Saturday, July 31, 2010

Honey Cornmeal Muffins

In under 30 minutes including baking time these muffins were on the breakfast table. Slightly sweetened, they are amazing with a dab of butter and a smear of raspberry jam.

They are not as sweet and as fine in texture as most muffins so you might be able to get away with serving them with at dinnertime instead of bread. I'm thinking they'd fit right in beside a minestrone or a vegetarian chili - the hint of honey in them would bring out the sweetness of the veggies.

Cornmeal Honey Muffins
Makes 12 | Adapted from Food and Spice

3 tablespoons of unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups unbleached white flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup of sugar
1 tablespoon + 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups of milk
2/3 cup of vegetable oil
3 tablespoons of honey
2 teaspoons of vanilla

1. Grease 12 muffins cups generously with butter. In a large bowl whisk together the flours, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt.

2. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs and then whisk in the milk, melted butter, oil, honey and vanilla. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, add the moist ingredients and stir until just combined. Divide the batter evenly into the prepared muffin cups.

3. Bake in a preheated 375 degree F oven for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown and the muffins are nicely browned on top. Cool on wire racks and serve warm or at room temperature.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

TWD: Chewy, Chunky Blondies

This yummy recipe was chosen by Nicole from Cookies on Friday. Check out her blog for the recipe and check out the Tuesdays with Dorie site for past and upcoming recipe schedules and the TWD members blogroll.

My thoughts on these blondies: "Awesome!" I omitted the coconut because I don't like the texture. I also omitted the salt because I used lightly salted mixed nuts instead of the walnuts. Lately I have been inspired to use different types of seasoned nuts in my baking. I am especially loving the end results from using honey-roasted peanuts or lightly salted nuts.

These are chewy and dense, not cakey and dry like a lot of blondies tend to be. Simply delicious, as one would expect from Dorie Greenspan. The array of mixed nuts made these a little unpredictable. Every bite was different! Almonds, walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, macadamias and cashews - just threw them in whole, not chopped, because I think they looked prettier. I also chopped the chocolate coarsely, which truly make these 'chunky'.

The next time I'm going to use the blondie dough recipe with white chocolate chunks, toffee bits and macadamia nuts.

Monday, July 26, 2010

DB: Swiss Swirl Ice Cream Cake

The July 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Sunita of Sunita’s world – life and food. Sunita challenged everyone to make an ice-cream filled Swiss roll that’s then used to make a bombe with hot fudge. Her recipe is based on an ice cream cake recipe from Taste of Home.

For a PDF of this month's challenge including the recipe, click here.

*My Changes*
I have a very small freezer and do not have the luxury of having a deep freezer, so I have to constantly calculate and plan ahead to allocate freezer space. For this reason, I only made a fraction of the recipe. My finished product was assembled in a 1.5 quart bowl! I think there was no more than 2 cups of ice cream in my cake. With this small amount of ice cream I didn't bother doing chocolate and vanilla. I did all vanilla with a layer of chocolate syrup in the middle. It was just right for 4 servings and no leftovers.

I made and baked the cake on a swiss roll pan just like how you make normal swiss rolls. When it is baked, I divided the whole sheet into thirds then filled and rolled as usual, thus making mini swiss rolls. I loved how easy the sponge cake was to roll up. I have never made a swiss roll before and it always seemed quite daunting. Now, I'm all ready to experiment with different fillings and sizes. I'm now on the lookout for a not too sweet filling that will hold well at room temperature so I can save on fridge/freezer space :)

Cinnamon Grissini

Take a simple sweet dough, cut into thin strips, coat with butter, sugar and cinnamon and twist and bake. The longer the grissini the more elegant and breath-taking. They really make a statement standing tall in a canister for anytime snacking. Drizzled with a bright white vanilla icing, they become a chic party nibble.

Beyond their good looks there's also something wonderful about the satisfying "snap" these make as you bite into one of these sticks.

Cinnamon Grissini
20 long sticks

1 cup milk, lukewarm
1/3 cup sugar
1 pkg active dry yeast
1/3 cup butter, softened and cubed
3 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt

1/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon

1. Dissolve sugar in warm milk. Add yeast, stir and let sit 5 mins or until slightly foamy. Add butter and mix with dough hook.

