Pampushky (Ukrainian Doughnuts)

Claudia's Cookbook - Pampushky cover

I deemed this past Saturday “Deep Frying Day”. Claudia came over early, as we had a lot of Ukrainian cooking to do. All of which consisted of frying dough in hot oil. All of which was absolutely delicious. It had been quite a few years since I have had Pampushky. They are Ukrainian style doughnuts that are traditionally filled with either poppy seeds or prunes. They are little bites of heaven. The dough is sweet, amazingly soft, light and flaky. We make ours on the smaller, bite-sized side, but you can make them larger, like traditional doughnuts. People also tend to dust them with icing sugar for added decadence. My family prefer these au naturale, but there is truly no right or wrong way to enjoy them. They are the perfect dessert for Christmas Eve, which is coming up a lot faster than I’d like it. The dough requires a bit of time – 2 hours in fact. But it’s so worth it. This recipe makes a lot of Pampushky – 12-13 dozen or so. They freeze exceptionally well if you can’t consume all 145 within a 3 day period. I wouldn’t judge you if you did though. They are delicious! ‘Tis the season, am I right?! 

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Melt-In-Your-Mouth Boozy Chocolate Egg Nog Fudge

Claudia's Cookbook - Melt in your Mouth Boozy Chocolate Egg Nog Fudge cover

We never really had Egg Nog in our house growing up. I think one of the first times I ever had Egg Nog was when I worked at Starbucks during university and had to try some in their Egg Nog Latte. It was that Christmas that I had the bright idea to throw a holiday party at my house and make Egg Nog from scratch. I figured it couldn’t be THAT hard, and homemade Egg Nog would be pretty decadent. So, I searched the Internet for a recipe. It was then and there that I was introduced to Martha Stewart and her Classic Eggnog recipe. It was also then that I came to the conclusion that Martha also must have been a raging alcoholic. 

I was so excited when I went to the liquor store and bought all these “adult” liquors, like dark (not light!) rum, cognac and bourbon that was in the recipe. I mean, I was a university student, so my booze selections back in the day mainly consisted of cheap beer and terrible wine coolers. $70 later, I was pumped to begin my egg nog making journey. I hurried home and began making my homemade egg nog that I was certain would catapult me into ‘amazing hostess’ status in the eyes of my friends. After a day of refrigeration, the egg nog was now ready to be tasted and served. I took a sip of the creamy liquid and paused. It took a few seconds for me to realize that my throat was burning and that my breath could cause a fire if exposed to an open flame. Either Martha likes her egg nog STRONG, I couldn’t handle the ‘adult’ liquors, or I did something horribly wrong to the recipe. I quickly called my Dad into the kitchen. I mean, he of all people would be able to tell me if I screwed up the recipe or if his adult tastebuds found the egg nog delectable. He took one sip and couldn’t drink anymore. I think his exact words were “Holy god, what did you put in that?!”

I panicked. Not only did I spend $70 on alcohol that smelt like something you would put on open wounds, but I had guests who I had to dazzle with my homemaking skills. I called in my Grandmother. Surely, she could tell me what I did wrong? She came into the kitchen and took a small sip. I stared at her nervously. She paused, then said “It’s not bad actually”, continued to pour herself a mug and left the room. It was then that I had a new appreciation for my Grandmother’s love of strong liquor, and perplexed ideas of what made Martha Stewart queen of the kitchen. I served the egg nog, and it went over fairly well with my friends. But not as well as Martha’s cupcakes a few years later. 

I still enjoy experimenting with egg nog and alcohol. In small doses, they go together rather nicely. This fudge recipe incorporates my favourite holiday items: booze (bourbon), dark chocolate and egg nog – store-bought of course…I learned my lesson the hard way! This fudge is extremely decadent and soft. Much softer than typical varieties and definitely does melt in your mouth. It is important to keep this fudge in the refrigerator until you want to serve it. The egg nog gives a nice nutmeg hint to the chocolate. The bourbon is very mild in this recipe, and gives the fudge a nice warmth. This recipe is also super easy to make. The hardest part is waiting a few hours before you can dig in. 

