August 28, 2010


I planted my basil cutting today. It's currently hot as F out today and I'm not a happy camper but being practically home alone (my parents are at a soccer tournament, bro is at work and Sean is at a friend's wedding that I wasn't invited to :| ), I thought it would be a good day to get down and dirty with the dirt. Mind you, I'm not really a fan of dirt and all that jazz. The idea of discovering a worm kind of wigs me out.

But I braved the outdoors elements and planted my Loblaws basil cutting:I actually just used some all-purpose soil from a bag I found outside in the makeshift garden center. Our backyard is still a huge mess. I keep meaning to post photos of the "construction" going out outdoors but keep forgetting. It's a miracle I even remembered to replant the basil frankly. Too much has been going on this month but I'm hoping September settles down.

Anyway, back to the basil. Here's the root system:
And the entire cutting:And here it is in the pot:
I'm very proud of my basil plant. I don't know the exact variety but it is different than the one I purchased from Longo's. Speaking of which, check one that one:It's totally thriving now! It still has the white fly issue but I think that's because I was ignoring it for a while and it was totally dying. I mean, COMPLETELY dying. Its leaves were wilting and I didn't think I was going to be able to revive it, but I stuck it outside and watered it like crazy and after 24 hours it bounced back. See, what I mean? I'm good with plants outdoors but indoors, not so much. So for the past few days the Longo's basil has lived outdoors and the same fate will fall upon my Loblaws basil. After all this hard work, I don't want to replant it only to have it die.


The Plan: 65 cupcakes for a wedding rehearsal dinner.
- 25 double chocolate fudge cupcakes filled with dulce de leche topped with Kahlua whipped chocolate ganache frosting
- 20 triple vanilla cupcakes filled with blueberry mousse cream topped with vanilla cream cheese frosting

- 20 triple vanilla cupcakes filled with strawberry mousse cream topped with vanilla cream cheese frosting
And each cupcake would be topped with a heart-shaped fondant topper embossed with the bride and groom's first initial's and sprinkled with edible glitter.

Sounds simple, right? In reality, not so much.

On the day of, everything that could have gone wrong, did.

The day started out rather well. I woke up really early, giving myself five hours to complete The Plan and arrive at the rehearsal site by 3:30. Everything was looking good. The fondant hearts were already done and by 10:00 the double chocolate fudge cupcakes had been baked, the fillings had been made and were cooling in the freezer. I was just about to start on the vanilla cupcakes and everything from there on out went straight downhill.

The recipe for the vanilla cupcakes did not yield the 20 that I was expecting. Fail #1. This I knew, was attainable, as I had attained 20 cupcakes at Jessie's house when we first baked the triple vanilla cupcakes. Whatever, moving on. As soon as the first batch were in the oven I began making the second batch. The second batch baked as the first batch were cooling and low and behold, the cupcake liners were slowly but surely peeling away from the cupcakes! Fail #2. These were cupcake liners that I had purchased online in the colours of the bride and groom's wedding because I couldn't find them in-store at Michael's or Walmart or Bulk Barn. I chose the same brand as the black ones that I had purchased for a previous wedding but for some reason, these ones were peeling away! And I knew it couldn't have been the recipe I chose because I had fantastic results with the same recipe with the same liner in a different colour. At this point I was completely freaking out as I couldn't serve cupcakes that had no liner and I only had enough butter for one more batch of cupcakes. So I made the last batch of vanilla cupcakes in regular white cupcake liners and hoped that these liners would be okay. As I was getting the flour and baking powder mixed together I realized I was on the last dregs on my 10kg bag of flour! How could that be? How could I be out of flour? I tried to get out as much flour out of that bag as I could but I still short about half a 1/3 of a cup of flour and subbed it with cake flour. Fail #3. I hoped that the 1/6 of a cup of cake flour out of the entire 2-2/3 cup of AP flour wouldn't make that much of a difference.

