“Sweet Mornings” Cookbook Review

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“Many of the recipes in this book reflect a time when folks lingered over their breakfast tables, rapt in conversation” Patty Pinner speaks in the introduction of her new book, “Sweet Mornings”. I love this. I have to admit that although I used to hate mornings, I am slowly becoming a morning person. Although I am so extremely exhausted first thing in the morning due to being a new mom all over again, I really look forward to sipping my coffee slowly. In fact my husband constantly teases me for being a really slow coffee drinker. I think part of me secretly does not want my mornings to end.

I love what this cookbook is all about. Family gatherings, reminiscing good times, bringing people together and socializing all over breakfast. These are the kind of cookbooks that genuinely warm my heart.

The beginning of the book takes us to a brief chat about what every baker needs as well as indispensible baking tools, then goes right into recipes (which I love). Recipes are divided into the following chapters:

  • Sweet Beginnings
  • Morning Savories

The Recipes

The recipes are so easy to follow its ridiculous. Not a ton of ingredients listed and definitely suitable for the beginner baker. I love that some recipes also call for some premade stuff. Now I would not have said that say 3 years ago prior to being a Mom, but now time is more precious than ever and some days call for shortcuts! (actually most days really!) You can also expect a ton of homemade recipes as well, which is equally as fantastic. The index is cross-referenced which makes it super easy to find your go to recipes in the book. The only downside…not a ton of pictures. This would normally turn me right off from the entire book but surprisingly it didn’t. Thankfully the recipe names are so delicious that they caught my attention right away, no picture needed! (Trust me on this one!)

Some of my favourite:

  • Brown Sugar and Cinnamon Swirl Pancakes
  • Tuesday Morning Blueberry Loaf
  • Mama’s French Toast Casserole (I can’t wait to try this one)
  • Mama’s Brown Sugar and Pecan Coffee Cake
  • Stuffed Pecan Pie French Toast
  • Morning Apple Crisp
  • Cream Cheese French Toast Bake and soooo many more!!

In our little family of four we have been making an effort to make Saturday mornings fun and memorable. We call Saturday morning breakfasts “Family fun breakfast” and my 3 year old daughter absolutely loves it. We purchase maple breakfast sausages, taters or any kind of frozen hash brown. My husband makes killer scrambled eggs and bacon and slathers toast in tons of butter (I’ll complain to him about having to lose my baby weight but secretly love it). Nothing about our fun breakfasts is really “homemade” but we don’t care. Its fast to make, tastes good and they are so so fun! We all sit there for a long time eating. Or let me rephrase that..my daughter sits there for roughly 2 hours eating..and demanding more.

While I was reviewing this book I was super excited to take over one family fun breakfast on Saturday and I chose to recreate the Cinnamon Pecan Sticky Bun Ring. This recipe included 2 tubes of refrigerated biscuit dough and I was super excited about it. I’ve never really cut corners before but as I mentioned above, it’s about time I do with 2 small children! Let me just say it was perfect. Delicious, fast and easy to make and my daughter loved helping me out.

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Cinnamon Pecan Sticky Bun Ring

Makes 10 Servings

  • Nonstick cooking spray, for greasing
  • All-purpose flour for dusting
  • ¾ cup chopped pecans
  • 3 tablespoons breakfast syrup (I used Maple Syrup)
  • ½ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 (10-count) tubes refrigerated buttermilk biscuit dough, separated (I could not find any with buttermilk and purchased Pillsbury biscuit dough)

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a 10-inch tube or Bundt pan with the cooking spray and dust with some flour. Sprinkle the pecans and breakfast syrup into the pan.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, stir together the brown sugar, butter, and cinnamon. Sprinkle 1/3 of the sugar mixture into the prepared pan.
  3. Split each round of biscuit dough in half and arrange the halves horizontally in the prepared pan. Sprinkle the remaining sugar mixture on top of the rounds of dough.
  4. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until the ring is golden brown. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool in the pan on a wire rack for 1 to 2 minutes.
  5. Invert onto a serving platter and serve warm.

