Sunday, December 20, 2015

Rapunzel Braid Biscuits

In our house, it's ALL about Disney Princesses. Anna and Elsa are the favorites, of course, but Rapunzel, Tiana, Belle, Merida, Sofia and though she's not a princess, Doc McStuffins are all close seconds.

Whenever I come across cookbooks that I'm interested in, I do two things - add them to my Amazon 'Cookbooks' Wishlist and borrow them from the library to see if they're as interesting as I'd hoped or worth buying.

Earlier this year I came across some Disney Cookbooks, they obviously went on my wishlist.
So when the princess craze started, I checked to see if the library had them, and when they did, I signed them out right away. For the girls, of course...




Since Lauren loves Rapunzel (and ham and cheese), I figured that she would be all over helping me make these Ham and Cheese Biscuit Braids from The Disney Princess Cookbook. I even renamed them Rapunzel Braids just for her. But, she was in one of her little moods and decided that she needed to watch me instead of helping me. 


Then of course when I was done, she decided that she wanted to help.

Ham and Cheese Biscuit Braids: 
(From The Disney Princess Cookbook)
Ingredients:
2 cups flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
5 tbsp cold butter, cut into several pieces
1/2 cup diced ham
1/2 cup shredded cheese
1 cup milk

Directions:
Heat oven to 400 degrees.
Stir together flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt in a bowl.
Use your fingertips to pinch the butter into the flour mixture until the bits are the size of peas. 
Stir in ham and cheese.
Add milk and work the mixture with your hands until it starts to look like dough.
Sprinkle some flour on a cutting board or counter and place the dough on top. Sprinkle a little more flour on the dough to keep it from sticking. I also floured my rolling pin. 
With your rolling pin, flatten the dough into a 12 inch square. The dough should be between a 1/4 and a 1/2 an inch thick.
Slice the squares into quarters, and then slice each quarter into 12 strips, each about 6 inches long.
Braid the dough like you would braid hair - gather 3 strips and pinch them together at the top. Take the right section and cross it over the centre section so they switch places. Then, take the left section and cross it over the centre section. Keep going until the whole strip is braided.
Pinch the strands together at the bottom.
Repeat until all the strips are braided.
Place each braid on a cookie sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes.
*They don't really turn as golden brown as you'd expect, so check the bottom after about 10 minutes.  


Overall these were super fast and easy to make. A bonus when baking with kids, or baking while kids are eating their lunch and watching you.

In the end, the girls didn't like them. I baked them for too long. I was waiting for the tops to turn golden brown, which of course resulted in them being kind of dry. They weren't that bad, just a little too dry for the girls liking. Lauren so badly wanted to like them. She tried two or three times, but couldn't do it.

Thinking about it now, they would've been good at breakfast dipped in soft/medium poached eggs!
Or at lunch with a bowl of delicious homemade tomato soup!


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Sunday, December 13, 2015

Silence is Golden!

Right now I'm sitting in a hotel room in Airdrie (25 minutes North of Calgary) Alberta, listening to the girls sleep. What a nice sound.

Since we arrived on Thursday, the girls have not slept...it's been a busy few days. They're usually bad sleepers, but with all the excitement, being a new place and Lauren having a cough that keeps her up all night, we are all pretty sleep deprived. And cranky!

Yesterday Dave's niece got married and our girls were flower girls. It was a beautiful wedding filled with love, happiness and lots of laughs. And the girls were so darn cute.
Lauren and Olivia have been so excited since we arrived (and the weeks leading up to arriving) because not only did they get to be flower girls and wear fancy dresses, they also got to visit their cousins that live here! Cousins that they haven't seen in a year!

I don't know if you've ever traveled with little kids, but it's a lot of work.
That's why I don't have my post ready for today. All those late nights usually spent working on posts, were spent making lists off all the stuff we needed to bring and packing. So. Much. Packing.
And we're only here for 5 days.

Well, today during my quiet time, I came across a recipe for Hot Chocolate Truffles. It was a very appropriate recipe for a day like today because it's so cold here in Alberta. This afternoon it was -8 degrees Celsius. For a west coaster like myself, that is COLD!
So what are hot chocolate truffles? They're chocolate truffles rolled in crushed candy canes or cocoa powder, that you drop into a mug of hot milk. Seriously! Sounds awesome right?

