Browsing the archives for the baking tag.

Easter Bunny Cake Pops

Domestic, Kids

I. Love. Easter.

I know, I know. I love Valentine’s Day and Halloween and Christmas too. So what? I love to bake for my littles and their buddies and craft like a kid and any excuse for a party of small people makes me incredibly happy. My goal this year is to find the time to blog about it all!

My husband found some pastel candy corn while out running errands and knew I’d be able to use them for ‘something cute’. He was right, naturally!

Technically, cake pops are made by mashing frosting into cake and shaping into balls before poking sticks in the ends and dipping in melted chocolate. Lately, I have been using my Babycakes Cake Pop Maker and then poking a stick in and dipping in chocolate. This time around though, I felt that it called for ‘traditional’ cake pops and I went with mashing frosting into cake for the right texture.

The pastel candy corn of course ended up being used as their cute little ears. I used individual sprinkles and my serious kitchen tweezers for the eyes and little butterfly sprinkles for their noses. You can really use whatever you want as decoration for the bunnies as long as you get a basic bunny shape. If you’re feeling especially adventurous you can always make some cake pops and invite the kids to decorate them with you!

We were passing them out to school friends so we wrapped them up. I think I will make another batch to spread some Easter joy in our neighborhood!


Coconut Banana Granola Bars


Early in 2011 my husband and I watched way too many documentaries on food and health in general. The three that affected us the most were Food Matters, then Food Inc, and then Forks Over Knives a few months later. Ouch. It was hard to watch as a meat / dairy / processed foods eating couple. Since then we eat a lot less meat and dairy, and the meat and dairy we do eat now is organic. I have always been really big on making as much as possible from scratch, but my concept of ‘as much as possible’ is a lot different now – even though with homeschooling and adventuring around LA we have less spare time than ever, it’s totally worth it to find the time. (it’s a good busy)!

Last year, I posted a recipe for homemade granola bars that I still use on the regular for the kids. They’re pretty good and only have one questionable ingredient – marshmallows and as I said in the original post, if you make them yourself they’re not all that questionable anymore! These granola bars are for anyone who likes banana and coconut. None of my littles like coconut – crazy right?! My husband and I looooove coconut so these babies are the grown up granola bar around here now. 😉

Coconut Banana Granola Bars with Chocolate Chips via Undressed Skeleton

1 cup organic flaked coconut
1 large (extra ripe) banana
1 cup whole grain oats
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup ground flax
1/4 cup almond milk
1 packet truvia (or whatever you use for sweetening)
*the original recipe used 2 tbsp vegan chocolate chips but I skipped them

Super simple and so good aaaaand no flour, no eggs, no dairy, no added sugar, no butter, no oils!

Mash the banana and add to a bowl with the coconut, flax, vanilla, oats and truvia. Slowly add the almond milk until it holds it’s shape and then just pat into a pan. If you’re using chocolate chips, now is the time to add them. It’s not runny so you can get away with using the middle of a pan (like I did) or you can use an 8 x 8 pan. Bake at 350 for 12 minutes and let cool before cutting.

Strawberry Cupcakes


There was a whole lotta Valentiney love in the kitchen going on around here over the last 2 weeks or so. I made cookies, I made cupcakes, I made gummy hearts, I made heart shaped bacon – and even heart shaped hot dogs. Yes, I know that’s insane, thank you. I was having so much fun Valentining it up with my husband and our littles, I didn’t stop long enough to post about it much! That’s ok, you know I’ll catch up with that eventually.

This post isn’t even a recipe, but man these were good.

These extremely sweet (and also extremely yummy) cupcakes were made from a box, which I know is 100% not me but I’m learning to bend a bit. I made them with strawberry cake mix but I added more strawberry flavor with about 1/4 of a 3oz package of strawberry jello. Yes, jello.

Then I made a totally standard batch of buttercream (butter, icing sugar, milk, vanilla), but I added both bright pink food coloring (thanks Wilton) and the rest of the 3/4 of the 3oz package of strawberry jello. I used my extra long icing tip to fill some of the cupcakes with the strawberry-spiked buttercream and then I used two other tips for the tops, the star and rigged swirl are the same tip.