Overall this recipe was fantastic and I would definitely do it all over again. The only little issue I had was time in the oven. I had to keep it in the oven about 3 times longer that the stated time in the recipe. I am not sure why other than perhaps because the biscuit dough I purchased was a little different. I am not sure. Regardless, other than the impatient taste testers waiting, it was super fun, easy and delicious!

Click here to view a special Q & A with author Patty Pinner.

Many thanks to Agate Publishing for sending over this beautiful book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions and thoughts in this blog post are 100% my own. You may purchase Sweet Mornings: 125 Sweet & Savory Breakfast and Brunch Recipes” by Patty Pinner on Amazon.ca for the current price of $33.06 CAN. Price is subject to change

“2016 Christmas with Southern Living” Book Review

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With tips on entertaining, decorating ideas for the home and tons of super tasty recipes for the holiday season, this book is truly for the Christmas lover.

If your stuck on ideas on how to adorn your home with everything Christmas, this book has you covered. A fireside forest theme for your living room or a woodland mantel for your fireplace, each page is filled with beautiful Christmasy pictures on ideas for your home. Don’t know what to cook for your holiday feast? Full menus complete with recipes and pictures have you all set. My favourite part…the desserts of course! A huge bonus collection of all sorts of truffle recipes. A “Bake-and-Take Cookie Party” is a perfect activity to do with the kids with recipes for pecan linzer cookies, chai-spiced spritz cookies, dark chocolate crinkles and many more! Need some gifting ideas that don’t break the bank? A recipe for homemade all purpose biscuit, pancake, and waffle mix all in this 2016 collection complete with time-saving tips. Love it!

Short Rib and Stout Pies, Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Ricotta-Pecorino Crust,Amaretti-Chocolate Tart…yes this book is awesome! I am also loving the Cinnamon-Apple-Bourbon Bread Pudding that uses a package of frozen cinnamon rolls. I am usually a homemade everything kind of home cook but with a toddler and now a newborn, convenience recipes are becoming increasingly more appealing!

Pick and choose your favourites and make something unique and delicious for the holidays. The recipes included are super easy to follow and if you are familiar with recipes from Southern Living you will be well aware that they are SUPER delicious!

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One of my favourite parts of this book is the 2016 Holiday Planner included at the end of the book. How adorable is this; documenting everything you do for the holiday season including a calendar for November and December, a decorating planner, Holiday meal prep planning and tips and so much more. Areas to write your Christmas dinner plan, gifts and greetings checklist and holiday memories, notes for next year, absolutely perfection! I love it!

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I managed to recreate the Pear Salad and oh my goodness was it ever a hit with the family! We actually ended up eating this salad as a full meal for dinner one night (hence the picture below of the massive salad!) and it was absolutely to die for. Both my husband and I agree it will become a staple recipe in our cooking. I’ve included the recipe and picture below so you can taste for yourself. I can’t even imagine how tasty the rest of the recipes are!

Baby Kale and Pears with Roasted Shallot Vinaigrette

Serves:8   Hands-on: 15 minutes  Total: 45 minutes

Tender baby kale leaves dressed in a savoury, rich roasted shallot dressing are enhanced by the sweetness of fall pears in this festive first course. Use a vegetable peeler to get pretty curls of cheese to garnish each plate of dressed salad.

  • 4 large shallots, halved
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 large fresh thyme sprig
  • 1/4 cup high quality sherry vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 medium-size, ripe Bosc pears, thinly sliced
  • 2 (5-oz) packages mixed greens with baby kale (*I just used mixed greens as I could not find a mix with baby kale)
  • 4 oz Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, shaved

 

DIRECTIONS:

  1.  Preheat the oven to 375 F. Place the shallots, oil, and thyme sprig in a small baking dish. Cover loosely with aluminium foil. Bake 30 min or until shallots are light golden brown and very tender, Discard thyme sprig.
  2. Pulse roasted shallot mixture, vinegar, chopped thyme, mustard, honey, 3/4 teaspoon of the salt, and pepper in a blender until shallots are mashed. Process until blended, scraping down sides as needed.
  3. Toss pears with 1/4 cup dressing in a bowl.
  4. Toss mixed greens with 1/4 cup dressing in a large bowl, and sprinkle with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Transfer greens to a large platter, top with pears, and sprinkle with pecans and cheese.

