Monday, February 28, 2011


I rarely make banana recipes. It's not that I have a thing against bananas, it's actually the totally opposite, I love bananas, and also my whole family. Whenever I buy a bunch they're finished in a couple of days. So when I planned to bake Banana Spice Bread, I actually hid a couple bananas from my family - no joke. By the end of the week, they were speckled with black spots, just the way I wanted 'em.
I've made banana bread before, but I wanted to try something a little different, when I found this recipe on, I thought it was perfect because a) I love that spiced flavour in baked goods and b) I have a ton of cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg and it really gives me another opportunity to use these spices up before they lose their flavour.
The bread tasted pretty good. My only concern is that it was lacking that spicy kick that I like. I'll probably do this recipe again, but increase the spices, add cloves (about 1/2 teaspoon) and see how it turns out.
Banana Spice Bread
by catgurrl on Big Oven
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
3 tablespoons low fat milk
1 cup bananas (2 large ripe bananas)
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup walnuts or pecans (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 350F degrees.
2. If using a silicon 9 X 5 inch loaf pan, lightly brush the inside with melted butter, place on a sturdy baking sheet. If using a metal or glass pan, lightly spray with cooking spray, and line the bottom of the pan with a piece of parchment paper cut to fit. Spray again with cooking spray and set aside.
3. With an electric mixer on medium speed, beat together oil, granulated sugar, brown sugar, milk, vanilla, and bananas until blended and creamy, about 3 minutes. Sift together the flour, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, salt, soda, and baking powder. With the mixer running, slowly add the dry ingredients to the sugar mixture, beating just until thoroughly combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl during the mixing. Stir in the nuts.
4. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan. Bake about 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the loaf comes out clean. Let the bread cool in the pan 5 minutes on a cooling rack before removing from the pan. For silicone pans, loosen the sides simply by pulling away the bread, then press from the bottom of the pan. For other pans, loosen sides by running a knife around the edge. Remove the parchment paper and let cool completely before slicing.
~Makes one 9 X 5 inch loaf (12 pieces)
Are you into simple, fast, delicious desserts that looks fancy and complicated? Yes? Of course you are. Who isn't, right? Lets make crepes, then. Yay! With Dulce de Leche and Banana. Yum! And Banana and Nutella. Yum²!!
1 cup milk
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons (40g) unsalted butter, melted
2 eggs
1 tablespoon sugar
Pinch of salt
1. Using a blender, put all the ingredients and beat until combined. Let it rest for 45 minutes.
2. Heat a medium non-stick frying pan over medium heat, greased with butter. It's important to use a non-stick frying pan, otherwise it'll be very hard to flip the crepes.
3. Put a small amount in the center of the pan and start doing circular motions to cover all the bottom of the pan. Don't put too much batter or it will be very thick and you won't be able to fold the crepe.
4. Loose the sides and flip the crepe. Let it brown a little bit and transfer to a plate. Repeat with the remaining batter.
5. For the filling: Spread some dulce de leche or nutella at the top half and add some sliced bananas or fruit of your choice. Grab the bottom half (the one that doesn't have any flilling) and fold the crepe in two. Fold it in half again, forming a triangular shape. Note from the picture above that I put the filling only in 1/4 of the crepe. But don't do it like me! Go all the way. Be happy. =)
6. Tah-dah! It's ready to serve. Enjoy.
~Makes 8 medium crepes.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Cream Cheese

I was feeling kind of lazy in doing any major baking this week, so I wanted to make something that would not be so much work, just mix, put it in the pan, and bake. Since this week was about cream cheese, I went to Kraft's Philadelphia Cream Cheese website, where it holds hundreds of recipes and meal ideas. From that site I found Oreo Mini Cheesecake. It was easy to make, and does not take much effort to do, which was great. The web site's intention is to encourage consumers to use their products in their recipes, but generic brands are just as good to use in this recipe. I've changed the ingredients and the directions a bit, but to get the original recipe just visit

Oreo Mini Cheesecake

2 package (250g each) brick cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla (optional)
12 Oreo Cookies (or any other chocolate sandwich cookies)
3 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate (I used semi-sweet chocolate chips,) melted


1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Beat cream cheese and sugar in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Add eggs, one at a time, beating on low speed. Add vanilla and continue to blend.

