Saturday, 29 December 2012

Candy Cane Brownie Cheesecake

I was on for dessert with my family for Christmas dinner, so I wanted to make something festive, delicious, and less work than pies! I saw a few recipes for candy cane cheesecake on Pinterest, but they either didn't have a link or required crushed cookies, sour cream or heavy cream, which I didn't have. So I combined a few recipes to make this one my own!

The cheesecake part isn't very thick, so if you wanted to make it a bit bigger you could change the portions to 3 packages cream cheese, 3/4 cup sugar, and 3 eggs. It is quite sweet and rich, so you really only need a small piece.


-1 package brownie mix
-1 egg
-2 tbsp water

-2 packages (8oz/250g each) cream cheese
-½ cup white sugar
-1 tsp peppermint extract
-2 eggs
-1 cup crushed candy canes
-Chocolate sauce or whipped cream to top

Mix together brownie mix, egg, and water. Spread into a greased 9” springform pan and bake at 350F for 20 minutes.

Beat cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add in the sugar and peppermint extract and beat. Add the eggs one at a time and beat. Stir in ½ cup of the candy cane pieces. Pour over the brownie crust and bake for 35-40 minutes at 350F. Top with chocolate sauce or whipped cream, and candy cane pieces. Enjoy!

Friday, 21 December 2012

Christmas Cookies 2012

I have been quite the busy beaver this past week! With classes finished done, no exams, and just assignments and marking to work on, I have had lots of time to do some Christmas baking! I did 3 rounds of baking and made 7 different kinds of cookies, which I will share with you here! I tested them all, and they are delicious, so don't worry!

1) Red Velvet Cookies with Cream Cheese Icing

I found this recipe on Pinterest, and the link for it can be found here.

Makes about 4 dozen
For the cookies:
2 1/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon red food coloring

For the cream cheese frosting:
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons butter, softened
4 tablespoons powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat the oven to 325 and line a baking sheet with parchment. Whisk together the flour, salt and cocoa powder together in a medium bowl. In a large bowl beat the butter and powdered sugar together until light and fluffy. Add in the egg and vanilla and beat until combined. Add the food coloring and mix until the color is even and no streaks remain. Working in batches add the flour mixture and stir until incorporated. Roll dough into 1-inch round balls and place onto the prepared baking sheet. Make an indent into each ball using the end of a wooden spoon. Bake for 12 minutes and let cool on a rack.

To make the filling, beat all the ingredients together in a medium bowl until smooth and spreadable. Transfer to a pastry bag filled with a small round tip. Pipe the filling into the center of each cooled cookie. Feed to Santa immediately and store the rest in an airtight container.

2) Shortbread

2 cups flour
1 cup butter (don't substitute margarine)
¼ cup sugar
Sprinkles (optional)

Mix all ingredients until smooth. Pat into a 9x9" (approx.) cake pan, top with sprinkles, and bake at 325ºC for 30 minutes until edges just start to change colour. 

3) Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies (AKA Grinch Cookies)

I made these ones last year following the recipe that is listed on my blog here. It calls for sugar cookie mix, but I didn't feel like spending 3 dollars on it so I just added peppermint extract, green food colouring, and mint chocolate chips to the sugar cookie dough that I was making anyways. I think they were better the original way because they held their round shape, but maybe I should have just pressed them down with a fork? Still delicious though, I think these are the favourite of me and the hubby this year! 

4) Mini Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies

I got this recipe from the package of mini kisses I had (found by the chocolate chips), which you can also find here. I didn't quite make them as mini as they were supposed to be, but that's OK! They still taste great :) You could also use the same recipe and make the balls a bit bigger and use full-size kisses.