At this point I gave myself two options: go to Michael's and purchase ribbon to tie around the bottom of the cupcakes to make up for lack of liner and up the presentation factor OR go out and buy more butter and flour. The latter wasn't really an option since the butter wouldn't have been room temperature anyway. The former it was! I spent 40 minutes round-trip purchasing four different types of purple and yellow ribbon only to have Sean show up and help me tie the ribbon but then realize that I hadn't purchased enough. Clearly, 18m of ribbon is only enough to wrap like...8 cupcakes, not 20! Fail #4! At this point I had no choice but to go with the unlined cupcakes. It was devastating. Being a perfectionist, I cringed at the thought of presenting less than stellar cupcakes but I didn't really have any other option. I was already running incredibly late as I'm the type of person who likes to arrive early at these sorts of things.

Finally, an hour later than intended, Sean and I left for the wedding rehearsal site. When all was said and done, the cupcakes looked amazing even despite the missing liners and I know that they tasted amazing so I'm hoping that the bride and groom are happy with the results. It was all very rush, rush so I set-up as quickly as I could without making it look like a rush job but didn't have a chance to make contact with the bride-to-be.

So after four major failures, it was what I would consider a true cupcake failure but I managed to pull myself together and get the job done. Why life likes to play such cruel jokes on me, I don't know, but the cupcakes still looked good and the double chocolate fudge cupcakes tasted better than ever. My dad even sampled one and complimented me on how "fin" it tasted. That's a winner in my books as my dad's comments usually begin with "next time..."

Here's a little teaser...More photos to come...

August 24, 2010


Here's a really random food recap because I'm missing a lot of meals. Like I mentioned on my previous post, I've missed out on a lot of morning photo ops due to Baking Life--oops!

