“Summer, summer, summertime!” I love me some DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince. You know, that time (1991 to be exact) when Will Smith was actually famous for being in a rap duo and not for being a major action movie star? I miss Junior High.
My blender has been in overdrive these last couple months. Not only have I kept my habit of having a smoothie every morning for breakfast, rather than those delicious Starbucks spinach, egg white and feta wraps, I’ve also tackled my ridiculous chocolate ice cream cravings after dinnertime with these insanely good (and healthy!) Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Milkshakes. Yep, it is healthy, vegan (see, I like you people!), and packed with protein to curb your appetite and build muscle. If you’re into that sort of thing.
The frozen banana gives it such a wonderful creamy texture that you don’t even miss the ice cream in this milkshake. Also, I’m a little obsessed with Silk’s Dark Chocolate Almondmilk, that they didn’t even pay me to mention it here in this post. I use any excuse to incorporate it into my smoothie recipes.
The one thing with this recipe is that you definitely need a high-powered blender. Make this recipe your reason to treat yo’self and purchase one. I have a KitchenAid blender that we were lucky enough to receive as a wedding gift, and I have never looked back. Makes such a huge difference. If you have a favourite blender and recommend it, please feel free to share by leaving a comment after this post! I always love learning about your favourite kitchen gadgets. Gives me an excuse to go out and spend money!
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.
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:
A moment captured by my Maid of Honour.
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.
I’ve been meaning to blog these decadent brownies for a couple years now. Basically, ever since a bunch of us went out to my friends cabin and we devoured an entire pan in 2 hours. Yeah, they’re that good. They’re also incredibly simple and quick to make, which is perfect for my life these days.
One of the reasons I love the ladies on my ice hockey team is that they allow me to experiment on them with recipes. I brought a pan of these brownies to our game today and I was reassured they were blog worthy. They are rich, fudgy chocolate brownies with a tart layer of raspberry jam. Not to mention the sweet glaze on top. This recipe makes a lot of brownies (approximately 32 small squares). Because they are so rich, you can easily cut them into smaller pieces.
You can also use your homemade raspberry jam, or your favourite store bought brand. You really cannot go wrong. I highly recommend you make these for your next BBQ or picnic. They are delicious!
I’ve had a bit of a donut obsession over the last few months. I’m not 100% sure why. I don’t really crave them, and they’re not really my favourite dessert. If there was a box of store bought donuts sitting in the lunch room at work, I could easily pass it up. Chocolate cake, on the other hand, I would have to be dragged from. So, my obsession has baffled me slightly. I actually blame Pinterest. I’ve never made homemade donuts before, so I think I felt: a) left out and b) up to the challenge.
I’ve been on the hunt for a donut pan for a while. It was one of those things where I would see them everywhere when I didn’t want to buy one, and nowhere when I did want to buy one. I finally found one at a great local kitchenware store this weekend. I wasted no time and got to work on these delicious treats.
These donuts are baked and have the texture and density of cake (hence the name, cake donuts). The chocolate is rich, the glaze is sinful and the salted caramel is, well, amazing. Baking donuts are also a tad healthier and less greasy than traditional deep fried donuts. They are also very easy to make and they take no time (9 minutes)! I’ve already had orders from my hockey team to bring a few dozen to our game on Wednesday. They are a very supportive (and hungry) bunch.
Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. I loved going to school as a kid knowing it was Valentine’s Day. We would tape our brown paper bags to our desks, walk around the room and hand out little Valentine’s cards to everyone in the class. It was such a fun ‘holiday’ growing up. Not to mention, the abundance of cinnamon hearts and heart shaped foil wrapped chocolates!
As an adult, Valentine’s Day has become just another day for the most part. This year, I was asked to incorporate “love” into a blog post and express what it means to me. After some careful thought and consideration, I figured the best way to speak to this is to create a top 10 list of the things I love in my life. Here is what I came up with (in no particular order):
My beautiful friends and family. That is clearly a given if you read my blog on a regular basis.
My 3 crazy cats that I share my home with. They drive me insane, but they’re amazing.
Sleep. If you know me well, you know I will sleep until Noon every day if given the chance.
Travelling anywhere and everywhere. I am truly obsessed.
Baking on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon. It is more relaxing than yoga to me.
The smell of hockey rinks. Playing hockey is the most natural feeling I have ever experienced, even after a 15 year hiatus. Amateur hockey rinks have this distinctive smell of frozen ice and hockey equipment. It’s not a particularly amazing smell, but it reminds me of my childhood and I just cannot get enough of it.
Marathons of Dateline on TV. I clearly was a detective in a previous life.
The first 3 Star Wars movies. I’ve seen them all literally over 100 times and I still watch them to this day.
Sharks. Yes, you read that right. I’m fascinated with them and watched Shark Week on Discovery Channel before it become ‘cool’. My dream is to cage dive with Great Whites. I will do this – mark my words.
Chocolate. I’m addicted. I can’t get enough.
