Saturday, March 3, 2012

Peanut Butter Chocolate Cupcakes

High school friends often don't keep in touch, but I've been blessed with 3 whom I do keep in touch.  We try to get together once a month for a girls dinner out or a playdate with the 6 little ones.  Whenever I have them to my place, I seem to always make cupcakes for dessert and now I feel the need to figure out a new one each time they come over.  I had made these cupcakes for my husband's staff about a year ago and had forgotten about them until one of them requested that I make them again.  After a quick refresher on which ones he meant, I decided to make them again and make extra for the playdate lunch.

What goes together than peanut butter and chocolate?  Nothing.

I had a busy week, so I did simplify by using a Devil's Food Cake box mix, but I've made this with a homemade chocolate cake recipe too.  I bought a bag of no-name chocolate peanut butter cups.  They need to be the mini ones in order to work really well.  I filled the lined muffin tins as I regularly would with a scoop and pressed the peanut butter cups into the batter so that the candy was flat with the batter, but the batter didn't cover the top of it.

I baked the cupcakes as per the instructions on the box (or the recipe).  What I love about this is that you get a filled cupcake without all the work of filling the cupcake.  Once you pull them out of the oven, all that's left is to frost them and you're good to go!

The peanut butter frosting was different this time around, and far more delicious than my first attempt.  It's so simple too

Fluffy Peanut Butter Frosting
1 cup peanut butter (I used smooth)
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 cups confectioners (icing) sugar
3 tbsp milk or as needed to desired consistency

Cream butter and peanut butter until fluffy, add sugar a little at a time.  Add milk a small about at a time, stirring between additions.  Don't eat it all with a spoon before frosting your cupcakes!

I shaved some good quality chocolate over the top once done, but that is totally optional.  They are delicious without chocolate shavings too!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day!

Valentine's Day and I have a love/hate relationship.  You're probably wondering, "Why the hate on a day that's about love?".  Well, I'm not loving the commerical side that pressures men into being nice and spending too much money once a year, if that's all that they do for their wives.  However, as a day to say I love you and for kids to get creative and hand out valentine's, I love it.

This being June's first Valentine's Day, I was excited to plan out what we (or I) would make for all of her little friends.  I wanted something with a vintage feel.  I love the valentine cards that remind me of the ones my grandmas would give me when I was little.  I did a little searching and found this one, which I printed on cardstock.

Then I thought it would be nice to add a little treat along with the card.  Smarties have holiday-themed colours at different times of the year, so I picked up some pink and red ones.  I air-popped about 1.5 to 2 cups of popcorn kernels, which made around 10 cups of popcorn.  I then melted some belgian white chocolate in a double boiler and poured it over the popcorn.  I used approximately 2 cups of white chocolate, but this could definitely changed based on how sweet you like it.  Make sure if you go to a bulk food store, you buy good white chocolate, not just white melting wafers.  Melting wafers tend to taste fake and plastic-y.  I then mixed in the smarties and spread everything out on parchment-lined baking sheets.

I think next time I would spread out the chocolate popcorn and then sprinkle the smarties on top.  After stirring, the smarties tended to get clumped together.  Leave it to dry overnight.  I used a heart stamp to stamp some small brown paper bags.

I then hole punched the top, added the valentine and tied it with red and white bakers twine.  Since most of June's friends are in the 18-month and under crowd, this was mainly enjoyed by their parents.

And, just because I'm a mom, here is our attempt at getting a valentine photo for the grandparents as we headed out for supper and a Jets game.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

June Adelaide, Cutie Patootie

June is getting quite good at pulling herself up slightly and sitting on her own.  She was very proud of herself sitting in the chair and with the beautiful light coming through the window in her nursery, I couldn't help but snap a few photos.  Wait, she's up from her nap, be back in a minute...

Ok, back.  Let me share a few photos with you:

Thursday, November 17, 2011


What is a bapron you ask?  It's a nerdy-named baby apron.  I found a great tutorial here at Craftiness is Not Optional (great blog for anyone wanting to make pretty things for little girls) for these great bib meets apron that covers more of June's wardrobe than a regular bib.  Why do I need a bapron?  It's because my little June is now trying rice cereal!  So far, so good.  She's not eating too much yet, but she's looking stylish doing it!

I loved the variation (found here), which suggested using laminated cotton for the baprons.  If you're not familiar with laminated cotton, it is a 100% cotton that has a vinyl layer on the printed or "right" side.  You can buy it already laminated in 44" width by the meter or you can buy the iron-on vinyl from a fabric store and laminate your own cotton!  The only disadvantage to doing it yourself is that the iron-on only come in about 24" widths.  I've made 3 so far, one with an Amy Butler print and 2 with a Kaffe Fassett print.  The bias tape is bought, not made for a quicker process (and because it's not worth burning my fingers for a bapron)  I picked up some iron-on vinyl today in a matte finish today, so I hope to be whipping up a few more in a couple of days.
For anyone who is thinking of tackling these (really it is a simple project-it only takes about an hour), I have a few tips.  When using bias tape, make sure to put the narrower half on the front.  This way you don't have to worry as much about making sure you catch the bias tape on the back.  Also, for sewing laminated cottons, sew with the cotton side down against the feed dogs of your machine, not the vinyl side.  The vinyl side will stick if it's down.  I find that using small metal paper clips works better for holding the bias tape around the edge of the laminated cotton than pins.  Pin holes in laminated cotton will not self-heal as they would in regular cotton.  Just make sure you don't sew over the paperclips, or they'll be an unwelcome part of your bapron.
I enjoy making things for June, but sometimes they end up more expensive than a store-bought version.  In this case each bapron only costs approximately $3.75 in materials!  Cute and cost-conscious?  Yes, please!

