Girls’ Weekend 2017 and an Argo Grey Cup Win to Boot..!

November 27, 2017 at 9:56 pm | Posted in All Things Doodle, Caityisms, Christmas, Family Ties, My Kid is a Donut, Recipes, Sisters, Toeses and Noses | 2 Comments
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Another year, another Grey Cup game (Toronto Argonauts won btw), and another girls’ weekend 🙂

In years’ past, the girls were obviously much younger and it was easier to get them to watch a Christmas movie with me while we camped out on the floor for an indoor picnic.  I can tell Lexy’s older and in High School now, because getting her to spend more than 20 minutes out of her room can be a struggle.

That is, unless you make cookies….

This year, we (by ‘we’, I mean ‘me/I’) decided to make Sugar Cookies.  I tried a recipe for Sugar Cookies years ago, but it didn’t turn out very well and was discouraged from ever making them again.  I did a lot of research this year and the batch we made were really good.  Lexy said the recipe is a keeper, so here we are.


  • 1 cup room temperature unsalted Butter
  • 1 Teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 2 1/2 Cups All Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1/3 Cup Powdered Sugar (or 5 Tablespoons plus 1 Teaspoon)
  • 1 Large Egg


Cream together Butter and Sugars until well blended (about 1-2 minutes) and smooth.  Add Vanilla and the Egg and beat for another minute.  Add the Flour 1 Cup at a time, mixing after each addition.  Once all the ingredients are in the mixer, beat for 3-5 minutes.  The dough will be a bit sticky.

Preheat the oven to 325°F.

Pour dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap and cover, then knead the dough until it comes together.  Shape into a rectangle or square.  Completely cover with the plastic wrap and refrigerate until you are ready to use, or at least 1/2 hour.

We made two batches of the dough.  When the second batch had been made and wrapped, the first one was pretty much ready to roll.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough to 1/4” thickness.  You will need to dust your rolling pin as well as the surface – just don’t add too much flour.  You can also roll the dough between pieces of parchment paper if you find it too sticky.

Using your favourite cutters, cut out cookies and place the cookies onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Usually I use two baking sheets, and keep one of them in the fridge while I’m waiting for the other batch to bake.  Starting with a cold sheet pan helps prevent the dough from spreading – it’s a good tip for shortbread cookies. Reroll the scraps and cut cookies until you have the dough used up.

Bake each tray for 15 minutes, turning after the first 8 minutes.  Take them out just as they begin to brown.  Cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before icing.

Makes 19-25 cookies, depending on the size of your cutter.  Use rolling bands (like elastic bands for your rolling pin) or wood strips to ensure you have dough rolled evenly.

Royal Icing (a.k.a. The Royal Bitch):


  • 2 Tablespoons Meringue Powder
  • 4 Cups Powdered Sugar
  • 1/4 Cup Water (plus several Teaspoonsful for thinning)
  • 1 Tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
  • Gel Food Colouring, assorted colours


Beat Meringue Powder and Water, using the paddle attachment, until it foams (about 1 minute). Add Vanilla and 1 cup of sugar at a time until it is all incorporated, beating well (slowly at first or you’ll wear the powdered sugar – don’t ask me how I know this) after each addition.  Beat the heck out of it for about 2 minutes until the mixture becomes light and airy.  You now have icing which you can use to ‘glue’ a Gingerbread House together.  Add the additional water, 1 teaspoon at a time, mixing well after each addition until you get to Flooding consistency.  To tell if it’s right, run a toothpick or fork across the surface of the icing and it should ‘repair’ and disappear within 15 seconds.

Divide the mixture by the number of colours you want to use and place each part of the icing into a plastic sandwich bag or piping bag.  Add different food colouring to each batch until you get the colour you want to use.  Snip a very small hole into one corner of each bag (ensure the bags are sealed first … again, don’t ask me how I know this…).  Outline the cookies, close to the edge, then pipe a bunch of icing inside the line (think of colouring in a colouring book when you were a kid).  Use a toothpick to spread the icing around the inside of the lines. Add sprinkles or other embellishments if you wish.  Let the cookies dry on a rack for several hours until the icing hardens, then pack them away so you don’t eat them all at once.

Somehow Lexy’s class benefitted from all of our hard work and we were left with only 8 cookies. :-s  Apparently the class gobbled them up.  Looks like we’ll be making more …



Let the Girl’s Weekend Begin…

November 26, 2016 at 12:14 pm | Posted in All Things Doodle, Caityisms, Christmas, Daddy-O, Family Ties, Food, Movies, Recipes, Sisters, Toeses and Noses | Leave a comment
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Alex is disappearing for most of the weekend since it’s Grey Cup time again.  The girls and I have the weekend planned.  We’re going to make Chocolate  Crunchy Shortbread Cookies, have an indoor picnic complete with Pizza and “Home Alone” tonight, and tomorrow we’re going to the movies with Grandma to see “Moana“.  Should be a great weekend, me and my big-little ones 🙂

Last year I found a copy of my Mom’s Shortbread recipe around the house somewhere.  I was so happy that I finally found a copy of the most incredible Christmas Shortbread that I had been searching for, forever.  My Mom can no longer bake or cook, or for that matter, even hold a coherent conversation any longer.  She can’t tell me her recipes because she doesn’t remember them.  Somehow, after I found the recipe I misplaced it, and it made me very sad – sad to the point of tears, over a stupid recipe.

