Sunday, October 30, 2011

Halloween Cupcakes!

So today I had a major Halloween cupcake-a-thon! There are so many ways to get creative with Halloween-themed treats! These cupcakes are all really easy to make and they are great ones to get the kids to help out with. I made all of these for the Campus Food Bank bake sale tomorrow so hopefully they bring in some good donations!

Happy Halloween everyone!

Spider Cupcakes
Chocolate cupcakes, chocolate buttercream icing, black sprinkles, red Skittles, and black licorice lace

Mummy Cupcakes
Chocolate cupcakes, vanilla buttercream icing, yellow mini M&M's

Pumpkin Cupcakes
Carrot cake cupcakes (pumpkin or spice cake cupcakes would work even better!), vanilla buttercream icing dyed orange, square of Hershey's milk chocolate, and a spearmint leaf candy

Skeleton Cupcakes
Carrot cake cupcakes, chocolate buttercream icing, black sprinkles, white chocolate chips, semisweet chocolate chips

Ghost Cupcakes
Carrot cake cupcakes, chocolate buttercream icing, black sprinkles, white chocolate, semisweet chocolate

*To make the skeleton and ghosts I melted the white chocolate chips in a plastic bag, snipped off the corner, then drew out the shapes onto a piece of wax paper on a cookie sheet. I put the cookie sheet in the freezer for about an hour until the chocolate hardened, then did the same with the semisweet chocolate to draw on the faces. I put them back in the freezer for another hour, then voila! homemade chocolate cupcake toppers!

Chocolate Bar Brownies

My second Halloween-themed treat this year are these chocolate bar brownies.. because sometimes a plain old chocolate bar just isn't enough chocolate on its own! This recipe will come in handy for all that chocolate you will have lying around after trick-or-treating tomorrow night!


3/4 cup (1 and 1/2 sticks) butter or margarine
1 and 2/3 cups white sugar
3/4 cup cocoa powder
 1 and 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 large eggs
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 and 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
Assorted chocolate bars, roughly chopped
Semisweet or milk chocolate chips, for drizzling


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and place rack in center of oven. Line a 13×9" baking pan with parchment paper or foil, allowing it to come up and over two sides. If using foil, spray the foil with cooking spray.
I used a combination of Mars, Snickers, Twix, Wunderbar, and a random Purdy's Peanut Butter Finger

Unwrap the chocolate bars you are using and roughly chop them up into chunks; set aside. Melt the butter in a microwave-safe bowl. Whisk in the sugar, then whisk in the cocoa powder, followed by the vanilla extract and eggs. Scrape down the sides of bowl and stir (do not beat) in the flour. 

When mixture is smooth, add in the salt and baking powder and whisk thoroughly, breaking up any lumps in baking powder and taking care that it is thoroughly distributed.  Pour into the prepared pan and spread evenly to edges.

 Cover the top of the brownies with the chunks of chocolate bars, gently pressing them into the batter.

Bake for 20-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the brownies comes out with moist crumbs and the edges just start to pull away from the sides of the pan. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. If desired, melt some chocolate in a plastic bag, snip of the corner of the bag and then drizzle it over the tops of the brownies. 
Once they have cooled down for a bit, cover and place the brownies in the fridge for 1-2 hours to allow the drizzles chocolate to harden. Chilling in the fridge will also make them easier to cut. Store in an airtight container.

*Recipe by Brooke McMillan

Chocolate Peanut Butter Ritz Treats

Halloween is only one day away and hopefully you all have some time on your hands to make some of the Halloween treats I'll be featuring today! First up are these super simple and tasty treats made with Ritz crackers, in black and orange Halloween colours. They are perfect if you don't have a lot of ingredients on hand and are a great combination of salty, crunchy, and sweet.


1 box Ritz crackers
Creamy peanut butter
Milk or semisweet chocolate chips
Orange candy melts or white chocolate dyed orange with food colouring
Wax paper
Large baking sheet
Double boiler or large microwave-safe bowl
Spoon and Forks


These couldn't be more simple to make! First line your baking sheet with wax paper and make some room in your freezer - enough so that the baking sheet can fit and lay flat.