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The Best Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Claudia's Cookbook - The Best Oatmeal Raisin Cookies cover

I am a chocolate chip cookie fanatic. I knew this early on as a child. Whenever Claudia would bake cookies with me growing up, they were always chocolate chip. I think it’s because I would demand this for the sole purpose of eating the cookie dough when she was not looking. I got caught once and there is photographic evidence. If you’ve browsed this blog, you’ve probably seen it.

Until recently, I never gave other cookies much of a chance. So when I went over to Claudia’s a couple months ago and was offered some homemade Oatmeal Raisin Cookies that were on the counter, I hesitated. Oatmeal Raisin has never been a favourite of mine. I’m not entirely sure why. Probably because they sound healthy. If I’m going to have a cookie, I’m going all out! I mean, Oatmeal Chocolate Chip cookies I would probably entertain and just pretend they were real chocolate chip cookies. But Claudia insisted I try these Oatmeal Raisin Cookies that were staring at me. And at that moment, my world according to disliking Oatmeal Raisin Cookies was destroyed. I took one bite and was in heaven.

These cookies are, without a doubt, the best Oatmeal Raisin Cookies you will ever have. At least in my opinion. They are so soft, chewy and decadent. The key to making these cookies so amazing? Soaking the raisins in an egg and vanilla mixture. The raisins plump up nicely and absorb a delicious vanilla flavour. When Claudia wasn’t looking, I sneaked a plastic bag and took 10 cookies home with me. Some things never change. Hey, at least I never ate the cookie dough…..that time. 

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Pumpkin Donuts with Browned Butter Maple Frosting

Claudia's Cookbook - Pumpkin Donuts with Browned Butter Maple Frosting Cover

There are two things my hockey team is passionate about: playing hockey (obvs) and donuts. When I mention that I am bringing donuts to the game, I become somewhat of a hero. Our message board gets extremely animated. I’ve made these donuts for them a few times now and they are always gobbled up in mere minutes. And for good reason. They are seriously one of the most delicious baked donuts I have ever had. They are extremely soft. The flavour combination of pumpkin and maple is decadent. Not to mention, these donuts incorporate my favourite obsession: browned butter! 

A lot of people have asked me where to buy donut pans. I bought mine on Amazon. They are Wilton brand and are wonderful and extremely inexpensive. I enjoy baked donuts way more than fried. So these pans have come in handy for all my sweet cravings. 

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Browned Butter Skillet Candy Cookie Bars

Claudia's Cookbook - Browned Butter Candy Cookie Skillet Bars

Remember that time I dressed up as Hulk Hogan for Halloween and had to wear a bleach blonde moustache that drove me crazy for an entire evening? Yeah, that was my night yesterday. I have new appreciation for all men who have to eat vegetable dip while sporting a moustache. I had dip everywhere. It was not attractive. 

This Halloween was a cold one here in Winnipeg. We didn’t have nearly as many kids come to our door for Trick-or-Treating as we usually do. That was a theme with most of my friends that I have talked to. We bought enough candy for about 120 kids, and we only received about 20 at our house. Crazy, right? Not to mention that kids these days have it so easy. Sure, it was cold, but we had no snow. I recall every Halloween as a kid trudging through knee-deep snow to get myself that sugar gold. No word of a lie. I have photographic evidence too. 

I figured I would try and experiment with our leftover candy that we have in the house and make these skillet candy cookie bars! I essentially adapted our Cadbury Mini Egg Skillet Cookie to create these beauties by doubling the dough and layering the candy in the middle. Also – Man, do I love using cast iron skillets to bake cookies. The skillet creates such a rich, decadent cookie. I also love using browned butter. It has such a nutty flavour which is a perfect compliment to the sweet candy bars. If you have leftover candy an want to do some baking, I highly recommend you give these a try! 