Good thing I had people around to share these with or I may have eaten way more than my fair share!!
Strawberry Cupcakes

Strawberry Cupcakes
Strawberry Cupcakes
Strawberry Cupcakes
Strawberry Cupcakes
Strawberry Cupcakes
Strawberry Cupcakes
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Mini Cherry Tarts


So, I know that Valentine’s Day is mostly a made up Hallmark holiday. But guess what? I don’t care. I like all the construction paper hearts and random heart shaped confections and reading stories about ‘love day’ to the littles. In the interest of full disclosure I’ll add that I also totally love it when my amazing husband brings me flowers and treats and something shiny. Or even when he just purposely does something extra cute, like years ago when we had just one little person, he left him with our sitter and showed up at my office at the time to take me for coffee and wander around Toronto for hours – which is one of my all time favorite pre-children thing we used to do together. Maybe if he sucked at Valentine’s Day I’d hate it, but he rocks so I don’t. Plus I think all holidays are so much more fun with the kids to add their energy and magic to everything. So that’s your heads up that for the couple of weeks, it’s going to be very Valentiney around here.

Baking tarts is no exception. The flurry of pink, purple and red construction paper is in full swing here already and when it was time to bake tarts for dessert naturally my first thought was cherry for the color but Miss Wee One #2 was inspired to cut a little heart in the corner of one of the crusts. Never to be outdone, Wee One #3 took that idea a step further and insisted we cut wee hearts from the leftover pie crust for small, flaky pie crust cookies. Cute!!

I used my granny’s pie crust recipe (from her treasured book published in 1932). I had intended to make actual cherry pie, you know, from actual cherries, but they just didn’t exist this week at the market and I was determined to make these. Enter the cherry preserves. Still, my husband ate 3 of them, so they couldn’t have been bad. <3

At the very least, here is the simple, but amazing pie crust.

2 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup cold butter
3 (ish) tablespoons cold water

Cut the cold butter into the flour and salt with two butter knives or a pastry cutter. Once it’s oatmealy, use a fork to mash the mixture into itself with a few tablespoons of water. You want it to all come together without becoming a sticky cookie-like dough. More like a barely holding itself together crumb topping. Then turn it out onto a counter or cutting board sprinkled with flour and roll it around until it takes shape.

Roll it out to fit your pie plate. I have bowls for the littles that I turn over an use as cutters for muffin pan tarts, and a shallow 9″ pie plate that only needs a 10.5″ circle to fill. My most often used pie plate is a 9″ deep dish so really I need a circle of dough more like 12″ or so for that, so plan accordingly! Unless you’re making pumpkin or lemon you’ll need a top crust as well!

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Happy Birthday Dad Ginger Cookies!


My Dad and I have always been close and until this year, I’ve always been around to celebrate with him. It’s a little weird to have to ship him cookies, but he’s never been a birthday cake kind of guy (ok he likes cake, but he prefers a birthday pie or a birthday tower of brownies). So this year, I’m sending him a batch of his favorite cookies! I have made a lot of ginger cookies over the years, more than ever before last year since Wee One #3 loves them so much and this recipe is absolutely the best. This is my new go to for ginger cookies!

ginger cookies

Ginger Cookies via Food 52

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cups packed dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup unsulfured molasses
granulated sugar for rolling
Pretty standard recipe, it’s all about the quality of your ingredients! Whisk the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ground ginger, allspice, salt and cloves together. Make sure the spices are well combined in the flour. In the bowl of your mixer, cream the butter and sugar together for about 3 minutes – then add the egg and molasses. Stir in the dry ingredients and chill for an hour.

Preheat to 375, line your cookie sheet with parchment paper and roll the dough into tablespoon-size balls. Use the bottom of a glass dipped in sugar to flatten them. Bake for about 10-14 minutes. DO NOT OVERBAKE. They are crispy on the outside and just a little bit chewy on the inside. Perfect ginger cookies! I hope my dad loves them!

ginger cookies
ginger cookies
ginger cookies
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M&M Chocolate Chip Cookies

Domestic, Kids

We spent New Years Day playing board games and the little ones ate way too many cookies and chocolate almond milk, but I tried to level it out with some hidden kale in dinner and I’m going to go ahead and call that a win! Two of the games we played on Tuesday were the Pinkalicious Cup Cake Party Game, super fun for Wee One #2, and the Super Why ABC Letter Preschool Game, which totally worked for both Wee Ones #2 & 3. The Pinkalicious game reminded me a lot of Partini, but for kids. You roll the dice and you draw a card from the deck that matches the icon you rolled. You’re either doing charades, drawing, rhyming or dancing. After you perform the task on the matching card you earn a cupcake and the first person to get 6 cupcakes wins! You also have the possibility of rolling two other icons (duh), one gives you a free cupcake, one takes a cupcake away. Wee One #3 wasn’t huge on the rhyming or the charades and seemed to think it was pretty lame. Yeah, my three year old was too cool for it – and that’s fine because this game was technically for Wee One #2 who loved it so much she insisted we play it again after her menacing toddler sister went to bed.

