Friday, November 30, 2012

Chocolate Trials

Hello Sweets,

It's finally the weekend :)  Do you have anything excited planned for this weekend?  I don't have any other plans beside; going to the gym, packing my bags, and laundry (yes I know I live an exciting life).  What am I packing for you ask?  Well it's the Christmas season which means I am heading down to Texas to spend it with Nathan and his family.  I have some family in the neighboring state of Oklahoma, so we will be heading their way as well.  I've never been one for the Christmas season, but seeing Nathan and his family together celebrating with laughter and smiles has really changed my view :)  I've even thought of a great gift idea.  Now I can't go into too much detail because I have readers who will be getting this gift, but lets just say it will definitely have the Canuckette spin on it ;)

A couple of days ago it was my love's birthday, and sadly I was not there to celebrate it with him, but I am going to make up for it.  He LOVES chocolate cake, so I am going to make him one from scratch.  Now it sounds pretty simple right?  Well anyone who knows me, knows I put the pressure on myself to produce the best baked good, and with cakes that means moist deliciousness!  So for the last five days I've been researching, researching, and researching lol to find the perfect chocolate cake recipe.  Even after finding one I went looking for others just to have as a back up in case there was something off.  Then I started researching ways to ensure it was as moist as I could get it without ruining the balance of the recipe.  Of course there's the obvious, don't over mix the final batter mixture, but did you know that beating the egg whites and the yolks separately then adding them one at a time creates little air bubbles?  Or replacing white sugar with brown, because it holds moisture easier?  I learned all sorts of fun things about baking moist cakes today!  So get your beaters ready, because we are going to chocolaty moist cake town with a pit stop in icing island ;)

 Canuckette's Chocolate Cake
1 3/4C all purpose flour
2C brown sugar
3/4C cocoa powder
1 1/2Tsp baking soda
3/4Tsp salt
2 large eggs
1C buttermilk (or substitute 1 Tbsp vinegar, then fill up to 1C with milk waiting 5 minutes to thicken)
1/2C butter, melted
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1C freshly brewed coffee (or 2Tsp of instant in 1C of boiling water)

1)  Preheat oven to 325F, line muffin pans with papers and set aside (if making a cake there is enough batter for 2 9" pans, either grease and flour or line with parchment paper).

2) In a large mixing bowl; combine flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt.  

3)  Add eggs, buttermilk, melted butter, and vanilla, beat until just smooth.  

4)  Stir in hot coffee with metal spatula, mixture will be very runny.

5)  Pour batter into muffin cups 3/4 of the way full (makes 24), bake in the middle rack for 28 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Leave in pan for 15 minutes, then remove to a wire cooling rack.

In the meanwhile let's make some icing!

Decedant Chocolate Buttermilk Icing
1/4C butter, softened
2/3C cocoa powder
1-2C confectioners sugar
1 Tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1/3C milk

1)  In a medium bowl, combine butter, cocoa, salt, vanilla, part of the confectioners sugar, and part of the milk, mixing until well blended.  Adding in the remaining milk with the additional confectioners sugar, until you reach desired sweetness.

Once your cupcakes (or cake) are completely cooled, place icing in a piping bag (or my go to make shift sandwich bags lol) and decorate, then of course enjoy!
The chocolate icing is so decadent you don't need a lot :)

These cupcakes turned out exactly what I was looking for; light, fluffy, and moist!  I think I found a recipe worthy of my birthday boy, and I think he will be very happy with these little treasures.  Oh who am I kidding, he loves everything I make him lol just a bonus as to why I love this man :)

Well now that I have a treat for my birthday boy, I can shift my attention back to finalizing the Christmas surprises.  Well that and taking care of everything that needs to be done before I go, ahhhhh never enough time (or perhaps my organization is lacking lol).  Until next time.........

Stay sweet,

Jennifer xoxoxo

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Simply Elegant

Hello Sweets,

How has your Thursday been?  Mine has been super quiet, and frankly I think that was what I needed after a long day with the neurologist yesterday.  My body is really tired, my one knee is extremely sore, and I really don't know why.  I am doing cardio like my doctors have asked (no running just walking), so today I took the day off and listened to my body!  Do you ever have days like that? Where you know if you do anything physical it probably won't go too well lol, that was my day today.