NOTE: To make ahead, prepare recipe as directed through Step 3 up to 1 hour ahead. Store pears and dressing in refrigerator. Proceed with recipe as directed in Step 4 when ready to serve.

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This 2016 Complete Guide to Holiday Cooking and Decorating is definitely a keeper. I am absolutely thrilled to have discovered this annual book and I now look forward to it picking up a copy each year!

A special thanks to Oxmoor House (Time Inc Books) for sending over this wonderful book for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions in this blog post are 100% my own. “2016 Christmas with Southern Living: The Complete Guide to Holiday Cooking and Decorating” is available at amazon.ca for the current price of $30.63. Price is subject to change.

Christmas Cookie Swap! Cookbook Review

Christmas Cookie Swap!  More than 100 Treat to Share this Holiday Season

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I’ve never actually organized a cookie swap before but if I do in the future I think I would probably make every single cookie in this book…and eat them all before swapping time!

With over 100 tasty treats packed in this adorable book I don’t even know where to begin! Spritz Cookies, Iced Cookies, Filled Cookies, you name it, it’s in there.  The book is divided into the following chapters:

  • Cookies for Santa
  • Decorated Cookies
  • Christmas Classics
  • Brownies and Bars
  • Confections

Also included is a small section on Christmas cookie basics, tips on assembling a cookie platter (super cute!) and metric equivalents. The recipes are SUPER easy to follow and directions are short and simple. The ingredients are also very accessible and easy to find at your local superstore. Each recipe begins with a short description of the particular cookie as well as a picture of the cookie (yes! Love it). If you’re a cookie junkie like me, you will love this book to pieces and it’s a must have in your baking library.

Some of my favourite recipes:

  • Pretzel-Toffee-Chocolate Chunk Cookies
  • Coconut Macadamia Shortbread
  • Snickerdoodle Spritz Cookies
  • Maple-Praline Cookies
  • Chocolate-Dipped Pecan Shortbread Squares
  • Hazelnut and Brown Butter Biscotti
  • Hidden Kiss Cookies
  • Frosted Mocha Espresso Brownies
  • German Chocolate Cake Truffles
  • Chocolate-Peanut Butter-Pretzel Bites

And so many more!!!

I managed to recreate the Pretzel Toffee Blondies and they were deee-licious! Perfectly salty and sweet and they were a huge hit at work. Check out the recipe below and if you make them, let me know how it goes and post below!

PRETZEL-TOFFEE BLONDIES (pic below)

Hands-on time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour 40 minutes

Makes: 16 Blondies

Ingredients:

  • Cooking spray
  • ½ cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 22 small pretzel twists, chopped
  • 12 chocolate-covered small pretzel twists, chopped
  • 4 (1.4oz) bars chocolate-covered English toffee candy, chopped (I used Skor)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Coat an 8-inch square pan with cooking spray. Stir together the butter and brown sugar in a medium bowl with a spoon until blended. Add the vanilla, salt, and egg; stir with a wire whisk until blended. Stir in the flour until blended. Stir in the pretzels and toffee candy. Pour into the prepared pan.
  2. Bake at 350 degrees F for 24 to 26 minutes or until set and a wooden pick inserted in the centre comes out almost clean. Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack (about 1 hour). Cut into 4 rows by 4 rows. Store loosely covered.

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All opinions and thoughts in this blog post are 100% my own. A huge thank you to Time Inc Books for generously sending over a copy of Christmas Cookie Swap! in exchange for an honest review. Christmas Cookie Swap! is available to Amazon.ca for the current price of $23.68 CAD. 

Food Bloggers of Canada Featured Member!

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Hi all!

