Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Cheat's Salted Caramel Cake (#17)

Many people think because I bake like a fiend that I look down upon cake mixes. Um, this is so so not true. I LOVE cake mixes! Do you think all of these cakes are from scratch?! Ha! My secret is to think of the cake mix as a base and then fancy it up. Take this cake for example. I knew I was going to be donating it to Dave's work for a fun fair and didn't want to spend a lot of money on ingredients (you can say it: I'm cheap!) so I took a vanilla cake mix, baked it, and made some fancy icing. For the frosting I made some classic vanilla buttercream and stirred some homemade salted caramel into it. To make it look even fancier I piped the frosting on and drizzled some more caramel on top. And this my friends is a classic example of a cheat's cake!

  • I swear by this video for homemade salted caramel 
  • I've figured out after many years that the key to amazing buttercream is to beat the butter for at least 5 minutes (set a timer, it's way longer than you think) before you add the icing sugar. The butter should be supper fluffy and white before you even think about adding the sugar in

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Cooking Through Jamie Oliver

Disclaimer: If you want to read about how 4 friends and a baby managed to make delicious labour intensive recipes calmly and cooly, well, this is sadly not that story!

Well now that we've publicly committed to this whole cooking through a cookbook thing, there's no turning back now! Gah! We decided to tackle 4 recipes this time: Mojitos, Ultimate Cornbread, Insanity Burgers, and Peanut Butter & Jam Brownies. On a weeknight after work. I know right, what were we thinking?!

The cornbread and brownies I had made in advance but I'm not gonna lie, getting all the food together in my small kitchen when we were all starving was hectic. So much so I didn't exactly cook the burgers as much as I probably should have which led to many half-kidding jokes about mad cow disease, oh dear! We ended up tossing the burgers back in the pan for awhile longer just in case.

Once we had finally sat down, we realized we had forgotten to make the mojitos. AND that I had forgotten the limes and had somehow thought mojitios were made with vodka and not rum. I know right?! This does not sound great at all! Laura ended up creating a decent cocktail with what we did have though and we drank many while playing cards and chatting for the rest of the evening, completely exhausted.

So not as idyllic as the first go but I am not discouraged! I think next time we'll just have an appetizer while we're cooking and perhaps wait for the weekend and that will make everything better ;)

Jamie Oliver puts a combo of mustard and chipotle sauce on his burgers as he pan fries them, and I must say, it's amazing. You should try it next time you make a burger.


Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Last Week in Photos

97. Early morning (very early) bottle cuddles
98. Everyone in my family has nearly passed out from blowing Iris all the bubbles
99. Visiting a friend's mom, who has horses! I was in heaven!
100. Toothy girl in a tub
101. Our pal Sebastian
102. Yahtzee after the baby goes to bed
103. Forest walks

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Craft Night Club

So remember years ago when my friend and I had craft nights?  Well they were put on hold for a while when we moved into a small apartment and then had a baby. But now in the new house I have an entire room set aside just for crafting. Hooray! Craft night returns! Last week I had a few friends (and my mum!) over to try our hand at making these marbled clay dishes. I bought all the supplies and supplied the drinks (wine and cucumber water) and asked everyone to bring $10 and a snack. All of us have small kids (well except my mum who has one big big kid) and it was really nice to leave them with their men and have some baby-free time. 

What I love about hanging out with other moms is that even though we swear we will not talk about our kids, we really spend the whole night doing just that. We plan on expanding our little group (just a bit) and taking turns hosting every month. Next month my mum is hosting a pottery night as she has a studio with a potter's wheel and kiln! Cool huh? I would love love love to expand this into a larger group in the future because I know of so many cool ladies (mamas and not-mamas) who would probably really enjoy this. I think I'll have to have people over more often just to craft! It'll be like the new dinner party!

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Cooking through Jamie Oliver's Comfort Food

New project alert!! So a few weeks back I found myself sitting in front of the local Zehrs drooling over the new Jamie Oliver cookbook with my dear friend Laura. We had met at the grocery store and were attempting to pick a recipe to cook for dinner and then shop for said recipe. One of us jokingly said "Oh man, these are all so good, we should just try to cook our way through this whole book" and the other one shouted "YES! We must do this!".  I think it's a bit of an understatement to say that Laura and I are both very excitable and (maybe a bit too) ambitious ladies. 

I may be a little crazy with this project but we're gonna do it! We are going to cook our way through Jamie Oliver's Comfort Food a la Julie/Julia Project. (Come on, you totally saw the movie and wished you could cook through a cookbook, don't lie!)

So we're gonna cook every single damn recipe. All in a month. HA kidding! We figure there are 100 recipes and if we do about 2-4 recipes per gathering (1 drink, 1 main course, 1 dessert) we can easily get this done by the time we're 30. Not too too ambitious I think. 

What I love about this project is that it'll force us out of our comfort cooking zones into things like homemade pasta (baaah my nemesis), organ meat (eeeeep!) and pies (no store bought crust! ack!).

The first recipe we made was Bun Cha Bowls. Which if you've ever been to a Vietnamese restaurant are those bowls with noodles, lots of fresh veggies and some sort of grilled or fried meat on top. This one was amazing. It's one of those recipes that you didn't even realize you could make yourself, that you thought could really only get at a restaurant. 

This is probably a bit sappy but there was a moment when Laura was goofily frying up the shrimp with a glass of wine in hand, Dave was on the kitchen floor playing with Iris and I was at the table chopping veggies, all while Bille Holiday was playing and I just knew it was one of those perfect moments. Like my life in that moment looked exactly what I always dreamed it would look like. I'm so looking forward to more of these gatherings! Ok, sap over! 

What do you think? Doable? Crazy? 


Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Lime Coconut Loaf Cake (Cake #16)

This cake recipe came to me from my wonderful English pen pal Frankie. She always sends me a recipe with her letters and packages and it totally reminds me how Julia Child and Avis DeVoto would send recipes back and forth to try. It's so charming! Anyway, this recipe has to be my favourite she's sent so far. I made a few substitutions because I didn't have everything on hand (regular flour for rice flour and melted butter so I could mix it by hand) but it still turned out great. I am adding this one to the family cookbook for sure.

Only 4 left!! I'm already dreaming about what my next "20 Project" will be. Bread? Cookies? Pies?
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