Sunday, April 27, 2014

Daring Bakers - Easter Bread

I've tasted Easter Bread and this isn't it.

Harsh words, I know. Especially harsh since this is an easy recipe and the bread tastes quite good. The kids even had a great time being in charge of coloring and drizzling the glaze. But you know when you associate a specific food with someone, or someplace, or some specific time?

Well, that's what it's like with me and Easter Bread. My first Easter Bread experience was one made by a lovely Italian woman with a big heart and bigger personality. Dipped into coffee, it was heaven and a completely new experience. Easter bread didn't exist before then; I had never even heard of it before.

The fact is, no other Easter Bread will be the same to me. I guess it's like when nothing tastes better than the grilled cheese your mom makes, or the sugar cookies your grandma made when you were seven. So yes, I've tasted Easter Bread and this isn't it but it could be the beginning of your Easter Bread tradition ... the recipe is from Stanley Tucci's recipe book ... so I'm guessing it's his favorite.

My favorite will always be the one I first tasted, no matter how many other Easter Breads come my way.

The April Daring Baker’s Challenge was hosted by Wolf of Wolf’s DenShe challenged us to Spring into our kitchens and make Easter breads reflecting cultures around the world. 

If you haven't heard of the Daring Baker's, you should check out their website. Every month there is a new challenge - one for bakers and one for if you want to push the boundaries of your kitchen talents and have some fun please join!

Click here for a pdf version of our challenge recipes.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Cherry Surprise Honey Muffins

My son requested these muffins - I think he's a little bit sick of my chocolate avocado muffins that I've been making for weeks! I forgot how good these cherry surprise honey muffins moist and the honey really adds a wonderful touch of flavor to these treats.

Makes 12 muffins.


3/4 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup brown sugar 
2 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla
1-1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour (all purpose can be substituted)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup plain yogourt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 c cherry jam


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. On medium low heat combine honey, oats, cinnamon, and vanilla. Heat until honey is warm. Remove from heat.
  3. In large mixing bowl beat together sugar, eggs and oil on medium high speed until well combined.
  4. In small bowl whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
  5. Add half the flour mixture to the egg bowl and stir on low speed until just combined. 
  6. Add the yogurt and mix again. 
  7. Add the oat mixture and stir. 
  8. Add the last of the flour. Stir just until combined.
  9. Fill muffin tin about 1/2 way with batter.
  10. Add a tsp or so of cherry jam in the middle of each tin.
  11. Cover with a bit more batter.
  12. Bake for 15-17 minutes until golden and tooth pick test comes out clean.
  13. Cool for ten minutes in tins and then remove muffins from tins and cool completely on wire rack.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Millionaire Bars
If your family is anything like ours, your family calendar is bursting at the seams - between all the kids' activities like  play-dates, soccer, swimming, homework, homework and more homework, violin practice, track and field,  not to mention the occasional workout for yourself, work, appointments etc etc - there is not always time for family dinners! And family dinners that are relaxed, homemade and without pressure to get somewhere else are even more rare.

To combat all this craziness, we try to have a bit more of an old school family dinner on Saturday or Sunday. Each week dessert duty goes to a different family member. The rules are it has to be homemade - no store bought cake/cookies etc. This idea has been a true hit with the kids! My 7 and 9 year olds love planning what they are going to create, shopping for the ingredients and the actual baking of their masterpiece dessert. It's also a good opportunity to spend some one-on-one time with the kids since adult supervision is still needed at their age.

Last week, my daughter made these absolutely fabulous millionaire bars or homemade Twix bars. This dessert looks more complicated than it really is so it's perfect for little hands. And let's face it - chocolate, caramel and shortbread? It's a trifecta of goodness!
Adapted from a King Arthur Flour recipe. The bars can be cut in any size desired so you can easily get anywhere from 12 huge bars to 50 small bars.


1 cup butter, unsalted, at room temperature
1 cup icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups all purpose flour
pinch of salt

2 cups caramels
4 tbsp whipping cream

3 1/2 cups milk chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
Prepare pan by cutting a 9 x 15 inch piece of parchment.
Place it so the extra over hangs.
Spray with baking spray and set aside.


  1. Using a stand mixer, beat butter, salt and icing sugar at medium speed until well combined. 
  2. Add vanilla and combine. 
  3. Add flour on low speed until it starts to come together.
  4. Increase speed to medium and continue to mix until dough comes together and is smooth.
  5. Gently spread dough into the pan and pat with fingers to get it into the corners.
  6. Prick the batter base multiple times with a fork.
  7. Bake for 30 - 40 minutes until edges are golden.
  8. Place on cooling rack.
  9. Set side to cool completely.

Caramel Layer

  1. On low heat, melt the caramels and cream.
  2. Pour over cooled base.
  3. Place in fridge for 15 minutes to set slightly.

Chocolate Layer

  1. Over very low heat, stir constantly and melt the chocolate chips in a medium sauce pan.
  2. Pour over caramel layer.
  3. Return to fridge to cool and set for 4 hours or overnight.

To serve

  1. Run a knife around the edges of the pan.
  2. Carefully pull the dessert out by lifting it out by the parchment over hang.
  3. Cut into desired sizes. 

Friday, April 4, 2014

Peanut Butter Cocoa Smoothie

Did you know a Canadian was the first to patent peanut butter?
In 1884, Marcellus Gilmore Edson (February 7, 1849 - March 6, 1940) from Montreal, Quebec was issued a patent for peanut butter. According to Wikipedia, “His cooled product had 'a consistency like that of butter, lard, or ointment' according to his patent application. He included the mixing of sugar into the paste so as to harden its consistency.”
As a child of the 70s, I grew up on Kraft dinner, lime soda and peanut butter and often watched The Six Million Dollar Man, Little House on the Prairie, & MASH. I'm sure there were healthier foods and other shows but that's what I remember. I also remember sometimes being allowed to eat dinner on our collapsible TV trays! Those were the days :)
Speaking of peanut butter, I don't eat it as much anymore but occasionally use it in my smoothies, including this one. When made with plain yogurt this smoothie has a tangy flavour that reminds me of sour cream ganache. If you use vanilla yogurt it will be milder and sweeter. Originally, I was going for a peanut butter cup type of flavour only to discover that I was running out of peanut butter so I went for more cocoa flavor. But feel free to add as much peanut butter as you want!

The great thing about this smoothie is that it will satisfy your sweet tooth and your chocolate craving at the same time - without the extra refined sugar and fat found in a chocolate bar or milkshake!
Makes 3 small smoothies.


2-3 tbsp peanut butter
2 tbsp cocoa
2/3 cup yogurt - plain or vanilla
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 medium banana
6 ice cubes


Place everything in a blender or Nutribullet and blend until smooth.