Thursday, August 30, 2012

Classic Southern Cornbread

Has anyone read The Help? If you haven't, I'm sure you've heard of it or seen the movie. I read it a couple years ago, and thought it was a great book and I loved the movie too. Well, my dad just finished it and said he wanted me to make some "southern" recipes. Every time he closed the book he would say, "This book makes me hungry". Then he would proceed to go make himself a snack.

On Saturday, I decided to make this cornbread to go with dinner. I had a surprisingly hard time finding cornmeal - I had looked for it in the grocery store before with no luck, so I ended up getting it at the health food store. Then I went to the grocery store and saw it there too. Go figure. Either way, I got the cornmeal and made this delicious cornbread, so it was all worth it in the end!

My dad really enjoyed it too. I think it may be the first of many Southern recipes that I will be making in the next little while - his next request is "caramel cake", like Minny makes in The Help. If you have a good recipe, let me know!

Classic Southern Cornbread
Adapted from Food Network
Makes an 8 x 8 in. dish of cornbread

  • 5 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs
Preheat oven to 425 degrees and grease an 8x8 inch square pan. 

Melt butter in the microwave and let cool. 

In a small bowl, mix together the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside. In a large bowl, beat eggs, buttermilk and cooled butter. Gradually add the flour mixture, stirring until just combined. 

Pour batter into pan and cook until it just begins to brown and a toothpick comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Homemade Pizza Dough

Pizza is such a great dinner (or lunch. Or breakfast, if you're feeling that way). It always satisfies, and everyone loves it. My family usually prefers pizza of the thin crust variety, but for those days when only a chewy, thick crust will do, this crust recipe is perfect.

Pizza is always sort of known as a typical Friday night I-don't-feel-like-cooking kind of meal, but lately it's gotten more of a makeover. There are a few great pizza restaurants where I live, and they have some really creative toppings these days! One of my favorite pizzas has always been pesto and cheese. If you haven't tried it, do it! It's fantastic. But for this pizza, we just chose good ol' pepperoni and cheese.

If you're feeling like pizza and you're in the mood to make it yourself, you should try this recipe out for sure. It's easy, delicious and you can top it with whatever you like. Plus, it freezes really well, so you could take it out on one of those lazy days and you'll have pizza before the delivery man would make it to your door.

Pizza Dough
From Allrecipes
Makes two normal sized round pizzas

  • 2 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast (1 pkg.)
  • 1/2 tsp. brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
Dissolve yeast and brown sugar in a large bowl and let sit for 10 minutes. 

Stir salt and oil into yeast mixture, then add 2 1/2 cups of flour. 

Turn the dough out onto a well floured surface and knead in more flour until dough isn't sticky. Form into a bowl and place in a well oiled bowl, turning once to cover top in oil, and cover with a kitchen towel. Let rise until doubled in size, about one hour. Punch down dough and let rest a minute before rolling out. Divide into two balls and roll out into round shapes to fit pizza pan.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Grease pizza pan and let rolled out dough rise for 15 minutes before topping. Add toppings and bake in preheated oven for for 15 to 20 minutes.

*Note: If freezing all or half of dough, wrap in plastic wrap right before rolling out.

Friday, August 24, 2012

M&M Cookies

Remember when, in this post, I talked about how kids can never resist sprinkles? Like, on anything? Well, the same goes for M&Ms. It must be all the colours, because an M&M cookie somehow seems infinitely better than a chocolate chip cookie.

My sister told me that she had to bring food a party at her day camp this week, so I decided that I would make her some cookies, seeing as I wasn't doing anything anyways. After thinking about a few different possibilities, I decided to make M&M cookies, because I knew they would be a hit.

And they were! I may have stolen a few before she took them to camp, and they sure were delicious! The dough was vanilla-y (I like to make up words) and the M&Ms added a nice crunch. This is a great recipe that kids (and everyone else) will love.