Lunch was a mild Italian sausage with navy beans and cucumber sticks:along with mangoes, peaches, strawberries and golden kiwi for fruit:Sean picked me up after work and we headed off to the mall. We were at the mall for a while because when we got out everything was closed, including the diner where Sean wanted to grab a burger so instead we decided to make our own burgers:I also wanted some chicken wings so Sean kindly obliged and cooked those on the grill for me as well :)
Lunch was a leftover burger that Sean and I had made together on Tuesday night (I had a whole slew of food to eat between then):and fruit included blackberries from the garden and mango:Dinner was leftovers from Sean's birthday dinner the night before. His parents took us out to Mevame and I had the two lamb skewers with garlic mashed potatoes:
Lunch inspired by Freshii:And it didn't cost me $7.99 plus tax. When in Toronto with time to kill and a meal to eat for, I typically head to Freshii when at the Eaton's Centre where I order a Bliss Bowl. It contains brown rice, roasted red peppers, mushrooms, double avocado, diced tomatoes, goat cheese and your choice of dressing (typically extra virgin olive oil and aged balsamic vinegar). My Bliss Bowl contained brown rice, avocado, corn, portabella mushrooms, goat cheese and three types of heirloom tomatoes...these ones actually:It was a totally filling lunch and definitely hit the spot. I love the items offered at Freshii (customizable also) but do not love the $8 price tag.
So apparently all I've got from the 11th is an iPhone photo of my breakfast. It's better than nothing, right? This breakfast is actually organic vanilla yogurt with organic instant oats on top along with chia seeds and a bunch of fruit: I wanted a little bit of variation from my usual hot oatmeal and this did the trick. The only problem is that I over estimated how much I'd be able to eat during my morning break. Oops.
Dinner on Friday was a sandwich but not just any was a delicious prosciutto sandwich on baguette bread:Baguette + prosciutto + goat cheese + fresh basil = HOLY CRAP YUM!
I'm not gonna lie...sandwiches on baguette bread totally remind me of the summer I spent with Jessie in Europe. We stayed in Geneva, Switzerland for two weeks, then spent one week in Paris and then another week in Geneva before heading back home. It was the summer before our last year of high school and it was glorious. We were a couple of gals spending our summer touring Europe and the best part about Paris were the ham and cheese baguettes we would pick up for $3. I will never forget those sandwiches. Or the fact that I gorged myself on cheese and all kinds of dairy while there and then came home and became lactose-intolerant. Does North American cheese really suck that much? (Note: I am lactose-intolerant but my tolerance level varies with different types of dairy. I can do ice cream, organic milk and hard cheeses but things like cream, sour cream, thick yogurts and soft cheese like goat brie set me off in large amounts.)
Who has dinner at IKEA? Well Sean and I. Actually, we almost didn't. Sean arrived at my house Thursday night and after I told him about the Swedish meatball deal at IKEA Monday-Thursday ($2.99 for their regular 15 meatballs and mashed potatoes deal), he insisted we go. So off we went and as soon as we approached the Market Hall (more like the IKEA cafeteria), it was madness! There were two huge lineups and I suggested that we walk around a bit so that the lines die down. Sean agreed and we spent a good amount of time oogling our future kitchen (the word "dude" was repeated back and forth in one conversation far too many times for a convo in the years 2010). But then I caught sight of the Market Hall hours and realized we had 12 minutes to get there before it closed. Panic spread across Sean's face and inside my head as I knew Sean would have been really crushed if he missed out on the meatballs. We made the longest mad dash to the Market Hall possible--why is it impossible to find your way around IKEA's showroom?--but made it to the back of the line just in time. And it was still busy. And we were the third to last group of people in line. Yep, that's right, I spotted the woman standing by the closed sign just two people after us. Whew, we made it in time. I didn't even want to think of what would have happened should we have missed the line. But we made it and then waited 20 minutes before we could order our food. They were out of mashed potatoes so we subbed with veggies. Sean got some kind of smoothie and I got a ligonberry drink. Here's my complete meal:
It doesn't look like much but I couldn't finish it all. Sean had to finish off about three meatballs and in hindsight I told Sean that I should have let him finish off some more. The veggies weren't really anything to write home about but it was a healthier choice than the french fries.
Hung out with Sean in the evening. I can't really remember what we did but I wanted a sandwich for dinner. We ended up at Longo's so I could make my dinner at his place instead. I picked up a bunch of stuff from the hot/salad bar including roast veggies, bocconcini cheese balls, prosciutto and a ciabatta baguette. Also picked up some lacklustre grapes and some more Ontario peaches. They are so good this summer...mmm. Here's the dinner I put together:My sandwich contained the cheese, roast zucchini and yellow pepper along with a couple slices of prosciutto. Fruit included cantaloupe, grapes and a peach.

Sean's dinner:A bunch of concord grapes, gooseberry jam from IKEA, a Knackerbrod Rag rye cracker from IKEA with cod roe spread on top (doesn't it look delicious :| ), a strip of sesame teriyaki steak from the Longo's hot bar, bocconcini cheese and a bowl of this:
Organic plain yogurt with rye crispies (rye bread baked with brown sugar, I think), red currants and gooseberry jam. Our separate dinners always entertain me.
I spent the day at the CNE with my parents and had a jolly good time. We spent more time there this year than the last but didn't get to do two things that we do every year: see the Superdogs and visit the Barnyard building. I missed seeing the cows and pregnant sow. It's probably just as well since seeing her makes me a little depressed. Back to the food! I decided to take the safe route this year and stuck to fish and chips for lunch. My parents had their usual roti at Island Foods, which had the longest line I've ever seen since I've been visiting the CNE. They do have the best roti there and the line just keeps getting longer every year. I ate half my fish and chips and brought the rest home. Other eats included peaches, Ruffles less-sodium chips, an ice cream waffle that I split with my parents and then we opted to head to Mevame for dinner, where we waited 45 minutes before actually being seated. It wasn't until a little after 8:30 until we were seated but funny enough, neither one of us were all that hungry. My mom and I ordered our usual two lamb skewers, mine with rice and hers with fries. My dad ordered the lamb chops with rice. No photos because I've reviewed Mevame at least three times now. The service was impeccable though. I can't remember the name of the waitress we had but the five guys seated beside us remarked that she looked like Anne Hathaway and she kind of did.
Sundays are great because they're lazy. When I was at the post office I used to work every Sunday. I didn't really mind since it wasn't busy on a Sunday and I could get all or most of my paperwork done. Now that I have my Sundays off, I know I should be using them for more productive things like getting my work pants hemmed but most the time, I spend them chillin' in front of my laptop. This Sunday was no exception.

