Browsing the archives for the Kids tag.

Our First Video (& Some Chocolate Chip Cookies)

Domestic, Kids

So, you know how I feel about children in the kitchen. I strongly encourage it and I really think they can learn so much. Obviously, they learn about cooking or baking and they might learn a bit about the dish they’re making, but they also learn a lot about fractions when we double of halve a recipe and they learn a little baking chemistry as well! One day, I’ll gift wrap brand new copies of The Cake Bible and The Pie and Pastry Bible for them to learn all kinds of crazy kitchen chemistry. In the meantime, I’ll assault them with information as we bake. I’ve also noticed that random questions about life pop up when we’re all relaxed and enjoying each other’s company in the kitchen – and that’s always a good thing.

All of the kids love to be in the kitchen. Wee One #2 likes big bakes mostly, like cakes and pies and breads. Wee One #1 likes to cook more than he likes to bake. Wee One #3 though, she shares my affinity for small, quick batch baking. Cookies, cupcakes, muffins, and the like. ‘Teatime Treats’ is usually the chapter of baking books she gravitates towards. When I announced that I wanted to bake up some cookies, she was my first volunteer and this video is the result.

I have tried other chocolate chip cookie recipes, but my Granny’s is just always, always better!

This is her recipe:

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large egg
1 cup chocolate chips

Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes!

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My Poor Kitchen


I complain about lament the loss of my kitchen pretty frequently, I know I do. Most of the time when I write or talk about it, it’s the size and beauty of it that I miss. Other times, it’s the pantry. Man, I had a pantry! On a daily basis though, it’s the kitchen things I have collected over the years that I didn’t think to bring with me that I miss the most. Mainly because I wasn’t entirely sure how long we’d be here. I know that the opportunity to live here in Los Angeles is amazing, I am so incredibly thankful for my husband’s job and our cute little apartment in our sweet tourist-free neighborhood. But daaaamn, there’s a whole lot of stuff I just didn’t think to bring. Juicer? Nope. Juice jug, even? Nope. I recognize it’s a ridiculous first world problem to have, that I can’t make my own juice so I have to buy a carton of juice. Oh poor me. How will I ever go on?

Do you hate me? I know, I’m sorry.

My new homie Vanessa lent me a bunch of must-haves from her kitchen (some utensils, a small saucepan, kitchen towels, and the cutest mugs there ever were) – that helped. I was smart enough to bring my pie pan, waffle maker, two best aprons, food processor and Kitchen Aid with me (but dumb enough to bring the sausage packer with me and leave the grater at home uuuugh), so that helps – a bit. Oh and my granny’s rolling pin – but I didn’t bring her cookie cutters with me! My wonderful and handsome husband was kind enough to ignore that my Target shopping list was eerily similar to my ‘things I can live without’ list written in Canada and he picked up knives, kids dishes, serving bowls, oven mitts, a brownie pan, muffin tray, cookie sheet, measuring cups and spoons and some tupperware.

I feel sad for my kitchen that I was so pumped for the long-awaited and heavily wished for bucket list in Los Angeles that I totally underestimated what I’d actually need in my kitchen. I looooove to mess around and whip up treats as much as I love to make a dinner everyone loves, so how I managed to gloss over the importance of my kitchen is beyond me.

Also neglected around here is the living room and our bedrooms. I did pack all my fave hair do dads and bangles and make up – and I did bring all of our favorite clothes! Since none of us really watch tv, we all (even our 3 year old) watch Netflix or stream tv shows from our laptops, so the living room is a big carpeted square where we sit on the floor in front of the flatscreen and play XBOX.

We’re calling it ‘minimalist’ but it’s hilarious.

Some days I can hardly believe we traded a beautiful house that we worked so hard to own for our little patch of Los Angeles, but at the same time I can hardly believe we can sunscreen up and take off to the beach any time we feel like it. So that, combined with the farmer’s markets and new friends makes it a pretty fair trade.


Classic Tiramisu and A Purple Birthday Cake


Last year, during my self-inflicted bake-a-pie-a-week challenge, I vowed to bake a cake a week in 2010. As soon as I did my friend Gill said she wanted to make Tiramisu! I loooooove Tiramisu, but I’ve never tried to make it before. She held out until March, then came over with all the ingredients and this recipe.