M&M Cookies
Adapted from How Sweet It Is
Makes 36 cookies

  • 2 cups + 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 12 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg + 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup M&Ms
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In a bowl, mix the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugars. Add egg, egg yolk and vanilla, and beat until all ingredients are fully combined. 

Gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, and stir until dough forms. Add M&Ms, folding in until fully incorporated (it is a thick dough, so just keep working them in, even though it's a bit tough). 

Roll the dough into balls and place on greased cookie sheets. Bake in oven for 9-12 minutes.


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

In my house right now, we have four different containers of peanut butter. Yes, I'm serious. Four. One is an almost empty jar of natural PB, another is natural sweetened with honey, one is plain ol' Kraft and the last is PB&Co's White Chocolate Wonderful.

That last one there, the White Chocolate Wonderful, came with loads of great recommendations. It seems to be everyone's favourite PB of all time. So I saw some and decided to try it out, but I found it really sweet by itself on toast. So, I thought it would be perfect for baking!

I'm SO glad that I decided to try it out in these cookies, because they turned out great! Because the peanut butter is already sweet, you don't need as much sugar in the actual cookies. And, because a plain peanut butter cookie (with white chocolate peanut butter) isn't enough, I added in some chocolate chips too. You know, just to push the chocolate factor over the edge.

These would work with regular peanut butter too. Or, if you have some interesting flavours lurking in your cupboards, experiment! Try out some different combinations...I wonder what Nutella would taste like. Next time...

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from Kitchen Grrrls
Makes 24-30 cookies

  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup rolled oats
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, beat peanut butter with brown sugar until fully incorporated. Add eggs one at a time.

Add flour, then add baking soda and oats. Once combined, stir in chocolate chips.

Roll dough into balls and place on baking sheets lined with parchment. The dough may look a bit sticky - that's okay. 

Bake in preheated oven for ten minutes.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Blueberry Pie

If you read yesterday's post, you know that this past weekend I made homemade pie dough for the first time. Well, the type of pie that I made with the dough was blueberry!

With blueberries being fresh and in season right now, I decided that I was going to make a blueberry pie. I don't actually have blueberry pie very often because, if I have a choice, I almost ALWAYS choose strawberry rhubarb, also because that's what my family likes best. I might have to start having blueberry more often though, because this pie was delicious! Everyone in my family agreed too - we polished this pie right off!

It was so delicious, and definitely worth the extra time. When you know that you made it from scratch, not only do you know exactly what is in it, but you can eat it with the joy of kniwing you made it yourself.

Blueberry Pie
Adapted from Canadian Living
Serves 8-10

  • 5 cups blueberries
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 egg (for brushing crust)
  • extra sugar (for sprinkling on crust)
Prepare pie crust. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Combine blueberries, sugar, flour, lemon juice and cinnamon. Set aside.

Roll out pie dough. Place one half in bottom of pie plate and fill with blueberry filling. Cover with other half of dough, and brush with whisked egg and sprinkle with sugar. 

Bake at 425 for 15 minutes, then lower temperature to 350 and bake for another 35-45 minutes, until crust is golden brown and filling is thickened.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Pie Crust

Pie is one of the best summer desserts. There's so much fresh fruit available, so you can make so many different varieties! I think my all-time favourite is strawberry rhubarb, but in the fall, pumpkin is definitely a close second.

But as much as I love pie, I've never made a whole pie from scratch. I've taken the easy way out, using frozen pie crusts, but I hadn't actually made the dough before - until now!

Making the dough yourself is definitely more time consuming and tricky than just buying a frozen pie crust and throwing your filling inside, but the taste of homemade dough is so much better! If you love pie as much as I do, you should give this recipe a shot! It's delicious and totally worth the extra prep time in the kitchen.

P.S. Wondering what kind of pie is under that delicious crust? Come back tomorrow to find out!

Homemade Pie Crust
Adapted from Allrecipes
Makes one 9-inch double crusted pie
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3 Tbsp. white sugar, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1 cup chilled vegetable shortening
  • 1 egg, plus another for glazing crust
  • 1 tsp. white vinegar
  • 5 Tbsp. ice water
In a large bowl, combine flour, salt and sugar. Once mixed, cut in shortening with two knives or a pastry blender until it resembles coarse meal.

