Friday, December 31, 2010

Mini gingerbread cupcakes are delicious and the perfect size for holiday parties

I know the fad of cupcakes have come and gone, but for (holiday) parties I must admit they are still very fun to make and people still do enjoy them. I found a wonderful recipe for mini gingerbread cupcakes on the Style at Home website. The recipe is very easy and straight forward except I altered a few things. I lessened the bake time to about 12 minutes because my cupcakes were mini; also, the recipe for the icing is way too runny. I made these cupcakes for my girlfriend's Ugly Sweater Party and let's just say that I spent more time cleaning up after the piping bag than anything (I used a mini spatula to spread the icing on in the end). Needless to say, the icing was delicious because it's a mixture of cream cheese and butter. I made these cupcakes for Christmas dinner at my cousin's for dessert, but this time added about 1 cup of butter and a few tablespoons of cream cheese (I eyeballed the consistency). This time around it came out of the piping bag a lot easier!

Here's the recipe:
  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup unsulfured dark (robust) molasses
  • 1 cup boiling water
Rum-raisin frosting
  • ½ cup dark raisins
  • ¼ cup dark rum
  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, at room temperature, cut into small pieces
  • 4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 4 Piece
  • 2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar

1 Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Line 24 mini muffin cups with cupcake liners.
2 In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, and ginger. Set aside
3 In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat together the butter and brown sugar until creamy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the eggs and then the molasses until well combined. Immediately stir in the boiling water. On low speed, add the flour mixture and mix until smooth.

4 Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups, filling them about two-thirds full. Bake in the center of the oven until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean and dry, about 20 minutes. Let cool completely in the pan(s) on a wire rack.
5 While the cupcakes are baking and cooling, prepare the frosting. In a small bowl, mix together the raisins and rum and let stand for 15 minutes. Strain, reserving liquid.
6 In a food processor, combine the cream cheese and butter and process until smooth. Add the confectioners' sugar and pulse until a smooth, spreadable frosting forms. Transfer to a bowl. Stir the raisin liquid into the frosting until evenly combined.
7 When the cupcakes are cool, tip them out of the pan and frost them with the frosting. Top with raisins.

Makes 24 mini cupcakes
(courtesy of


Verdict: scrumptious!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Cooking turkey in an Office-who would've thought?

Cooking turkey on a cart-very innovative!

Christmas Potluck proved to be a popular concept at work this year again, as well as the last. One of the managers graciously volunteered to bring the turkey, and offered to bake it in a portable oven which she owned. We did this last year as well and the whole office smelled so good! This year, the turkey was cooked in her office and everyone who stopped by would catch a glimpse (and aroma) of the not-so-usual sight of turkey cooking in one's office. The turkey turned out perfect and was ready just in time for our Christmas Potluck luncheon.
Christmas luncheon potluck buffet-an astonishing array of food!
I decided weeks ago for what to bring to this year's potluck. Last year, I made homemade green onion cakes with Rachel Ray's recipe. They didn't turn out too well probably because I overworked the dough, resulting in a dry, tough cake. That being said, this year I opted for something that was easy to make yet had a burst of flavour. Turkey, potatoes, salads, buns, casseroles, and perogies were already being covered on the potluck menu so I decided we were missing one food group: seafood. I found a lovely recipe in Sobey's December Inspired magazine. I am a big fan of this magazine-not only is it free, but the recipes are actually very good. The sweet chilli shrimp salad with endive recipe caught my eye. The endive acts as a spoon for the shrimp salad, not to mention it's fanciness. This recipe was so easy to make and was refreshingly delicious, I will definitely be making this recipe again (my boyfriend was a huge fan).

Other dishes at the potluck were absolutely delicious. The turkey was cooked to perfection, not to mention the delicious duck stuffing with ginger. There were mashed potatoes, yams, gravy, creamy corn casserole, spinach salad, Greek salad, cabbage rolls, homemade perogies and my appetizer of course. For dessert, there were homemade squares, trifle, and cupcakes.
Ohmygoodness! How could one not induldge during the Christmas holidays?

My potluck platter consisted of creamy corn casserole, yams, cabbage rolls, turkey and gravy, stuffing and salad! (I went for two (small) rounds after that...
Verdict: scrumptious!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

IHOP is officially open

International House of Pancakes is finally open. I believe it opened it's doors just two days ago, one day later than the scheduled December 20th. I was finishing my Christmas shopping in Southpark yesterday and managed to get a glimpse of the restaurant-it looks huge inside! Anyone tried it yet?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Gourmet sandwiches are a nice alternative to the regular sub

It's been a while since one of my girlfriends and I met up. Two Saturdays ago, we went to the Downtown Farmers' Market in the blistering cold and went shopping in City Centre afterwards. Last time I was in City Centre, I completely forgot about press'd sandwiches and ate at Edo for lunch instead.