Cake #13 – Classic Tiramisu
6 eggs
1-1/4 cups white sugar
1-1/4 cups mascarpone cheese
1-3/4 cups heavy whipping cream
2 (12 oz) packages ladyfingers
1/3 cup coffee flavored liqueur


Gill broke up ladyfingers to lay in the bottom and coated them in Kahlua while I mixed the egg yolks and sugar over a double boiler (10 minutes or so). Then I whipped them till they were yellowy and thick. The mascarpone gets added to the whipped yolks and separately, Mr Kitchen Aid whipped the cream till it was perfect and that was very carefully folded into the mascarpone/whipped yolk mix.


Then, we put it all together. Half the cream filling goes on top of the layer of Kahula-soaked ladyfingers, then more ladyfingers are broken and laid on top and also soaked in Kahula. Then the rest of the filling of course. We were going to cover the top of it in chocolate curls but all that cream seemed a little scary calorie-wise, so we just sprinkled some cocoa over it instead. We put it in the fridge, for much less time than we should have I’m sure, and it was amazing. It didn’t hold it’s shape as much as I would have liked but it was so good it didn’t matter. Also pictured is a mug with four ladyfingers soaking in milk, to be crunched up and eaten ‘once they’re soft enough’. Even just writing that is grossing me out, thoughts? Do you put things in milk till they’re all mushy?


As you can imagine, with three wee ones under 10 I have read a whole lot of bedtime stories. Usually, there are a few that stick and have to be read over and over and over (and over) again. Elliot Bakes a Cake (An Elliot Moose Story) is one of them. The recipe that Elliot uses in this book is included at the end. Naturally, I’ve been asked to make it for ages, so when I needed a simple cake for wee one #3’s first birthday party I thought of it.


It was a great recipe for the kids to make themselves. They started out with a ceramic bowl and a wooden spoon (as they had in the story) but once it was time to blend in the milk they turned to the trusty Kitchen Aid, which is usually hands off.


As expected, it mixed until smooth and the layers came out beautifully. We whipped up some purple frosting for it, too! We took it to my Grandmother’s for Sunday supper and birthday presents. It was plain enough for a one year old, but it held it’s own with coffee. I made this again and again after as bases for cakes where the topping was key. Officially, it’s called A Very Special Cake in the book, and it was Cake #13 in Cake Year!


Play Doh, Blueberry Friands and Yam Chips

Crafty, Domestic, Healthy

As you know, I have three wee ones underfoot, and besides pancakes, I’ve made more batches of play doh than anything else in the last 10 years. I just came across this recipe that sounded good, so I gave it a shot.


I really like the way it came together in the pot! It didn’t take as long as some other recipes I’ve used and it wasn’t super sticky either. When I rolled it onto the counter, I was sold. It was very soft and easy to handle so the food colouring blended extremely well. I don’t know if it’s because wee one #2 left her zipbags of this play doh in the sun, but these two batches got moldy after a few days. I will make more to see if it’s a shelf-life issue or if it was just us.

As I’ve been trying to pay attention to portion control, I’ve been looking for bite size recipes. I know pretty much any recipe can be adapted to be made into individual portions, but I was charmed when I came across these Friands on Use Real Butter. So cute! I had several jars of almonds *in the shell* that had to be cracked. So, as my friends arrived, they were put to work cracking them all open for the almond meal we needed for these wee loaves. They were so so so good. The whole point of trying them was the small portions, and they were so good it was sort of a bummer we didn’t have more.


Jen used raspberries, but the selection at my corner market looked a little sad so I went with blueberries instead. Amazing. I wonder about different nut meal and berry combos? Like walnuts and blackberries or pecans and cranberries! Oh! I’m going to try pecans and cranberries next.


I’m not sure why exactly, but we made blue rice krispie squares this week and the tray was empty before supper! Not that they tasted any different than usual….

There was a recipe on the box for ‘savory sweet potato sticks’. I love, love, love sweet potatoes. I know it’s one of those foods that most people don’t have much of an opinion on, but I’m all over them so I tried this recipe the next day.


