Sunday, December 25, 2011

Homemade "Bailey's" Irish Cream Liqueur

Being as how this Sunday's post happens to fall on Christmas,  I would like to take a minute to say Merry Christmas to everyone!  Due to the holiday I wanted to make today's post extra special, and what better way than with everybody's favourite holiday liqueur? 

Always a fan of Bailey's in my coffee, I decided to experiment with different ingredients trying to come up with the unique flavour that Bailey's offers.  This is a rich, creamy drink that will likely not last very long in your house!  I made a few batches of this last night (Christmas Eve), and bottled some up to share with friends and family today.  My husband and I enjoyed our "Bailey's" on the rocks last night, and plan on trying it this morning with our coffee!  This recipe is so easy and economical, I doubt we will ever buy store bought Bailey's again!

- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1-14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
- 1 2/3 cups Irish Whiskey (I used Jameson).
- 2 tsp Starbucks Via Caramel (or 1 tsp of your favourite instant coffee, but via works really great)
- 2 tbsp chocolate syrup
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp almond extract (seems weird, but it works!)

Note - If you like flavoured Bailey's, simple add some homemade caramel, or a drop or two of mint oil.


Combine all ingredients (except for cream) in a blender and blend on low for 30 seconds.  Add cream and blend on low for an additional 30 seconds.  I have a hole in the top of my blender, so I was able to add the cream slowly while blending.  If you are able to do this great, if not, add the cream in three small batches.  While you want to make sure that the ingredients are well blended, be sure not to over whip.

Bottle in a tightly sealed glass container (a 1 L mason jar fits the batch perfectly!) and store in the fridge.  Shake well before using.  Will keep for up to 2 months.


- Nutritional Info (per oz) -
Calories - 100   Fat - 4    Carbs - 10     Protein - 1    Fibre - 0

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Candy Cane White Hot Chocolate

I'm not going to lie, I'm a sucker for a warm holiday beverage.  Always a fan of white chocolate and peppermint alike (also, they were both in my cupboard), I thought these two ingredients combined would make for a pretty festive drink. 

- 1 box (6 squares) white bakers chocolate
- 1 L (4 cups) milk
- 1/2 cup whipping cream
- 6 candy canes, (plus 6 more for stir sticks if desired)


Crush 6 of the candy canes (I threw them all in a Ziplock freezer bag and crushed them with the bottom of a cup).

Whip the cream using a hand mixer until stiff peaks form.  Set aside.

Shave 1 square of chocolate (for topping) and set aside.

Melt remaining chocolate in saucepan over medium heat.  Add milk and stir until warmed through, about 3 minutes.  Add crushed candy canes (reserve 1 tbsp for sprinkling) and mix until melted.  Pour into a mug.

Add whipping cream & top with sprinkle of remaining crushed candy cane and white chocolate shavings.  Serve with candy cane stir stick.

Serves 6.


- Nutritional Info (per cup using whole milk) -
Calories - 377  Fat - 21    Carbs - 39    Protein - 7    Fibre - 0

- Nutritional Info (per cup using skim milk) -
Calories - 357  Fat - 19    Carbs - 39    Protein - 7    Fibre - 0

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Starbucks Theme Cupcakes: Caramel Brulee Macchiato and Iced Caramel Frappuccino

It was my friend Holly's birthday on the 8th and we had recently seen a similar cupcake on Pinterest.  She mentioned to me how cool it would be to have something like that for her birthday, so I decided to make these for her as a surprise. 

I decided I would try to make mirror the cupcakes after Holly's favourite Starbucks fares the Iced Caramel Frappucino, and both of our new Winter favourite, the Caramel Brulee Macchiato.

Starbucks recently offered not only $2 Holiday Lattes, but BOGO lattes as well.  Because our Starbucks is in our Safeway, you also get a free coupon for a free tall drink if you fill out their survey.  Needless to say, we have been going to Starbucks quite a bit lately.  These cupcakes seemed like the perfect treat to make. 


