Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Once again...

... same story, different day. Now what can I say other than I've been completely consumed with LIFE! I have had my 2 kids home with me for months... and been traveling to see my family half way across the country, and if that wasn't enough after years of baking & sharing treats with friends I've started up cupcake catering to share with everyone!! Please visit http://www.simply-sweet.ca/ to see pictures of my creations or details on what I offer or you can also follow it on facebook - tell all your friends!!

Thursday, August 5, 2010


Like all good things, vacations are best enjoyed in moderation. Unfortunately this pale-skinned red head did not follow those guidelines and is enjoyed some really red skin!

Thankfully today is an overcast day that we will spend shopping. Now if I could only had a job I could do some serious damage to my Amex! Hopefully that won't be an issue for much longer, since I am in the process of interviews with a few companies.

The prospect of work brings me to my next question.. can a family with young children survive with 2 parents in high-demand jobs? My husband currently has a job that ties him to his blackberry and the thought that I may soon join him with the job-driven obsession creates mixed feelings. The financial security is an obvious plus, but I cannot help wondering how we will manage it all??? And where will I find time for baking, training and gardening on top of time with the kids... and perhaps a date or two???

Friday, July 16, 2010


I have decided to take another cake decorating class - fondant & gumpaste. I have realized that I don't think I'll decorate a lot of cakes, but I do enjoy making cupcakes. There is something about making a tiny single-serving cake that you can enjoy & it's tiny enough you don't have to

My focus for baking for the next little while will be cupcakes & trying to create a kick-ass red velvet cupcake!!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Small Rewards

There is something rewarding & maternally satisfying watching something grow that I started from a teeny tiny seed. It's even better when it's vegetables & you'll able to eat the organically grown treats soon too!

Now, I've just got to find recipes for all the tasty things - especially tomatoes. Maybe it's the Newfie in me, but I hate to see anything go to waste. Although my partner/test subject might not agree but I enjoy finding new ways to ensure I use every ounce of the food I grow. Hopefully I'll find some good ones for tomatoes cause thanks to my fetile homemade compost soil I have 60-70 tomato plants (I had almost 90 but gave some away). Anyone want a tomato plant??

Garden Season has Begun

With my first squash (zucchini) harvest the garden season has officially started!!

My tomato plants are flowering, my peas are ready to be picked, my turnip greens are already blanched & in my freezer (if your from NL you know what it it)... and soon hopefully I'll have cucumbers too!

It really does amaze me. I started with tomatoes, peppers and lettuce in plastic buckets on the patio of my single-life apartment. Now 10 years later I have an in-ground garden (that my hunny made me) and plants that come back every year, some with more gusto than I'd like. Just goes to show you what you can do when your determined & have some awesome compost (all the stinky fruit & ved does make a difference). This year everything went so well my tomatoes from last year came back to life & mutlipled... A LOT. I have around 90 growing - not exaggerating I stoped counting at 85!

whine, whine ... and WINE!

I really do love my kids... I just keep telling myself that. I am now a stay-at-home mom of 2 (for a few months, until I hopefully find work) and I wonder if I'll make it! Everyone says little boys are active... I'd like them to spend a day with my monkey! & my sweet baby girl went from 2 teeth to 6 in less than a week. Through all of this, and besides the fact my 3-year old is able to count backwards from 3 I still can't help blessing the people that spend all day taking care of other people's kids. Even though people say kids are easier when they have others to play with, I wouldn't be able to do it.

Thankfully my mom will be here to help for a few weeks. Perhaps then I can cut down the wine (for relaxation... kids in bed at 8:30, wine opened at 8:31) & chocolate (for energy... so tired & it's better than coffee!) & get back at getting into shape.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Strawberry Suprise!

I've had family visiting a lot & have spent time with my sister-in-law. A great part of this (other than seeing my super cute neice) is I get to find all kinds of new recipes!

Here is one that will impress anyone. Homemade Shortcake for Strawberry shortcake!

1 cup of sugar
2 eggs
Mix on low for about 5 minutes

1/2 cup of warm milk
1 tablespoon of butter
Mix on low for about 3 minutes

1 cup of flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
A pinch of salt

Pour into greased square baking dish & abake for approx 25 minutes at 350.

Cut into individual pieces & smother with strawberries & whipped cream! Let your guests add their own toppings. kids will love it! You can also try making a coulee or soak yoru berries in brandy or something fun for adults.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

A little Meat!

Along with an amazing dessert I made for my in-laws, I also made burgers. Both beef & tasty veal ones that let me use herbs from my garden. After a few bbqs of burgers & dogs you might want to try something new - give veal a try.

Bistro Veal Burgers:

1 slice bread, torn into small pieces (I toasted mine)
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (I doubled this)
1 egg
2 basil leaves, chopped
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary (I used more)
1 teaspoon pepper
1 pound ground veal
4 (1 ounce) slices Cheddar or pepper jack cheese (optional) (I used Havarti)
4 hamburger buns
Place torn bread into a bowl and sprinkle with milk and Worcestershire sauce. Mix in egg until combined. Season with basil, rosemary, and pepper. Mix in veal until evenly mixed. Shape veal mixture into four patties.
Preheat a grill for medium heat.
Lightly oil the hot grill. Grill veal burgers to desired degree of doneness, about 5 minutes per side for medium. Place a slice of cheese on each burger, and allow to melt for about 1 minute before serving on buns.

Original Recipe Yield 4 burgers


Every married person has in-laws. You don't get to choose your in-laws, just like your own family. If you're far away from your family your in-laws are even more important.

I had a day of in-laws! After a precarious start (my mother-in-law got a flat on the highway) we went strawberry picking. Let me tell you 37 or 38 degrees with 2 kids in the sun - you are happy to have an in-law around to help! That & the fact you are creating memories ...even if they are of peeing in the open & having a strawberry stained face!!