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Old Port in Montreal

More images from our trip to Montreal.  What a great time.  I'll admit, I look a little crazy in our family picture.  It was windy!

The old port is down by the water.  We took a walk around, did a bit of shopping and had lunch.  A long discussion with our waiter to determine what "poireau"is en anglais.  It turns out it is leek. So I had some cream of leek soup.  We stopped by the biosphere but decided not to tour it as we had to catch our plane in a few hours and June was sleeping.  It looks like a really interesting place to take kids though.

 Instead of going into the biosphere, we did a drive-by of the Olympic Stadium!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Old Quebec City Images

Here are some more images of our wonderful first trip as a family of three. Who knew that a vacation could be wonderful when it involves soaking poopy clothes in the tub? Here are some streets images from our lovely walks through Old Quebec City
Some things are the same on vacation
Street Performers

Sleepy Baby
The Chute Montmorency (Montmorency Falls) just outside of Quebec City)

Sunday, September 25, 2011

C'est la Vie

(June and I in Old Quebec City Enjoying Crepes) Bonjour mes amis! We have arrived in Quebec after our first successful flight with Baby June. She ate, slept, cooed, squealed, and ate again. We couldn't have asked for a better traveller! Thursday morning, Derek had a business meeting so while he went for lunch, June and I were off to find a cafe for lunch. We found a cafe and had a turkey and brie sandwich, pasta salad and a bowl full of cafe au lait...the most delicious cafe au lait I have had. No sugar required. Now that I think of it, maybe it was so delicious because usually when I go to order a latte, I ask for multiple modifiers. Non-fat! Decaf! Half sweet! When I ordered in this cafe with my broken french, the fact that the waitress understood "cafe au lait" was good enough for me.
Now that I have June with me when I go out, I find that I have more people stopping to talk to me (or June). Usually, this is fine, except when people come up and start talking to June in french and then ask me a question about her, which I am unable to answer. I end up smiling and apologizing for my lack of comprehension.
To Old Quebec City we went, walking down the picturesque streets, along the narrow sidewalks. We stopped at a cafe with June for a crepe coffee break, and continue on discovering this city that feels very Eurpoean. It's quite amazing that this, the oldest city in North America and the only walled city north of Mexico has been so well preserved. There are souvenir shops, bars, cafes, clothing stores, and bakeries...ahhh, the bakeries. I saw a cute bakery, Paillard, and stopped in to see what kind of pastries they had. The inside was beautiful. To the right, a gelati counter featuring flavors such as maple, fraises lavande (Lavender Strawberry), poire gingembre (Ginger Pear), to the left a pastry counter with cookies, brownies, tarts, pastries, croissants touted as "voted best in Quebec City", and macarons. The back featured a sandwich counter and lovely long tables for patrons to sit and enjoy their food. So back to the macarons. I have looked high and low in Winnipeg to find French Macarons. Not the coconut and chocolate cookies we are used to, but the meringue cookies with a flavoured filling. I picked out a few to buy. Who could resist with flavours such as Apricot Black Tea, Almond, Banana Chocolate, and Passion Fruit. Add in classic vanilla and chocolate, and I was set. The crispy exterior, the slightly gooey interior, the flavors....oh sorry, I was just taking a moment to dream about them! We went down to the water and saw the beautiful Chateau Frontenac, now owned by the Fairmont.
(French Macarons from Paillard) Our second day in downtown Quebec led us back to Paillard for lunch, where we tried sandwiches, some gelati, and picked up some of those croissants for later. Derek has a thing for croissants. They were indeed delicieux! The service was very friendly including a waiter escorting me to the 2nd floor bathroom after June's diaper exploded while I was nursing her. We then wandered around, catching a pair of street performers and more of the scenery. Our last foray into Old Quebec took us to Aux Anciens Canadiens, a French Canadian Restuarant that Derek found in order to satisfy my desire for tourtiere, or Quebec meat pie. The place, we discovered after after the fact, is actually a very well known restaurant. We enjoyed French Pea Soup, Tourtiere with a delicious chutney, finished off with Maple Pie and Maple Creme Brulee. The place was an old stone building with exposed stone in the interior, that is a part of the city's history. Even the waitresses were wearing traditional clothing. We then went near the Promenade to an alley with artists selling their art. I picked up a screenprint over line drawing of a horse and carriage, and a bronze plate stamped print of the restaurant where we had just eaten. We the drove to Chute Montmorency (Montmorency Falls) just outside of Quebec City. The falls are 1.5 times higher than Niagara Falls, although not nearly as wide. We then drove to Montreal. After a quick prayer at the beginning of our journey, June slept the entire way! We went to our hotel and then walked through downtown Montreal to Dunn's. Montreal smoke meat sandwiches and poutine awaited us there, followed by more walking to only minutely justify all the food we had eaten. We stopped of at Paris Crepe and enjoyed a Strawberry Banana Crepe as we walked the rest of the way to our hotel, checking out the plethora of shopping options on the way. So let's see... toutiere, french pea soup, maple pie, creme brulee, Montreal smoked meat sandwich, poutine, there any french food we missed?