Spread a generous amount of peanut butter on one Ritz cracker, then sandwich another cracker on top. Do this until you have no more crackers left or until you have as many as you would like to make. 

In a double boiler or in a large microwave safe bowl, melt your chocolate chips. I used the double boiler method because it is easier to control the temperature so that your chocolate chips don't burn. Do this by filling a large pot of water about half full and bringing it to a boil on the stovetop, then place your chocolate chips in a medium or large heat-safe bowl and place the bowl over the boiling water. The water should not touch the bottom of the bowl! Stir the chocolate chips around until they are melted and completely smooth, then remove the bowl from the heat.

Using two forks, dip the prepared Ritz crackers into the melted chocolate until they are completely coated. Remove from the chocolate and place on the wax paper-covered baking sheet. Once all Ritz's have been covered, place the baking sheet in the freezer for 1-2 hours, or until the chocolate has completely hardened.

Once the milk chocolate has hardened, melt the orange candy melts or your coloured white chocolate using the double boiler or the microwave again. You will need less of these than you did for the chocolate chips as this will just be used for the drizzle. Remove the chocolate covered Ritz's from the freezer and keep them on the baking sheet. Dip a fork into the melted orange chocolate and then sweep it over the baking sheet of Ritz's in a back-and-forth motion. Do this until you are satisfied with the amount of drizzle on top of the Ritz's.

Place the baking sheet back in the freezer for an additional 30 minutes-1 hour, or until the orange chocolate has hardened completely. Gently peel the Ritz's off the wax paper and serve! Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer so the chocolate doesn't melt.

*Recipe by Brooke McMillan

Friday, October 28, 2011

Coconut Macaroons

These little bites of sweet coconut are dangerously easy to make! They are crispy on the outside, gooey on the inside, and full of coconut flavour. If you like chocolate macaroons then feel free to dip the bottoms in chocolate or drizzle melted chocolate over the top - but I would use semisweet or dark chocolate because these are really sweet enough on their own.


2/3 cup white sugar
2 large egg whites, lightly beaten
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. lemon or almond extract
1/2 tsp. fine salt
3 cups shredded unsweetened coconut


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, egg whites, extracts, and salt. Stir in the coconut and mix well.

Moisten your fingers with water and scoop out heaping Tbsp.'s of the macaroon batter. Form the batter into mounds and place on the prepared baking sheet, spaced about 1" apart.

Bake the macaroons for 17-20 minutes, until the edges are golden brown and the outside of the macaroons are toasted and dry. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Cool completely before dipping or drizzling with chocolate if desired. Store in an airtight container.

*Recipe by Brooke McMillan

Monday, October 24, 2011

Pumpkin Pie Snickerdoodle Blondies

Since the end of October is fast approaching I figured I better start rolling out some pumpkin recipes! These bars combine the classic cinnamon-sugar Snickerdoodle cookies with pumpkin pie and the result is a chewy, gooey bar that is full of the flavours of fall!

Snickerdoodle Blondie Layer Ingredients:

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2 cups brown sugar
1 cup butter or margarine, room temperature
2 eggs
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract

Pumpkin Pie Layer Ingredients:

1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup butter or margarine
2 eggs
1 and 1/2 cups canned pure pumpkin
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

Cinnamon-Sugar Topping:

2 Tbsp. white sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and grease a 9x13" baking pan with non-stick cooking spray or line with parchment paper.

For the Snickerdoodle blondie layer: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour baking powder, and salt. In a separate, large bowl, mix together the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until smooth. Add in the egg and vanilla and continue to mix until combined. Stir in the flour mixture until well blended, then transfer the blondie batter to the prepared pan. Spread evenly in the pan with a rubber spatula.

For the pumpkin pie layer: In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar with an electric mixer. Add in the eggs and pumpkin and continue to mix until combined. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and pumpkin pie spice. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and mix until combined. Pour over the Snickerdoodle blondie layer and evenly spread with a rubber spatula.