The day ended with my father-in-law & his wife (& brother & sister-in-law) joining us for supper. Earlier I mentioned to them I was going strawberry picking in the hopes of making strawberry rhubarb jam, the wife mentioned a pie she had made... Rhubarb Custard Pie & suggested I try it. Being adventurous (& loving the mix) I decided to try Strawberry Rhubarb Custard Pie. IT WAS AWESOME!!!! Everyone was pleased & I was happy to make a meal that was equal to my martha-like sister-in-law... one day I will have it as together as her.

Below is the original recipe. (SEE MY NOTES AT THE END).


Line a 9 inch pie dish with pastry.
2 beaten eggs
2 tbsp. milk
1 1/2 c. sugar
3 tbsp. flour
Pinch of salt, cinnamon and nutmeg
1 1/2 c. rhubarb, cut in 1/2 inch slices
Pour mixture into pie shell.
Top with crumb topping.
Bake at 400 for 40 minutes or until custard is set up.

Combine by cutting with pastry cutter:
1/2 c. butter (cold)
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 c. flour

NOTE: Suggestions: put in less sugar - again I used a packet of vanilla sugar. I added strawberries & rhubarb to the pie crust (about 4 cups total) to make sure I had enough to fill, then added them to the custard to mix it all before dumping back into the pie. Lastly I put a pie crust cover on top instead of the crumble topping - next time I'll try the crumb.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Just Peachy

In my effort to get my blog up and running, I decided to kick it off with a tasty summer treat.

Many American movies show southern belles and they all make their famous Peach Cobbler and hey we can all use some southern hospitality, right?

I was expecting it to be hard, but it was SO EASY! When never sure on how it turned out my hint came when I walked into the kitchen & saw my husband had eaten a 1/4 of the dish! It was even better when served warm with ice cream.
Here is the recipe I found. The only note I have to say is that the peaches in the US must be bigger. I used around 10 and next time I'll use more! Also, a special treat I use is vanilla sugar, found at your local grocery store in the baking section. It really adds a lot of flavor to any fruit dish your making.


Original Recipe Yield 4 servings

8 fresh peaches - peeled, pitted and sliced into thin wedges
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons cornstarch

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
1/4 cup boiling water

3 tablespoons white sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).
2. In a large bowl, combine peaches, 1/4 cup white sugar, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, nutmeg, lemon juice, and cornstarch. Toss to coat evenly, and pour into a 2 quart baking dish. Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine flour, 1/4 cup white sugar, 1/4 cup brown sugar, baking powder, and salt. Blend in butter with your fingertips, or a pastry blender, until mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in water until just combined.
4. Remove peaches from oven, and drop spoonfuls of topping over them. Sprinkle entire cobbler with the sugar and cinnamon mixture. Bake until topping is golden, about 30 minutes.

Nutritional Information
Amount Per Serving Calories: 512 Total Fat: 17.6g Cholesterol: 46mg

Where does time go?

Ok... so I have to admit that my life has overtaken me. I usually am good at organizing my time to ensure I fit everything in... but lately I think I've been fitting so much in that I don't have time for everything and this blog has fallen to the wayside.

I so enjoy writing & even looking back & reading what I have written and I feel horrible that I have neglected it... even if no one reads it, that's not the point. The point is to write it & hopefully someone will read it, or enjoy it... if not at least I will.

I'm going to follow-this up right away with a recipe for a great summer treat!!

Friday, April 23, 2010

No place like home... when your sick.

Despite a few thoughts that I may actually be crazy, I packed up a few suitcases, hopped on a few planes & came back to my roots in Newfoundland for a few weeks - yes a few weeks with my 2 kids! Minus a few mishaps (like remembering my double stroller was in the garage as I pulled up to the airport) the traveling went relatively easy - as easy as it can be traveling with an almost 3 year-old & a teething 9 month old!

Then I think my body actually realized I was back on familiar soil & could relax, because the day after arriving I got struck with the most gruesome flu bug! I was so thankful to have family around to take care of my kids - mostly because I was in & outta consciousness! It felt ok to be sick cause I knew I had help. Just like it was great today when I dropped my baby off at my aunt's so I could take my toddler swimming.

It is so nice to have my family around, I can understand why many people my age are moving back here - if my family was closer I'd never have to watch my kids! I'm also inspired, although it's a pain to get everyone together for a dinner, when I get back home I'm going to re-start weekly family dinner with my in-laws, who knows perhaps my mother-in-law will cook too!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

A Night out!

Every now & then my man does something good. Recently he got his mom to watch the kids to take me out for a suprise dinner ... although I had already made supper & was planning on an early evening I got gussied up & to my suprise had a great time. Not being out in adult company often a few things were a bit errie, like how quiet & quick the dinner was; and how the waiters asked where our kids were (guess we eat there a bit). But we managed through & at the end of the evening I cuoldn't believe how relaxed I was. Perhaps it was the excpetional food that was presented so nicely, or not having to keep reminding a kid to either keep his pants on or stop singing to other tables (he's in his 2's), either way it was a great night! It's WAY too easy to get caught up in life, whether it's kids, work or whatever... I hope I remember this night & take more time to just be.
p.s. for those of you in Laval/Montreal wondering where this place is... it's Sushi Palace (25 Cure-Labelle in Ste-Rose) & it's an all you can eat sushi place (when I first heard all you can eat sushi I too thought it's suck, but it's great!). Not only do they have sushi, but thai, chinese & a whole buncha stuff!

Thursday, April 1, 2010


Growing up for me Easter meant LOTS of chocolate, new clothes for school, cool pj's and some girlie accessories like new hair clips! However, as I speak with friends I find out for them Easter was just another day off except they get to gorge on chocolate & food!