Now we're not big hot chocolate drinkers at our place, the girls like it of course, but I'm pretty sure I'll be trying this recipe out sometime soon.
I think the girls will enjoy the process and there's an educational lesson involved too. You know, the whole melting of the chocolate and making the hot white milk into hot chocolate...
That's what I'm telling myself!

Check back soon for a Mommy, Can I Lick the Spoon? version of Hot Chocolate Truffles! In the meantime, here's the original post from http://www.yourcupofcake.com




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Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Fake Peanut Butter, Peanut Butter Cups!

Last Wednesday was a happy day in our house.
The smell of peanut butter and melted chocolate filled the kitchen, which usually means one of two things - it's holiday season or someone has asked me to make my Fake Peanut Butter Peanut Butter Cups!
This time it was both.

I've been off work for awhile now because when I was pregnant with Olivia I was so sick that I went on maternity leave early and then when my mat leave ended in December 2014, I decided to take an extra year leave to stay home with the girls.
Regardless of that, in November I got an invite to my work Christmas party, which was a nice surprise! Along with the invite was a request for me to bring my famous peanut butter cups.


I've been making these peanut butter cups for years and have always used WOWBUTTER, it's my favorite "nut" butter. When I tell people it's not real peanut butter they're usually shocked. These taste like the real deal! Some people have even said they taste better than real peanut butter cups.

"Peanut Butter" Cups:
(Recipe adapted from The Joy of Baking)
Makes about 36 cups

Line 36 miniature muffin cups with liners.
I like to use these foil lined baking cups. I find that the foil lined ones hold up better.

"Peanut Butter" Filling
Ingredients:

1/2 cup smooth WOWBUTTER, or other nut butter
2 tbsp salted butter, room temperature
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup icing sugar*, sifted

Chocolate Coating
Ingredients:
1 bag each (270g - 300g) of semi sweet and milk chocolate chips  
1 tablespoon shortening

Directions:
Place the peanut butter, butter, and salt in a microwaveable bowl.
Heat in microwave until quite soft (for about 30-60 seconds - check and stir every 20 seconds).
Stir in icing sugar.

Melt the chocolate and shortening in a heatproof bowl, placed over a saucepan of simmering water.

Spoon about one teaspoon of the melted chocolate into each of the paper cups. 
Tap the pan gently on the counter to smooth out the chocolate. 
Spoon about a teaspoon of the peanut butter mixture on top of the chocolate. 
Then top with another teaspoon of melted chocolate. 
Tap the pan gently on the counter to smooth out the peanut butter cups.
Refrigerate about 20 minutes or until set. 

Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator or they can be frozen.

*In the past I've also replaced the icing sugar with Splenda - might as well reduce some of the sugar. They turned out well, but I had to use a food chopper (a small, cheap version of a food processor), to make the Splenda really fine, so that was a bit of a pain.


The peanut butter cups were a hit both at home and at work.
Now that I think about it, maybe they're the reason I got an invite in the first place?!
Can't say I blame them!


Oh, and I'm totally joking about that being the only reason I got invited :)

And Thank You to Joseph Réal Design for the beautiful handmade, reclaimed fir, end grain, butcher block cutting board featured here! Check out them out on Facebook, Instagram @josephrealdesign or at www.josephrealdesign.com


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Sunday, November 29, 2015

Lemon Meringue Tarts

When I was a kid, my favorite dessert by far, was lemon meringue pie. I'm pretty sure there were a few years that I requested it for my birthday "cake".

Part of me wonders if it's a genetic thing, because my Grampa was the king of lemon meringue pie. He made it regularly and made it well!

As I've mentioned in previous posts, my Grampa has been living in a nursing home for the last couple of years.
We try and visit at least once a month. The girls love going and it seems every time we go see him, the next day he's a new man.
I think the girls give him a little burst of energy. We all know that they have enough energy for everyone...

When we go visit, we usually end up taking him a few freshly baked cookies.
Before our last visit, we were told he wasn't doing well. He was getting weaker and not eating.
So I thought maybe some lemon meringue goodness would pique his interest.

Who wouldn't want one of these??

We usually visit on Sundays, so on Saturday night I decided to make lemon meringue tarts.
I haven't made lemon meringue anything for years. I'm pretty sure the last time I made it, it was from scratch. This time it wasn't!


As usual this wasn't a planned out thing. It was a spur of the moment, I saw the mix at the store and decided that's what Grampa was getting kind of thing!
I used a Shirriff Lemon Pie Filling & Dessert Mix and frozen tart shells. But I made the meringue!