So in Tuesday's post I talked about simplicity, and how I wanted to do something simply delicious (see what I did there lol).  I decided to make something I haven't had in over a year, but it is something you can enjoy with girlfriends over wine, or even an appetizer for a romantic dinner for two.  So are you salivating just imagining what I'm taking about?  Well let us get to it then shall we :)

Simple Oil and Vinegar Bread Dip
1 1/2Tbs Balsamic vinegar
4Tbs Extra virgin olive oil
Parisian bread loaf
Yup that's all you need

1)  Preheat your oven to 250F, and warm bread until outside is slightly crisp.

2)  Place oil on a plate, then add the vinegar on top (you can drag the handle side of a butter knife through it)
simply elegant ;)

3)  Cut the bread up into bite size pieces, serve and enjoy!

Tadah! There's even a heart there, I miss my man :(

So there it is, simple and savory, a nice little grown up treat :)  Sometimes things don't need to be complicated to taste great!  Now I am going back to the research table because I promised Nathan I would back him a delicious and moist chocolate cake to celebrate his birthday when I am down to visit him for the holidays (and I never break a baking promise!).  With that I am going to say sometimes blog post don't have to be long to be fabulous ;)  Until next time..........

Stay sweet,

Jennifer xoxoxo

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

My Trip to Toronto

Hello Sweets,

It's Wednesday :) and that means the work week is almost over!  For me it means neurologist appointment and navigating my way through the crazy streets of Toronto, and it only being half way through my day, I'm already exhausted lol.

My day didn't start off to well, I slept through my alarm this morning (ugh) which means I had to rush like crazy, which always gets me frazzled when I do.  Rushing means I had to take all my medications on an empty stomach :( not good.  Lucky for me my grandfather is a peach and stopped at Tim Hortons so I could grab a coffee and a bagel.  After that, I had just enough time to run across the street to the bus station and climb on to the already packed bus.  As soon as I saw that, I knew it was going to be a long ride to Toronto.  I couldn't have been more right, the young man I had the pleasure to sit with couldn't stay in his seat, so I might as well of been sitting in the aisle.  The good thing about the bus now, is they're caught up in the technology world, so I got to watch one of my favorite shows; Law & Order SVU all the way there :)

Nathan could tell you that last night I was so worried about getting lost before my appointment, having to navigating from the bus station to the hospital, but he'll be happy to know I made it in one piece and only got a little freaked out once :) yay me!  Since I have some time to kill before my appointment, I thought I would start my little post, and grab a bite to eat (I just love you guys!).  For lunch I went to "Soup it up", which is obviously a soup shop, and got a bowl of cream of mushroom soup (haven't had it in forever), a chocolate milk, and a small multi-grain roll.  It was so so, more soupy than creamy, so needless to say I wasn't very impressed.
My sad little soup, on the plus side my chocolate milk was delish!

Oh well.  There is a Booster Juice, so I'll just grab a shake on my way out.  Live and learn right?  Next I will get to go into the "cattle area" otherwise known as the inpatient check in, and then I'll be shuffled upstairs to see the doctor.  It's weird because I'm slightly nervous and I don't know why (weird huh?).  Well I'm going to venture into Shoppers Drugmart to kill some time, then I will complete my post on the way home.  Blog to you soon ;)

Good news sweets, my brain is giant but other than that, I'm a okay on the brain front.  I sort of figured this already, but better safe than sorry right?  The doctor prescribed me some migraine medication so hopefully that will help (keep your fingers crossed for me).  So I didn't end up stopping at Booster Juice because I was feeling kind of sick, but instead grabbed a nice hot chai tea to keep me warm on my way back to the bus station, and boy was it yummy!
Me and my tea on the go!

Now I am just waiting for my bus to be called and trying not to get dragged into any of the drama that keeps popping up in here (one lady in particular is yelling at random people).  Don't get me wrong, there is nothing funny about mental health, but I don't think I have the patience to deflect right now.  I also don't want to continue rambling either and scare you all off lol.  Until next time........

Stay sweet,

Jennifer xoxoxo

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Something Crisp to make the Crisp Nights Warmer

Hello Sweets,

I hope everyone had a productive Tuesday :)  I spent the afternoon with my grandparents, which is always nice, and then came home to prep for my day trip tomorrow.  Well, and of course bake something delicious! I bet you are all wondering where I'm off to for my day trip tomorrow.  I will be travelling to Toronto to see a neurosurgeon, ya not quite what you probably had in mind.  I'm looking forward to meeting this doctor, he comes highly recommended, but more importantly, to hopefully get some direction on how to manage my migraines.  I would be even more impressed if he can see where the problem is coming from.  I'll give you guys an update tomorrow.  Since I will be travelling most of the day tomorrow I won't be baking anything, but I'll have to get lunch from somewhere so perhaps I'll talk about that too!