In a small bowl, combine the sugar and cinnamon for the topping. Evenly sprinkle the mixture over the top of the pumpkin pie layer.

Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the pan comes out clean. Remove from oven and let the bars cool completely on a wire rack. Refrigerate to speed up the cooling process. Once the bars have cooled, cut into squares and store in an airtight container.

*Recipe adapted from Lovin' From The Oven

Pumpkin Pie Brownie with Crunchy Pecan Topping (vegan)

This is definitely one of those "I-can't-believe-it's-vegan" recipes! Thanks to the addition of pumpkin, this was also one of the moistest brownies I have ever had! The combination of the dense, chocolatey brownie, the gooey pumpkin pie layer, and crunchy pecan topping make this a decadent dessert that vegans and non-vegans alike will love. The use of pumpkin makes this a great seasonal dessert and even a great vegan alternative to pumpkin pie.

Pumpkin Brownie Layer Ingredients:

1 cup canned pure pumpkin
1/2 cup plus 3 Tbsp. white sugar
1/4 cup coconut oil, softened - You should be able to substitute vegetable or canola oil if that is all you have in your pantry
1 and 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
1/4 cup dutch processed cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda

Pumpkin Pie Layer Ingredients:

 1 cup canned pure pumpkin
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 Tbsp. almond or soy milk
1/3 cup white sugar
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (or 1 and 1/4 tsp. cinnamon, 1/2 tsp. ginger, 1/4 tsp. nutmeg)
Shaved dark chocolate (optional)

Crunchy Pecan Topping Ingredients:

1/4 cup margarine
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup roughly chopped pecans


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and grease a 9" pie pan or 8x8" square baking pan.

For the pumpkin brownie layer, mix together the pumpkin, sugar, coconut oil, and vanilla in a large bowl until well combined. Add in the flour, cocoa powder, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt and mix until smooth. Pour the brownie batter into the prepared pie pan and spread it around evenly with a rubber spatula.

For the pumpkin pie layer, mix together the pumpkin, vanilla, and milk in a large bowl. In a small bowl, mix together the cornstarch, sugar, and pumpkin pie spice. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix well until all the clumps are gone. Pour the pumpkin pie filling on top of the brownie mixture in the pan. Spread out evenly with a rubber spatuala. If desired, sprinkle chocolate shavings over the top of the pumpkin pie layer.

For the crunchy pecan topping, mix the margarine, brown sugar, flour, and pecans in a small bowl until combined. Sprinkle evenly on top of the pumpkin pie layer. 

Bake for 35-40 minutes, then remove from the oven and cool for 20-30 minutes on a wire rack. Move to the fridge to chill for at least 1 hour before slicing and serving. Can be served warm or cold.

Please excuse the terrible photos! They don't do this dessert justice!

*Recipe from Oh She Glows

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Cinnamon-Sugar Gluten-Free Cookies

For my first intentional foray into the world of gluten-free baking I decided to start off with this simple cookie recipe! I guess it would be a gluten-free version of Snickerdoodles. I didn't want to go too crazy and start off with a bunch of fancy (and expensive) ingredients that lots of gluten-free recipes have, so this recipe is pretty accessible! The only non-traditional ingredient in it is coconut flour in the place of regular flour, which you should be able to find in specialty food stores, the gluten-free and/or natural baking section of your grocery store (if it has one), health food stores, Bulk Barn, and oddly enough at Winners (where I got mine). Coconut flour is just the dried, finely ground pulp of coconuts and it only gives a minor coconut flavour to baked goods - nothing too overpowering. These cookies actually turned out to be pretty delicious! They had a slightly different texture than cookies made with regular flour - more dense and cake-like rather than chewy or crispy - but it wasn't bad at all! I found them to be better the day after I baked them rather than fresh out of the oven, so if you can wait to enjoy them then I would recommend doing so. The cinnamon-sugar flavour is great, but this recipe could also be used as a base for gluten-free chocolate chip cookies if you wanted to add some into the dough.