I am super thrilled to be a featured member on the Food Bloggers of Canada website! If you haven’t had a chance to check out my interview with FBC you may do so here:

http://www.foodbloggersofcanada.com/2016/08/fbc-featured-member-books-love-and-lattes/#comment-154906

For those of your who are unfamiliar with FBC, check out their website at foodbloggersofcanada.com. I have been a proud member for a couple months now. When I first started to blog, I really didn’t know where to start and what to do. I knew I wanted to write about cookbooks and food as it was my passion so I turned to FBC for help. They provide a network of other food writers throughout Canada and much inspiration may I add for creating my own blog.  They also have a ton of resources for food bloggers like myself.

A huge thank you to FBC for this wonderful feature!

Much love! Xo

 

 

 

“The Everyday Baker” Cookbook Review

The Everyday Baker: Recipes & Techniques for Foolproof Baking” By Abigail Dodge Cookbook Review

This is Abby Dodge’s 10th Cookbook, yes 10th! For those of you who are not familiar with her work, Abby is an award winning baking expert and pastry chef. She also has a fantastic blog with the most scrumptious recipes that I frequently retweet. (http://www.abbydodge.com) Flipping through this wonderful cookbook, I recognized some of the recipes right away. I am a huge fan of the Fine Cooking Magazine and Abby is a long time contributer to this awesome magazine. (go figure I like it so much!)

I was delighted to get my hands on her latest book, “The Everyday Baker: Recipes and Techniques for Foolproof Baking”. This book is gigantic and filled with tons of recipes! The first chapter takes us to everyday baking basics discussing everyday baking ingredients and what you should have in your pantry, equipment and tools (with pictures of each tool), as well as some important points to assist with your baking experience. I know many of you skip this section but ever since I started to review cookbooks, I have been reading these sections in each book I review. Despite being an avid baker myself, I have learned a bunch! Don’t skip these valuable sections!

The recipes

The recipes are divided into the following chapters:

  • Morning Food
  • Quick to Make
  • Cookies
  • Cakes
  • Pies & Tarts
  • Puddings & Custards
  • Yeast Breads
  • Pastry
  • Flatbread
  • Fruit Desserts

Included are a variety of sweet and savory recipes. Some recipes include step by step instructions with pictures as well as occasional essential techniques (with pictures) throughout the book. Plenty of pictures of the recipes are included in the book. They aren’t anything fancy but they are still great! Recipe pictures are grouped together in each chapter as opposed to accompanying the corresponding recipe. With each recipe, there are little boxes to the side discussing things you can make ahead, twists on the recipe and other valuable information. Ingredients are listed in order of use and directions are simple enough to follow for the beginner baker. Most ingredients are also easily assessable at your local supermarket. Your favourite recipe is super easy to locate in the index at the back of the book as they are cross-referenced.

Some of my favourites that I have all tabbed up: White & Chocolate Mousse Cake, Salted Caramel-Toffee Icebox Cake, Rustic Country Bread, Double Tomato-Basil Open-Faced Tart, Sweet Potato Bread, Ciabatta Bread, Espresso-Hazlenut Meringue Cake with Espresso Buttercream & Milk Chocolate Ganache..and many more!

I am familiar with a handful of the recipes in this book, as I mentioned previously Abby is a contributer to Fine Cooking magazine and I am a huge fan. During the review of this book, I managed to recreate the Double Tomato-Basil Open-Faced Tart and it was absolutely scrumptious! Find the full recipe and pictures below.

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Store bought puff pastry. So I may not have cut it the way she mentioned but I managed to  make it look pretty 🙂
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The tart all complete! I made the mistake of putting the basil on too early but it still tasted great!

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Double Tomato-Basil Open-Faced Tart

For the filling:

  • ¼ cup (2 oz/57g) sun-dried tomato paste. (* I used sun-dried tomato pesto)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 ripe tomatoes (1 lb./454 g total) (multicolored is pretty but not mandatory)

For assembly:

  • 1 large egg at room temperature
  • 1 tsp water
  • Store bought puff pastry, thawed if frozen (* She gives the option for homemade puff pastry with the full recipe as well but being a busy mom, I opted for store bought and therefore will give the directions for store bought puff pastry)
  • Unbleached all-purpose flour, for rolling
  • Table salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbs. ground Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
  • 2 Tbs. finely sliced basil leaves

Make the filling:

Put the sun-dried tomato paste and garlic in a small bowl and mix until well blended. Core the tomatoes and cut crosswise into thin slices. Arrange on several layers of paper towels and let drain while the pastry is being prepared.