2. Mix 3 cups flour with salt. Add 1 cup at a time to mixer. Gradually add in 1/2 cup flour (if needed) to make dough come together into a ball that is slightly sticky but clings to the dough hook and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Cover and let rise in warm place for 1 hr, until doubled.

3. Gently deflate risen dough. Turn onto lightly floured surface and roll out thin. Brush with a thin layer of butter. Not too much. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar evenly.

4. With a pizza cutter cut the dough into thin strips. Pick up each strip of dough at the ends and gently stretch it then fold it in half to make it shorter. Pick it up and stretch it again, slightly twisting each end in opposite directions to give it the twisty look. Place on baking sheet and press ends down slightly to keep from unraveling.

5. Preheat the oven to 350F. Let the grissini rest while the oven is heating or while the prior batch is baking. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes (longer for thicker grissini) until browned and very crisp. Cool on a wire rack.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Waffle House Buttermilk Waffles

Sorry for the plain, boring picture. However, however... Don't let appearances fool you. This waffle is just like a blank canvas, waiting to be be painted with a variety of flavors. Summer fruits such as juicy peaches or ripe strawberries would be the perfect complement.

The recipe for these waffles is from Top Secret Recipes. It's a clone of the waffles from Waffle House - a U.S. chain restaurant with a few stores in Canada. The closest one to me is across the border and quite a drive south to Olympia, WA. You can also find this recipe at (formerly known as Recipezaar) but just be aware that the amount of sugar in the 'zaar recipe is a typo and is way too high.

I read over everyone's comments and came up with this adapted version. It is quite a sweet waffle compared to other recipes such as Cook's Illustrated that only has just a tiny bit of sugar in it. For that reason I find these more suited to serving with berries and whipped cream than doused in syrup.

Waffle House Buttermilk Waffles

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 egg
1/2 cup malt powder (or in a pinch use 1/3 cup flour)
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 tablespoons butter, softened
2 tablespoons shortening
1/2 cup half-and-half
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla

1. Combine flour, salt and baking soda in a medium bowl and stir to combine. Lightly beat the egg in another medium bowl and combine with sugar, butter, and shortening, mixing well until smooth.

2. Add the half & half, milk, buttermilk and vanilla and mix well. Add the dry flour mixture to the wet mixture while beating and mix until smooth. If you can, cover and chill overnight, though the batter can be used right away.

3. Rub a light coating of vegetable oil on a waffle iron, and preheat it. Leave the batter out of the refrigerator to warm up a bit as your waffle iron is preheating. Spoon 1/3 to 1/2 cup of batter into the waffle iron and cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until the waffles are light brown.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

TWD: Banana Chocolate Chip Cake

Bananas. Coconut milk. Oh, and a large handful of chocolate chips for good measure. However, I opted not to add the shredded coconut and frosting as I wanted the cake to shine in its own unadulterated glory. There's banana bread and then there's banana cake. Often the names are used interchangably but in this case, this cake is definitely a CAKE. It was slightly sweeter and moister and less banana-y than most. Delicious.

I have to thank Only Creative Opportunities blog for this week's selection.

When we did Dorie's banana bundt recipe - almost a year ago in Aug/09 - I posted some banana tips HERE which include how to ripen bananas in the oven. Today I have a few more tips I've learned since then:

*Putting a tomato or apple in a sealed brown bag with your bananas makes them ripen faster because the ethyene gases get trapped in there and the apple/tomato works as a ripening agent.
*To slow down ripening, separate all the bananas from each other and from other fruits. Yes, this looks somewhat odd to have individual bananas lying around your house, but it works!
*When preparing a dish with uncooked, peeled bananas, dip them in an acid to reduce discoloration (ex. citrus or pineapple juice)
*Choose slightly underripe bananas for cooked savory recipes and overripe ones for baked goods.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Chocolate-Studded Orange Rolls

Terry's Chocolate Oranges - who doesn't love 'em - even if only for their "fun-ness factor" of smacking them orange against the table and watching it break into wedges.