The game we picked up specifically for said menacing toddler was the Super Why game, since that is one of her favorite shows and one of the few shows that actually teaches kids something useful! The show (and the game) focus on letter sounds and early reading. My seven year old liked this game because it was easy for her, but the littlest one liked it a lot too and it’s so neat to see the connections she makes and the little spark that goes off when she finally ‘gets’ something. In this game, there is a spinner instead of dice and you move around the board and land on one of four Super Why characters. Each of the four characters has their own deck of cards and each has the kids practicing a different reading skill – either you match a lower case on your card to the upper case of the same letter on the board, find the letter that the picture on the card starts with, rhyme with the words on the card or you replace a silly word in a phrase with a word that makes sense.

This recipe is my first cookie of 2013. Technically, I made these for New Years Eve, but since they ushered in the new year I’m counting them! It shouldn’t come as a surprise at all that I am posting a Martha Stewart recipe as my first of the year since I’ve been cooking and baking my way through her books since I was a teenager at my parent’s house cooking for their friends on Friday nights!

Soft & Chewy (M&M) Chocolate Chip Cookies – via Martha Stewart

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups semisweet and/or milk chocolate chips
1 cup plain chocolate M&Ms

My granny would dump M&Ms into her standard chocolate chip cookies sometimes if I was in the kitchen with her. It kept the grown ups from eating them all and my sister and I loved them even more this way. This is your standard sift together the dry, cream the butter and sugar, add eggs and then add dry to wet style cookie recipes.

To clarify…whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. Cream the butter and both sugars together, then add the eggs one at a time and the vanilla. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet and then stir in the chocolate chips and M&Ms. Bake at 350 for about 11 minutes.


Happy New Years Eve (and a Deceptively Delicious round up)

California, Healthy

Happy New Years Eve!! Tonight we’ll celebrate with the littles early and call our parents and then we’ll celebrate at midnight and call a bunch of friends on the East coast at 3am. Hehe. That means YOU, Talea! I am looking forward to tonight, but I’ll wait and show you all the silly fun tomorrow!!

In 2011 I set out to cook and bake my way through Deceptively Delicious. I made a decent dent in it, more than half of the recipes, and I kept making recipes from it this year. There are just a few I haven’t gotten to yet. It’s a fun book full of sneaky ways to add vegetable purees into everyday recipes, focused on getting your kids to eat them but it works just as well with husband and yourself! I’m not big on a lot of the healthiest veggies so I love to add them in to recipes! I know they’re there and I’m getting the benefits of them without sitting down to a plate of spinach, you know?

Here are four of the recipes I made a while ago, but just posted. All of them were simple and tasted great!

Deceptively Delicious - Quesadillas Deceptively Delicious - Quesadillas

There have been a lot of serious winners from his book in our house and a few not so well received dishes. This one though has become our oldest little one’s favorite snack. He asks fot it several times a week. Just before we moved to LA, I made this for him and a three of his friends and they inhaled it. For the record, none of those kids would ever eat squash or navy beans or even sour cream! (read)

Deceptively Delicious - Pink Pancakes Deceptively Delicious - Pink Pancakesread)
Deceptively Delicious - Pasta with Bolognese Sauce Deceptively Delicious - Pasta with Bolognese Sauce

I am the only person in the house that isn’t a big fan of spaghetti and pasta sauce. I actually kinda hate it. If I make it for the fam and I don’t feel like coking something else, I’ll eat it. Another exception is if we are visiting someone and they make it. Otherwise, noooo thank you. This sauce though? Not bad at all. I honestly didn’t mind it at all and I think it was the addition of the sweet potato puree that made it better. (read)

Deceptively Delicious - Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
Deceptively Delicious - Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

I was a little nervous to present these to the kids because they’re not big on raisins OR nuts in their cookies so these didn’t go ove too well with them, but a few of my girlfriends were over when I made these and they loved them! No one had any idea there was zucchini in them until I told them. You could add wheat bran or ground flax to these to really up the fiber without changing the taste! Or swap the raisins for dried cranberries! (read)

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Christmas Cookie Roundup

Domestic, Kids

There was a whole lot of baking going on around here this month but most of it was so pedestrian it wasn’t worth posting recipes of! I let the kids choose what we baked every time they asked to, so we ended up with A LOT of chocolate chip cookies and we did sugar cookies over and over and of course we made gingerbread maybe half a dozen times. They teamed up and decorated a gingerbread house together and there was much decking of halls and wrapping of gifts and watching of Christmas movies while I knitted on Christmas socks (as in, gift socks for Christmas, not Christmasy socks).

