Thursday, May 31, 2012

By the Batch – Chocolate Spritz Cookies

For Mother’s Day this year I received a cookie press as part of my gift. For those who don’t know, a cookie press is made up of a cylinder with a plunger on one end that you use to push dough through one of many interchangeable plates on the other end. The shape of the holes in each plate creates a unique shape of cookie. Cookie presses are super easy to use and give you cookies in different shapes without the hassle of rolling out dough and using cookie cutters. I used my brand new cookie press to make Chocolate Spritz Cookies.



  • 1 1/4 cups butter

  • 1 cup granulated sugar

  • 2/3 cup brown sugar

  • 2 large eggs

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

  • 2 1/2 cups flour

  • 2/3 cup cocoa

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt



Preheat oven to 375°F. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugars at medium high speed until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla. Sift together flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Add flour mixture gradually and beat well. Shape dough into small log and place in cookie press. Press cookie onto cool ungreased cookie sheets. Bake at 375°F for 10-12 minutes. Remove from sheet and cool.

According to Sarah

These cookies were fun and easy to make with one caveat – the recipe yielded SO MUCH dough that it took me nearly two hours to make these cookies from start to finish. Most cookies presses don’t hold a ton of dough so you’ll need to refill multiple times. The good news is that the cookies don’t really spread or expand much so you can put them pretty close together on the cookie sheets. As for taste, these are a basic spritz cookie with just a hint of chocolate taste and a great crunch. I would definitely make them again and I can’t wait for the holidays so I can use my pumpkin and Christmas tree plates!


Saturday, May 26, 2012

Guest Post - Chocolate Coffee Chiller

Welcome to the weekend and another recipe from One Hungry Dude!

I love a good cup of coffee. But on a hot and sunny spring day, I rarely feel like sweating while sipping a drink. So I began to experiment with different iced coffee recipes, until finding something that blends the need for java with a slightly sweet and aromatic kick.

Chocolate Coffee Chiller
• 7 cups of Coffee, brewed
• 1/4 Cup Milk
• 2 Tbsp Sugar
• 1/4 Tsp Cinnamon
• 2 scoops Chocolate Frozen Yogurt
• Ice cubes and chocolate syrup (optional)

Put all the ingredients in a large bowl — except the ice cubes and syrup — and combine using an immersion blender. Pour the liquid into glasses, and place in the refrigerator to cool for about one hour. Remove the glasses from the fridge, add four to five ice cubes per glass, and a drizzle of chocolate syrup on top, then serve.
Separating the liquid after blending helps it cool faster, and adds a bit of a chill to the glasses. There's just something about that method that makes the drinks feel so much more refreshing.

This recipe yields enough for three to four glasses of iced coffee.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

More DIY Birthday Cards

We celebrated two family birthdays earlier this month and I made cards for the birthday guy and girl. As I’ve said before, there’s something special about a handmade card and they really aren’t that difficult to put together. If you’re a scrapbooker then chances are you’ve already got all the materials you’ll need. I never have to buy anything to make cards – I just choose papers and elements from my stash. I like my cards to have several coordinating layers but you can go much simpler or much more complex than I do.

Here are some pictures of the cards you can use as inspiration. The first was for my uncle. It’s made mostly of Sassafras and K & Company stuff.

Birthday Cards (2)Birthday Cards (3)

And this card was for my brother’s girlfriend. It’s made entirely of Sassafras papers and elements except for the birthday hat sticker. I love how a little hat can turn any happy card into something more specifically birthday.

Birthday CardsBirthday Cards (1) 

I look forward to the next occasion so I can make more cards – expect some new ones for Father’s Day!


Monday, May 21, 2012

Guest Post – Bacon Relish

It’s still the weekend here in Canada as we celebrate Victoria Day – that means there’s still time for another recipe from One Hungry Dude! Hope everyone is enjoying the long weekend and the gorgeous weather here in southern Ontario.