For the past few years we've been hopping in our car & driving 5-6 hours to spend the holiday with my childhood friends and now that we have kids we've started an Easter Egg Hunt on Sunday morning... even after having celebrated & gorged on food ourselves the night before. Nothing was funnier to me this Easter morning when I see my kid taking cues from his older friend to look in places for plastic easter eggs... then when he dropped one & candy spilled out that was it for him. He no longer cared about finding eggs & got down to business at emptying the 2-3 eggs in his basket! Once he realized the other boy was still finding eggs he got back in the game, but only to get a few more theen went back to eating them! I know Easter will be more fun as he grows older & we have to get more creative in hiding eggs, but for now I couldn't have asked for a better Easter - and not just cause the sun was shinning!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

We all can be a little Martha!

I've written about my Sister-in-law before as someone I wish I could be a bit more like. A great hostess, AMAZING cook & a fashionista she continues to amaze me!

Not only does she work a full-time job, have a house that never has things out of place (or fluff balls of animal hair rolling along the floors), makes healthy meals, spends time with her daughter, finds time to go to the gym & does the extra little touches like Martha! When I went to visit the week before Easter (for a FABULOUS fish dinner) I saw she had this sesaonal floral piece on her table!! In awe she passed it off as such a small thing, but I couldn't figure out how she does it - her place always looks like it came out of a magazine.

Perhaps I should see if she can write a post telling us how she does it because she truly is like all of us trying to make it work.... just a woman!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Empathy & Understanding

My daughter is a teacher!!! So young but already affecting a change.

When commenting to a friend of mine about how I think kids need to be able to give back and learn responsibility she told me about the Roots of Empathy Program. Basically in a nutshell the program brings Erin into a classroom (of kids at risk for aggression, bullying & other social problems) and the children get to watch her grow and they can relate their feelings and thoughts to their observations of her. Studies have shown that the children's experience have a lasting effect in increased pro-social behaviour and decreased aggression.
So we're almost at the end of our school year & I have to say that as much as the children have learned we learned too. Not just because these kids taught her to clap her hands or that she rolled over for the first time in the class, but I've been lucky to see how something so small (1 hour every few weeks) has changed lives of others. I smile when I think of 2 kids in particular who at the beginning of the classes sat at the back of the class, never spoke and were generally withdrawn. The last class we had the coordinator (Sarah!!) had trouble keeping the kids away from her & stop talking - they were so excited to share!
I know having a small child (and a big boy) is a lot of work - especially when I'm trying to get out of the house in the morning & make it to the class on time. I hope I always remember how important it is to give back, and how easy it is. Doing a small thing for someone else not only makes you feel better & helps someone else, but having good karma in your life will help you for sure!
If you are pregnant, check out the site http://www.rootsofempathy.org/Research.html to see if there is a class near you!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Can Vegan be Tasty?

I am SOO lucky my kids have no allergies (not yet anyway) and my heart goes out there to the parents of kids who have allergies. No only do you have to worry about them in school, but if you like to cook you have to be able to find tasty recipes they will eat.

Thanks to a kid in my baby girls Empathy & Understanding class - put on by the Roots of Empathy program - I brought in cookies one day to find out a few vegan kids couldn't eat them. Not to shy away from a challenge I decided to find a good vegan recipe. A good friend sent me a vegan brownie recipe so I made vegan & non-vegan brownies. I have to say.... although I only had apple-pomegranate sauce, the vegan ones were not my favorite & I didn't blame a few of the kids who came up & asked to change theirs for the other brownie (they weren't vegan but had taken a vegan one to try). I know some adults said they vegan ones were good, but I think they were only being polite!

I am planning on trying another vegan recipe soon!!

Here is the brownie recipe:

1/3 cup melted unsalted butter (make sure you get the butter with no milk!!)
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
3/4 cup cocoa
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup unrefined sugar (suggested to half the sugar)
1 small ripe banana mashed
1 1/3 cup spelt flower
1/2 cup sunflower seeds, coconut, carob chips or walnut pieces (I used carob chips - quite good)

Preheat oven to 350F, lightly grease 8 inch square pan.

In a large bowl, beat all ingredients with fork until smooth and pour into prepared pan. Bake 1 hour or until toothpick inserted in centre comes out clean.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Something a Little Different

Many of you out there are probably like me, raised on meat & potatoes -with a few carrots, turnip & frozen peas/carrots for a change. Where I grew up there weren't a lot of options for different vegetables, or perhaps it was just my house... either way I had never ate eggplant until recently and had no idea what moussakka was; only that the girl in 'My Big Fat Greek Wedding' had to eat 'moose kaka'.
In an attempt to force myself to try new things I usually buy whatever veggies are onsale at my local grocery & then look for a recipe to cook them. For this one I went to my fave chef Ricardo and found this recipe (see below for full recipe). As with all his episodes he provides you with an entire meal, so I also made the Red Lentil Soup & the Firm Yogurt with Honey - we were out of honey so I used strawberries (it woulda been better with honey).
I have to say I LOVED IT!! Not only is the funky yogurt bechemel sauce good for covering food for picky eaters, the soup & leftover moussaka was great pureed for my baby girl!

If your going to try something new I suggest this!