When I had a little time to steal, like say after they went to bed and before they got up, I tried out these recipes and they were all winners. Usually, I make batches and batches of cookies starting in mid-November so by Christmas I have a stockpile of 6 or 7 different kinds of cookies. Then I make assorted tins and bring them around to our friends and family as gifts. This year, I didn’t do that because while I had a handful of people that I could have brought assorted homemade treat tins to, it wasn’t enough for a the amount I end up with when I bake so many different kinds.

The funny thing is, the closer it got to Christmas, the more treat tin-worthy friends we were all making and by Christmas week, I easily could have given away as many as we would have had if I had just done my Christmas baking as usual. Oh well! Next year I will make lots!!

Here is the roundup of the four recipes I used this year.

White Chocolate Pomegranate Cookies
White Chocolate Pomegranate Cookies
I made these one afternoon for a ‘bring a snack’ style mini potluck with some mommy friends at Silly Goose. They went over well with both kids and parents, which surprised me because I didn’t think the kids would be into it. (read)
Butterscotch Triple Chip Cookies
Butterscotch Triple Chip Cookies
These were originally intended and baked up for my father and my dear friend’s brother. The kids always get to try new cookies even if the batch is destined for someone else – they liked these cookies so much they ate almost the entire first batch and once my husband discovered them, it was game over. I didn’t have enough left to send a decent package! Hilarious but nice to know when I have a winning recipe on my hands like this one. (read)
Cookie Dough Bites
Cookie Dough Bites
This is not a recipe, it’s 5 things you have on hand mashed together and rolled into balls. Oh and you can drizzle them with chocolate but I was taking them to the park and they are not very mobile once they’re covered in chocolate. This is the kind of treat I’ll whip up before bed for the next afternoon when I know I’ll have no time but the kids will be asking for something. Be careful though, the part of you that is still 6 years old will want to eat as many as you can get your hands on and if you have a 6 year old, you’re going to want to keep a close watch on these babies. (read)
White-Chocolate Cherry Shortbread
White-Chocolate Cherry Shortbread
I usually only do one cookie for Christmas that involves white chocolate, but this year I was so smitten with two recipes I went for it. This is the second of the two. I’ve never used maraschino cherries in a recipe before so it was a first and it totally worked out! Definitely drain the cherries well after you chop them, too much liquid will ruin the recipe and the cookies wont hold together as well. (read)

More little pieces of our Christmas, this time, kitchen edition.

-decorating a gingerbread house in your Hello Kitty pearls and Tink costume is a must (duh)
-making fondant from scratch and letting your kids attack gingerbread people with them makes for a seriously fun afternoon
-gingerbread houses can never have too many teeth breaking candies stuck to them
-pancakes taste better when they have seasonally appropriate shapes
-everyone loves festive treat boxes (I’m glad I haven’t met anyone who hates them, anyway)
-cakes should be baked in tree pans, painstakingly decorated with homemade buttercream and handed over to the little ones for dessert
-3 year olds are seriously into baking (another duh)

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Candy Cane Cookies


This is yet another of those recipes that I hesitate to call a recipe. All you’re really doing here is adding crushed candy canes to your already winning sugar cookie recipe and even better – these lazy little treats require no chilling / rolling / chilling / cutting. You just mix it up, add the candy canes, form into balls and sprinkle more candy bits on top.

There are so many different ways you can switch this up. Either to make a fancy platter of essentially the same cookie but not or as assembly line food gifts for neighbors! You can change the base of this basic sugar cookie by adding cocoa for a chocolate version, adding cinnamon and nutmeg for a spice cookie version, or you can tone down the peppermint flavor of the cookie by using vanilla extract instead. Whatever your little heart desires really, as long as it pairs up with the candy canes. Another way to mix it up would be to use different kinds of candy canes. I recently bought a box of Willy Wonka candy canes, they are purple, yellow, green, red and blue swirly and have a Gobstopper center! There are about eleventy billion different kinds out there, you could make this recipe different with each dozen by changing the candy canes.

If you don’t have a solid sugar cookie recipe, use this one! It’s my go-to for sugar cookie cutouts and I have posted it before.