Assemble and Bake:

  1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 400 F (200 C/gas 6). Line a cookie sheet with parchment or a nonstick liner. Put the egg and water in a small bowl and, using a fork, mix until well blended.
  2. Unfold store bought puff pastry. Using a sharp chef’s knife and a ruler, trim the edges using short crisp cuts (dragging the blade will pinch the pastry layers together) (*I used two separate puff pastry dough packs that once unrolled were already quite neat and did not need trimming) to get a neat 12-inch (30.5 cm) square. Using your hands or a rolling pin, move the pastry to the prepared pan so that one side is facing you.
  3. Using the back or dull side of the knife, mark a 1-inch (2.5 cm) border around the inside of the square, beginning 1 inch from the the top right corner and ending 1 inch from the bottom left corner, and cut through the dough. (*I used a pizza cutter) This will release the bottom right corner. Repeat with the other two sides of the square, beginning 1 inch from the bottom left and ending 1 inch from the top right. Both the bottom right and top left corners will be released but the 1 inch pastry border will still be attached at the top right and bottom left.
  4. Brush a little of the egg wash around the edge of the center square, being careful not to let any drip off the edge as this will seal the pastry layers. Holding the outer pastry border at the top left corner, lift the border over the centre square and line it up with the bottom right corner of the centre square, making sure the right and bottom edges are also lined up. Repeat with the outer border at the bottom right corner and line it up with the top left corner of the centre square. The two corners (top right and bottom left) will still be attached and overlap each other. Using the tines of the fork, prick (or dock) the centre square all over.
  5. Scrape the tomato paste mixture onto the centre square and spread evenly. Arrange the tomato slices over the paste in one layer, slightly overlapping them. Sprinkle with salt, black pepper, the Parmigiano. Brush the top of the raised border with the egg wash (be careful not to let the egg dribble over the edge or the pastry won’t puff).
  6. Bake until the pastry is puffed and deep golden brown and the tomatoes are tender, 39 to 43 minutes. Move the sheet to a rack and let cool for 10 minutes. Using two offset spatulas, carefully move the tart to a cutting board or flat serving plate and sprinkle the basil over the tomatoes. The tart is best when served the same day and can be warmed slightly in a 300 F (150 C/gas 2) oven if desired.

 

Twists:

Instead of the sun-dried tomato paste, use one of the following: ¼ cup olive tapenade or ¼ cup basil pesto and omit garlic.

Instead of adding the Parmigiano, after baking, top the tart with one of the following: ¼ cup crumbled feta, ¼ cup crumbled goat cheese or crumbled blue cheese.

Instead of adding the basil, top the tart with one or two of the following: 1 tsp fresh thyme, rosemary, fresh oregano, or 1-2 Tbs, reduced balsamic vinegar.

Make Ahead:

The dough can be prepared, covered, and refridgerated for up to 2 days or frozen up to 1 month.

The dough can be shaped, pricked, covered with plastic, and stored flat in the fridge for up to 1 day or frozen for up to 1 month. To finish and bake, thaw the pastry, if frozen, spread the filling, and top with the tomatoes.

Overall, I loved this cookbook! Although it will take me a century to get through it entirely (yes it is THAT big and I love it!) It will definitely be used regularly in my family kitchen and become dog-eared over the years! For more information on this cookbook and where to purchase, please see below.

Happy Baking! XO

I received this cookbook from the most generous Taunton Press to give an honest review. All opinions and thoughts in this blog post are 100% my own. For more information on this cookbook and to purchase The Everyday Baker head over to The Taunton Press online store http://www.tauntonstore.com/the-everyday-baker-071473.html

Abby Dodge Social Media:

 

 

Book Review: “Oh Crap! Potty Training” By Jamie Glowacki

This book couldn’t have arrived at my doorstep at a more perfect time in my life! I have a 2 year old daughter who is at the perfect age to be potty trained. It has been on my mind for a while now and I am SO ready to ditch the diapers.