Lemon Meringue Tarts:
(From Shirriff)

Bake tart shells as directed.

Meringue:
Ingredients:

2 eggs
1/4 cup sugar

Directions:
Separate 2 fresh eggs, put two egg yolks aside into a saucepan and egg whites into a mixing bowl.
Beat 2 fresh egg whites on medium until soft peaks form, about 30 seconds.
Gradually beat in the sugar.
Beat on high until stiff peaks form, about 2 minutes

Filling:
Ingredients:

2 yolks
1/3 cup cold water
2 cups hot water
1 Tbsp butter
1 pouch of Shirriff Lemon Pie filling

Directions:
In a saucepan with 2 slightly beaten egg yolks, add cold water and stir.
Add pouch of lemon filling and whisk until smooth.
Add 2 cups of hot water and mix well.
Cook over medium high heat, stirring continuously for about 15 minutes.
When bubbles first break the surface, continue to boil and stir for 30 seconds.
Remove from stove top, and stir in 1 tbsp butter.
Cool 5 minutes, stirring twice - product will thicken as it cools. 

Tarts:
Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Pour filling into baked and cooled tart shells.
Top with meringue (I piped the meringue on with a Wilton 2M tip).
Bake for 5-7 minutes or until golden.
Allow to cool on counter for 3 hours before serving.


On the morning we were supposed to go see my Grampa, we ended up having to cancel because both girls were sick with a cold. I'm pretty sure the last place two sick kids should be is at a nursing home.
Unfortunately we ended up throwing most of the tarts in the compost because we had nobody to give them to and we didn't need to eat all of them!
Even though we couldn't deliver them, it was still fun making them and practicing piping on the meringue, which was something I'd never done before.
And they were really good!



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Wednesday, November 25, 2015

A Mommy, Can I Lick the Spoon? Update!

Sunday is the day that I usually put up new blog posts. Well, Sunday came and went and there was no new baking post.

Why? Well, there are several reasons...

I haven't had much time lately to work on Mommy, Can I Lick the Spoon? which is a little frustrating because there's so much I want to do.

Life has been busy. This post alone took me 4 days to finish!

My last few baking projects have been complete and total fails - more on that another day!

And finally, the last 3 - 4 weeks have been an absolute gong show...

Out of nowhere, our happy, free spirited three year old came down with a case of separation anxiety. I think I've been watching/hearing too many episodes of Doc McStuffins...
The kid that practically pushed me out of the door when I dropped her off at preschool, all of a sudden started screaming and crying for me. I couldn't even leave the house to go for a run, or drop her off at Nana's for a couple hours without her getting so worked up and sad.

I've been in the ECE field for over 10 years and have helped many families and kids with that exact issue, but let me tell you, being on the other side SUCKS!!

So after getting some advice from a friend/co-worker of mine, reading Llama Llama Misses Mama & Birdie's First Day of School (several times a day!) and letting her wear a special necklace of mine to school, it appears that we've made it through that tough phase!

Then, both girls decided to go on a sleep strike. Seriously, we're talking about these crazy girls waking up 3+ times a night.  We also had a couple nights where Lauren woke up every 45-60 minutes, and when Lauren wakes up, it takes forever to get her back to sleep.
And of course when they wake up, it's dramatic and they only want me...not dad. Which I guess is good considering Dave started a new job and has to be up and out of the door by 6:30 am. 
Oh, and it was taking anywhere from 1.5 - 2.5 hours for them to actually fall asleep when we put them to bed. 
No joke, it's been like having newborns again.

They still aren't sleeping through the night, but they usually only wake up 1 or 2 times a night now. Which is great because I'm getting a little more sleep every night and I don't feel like I'm hungover every morning.

And then the icing on the cake, (such a bad pun for a baking blog), happened on Friday.

It started off as beautiful, cold, sunny morning. I decided to take the girls to a zoo, but first we had to make a stop at Old Navy to get some snow pants for Olivia. It can get pretty windy at the zoo and there are lots of shady areas, and like I said, it was a cold day!
When we were getting close to our exit on the highway, traffic stopped because of an accident up ahead. We were pretty much parked for 35-45 minutes. When the accident finally got cleared up and traffic started to move, my truck started sputtering and decided it didn't want to drive. Somehow (thankfully), I was able to get it off the road where we sat waiting to be rescued. The fire truck that had been at the accident stopped to see if I had run out of gas. I wish it was something so simple. They offered me ride to the next highway exit, which was nice of them, but not an option because I had the girls with me.
My mom came and saved the day, but let me tell you, being parked on the side of the highway with semi-trucks flying by at 120 km/hour is pretty scary!