The flavors of these rolls remind me of those chocolate oranges. However, if you do happen to be one of those people who doesn't like this flavor combo, just leave out the chocolate chips and you have a simple orange roll recipe a great addition to any breakfast table.

Chocolate-Studded Orange Rolls
Makes 12 | Adapted from Flo Braker

2 1/4 teaspoons (1 envelope) active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water (100 to 110 degrees F)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2/3 cup sour cream
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus 1 to 2 tablespoons for kneading, if necessary
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking soda

1/4 cup butter, softened
Zest from 1 orange
1 cup chocolate chips (or more if you like)

1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon whole milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

To make the Sour Cream Yeast Dough:
Sprinkle the yeast over the water in the bowl of a stand mixer; set aside for 5 to 10 minutes until bubbly. Add the butter, sour cream, sugar, egg, and vanilla to the yeast mixture and stir to combine with a rubber spatula.

Attach the bowl to the mixer, and fit the mixer with the paddle attachment. Beat in 2 cups (9 ounces/255 grams) of the flour, the salt, and baking soda on medium-low speed until incorporated, 30 to 45 seconds. Add the remaining 1/2 cup flour and beat until a smooth, moderately soft dough forms.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth and satiny, about 3 minutes. At first the dough will be sticky. Add no more than 1 to 2 tablespoons additional flour during the kneading to combat the stickiness. Place the dough back in the bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place (about 70 degrees F) until doubled in size, about 1 hour. The dough is ready when a finger gently pressed into it leaves an indentation. Meanwhile, prepare the pan and make the Orange-Butter.

Before baking:
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly coat a 12 cup Bundt pan with butter and flour.

To make the Orange-Butter:
Cream together orange rind and softened butter until well combined.

To shape the buns:
Gently punch the dough down to deflate it. Roll it out into a large rectangle and spread with the orange-butter mixture. Then sprinkle with chocolate chips and roll up into a log. Cut the log into 12 equal pieces and place cut-side down on baking tray. Set aside in a warm place until puffy and doubled in volume, about 40 minutes. The dough is ready to bake when a finger gently pressed into it leaves an indentation.

Bake until golden, 20 to 22 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 5 to 8 minutes. Then tilt the pan and invert onto a wire rack.

To make the Translucent Vanilla Glaze:
In a small bowl, stir together the sugar, butter, milk, and vanilla until smooth and just the right consistency to apply a thin glaze over each bun. If it is too thick, add water, 1 teaspoon at a time.

The buns can be warm or at room temperature when you glaze them. Slip a sheet of waxed paper under the rack holding the buns to catch any drips. Using a pastry brush, coat each bun with the glaze. Serve the buns warm or at room temperature.

For the best taste and texture, serve the buns the same day they are baked. For longer storage, bake as directed and let cool completely after baking but do not glaze. Place the unglazed buns in a sturdy airtight container, label with the contents and date, and freeze for up to 2 weeks. To reheat, wrap the frozen buns in aluminum foil and place them in a preheated 300 degree F oven until heated through, about 10 minutes, Make the glaze and glaze the buns while they are warm.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Pepperidge Farm Snickerdoodles

My mom is not a baker and dislikes being in the kitchen... except for when she's doing the eating and not the cooking. I guess I am making up for lost time by baking all the things I never got to eat as a kid because of my mom's aversion to cooking. Instead, we got well acquainted with the cookie aisle. For the longest time I never knew people could actually make their own cookies in their own ovens. I'm not kidding when I say that my mom used our oven as storage space until I began taking an interest in baking.

If you've followed me for a while now you'll probably have noticed that I'm a fan of copycat recipes. A light bulb went on while typing this. Maybe I seek out clones of famous foods the same way people hold onto their grandmother's cherished pound cake recipe or secret family recipes because those mass produced flavors are what I grew up on. Taste evokes memories.

These cinnamon and sugar topped snickerdoodles are one of Pepperidge Farm's soft cookies that can be duplicated at home with the same taste and chewy consistency. One tip for creating any chewy cookie is using melted butter. When butter melts the water separates from the fat and combines with the flour in the dough to develop more gluten for a chewier finished product. It's also very important to get these cookies out of the oven when they are just slightly browned and still soft. If you store the cooled cookies in an airtight container, you'll have soft snickerdoodles for as long as the cookies last (which probably won't be long).