Are you dying to know what my hearty fall treat is?  I decided to make a yummy old fashion apple crisp, with a Canuckette twist of course ;) (the twist is the cranberries and pecans).  It was very random why I chose to make the crisp; I was wandering the produce section in the grocery store looking for a new vegetable to try, when I came upon the large display of apples, all shiny and piled high.  I decided I would pick up a few and figure out what to make with them later, so of course I went home and put on my researching hat.  There are a million things you can make with apples, but as soon as I came across some apple crisp recipes, I remembered I have an old family recipe that needed to be used.  The more I thought about it, the more my mouth watered, and that was sign enough for me to know it was what was being made lol.  Let us get to this yummy recipe :)

Canuckette's Old Family Apple Crisp
2C tart apples, peeled and sliced (approx 3 medium)
1/2C dried cranberries
3/4C brown sugar, packed
1/2C all-purpose flour
1/2C old fashion oats (you can use quick oats)
1 Tsp cinnamon
1/2Tsp allspice
1/3C butter, cold
1/4C pecans, chopped

1)  Place apples and cranberries in a greased 8" square baking pan.

2)  In a small bowl, combine brown sugar, flour, oats, cinnamon, and allspice.

3)  Cut in butter until soft and crumbly, then add pecans.  Sprinkle over apples and cranberries.

4)  Bake at 375F for 30-35 minutes or until the apples are tender.  Of course enjoy!
It is so yummy!

This recipe is so simple and yummy, the hardest part is peeling the apples lol, but it is all worth while once completed.  The flavors of the apples and cranberries together scream fall to my taste buds, and satisfy the dessert craving without being overloaded with strong sugary flavors.  It is definitely a recipe for any level of baker, and you'll be very proud of your final product (I know I am).  Do you have a favorite fall dessert?  For those of you wondering, I did not use all four apples, I only used three and cut up the other for a snack :p

Having the day off tomorrow from the kitchen makes me feel both sad and okay, on the one hand I have to focus on my health tomorrow in hopes of answers, and on the other hand, I won't be creating tomorrow :(  But it does give me time to think about what I would like to do for Thursday, and I am thinking something along the line of simplicity (clearly I am already thinking of something lol), however it is going to be kept a secret.  

I always expect that telling the story of my health to each doctor would get easier, but it never does.  I always end up getting emotional, which makes me worry about what the doctors will think.  Nathan always tells me I'm one of the strongest woman he knows, and that anyone else in my shoes would have crumbled under the pressure.  It is very sweet of him, and I now believe it as well, but it still doesn't take away the nervousness I get each night before an important appointment.  Best thing for me to do tonight is to my range of motion exercises (exercising helps me relax), and leave it in God's hands, as there is nothing I can do other than tell my story.  Anyways that's enough talk about stresses lol. I will fill you all in on the outcome from my appointment tomorrow, and I will tell you all about my Toronto experience (there is always something lol).  Until next time.........

Stay sweet,

Jennifer xoxoxo

Monday, November 26, 2012

A Cure for my Craving

Hello Sweets,

I hope you all are having a wonderful Monday, unfortunately for me the theme for my day is migraine Monday :(.  I'm not sure if it has anything to do with the freezing cold wind, but I'm doing everything I can to help remedy the migraine and I think I'm doing a pretty good job.  I wanted to share with you guys my latest obsession, Cherry Craisins.  They are sooo yummy and good for you too!  I first tried them in a trail mix I bought (I didn't think I would like them), and I'm so glad I did, because you can never have too many healthy snack options right?
Happy girl with a yummy snack

So lately I've been craving chicken, like really really craving chicken lol, and I'm not sure why. Maybe it's because I haven't had it in a while?  So on my way home from my meeting today, I decided to stop in the grocery store and pick up some chicken to cure my cravings.  So then it got me thinking about flavors, how did I want to prep my chicken?  So when I got home I took inventory of my spices.  I knew I definitely wanted to use garlic and red chili flakes but I felt like I needed something more.  Then I opened open the fridge and it was like the kitchen angels started to sing, tandoori sauce was what caught my eye.  I haven't cooked with the tandoori flavor in a very long time, but it smelt too yummy to pass up, thus a new Canuckette recipe was born!