- 2 starbucks straws, cut into quarters

- 1/2 cup Caramel Sauce 
- 2 tbsp Hard Toffee bits (if you don't want to use homemade, Hershey's Skor Chipits will work)

Cupcake Liners
- 2 pieces of good quality cardstock
- printer
- scissors 
- double sided tape

My first step was to make the cupcake liners. 

 First I took the logo from the Starbucks website and printed it off on cardstock (12 to a sheet).   I cut these by hand using a pair of craft scissors. 

Next, I found a background similar to the Starbucks Holiday cups, and printed it off on one sheet of the  cardstock.

Then, I used a paper cutter to cut my paper.  I made each cupcake liner 1.83" wide, and the width of the paper across.  You will get 6 cupcake liners per 8 1/2 x 11 page. 

I stuck the Starbucks logo's on the paper strips using double sided tape.  It is important to place the tape over the entire back of the logo (cutting off any excess) so that when it bends around the cupcake it stays flat.  

* Note - I brought the cupcakes over to Holly's a few hours after I finished assembling them.  By the time I got there, the icing had started to "melt" the top edges of the card stock.  If you are serving them right away, no problem.  If you are planning on serving them a bit later like I did, I would suggest lining the inside of the cupcakes liners with wax paper. 

Next, place the liners around the cupcakes, sealing them at the back with double sided tape.   I put the cupcakes on a foil lined cookie sheet, although I'm sure you could always do something fancier. 

Place a tsp of homemade caramel on the top of each cupcake. 

Top cupcakes with frosting, using a piping bag.  

Top "Frappuccino's" with a drizzle of caramel sauce and a straw quarter.

 Top "Caramel Brulee's" with hard toffee bits. 


Whipped Buttercream Frosting

For this recipe, I was trying to create something that resembled and tasted like whip cream, but would hold better, like icing.   The extra amount of cream really helps to achieve a light, fluffy icing without an overpowering sweet flavour. 

- 3 cups icing sugar
- 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
- 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream


Using Electric mixer fitted with whisk attachment (or handheld mixer), cream together butter and icing sugar until light and fluffy (about 3 min).  Next, stir in whipping cream and whip for another 3 minutes or so. 


Caramel Coffee Cupcakes

I experimented with several different ingredients before finally came up with this recipe.  Because I was making these for my Starbucks theme cupcakes, I wanted them to taste like genuine Starbucks coffee.  Making cupcakes with coffee can be a tricky thing.  If you don't mix the ingredients properly, you can end up with a sticky feeling cupcake, or even one that is too dry. 

- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup hot coffee
- 1 Pkg Starbucks Via Caramel (or 2 tsp of your favourite instant coffee)
- 1/4 cup whole milk
- 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
- 2 large eggs

Other Supplies:
- 18 cupcake liners

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and place liners in muffin pans.  

In a medium bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Set aside. 

Dissolve instant coffee in hot coffee and let cool.  Add milk to coffee.  Set aside. 

In a large bowl (or mixer fitted with paddle attachment), cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes).  Add eggs 1 at a time, being sure to scrape the sides of the bowl so the ingredients are evenly distributed. 

Add flour mixture in thirds, alternating with coffee mixture (starting and finishing with flour).  Scrape the sides of your bowl again, making sure the ingredients are evenly distributed.

Place cupcake batter in liners, approx. 2/3 full.  Tip: Be sure to put water in any empty spaces.  This will ensure that all of the cupcakes cook evenly. 

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until toothpick inserted in the middles comes out clean. 

Look cool before frosting.


Caramel Sauce

This sauce is great for ice cream, topping coffee, or with my Starbucks theme cupcakes

- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tbsp corn syrup
- 1/4 tsp salt (optional)
- 1/4 cup warm water
- 1/2 cup warm cream (I nuked in the microwave for 20 seconds)
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 tsp vanilla


Combine sugar, corn syrup, salt, and warm water.  Stir gently to combine (try not to get any on the edges of the pan or some of the sugar may crystallize.  If it happens, brush down with a wet pastry brush).

Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until mixture turns a deep amber color (about 8 minutes).

Remove from heat.  Stir in cream and butter.  Add vanilla once mixture has cooled.  Transfer to container for storing (I use a 250 ml mason jar). 

Can be stored in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. 


- Nutritional Info (per tsp) -
Calories - 14     Fat - 1     Carbs - 2     Protein - 0    Fibre - 0

Hard Toffee

I made this toffee by accident the first time!  I was experimenting with different types of caramel and heated the mixture a bit too high (oops).  It all worked out in the end though, because what I got was something that tasted exactly like the centre of  a Skor candy bar.   Perfect for topping my Starbucks theme cupcakes with. 

- 1/2 cup butter
- 1 1/4 cups lightly packed brown sugar
- 1/2 cup corn syrup
- 7-oz sweetened condensed milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract

Cut butter into evenly sized cubes and melt over low heat in large 3-4 quart saucepan.

Once butter is fully melted, add brown sugar, being careful to avoid the sides of the pan.

Once butter and sugar are fully combined, add corn syrup and condensed milk. Clip on candy thermometer to side of pan.

Cook mixture on low heat (still continually stirring) for about a minute. Increase heat to medium and continue to cook/stir until mixture reaches 225 degrees. Once the mixture is removed from heat, stir in vanilla extract.

Pour candy onto a cookie sheet lined well with wax paper (make sure you do not skip the waxed paper part, or you will never get this mixture off your pan). 

Let harden and break into pieces.


Sunday, December 4, 2011

Gramma's Ginger Sparklers

These are my favourite Gramma cookies by far!  I am always incredibly excited when my Gramma makes them for me on my birthday, and they usually don't last very long!  My Gramma always has cookies in her kitchen, and a supply handy in her freezer.  I have fond memories of sneaking into the freezer and snagging a few for myself (probably spoiling my dinner in the process).  Now, I like them frozen just as much as fresh, just because of the fond memories :) They are melt-in-your-mouth delicious! 

- 3/4 cup butter or margarine
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup molasses
- 1 egg
- 2 cups flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp ginger
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp cloves
- 2 tsp baking powder
- granulated sugar to roll dough in


Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add molasses and eggs and mix until well combined.

In a medium bowl, combine the rest of your dry ingredients (flour, salt, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and baking powder) and add to wet mixture.

Your dough should look something like this:

Measure 1 tbsp dough, roll into a ball, then roll in sugar.  Place sugared cookies on tray (12 per tray works great).

Bake at 375 for 13 minutes.

(My Gramma's original recipe is to bake 8-10 minutes but in my oven it took around 13 minutes, just keep a close eye on the cookies for your first batch and adjust the time accordingly for your oven).

Makes about 3 1/2 dozen.


- Nutritional Info (per cookie) -
Calories - 64  Fat - 3     Carbs - 9     Protein - 1    Fibre - 6

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Milk Bones

With the Christmas season fast approaching, my friend Holly I have been busy making homemade gifts for our friends and family (see prior posts Strawberry Jam & Oreo Pops).  We didn't want to leave out our furry friends, so we decided to try making homemade Milk Bones. We thought they turned out looking pretty authentic (thank-you dog bone shaped cookie cutters!), but the true test was in what our dogs would think of them.  They ate them right up and pleaded for more afterwards. Success!

- 1 cup broth (beef, chicken, or veggie)
- 1/3 cup butter
- 1/2 cup powdered milk
- 1 egg, beaten
- 3 cups whole wheat flour

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Heat broth in the microwave (about 40 seconds, or until hot enough to melt butter).  Pour broth over butter and stir until melted.

Stir in powdered milk, and beaten egg.