In a small bowl, whisk egg, vinegar and 4 Tbsp. cold water. Gradually add to flour, adding one more tablespoon of water if necessary. Form dough into two balls and wrap in plastic wrap, flattening slightly into discs. Refrigerate at least 1 hour and 30 minutes before rolling.

Note: Check out my my tutorial on making pie.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

When I was little, I loved Hallowe'en. I mean, who wouldn't? Going out with friends and getting loads of candy? What's not to love? My favourite candy was peanut butter cups. I loved it when people gave them out, or even better, when they let you pick out of the bowl, because then I was GUARANTEED a pb cup. Seeing as they're my favourite, when I saw pictures of homemade ones, I knew I had to try it out.

Well, they were SO easy to make, and they turned out even better than the original (if that's even possible). I'd pick dark chocolate over milk chocolate any day, so these were right up my alley! They're so delicious, and so simple, you just have to try making them yourself. 

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups
Makes 12-15 peanut butter cups

  • 6 oz. dark or semisweet chocolate
  • 1/4 cup natural peanut butter
  • 2 Tbsp. icing sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
Line a mini muffin tin with paper liners. 

In a microwavable bowl, melt chocolate, stopping in 30 second intervals to stir. Brush some chocolate on the bottom and up the sides of the cups. Place in freezer to harden for about ten minutes.

Meanwhile, combine peanut butter, salt and sugar. Once chocolate is hard in cups, roll a bit of peanut butter mixture and flatten into cups. Cover with more chocolate, then refrigerate until ready to eat. 

Store in refrigerator, because the peanut butter cups can get rather melty. 

Friday, August 10, 2012

Banana Bread - The Best EVER!

I know what you're thinking - "not another so-called best banana bread". I totally get it - it seems like every banana bread recipe you see claims to be "the best". But, in my opinion, this one beats them all.

We've been making this recipe for a long time. We first got it from one of my friends when I was 8 or 9. She always brought banana bread for a snack at school, and she eventually had to start bringing two or three slices to share with her friends because we liked it so much! I told my mom how good it was, and she told me to ask for the recipe. I'm so glad I did, because it's been in our recipe box ever since!

We usually add in chocolate chips, which are optional...but recommended!

Banana Bread

  • 3/4 cup butter, unsalted
  • 2 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup sour cream or plain yogurt (we usually use yogurt, because we have it on hand)
  • 5 very ripe bananas
  • 2 tsp. lemon juice
  • 2/3 cup apple sauce
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla. Once fully incorporated, add yogurt or sour cream.

In a separate bowl, mash bananas with lemon juice and apple sauce. Add to butter mixture and stir to combine.

In another bowl, combine flour with baking powder and soda. Gradually add this to banana mixture.

Bake in greased tins for 40-50 minutes, or until a knife comes out clean and bread is cooked through. 

*Note: I have found that this recipe usually makes two large loaves plus muffins, so I make a half recipe most of the time, although we could easily eat through the large batch, it's so good! 

Monday, August 6, 2012

Double Chocolate Coconut Oatmeal Cookies

I find that, with coconut, you either love it or hate it. I am definitely on the "love it" side, but my sister, not so much. I like pretty much anything with coconut, but when she was helping me make these cookies, my sister said "Hey! Let's make them without coconut. Then they'll actually be good!". Ha.

So I met her in the middle and made her a few before I added the coconut. Well, my sister was wrong...because they were good with the coconut. She even decided to try one with coconut - and she liked it!

I chose this recipe because it called for coconut oil, which I have been wanting to try out. I picked some up, found this recipe and was all excited to bake! But, when I opened up the jar, the protective seal was ripped open. I don't know if that bugs other people, but I thought, to be on the safe side, I shouldn't use it. You never know...

Either way, I was pretty disappointed. But I substituted vegetable oil, and they turned out just great. Maybe next time, after I get around to getting more coconut oil, I will try them that way, but for now, this version works for me!