So I searched the internet and stumbled upon the ‘Robin Hood Flour’ version of “Melt in Your Mouth” Shortbread Cookie. The ingredients, from what I could remember, were similar.  Damn they were good.  I cut up pieces of Dairy Milk with Crunchy (available at Walmart in the British Food aisle) and put them in the mix.  The cookies lasted until Tuesday. Except for the chocolate, they were my Mom’s recipe.  Mom used to shape the cookies into crescent moon shapes and after they were baked, she dipped half in melted chocolate.  Mom also sometimes added finely ground almonds to the dough.



2 cups (500 ml) Unsalted Butter

1 scant cup Sugar

3 1/4 cups flour

1/2 cup Cornstarch

4 oz chopped Chocolate (if using) or more

“Preheat oven to 325°F (162°C). Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Take your butter out of the refrigerator about an hour before baking so it will be nice and soft. This will make it easier for the sugar to mix in with the butter or shortening.

Cream butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until very light in texture, about 5 minutes.

Creaming butter with sugar adds air to the batter, increasing volume to help better mix the flour into the butter mixture.

Add sugar and continue beating until sugar is completely combined, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Combine flour and cornstarch in a separate large bowl. Add to butter mixture and mix with an electric mixer on low speed until just combined.

Flour straight from the bag may be compacted. To loosen it, scoop it out of the bag with another container or spoon before pouring it into your measuring cup. This will help you get a more accurate measurement. Level it off with a knife to make sure you have just the right amount.”

Chop the Chocolate Bar into smallish pieces and mix them into the dough.

cookie and chocolatebatter 2

“Place ball of dough by heaping  tbsp (15 mL) on prepared baking sheets 2” (5 cm) apart.  Press down with a fork.

making cookiesmaking cookies 2

Place your cookies about 2” (5cm) apart to allow for spreading

Bake in preheated oven 20 to 25 minutes (22 minutes was perfect this time) or until bottoms are lightly golden.  Remove cookies from baking sheet and cool on wire racks.”



Keep the dough in the fridge between baking and use a second cookie sheet – let the first one cool off completely before you use it again (put it in the fridge), this will help prevent spreading.  Take the cookies out a minute or two before the time they’re done to avoid brown edges.

You can either scoop out balls of dough, round them, flatten them with a fork or roll the entire batch into two logs and slice when chilled (this method is easier for decorating).  You can pre-cut chilled logs, wrap well and freeze for 2-3 months – you can have cookies whenever you want 🙂

I rolled two logs, put them in the fridge and let them chill for an hour then cut them when ready and prepared the next tray while the first was in the oven.  The prepared tray was put into the fridge until ready to bake.  This greatly reduced the spread.

Makes about 45 cookies.

Should be a good weekend 🙂

Quest For Perfection

July 30, 2012 at 2:00 pm | Posted in Miscellaneous Crap | Leave a comment
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Why is it so difficult to get a good burger in the GTA? I’ve seen, I don’t know how many “Best Burger in Toronto” ads that don’t live up to the hype. Most places think the idea of a great, homemade burger is to open a pack of ground hamburger, form it into a patty and slap it on the grill for 5 minutes a side. I don’t know about you, but I like flavour. I like seasonings – salt alone doesn’t qualify. A good burger doesn’t need a ton of toppings if you take the time to flavour the meat.

I don’t know, maybe I’m just spoiled by having had good food growing up. My Mom is a fantastic cook – everything was always well seasoned. Her talents and love of good food rubbed off on her three kids. When I make burgers at home, I add whatever seasonings satisfy the craving … the standard egg, pepper, garlic powder, diced onions and breadcrumbs are just the beginning. Open the fridge and the pantry and the combinations are endless. In the mood for Mediterranean flavours? add Oregano and Thyme and top gwith Feta or Chevre (Cheese made from Goat’s Milk). Looking Middle Eastern? Some Tumeric and a dash of Cumin and Nutmeg or Cinnamon are fabulous. Add your favourite Barbecue Sauce. It’s so easy. C’mon people, get with the program. Live a little.

I’ve been to a few fast food joints lately which serve mainly burgers and fries that are of the ‘homemade’ variety – i.e., not a pre-processed patty. There’s a Big Boy’s Burger in Whitby which has them lining up out the door for a burger where the only discernible flavour is the grill marks left by cooking. I was really disappointed with this place – the toppings were good, but not enough to justify the cost. They make good fries though. Starr Burger is a local favourite and they make a pretty good burger, but it’s way overpriced and not as good as it used to be.

My current favourites are Five Guys Burger and Fries (Ajax) and South Street Burger Co. (also in Ajax). Five Guys cooks up simple burgers with a lot of toppings – very similar to what you would have at a backyard event. Great fries too – unfortunately I can’t bring my youngest daughter to this place because of her Sesame Allergy. I love Sesame buns, but a plain bun would be a nice option on the menu. Also, don’t go there if you have a peanut allergy! Not only do they cook their fries in peanut oil (which makes them so yummy) but there are open boxes with peanuts that you can enjoy while you’re waiting for your burger. The price is very reasonable too.