Essentially, you crush about a cup or more of rice krispies and add in whatever dry seasoning you like, the recipe suggested garlic powder and cayenne pepper, but I used Montreal steak seasoning and paprika. Dip the sweet potato circles in a beaten egg and then in your cereal/seasoning mix before putting them on a cookie sheet. I had them at about 400 for 10 minutes or so.

I was hoping to find the recipe online to link to it, and instead found eleventy million other recipes involving puffed rice cereals! Brace yourselves! 😛

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Crafty, Domestic

The past few months have been a flurry of activity, and while I wouldn’t have it any other way, a few more hours in the day would be helpful.

I made a really interesting cake this past weekend for a friend’s 30th and I have had a good start to Cake Year! First though, and mostly just to show off some photos, here are a few of the things I didn’t blog about this holiday season.

I made heaps and heaps of brownies during the holidays, as I’m sure you can imagine. These made in the donut pan seemed especially fun for the kids for some reason, and this apple pie with a handful of chocolate chips was just silly – and delicious!

This year, Chinese New Year and Valentine’s Day landed on the same day, so we had a fete to celebrate both! There were a whole lot of glittery New Year decorations and a whole lot of shiny heart decorations. The kids had a party that afternoon, and one of their activities was cookie decorating. I made standard Sugar Cookies and Cocoa Brownies and set out frosting, sprinkles, candies and broken up treats in recycled pudding cups for easy access!

For their school parties, the kids hit Google to find ideas for their class treats. Wee one #1 went with Chocolate Covered Jumbo Marshmallows. We put some red sprinkles on while the chocolate was still wet. Wee one #2 picked Cinnamon Heart Kisses and Hugs Cupcakes, which I think explains itself really. Both treats were really fun to make and the kids classes loved them. Before anyone thinks I’ve left someone out, wee one #3 isn’t in school yet and is too small for treats. 😉

There are some really fun gems left out, like attempting a Jamie Oliver appetizer, and my cinnamon hippo cookies, but these were the most fun of the last few months. I can’t recap too much because I want to jump back in and show you the 10 cakes I’ve made so far this year!

The husband machine, our three wee ones and myself did some Christmas road tripping. It took us to three different cities in two weeks and we had a blast. On the way home, with our little car packed to the roof with kids, gifts and gear, I got a text from my amazing friend Gill, asking if we could do the first Stitch n Bitch of the year that night, and that she really, really wanted to make Red Velvet cake with me. I pretty much never turn down an evening with my ladies, so as soon as we got home, I prepped the kitchen for fun, fed the kids and within minutes Gill was here with her beau Andrew, and my sister, Nikki. Usually there are two more good friends that spend Saturday nights with us, but one was out of town and one was hanging with someone who is usually out of town.

So, the Red Velvet cake, as you can see, looked like a winter birthday cake! The cream cheese frosting wasn’t too cream cheesy, as they often are, and the chopped pecans were a really nice touch! None of us had ever made this cake before, and we were all a little alarmed at how much food colouring it takes to give it that red hue! It was amazing, definitely one of my faves so far, The look of the two red layers with the contrast of the white frosting was so pretty.

Inspiration for the second cake of the year came while browsing Chow. The photo of the cake was amazing, but they put a crunchy almond crust on the top of the cake (prepared in the pan before the batter was poured in), and I opted for a few ground up chocolate chips on top after I had already iced it. I used the recipe as is otherwise, and it turned out so good.

This Double Lemon Cake was made because the husband machine asked me to make him a Lemon Meringue pie, and I had a little lemon filling leftover. The cake itself is a standard lemon cake, really you can just sub some lemon juice for a liquid in your favourite vanilla cake and add in some lemon zest as well. It’s two layers, with the lemon filling from the pie I made earlier and buttercream tinted yellow. 😉 If you love lemon, you’d love this.

The fourth cake was made for Miss Talea’s financee, who she never refers to by name on her blog, so I’ll hold back. I made him a Brown Sugar cake, though he is away at med school and couldn’t enjoy it himself. This recipe was found on Bell’alimento, and yes, I covered mine in whipped cream too. I made two square layers, one smaller than the other and sprinkled cinnamon on top!

