Posts tagged under Dessert. Show all posts.
I try to limit the number of children for a play date to four—my two and two friends. But earlier in the week, my older son asked me if he could have three friends over for a play date. Those three friends just happened to be girls. I reluctantly agreed. Fortunately, it was a lovely afternoon and the five of them were able to spend most of the time outside. I didn’t want to seem too overbearing, but I also wanted to give the play date some structure. I know what boys like to do at play dates, but I wasn’t sure I knew what the girls would want to do.
I decided I would play it safe and organize a cooking activity—make your own ice-cream sundae. This proved to be a great after school activity and snack idea. I brought all the ingredients and bowls outside, helped them serve their ice-cream and yogurt and then they built their own delicious creations. Having the kids prepare their snack outside left my kitchen free of sprinkles, sticky fingers, and ice-cream drips. Needless to say, everyone was happy!
It’s always ‘sweet’ when you find a well-priced candy or chocolate that is also delicious, so we were pleasantly surprised with the sample of Tim Hortons Old-Fashioned Maple Fudge that was recently delivered to SavvyHQ. It’s made in Quebec with real butter and maple syrup and its old-fashioned flavour and crumbly texture makes it seem much more expensive than the $4.95 it is. Combine it with a gift card, and you’ve got a perfect gift for the teacher, the paperboy or the babysitter. We recommend stocking up next time you’re getting your double-double, and if you end up with a few extra at the end of the festive season, well…that probably would not be the end of the world as a little fudge might just be what we all need to get through January, February and March.
Did you know that it takes approximately 40 litres of sap to be boiled down to 1 litre of syrup? A mature sugar maple produces about 40 litres of sap during the 4- to 6-week sugaring season, so that’s basically one bottle per tree per season. Talk about a precious resource. Fortunately for us, Canada makes more than 80 percent of the world’s maple syrup (75% of that coming from Quebec).
And maybe as a result of the high level of Olympic-induced patriotism, we’re feeling like a little maple syrup on everything these days at my house. Naturally the kids love to pour it all over their waffles—a family breakfast fave—so much so that I have to pre-pour their ration into a shot glass just so they think they are controlling how much they are having.
For me, I get my maple fix with Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette. You can mix up a batch and keep it in the fridge—it’s especially good with goat cheese on salad greens.
Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette
Prep and Cook
Maple syrup makes a great marinade for fish, too. Just combine ¾ cup maple syrup with ¼ cup soy sauce for every one pound of salmon. Marinate fish for at least 4 hours, turning occasionally, and cook as desired.
How do you like to enjoy maple syrup?
My youngest son was turning seven, so a couple of months ago I gave him a choice of themes for his party. After some discussion, we narrowed his choices down to sports, gymnastics or bugs. Bugs won the draw. Spencer loves bugs—any kind of bugs…the slimier and scarier, the better. So I contacted Bugs without Borders, a local company run by a group of female scientists who offer educational programs for children to teach them about bugs and other critters. I hired them to come and give a presentation at his party last week.
As with all of our parties, the birthday cake has to match the theme of the party. A couple of times I admit, I sought professional help for the dessert, but this time I figured that I could take care of the bugs myself. So instead of a traditional cake, I went for a ‘Dirt Cake’, complete with gummy worms and ‘real’ crickets. It was a huge hit! And, much to the other mothers’ surprise (and disgust), most of the boys actually ate the crickets.
With universal appeal, Dirt Cake is a perfect dessert to bring along to a potluck, picnic or cottage weekend.
Prep and Cook
Good to know: Depending on your birthday party theme, you can use individual mini-flower pots or buckets and a trowel to serve the dirt cake. Edible crickets can be found at specialty candy stores such as Sugar Mountain.
What is your favourite birthday cake idea?
My twin daughters, Madeline and Riley, turned two last week and to celebrate we had a big party with family and friends at our home. There were almost 40 adults and 9 children to feed and keep entertained and like at most parties, the dessert was a centrepiece.
Originally I had this great, elaborate plan to bake a cake and decorate it with Cookie Pops made to look like Sesame Street characters. Well, that didn’t work out so I turned to my back-up plan—Cupcake Cones!
These fun little desserts are perfect for kids because there is very little mess, and they look super cute.
Here’s how to make them:
Prep and Cook
Both the kids and the adults loved them and wondered how I got the cupcake into the cone! This is a fun dessert that is perfect for a birthday party, or as a special treat.
At this time of the year I am always on the lookout for great, simple holiday dessert ideas to share with friends and family.