This time around, I didn't make the same mistake. My friend and I headed straight to press'd sandwiches as we (well, I) were starving.

This restaurant/bistro has a very fresh look to it; bright green writing as their main logo and simple font for their board menu. The chairs are wooden topped with green cushions and there are also booths on the far side of the restaurant. Ordering is straight forward-order the type of sandwich you want, choose your type of bread (white/whole wheat/ciabatta/pumpernickel rye), wait until it is prepared fresh then they'll call out your order. My friend and I first shared the Meddito which consists of Smoked Turkey, Artichoke Hearts, Feta Cheese, Roasted Red Peppers, and Mayo on a ciabatta bun.

The Meddito
We were still hungry so we jokingly thought about ordering another sandwich; we did. This time, it was the Golden Bear (which I'm guessing is paying homage to the U of A mascot/sports team) and it consisted of smoked Chicken, Baked Brie, Roasted Apples, Spinach, Sweet Fig Jam on whole wheat bread.
The Golden Bear
All was delicious. You can really taste the freshness of the bun and all the fresh, good ingredients. The only thing my friend and I expected was the smoked chicken to be ripped pieces of chicken breast, or something to that degree. Instead, it was the sliced type you get at delis. Still, it was delicious
I would definitely come back to this place. Fresh, gourmet sandwiches that won't break your budget.
Verdict: scrumptious!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Baking for the holidays: these cookies could beat the Girl Guides kind

For the month of December at work, a few of us at work (we call ourselves "The Decorating Committee")  have decided to bring treats every other day until Christmas. It works out perfectly because there are exactly 11 people in our branch, and every other day would work out just perfectly right before Christmas.

I found a recipe on Food Network Canada. It's Anna Olson's Chocolate Mint Cookies from her days on Sugar. I have to be honest that I wasn't a big fan of her show, but I've tried a few of her recipes and they've all turned out so well. Especially after mastering this recipe for the first time, I am looking forward to try more recipes from her! I spent a total of 2.5 hours toiling in the kitchen (although I did escape to take a shower while the dough was chilling in the fridge), it was worth it. I think they could beat out the Chocolate Mint Girl Guide cookies-they don't have preservatives and all flavouring is natural. What could possibly be better? I'll definitely be making more of these during the holiday baking season.

Here's the recipe if you would like to give it try. The only thing I recommend is to keep the filling inside the mixing bowl while beating--the recipe says to knead it on a flat surface then add the peppermint extract. I found it too sticky so I just left it in the bowl to mix. Turned out great!



  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 6 tablespoons Dutch process cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • dash salt
  • dash baking powder
  • icing sugar, for garnish

  • 1 egg white
  • 1 3/4 cups icing sugar, sifted
  • 2 drops to 3 drops peppermint extract


To Assemble

1.Beat butter until smooth and fluffy. Sift together icing sugar and cocoa powder over butter and beat in. Stir in vanilla, egg yolk and milk. Add flour, salt and baking powder to cocoa mixture and blend until incorporated. Shape dough into disc, wrap and chill for 20 minutes.

2.Preheat oven to 325° F. On a surface lightly dusted with icing sugar, roll out dough to 1/8-inch thick. Cut into 1 ½-inch circles and transfer carefully to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until cookies can be lifted easily away from the parchment. Allow to cool on baking sheet.

3.For filling, put egg white in a bowl and beat in icing sugar, a few tablespoonfuls at a time, until a soft dough forms. Turn dough onto a surface dusted with icing sugar. Knead in remaining icing sugar and peppermint extract, until dough is no longer sticky.

4.To fill cookies, roll a teaspoon of dough into a ball and flatten a little. Sandwich between 2 cookies and press together to push icing to edges. Continue until all cookies have been filled.

5.Cookies can be glazed with chocolate to finish or dusted with icing sugar.

6.Yield: Approximately 2 dozen cookies

(Courtesy of Anna Olson from

Monday, December 13, 2010

IHOP will be opening before the holidays

Driving past Calgary Trail North on the way to work, and South on the way back from work, I wonder when the new IHOP will be open. I've personally never tried it, but based on my post about it opening last month, a few people had mentioned that they've got some great pancakes and breakfast items.
Here's an article in the Journal:

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Lunch Coffee break!

I love Newget!

I decided to go for a quick walk during my lunch break earlier this week. I've always been curious about Axis Cafe so there I trottled off to. I already ate lunch so I wasn't interested in buying lunch. All I wanted was a cafe au lait. They also sell my new favourite sugar snack...Newget! So I purchased two bags of the seasonal flavour-Perfect Pear-pistachios,roasted almonds,sweet dried pear and fresh rosemary laced through creamy white chocolate (which by the way was delicious). I ate a few pieces of newget, kicked back and relaxed while I read the Parlour magazine,while sipping my cafe au lait.