Pepperidge Farm Snickerdoodles
Makes 16 | adapted from Top Secret Recipes

1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
2. Use an electric mixer on medium speed to combine butter, sugar, egg, and vanilla in a medium bowl until smooth.
3. In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt.
4. Mix the dry ingredients into the butter mixture on low speed until dough is smooth.
5. Mix topping ingredients together in a small bowl.
6. Measure one heaping tablespoon of the dough and roll it into a ball with your hands.
7. Press half of the cookie dough ball into the cinnamon/sugar. Place the ball, sugared-side-up, on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 16 minutes or until cookies just begin to turn light brown. Be careful not to bake the cookies too long, or they won't be soft. Remove from the pan before they harden completely. Store air tight.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

TWD: S'more (not so Brrr)ownies

Chocolate and mint are not flavors that I like eating together. Separately they are great. I have a stash of mint tea in my cupboard and a jar of peppermint candy on my counter. As for chocolate, let's just say, who DOESN'T like chocolate :) I like all kinds except those with mint.

I followed the book's brownie batter recipe but stirred in 3/4 cup coarsely crushed graham crackers and 3/4 cup milk chocolate chunks for the peppermint patties = S'More Brownies! I sprinkled another 1/4 cup graham crackers on top and baked these lovelies until they were almost done then sprinkled marshmallows on top and returned the pan to the oven to finish baking and to brown the marshmallows (5 more minutes or so). Just a word of warning - don't put the marshmallows on too early because they have a tendency to expand/explode in the heat and to take over the whole pan which makes for a gooey, icky mess. You could use mini marshmallows or large marshmallows cut into quarters with scissors. I prefer the latter method. The irregularly cut marshmallows add character to the finished product (in my humble opinion).

I'm sure you could use whatever your favorite brownie recipe is and just add graham crackers and marshmallows for the same effect :)

Karen from Our Crazy Blessed Life selected this week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe. Recipe can be found at her website. Although I took the "Brrr" out of the Brrrownies, the basic recipe is still great and if you do like minty chocolate, give these a shot.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Onion Buns

The filling in these buns is to die for. Sweet caramelly onions combined with the crunch of poppyseeds and the tanginess of ranch dressing. They were even delicious eaten a day later. I personally like to pop them in the microwave for 15 seconds before eating just to warm them through, make the filling all melty and yummy and give the bread that fresh-baked softness.

The recipe received 5 stars from several reviewers on the Pillsbury website and I would give it 6 stars if I could. The original recipe makes a braided loaf of bread with the onion filling running through it; It is called theOnion Lover's Twist. However, I find that a basket full of buns is friendlier and less hassle than dealing with slicing a loaf at serving time.

Onion Buns
16 buns | adapted from Pillsbury

2 - 2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 pkg. active dry yeast
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup butter
1 egg

1/4 cup butter
1 cup finely chopped onions
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons poppy seeds
1/2 - 1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon cajun spice or paprika
1/2 cup ranch dressing

1. Lightly spoon flour into measuring cup; level off. In large bowl, combine whole wheat flour, 1 cup white flour, sugar, salt and yeast; mix well. In small saucepan, heat water, milk and 1/4 cup margarine until very warm (120 to 130°F.). Add warm liquid and egg to flour mixture; blend at low speed until moistened. Beat 3 minutes at medium speed.

2. By hand, stir in remaining 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 cups flour to form a soft dough. Cover loosely with greased plastic wrap and cloth towel. Let rise in warm place until doubled (45-60 minutes).

3. Grease muffin sheet. Melt 1/4 cup margarine in small saucepan and cook onions on low until translucent. Cool then stir in remaining filling ingredients. Set aside.

4. Stir down dough to remove all air bubbles. On floured surface, toss dough until no longer sticky. Roll dough into large rectangle. Using a pizza cutter or dough cutter, cut rectangle into 3 long strips then cut across the width into 5 strips = you will have 15 pieces.