Canuckette's Tandoori Chicken
chicken breast
garlic powder
red chili flakes
tandoori sauce

1)  Rub chicken breast with garlic and red pepper flakes, then smoother in tandoori.  Let marinade for a couple of hours in the fridge (overnight if you can).

2)  Preheat oven to broil, fill bottom of the broiling pan with water.  Cook for 13 minutes.

3)  Remove from oven and enjoy!
nice and juicy

This subtle spicy dinner definitely satisfied my chicken craving, and since I am one girl I have some leftovers for tomorrow :)  Is there something you've been craving lately?  Did you satisfy that craving, and with what?

While I was at the grocery store I picked up a couple of other mystery items.  The reason they are mystery items is because I am devising a new yummy recipe for tomorrow.  I want to make something subtly sweet with a hearty fall likeness to it.  But it will remain a secret until tomorrow, which means even more incentive to come back to my little blog :)  (sneaky sneaky)  Until next time.........

Stay sweet,

Jennifer xoxoxo

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Canuckette's Passion

Hello Sweets,

I hope you all are having a relaxing Sunday :)  Did you do anything fun this weekend?  Maybe you baked a special little treat? I would love to hear from all of you.  Me, well today hasn't been too great, I feel pretty awful so I don't have the energy to whip up something creative in the kitchen (I know, no recipe I'm sorry :( ).  With my migraines sometimes it's best for me to take a break from the kitchen because I never know what sound, smell, or even temperature will make things even worse.  You would think after more than a year of this I would be used to it, but sadly no, I'm just as big of a suck now as when it all first started lol.

So I started thinking to myself, what should I write about today?  The idea was all too clear to me, why not write that post about passion I was going to do earlier this week!  This won't be a super long post, rather quick and to the point, but I really want to make sure I tell you guys what passion means to me, and what it has done for my life. 

Dictionary Reference website defines Passion as;

passion ~ noun
1.  any powerful or compelling emotion or feeling, as love or hate.
2.  strong amorous feeling or desire; love; ardor; lust.
4.  an instance or experience of strong love.
5.  a person toward whom one feels strong love.
6.  a strong or extravagant fondness, enthusiasm, or desire for anything: a passion for music.
7.  the object of such a fondness or desire: Accuracy became a passion with him.
8.  an outburst of strong emotion or feeling: He suddenly broke into a passion of bitter words.

Now I removed a couple of points that referred to sexual desire, anger, and religious references because they were not applicable to my reference to passion, but you can find the complete definition through the link above :)

What I take away from this definition, and what I know applies to my passion for everything about being in a kitchen, is that I absolutely love creating and making food for others.  I can't even begin to explain the sheer emotional feeling I get inside when I see someone smile, or that they absolutely love what I have made for them.  I guess the closest I can describe it to is when I volunteer, for any organization, knowing that I can make even the smallest impact on someones life and be a little ray of sunshine for them.  It's that warm feeling you get when your with the ones you care about the most, laughing and smiling, being in that moment and not caring about anything else that is going on.  It's been this passion for baking, cooking, and blogging that has really helped me deal with all the stress of my illnesses and to have a sense of normalcy to my life, and even bring me back over to the happy side when I am feeling down.

When I am in the kitchen, I want to be there, actually I love being there, it makes me forget about all the other things going on in my life and I can just create and explore new things.  I can make mistakes and be okay with them,  or even laugh about them because it is all part of the experience for me.  I love trying new recipes and flavors.  I have that unmistakable desire of wanting to better myself at each task.  I take the utmost pride in what I create, and I put some much care into my work because I want to see people enjoying what I create for them.  I can get lost in the moment when I'm baking and cooking, and forget about everything else that is going on in the world.  Now I'm not perfect, nor do I claim to be.  I will have my moments where I can get frustrated when something is not going according to plan or even get overwhelmed (Nathan will tell you!), but there are definitely more smiles, laughs, and silliness that tend to take place in whatever kitchen I am in :p

For me, my passion is baking and cooking for others, almost nothing feels better then that.  It is something I've always loved; from helping my grandmother at Christmas (I started out on the cheese and veggie platters lol), to creating yummy treats so I can watch my cutie nephew Miguel dive right in, and most importantly learning to make the things that my wonderful other half loves :)  I mastered coconut meringue pie (find the recipe here) just for him, and I put a lot of pressure on myself to make it perfect, but I put even more love into it because I have this need to create and master.  The feeling of when what you are trying so hard for something, then it comes out exactly or even better than you planned, is beyond words.