I enjoy experimenting with different relishes for sausages and hamburgers, once grilling season begins. Sure, there's the basic pickle-based version — but plenty of other chunky toppers also fall under the 'relish' category. This recipe was a bit of an experiment, adapted from a relish we gave my father-in-law last Father's Day. It's packed with flavour, and can be dolloped on top of most grilled meats.

bacon relish
• Six slices of Bacon, sliced
• One medium-sized Onion, diced
• Two Garlic Cloves, minced
• Six Mushrooms, roughly chopped
• One Bay Leaf
• A splash of Worcestershire sauce
• 1/2 Tsp Thyme
• Salt and Pepper, to taste

In a frying pan on the stove top, place the bacon over medium high heat. Cook until it begins to brown, about 10 minutes. Remove the bacon, then add the onions and garlic, reduce heat by about half, and cook for about five minutes, until the onions begin to caramelize. Add the mushrooms, bay leaf, Worcestershire, thyme, salt and pepper, and cook for about five minutes, until the mushrooms begin to brown. Add the bacon back into the mixture, cook for four to five minutes, then remove from the heat. Use a slotted spoon to add a dollop of the relish onto your entree, whether it be a hamburger, hotdog, sausage, or chicken breast.

There's no need for cooking oil with this recipe, since the fat from the bacon will prevent the ingredients from sticking to the pan.

This recipe can provide enough topping for 8 to 10 hamburgers or sausages.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

DIY Mother’s Day Cards

I hope all of my mommy readers in Canada and the US had a wonderful Mother’s Day this past weekend! We had a lovely brunch with the family; there were four moms at the table. I made cards this year for my Mom (one from Chris and I and one from Nathan) and my Nana. I love making cards, layering elements together to create something beautiful and meaningful.

Mother's Day CardsMother's Day Cards (2)  Mother's Day Cards (1)

We also celebrated birthdays this past weekend and I’ll have those cards to share later!


Sunday, May 13, 2012

Guest Post – Rustic Barbecue Sauce

It must be the weekend because I’ve got another great recipe from my husband, One Hungry Dude. Hope you enjoy this one and that all the mommies are having a wonderful Mother’s Day. I was definitely spoiled for my first go round!

I know this is the time of year when you're opening up the barbecue, and ascending to your rightful spot as King or Queen of the Grill. If you'll be treating the family to a wonderful grilled meal in the coming week, consider adding this flavourful, mildly spicy and simple to assemble barbecue sauce into the plans. It goes well with chicken, pork, or even as a dip for some appetizers.

bbq sauce 2
• 1 Tomato, diced
• 1/2 Jalapeno, finely diced
• 1/2 Cup Ketchup
• 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
• 2 Tbsp Honey
• 1 Tsp Lemon Juice
• A few splashes of hot sauce
• A few splashes of Worcestershire Sauce
• Salt and Pepper, to taste
• 1/2 Cup Vegetable Broth

On the stove top, place all the ingredients into a small pot, except the vegetable broth. Cover the pot, and heat over medium. When the mixture begins to bubble, reduce the heat by half, and cook for another five minutes. Add the vegetable broth, and cook for another 15 to 20 minutes, until the the tomato begins to almost completely break down and the sauce thickens. Take off heat, and let cool.

The sauce is thick enough when it coats a spoon. You can break the chunks down further with a spoon, but I prefer to leave them as is. The small chunks actually add a little flavour burst to the sauce.

This recipe produces one cup of sauce.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Digital Scrapbooking for Baby

A while back, when I still pregnant, a purchased a Groupon deal for a photobook from Photobook Canada. It was a great value and I knew that we’d be taking tons of pictures once Nathan was born. The Groupon expires next month so I went to the website, downloaded the program and was disappointed to discover that none of the background papers or embellishments were my style at all! Not wanting the money I spent to go to waste I did a little thinking and realized that I could create complete digital scrapbook layouts and just add them to the photobook as full page photos – problem solved! It’s taking a lot more time than I had anticipated but I’m really excited for how the book will turn out.

Here’s one of the pages I’ve created so far.

Nathan Page 1

The best part about about digital scrapbooking is that there are a ton of freebies to be had if you’re willing to spend the time looking for them. For example, I made the page above with the free Deer and Darling Kit from Everyday Mom Ideas. It comes with all the papers and embellishments you need to create a ton of unique layouts. Julia has create a bunch of other free kits as well, all with great quality pieces!

