenge to help researchers understand the effect that spending time in nature has on people. I think it will make me feel amazing, seeing as I spent the past 5 months stuck inside and hating nature soooooo much. I'm still so happy it is actually spring, even if it is a little cold out and certain piles of snow are still hanging on.

Want to participate in the challenge? Find out more here.

See you outside!

Posted by Jen B On Monday, April 28, 2014 4 comments
I sometimes forget about cookies. Until I eat them. Then I can't stop thinking about them and have six in a row. Mmmmm.... worth it. ;)

I made a batch of peanut butter cookie dough (following this recipe), and baked one half as is and added dark chocolate chips to the other half. Both variations of this cookie were delicious and it was impossible to eat one kind without eating the other right after. It was only fair.

Posted by Jen B On Friday, April 25, 2014 7 comments
Recently I made some rainbow cupcakes for a family get together and made marshmallow buttercream for the top (my favourite). I'm always really careful with how much frosting I pipe onto my cupcakes, as I don't want to run out, but I always seem to end up with leftovers (I'm too careful). I didn't have time to eat the leftovers with a spoon (we were off to an event) so I left the buttercream in the fridge with the idea that I would do something fun with it when I got home.

Leftover Marshmallow Buttercream

I shaped it into discs and let them firm up in the fridge

Then I dipped them into melted dark chocolate chips

My leftover buttercream was enough for nine chocolates

Mmmmmmm....chocolates on a fancy plate

They were really, really, good.

They were so good that at some point I might even make up some marshmallow buttercream just for chocolate making. I think they would make a great gift.

Posted by Jen B On Thursday, April 24, 2014 5 comments
I haven't been online too much over the past few days. The snow has been melting, the sun came out, and the temperatures have not only been endurable but enjoyable too. Monday we got up to 23°C (73°F) and I didn't wear a coat or a sweater outside. Yesterday was cloudy and only 9°C (48°F), but it was still a treat to be out of doors.

I spend most of my outside time walking around or reading, but recently I found some old baseball equipment and have been having solo batting practice and some games of catch with John. If I'm playing ball in the backyard, it has to be spring now, right? Even if I sometimes have to rescue the ball from the (slowly melting) snow pile.

Posted by Jen B On Wednesday, April 23, 2014 3 comments
My Mom has recently been going through her stuff and getting rid of things she no longer uses. On my list visit I was sent home with all the awesome kitchen stuff that has been gathering dust at her place. A tea set, old tea cups from my Nanny, small french press, a potato ricer, and various wine/spirit glasses. I also came home with an electric griddle that she previously used once a year (Christmas breakfast), but didn't even use this past Christmas because not everyone was able to make it. We'll lend it back to her if she needs it for any Christmas morning in the future, but until then we are using the shit out of it! I forgot to take a photo, but it looks similar to this.

The first day we had it, we made bacon, eggs, and home fries all on the griddle. I love that you only need to wash one pan. We've also made a round of "no waiting" grilled cheeses, as it can cook four at a time. Nice.

This sandwich has an over easy egg, old fashioned bacon, spinach, mayo, all on a homemade bun. Home fries were spiced with garlic, chives, and chili powder and fried up nicely in the bacon drippings. 

Posted by Jen B On Friday, April 18, 2014 7 comments
Cadbury Creme Eggs are the best. I love the week following Easter because you can get them for $0.20 a piece or less. They are the perfect mix of sweet and chocolate and I love that they are also really gooey. This year I thought I would try making them at home.

One of favourite YouTube channels, Cooking with Karma, has a great video tutorial on how to make them and I used her recipe (slightly modified). I also made a smaller batch, as I didn't want to have too many of these kicking around.

Bulk Barn had Easter candy molds on sale for $1.50, so I got one for my egg making adventure.

For this recipe I used:
1.5 cups milk chocolate chips, melted
3/4 cups of icing sugar
1 tbs butter
2 tbs corn syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla
Yellow food colouring

For the Cream Centers:
Mix butter, corn syrup, and vanilla in a bowl. Add icing sugar and mix until completely incorporated. 

Place a third of the icing sugar mixture in a separate bowl and dye yellow for the yolks.

Add a little bit of water, a 1/4 tsp at a time to the white and yellow sugar mixtures until they are the gooey consistency of a creme egg.

For the Chocolate:
I made the eggs in two different ways.
Way one: Big Eggs.

Fill the candy egg mold completely, chill until slightly hardened (about 8 min), and scoop out the middles of the molds.

Way two: Half Eggs.
Paint egg mold with melted chocolate (I used a silicone brush). Let harden.

 For both methods, fill the eggs with white and yellow cream.

For the Big Eggs, glue eggs together with melted chocolate. For the Half Eggs, cover cream with melted chocolate.

Big Eggs:

Half Eggs:

They tasted pretty close to Cadbury Creme Eggs, but not enough to keep me from buying the real thing. I'm excited to see what else I can make with the egg molds, as chocolates are pretty tasty and they go pretty quickly in this house.

Posted by Jen B On Thursday, April 17, 2014 9 comments
Joanne over at Rhythm of the Needles posted this video on her blog and I just had to share it too.