Kid knows how to eat a cupcake lol!
He loves auntie Jemmy's Peanut butter chocolate chip banana muffins 

These are the things that make life worth while.  I do it all for the smiles :)  What are you most passionate about?  I would love to hear from all of you, anytime, so please feel free to contact me.  Now I am off to relax with my trusty ginger ale, one thing I always reach for when I'm sick :)

Until next time.......

Stay sweet,

Jennifer xoxoxo

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Grandma's Christmas Kitchen

Hello Sweets,

I hope you all are enjoying your weekend.  :)  Perhaps you're as fortunate (unfortunate in my opinion lol) as my city is and you've got some snow to get you into the festive spirit!  Now personally I do not care for snow, but it is only a little sprinkle so I think I'll be okay ;)  Do you guys enjoy snow?  Or are you a sun bunny like myself?  What is your favorite winter activity?  Mine is snuggling up next to a warm fire with a cup of hot cocoa, and my love Nathan by my side (well now I just made myself miss him more hmph! :( ).

I actually find it really coincidental that it snowed today, because my grandmother and I are baking her famous Christmas cake :), and I don't think we could have asked for a more pretty back drop.  My grandma has been making these cakes every year since before I was born, although when I was young she would have to make two; one adult (w/ brandy) and one children's (w/o brandy).  But now since everyone is grown, she just makes one batch of her famous cake, although we will have to make sure little Miguel doesn't get his hands on this.  I asked her today if this was one of my great grandmother's recipes, but she couldn't remember (I'm pretty sure it is).  Either way it is a family recipe that I now have to carry on with me.  :)   It is a two day process and total time in the kitchen (with baking) is around 4-5 hours depending on your speed and organizational skills, so be prepared to spend some quality time with your counter tops lol.  Now, shall we get to the festive delight of a dessert?

Grandma's Dark Christmas Cake
1lb candied pineapple
1/2lb candied cherries
1/4lb candied citron
2oz lemon peel
2oz orange peel
1lb golden raisins
1/2lb dark raisins
1/4lb currants
1/2C brandy liqueur
1/4lb almonds
1/4lb walnuts (or pecans)
2C flour, sifted
1/2Tsp mace (can substitute w/ nutmeg)
1/2Tsp cinnamon
1/2Tsp baking soda
5 eggs
1 Tbs milk
1 Tsp almond extract
1/4lb butter, softened
1C white sugar
1C brown sugar
(makes 2 loaves)

Day 1~ Mix all candied fruits and soak overnight in the brandy in the refrigerator.

Day 2~
1)  Coarsely chop nuts, and mix in with the fruit.  Set aside.

2)  Grease two loaf pans, and line with parchment paper (tinfoil can be substituted).  Preheat oven to 275F.

3)  Sift flour into a medium bowl, remove 1/2C from the bowl and set aside.  With the remainder of the flour sift in baking soda and spices, set aside.
flour check, spices check!

4)  Take 1/2C of flour and mix thoroughly with the brandied fruit and nuts.  Set aside.

5)  Beat eggs slightly, add milk and almond extract.  Set aside.

6)  Cream butter with both sugars until light and fluffy.  Mix in egg and flour mixtures thoroughly.

7)  Pour batter into prepared loaf pans, be sure to press the batter down and evenly distribute.  Bake for 3 hours and 5 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Let stand for 30 minutes, then turn it upside down on a wire rack and remove paper (tinfoil).  Most importantly, enjoy!


Today has been a really great day, being back in the kitchen with my grandmother filled me with nostalgia of when she first taught me how to bake.  Believe it or not, my favorite thing to do when baking with her, a close second is licking the beaters (what kid doesn't), but for me it was sifting!  I'm not kidding lol, I would go to town sifting every last grain of flour :) making sure I got every last piece through.  Even still to this day when I am sifting, I find myself smiling and seeing that little girl standing on a kitchen chair sifting over the giant mixing bowl.

Do you have a favorite holiday baking memory?  Or maybe your favorite holiday memory with your grandparents?  I know I have a ton of great memories with my grandparents over the holiday season, and I will do my best to share as many as I can over this holiday season :)  As always, I love hearing from you guys, so please don't hesitate to contact me about anything!

Now I have to convince my grandmother to make homemade Christmas pudding, which apparently is a 20 hour excursion O_O.  But it is oh so yummy, and she makes this delicious brandy sauce from scratch, so I figured why not the pudding too this year!  Wish me the best of luck, as I go to state my case ;)  Until next time........

Stay sweet,

Jennifer xoxoxo