Deer and Darling Kit preview

Google and Pinterest searches will yield of a lot of other great free supplies. And, if you can’t find what you need for free, the stuff you have to pay for really isn’t that expensive and you can use the pieces over and over.

For any scrappers reading, do you scrap digitally or the traditional paper way? Any freebie websites you’d like to share?


Saturday, May 5, 2012

Guest Post – Vegetarian Spaghetti Carbonara

Time for another delicious recipe from my husband aka One Hungry Dude. This pasta dish is definitely a favourite of mine and Chris likes it because it’s fairly easy to throw together.

Whenever possible, I try to make a recipe that our family can enjoy together. That can be tough at times, since Sarah is a vegetarian, but we always manage to find a safe compromise with pasta. Whether it's Macaroni and Cheese, Pesto or a simple Tomato Sauce, there's plenty of great, flavourful recipes for pasta that don't involve meat. The traditional Roman Spaghetti alla Carbonara is made with pancetta, but I've adapted this recipe as a simple but tasty alternative.

spaghetti carbonara

• 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
• 1 Medium-sized Tomato, diced
• 6 Button Mushrooms, stems removed and sliced
• 1/2 Tsp Basil
• Salt and Pepper, to taste
• Half a box of whole wheat spaghetti
• 1/4 Cup Vegetable Broth
• 3 eggs

• 1 Cup Parmesan

Place the oil in a sauce pan, and warm over medium heat. When the pan is heated, add the mushrooms, salt, pepper and basil, and cook for about five minutes, until the mushrooms begin to brown. Add the tomato. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of well salted water to a boil. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk the eggs and parmesan cheese together. Cook the tomato-mushroom mixture for another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the tomato begins to break down into a thick sauce. Place the spaghetti in the water, stirring occasionally and cooking until tender. Add the broth into the tomato-mushroom mix, and reduce the heat by about half, cooking the mixture for another 10 to 15 minutes. Drain the spaghetti, and add to the tomato-mushroom mix. Slowly add the eggs into the pasta, stirring constantly. Cook for about 2 minutes, until the eggs become firm, then add more pepper, garnish with parsley and serve.

This recipe yields six servings.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

By the Batch – Chocolate Chip Cookies

I think when it comes to baking that often the simplest recipes are the most delicious. I love a recipe that calls for only ingredients that are already in my cupboards and that yields something wonderful.  That is definitely the case with this recipe for Chocolate Chip Cookies from chef Michael Smith. We love Michael Smith around here. His show, Chef at Home, and his cookbooks are full of recipes that inspire even the most amateur of cooks and I knew his cookie recipe wouldn’t disappoint!

Chocolate Chip Cookies


1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon corn syrup
1 egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate chips


Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C). Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together and set aside.

Using a stand mixer or a food processor, cream the butter and sugar together until smooth. If you don’t have a stand mixer, beat vigorously by hand in a large mixing bowl. Add the corn syrup, egg and vanilla and continue beating until well combined. Scrape down the bowl and gradually add the flour mixture, beating just until combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Using a spoon, scoop out a ball of the dough, roll it for a moment in your hands and then drop it onto a lightly greased cookie tray. Slightly flatten the balls but leave lots of room in between to allow the cookies room to expand.

For a soft, chewy cookie, bake for exactly 12 minutes. For a cookie with a bit of crispy crunch, bake for exactly 15 minutes.

Cool for 2 minutes on the cookie sheet and then remove and cool further.

According to Sarah

As I mentioned above, these cookies are wonderful! Since I had them on hand I added an extra half cup of dark chocolate chips and a quarter cup of toffee pieces to inject some additional flavours. I wanted my cookies chewy so I took them out at 12 minutes as instructed. They didn’t look finished to me but I’m glad I followed the directions because, once they cooled, the consistency was perfect. These cookies turned out so good that we ate the entire first batch in a matter of days and I had to make a second one to get us through the rest of the week! Simple, quick to bake and really yummy – these cookies are now a family favourite.