Here is the recipe:


1 large eggplant, cut into 1-cm (1/2-inch slices)
2/3 cup olive oil
1 pound extra lean ground beef
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 pinch ground cinnamon
1 pinch ground cloves
1 pinch ground ginger
1/2 cup white wine
1 can diced tomatoes (14oz)
1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper

Yogurt Béchamel
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup plain yogurt (4% MF or lighter)
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 egg yolk
1 pinch ground nutmeg

1.In a large skillet over medium heat, brown the eggplant, several slices at a time, using 125 ml (1/2 cup) of the oil. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside on a plate.
2.In the same skillet in the remaining oil, brown the meat and onion with the garlic and spices, breaking the meat up with a fork or wooden spoon. Season with salt and pepper. Add the wine. Bring to a boil and reduce until nearly all the wine has evaporated. Add the tomatoes and parsley. Bring to a boil. Remove from the heat. Add 60 ml (1/4 cup) of breadcrumbs, stirring well to combine. Adjust the seasoning. Set aside.
Yogurt Béchamel
1.In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Dust with the flour and cook for 1 minute. Add the yogurt and bring to a boil while stirring. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese, egg and nutmeg. Adjust the seasoning. Set aside.
2.With the rack in the middle position, preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F).
1.With the rack in the middle position, preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F).
2.Butter a baking dish about 18 x 28-cm (7 x 11-inch) in size or able to hold about 2 litres (8 cups). Sprinkle 30 ml (2 tablespoons) breadcrumbs on the bottom. Lay half of the eggplant slices on the bottom. Top with the meat mixture. Cover with the remaining eggplant slices. Spread the béchamel over the eggplant. Sprinkle with the remaining breadcrumbs. Bake until the béchamel turns gold-coloured, about 30 minutes.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Breaking up is hard to do

Even months after a break-up you can't help but feel nausea when you come face-to-face with your ex. You can't help but daydream about what could have been & what no longer will be. This is also true for ex-work!

It's been 4 months since I've been laid off (to many people's shock - YES, they can lay you off while on maternity in Canada) and I still find myself saying 'my company' - I must say it's always in a positive fashion & that's not just because I signed a waiver saying I would only talk positively about the company. However, it's time I suck it up & realize it is no longer MY company... in fact I no longer have a company, only sticky hands & gummy kisses - longer hours, but a much better benefits!
Although I was laid off with almost my whole department I can't help but feeling like the jilted a.k.a. 'dumped' girlfriend. Some say I should find solace that I have my work-buddies in the same situation, but I think it just makes it sadder. We all gave so much of ourselves. We helped the company grow making that company a big piece of our lifestyle pie & made other parts smaller and in the end we're all kicked to the curb. I can only hope I remember to be positive & take the advice I give friends - there are always more fish in the sea... you have to kiss more frogs till you find your prince... and my favorite - everything can be fixed with time & wine!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Can it be SPRING already??

I can't believe that it's spring already. One day we're sliding in the snow & the next I'm looking at the grass on my front lawn! More importantly I'm looking at flowers starting up out of the ground!!

I have to admit I'm not super great with flowers and prefer to work with fruits & veggies in my garden. But after having great success with garlic last year (also a bulb you plant in the fall & it comes to fruitation in the spring with no work required) I decided to try bulb flowers last fall. When I saw this beautiful greenery starting to grow I couldn't help but think it was like giving birth - with a lot less pain! You do something small that takes a few minutes in the fall when the weather is nice, wait 7-9 months & boom you get this great reward!

Now I just need to make sure my toddler doesn't haul them all up before we get to see the flowers!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Who ever said "it's like riding a bike"?

I'm not sure who said that but I can tell you getting back into exercising after having stopped for a LONG time is NOT like riding a bike (as in you never forget & it's easy). If it is like riding a bike then it certainly is not like my glorious memories - which would be the equivalent to riding a tandem bike where somewhere else does all the work. Truthfully it would be more like my 2&1/2 year old son riding a bike, you can either pedal, steer or watch things as you go by, but it's entirely impossible to do all three at the same time!

I just try to keep in my mind what I tell others in similar situations... at least I'm out there. Even if I'm turning red, panting, sweating & people are staring (probably wondering if I'll pass out), at least I got off my couch & tried. There are lots of others who haven't gotten off their couches - so no matter how good I do (or how bad) I can at least be proud I tried!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

I don't feel like it

Like everyone I have little time any day to read blogs... so I have to make sure the ones I read are suited to my needs... and here is one that is: Seth Godin's Blog. Heralded as writing the most popular marketing blog in the world, his bestselling marketing books have been translated into over 20 languages worldwide!

Quite simply: Seth is a writer, a speaker and an agent of change.

Here is one entry from him that I thought was great:

I don't feel like it
What's it?

Why do you need to feel like something in order to do the work? They call it work because it's difficult, not because it's something you need to feel like.

Very few people wake up in the morning and feel like taking big risks or feel like digging deep for something that has eluded them. People don't usually feel like pushing themselves harder than they've pushed before or having conversations that might be uncomfortable.

Of course, your feelings are irrelevant to whether or not the market expects great work. Do the work. Ignore the feelings part and the work will follow.

If you work in marketing or want to read more just for fun check out Seth Godin's Blog.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

End of Vancouver 2010 Olympics - So proud to be Canadian!

Never have I been so proud to be Canadian!! Although a bit short of the promised results of 30 medals, noone can complain about the 26 medals we did win - including 14 Gold (the most EVER won by any hosting country, in fact any country ever I think). And we came 3rd overall in total number of medals won! (For full medal details check out: http://www.vancouver2010.com/olympic-medals/). What a better way to end the games than with a Gold medal victory in overtime with the final goal by Sid-the-kid! I believe we have a new Canadian sweetheart - perhaps a mini-Wayne??

The star-studded closing ceremonies were entertaining, and there was scenes of awe that surely required amazing amounts of co-ordination, skill & sheer creative wonderment! However, I do have to question... for those watching around the world, did they think the giant mounties, inflatable beavers & the ohh too polite Canadians, that's who we really are? The underlying humor that it was making fun of Canadian stereotypes most likely got lost in translation. I wonder though... I guess they were less worried about how the average Canadian would feel portrayed as a hockey-fighting early french settler than the fact that if people did think this is the 'true' Canada they'll probably visit more! Amazing the seeds you can plant with underlying Marketing when you have big budgets! As an add to boost tourism it was great!

For videos of the closing ceremony check out: http://www.mahalo.com/2010-olympics-closing-ceremony

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Cake!! Cake & More Cake!