Long story short, my Xterra is done. Dead. Finished. Over.
Sure it's it was old, and noisy, and bright orange, but I loved that truck.
We had three days of rental cars until we were able to get my Jetta (that's been parked for 8 months), ready to drive. We've been talking for months about selling the Jetta but never got around to it...See, sometimes being lazy is a good thing!

But when you really think about, with all the craziness going on in the world, we have it pretty good.
We have our health, food on the table, warm clothes, a roof over our head and a wonderful, crazy little family.
And if a dead truck, a little sleep deprivation and a couple weeks of missed blog posts are the biggest "problems" I have, then I really can't complain.

Hope to see you Sunday with a new post!

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Sunday, November 15, 2015

Halloween Fun: Frankenstein Rice Krispie Treats!

I love Halloween!
And now that we have we kids, it's even more fun!
Last year we took the girls trick-or-treating, and they enjoyed it, but this year they were both SO excited!
Olivia didn't really care about getting candy, she just liked running from house to house and saying 'Trick or Treat!'. Lauren liked everything about it...especially the candy!

My little goblins as Princess Anna and a Police Officer.


When Lauren started preschool in September, I got excited thinking about all the preschool parties she'd be having and the fun treats that we I would get to make for them.
I've worked with kids in the ECE field for over 10 years, and as crazy as they were, preschool party days were my favorite!

So, for her first Halloween party I made (happy, not scary) Frankenstein Rice Krispie treats!



These were a little time consuming, but super easy to make!
I just made regular Rice Krispie treats and added green food coloring to the melted marshmallows.
Once they were hard enough, I cut them into squares, put the sticks in and dipped the tops into melted chocolate. Right after that I added some black sprinkles to make hair. Their eyes and smiles were made out of royal icing.

Frankenstein Rice Krispie Treats:
(Adapted from www.ricekrispies.com)

To make the Rice Krisipie Treats:
I doubled the recipe (below) and was able to make around 30 Frankensteins.
Ingredients:
6 tbsp butter
8 cups miniature marshmallows
12 cups Rice Krispies/Rice cereal
2 tsp vanilla 
Green food coloring
Wooden popsicle sticks

Directions:
In a large saucepan melt butter over low heat.
Add marshmallows, vanilla and green food coloring.
Stir until completely melted.
Remove from heat.

Add rice cereal and stir until well coated.

Using buttered spatula evenly press mixture into
two 13 x 9 x 2-inch pan coated with cooking spray. 

Let cool and cut into squares. Insert popsicle sticks.

To make the eyes and smiles:
Royal Icing:

Ingredients:
1.5 cups icing sugar
1 tbsp milk
2 tsp light corn syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
Wilton Christmas Red Icing Color
Wilton Black Decorating Gel

Directions:
Add icing sugar and milk to a clean bowl, blend with a mixer until it is mostly lump free. 
Add corn syrup and extract and continue to blend until smooth for about 45 seconds - 1 minute.
If it's too thick, add water by the drop. If it's too thin, add more confectioner's sugar.
*See note below

Divide the icing into separate bowls.
For the eyes, keep it white.
For the smiles, add the red color gel until you get the desired color.

Using a small round tip, pipe the eyes and smiles onto the squares.
I used a size 3 for the mouth and size 4 round tip for the mouth.

For the pupils, I used a small amount of Wilton black decorating gel.
Wilton sells candy eyes that can be used instead of royal icing, which I had wanted to use, but they were sold out everywhere.

**Royal Icing should somewhat hold it shape for a count of 10. This will make a perfect consistency for cookies and gingerbread house decorating  (scoop up some icing with a spoon and let it drizzle into the bowl. You should be able to see where you drizzled the icing for a count of 10...if it combines too quickly with the other icing it will spread out too much when decorating.)

To make the hair:
Ingredients:

Chocolate chips or melting chocolate wafers (I didn't actually measure them out, I just kind of guessed at how much I would need. Super helpful, I know!)
Black sprinkles

Directions:
To melt the chocolate, I used this chocolate melting pot.
If you don't have a melting pot, bring about an inch of water to a simmer in a saucepan.
Place a heatproof bowl in the mouth of the pot, making sure the water doesn't touch the bottom of the bowl.
Stir chocolate occasionally as it softens.
When chocolate is melted, remove bowl from heat.