Add flour, 1/2 cup at a time.

Roll on floured surface to 1/2 inch thickness (if the dough is too thin, the Milk Bones will burn).

Cut into bone shapes using a cookie cutter, and place on lightly greased cookie sheet.

Bake for 50 minutes.  

Cool for about 20 minutes.  Milk Bones will harden upon cooling.

Makes just over a pound.

Enjoy!  ;)

Our "official" taste testers Raya & Milton.

 Milton is a rock star when it comes to balancing treats on his nose! 

This picture came from our Twitter invitation to Holly & Milton to come make dog treats:

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Oreo Pops

Photos by Holly LaRochelle
My friend Holly and I made these to give out as Christmas gifts.  She found instructions on a blog (link here), and they looked really easy and yummy, so we decided to try them out.  
- 1 family sized box of Oreos (48)
- 4 boxes Bakers chocolate* (we used 1 box (8 squares) semi sweet, and 3 boxes (18 squares) white chocolate).  It worked out to be approx. 6 squares chocolate per 10 Oreos).
- assorted sprinkles

Additional Supplies
- 48 wooden coffee stir sticks (we found ours at the dollar store)
- 48 3 1/5 inch x 5 1/4 inch candy bags (we lucked out and found these at our local Walmart)
- 48 ribbons or foil twist ties
- 1-2 zip lock bags (or more depending on if you want to use different colours for drizzling chocolate).
- cookie sheets (or counter space)
- wax paper

* It's important to use Baker's chocolate (or something similar).  We tried to be thrifty by using white chocolate chips instead, and found the chocolate consistency to be too thick and not very desirable for dipping.  The Baker's chocolate was the perfect consistency for dipping, and gave a nice smooth finish.  It also stuck the Oreo's together better than the chocolate chips.

Start by separating the top from the Oreo cookie.  We started by using a knife to separate the two pieces, but found it easier to do by hand.  Do whichever works best for you.

Using one of the sticks, place a small dab of melted white chocolate in the centre of the Oreo.

Place the top Oreo piece on and press Oreo together, firmly (but not enough so to break the Oreos, we had that happen a few times!).  

Let Oreo's harden (by the time you are finished with the last Oreo, the first Oreo should be ready to dip).

Next, melt your chocolate.  We used 1 brick of chocolate at a time.  First, we chopped the chocolate into fine pieces to ease the melting process.  Next, we placed the chocolate into a glass bowl and microwaved in 3 - 30 second intervals, mixing the chocolate, and scraping the sides at each interval, until the chocolate was fully melted and smooth enough to dip.

Dip the Oreos in the melted chocolate and place on counter or cookie sheet lined with wax paper.  If you scrape the chocolate to the bottom half of the bowl, it makes dipping a lot easier!  Simply dip one side, flip over to coat the other side, and let chocolate drizzle to cover the bottom and sides of the Oreo.  We had to try this a few times before we got it right!

Cover dipped Oreo's with sprinkles (it is important to do this before the chocolate hardens). 

Let Oreos harden (refrigerating or popping into the freezer for a few minutes will speed up the process).

Put a small amount of melted chocolate into a ziplock bag.  Cut a very small tip off the end and drizzle chocolate over Oreo's in a zigzag pattern.

Allow to cool/harden once again.

After hardened, wrap and seal with a foil twist tie (or ribbon). 


Sunday, November 13, 2011

Baked Baby Potatoes

I recently had a dinner party with some friends and made these.  They were a huge success!  You could easily use less potatoes and adjust the olive oil accordingly for smaller portions.  Serve with a dallop of plain greek yogurt, and a sprinkle of bacon and chopped green onion for a true baked potato feel. 

- 1 (2 lb) bag red baby potatoes
- 1 (2 lb) bag white baby potatoes
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

Wash and dry baby potatoes and place on cookie sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Toss ingredients with hands.

Bake for 60-90 minutes (depending on size of potatoes and desired firmness).