South Street Burger Co. probably has my favourite burger toppings – garlic mayo and goat’s cheese anyone? The burger is good – but small – and they serve New York Fries. What’s not to love about that? They are pricier than Five Guys, but it’s probably because of the NYF connection. Is it worth the money? Depends on how hungry you are.

All-in-all, I’d still rather eat a great burger at home. I think I know what’s on the menu this weekend …


August 8, 2010 at 6:47 pm | Posted in Miscellaneous Crap, Product Testing, Recipes | 4 Comments
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**UPDATE** Well, that went over well … not only did we have the Pulled Pork for dinner last night, but both Alex and I brought it in today for lunch – he just called me to ask when I was making it again … lol.  I think this will go in the repertoire!


I had lunch with a friend of mine on Friday and as I ordered the Pulled Pork Tacos, she told me how she makes Pulled Pork at home all the time.  Intrigued as I think Pulled Pork is Manna from Heaven itself, I asked her how she made it.


“A bottle of Diana’s BBQ sauce and a slow cooker.”  she told me.

imageReally?  That’s it??  I was somewhat skeptical but wanted to try it anyway.  I played with the sauces and ended up with perfection.  Here’s my embellishment:

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

(A)       Main Ingredients:

  • 2 Pork Tenderloins cut in half, cleaned of the silver skin
  • ½-¾ bottle Diana’s Gourmet Western Smokehouse BBQ sauce
  • ½-¾ bottle Diana’s Gourmet Rib and Chicken BBQ sauce (start with about the same proportions of each, taste and add one or the other to make it to your liking)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 medium onions, thinly sliced into slivers (half-moons)
  • 1 large clove of garlic, minced
  • Buns, like Kaiser, or sub-style bun avoid the really hard crusty ones like baguettes or small tortillas if you want a soft taco

(B)       For the meat you will need:

  • ¼ tsp Garlic Powder (not Garlic Salt – the sauces have more than enough sodium for the entire recipe)
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • ½ tsp Paprika
  • ½ tsp Smoked Paprika
  • ½ tsp Cumin
  • ¼ tsp Chili Powder
  • dash of Cayenne (or to taste)

(C)      in addition to the above, for the sauce you will need (except for the buns):

  • ¼ tsp Garlic Powder (not Garlic Salt – the sauces have more than enough sodium for the entire recipe)
  • ½ tsp Paprika
  • ½ tsp Smoked Paprika
  • ½ tsp Cumin
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • ¼ tsp Chili Powder
  • dash of Cayenne (or to taste)
  • ¼ Cup Salsa (mild, medium or hot, it’s up to you)

Start by removing any silver skin from the Tenderloin. Cut each Tenderloin in half and sprinkle lightly with seasoning from above (B), rubbing the spices into the meat.

imagePlace the meat in the slow cooker.

Saute the onions until soft or if you can wait, until caramelized, but definitely until soft or you’ll end up with a raw onion taste in your sauce.  When the onions are soft, but not yet done, add the minced garlic and continue cooking.

imageIn a small saucepan over medium heat add your sauces from (A) stir, taste and adjust if you want more of a smoky or a more of a sweet sauce. Add the sautéed onions, the salsa and spices from (C). Stir until combined and just warmed through.

imagePour sauce mixture over Tenderloin, ensuring the meat is covered. Poke/move the meat a bit to get the sauce all over, including underneath the meat.   Cover and cook on low heat for min 4-6 hours (depends on the size of your cooker) up to 8 hours. If yours is a large one like mine, you’ll need to stir it every hour or so to scrape the sauce off the sides that collects and thickens, and it will be done in 4-5 hours.   You don’t want to open the lid too much otherwise it will defeat the purpose of using the slow cooker.

About half way through, turn your meat over.

When you can’t wait any longer and the smell is driving you insane, it’s time to start shredding. Take the meat out one piece at a time and using two forks, start pulling the meat apart into shreds. When all the meat is shredded, add the sauce from the slow cooker until it’s to your liking – we like ours saucy so we tend to add a lot to the meat. Stir. Try not to eat it straight from the bowl. Split a bun and pile the meat mixture on it. Add any condiments you wish but it doesn’t really need anything.


If you want pulled pork tacos, place a bit of meat in the middle of the tortilla, add a bit of sauce from the slow cooker, top with coleslaw, a slice of dill pickle and cheddar (or your favourite cheese).


Don’t forget the pile of napkins.

This recipe made enough for 6 sandwiches on Kaiser Buns, or about 12 tacos. You may get slightly more or less depending on how much you pile on and how much “evaporates” from the bowl when shredding … 😉

Goes great with fresh corn on the cob and baked beans.  It’s nice with a fresh coleslaw too – right on the bun, or grab a bunch of your favourite tortillas, top with coleslaw, shredded cheese and a slice of dill pickle and you have one helluva good taco!

Sooo good.  Soooo easy.

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