Cakes #5 and #6 were made on the same day – because we had a few more people than usual that week – to celebrate Miss America. We all just love how campy and silly it is, and we really rolled with it. We all wore tiaras and drank champagne (ok, sparkling wine) and had a lovely evening. Cake #5 was a Chocolate Coconut (which just means I added a little sweetened shredded coconut to the batter and sprinkled some on top once it was cooled). Cake #6 was exciting for me, as I had never made one before – a Black Forest cake! My mother used to make these a lot when I was a kid, my father loves them. This was a cake doctor-style recipe, to be honest. All I did was mix up a devil’s food cake mix with a few eggs, some water and an entire can of cherry pie filling. Once it was baked and cooled, I put a little dollop of whipped cream on each of the wee flutes in the cake and put a maraschino cherry on top.

It’s hard to believe how genuinely excited I am over each of these cakes! Cake #7 was especially important because one of my closest friends, someone who has been coming out to my knitting nights for years, moved. Yup, Talea joined her fiancee somewhere that isn’t Toronto so they can live together as he finishes up med school. To celebrate all the joy and friendship and wine fueled nights we’ve all spent together, I made her a 10 Layer Smell You Later cake (inspired by the always amazing Bakerella) and invited only her very favourite people. It was a lovely night, but so so sad too. Moving on, the cake would have been more layers, but my husband machine was snacky and I had baked all the layers the night before. 😛 I assembled it with runny fudge as the glue that held it all together between all the layers. I coated the outside in it as well, but had to do as Bakerella suggested and make up some cocoa frosting and give it another layer.

Two weeks ago, as you know, was both Chinese New Year and Valentine’s Day. Last year, I made a Mandarin cake because I thought that the traditional citrus fruit had to be made into something, but it doesn’t. Just leaving out a bowl of any kind of citrus fruit is enough! So I didn’t make a cake for Chinese New Year, but I made up a serious Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake for Valentine’s Day. It was plain chocolate, in a heart shape, topped with a pint of strawberries and loads of both whipped cream and cocoa frosting. Amazing.

Even more amazing than that cake, Gill’s brother was on his way back from Thailand that day and even though he woke up on the other side of the planet and had a serious 12 hour jet lag to deal with, he came over to celebrate with us! Since he had been away for his birthday, I also whipped up a belated birthday cake – the one he picked weeks before – Chocolate and Peanut Butter!

And finally, to be totally up to date, this past weekend, I made my weirdest cake yet – by request. I made Tres Leches (or 3 milk cake, if you prefer). It’s Spanish and while most of their cakes are really moist, this one is over the top. It was for Andrew’s 30th birthday, the first of us 1980 babies to turn 30 this year. He requested it partly because he has a thing for moist cakes and this one promised to be the moistest, and partly because any time I ever serve this man cake, he always puts it in a bowl or mug and pours milk over it. Always.

This cake starts out as a plain vanilla cake, though I’m sure you could sub in whatever kind of plain cake you’d like. Once your cake has baked and cooled (mostly), move it to a larger pan then poke holes all over the top of it and pour this mixture over it; 1 can evaporated milk, 1 can sweetened condensed milk, 1/2 cup whipping cream, 1/2 cup whole milk. You have to keep scooping up the mixture and pouring it over the cake for it to absorb it all. It’s nuts to see a cake soak up 3 cups of liquid in a few minutes.

You’ll notice there are actually four kinds of milk in this ‘three milk cake’. I actually looked into it more and traditionally the recipe has no whole milk in it, just whipping cream. The best part about this is two of us are lactose intolerant. Ha! I had a very small piece and then later in the night, I had another small piece. Andrew had several, so glad the birthday boy liked it. 😛

To go with the random theme of three, I also made three squash soup. Gill made her amazing pizza pinwheel bites and we all forgot about the soup. I will ask her about the recipe to post it one day.

Way more playing in the kitchen than knitting and sewing lately, as I’m sure you can tell, but I did manage to finish a very nice pair of socks, Marriage Lines, they were a late Christmas present to one of my dearest friends, Talea.

There’s your recap, stay tuned for Window Shopping Wednesday tomorrow!