In, “Oh Crap! Potty Training”, Jamie Glowacki speaks of every possible potty situation you can imagine and prepares you step by step to train your child to potty train. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Jamie or her blog, listen up…she is THE potty training guru! She knows everything about everything and gives you the confidence and the push you need to JUST DO IT! Jamie does this for a living- potty training consulting and if you check out her website, you will see that she is so booked up you cannot even get an appointment with her. Yes, I trust this lady! Link to her blog/website: http://www.jamieglowacki.com

Jamie stresses the importance of progression not perfection and it is an ongoing theme throughout the book. Bringing your child’s awareness from clueless to I peed to I’m peeing to I have to go, each segment taking approximately a day. She speaks of how the media has led us to think that there’s a cookie-cutter version of potty training that will work for every kid. I can’t tell you how many countless pieces of random and often contradicting advice I get from the media and other moms who claim to know THE BEST way just because it worked like a charm with their child. I am SO GLAD she addressed this because I feel like this is a very common issue in this generation.

Jamie’s recommended age to potty train? Between twenty and thirty months. You have a child older than 30 months or you want to train your child before twenty months? She’s got you covered with what to do from start to finish. A couple other important topics she covers throughout the book: Nighttime potty training, day cares and other caregivers, elimination communication, behavior vs. potty training, prior attempts at potty training, special circumstances, a section for common concerns/questions related to potty training and SO much more.

I absolutely ate this book up and if you are pondering whether or not your child is “ready” to potty train, please just read this book. While I found she was repetitive throughout the book (something that normally annoys me) I actually didn’t mind it. It just reminded me of important things to remember and reiterated it in my brain and did I mention she is hilarious? While sitting down to write up this review, I started flipping through the book trying to go back to all the things I highlighted and realized I highlighted pretty much the whole thing. HA! This to me says you just need to read it for yourself. Just amazing.

**All opinions and thoughts in this post are 100% my own. I received a copy of this book from the generous Simon & Schuster Canada to give an honest review. You can purchase this book from chapters.indigo.ca for $18.85 CAN or wherever books are sold. Price is subject to change.

Jamie Glowacki- Social Media

Simon & Schuster- Social Media

 

Cookbook Review: The Prairie Girl Cupcake Cookbook

I was so incredibly excited to learn that my favourite local cupcake hotspot, Prairie Girl Bakery located in Toronto, Ontario was coming out with a cookbook with all the recipes of their cupcakes! I have been a huge fan since its opening back in 2012 and an even bigger fan throughout my pregnancies! For those of you who do not live anywhere near a Prairie Girl location, this is your chance to make these phenomenal cupcakes right in your own home.

The cookbook begins with a section outlining a couple pantry item staples to recreate these recipes, baking tools and equipment. If you want to create quality cupcakes and have the best outcome possible, I would highly recommend reading these sections as there are some very helpful tips. Recipes are divided into the following:

  • Everyday Cupcakes
  • Everyday Icings
  • Treats of the Week
  • Fruity Treats
  • Decadent Treats
  • Adults-Only Treats
  • Seasonal Treats
  • For the Kid at Heart
  • Gluten-Free Cupcakes
  • Vegan Cupcakes & Icings

The end of the book takes us to a useful mini section on toppers, favors and gifts, and displays all appropriate for the home baker.

The Recipes

Recipes are easy to follow and well organized. Ingredients are listed in order of use. All of the icings are made with brick cream cheese. (which I love!) My husband hates cream cheese (childhood trauma) but I just wont tell him it’s in the icing and he likely wont even know the difference. Ha!