Note: Freeze any extra's for a quick side dish with dinner on days you are pressed for time. 

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Creamy Potato Soup

- 4 medium potatoes
- 1 medium carrot
- 1/2 small onion
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 3 cups milk
- 1/2 cup frozen corn

Garnish (optional)
- sprinkle of cheddar cheese
- dollop of sour cream or greek yogurt
- green onion, chopped


Wash vegetables and peel (if desired).  Chop potatoes and carrot into bite size pieces and dice onion. 

Pre-heat a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Add butter and olive oil.  Once butter has melted, add chopped vegetables.  Cook until potatoes and carrots are cooked about half through, approx. 15 minutes.

Add broth and bring to a boil.  Cook over medium until potatoes and carrots are tender, about 20 minutes. 

Add milk and bring back to a boil.  Add corn and simmer until soup thickens, about 15 minutes.

Add garnish (optional).


Sunday, October 30, 2011

Shrimp Cocktail w/ Homemade Seafood Sauce

- 6-12 prawns, peeled and de-veined
- 2-3 iceberg lettuce leafs
- green onion for garnish (optional)

Seafood Sauce
- 6 tbsp ketchup
- 2 tbsp horseradish sauce
- 2-3 drops worcester sauce
- squeeze of lemon


Seafood Sauce
Combine ingredients (ketchup, horseradish sauce, worcester sauce, and lemon) in a small bowl.  Set aside.

Chop lettuce and line the bottom of a martini glass (about half full).  Top with seafood sauce.  Arrange cold shrimp on top with tails hanging off the side of the glass.  Garnish with chopped green onion.


- Nutritional Info (per shrimp w/2 tsp sauce) -
Calories - 18  Fat - 0     Carbs - 1     Protein - 1    Fibre - 0

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Chicken Vegetable Soup

There have been plenty of colds going around our house lately so this soup has been a staple.  It takes a bit of time to make, but is well worth the effort!  This is another original recipe from my wonderful husband.  :) 

Side note: If you're not a hater of celery like myself,  I hear that a stalk or two, chopped and mixed in with the other vegetables, is quite a tasty addition to this recipe. ;) 
- Whole chicken
- 4 L of organic chicken broth
- 3-4 bay leafs
- 1 tbsp basil, + 1 pinch
- pepper, to taste
- 2 large onions
- 2-3 medium carrots 
- 4 medium potatoes
- 1 medium sweet potato
- 1 medium turnip
- 3-5 cloves garlic
- 2 cups fresh or frozen corn



Clean and rinse chicken.  Poke holes in chicken with a small utility knife (this helps cook it faster, and allows for the juices to flow through). 

Put chicken in big stock pot, fill it with water, about 2-3 inches above the chicken.

Throw 2-3 bay leafs in the water with a pinch of basil, boil on high. 

Boil the water until water level reduces to the top of the chicken.  When it reaches that level, lower the heat to medium high and cover. Baste the chicken as the water level goes down. 


Peel, cut, and dice your vegetables (potatoes, sweet potatoes, turnips, onions, carrots), set aside in a big bowl).

Crush garlic, and add into the bowl of prepped vegetables. 

When the water has boiled down to less than half of the height of the chicken, remove the chicken from pot and place in a strainer within a bowl and let the chicken drain and cool enough to handle. 

Add chicken broth to the boiling base, get back to boiling temperature, and add chopped vegetables, corn, and 1 TBSP of Basil and pepper to taste. 

Now here's the fun part. Gently separate skin from chicken and discard.  Peel as much meat from the chicken as you can, removing bones, etc.  Put meat only back into the pot with the vegetables.  

Once the soup is back to a good boil, reduce the heat to medium/high until the vegetables are tender, soup has thickened, and the flavours have blended (up to an hour). 

Once the soup is ready it can be served immediately or it can be simmered on low. The longer it is simmered the more the flavours come alive.


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