5. Spread 1 heaping tsp onion mixture over each square. Bring edges of together to enclose filling; pinch edges and ends to seal. Place seam side down in greased muffin tins. Cover; let rise in warm place until light and doubled in size, 25 to 30 minutes. Heat oven to 350 degrees F.

6. Brush tops generously with ranch dressing then sprinkle with poppy seeds (optional but adds a nice touch). Bake 27 to 35 minutes. Immediately remove from cookie sheet; cool fully on wire rack.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

TWD: Tarte Noire

My take on this week's recipe:
-Used a sugar cookie recipe for the crust
-Baked it in rectangle pan instead of a tart pan
-Made the chocolate ganache using a higher ratio of chocolate to cream so it would be firmer and therefore cut into bars more easily
-Sprinkled it with chopped nuts for texture and decoration

For the original recipe, check out Dharmagirl at Bliss Delicous Life. She's responsible for this week's simple yet sophisticated pick.

I wanted to make mine slightly less sophisticated. Sometimes you don't want the super-fancy look, just like with clothing. Even though you might be able to pull off a little black dress and stilettos, you wouldn't want to make it a part of your daily wardrobe.... or maybe you do... but for me, not so much. I'll save that for special occasions, just like this tart. I dressed it down because I wasn't going anywhere fancy - just to our lunchroom at work - where it was much appreciated in its cookie/bar form.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Junior's Caramel Apple Cheesecake

If you often experience the problem of cheesecakes cracking along the top, this recipe is perfect for you. The apple topping hides any potential cracks in the cake while adding a wonderful, homey, comforting flare to this deliciously smooth cheesecake. It's like the best of both worlds - apple pie and creamy cheesecake, all topped off with a drizzle of caramel.

The flavors seem more suited to autumn than to summer, but with the weather we've been having, it sure feels more like October than July! I'm sitting indoors wrapped up in 2 blankets with the heater on wearing a fleece hoodie for goodness sake!

Junior’s Apple Caramel Cheesecake
1 - 9" Cake | adapted from Junior's Cheesecake Cookbook

1 prepared 9" graham crust

Apple Topping:
3 large firm, crisp red-skinned apples
1/2 cup apple cider or apple juice
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Three 8-ounce packages cream cheese (use only full fat), room temperature
1 1/3 cups sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 extra-large eggs
2/3 cup heavy or whipping cream

1 cup caramel or butterscotch ice cream topping

1. Filling, peel and core the apples for the filling into 1/2" bite-size pieces. Combine the cider, cornstarch, sugar, and cinnamon in a small saucepan and whisk until completely dissolved. While stirring constantly, bring to a full boil over medium heat and continue to boil until thickened, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the apples. Set aside to cool while you make the cake.

2. Put one package of the cream cheese, 1/3 cup of the sugar, and the cornstarch in a large bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on low until creamy, about 3 minutes, scraping the bowl down several times. Blend in the remaining cream cheese, one package at a time, scraping down the bowl after each one. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat in the remaining 1 cup of sugar, then the vanilla. Blend in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after adding each one. Beat in the cream just until completely blended. Be careful not to over mix! Gently spoon the batter on top of the crust, then spoon the apple mixture over the batter, gently spreading it almost to the edge of the pan, completely covering the cake.

3. Place the cake in a large shallow pan containing hot water that comes about 1 inch up the sides of the springform. Bake until the edges are light golden brown and the top is slightly golden tan, about 1 1/4 hours. Remove the cheesecake from the water bath, transfer to a wire rack, and let cool for 2 hours (just walk away—don’t move it). Leave the cake in the pan, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until completely cold, preferably overnight or at least 4 hours.

4. Warm the caramel ice cream topping then drizzle it from the tip of a small spoon in stripes across the top of the cake, all around the edges, and some down the sides. Return the cake to the freezer until the caramel has set, 30 minutes. Refrigerate the cake until ready to serve. Slice with a sharp straight-edge knife, not a serrated one. Cover any leftover cake and refrigerate.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Cheesy Popcorn Cornbread

Every now and again my son drags out my air popcorn popper and asks if we can make some. Every time I say "yes" and every time I vow never to do it again. It never gets all eaten before it gets boring and goes stale which then leaves me feeling guilty for throwing it out. Plus, the microwaved stuff leaves a lingering smell of fake butter in your kitchen.