We had a snowstorm yesterday that cancelled the school buses. It also covered up any green that was starting to show itself and made me have to wear my boots again (which I swore I wouldn't do). It also went down to -13°C (8°F) overnight, which is just rude for mid April. However it does make this funny video from Rick Mercer (which he posted a month ago) very much on the nose.

Posted by Jen B On Wednesday, April 16, 2014 5 comments
A similar photo to this one has appeared on the blog before, as my little Gary knows a good thing when she sees it. I'm not sure what is so comfortable about sitting on puzzle pieces, but she always seems really happy when she does it. Maybe she thinks she is helping.

Posted by Jen B On Wednesday, April 16, 2014 8 comments
I really need to start exercising more because I keep eating ridiculous (but delicious) foods like this:

Cinnamon Toast Supreme
I had some leftover canned frosting in the fridge, but it wasn't really enough to do anything with but eat with a spoon. Which I did, but kinda wanted more.

I looked around for a mini recipe of cinnamon rolls, thinking maybe the icing would spread on 3 or 6 of them. All the recipes were a lot more effort than I wanted, since I have already established I could just eat the frosting with a spoon.

Then it hit me - why not spread it on some cinnamon toast, super cheater style?

Step 1: Toast and butter some bread
Step 2: sprinkle with cinnamon sugar (1 tbs sugar to 1 tsp cinnamon, mixed)
Eat and enjoy...and then go for a walk, lol

Posted by Jen B On Tuesday, April 15, 2014 5 comments
I have been on a dishcloth knitting kick over the past few weeks, and in an effort to use every last bit of yarn left in my stash, I tied all the scraps together to form a multicolour yarn ball. Nine scraps were tied together in total and that was enough to complete a neat looking dishcloth.

Knitting through this dishcloth was fun because I didn't know how the finished piece would look. It was a surprise to see all the colours come together, and I enjoyed watching it unfold.

Posted by Jen B On Monday, April 14, 2014 8 comments
There were a lot of leftover cake scraps from my surprise inside cake.

I snacked on what I could, but there were too many to eat, and it was too much to throw out. So I trimmed the edges and found I had a bowl full of cake.

Perfect for making cake balls. Just mix with a little bit of icing and form into balls. Tasty leftovers.

Freeze balls for 20 minutes to firm up, dip them in chocolate and cover with sprinkles if desired.

So far in my life, I have never met a cake ball I didn't like.

Posted by Jen B On Thursday, April 10, 2014 7 comments
The best part about receiving an order from Amazon, is that it always comes with a brand new hang out for Gary Bear. Pretty much the instant I unpacked my items and set the box on the floor, she claimed it. On a brief break from being in her new box, we managed to slip a fleece blanket in it so when she returned it was even more comfortable. Perfect for some cute cat naps.

Posted by Jen B On Wednesday, April 09, 2014 5 comments
Sometimes a recipe just doesn't turn out. When I'm baking something new this is always a possibility, but mostly the results are still sweet and delicious, even when they aren't quite what I expected. When they don't work out it, the question is "Do I want to make this work?" And if the answer is yes, then "how can I make this work?" I know there are some things I can do differently with the following cake, but I'm not sure I will try this style of cake again anytime soon. It was a worthwhile experiment though.

The recipe I tried was a surprise inside cake, made in a loaf pan. There are many beautiful and amazing surprise inside cakes, but I wanted to try an easy one (ha!) to start. A basic idea I found was to bake a loaf cake using half a cake mix, cut shapes out of it, and bake those shapes inside the other half of the cake mix. Sounded easy enough. I impulse bought a cat cookie cutter for this experiment.

I had bought some yellow decorating sugar earlier in the week, so I decided to make my cake cats bright yellow to match how I wanted to decorate it. So I dyed half my cake mix yellow and baked it.

Unfortunately, the loaf cake didn't rise very high (and it took almost 50 minutes to bake). At this point I started to think this experiment wasn't going to work out, but proceeded forth anyway.

I cut out the cats, but could only cut out one per slice because the slices were so short, and even then I had to cut off the cat's tails. But they looked like cats, so that was promising.

There were so many cake scraps from the cut outs (I made sure to snack on some of them so that it didn't seem so wasteful).

I lined the bottom of loaf pan with some of the other half of the cake batter, put my cats in, and covered them with the rest of the batter. The cut outs were put in upside down so that the flat bottom of the cake would be the top. As you'll soon see, the second loaf didn't rise very high either, so both the top and bottom were equally flat.

The cake had to bake for 60 minutes for it to be cooked through. Making this cake involved a lot of waiting. Once it cooled, I iced it and cut it open to see what happened.

There was a shape it in, but it was kinda Rorschach. The cake itself was dense, but tasted fine. Nothing to write home about.

So here is what I would do differently if I made this cake again:
  • choose a less complex shape
  • choose a more dramatic colour (blue, red, green)
  • bake the shapes cake in a square pan, so I could more easily cut them out, and with less waste

Posted by Jen B On Tuesday, April 08, 2014 4 comments
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