-1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
-3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
-1/3 cup granulated sugar
-1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
-1 egg
-3 tbsp milk
-1 tsp vanilla extract
-1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
-1/2 tsp baking soda
-1/2 tsp salt
-1 package Chipits mini kisses

Cream together butter, peanut butter, white sugar and brown sugar. Beat in egg, milk and vanilla. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt. Gradually blend dry ingredients into creamed mixture. Shape dough into small (2cm) balls, and roll in extra granulated sugar. Place on a cookie sheet and bake for 5-6 minutes at 350F. Remove from oven and immediately press one mini kiss into the middle. Makes about 9 dozen cookies (if you make them small enough haha).

5) Candy Cane Sugar Cookies


This is another repeat recipe from last year- they were so yummy and festive I just had to make them again! You can find the recipe in a previous post here.

6) Sugar Cookies


The classic Christmas cookie! I was so impressed by all the beautiful sugar cookies I am seeing on Pinterest that I had to make some of my own! I used the recipe in my binder, but I think that it is different from the one that is on my blog, which is much better! So use this one! I made the icing way too runny so the decorating part didn't turn out as well as I would have hoped. Thanks to my friend Felicia for coming over to make and decorate these cookies with me! 

7) Cake Batter Cookies

OK, this has to be one of the easiest recipes ever.... seen on Pinterest here. There are only 3 ingredients and you can use whatever kind of cake mix you want. I used the sprinkle/funfetti kind and they are super yummy!

-1 box cake mix
-2 eggs
-1/3 cup oil

Mix ingredients together, form into balls, and place on a cookie sheet. Bake at 375F for 6-8 minutes. 

Here is the final product(s)! I didn't count how many cookies I made in total, but it was quite a lot! We will see how many survive the Williams and Jones Christmases :) Enjoy!

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

2012 Christmas Ornaments

We are less than a week away from Christmas, so I thought I would share some of the ornaments that I have made for 2012. The first is the time capsule Christmas ornament. I decided that this will be a yearly tradition for our new family. You write down significant things that happened that year on strips of paper, curl them and put them in a glass ornament for that year. I made one last year, so you can see pictures and a tutorial by clicking here.


I also made an ornament with our wedding invitation inside, which was inspired by Pinterest of course! I also made a few more of these for wedding gifts, but I can't find a picture of them! I think that it's a really cool way to keep and display your wedding invitation. One thing that fascinates me about Christmas is that ornaments will stick around in your family FOREVER! I love the nostalgia of opening the giant rubbermaid tote full of Christmas decorations and bringing back all the memories you have of years past. These ornaments are made in the same way as the time capsule ornaments, and again you can see the tutorial here.

Pinterest vs. Reality: Wedding Invitation Ornament

Monday, 10 December 2012

Christmas Pinterest Party!

A couple of weeks ago, I hosted my very own Christmas Pinterest Party (guess where I got the idea from...)! Here are the instructions I included on the Facebook invitations...

"You are invited to a Pinterest Party, Christmas edition!

Basically what will happen is everyone brings something they saw on Pinterest for us to all do together! Anything is fair game: crafts, recipes, hairstyles, nails, or you can even clean/reorganize my house! We will all go home with some yummy food and crafty projects to keep for yourself or give as Christmas gifts.

If you aren't on Pinterest, or have little to no crafty/domestic skills, don't worry about it, still come and have fun! You can bring a
recipe or something that you didn't see on Pinterest, or you can just come to hang out or play with my kitten!

Please RSVP on here, and once you decide what pin to do, post the link on the wall. Also, if anyone needs any ingredients or baking/crafty supplies for their pin, just let me know, I have plenty!"

So a bunch of my girlfriends from school came over and we had lots of fun! Most people brought food that was already made, but I think it worked out better that way because we wouldn't have had time to make a craft/recipe from each person that came. We ended up making 2 recipes, and 3 crafts together. Here are instructions for some of the cool things we did!

Spinach Cranberry Cream Cheese Wraps

 I made this recipe before everyone arrived, based on two things I saw on Pinterest, this one for the display as a Christmas tree, and this one for the contents. Here is the recipe I used for the wraps (sorry I don't have amounts, it doesn't really matter anyways). I like how they looked so Christmas-y and were super easy to throw together.