Lunch was mom's stir-fried vermicelli:All kinds of veggies are in the mix. Excuse the iPhone photos for Sunday as well...I couldn't find my camera. Just as lazy at this Saturday started though, I got to doing stuff! My parents and I headed out to IKEA on a whim. I had a prosciutto sandwich in the car:Once back at home and $50 poorer (how did I get suckered into buying a more expensive CD shelf? Aren't parents supposed to help you save money?), I made myself an afternoon snack:
Vanilla earl grey tea and three small slices of raisin bread. Yep, that's the same raisin bread from Longo's that I featured a while back. That same $5 loaf of bread. I couldn't get it out of my mind after I had finished it and subsequent trips to Longo's failed me because they were constantly out of stock. Who else is rich enough to afford a $5 loaf of bread? Well apparently lots of people but eventually it was my lucky day. Promptly after taking that photo I decided to indulge even further (can I change my middle name to Indulge already?) and added Nutella to one piece of bread and PB & Co.'s Dark Chocolate Dreams (chocolate PB) to the other two. It's a toss-up as to which I like best:===
Lunch was leftovers from Mevame along with some stir-fried watercress from dinner the night before:along with a lot of mango:Notice the blue at the bottom right of the container? Well that would be a smaller lid inside my container. I was putting this together the night before and was completely obviously to the fact that I was dumping my mango in a container that contained a lid. I should have realized something was up when I couldn't fit all of my mango inside but I figured it was due to the fact that it was an apple mango and not the smaller altufo mangoes.

Anyway, that's enough food recapping for one post. Whew! More to come.

August 22, 2010


Sean and I are going to Montreal for the Labour Day long weekend and I'm looking for food suggestions. I don't know how many of you read this but the internet has provided slim pickings as I'm a little weary of the legitimacy of websites like

Typically when travelling to Montreal Sean and I hit all the normal spots like Fairmount Bagels and Smoked Meat Pete's but since it's been almost 3 years since my last visit, I'd like to a healthier tour this time around.

Any suggestions would be much appreciated.

Cheers! (Regular posting will resume tomorrow. I spent this evening putting together my first bookshelf from IKEA.)

August 17, 2010


Um...have I been away that long? I guess so eh? I guess I have a LOT of catching up to do. Sadly there will not be an awesome food recap because I've been missing out on morning food photos. I blame Baking Life. It is the most addictive game for bakers. It falls under the same category as Cafe World and all those other games I can't remember the title of right now on Facebook. You basically do follow a bunch of steps in order to "level up" and you can customize your avatar and such. I never really played any of those games, not even FarmVille, up until a few weeks ago when I was home one weekend and bored out of my mind. Now I'm addicted to both and I don't know what to do about it. Or rather, I go through phases where I must bake my cakes and pies and plant my wheat and strawberries and pumpkins. And then there are other days where I don't give a damn because I'm too busy finishing up the last season of Lost with Sean.

He pre-ordered season six online and it arrived a couple of weeks early from the actual release date so we spent most of the weekend catching up. There were a few "snoozy" episodes but I've been reeled back in. We have less than five episodes left--eeps!

Did I ever mention that I have a basil plant? I picked it up at Longo's one evening when Sean and I were shopping for...oh, I was looking to get some fake crab from the salad bar. About 45 minutes later and $50 down the drain, I came out of the store with a basil plant and the Angostura Bitters I had been looking around for, for just about forever. (More on that later.) My basil plant is having is ups and downs. I suppose you could say it's going through its teenage years and does not want to listen to me. Or rather, the real problem is that white flies mysteriously took over and now I'm having a heck of a time getting rid of them. I'm watering regularly but hoping that some hot blistering sun will kill them off but not kill my basil plant. Note: I'm really good with outdoor plants but indoor plants in a pot, not so much. I don't really know how to care for them. I know you're supposed to water them regularly and keep them in sunlight but in a house without air conditioning, I have no idea how the humidity affects the plant. I suppose it should be better for them but for some reason it never works.