4 eggs, gently whisked
3/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. white sugar, divided use
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled to room temp.
3/4 cup coconut flour
2 tsp. ground cinnamon


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. 

In a large bowl, combine the eggs, all but 1 Tbsp. of the sugar, vanilla, salt, and butter. Add in the coconut flour and mix well. Cover and allow the dough to rest for 5 minutes to allow it to thicken. Do not skip this step!

In a small, shallow bowl or plate, combine the cinnamon with the 1 Tbsp. reserved sugar. Form the dough into 1-1/2" balls and roll in the cinnamon-sugar mixture, coating the outside evenly. The dough will be a lot stickier than normal cookie dough so don't be worried and just moisten your hands with water to make rolling easier.

Place the balls of cookie dough onto the prepared baking sheets about 1" apart, and gently flatten the balls with the heel of your hand to a diameter of about 2". This is important because the cookies will not flatten on their own during baking. Bake for 15 minutes, then remove from the oven and allow the cookies to cook on the cookie sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack. Store in an airtight container.

*Recipe adapted from Bulk Barn

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Blueberry Oatmeal Pancakes with Peanut Butter Banana Sauce

Start your morning off right with these healthy and hearty blueberry oatmeal pancakes! Although these pancakes are yummy, the true star of this breakfast is the peanut butter banana sauce drizzled on top. It is so delicious you will want to use it on everything, and I encourage you to do so!


1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup rolled oats
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 cup almond milk (or regular milk)
1/2 cup fresh or frozen blueberries


In a small bowl, mix together the flour, oats, cinnamon, and baking powder. Add the milk and stir until combined. Gently fold in the blueberries.

Spray a skillet or griddle with non-stick cooking spray and heat to medium-high heat. Spoon three equal sized portions of batter into the skillet/griddle and allow to cook until the pancakes start to bubble, then flip to the other side. Cook on the other side until cooked through.

Transfer the pancakes to a plate and top with fresh fruit, maple syrup, or this amazing peanut butter banana sauce:

Peanut Butter Banana Sauce

1 medium banana
2 Tbsp. peanut butter
1/4 cup almond milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

In a small bowl, mash your banana very well and then mix in the peanut butter, almond milk, and vanilla. You could also combine them in a small food processor or blender for a very smooth sauce (this is what I did). Transfer the mixture into a microwave-safe bowl and microwave for 40-60 seconds, then stir. Pour your desired amount of sauce over the prepared pancakes and store any extra in an airtight container in the fridge.

*Recipe by Brooke McMillan

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Homemade Sunflower Seed Butter

Sunflower seed butter is a tasty alternative to peanut butter that is one of my favourite spreads on toast or bagels! It is packed with healthy fats and nutrients from natural sunflower seeds and is a great substitute for people who are allergic to tree nuts. It can be a bit pricey to buy in the grocery store, so why not make your own for half the price in only 20 minutes?


2 cups natural, shelled sunflower seeds
1-2 Tbsp. canola oil or coconut oil
Pinch of salt


If you prefer the flavour of toasted nuts/seeds, then toast your sunflower seeds in a large skillet over medium heat for 8-10 minutes, or until lightly browned and fragrant. I always find toasting nuts or seeds makes them extra flavourful so I did this step, but it's completely a personal preference.

Place your seeds and pinch of salt in a large food processor and process on high speed for 6-8 minutes, scraping down the sides of the processor bowl with a rubber spatula every couple of minutes. It should look like a fine powder at this point.

Add in 1 Tbsp. of oil and continue to process on high until it smooths out and comes together in a nut butter consistency, about another 8-10 minutes.. Add additional oil if needed to help it smooth out. 

Transfer the sunflower seed butter to a jar or sealable container and store in the refrigerator for up to one month. There may be a natural separation between the oil and the seed solids, and if this occurs then just give the butter a stir before using. Use as you would peanut butter.

*Recipe by Brooke McMillan