-spinach tortillas
-baby spinach
-plain cream cheese

Spread the tortillas with plain cream cheese. Top with craisins and spinach. Wrap up into pinwheels, and then cut into 1" slices. That's it! The original pin called for feta cheese and green onions, but I didn't have them so I left them out! I imagine it would taste good though. I was low on cream cheese so I didn't use very much, but more would probably taste better!

Pinterest vs Reality: Christmas Tree Wraps

 Apple Nachos

A lot of people were really confused about the concept of apple nachos, but they were really good! If you like apples and peanut butter, then you will like apple nachos!

-4 apples (I used 6 and it was too much)
-1 tsp lemon juice
-1/2 cup peanut butter
-1/2 cup chocolate chips

Slice the apples, and then put them in a large bowl of water with 1 tsp lemon juice so they don't get brown. Melt the peanut butter, and pour over the apple slices. Sprinkle the chocolate chips and voila! The original pin (here) added almonds, pecans, and coconut, but I didn't, and it was still delicious! You could also use caramel sauce instead of peanut butter and it would be yummy too.

Pinterest vs Reality: Apple Nachos

Cinnamon Pull-Apart Bread (AKA Monkey Bread)

Erin brought this recipe that her mom used to make that is also all over Pinterest. And for good reason, it was delicious!

-2 package Pilsbury country biscuits
-3/4 cup white sugar
-1 tbsp cinnamon
-1/2 cup melted butter

-1/2 package (250g) cream cheese
-1/2 cup icing sugar
-1-2 tbsp milk

Cut the biscuits into quarters or bite-size pieces. Mix together the cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl. Dip the biscuit pieces into 1/4 cup of melted butter, then into the sugar mixture, and put them into a greased bundt pan until it is half full. Pour the remaining 1/4 cup butter on top, and then add the rest of the biscuit pieces (dipped in butter/sugar mix). Mix together the leftover butter and sugar mixture and pour it over the top. Bake for 40-45 minutes at 350F (I recommend putting a spare cookie sheet under it in case the butter leaks).

While it is baking, beat together the cream cheese, icing sugar, and milk to make the icing. When it is finished baking, invert onto a serving plate, and spread the icing on top. It is eaten by pulling apart the pieces like monkeys (hence the name). It tastes amazing while it is still warm too!

Erin with her Cinnamon Pull-Apart Bread

Sharpie Mugs

This project was really easy and would make a great Christmas present (actually, many of the girls made them for gifts so I could only post my own)! I chose to write our favourite Bible verse, Ephesians 3:17-24 on mine. What you do is you draw on plain coloured mugs (from the dollar store) with sharpies, and then bake them for 30 minutes at 350F. After it first came out of the oven, the writing wouldn't wipe off, but I put it through the dishwasher and it wipes off a little, so I would recommend hand washing them, or using it for a platter or something that would be more decoration. The link to the original pin is here.

Mod Podge Glass Pebble Magnets

This was the craft that I provided for the party. Very simple, cute, and cheap! Check out the tutorial from a previous post here.

Brie and Jaspreet with their magnets

Christmas Cards

Two of the girls were "pinspired" by all the wonderful Christmas cards on Pinterest, so we got out all the supplies and went mad! I don't have a specific tutorial for this, just let the creative juices flow!

Erin and Felicia with their cards

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Hamburger Macaroni Soup

Here is a recipe I semi-made up loosely based on a soup that my Grandma made for us once, but I lost the recipe! I have no idea whether this is close or not, but my husband and I both enjoyed it! Feel free to substitute any vegetables that you like and to adjust the recipe as you desire. 

Ground beef
1 ½ cups elbow macaroni
1 can tomatoes
1 onion
1 green pepper
1 package or can mushrooms
1 cup chopped carrots
2 cups water
Spices (optional)
Grated cheese to top (optional)

Brown the ground beef in a large pot with a bit of oil. Add the chopped onions and other vegetables. Add the can of tomatoes, water, and macaroni. Simmer for about 20 minutes on medium-high heat or until the macaroni is cooked to your liking. Add salt, pepper, and spices if desired. Top with grated cheese and enjoy!