Because Valentine’s Day is so synonomous with chocolate, I decided to feature The Ultimate Chocolate Cupcake recipe on the blog. It is seriously delicious. It is rich with chocolate flavour and very moist. You also cannot go wrong with Fresh Strawberry Buttercream Frosting! It has the perfect amount of sweetness yet doesn’t have that artificial strawberry flavour that most icings have.
Remember the time I decided to go on a Smoothie Diet? Yeah. Let’s pretend that never happened. I blame drinking smoothies 3 times a day for the lack of posts over the past few weeks. It actually wasn’t all bad. I lost a few pounds and learned that I could drink spinach and not gag. It actually tasted pretty darn good! But boy, did I miss chocolate (and pretty much any food that wasn’t in liquid form). At one point, I was even craving a salad. A SALAD! The world works in mysterious ways, my friends.
Well, I survived and I decided to make my triumphant return to you by featuring the most decadent, rich, chocolaty dessert on the face of the earth. That’s right, screw you smoothies! This recipe is an adaptation from a recipe my future Mother-in-Law gave me over Christmas. It was given to her a few years ago by her friend who sadly is no longer with us. My future Mother-in-Law was nice enough to give us some fudge over the holidays and I quickly fell in love (with the fudge…well, and I guess with her too!). She was kind enough to give me the recipe and I had to adapt it to include one of my favourite candy’s ever – Cadbury Mini Eggs! The original recipe called for chopped nuts, but I figured Mini Eggs were crunchy too – so why the heck not? I cannot begin to describe how unbelievable this fudge is. It’s seriously the best fudge I’ve ever tasted. Like, EVER. And that’s not the 2 week smoothie diet talking. It’s soft, sweet and oh, so rich. A little square goes a long way. Topped with the fact that there are delicious morsels of Mini Eggs inside, well my taste buds simply can’t handle it! I actually went into a mini chocolate coma yesterday. Truth.
First off, Happy Mother’s Day! This day is quite important to me as I am pretty close to my Mother. Heck, I even named this blog after her! I may be a tad biased, but she is by far the best Mother in the entire world. I am not a Mother myself but I have a huge respect for those who are and the hard work that comes with the role. So to all you fabulous Mom’s out there – thank you for everything you do.
Now onto something absolutely delicious – Frozen Hot Chocolate! Last week I was on vacation in Las Vegas with two of my girlfriends. Lots of shopping and eating was had. I finally had the opportunity to dine at Serendipity 3 and taste their famous Frrrozen Hot Chocolate! I’ve attempted this at couple times in New York City, but failed to make it to the restaurant. It definitely lived up to it’s amazing reputation and $11 price tag.
Here it is above. Yeah – it was huge and so rich and chocolatey! And look at that whipped cream! I had to find a recipe and duplicate it immediately. It’s a pretty simple recipe. I would recommend using a darker chocolate to give it more of a rich chocolate flavour that is similar to the original.
Wow time sure does fly. I can’t believe it’s been over one month since my last post. Trust me though, I have a valid reason. Last week, I was finally able to escape our brutally cold winter and head to the sunny skies and warmth of Arizona to visit my parents. I had every intention to do some serious baking with Claudia since I hadn’t seen her in well over a month. Well, my plan sorta backfired. On the second day of my vacation, I got the stomach flu – bad. I spent the remainder of my time in Arizona sick and whining for Claudia to take care of me. Yes, I reverted to a 12 year old girl pretty darn quick. You would too if your Mother was so close to you – trust me.
In any case, I finally have my appetite back and realized I needed to blog ASAP. St. Patrick’s Day is only a couple days away and what better way to celebrate than bake with my two favourite things in the world – chocolate and beer! I have to admit this is by far the BEST chocolate cake I have ever made in my entire life. It is adapted from Deb, the lovely genius behind Smitten Kitchen, which happens to be one of my favourite blogs in the world. She is so brilliant that she just came out with a brand new cookbook which I have been buying for my foodie friends as gifts! This cake is decadent and rich. The chocolate coffee ganache is a perfect touch of velvety goodness. It’s also pretty darn simple to make. I decided to use a Young’s Double Chocolate Stout beer to add to the rich chocolate flavour, but you can use your favourite stout beer (like Guinness).
I’m not going to lie…one of the reasons I love the holiday season is the 12 Days of Cookies emails I receive from the Food Network. Just when you think you’ve seen all the Christmas baking recipes there is, another one lands in my inbox and become nearly giddy. Yeah, I probably could use a hobby besides baking. But who has the time?!
I finally found time in Claudia’s busy retirement schedule (I swear she’s busier now that she doesn’t work full time!) to fit in some quality baking with her for this blog. Last night she came over and we decided to try a couple new butter cookie recipes we have been eyeing. This one was the big hit. You really cannot lose when you incorporate cream cheese into the dough and dipping the cookie in chocolate! These are a nice twist on the traditional holiday butter/sugar cookie. The cream cheese makes the cookie a little denser and the chocolate adds a nice sweetness. Because the dough needed to be chilled, Claudia decided to make the dough prior to us getting together, so I do not have any pictures of these steps. I figured combining all ingredients into a bowl didn’t really require visual representation anyway.