I love to bake, especially when it comes to Christmas baking. However, sometimes I don’t have enough notice to make dessert from scratch. Last week, while grocery shopping, I came up with a solution. I found a great little dessert shortcut in the frozen food aisle at Loblaws, the PC Mini Chocolate Coated Candy Cane Cheesecakes. I like chocolate, I like cheesecake and I like candy canes. I had to give them a try. These bite-sized, peppermint-flavoured cheesecakes have a hard, dark chocolate coating and a sprinkle of candy cane bits on top. They may be mini, but their flavour is big!
Cheesecake has never been at the top of my kids’ favourite dessert list, but when I offered them a dessert that was covered in candy cane sprinkles…they dove in and asked for another. Bite-size desserts are perfect for kids and for those of us who like to indulge a little during the holiday season, without the guilt.
Serve these delicious mini cheesecakes on their own, with fresh-cut fruit or alongside other holiday treats on a dessert tray. This holiday season I will make sure to always have a box on hand for a last-minute dessert idea.
What is your favourite holiday dessert shortcut?
The baking continues at SavvyHQ, and our National Sales Director, Maggie Dymond, decided she wanted to try her hand at making fudge. It was something her grandmother used to make when she was little, so she opted to try out the Fantasy Fudge recipe that used to be on the back of the original Kraft Marshmallow Creme jar.
Adapted from Kraft
Makes about 117 (squares)
Prep and Cook
Serve as a sweet snack or a dessert with fresh raspberries
The food talk around the office this week is all about how to use up the leftover chocolate and candies from the holidays, especially for those trying to stay away from post-holiday excess temptations. Some of us have confessed to not actually having any leftovers (it was a yummy holiday season indeed), but for those that do, we’ve been brainstorming on how to make use of them beyond just eating them straight up (not that there is anything wrong with that).
Here are some of our suggestions:
What do you do with your leftover candies? We’d love to know.
Who doesn’t love a good JELL-O Jiggler?
Since all kids love JELL-O, it’s the perfect thing to serve for a Valentine’s Day treat this year. It’s red, it’s yummy and it can be made into the shape of a heart.
Serve with a side of sliced strawberries (heart-shaped themselves) and perhaps a dollop of whipped cream if you feel so inclined and you have an easy-to-make sweet treat. You can even get the kids involved in helping to make them.
Prep and Cook
What do you like to serve on Valentine’s Day?
I like to dress up ordinary fruit slices with skewers and sprinkles for instant fun. They are great for special occasions or weekend treats and there is something almost universally appealing about fruit that’s been dipped in chocolate. Even my nine year-old (who likes very few fruits), loves these.
My favourite fruits to dip are strawberry halves, bananas, orange segments blackberries and dried fruits (specifically apricots and dates). They are incredibly easy to assemble, and you can customize the look by using a mix of white and dark chocolate with assorted sprinkles. You can even consider adding a few spices to the melted chocolate (like cinnamon) for a unique flavour upgrade.
Like individual fondues on a stick, they are good for adult gatherings too. Pass a tray of the dipped fruit around with after-dinner coffee, or lay a platter out alongside some prepared dessert for a fun end to your meal.
Besides the ones I mentioned, what other fruits would you dip in chocolate?
Chocolate Dipped Fruit Skewers
Prep and Cook
The most requested snack in my house is definitely chocolate chip cookies. I think they’re a universally comforting food that almost everyone likes, wouldn’t you agree?
I enjoy them too, and they are my go-to treat when I’m asked to make something for a classroom party or bake sale but sometimes I get a bit bored of the same old. But to say one chocolate chip cookie is just like the others is not really true. In an effort to mix things up a bit, I’ve discovered that there are many ways to serve a chocolate chip cookie, making them even more fun and exciting.
There’s the cookie on a stick version, the jumbo coffee shop cookie, the cookie pie, and even the mini chocolate chip ice cream sandwich. All of these versions of your classic fave are easy and fun reinventions of the ordinary chocolate chip cookie recipe, which really is one of the easiest cookies to make.
Chocolate Chip Cookies
Prep and Cook:
Cookies on a Stick
Jumbo Coffee Shop Cookie
Mini Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Sandwiches
My kids like to make holiday gifts for a few special people in their lives, and while I would definitely consider myself a crafty person, weekend hockey keeps me from committing to making Grandpa a wooden bird feeder or Aunt Beth a Pollock-esque painting. Instead, I turn to my kitchen cupboards and cookbooks and let the kids pick out something quick and easy that we can package up prettily and hand out to multiple people.
Jackson (my youngest), took this recipe straight from the December issue of Canadian Living. ‘Easy’ and ‘fudge’ are two words that speak loudly to him, and I suggested that we replace the walnuts in the recipe with graham crackers and marshmallows for a more kid-friendly concoction. He accepted the challenge and we successfully made this no-bake sweet in less time than it would’ve taken me to go to the store to buy some fudge.