Fall Baking Round Up (Halloween and Birthdays)


Making a different pie every week all year has lead to some pretty funny pies. I strive to rival Martha, and some days I do (hello Valentine’s Day, 2009!), but other days I end up making a chocolate crumb crust, lining the bottom with sliced apples and pouring chocolate pudding on top. Yup. Meet pie #47, Apple Chocolate Pudding Pie. It was delicious, for the record, but the description above is 100% true. My 9 year old could have made this, actually I bet my 4 year old could have made it too (she likes to make instant pudding in the Kitchen Aid)!

Moving along to treats I am more proud of, brain cupcakes made for wee one #1’s school Halloween party! One of my dearest friends, Talea, gave me an icing pen for my birthday this year, because 2010 is the Year of Cakes and Cupcakes! I used it for the first time to make these brains. I was so happy while making them because the pen, though a little fiddly to fill, works like a dream and made the cupcakes look all brainy! Of course, once they were all packaged up and ready to roll the night before the party I started to get self-conscious about them. Did they look brainy enough? Maybe I should have tinted the icing to be pinkish? Maybe I should have added blood? No.

I made these Chocolate Witch Hats from a Martha Stewart recipe. In her recipe is says to paint the cones with chocolate, but the image it conjured of the messy hands killed it for me. All you need; a box of sugar waffle ice cream cones, a tray of chocolate wafer cookies (I made mine from scratch thankyouverymuch), a bowl of broken Kit Kats, and a bowl of melted chocolate.


Dunk the ice cream cone into the melted chocolate, put a few broken Kit Kat pieces inside, and top it with the cookie (using the flat bottom of the cookie as the underside of the lid so it holds to the cone better), you may have to brush the seal with melted chocolate too. Just as many children ate these as adults once we got them into the school. Most of the office staff had one!

Shortly after all this Halloweening it up in the kitchen, I came across this post on Cake Spy from May on a Cookie Cake Pie, which naturally, got me very excited! I still had some of the cocoa cookie dough in the fridge from the Chocolate Witch Hats I had made, so I went with a chocolate version. I’m not sure what I did wrong. I think I will try this again when I visit with my friend Heather when we go on our Christmas trip. I didn’t do the idea justice, it was ok, but a little dry and not half as exciting as the original idea.

I immediately redeemed myself with these Pumpkin Carrot Muffins, though, so it’s ok. 😉


Standard Lemon Meringue was pie #51, with the standard coffee ring (chopped up to fit on the platter, naturally), and (drum roll please) pretzels.


I made pretzels from scratch! The recipe was alright, but the instructions were sub par so I will try this again and share a how to once I’m better at it!


This was exciting for me. Meet pie #52, Mint Chocolate Chip! It was delicious, but it was also so pretty and the sound the meringue made when I cut it was that perfectly crunchy but not hard shell cracking sound. Mmmm. I was impressed with myself, for sure.

I made a standard white flour pie crust (we’ve established that whole wheat flour and chocolate only work nicely in brownies), baked it, then made chocolate pudding with some mint extract, filled the pie crust and popped it back in the oven for another 30 minutes or so. Then I whipped the meringue and added green food coloring, I topped the pie off with that and then put it back in the oven again for another 10 minutes. I added the chopped chocolate once I took it out.

I maybe should have called this the Elvis Pie, since it’s pretty much equal parts banana and peanut butter, I learned when making this pie that while a smashed banana is delicious and invisible in baked goods, the same is not true for actual pieces of banana. They are still delicious, but they’re not pretty.


Finally, this cake is my most favorite recent accomplishment. One of my wee ones has a thing for Dora, as many wee ones do and asked me to make her a cake. So far, on the baking front, I’ve been getting pretty good at making very pretty cakes, but they are decorated differently. My mother was always baking and frosting cakes. By the time I was half way through elementary school, she was making cakes and chocolates from home as a small business. Her style of decorating was piping the entire cake from the Wilton decorating tips and it was so so so nice. I have yet to get that good at piping, so I smooth out the cake and pipe what I think I will do the least damage with. I used the same decorating pen from Talea for the sun and cloud. She loved it, and so did her wee friends!

    Next up is some serious holiday baking!