Once the chocolate is melted, dip the tops on the squares in it. Place on a cooling rack or parchment paper and add the black sprinkles. 

For Lauren's party I decided to bag them up individually. And because I was in a bit a of hurry, it was almost midnight and I wanted to go to bed, I put the Frankensteins in the fridge to speed up the drying process. 
Be sure to let the black decorating gel (pupils) completely dry/harden before bagging the treats or the pupils will smudge...Like some of mine did. 

All bagged up and ready to go!
 
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Sunday, November 1, 2015

Surprise 60th Travel Themed Birthday!

At the end of September, my mom turned 60.
Earlier this year, like in March or April, she started telling us that she didn't want a birthday party.
So naturally, we went ahead and planned her a surprise party.


My mom is a travel agent, so we went with a travel theme.

The Guest Globe
Instead of a traditional guest book, we had a guest globe. Each guest left a special message for the birthday girl right on the globe.



60 Years of Memories
When I mailed out the invitations, I included some blank cards with a note attached asking each guest to write down their favourite memories of the birthday girl and bring them to the party.  When they arrived, we collected them and later gave them to my mom.




Table Decor
Each table had a '1955 Was a Remarkable Year' card on it with some interesting facts from 1955, the year my mom was born.


The Flowers
I got the vases at the dollar store. To incorporate the travel theme, I wrapped a piece of brown craft paper around it, followed by a piece of map that I had cut and finished it off by wrapping a piece of rope around it and tying a bow.  So easy and cute!



One of my favorite things was the airplane confetti. Look how cute it is!


The Travel Table
My Gramma had the amazing idea to set up a table with a map and markers of all the places my mom has traveled. We also included some souvenirs from some of the places like, Italy, China, Switzerland and Portugal.



The Food
I forgot to take a picture of the food table once it was completely set up, but we kept it simple. The party was at 1pm, so we figured everyone would've had lunch by then, so appetizers/snacks were the best way to go.
We had chips and dip, cheezies, a fruit and veggie tray, homemade sausage rolls (made by Gramma), and an appetizer plate with mini pizzas, pulled chicken sandwiches and other goodies.


The Dessert Table
We had brownies, little apricot turnovers (both made by my Gramma), an assortment of squares and of course, I made cupcakes!


The Cupcakes
My original plan was to make globe cupcakes, which I did...but they didn't turn out. They looked great, but were under cooked (even though when I checked them my cake tester came out clean).
I had wanted to cut off the tops, make a heart cut out (with a cookie cutter) and fill it with pink or red buttercream.

They do look kinda cool though, right?!

So at 9:30pm, when I realized that those weren't happening I needed a Plan B. I was running out of time, as I needed to get a kid to sleep and the store by our place closed at 10pm. And I didn't feel like being up until 3am. 
That's when I decided to make my no fail, always delicious, throw everything in the mixer, Pink Lemonade Cupcakes! 


And topped with pink buttercream, they were a success!

The cupcake stand, which, I love and am super proud of, was another DIY project that Dave and I made. Well Dave did most of the work, I just told him what to do. 


Dave built the cupcake stand and then we cut pieces of maps to fit each tier. For the edges, we printed little rows of flags we found on google. To keep the maps and borders in place we Modge Poged it. 


Pink Lemonade Cupcakes:
(Adapted from www.ericasweettooth.com)
Ingredients:

1 White cake mix
3/4 cup frozen pink lemonade concentrate
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
4 egg whites

Directions:


Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line 24 muffins tins with liners

Combine all of the ingredients in an electric mixer and begin by mixing low for 30 seconds, then increase the speed to medium for another minute.

Divide the batter evenly, filling the liners about 2/3 full.

Bake cupcakes for about 18 - 23 minutes, or until cake tester comes out clean.

Allow cupcakes to cool before frosting.




Sunday, October 25, 2015

Pizza Buns

Lunch is by far the toughest meal of day...not for the kids, but for me!
They'd be happy with tuna sandwiches or homemade macaroni & cheese. Every. Single. Day.
Sure those are great, fairly healthy choices, but what happens when the day comes that they get bored of eating of them? And also, a little variety never hurt anyone.

The biggest challenge is the time it takes to make lunch. There's a small window from when we get home, usually from preschool or the park, to when the girls get out of control from being hungry and tired, so making lunch needs to be quick and easy!

Well these pizza buns meet those requirements!