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World’s Best Apple Pie

Claudia's Cookbook - The Best Apple Pie cover

 Oh kitchen and blog, how I’ve missed you. I am back from our 3-week honeymoon vacation in England and Italy. I must say, I didn’t miss much. Let’s be honest here,  does anyone really look forward to coming home after a wonderful vacation? Sure, I missed my bed, my cats (who probably laid mostly on my bed), and such luxuries as clean clothes from my closet. But I wasn’t ready to come back to reality so soon. I was, however, excited to share some fun things I was able to do on my trip. It is all pretty much food related (duh)!  

I had the awesome opportunity one day while we were in Tuscany to learn how to make traditional Tuscan eggless pasta from scratch. Here’s me with my lovely teacher, who was both patient and amazing. She even said I was a natural at dough rolling. I told them it was years of perogy making practice! 

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I also had some of the most amazing food at the villa where we stayed in Tuscany.

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This was the lunch that greeted us upon arrival. So incredible! 

And I cannot mention my trip to Italy without showing you the PIZZA! 

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 This one had homemade buffalo mozzarella and spicy caramelized salami.

It was probably the spiciest pizza I’ve ever had!

It was delicious. And it made me chug my Italian beer. 

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Like, c’mon! 

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Carapina was my favourite gelato place in Florence and Rome.

They make all their gelato fresh every morning and have a dozen flavours at one time.

My favourite was the dark chocolate, hazelnut and marsala wine flavours shown above!

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Truffles and mushrooms were in season while we were in Italy. They were everywhere and so delectable! 

Pasta with truffles – get outta here! SO good. 

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The open air meat, seafood and produce markets were also total eye candy. I wanted to buy everything.

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 You know that place that served me that spicy pizza? Oh yeah, it’s also a mozzarella bar!

Here is mild, strong and smoked mozzarella, made fresh (of course).

Let’s all go back immediately! 

  As much as I loved dining out at a different restaurant for 3 weeks, I did miss my kitchen and making (healthy) food for ourselves. I also missed the food blogger community. And, of course, I missed my Mom :)

Claudia and I actually got together a few days before I left for Europe to make this apple pie. It was then that I deemed it “World’s Best Apple Pie”. Because it is. I mean, I might be biased? But I’m also a pretty good judge of food character (humble brag). The crust is so flaky and light, and the apple filling is warm, sweet and comforting. We made this particular apple pie with locally-grown apples from Claudia’s friend’s yard! Ah, the beauty of summer…which is slowly fading away. I recommend you try this apple pie immediately, and capture some of summer back into your lives. 

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Pumpkin Cheesecake Trifles with Maple Bourbon Whipped Cream

Claudia's Cookbook - Pumpkin Cheesecake Trifles with Maple Bourbon Whipped Cream cover

I am really trying to do my best not to believe that autumn is upon us here in Canada. I was in full on denial up until this week, when I decided to give into Starbucks and purchase a Pumpkin Spice Latte every single day this week. They are just so darn delicious. It’s also hard to deny our impending seasonal change when the weather here has turned cool, and all I see on my Pinterest news feed is nothing but pumpkin recipes. So yeah, I gave in. 

I’ve featured my fair share of pumpkin recipes on the blog (feel free to check them all out here). So each September and October I rack my brain to come up with a unique spin on such a classic flavour. I think I did well this year. This dessert is so dreamy. Yes, dreamy. It has the best pumpkin pie flavour but is light as air. The pumpkin cheesecake layer is rich and creamy, but very light. The maple bourbon whipping cream has a wonderful sweetness, and the Speculoos cookie bottom is so decadent. Not to mention, it’s a pretty classy looking dessert, right? Bring on autumn! 

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Guilt-Free Chocolate Nana Ice Cream

Chocolate Nana Ice Cream cover

Leave it up to me to finally blog an ice cream recipe when it’s September and freezing cold outside. Don’t tell me I am the only person who craves ice cream 365 days a year. Because I would have to call you a liar. And, I really don’t want to do that to you, my friends.

I do have a very valid reason that I am super tardy on this post. I got hitched 2 weeks ago! Yep, I convinced a boy to marry me. He’s pretty great too. As you can imagine, Claudia is over the moon. Because we are friends, and so many of you have sent me so many amazing well wishes and congratulatory comments (thank you!), I thought I would share a couple of my favourite photos of our special day:

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 A moment captured by my Maid of Honour.