Not sure if anyone ready my blog on Jan 5 'Late to the Game' where I talked about a pecan cake that was amazing. At the time I posted the recipe in french ( http://www.ricardocuisine.com/recettes/gateaux/2128-gateau-renverse-aux-pacanes-et-au-caramel-butterscotch ) and I couldn't help myself, although I'm trying to eat healthier I had to try it myself!
Let me tell you - it is AMAZING!! I did make it a little differently though. Instead of 2 single layer cakes I made a few smaller ones to share with friends! I also overcooked the caramel so it didn't melt into the cake like it was supposed to. A last note - make sure you watch it while it's cooling, you'll want to make sure it's not too cool or any extra caramel will dry onto the pan and you won't be able to spoon it onto the cake.

VERY GOOD CAKE & I highly suggest you serve it warm!
Here's the recipe

Preparation time: 30 min
Cooking time: 55 min
Portions: 10
Caramel Butterscotch Sauce:
310 ml (1 ¼ c) sugar
60 ml (1/4 cup) scotch (whiskey or bourbon)
60 ml (1/4 cup) water
30 ml (2 TBSP) clear syrup of your choosing
30 ml (2 TBSP) honey
250 ml (1 cup) 35% crème, warm
60 ml (1/4 cup) salted butter
375 ml (1 ½ cup) pecan halves

500 ml (2 cup) multi-purpose flour, non bleached
180 ml (¾ cup) finely ground pecans
5 ml (1 tsp) baking soda
1 ml (¼ tsp) salt
125 ml (½ cup) butter, non salted, softened
60 ml (1/4 cup) cooking oil
375 ml (1 ½ cup) brown sugar
5 ml (1 tsp) vanilla extract
3 eggs
250 ml (1 cup) buttermilk

Place grill in the center of oven. Preheat oven to 180°C (350 °F). Butter & line 2 - 20cm (8”) square baking pans with parchment paper so that it doubles and goes over the sides of the pan. Places on a cookie sheet.

Caramel Butterscotch Sauce
1. In a casserole dish, bring to a boil the sugar, scotch, water and syrup. Cook without stirring until color begins to darken. Remove from heat and gradually add cream and butter. Bring to a boil again stirring just until mixed. Spread the caramel in the baking dish. Add pecan halves. Set aside.

1. In a bowl mix flour, chopped pecans, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
2. In another bowl, cream butter with oil, the brown sugar and vanilla with an electric mixer. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat just until mixed and smooth. At low speed add in the dry ingredients, alternating with the buttermilk. Carefully add to the pans with the caramel butterscotch mixture. Cook for 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool 30 minutes (this is important to ensure the caramel cools and sets.
3. Carefully inverse cake onto a serving platter. Inverse the 2nd cake onto a plate & gently slide it onto the first. Let cool completely.
4. Serve warm or cold accompanied with whip cream if desired.

To get buttermilk, add 15ml (1Tbsp) vinegar or lemon juice with 250ml (1 cup) of milk. Let set for 10 minutes, the milk will thicken with time, then stir.

Thursday, February 25, 2010


Hello & sorry if anyone actually reads this blog. I have been consumer with life & trying to find slices of the pie for all the aspects of my life!

I did have about a dozen posts written over the past month that I am editing and all will be posted over the next few days - so scroll down & read what has been happening in my life up to now!

As always please feel free to post comments, suggestions or share whatever you feel like sharing.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


Everyone has Olympic-fever... and so do we!! It surely will be an amazing 2-weeks, can't wait!!

Let's go Canada - let's kick some ass!!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Kindness of Strangers

Every now and then I feel guilt at becoming a hardened 'city-folk'. would I still stop to help a stranger (overcoming my fear of being knifed - thank you evening news!). Worse still have I influenced my uber kindhearted hubby into becoming the same! Has being surrounded by other city-folk changed this small town girl?

When I think about it more I feel bad as I realize that sometimes I don't extend kindness to others merely because no one extends it to me. Then I feel WORSE when someone out of the blue shows kindness to me, like someone did today. Here's the story...

Downtown bringing my son to his Dr. check-up, trying to pay for parking at one of those 'convenient' parking pay machines - only today it's not so convenient because it was not accepting any of my 3 credit cards! Standing on the side of the street with my 6-month old baby & 2 1/2 year old son I scrounge around in my purse for $9.00 I need for parking, only to find $2.00. No bank machine in site, I'm really not sure what to do & don't want to look at getting a ticket.

Grasping my son's hand tightly I summon up the courage to ask a stranger walking by if he has change for a $5.00. To my surprise he stops, then opens his wallet & gives me 2 toonies & a loonie. Ok... only need $2 more now. Next I summon up the courage again to ask someone else. This person doesn't have any change, but offers to let me us his credit card to pay!

Driving home later I can't help but smiling and thinking to myself how some marketers have done their job well! I totally feel like the Coca-Cola Grant Theft Auto 'Give a little Love' commercial (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ieSzsh4hJWI). Watch out random strangers... I'll be sharing the love!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

No Place Like Home

Ah... it is so good to be back in your home. There is something really therapeutic about being in your own surroundings. I'm sure there must be studies that prove you heal quicker at home!

Although it's not as good as being home I find myself feeling like we were very well taken care of while at the hospital. I am once again in awe at our health system and the amazing health care professionals that make it work. After our weekend stay at the Children's oncology ward I was amazed at the staff there. My son was recovering from a major surgery but they treated him just as good as those children living on the ward. I also found myself once again being thankful for all I have. There are many young children and babies in Montreal and around the world fighting something much greater than trying to lose a few pounds, find something fun to wear or trying to figure out how to find time for all the amazing fun, actives they have planned. It was a very humbling experience and I have to admit that I realized I have been much too hung up lately in things that in the long run don't really matter.

Although I wonder if I will be able to make it the next week having my very active son at home where he has to stay calm, I know that after the screaming and crying (by me not him) I will find moments that make it all worthwhile - at least that's what I keep telling myself! I just need to keep remembering advice from a friend - take a moment, count backwards from 10 & then think of the glass of wine you'll have after he goes to bed!