Double Chocolate Coconut Oatmeal Cookies
Adapted from Two Peas and their Pod
Makes about 30 cookies

  • 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup cocoa
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 Tbsp. coconut oil (or sub vegetable oil)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 cup oats
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

In a large bowl, cream butter, oil and sugars. Add egg and vanilla, and beat to incorporate. 

In a separate bowl, mix the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add to butter mixture.

Once flour is fully incorporated, stir in oats, coconut and chocolate chips until evenly distributed. 

Drop onto greased cookie sheets and bake in preheated oven for 10-12 minutes. 

Olympic Fruit Pizza

If you're anything like me, you've been watching a lot of the Olympics. They always get me so excited, and I look forward to them from the time the Winter Games end to the time the Summer Games begin, and vice versa. So far, I've been really enjoying watching the swimming, diving and gymnastics. In gymnastics, I especially like watching Gabby Douglas because, let's face it, we're practically twins. She's 16, I'm 16. She's 4'11'', I'm 4'11''. She's an amazing gymnast, I'm an amazing gymnast. Okay, maybe the last one isn't true. But still!

I decided to make this dessert to get even more into the Summer Olympic spirit. There are so many delicious fresh berries around this time of year, and I decided to make the most of them. Plus, I got to use five different colours of fruit! I used blueberries, peaches, blackberries, kiwi and strawberries, but you could use other fruit of the same colour too - I almost used raspberries, but the strawberries were just so yummy!

I love fruit, especially the wide variety we get in the summer, and this dessert was a great way to have some of everything that's fresh at the market right now!

Olympic Fruit Pizza
Adapted from here and here

  • 1 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp. flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 small egg, or 1/2 of a large one
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 (13 oz.) jar of marshmallow creme
  • 1 (8 oz.) package of cream cheese
  • blueberries, peaches, blackberries, kiwi and strawberries
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder and baking soda.

In a large bowl, beat butter and white sugar. Add egg and vanilla. Slowly incorporate flour mixture into butter mixture, and stir until combined.

Press cookie dough into a greased 9 x 13 in. pan. Make sure it is evenly distributed throughout the entire pan so it cooks evenly. Bake in oven about 12-15 minutes, or until edges are just golden.

To make frosting, simply beat together cream cheese and marshmallow creme. Once cookie base is completely cool, frost and then add fruit as shown in the picture.

Enjoy this dessert while watching the Olympics.

Thursday, August 2, 2012


I don't know where the idea to make these even came from. Well, actually, I do. My sister decided she wanted to make a "dog themed craft", then suddenly emerged with the idea of "pupcakes". How she comes up with these things, I will never know.

Either way, these actually turned out really cute, and they were delicious too! They were fun to make and we got to use our amazing (can't you tell?) artistic skills. If you're a great cake decorator, I bet you could make these look amazing. Even with our sub-par cake artistry, these turned out pretty darn cute.

If you're looking for a fun cupcake idea, try these puppies out.

Cupcake recipe adapted from Baking Bites
Makes 48 mini cupcakes
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp. white vinegar
  • chocolate frosting
  • Starburst candies
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips 
  • 1/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips 
  • Peanut Butter M&Ms
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line muffin tins with liners.

In a large bowl, mix flour, cocoa, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. 

In a seperate bowl, combine vegetable oil, milk, vanilla and vinegar. Pour into dry mix, and stir to combine. Divide mixture evenly between muffin tins.

Bake in oven for 10-12 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt white chocolate. Drop onto wax paper in small circular shapes, small enough to work as "eyes" for the puppies. Melt semi sweet chocolate and prop on top of white chocolate circles. Set aside to harden in fridge.

Next, unwrap pink Starbursts and put in microwave for about 10 seconds, just so they soften. Mould Starbursts into "tongue"shapes. Set aside.

Let cupcakes cool completely before frosting and decorating (according to pictures).

*For the review of this recipe, visit my little sister's blog, 

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