Bridemaids

 The best Bridesmaids in the entire world!

Now that the wedding planning insanity (insanity in a good way!) is over, I have more time to really focus on making healthy choices. As I’ve mentioned before, I crave sweets A LOT. Lately, I have been on the hunt for healthy alternatives for sweet treats. This one is probably my favourite!

I’ve seen a lot of photos of “Nana Ice Cream” on Instagram this summer and I thought I would give it a try for myself. I can honestly say that it is amazing! Yep, the texture is creamy like ice cream, and it’s so versatile. I am a chocolate fiend, so this recipe is my go-to. You can easily incorporate peanut butter, strawberries, shredded coconut….you name it! Play to your favourite flavours. This one is a serious keeper (like my new husband). Sorry, I had to do it.

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Healthy No Bake Energy Bites

Claudia's Cookbook - No Bake Energy Bites cover

Time flies when you are having fun….or planning a wedding. I have been very M.I.A on the blog lately. I am two weeks away from my wedding and feel pretty good about it. I have fielded the same question for the last few months: “Oh, you must be so stressed?” Not really. Not at all actually. One great thing I have discovered about being Type A is that my incessant organizational skills are coming in handy. I also have the most wonderful bridesmaids and family that have made everything so easy and carefree.

I am actually so organized, that I was able to do not one, but two road trips in two weeks. The first was two weeks ago to Minneapolis. While it was a great 3 days away in one of my absolute favourite cities, the diet suffered. Oh, did it suffer. Road trips often mean salty snacks in the car, followed by pub beers and “I’m on vacation!” desserts. My digestive system took a beating. I felt terrible when I returned home. I also dreaded the second road trip to Madison, Wisconsin I was about to embark on. Therefore, I decided to take things into my own hands and find healthy road trip snacks that won’t make my friend and I feel terrible in the car and throughout our awesome trip. Boy, did I ever hit the jackpot on these No Bake Energy Bites by Gimme Some Oven! They are so incredibly delicious and easy to make. Not to mention, super healthy! My friend Nicole raved about them, as did my cousin-in-law who saw me post this recipe on Facebook and decided to make them for herself.

These energy bites can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for approximately 5 days. You can also freeze them or keep them in a container in the fridge. You can also mix up the ingredients to incorporate your favourites. I use natural peanut butter, but you can easily use almond butter. Instead of chocolate chips, you can easily use dried cranberries or any dried fruit your heart desires. Very versatile and perfect for your next summer road trip!

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Strawberries & Cream White Chocolate Scones

Claudia's Cookbook - Strawberries & Cream White Chocolate Scones 17

A word of advice, my friends: don’t ever schedule two workout sessions in one day after a weekend of consuming beer and rich food for your birthday. It won’t end well. At least that is what I have discovered today when I made my triumphant return to the gym this morning with a 1 hour weight class. I was so dehydrated, I got dizzy and thought “And I have to do this all over again at 6:30pm? No way!”. Even my lovely trainer who was teaching the class commented that I looked “off”. It was then and there that I regretted all my terrible (yet oh so delicious) food choices of the past weekend. Burgers, ice cream, chocolate and beer. I swore them off then and there. It wasn’t worth feeling so horrible while working out. But, after 2 hours of recovery and a nice relaxing bath, I am back to my old self and craving these decadent scones.

Besides our Pumpkin Scones, these are by far the best scones I have ever made. They are so soft and buttery. The strawberry glaze gives it a fruity sweetness. Not to mention the melted white chocolate and strawberries inside the scone – so amazing. The dough comes together really easy in a food processor and is very easy to roll out with your hands.  A no-kneed dough is my kind of dough, people.

This recipe makes 6 very large scones, but you can also make smaller, mini scones as well. Just depends on how big of a cutter you have, or how big you want to cut the dough triangles. I highly recommend you give these a try soon! I know I will. Totally worth struggling in the gym for.

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