St. Valentine

So this is a different Valentine's day than I have had in the past... I'm spending it in the hospital with my baby boy after his surgery - SUCH a trooper!

For once I have something else to do. For once I don't have to feel bad when people ask if I have anything special planned and I say NO. For once I don't have to feel bad hearing what others did to celebrate this 'day of love' [insert sarcasm] when I am happy with my evening in front of the TV with a bottle of wine! Why is it that society is so caught up with this day that I feel like I have to lie & make up excuses.

Then I get to thinking ... I'll take the high road - my reply will be "I don't buy into the commercial aspects of the day - I am a good enough person I deserve to be loved & treated special every day!" But I do LOVE the sweets & chocolate that come with this day. Anyone, young, old, male, female, co-worker, friend or, oh yeah loved one, if ANYONE gave me little bit of heart shaped mouth watering goodness I would gladly say thank you with a smile, wish them a Happy St. Valentine and quickly hurry off with my bounty! No worries everyone this year I've bought myself some chocolates so there's no pressure to provide!

I can't help but seeing we've come a long way since the origin of this holiday. Although there are varied opinions on the holidays origin the most commonly accepted is that of Valentine, a priest during the third century in Rome. Emperor Claudius II decided that single men were better able to succeed & focus in war, than those married, so he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine, being a romantic, defied Claudius and continued to marry young lovers - until he was caught & put to death! (For the full story & more check out: http://www.history.com/topics/valentines-day). Now my next statement is in no way saying marriage should be outlawed... but I have to agree I see Claudius' point of view. Even today single people are just more productive than those coupled-off! Perhaps it's the lack of stress, children or the increased single (child-free) vacations - whatever it is I can say I was much more successful & advanced my career much farther when single.

Now for all my coupled-off friends (and my hubby) I am not saying I do not enjoy being married or would change it, I am merely stating a fact. Yes my time is now consumed with children, running a household, and trying to find time for a relationship and myself - which is the whole point of this blog - but somewhere in there my career has had to take a back seat to Dr. visits, runny noses & cuddling with my wee ones. That's the way it is for just every woman these days!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Next time Entertaining - 4 layer Pizza Dip

So everyone knows I like to entertain & I LOVE being entertained by friends!! While on my trip to Halifax my good friend Shelley (who I've know since kindergarten) had me over for a visit & served this amazing twist on the traditional sour cream/cream cheese taco dip (I've also heard it called a pizza dip because it looks like a pizza, but this one tasted like a pizza too). Her dip is served warm & she served it with multigrain Tositos, which I believe added a special something to it.

Was it good?? Let's just say THANK GOD she didn't make more of it, cause we woulda ate it all!

FIRST layer:
250ml sour cream (small container)
1 pkg cream cheese (block)
1 Tbsp mayo
*Cream together & spread onto 2 pie plates. Chill in fridge for 15 minutes.

SECOND layer:
1 can of pizza sauce (you can also use 1 jar of salsa - whatever heat you prefer hot, medium or mild)
*Spread over first layer once it has set in fridge.

THIRD layer:
green, yellow or red pepper
pepperoni &/or salami
*Dice your choice of ingredient finely & spread over second layer

FOURTH layer:
Cheddar cheese
*Shred & spread over third layer.

- If using salsa serve cold.
- If using pizza sauce heat at 350 for 10-15 minutes until cheese is melted.

I had hoped to get invited somewhere to watch the Superbowl, but that ain't happening but I plan on making this soon... just need to find someone to visit us or to invite us over! Does anyone get together anymore once they have kids???

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Under the knife!!

So apparently my hospital time is not done yet!! We went to the Dr. to find out that it looks like Ryan will have to have his bumps cut out. Once again we're on a waiting list to find out when and hopefully there will be an opening soon so that it doesn't get worse than it is. I am REALLY hoping my faith in our health care system proves true & all goes well.

I can't help but taking a moment to enjoy what I have. I spend a lot of time looking for challenges, complaining about being woken up in the middle of the night, or tantrums and trying to keep my head above water that many times I don't stop & smell the baby! So this is my moment to gush... I am such a lucky kid to have 2 great giggling smiling loving-each-other kids. Whether it's kids, a partner, a great job, or even a few minutes of peace to partake in your favorite activity (watching a movie, baking, working out) whatever it is... never get so caught up in being this or that, that you forget to just be!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

A Drink in cake form - Black Russian Cake

So... like every time I visit my Aunt S I am wined, dined & well taken care of. My Aunt & Uncle are great hostesses and I always go home with a few new recipes to try. This one I couldn't wait to try. It was my oldest friends birthday (we've been friends for 32 years - before the sand box!) and she, like many Newfoundlanders do, enjoys her White Russians!!

My aunt gave me this amazing recipe I HAVE TO share with you, not only is it tasty (& was a huge hit) it's super easy. The recipe is below & to let you know I made them into cupcakes which was a big hit, with people taking them home with them too!

Black Russian Cake

Heat oven to 350.

Put dry ingredients in a large bowl:
1 classic yellow cake mix
1 large box of instant chocolate pudding
1/2 cup white sugar

Pour wet ingredients on top:
1/4 cup Kahlua
1/4 cup vodka
4 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup water.

Beat 2-4 minutes. Pour into a sprayed bunt (tube) pan. Bake 50 minutes or so. Let stand 10 minutes, then invert on plate. Wait another 15 minutes, then poke cake to create small holes to absorb the glaze.

Glaze: 1/2 cup icing & 1/4 cup Kahlua
- mix & drizzle over cake (I added a LOT more icing sugar to give it a little more body - use your best judgement).

It's also really good with Cool Whip.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Family - no place like Halifax!