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Pumpkin Crumble

Here is a nice yummy fall recipe, perfect for Halloween or Thanksgiving. This is a case where it doesn't look too good, but it tastes delicious! It didn't turn out too crumbly this time, but that's OK! I find that this recipe tastes as good as pumpkin pie but is way less work. I have to give credit to Julie for passing along this recipe, thanks Julie!
1 cup sugar
4 eggs
28 oz (796 ml) canned pumpkin (not pie filling)
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp ginger
½ tsp salt
3 cups skim milk
1 white cake mix
½ cup melted margarine

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Spray a 9x13” baking dish with non-stick cooking oil. Combine the eggs, sugar, salt, pumpkin, and spices in a large bowl. Mix well. Add the milk and stir until smooth. Pour the mixture into the baking dish. 

Combine the cake mix with the melted margarine. Mix well to form a crumble. Sprinkle the crumble evenly over the top of the pumpkin mixture. 

Bake for 1 – 1 ¼ hours. Serve hot or cold with cool whip or vanilla ice cream. Enjoy!

Monday, 1 October 2012

Grilled Balsamic Vegetable Wraps (With Goat Cheese!)

Although I love both cooking and baking, one thing I really enjoy about cooking is that you can be creative and leave out (or add in) ingredients as you please for the most part. This recipe is inspired by grilled vegetable wraps I have had at various restaurants (notably August restaurant in Beamsville... if you are ever in Niagara definitely check it out!). I loosely based the recipe off of the one found at this link. I surprised myself at how delicious and easy this was! I also used our new Cuisinart Griddler to grill the wraps at the end, it's definitely a wedding gift that I am enjoying! If you don't have one or a similar item, then don't worry about it, they still taste good even if they aren't grilled at the end. Like I said, cooking is flexible! You could even add in some asparagus, red peppers, or anything else that you think you might like. Enjoy!

Grilled Balsamic Vegetable Wraps

1 zucchini
1 onion
1 package mushrooms
1 green or red pepper
1 package baby spinach
1 package Goat cheese
6 Tortilla wraps
Vegetable Oil
Balsamic Vinegar (or balsamic vinaigrette salad dressing)

1. Cut up the vegetables (aside from the baby spinach), and brush them with vegetable oil and balsamic vinegar.

2. Put the vegetables on a grilling tray or cookie sheet and broil for 5 minutes. Flip the vegetables and broil for another 5 minutes.

3. While the vegetables are cooking, spread some goat cheese on the wraps, and put some baby spinach in them.

4. Put the grilled vegetables inside the tortillas, wrap them up, and put them on your Griddler/Panini Press on high for approximately 5 minutes. Enjoy!

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Amazing Apple Crisp

As you may know, I recently moved to Windsor to do my Masters and PhD in Clinical Psychology. Since I didn't know anyone in Windsor, I thought that it would be a good idea to make some new friends, so I invited my four classmates from the Child Clinical stream over for dinner. I made this apple crisp for dessert, and although I should probably leave part of it a mystery, it isn't as hard as you would think! Growing up, this was one of the desserts that my mom would actually make, and I love it! Warm it up with some vanilla ice cream, and bam! Instant comfort food :) Enjoy!

Apple Crisp 


2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups rolled oats
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
1 1/2 cups butter
2 quarts/8 cups peeled, cored and sliced apples

Preheat oven to 350F (175C). In a large bowl, combine the flour, oatmeal, cinnamon, nutmeg and brown sugar. Cut butter into mixture until crumbly. Take half of the mixture and pat it into the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish. Cover crumb mixture with apple slices, then sprinkle apple slices with remaining crumb mixture. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 45 to 50 minutes or until apples are tender.