Seriously these are easy as they come. Grab your favorite pizza toppings, a Pillsbury pizza crust (I've also used the crescent rolls when there were no pizza crusts available), and you're set.

And of course for those of you that are on the ball and organized (not me!), you could use homemade pizza dough.


My reasons for using premade pizza dough...




Pizza Buns:

Ingredients:

Pizza sauce
Cheese
Your favorite pizza toppings such as:
Ham*
Pepperoni
Sausage
Peppers
Onions
Pineapple

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil a baking pan - I used a round 8 inch cake pan.
Roll out your pizza dough. Add sauce, toppings and cheese.
Carefully roll up the pizza dough.
With a serrated knife slice the pizza roll into 10-12 slices.
Bake 13-17 minutes or until golden brown.

These buns freeze well and can be heated up when you're short on time. Like I usually am.


*When we have ham for dinner, I try to keep some aside and then make these buns for lunch the next day.



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Sunday, October 18, 2015

Five Layers of Something...

I'm a home baker. I may not be the best baker or cake decorator, but I love doing it!
When I first started Mommy, Can I Lick the Spoon?, I decided that I would post ALL of my baking projects - the good, the bad and the ugly. I wanted a place to keep track of everything I made so I could look back and (hopefully) see some improvements as time went on.

Well this poor little cake falls under the 'Looks Ugly, Tastes Good' category.


As I mentioned in my last post, Dave and I both celebrated our birthdays in September. This year I baked the cakes and the girls decorated them...yes them. The math is simple - two birthdays means two cakes.
My cake looked beautiful, but Dave's cake, the one this post is about, not so much.

I made a 6 inch, 5 layer carrot cake covered with cream cheese icing and regular buttercream between the layers. The sticky, thin, somewhat runny, yet delicious icing is what made it ugly...that and my not so great torting job!
Even though I did a crumb coat, I could not get the icing to cover the cake. It was so hard to spread and pretty much slid right off.
But the girls saved it with their amazing decorating skills. And lots of sprinkles and maple french creams.

Obviously my torting needs a little work too...

I think an easy fix would've been to add more icing sugar to thicken it up. But, I didn't want the icing sugar to make it too sweet and lose the cream cheese flavor as it was quite subtle to start with. And I used up all my cream cheese.

I found the recipe in an issue of one of my Food Network Magazines.
It was a simple, not overly sweet, moist cake speckled with lots of carrot bits. The one thing it lacked was spice. I found it to be a little bland and could've used some extra cinnamon or as the recipe called for, apple pie spice. But overall we liked it.

Carrot Cake:
(Adapted from Food Network Magazine)
Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp apple pie spice (or pumpkin pie spice)
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
4 eggs
1/2 cup applesauce
2 1/2 cups finely grated carrots (about 4 medium carrots)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350° F. Prepare two 8" or 9" round pans (I used two 6" round pan). You can either grease and flour the pans, use non-stick cooking spray, or use homemade cake pan release .

Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spice and salt into a medium bowl.

Beat both sugars, vegetable oil, eggs, applesauce and vanilla in a large bowl with a mixer on medium speed until combined, about 2 minutes. Reduce speed to low and beat in the flour mixture until just combined.
Fold in carrots with a rubber spatula.

Bake until each cake pulls away slightly from side of pan and a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean, about 30-40 minutes (depending on size of cake pan). Transfer to a rack and let cool 10 minutes in the pans, then invert onto the rack to cool completely.

Cream Cheese Icing:
(Adapted from Martha Stewart)
Ingredients:

1 cup (8 ounces) cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup salted butter, cut into pieces, room temperature
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions:

Place cream cheese in a medium mixing bowl. Using a rubber spatula, soften cream cheese. Gradually add butter, and continue beating until smooth and well blended. Sift in confectioners' sugar, and continue beating until smooth. Add vanilla, and stir to combine.



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Sunday, October 4, 2015

Happy Birthday to Me!

For us, September is a busy month for birthdays. Parents, grandparents, friends, aunts and most importantly (just kidding) Dave and I celebrate our birthdays!

You'd think since we celebrate our birthdays two days apart - mine is the 17th and Dave's is the 19th, one cake would be enough right? Nope. That's not our style, plus we both wanted different types of cakes...and I really like to bake...and eat cake.

When I was younger, my mom used to make the best cakes. One of my favorites was a double layer chocolate cake with raspberry jam filling and chocolate icing.
Mom...if you're reading this, it's still one of my favorites and if you make it, I will eat it. 