I'm off to Halifax for a bit of R&R with the wee one 'little E'. It's not Newfoundland but I can tell you there are few other cities that are so welcoming!! I'm visiting with my Aunt S & Uncle C which is better than any 5-star resort! I am happy that my uncle is doing well with his MS & the stubborn streak that runs in our family seems to be doing him well, helping him keep moving!

Other than visiting with them, I am also heading to my friend who is turning 34 - where does the time go? It seems like just yesterday I was graduating high school... or university or something.
The weird thing is I don't feel older... I feel like I could be in University, starting that first crappy-paying job, or going on a awkward first-date. But my reality is that I'm not... I'm a married, mother of 2 who is currently un-employed (in case I didn't mention it earlier my former company laid me off while I was on maternity leave!!). Although I do love my life, I love my husband of almost 10 years, my 2 kiddies, and everything, just sometimes I wish I still had that exciting air of 'new-ness' that those formative early years provide!!

Guess it's like some say - I'll do it all again one day, just vicariously through my children! For now I'll have to find something new to challenge me.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Family - YEAH!!!

I am SOO lucky to have great in-laws. Although I know it's sometimes hard to adopt your in-laws lifestyle - not that there is anything wrong or bad it's just different than how you were raised... different family rituals, different holidays, different meals - it makes you miss your mom's home cooking!!

If you read my earlier blog about my hospital adventures, you'll see that I spent many, many, MANY hours in the hospital with my son. And I am SOOO lucky to have had my brother-in-law and my sister-in-law to be there for 2 of the days - my husband was away for work!! So not only did my in-laws help me with my son being in the hospital, they helped me with my 6 month old daughter & cancelled their plans at the last minute to be there!

On days when I miss having my family close, I will surely remember those days & be thankful for having my in-law family so close & such a big part of my life!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

O Canada!

Recently I had the opportunity (not by choice) to be reminded how lucky we are that we live in Canada & have free health care!

My son had a bump on his neck, just below his ear, that I thought was a swollen lymph node due to perhaps him fighting a bug - he does go to daycare with kids, lotsa germs and he is a boy after all who would pick up anything & put it in his mouth - especially if it's a candy!! When his daycare provider told me she'd never seen anything like it in her 20 years of experience I decided to take him to his peditrician... who had no idea what it was & sent us to the hospital for tests. After a 7.5 hour wait at the hospital, they determined they didn't know what it was either - but they knew what it wasn't - an infection, so we went home.

The next day he was back to his VERY energetic self! The day after he awoke with a second lump so back to the Emergency room we went. After 12 hours & being seen by over 10 doctors (peditricians, ENTs, Infectious disease & specislists in each area) we were sent home to come back the next am for a CATscan. The next morning he had his scan & then we had to wait 7 hours to hear from the ENT specialist who told us they still didn't know what the lumps were specifically - but they had a greater idea of what it wasn't... it wasn't cat scratch fever or a bunch of things. It most likely was a microbacterial infection that is a fluke thing that reacted oddly with his body.

Now some who know would think that spending hours and hours in an emergency waiting room, see Dr. after Dr. would be a waste & others would be pissed that it took so long to not have a final answer! I think it coulda been better, but it was great as is - he saw over 25 doctors and they ran every test to determine what it was (by determing what it wasn't). Within 1 day he got a catscan to determine & they were all 100% sure that he was good enough to go home. Not only am I lucky to live in Canada I am lucky to be in Montreal - I know in many other remote places across the country (like Newfoundland) I'd have to wait weeks/months & take a plane to get a catscan!!
O'Canada you may be flawed at times, but I wouldn't wanna live anywhere else!!!

Monday, January 18, 2010

It's in the Bag!

Guest Blogger - 'D'

I was thrilled when Paige asked me to write something for her blog! It’s funny because for the past 24 hours I have been trying to figure out what to write for Justawoman and today I go to my mailbox and came across a sweet little parcel from Paige. It was a calendar of vintage handbags from the Fashion Institute of Technology. The girl knows me and she knows I love purses!

For me purses are one of the true differences between the sexes. Men may be able to get away with a cool messenger bag and a backpack is a sure thing. But a murse? It’s sure to elicit some ridicule.

Women have adopted trousers, loafers, ties, blazers……..etc. We wear our guys t-shirts on occasion and we all remember Mel Gibson in a kilt. Let’s face it – for most of us, our outwardly appearing Saturday errand wardrobe is probably not a whole lot different than our guys’. But a purse – it will always elicit femininity.

Even when I am sleepily trudging around the farmer’s market in my sweats I usually have a nice bag. This week I am using a cute Mandarina Duck (http://www.mandarinaduck.com/) bag that is light grey with a slight mauve tint. I bought it a few years ago in Barcelona. For a few days after New Year’s Eve I kept using my sweet seatbelt (http://www.seatbeltbags.com/) evening bag. One of my faves, it’s lasted for almost ten years thanks to the rugged construction of seatbelts. They save lives and make for fashionable bags too!

I look forward to going on vacation not just for the obvious reasons but because after I realized that I had a little bit of a problem with the bag buying, I decided that when on vacation I would allow myself a purse purchase sans guilt. Last summer I treated myself to a cool silver clutch with a convertible handle from FAFA in Montreal. Are you noticing a trend? My travels are to accessory meccas!

We all know that nothing sinks an outfit faster than a bad handbag. So, ladies, I say embrace this final holdout of girliness. Even when wearing sweats and the dubious fleece we all own – carry a fabulous bag and hold your head high.
NOTE: If you'd like to read more from 'D' check out her blog Calamity D (http://calamidee.blogspot.com/)

Friday, January 15, 2010

Point of View

A friend of mine got some disappointing news today. Now if you asked her she would say bad or devastating which got me to thinking - it's all really in your perspective. Somewhere along the way I learned that what sets one apart is not what they do in their life with the good things that happen but how they respond to the bad things that unavoidably happen to us all.