The only thing I haven't managed to kill is a basil cutting. A basil cutting, can you believe it? I actually managed to get roots to grow from one of those basil packages you buy at the grocery store. This was bought shortly before the basil plant was purchased. I actually bought the basil plant because I was tired of buying those $2-3 packages of herbs at Longo's and/or Loblaws only to use 1/4 of the entire thing and have the rest of it go to waste (ie: the compost bin). So I stuck a couple of sturdy stems in a small mug of water and changed the water on a daily basis and ta-da, before I knew roots appeared! Check 'em out:Awesome, isn't it? I'm going to plant this stem in a pot of soil really soon. I'm really excited as this seems to be a different type of basil than the pot I purchased at Longo's.

So that's what I've been up to in a nut shell.

August 7, 2010


I'm not really a fan of muffins. Their nutritional stats aren't that great and when compared with a cupcake, who wouldn't want a sugary treat topped with icing instead? Actually, I'm not a craver of sweets either but whatevs. Anyway, with a bunch of blueberries and bananas in the kitchen to use up, I got to what I do best: baking! Of course, this recipe was done almost three full weeks ago but whatevs (yet again).

The recipe is quick and easy if you have all the necessary items (if you're a healthy eater you'll probably have them all on-hand). I pulled these together in no-time. The hardest part was waiting for them to bake!

The recipe calls for buttermilk but I didn't have any (I never use buttermilk in recipes) so I subbed milk and vinegar) but then read the buttermilk alternative wrong so I poured that out and started again with milk and lemon juice but then I ran out of milk and used plain yogurt instead. The result was a super moist muffin with a little bit of texture from the cornmeal and plenty of taste from the blueberries and raspberries (frozen from the raspberry picking trip on Canada Day at Whittamore's).

Here are my muffins ready for the oven:And after 28 minutes in the oven, here are the raspberry ones:and the blueberry ones:
Aren't they delicious?
I opted not to top them with sugar as I would have liked since I wanted to share these with my dad who is watching his sugar intake. He's not full-blown diabetic but his life-long passion of seriously indulging his sweet tooth made him borderline diabetic, words from his doctor last fall. Since then, he's seriously curbed his sweet tooth, no longer indulging in any form of sweets (no sugar in his tea/coffee) and anything sweet he now thinks is sugar-overkill. It's kind of a hassle to bake for him but these muffins were a perfect treat. The tablespoon of honey and ripe bananas provided just the right amount of sweetness. They were also great as a breakfast treat, which I ended up enjoying them as for days to follow. They didn't keep in the fridge for very long so sharing is a must--even if you don't want to.
Berry-Banana Muffins
(adapted from Whole

- vegetable-oil cooking spray
- 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal, preferably stone ground
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 cup + 2 tsp AP flour, feel free to use whole wheat
- 1 1/2 cups ripe bananas, mashed (approx. 3 large bananas)
- 1/4 cup yogurt + 1/4 milk and 2 Tbsp lemon juice)
- 1 Tbsp honey
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice
- 1 large egg
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 tsp sanding or turbinado sugar

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a standard (12-cup) muffin tin with paper liners; coat liners with cooking spray.
  2. Whisk together cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and 1 cup flour. In a large bowl, stir together bananas, buttermilk, rice syrup or honey, lemon juice, egg, and vanilla. Fold cornmeal mixture into banana mixture just until combined. Toss blueberries with remaining 2 teaspoons flour, and gently fold into batter.
  3. Spoon batter into prepared tin, filling to the brims. Sprinkle each muffin with sugar (optional). Bake until a toothpick inserted into center of 1 comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Let cool completely in pan on a wire rack. (Muffins can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.)