With that cake in mind, I wanted to make something similar. I decided on a chocolate cake with swiss meringue buttercream and fresh strawberries.


I never make chocolate cake so I don't have a "tried and true" recipe. I do have one that I've been wanting to try, but I was missing a few ingredients. I came across this one bowl chocolate cake recipe and decided to give it a go. Besides, only one bowl to wash is always good in my books!

As I mentioned above, this time I made swiss meringue buttercream (SMBC) instead of regular buttercream. It's a little more work, but SMBC is a nice light, buttery, velvety option from the traditional, overly sweet, heavier buttercream I usually make.

Because it was my birthday cake, the deal was I would bake it and Dave and the girls would decorate it.
They did an amazing job!


Oh, and the recipe I used for the cake was really good!

One Bowl Chocolate Cake:
(Rosebakes.com)
Ingredients:

2 cups white sugar
1¾ cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1½ teaspoons baking powder
1½ teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
½ cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350° F. Prepare two 8" or 9" round pans (I used two 6" round pan). You can either grease and flour the pans, use non-stick cooking spray, or use homemade cake pan release (recipe below).

In a large mixing bowl, mix together the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the eggs, oil, milk and vanilla. Beat for 2 minutes at medium speed, then stir in the boiling water
Pour into the prepared pans and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow them to cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then flip them out on a wire rack and let completely cool before frosting.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream:
(Adapted from Martha Stewart)
Ingredients:

5 large egg whites
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
Pinch of salt
1 pound (2 cups) butter - I used salted, cut into tablespoons, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Directions:

Combine egg whites, sugar, and salt in the heatproof bowl of a standing mixer set over a pan of simmering water. Whisk constantly by hand until mixture is warm to the touch and sugar has dissolved (the mixture should feel completely smooth when rubbed between your fingertips).

Attach the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Starting on low and gradually increasing to medium-high speed, whisk until stiff (but not dry) peaks form. Continue mixing until the mixture is fluffy and glossy, and completely cool (test by touching the bottom of the bowl), about 10 minutes.

With mixer on medium-low speed, add the butter a few tablespoons at a time, mixing well after each addition. Once all butter has been added, whisk in vanilla. Switch to the paddle attachment, and continue beating on low speed until all air bubbles are eliminated, about 2 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl with a flexible spatula, and continue beating until the frosting is completely smooth. Keep buttercream at room temperature if using the same day.

(Optional) To tint buttercream (or royal icing), reserve some for toning down the color, if necessary. Add gel-paste food color, a drop at a time (or use the toothpick or skewer to add food color a dab at a time) to the remaining buttercream. You can use a single shade of food color or experiment by mixing two or more. Blend after each addition with the mixer (use a paddle attachment) or a flexible spatula, until desired shade is achieved. Avoid adding too much food color too soon, as the hue will intensify with continued stirring; if necessary, you can tone down the shade by mixing in some reserved untinted buttercream.

Homemade Cake Pan Release:

Ingredients:

1 cup flour
1 cup shortening
1 cup canola oil

Directions:

Place all ingredients in medium bowl and whisk well by hand. The mixture will be smooth and creamy.

Store in airtight container in refrigerator.

When ready to use:
Dip a pastry brush into mixture and spread over bottom and sides of cake pan.



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Sunday, September 20, 2015

Goodbye summer...Hello comfort food!

In Vancouver we're known for the amount of rain we usually get. But this summer was different, it was one long heatwave. I tried so hard to not complain about how hot it was...I wasn't too successful. I'm about as west coast as they come, I complain in the heat and the second winter arrives, I'm complaining about the cold.
The heat made for some cranky kids (and this mom), but we survived. 
Overall it was a great summer with lots of trips to the beach and the park, playing with friends and birthday parties.

September is my favorite month! It always feels like a new year, a fresh start! Plus Dave and I both celebrate our birthdays in September.
There's so much I love about the fall - sweaters, boots, scarves, the leaves changing color and it's the kick off to comfort food season!

When the cooler days finally came, my weekly meal plans changed from BBQ hamburgers and salmon to shepherds pie, meatloaf and what this post is all about, individual creamy chicken pot pies.


I'd never made a chicken pot pie before, but when I saw this recipe, I knew I had to try it. They just looked so good!
Something that appealed to me was the fact that there wasn't a super thick crust. In fact, there's no crust on the bottom and the top is actually made from refrigerated crescent roll dough.
These pies are packed full of chicken, carrots, celery and peas. The creaminess comes from cream cheese, which I was a little unsure about at the time, but it was delicious!