Working in the field of communications I deal with (or used to before I got laid off) with this daily. What sets a good communications person above the rest is how they deal with situations of stress, chaos and change. That cares over into all aspects of everyone's life, with children, families, friends and in-laws it's all about how you look at things.

For my friend, she wonders how she will fulfill her quest for greatness - who is she supposed to be now that her great adventure will not happen? I see that she is meant for greater things. Obviously she must move forward, perhaps a job change? take on a new hobby or interest? Go on some singles mixers to meet a new beau?? (I know I sound like the 1950's with that word, but love it anyway).

She doesn't yet see this as an opportunity... instead of letting disappointment define her, she can decide to take the bull by the horns and change her life here so she still has an amazing adventure. Either way life is what it is... we all must realize we are not limited in life happening, it will continue whether we want it to or not. We have to decide whether we jump into it fully or wait for someone to push us in!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Getting 'red'-y for Valentine's

A good friend 'S' gave me a surprise holiday gift (which was really a surprise & I so thoroughly enjoyed it, I started thinking why don't I do that more often... just to put a smile on someone's face). Anyway, I digress. The amazing gift was a tin full of amazing cupcake recipes & ideas for all occasions.

Amongst the amazing ideas was a recipe for Red Velvet Cupcakes - which I have heard lots about & when I've gone to a few cupcake shops they never have them! So of course I had to try them - perhaps they can be my tasty Valentine's Day treat for friends!

I have to say I had fun making them with my awesome Kitchen Aid and they were fairly easy too. My husband gave them a 7 1/2 out of 10. But sadly I have to say I hoped they would taste better after all I've heard. Don't get me wrong they were good but not orgasmic like others had stated. I was however impressed that they looked pretty good & they were red inside. Guess I'll have to try the recipe again... it always takes a few times to get a good recipe right!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

dinner guests

We LOVE having friends over for dinner but every time I am faced with the same problem... what do I make that will taste & look great but not take up too much time.

I wish that I could say that I am one of those people who can easily whip something up at a moment's notice that is amazing... but it is very far from the truth! This is why I am so amazed by the women I know who can so easily do this.

We rang in the New Year in Ottawa with friends when I realized I had forgotten a dip for my veggie tray. I was about to send my husband to the store & my friend 'R' says not to bother, she'll 'whip something up'. For me this would mean that I already have a dip in my fridge somewhere... but for her it means actually whipping something up from scratch! Then a few days later we stop by to visit my husband's aunt & she 'whips up' a lunch of a roasted chicken sandwich with grilled onions & mushrooms and real ginger - very tasty! Then she 'whips up' a spinach salad with clementine, pecans, tempura & a soy sauce/vinegar dressing - another masterpiece & everything fit together like we'd ordered the lunch special at a 5-star restaurant!

I find myself in awe of these women for they truly are more than 'Just a woman'! I think every woman has to have people like this in our lives which makes us want to be more, who gives us ideas and helps us feel not so afraid to try new things! Now I've gotta go find some new things to try!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Late to the Game

Ever feel like every good idea has already been taken? Or that anything you think about doing, someone is already out there doing it better than you ever could?? In my quest to find a new job & potentially a new career I have been trying to spend some time (on top of taking care of 2 kids) to figure out what it is I enjoy and hopefully something I can afford to pay the mortgage by doing.

I've always been creative or at least I've thought of myself as creative but when I think of what I'd like to do nothing screams at me. Don't' get me wrong, there are lots of things I could do but none that I think would be my 'calling' or something that could be profitable enough to be serious. I am so jealous of people who find something they really enjoy & focus on it... like an amazing friend in Toronto who decorates cakes (http://www.wix.com/julesbakescakes/dessertcreations) and she is more fabulous than I could ever dream to be! My sister-in-law, who is the quintessential Martha of entertaining recently brought a cake to a New Year's party that is better than anything I have ever made! It was a pecan caramel cake - the recipe is in french from ricardo cuisine, but I hope to try it soon & will post it in english. It tastes even better than it looks. I soon realized I do enjoy baking but it's the sharing of the baking I enjoy more!

Even for blogging a friend of mine D has a blog 'Calamity D' which is funny insightful and what I can tell is the start of her writing for other areas like magazines! She works hard to refine her skills and her passion comes through in every post!! While she's working hard to perfect that I'm off doing a bit of blogging, a bit of baking... a bit of everything and not focusing on any in particular. How do I expect to ever find something I can do if I can't harness my split personalities - guess it's time to put back on thinking cap & try to figure it out... hopefully before someone else finds that great idea.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Earned or Entitled???

While having dinner with good friends N & D we got into a conversation about when you should tip (i.e. for what services) & if you do tip, how much?

My whole problem with tipping is that it has become automatically expected you should tip for everything, including bad service. How then do you recognize good service?? How do you let someone know their service was sub-par??

Wikipedia defines a tip as: "a voluntary additional payment made for services rendered". Key words being 'VOLUNTARY' and 'ADDITIONAL'. So why do I feel guilt when I don't tip above the norm of matching the taxes on the meal (thank you Quebec for the high taxes).

I appreciate how hard people in the service industry work - I worked hard for the money as a waitress myself for a few years. I also appreciate when someone does their job well too! For 2010 I will work on not letting myself give into peer pressure of over tipping and will ensure the tips I give are earned and a reward for someones hard work. After all I still work hard for my money so why would I give it to someone else who didn't earn it?

Friday, January 1, 2010

Who am I kidding???

About a half hour after writing my last post I was in a car on my way to Ottawa to ring in the new year with friends when I realized what I was hoping for 2010 was not gonna happen. And it wasn't even mindnight! Part of being just a women in 2010 has to be to know my limits and try to survive within them. So for 2010 the only real thing I will try to do is survive! Hopefully I'll be able to be patient and focus on positive things while staying away from the negative, but above all else I hope to survive 2010 & look back on the year with happiness and smiles!