To the rescue, here's Jolly Time! This site has inventive, tasty ways to use leftover popcorn. From salty to sweet, easy to fanciful. I have a feeling I will be popping lots more corn now so I can try these recipes. Next I would especially like to try the Popcorn Cookies, Rocky Road PB Popcorn Bars and the Nutty Popcorn Fudge.

Cheesy Popcorn Cornbread
8" square | Jolly Time Popcorn Company

4 cups popped popcorn
1 cup yellow corn meal
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 cup milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup shredded jack cheese

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and grease an 8-inch square baking pan.
Process the popcorn in a blender or food processor until finely ground. Pour ground popcorn into a large bowl and stir in corn meal, sugar, baking powder and salt until blended.

2. Beat egg, milk and vegetable oil together in a small bowl and stir into popcorn mixture just until blended. Scatter cheese over batter and stir just until evenly distributed. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 25 minutes or until lightly browned at edges and tester comes out clean. Cut into squares.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Sugar Cookies for Canada Day

Today is July 1 - Happy Canada Day! This also marks exactly half of this year being gone. Yikes... OK... don't want to think about that right now. It always sends me into a bit of a panic when I realize how quickly time is going by and how little I've done during that time. So, let's focus on baking :)

These simple sugar cookies are a dream to roll out and delicious to eat.
They are buttery but not oily. They are not too sticky, not too stiff, with the right ratio of crispness to softness. Best of all, they were sturdy enough to decorate (we didn't break a single one while decorating!) I think their amazing texture comes from the use of icing sugar in the dough and a short chilling period of 20 minutes in the fridge.

Of course, in line with the National holiday, it is only fitting that I picked a recipe from a Canadian cookbook called Bite Me, by sisters Julie Albert and Lisa Gnat from Toronto. The 175 recipes in the book are simple. Although some recipes call for pre-made ingredients like ketchup, canned peaches or Ritz crackers, even Food Snobs shouldn't dismiss this book. Its pages are peppered with pop-culture inspired humour and sassy photos of plastic sumo wrestlers hoisting pieces of cake or Vegas showgirls wearing spoons. It also provides practical kitchen tips such as how to buy fish or soften cream cheese, and their take on cooking gadgets. The only catch, I can't seem to find it on… maybe that's because it's not a widely published book… but it should be!

Perfect Sugar Cookies
2 dozen | adapted from Bite Me Cookbook

1 cup butter
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cream of tartar
1/4 tsp salt

1. Line cookie sheets with parchment or silicone liners. Mix dry ingredients together and set aside.

2. Using paddle attachment, cream together butter and powdered sugar, scraping down mixer bowl a few times in between. Add in egg and mix to combine. Add vanilla.

3. Add flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix until the dough comes together to form a ball, sort of the texture of play-doh. Refrigerate for 20-30 minutes (or longer/frozen if well wrapped. If you do this, just thaw at room temperature enough so it is rollable). Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

4. Roll dough out to 1/4" thickness and cut into shapes. Transfer to lined cookie sheets with just a little room between cookies to allow for spreading. Try to keep the unbaked cookies on cookie sheets in the fridge while waiting for the oven to preheat or between batch rotations. This helps the cookies maintain their shape and spread less.

5. Bake for 10-15 minutes until they are very lightly golden around the edges. The time can vary a lot depending on cookie thickness, size, your oven.

Lastly, here are a few Canadian fun facts:
*According to studies and research, Vancouver in British Columbia is tied with Zurich Switzerland for having the highest quality of life of any other city in the world. [That's my city!!! Go Vancouver!]
*A little over 16% of Canada’s population are immigrants.
*The original Star Trek owes much to Canada. Two of its stars – William Shatner (Captain Kirk) and James Doohan (Scotty) were Canadian.
*Canada sources approximately 20 to 30% of the world’s annual uranium output. As such, Canada is the largest producer of natural uranium in the world.
*Some of my fave Canadian musicians: Sarah McLachlan, Our Lady Peace, Alanis Morrissette, Chantal Kreviazuk & Jann Arden