Majority of the fruit icings require freeze-dried fruit in powder form. Since I am obsessed with the raspberry icing I went on a mission to find out where I can purchase it. It was a little more challenging than I had expected. I did seek out the recommended site in the book, nuts.com, which did carry all the powders. The downside- the shipping costs almost the same as the amount of product I was going to purchase and I just couldn’t justify it. (Cost of products:$16, shipping: $13) However, if I do have a special occasion to bake for, I would definitely consider purchasing…or better yet I’ll just call the bakery for the exact same price! I have also had issues finding malted milk powder in the past and likely wont attempt looking again as tasty as those Malted Milk Cupcakes look! One last ingredient that may be a challenge for the home baker to locate- all the extracts mentioned in various icings including natural coffee extract, toffee extract, caramel extract, maple extract.

That being said, you must know that Prairie Girl Cupcakes are among the highest quality, best tasting cupcakes you will ever have. These ingredients all attest to that and if you go out of your way to grab them, you will recreate the best cupcakes you have ever had in your life!

I managed to tackle the Dark Cocoa Cupcakes with Classic Vanilla Bean icing. Recipe and pictures below! The outcome was PHENOMENAL. They tasted EXACTLY like the famous Prairie Girl Cupcakes and they were ridiculously easy, which is why I only ended up taking pictures of the finished product. Comment below if you try.

DARK COCOA CUPCAKES

Yield: 36 minis, 18 regulars or 12 Prairie Girl-size cupcakes

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup Dutch-process cocoa
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup 2% milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Combine the guar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Blend on low speed for 1 minute or until well mixed.
  3. With the mixer stopped, add the eggs, milk, vegetable oil, and vanilla, then beat on medium speed for about 3 minutes. Stop the mixer twice during that time to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  4. With the mixer stopped again, pour in the boiling water. Blend at the lowest speed until combined, stopping the mixer once to scrap down the sides of the bowl. This batter is fairly thin.
  5. Place cupcake liners into the cupcake pan(s). Using a large measuring cup with a pouring lip, pour the batter into the liners. If making mini or regular cupcakes, fill each liner three-quarters full. If making Prairie Girl-size cupcakes, you can fill each liner right to the top (the “crown” in the pan allows the cupcakes to rise and not overflow)
  6. Bake in the preheated oven for 14 to 16 minutes for mini cupcakes, 17 to 18 minutes for the regular size, and 21 to 23 minutes for the Prairie-Girl size cupcakes. When done, the cupcakes will be rounded and the tops will spring back when lightly touched. If there is a raw circle in the centre, the cupcakes need a minute or two of additional baking time.
  7. Let the cupcakes cool in the pan(s) for 10 minutes until they can be easily removed to a rack. Cool the cupcakes completely on the rack before icing them.

 

CLASSIC VANILLA BEAN ICING

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups salted butter, at room temperature
  • 6 oz (3/4 of a 250g package) brick-style cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 Tbsp whipping cream (35% fat)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • Seeds from 1 vanilla bean pod
  • 6 cups icing sugar

Directions:

  1. Place the butter, cream cheese, cream, vanilla, vanilla bean seeds, and 3 cups of the icing sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer and, using the whisk attachment, beat on low speed until all of the ingredients are combined, about 3 minutes. Stop the mixer twice to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
  2. With the mixer on medium speed, add the rest of the icing sugar 1 cup at a time. Stop the mixer twice to scrap down the sides of the bowl, folding from the bottom until everything is blended together. This should take about 5 minutes in total.
  3. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat the icing for an additional 4 minutes.
  4. Frost or pipe the icing onto the cupcakes and enjoy.
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Dark Cocoa Cupcakes with Classic Vanilla Bean Icing. I love that the vanilla bean seeds are visible!
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Dark Cocoa Cupcakes with Classic Vanilla Bean Icing

Overall, I absolutely loved this cookbook and I was super pleased with the quality of ingredients that go into each cupcake. I think The Prairie Girl Cupcake Cookbook would be a perfect Valentine’s Day gift for the baker in your life..and if you live in Toronto, pick up a box of cupcakes, attach this cookbook, wrap in cellophane and voila, you have the perfect Valentine’s Day gift!

**All opinions and thoughts in this blog post are 100% my own. I received a copy of this cookbook from the most generous Appetite by Random House to give an honest review. You can purchase The Prairie Girl Cupcake Cookbook by Jean Blacklock from Chapters.indigo.ca for $17.75 CAN. Price is subject to change.