These were a hit with everyone and they will definitely be part of our fall and winter meal plans.



*All cutting and serving boards featured on 
Mommy, Can I Lick the Spoon? are made by 
local woodworker Joseph Réal Design

Individual Creamy Chicken Potpies:
(Recipe from Weight Watchers)

Ingredients:

5 tsp unsalted butter, divided
1 1/2 lbs uncooked boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into bite-size chunks
4 ribs uncooked celery, thinly sliced (about 2 ½ cups)
4 large uncooked carrots, diced (about 2 cups)
1 large uncooked onion, chopped (about 1 ¼ cups)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 1/2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 cup frozen baby peas
2 oz low fat cream cheese
1 Tbsp fresh thyme, chopped (or to taste)
1/2 tsp table salt, or more to taste
1/4 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
8 oz reduced fat crescent roll dough

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400ºF.

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large pot over medium-high heat; add chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, until chicken is just cooked through, about 5 minutes. Remove chicken from pot with a slotted spoon; set aside.


Melt remaining 2 teaspoons butter in same pot over medium-high heat; add celery, carrots and onion and cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes.

Reduce heat and sprinkle vegetables with flour; cook, stirring, until vegetables are coated, about 1 minute. Stir in broth; bring to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally.

Reduce heat to medium; simmer 5 minutes. Add peas, cream cheese, thyme, salt and pepper; simmer, stirring occasionally, until mixture is thickened and vegetables are just tender, about 8 minutes. Stir in chicken and any accumulated juices; heat through.

Evenly divide mixture among eight (8 oz) ramekins or custard cups (about 1 cup filling each).

Unroll crescent dough; carefully separate at perforations. Place 1 piece of triangle dough over each ramekin, letting edges drape over sides (or folding it back over into middle).

Place ramekins on a rimmed baking sheet; bake until crust is golden and filling is bubbly around edges, about 11 to 13 minutes. Yields 1 pot pie per serving.



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Sunday, September 13, 2015

The Only Banana Bread Recipe You'll Ever Need!

The title says it all...this really is THE only banana bread recipe you'll ever need.

When we got married, a friend of mine gave me a recipe box with some of her favorite recipes in it. One of them was a banana bread recipe.


I have always loved banana bread. Every time I eat it I compare it to the banana bread my Gramma made when I was a kid. I know it sounds weird, but my Gramma's bread reminded me of jujubes candies. I can still taste it.


Now you may wonder why I haven't asked her for her recipe and the answer is simple - I'm pretty sure it's impossible to replicate a Gramma recipe. What if it doesn't taste like I remember it? What if I over/under cook it? I could mess it up and that may taint my memory of it. Right now that's a risk I'm not willing to take.
Maybe I should just ask my Gramma to make me some...


Over the years I've made some slight changes here and there with this recipe and I can now say it's pretty close to being perfect!

It mixes up quickly, it's so moist, and super versatile in the sense that the recipe can easily be doubled* and adding things like chocolate chips, walnuts, cinnamon etc. is always a delicious option.



When I make this banana bread, it doesn't last too long around here. It's definitely a family favorite!
If you or your family likes banana bread, I recommend doubling the recipe.  The muffins freeze well which makes for a convenient snack on the go. 

Banana Bread:

Ingredients:

1/2 cup -  Butter, softened
1 cup - Sugar
2 - Eggs

3 - Large mashed bananas (just over 1 cup)
1 tsp - Vanilla
1/4 cup - Milk

1 1/3 cups - Flour
1 tsp - Baking soda
2 tsp - Baking powder
1/2 tsp - Salt

Brown Sugar (optional)

Directions:

Combine butter, sugar and eggs.
Stir in bananas, vanilla and milk.

Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Stir into mixture.
Add chocolate chips or walnuts if desired.
Pour into greased 9 x 5 x 3 inch loaf pan.
Optional - Sprinkle a little brown sugar on top.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Lower heat to 300 degrees and bake for 40  minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

This picture is mainly to show off my
Joseph Réal Design serving board.
Isn't it amazing??!!

*When I doubled the recipe, I was able to make one loaf (9 x 5 x 3 inch) and 24 muffins. I baked the muffins at 300 degrees for 15-17 minutes.

Enjoy!

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