Candy Cane Cookies

Basic Sugar Cookies
1/2 cup + 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temp
3 cups + 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 cup superfine sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp peppermint extract
plus whatever kind of candy canes you want to use

Cream together the butter, sugar and peppermint extract. DO NOT OVERMIX. Beat in the egg, add the sifted flour and mix on low till you have a sticky dough. Done! This is normally where the chilling / rolling / chilling / cutting happens but with these, you stir in about 4 or 5 crushed candy canes and form 1/2 tablespoon balls. Top with more crushed candy canes if you like, I found that made them look really festive and the kids loved them!

Candy Cane Cookies
Candy Cane Cookies
Candy Cane Cookies
Candy Cane Cookies
Candy Cane Cookies
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Thanksgiving Rewind

California, Domestic, Kids, Marriage

So as I mentioned about eleventy billion times last month, we took a road trip out to Las Vegas to celebrate our first American Thanksgiving with our dear friend Nichole and her four children! She is originally from the south and I am..well, I’m me, so we went all out. Our Vegas adventure was short and sweet. We drove out after dinner on Wenesday, checked into Circus Circus, did some late night wandering around the hotel and went to bed alarmingly late. Fun! We had an incredibly lazy Thanksgiving morning, much to Nichole’s dismay, but we did have a fantastic evening together once we finally got there!

The whole menu is pretty crazy, but it was a lot of fun and there were 11 of us total. We had to leave all the leftovers with her (sorry!!), but there are 5 of them so that made sense anyway! She made a lovely turkey with stuffing and gravy, she and her wee ones also made the cranberry sauce, ham, pinto beans, macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes and green bean casserole. I brought my very first sweet potato pie, apple crumble, cocoa brownies for the kids and my trio of tarts; lemon meringue, pumpkin and Sailor Jerry pecan (and of course my cherry apron and matching headband – essential items).

I’m linking to three recipes I just put up on the site from that day. They are all equally bananas-amazing.

Lemon meringue has been one of my husband’s favorite pies since we met so I have a lot of practice with this, and I’ve tried a few different recipes over the years but this has been the absolute best one. (read)

These are another piece of the trifecta of awesome that was my tart collection at our first American Thanksgiving. Half a dozen are made without any run and the other half are spiked with Sailor Jerry. (read)
Sweet Potato Pie
Sweet Potato Pie
It sounds typical to say I’m from Canada and I’ve never had sweet potato pie, but I think it’s just all in who you know and my exposure to Southern Belles up to this point has been pretty limited. However, I spent Thanksgiving this year with a real life Southern Gal, and she put me in charge of the sweet potato pie – she even gave me her Granny’s recipe. (read)

On Friday, we picked three of the zillion things there are to do in Vegas with kids and each of them was a hit.

First we just went downstairs to The Adventuredome in Circus Circus. As the name implies, it’s an indoor amusement park, and it’s way bigger than this Canuk remembered from my own childhood! Like, woah. We wanted to get to make sure we got to do all three things before we headed home so we let the kids each pick a couple of rides and away we went! Please note there are very few actual horses on the carousel. Wee One #2 picked the dragon and Wee One #3 picked the flying bunny. There were also flying bears and pigs. I honestly thought that was pretty rad.

We are all a little in love with Vegas and we’re all eager to go back again. This was our first road trip since we moved to LA and I have to be honest, it feels pretty amazing to come home to California. Like, taking a vacation from vacation!

Our next stop was The Silverton to check out the aquarium and the mermaid that was rumored to hang out there. While we waited for her to make her entrance, we saw a leopard print sting ray. What?? We spent some time this summer with Wee One #3’s Godmother, exploring the aquarium in Long Beach and we got to see a lot of sting rays but I had no idea that leopard print sting rays existed! So cool!
The chocolate factory was a must do because every year for years and years and years, going back before I can remember and ending when my granny started getting ‘the old’, my aunt went to Vegas every year with either her girlfriends or her sister in laws or nieces or all of the above. Every single time she came back, she’d bring us Ethel M chocolates. It only felt fitting for us to hit the chocolate factory and pick her up a box of Ethel M chocolate. The kids thought it was pretty cool to see where M&Ms come from, though I’m sure this is not the only place they are made!

This picture is hilarious to me and really sums up where they are right now. Wee Ones #2 & 3 are crazy and hyper and delightfully insane. Wee One #1? Well, he’s 12 now so he’s not about to get into shenanigans with them ON CAMERA, but trust me, he is just as delightfully insane as they are. 😉

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