To learn more about Appetite by Random House and other books they publish:

http://penguinrandomhouse.ca/imprints/appetite-random-house

Prairie Girl Bakery:

the life-changing magic of tidying up- the japanese art of decluttering and organizing.

This book is written by Japenese decluttering guru, Marie Kondo.  Marie is a decluttering expert and has helped thousands of people in transforming their lives. She calls her method the “KonMari Method”. This method of decluttering is so effective, she currently has a 3 month waiting list in which she physically goes to people’s houses to assist them in decluttering. In my opinion, this book is so effective at getting her point across of how to declutter, I wouldn’t even need Marie (sorry Marie!) In addition to the long wait for her services, none of Marie’s clients have lapsed into decluttering ever. This is powerful!

I think a lot of us to some degree have cluttering issues. I certainly have and let me tell you as I was reading this book, I became slightly obsessive over decluttering my condo. I would stay up until the wee hours of the morning just throwing stuff out.  I love things. I love keeping things, I love receiving things and I find it hard to throw stuff out. My husband absolutely hates clutter and sees how different of a person I am now that I have read this book. Any time we are trying to figure out where a certain item should go whether its new or old my husband now says to me “Well…what would Marie do??” or “What would Marie say to this?” I love it. Marie is now an imaginary character in my home.

Here are some chapters and subtitles of what you can expect if you pick up this book (note: I have only included the first 2 chapters):

Chapter 1: Why can’t I keep my house in order?

  • You can’t tidy if you’ve never learned how
  • Tidy a little a day and you’ll be tidying forever
  • The moment you start you reset your life
  • Storage experts are hoarders –(LOL)
  • Sort by category, not by location

Chapter 2: Finish discarding first

  • Start by discarding, all at once, intensely and completely
  • Selection criterion: does it spark joy?
  • One category at a time
  • Starting with mementos spells certain failure
  • Don’t let your family see
  • If your mad at your family, your room may be the cause
  • What you don’t need, your family doesn’t either
  • What to do when you cant throw something away

What I got from this book: The only way this method will work is if you do it her way and she has good resasons supporting this to which I strongly agree. I myself have tidied my place only to keep tidying the same areas over and over and it becomes a never ending stressful cycle of “my home is never clean” The issue is that I have too much stuff. You can organize all you want but you will still have the same volume of items. Things need to be thrown out. I know this can be hard for some people but as you read the book, you will become more comfortable doing so as Marie puts things into perspective. Each item that you decide “sparks joy” as Marie says, has to have a home. When items don’t have homes, they end up in piles. These piles become disasters and this is how clutter is born.

A couple of my favourite quotes from the book:

“I have only two rules: store all items of the same type in the same place and don’t scatter storage space.” P.138

When you are choosing what to keep, ask your heart; when you are choosing where to store something, ask your house” p.144

The lives of those who tidy thoroughly and completely in a single shot, are without exception dramatically altered” p.178

letting go is even more important than adding” p.177

But when we really delve into the reasons for why we can’t let something go, there are only two: an attachment to the past or a fear for the future” p.181

In essence, tidying ought to be the act of restoring balance among people, their posessions, and the house they live in.” p.190

It’s a very strange phenomenon, but when we reduce what we own and essentially “detox” our house, it has a detox effect on our bodies as well”. p.193  **towards the end of the book, Marie discusses the effect decluttering has had on her clients. People have lost weight, found jobs, found new passions in life. Just amazing.**

And these are only just a few. There are so many more that were great.

This book completely changed the way I think about every single thing in my life.  I think twice about buying something new. I think twice about what the purpose of each item I own is to me in my life, and best of all, I am now enjoying experiences more than materialistic things. Marie’s words of wisdom have put my life into perspective and they will for you too, I promise. Even if you are not a self-help book type of person, I promise you will love this book, you’ll never look back and you will thank me and Marie later.

One thing I’ll never get rid of…my collection of cookbooks. Sorry Marie, they spark too much joy.

**I purchased this book from Amazon.ca for $15. All opinions are my own.