Using only seven ingredients, I’m confident that children of reading age could likely make this recipe themselves, with only a little help from a supervising parent. I’d suggest opening the can of milk for them, and overseeing the melting of the chocolate, but other than that, I’m sure your little chefs could make a batch of this with only minimal assistance.
Do your kids ever make edible gifts for loved ones?
Easy S’mores Fudge
Adapted from Canadian Living
Prep and Cook
Last Monday, at the weekly editorial meeting held at SavvyMom HQ, I snuck in a bag of homemade cinnamon marshmallows. I like surprising people with these sweet treats because they ooh and aah over them, thinking I’ve spent hours working in the kitchen when in reality, making marshmallows is one of the easiest candy confections I cook up in my kitchen.
To begin with, you only need five ingredients plus a flavouring agent: water, sugar, light corn syrup, salt and gelatin. For plain marshmallows add vanilla, for a cinnamon variety replace the vanilla with the ground, and to make a peppermint variety—my favourite for the holiday season—add some peppermint extract and a few drops of red food colouring.
These package up perfectly for homemade gifts, and we always keep some on hand for warm mugs of hot cocoa. I might consider packaging up a bag of homemade marshmallows with a favourite hot chocolate mix and a new mug for an easy homemade teacher’s gift.
One word of caution though: while the marshmallows are easy to make, they can be a little bit messy. Be sure to have plenty of non-stick spray or vegetable oil on hand.
Have you made marshmallows before? Was it easier than you expected?
To see the full printable recipe, click here: Homemade Peppermint Marshmallows
With less than a week until most of our holiday celebrations are officially underway, I’m happy to say that I am finally and fully prepared. Gifts are bought and wrapped, the freezer is stocked, cupboards are full and the supplies have been purchased for last-minute chocolate bark.
Inevitably, there is always a forgotten hostess gift that needs to be put together, or a small snack for unexpected guests. Having a supply of chocolate (dark, milk, white), nuts, dried fruit and/or candy on hand means that I’ll be able to put something together quickly if needed.
I first discovered the brilliance of chocolate bark when I lived in France. The lady I worked for would assemble it whenever she needed to have a sweet nibble on hand. It was almost always made from dark chocolate, dried fruit and nuts and often included the addition of a spice or two. Think cinnamon-infused chocolate or a sprinkling of ginger or rosemary as a finishing touch. It wasn’t candy-laden like we might make it here, and it was certainly a treat they perceived to be good for you.
I now make chocolate bark each holiday season and try to use simple, yet flavourful ingredients. Do you make bark? If so, what are some of your favourite add-ins?
To see the full printable recipe, click here: French Chocolate Bark.
Situated in picturesque Victoria, B.C., Amy Bronee, is the chief cook and writer behind Family Feedbag, a blog dedicated to from-scratch cooking for a thoroughly modern family. As a mom of two boys, Amy hones her cooking skills in her little home, while simultaneously teaching her boys about having fun in the kitchen.
I visit Amy’s space on the Internet quite frequently, and was recently bowled over when she shared a recipe for the most beautiful apple pie I’ve seen. Not only can this gal cook, but she’s incredibly creative as well.
Amy was gracious enough to answer some burning questions I had for her, and I have no doubt you will like her, and her blog, as much as I do.
Q: Which ingredient are you currently loving these days?
Amy: Leeks! They add so much flavour to comfort foods like stews and soups. Anywhere I would normally use an onion, substituting leeks adds an interesting flavour. Don’t get me started on bacon and leeks covered and cooked, until they practically melt in your mouth. J’adore! Any dish that starts there will take you good places.
Q: What is the last meal you cooked for your family?
Amy: Sesame chicken with bok choy on rice. I love the flavour of toasted sesame seeds and soy sauce with the silky texture of wilted greens. Healthy and yummy!
Q: What is your ideal cooking soundtrack?
Amy: Jazz, baby! I’m talking the classic stuff. Sassy ladies like Ella Fitzgerald, Etta James, and Billie Holiday are often my companions in the kitchen. Lots of brass, and lots of raspy and heady sounds swirling above me while I chop and stir at the kitchen counter. That’s my idea of pure me-time bliss.
Q: Which do you prefer: chocolate or cheese?
Amy: Seriously?! That’s a tough one. Okay, if I had to choose one I suppose cheese slightly edges out chocolate for me. I mean, is there anything more deliriously naughty than ooey gooey melted cheese stringing from your plate to your fork? Knock me over, I’m in love.
Q: Name the one cooking utensil you can’t live without?
Amy: My chef’s knives. I’m not a big fan of gadgets because I don’t have the storage. Most of my prep is done with a cutting board and chef’s knife. It’s quick and cuts down on clean-up. Plus, chopping up some veggies is actually a great stress-reliever!