2. Place 1 cookie in bottom of each of 12 paper-lined muffin cups. Fill evenly with batter.

3. Bake 20 minutes or until centres are almost set. Cool. Refrigerate 3 hours or overnight. Drizzle with melted chocolate.

~Serves 12


I am a passion fruit freak so of course I enjoyed these little squares. They are creamy and tangy. Yum, yum! To give an extra tanginess to them I made a passion fruit syrup ( In a small saucepan, add 100ml of concentrated passion fruit juice, plus 1 1/2 tablespoon sugar and a tiny amount of water -1/2 tablespoon. Cook over medium heat until it thickens. Let it cool down a little and drizzle over the squares.).
Taken from here.

Passion Fruit Cheesecake Squares

250g plain sweet cookies
180g unsalted butter, melted
250g ricotta cheese
250g cream cheese, softened
½ cup (100g) caster sugar
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
3 eggs
¾ cup (180ml) passion fruit pulp - I used concentrated passion fruit juice


Place the cookies in the bowl of a food processor and process until they resemble fine breadcrumbs - mine weren't so fine. Add the butter and mix to combine. Press the mixture into the base of a 20x30cm lightly greased rectangular pan lined with baking paper. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or until firm and cold.

Preheat the oven to 160ºC/320ºF. Place the ricotta, cream cheese, caster sugar and lemon zest in the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth – I used an electric mixer.

Gradually add the eggs, processing well after each addition. Fold through the passion fruit pulp and pour mixture over the base. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until set - mine took 55 minutes (!!), maybe because I had a thicker layer of cream.

Allow to cool completely; carefully slice to serve.

~Serves 8, or more.

Monday, February 14, 2011



How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday's
Most quiet need, by sun and and candlelight.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love with a passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints, -I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life!-and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

-Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861)

Happy Valentine's Day!

Brownie Hearts


1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, plus more for cake pan
2 1/2 cups packed light-brown sugar
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
4 large eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
Confectioners' sugar, granulated sugar, cocoa powder for coating bites


1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter a 9-by-13 inch cake pan. Cut a piece of waxed paper to fit the bottom, and press it onto buttered surface. In a large microwave-safe bowl, combine butter, brown sugar, and chocolate. Microwave on high for 1 minute; stir. If the chocolate is not softened, continue to microwave at 10-second intervals, removing before completely melted.

2. Beat the eggs and vanilla into the melted chocolate with a wooden spoon. Beat in the flour and salt. Pour into prepared pan, and smooth the top. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out almost clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool.

3. Run a knife around the edge of the pan. Turn the brownie cake out onto a baking sheet, and flip over onto a work surface. Cut out the brownies with a 2 1/2-inch heart-shaped cookie cutter. Dust with cocoa if you like. Form the scraps into 1-inch balls, and roll them in the coating of your choice.

~Makes 12 hearts
Brigadeiro - or brazilian fudge balls - is the most popular and beloved brazilian treat. We love brigadeiro so much that we have shops dedicated only to brigadeiros! With ingredients such as condensed milk, butter and chocolate, is hard not to love these delicious, caramel-y-like treats.
The original recipe calls for chocolate powder - that one you put in the milk - but you can also use cocoa powder to make it less sweet, or you can do it like me and go for Nutella. Double yumminess!

PS.:You can wrap it up in a nice box together with Ann's scrumptious brownies and surprise your Valentine. =)
Happy Valentine's Day!

Nutella Brigadeiro

1 can (395g) sweet condensed milk
2 tablespoons (40g) margarine
4 tablespoons Nutella
Chocolate sprinkles - about 1 cup, for decoration
Hazelnuts - about 50g, for decoration (Use 100-150g if you intend to roll them only in

1. Put the first three ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat and stir until it bubbles. Keep stiring until thickened - about 6 to 10 minutes.
2. Put in a butter-greased dish and let it stand until cool enough to handle.
3. While you wait for the brigadeiro to cool, roughly chop the hazelnuts, place them into a baking sheet and leave it for 5 min in a 190ºC oven, or until it gets some colour - keep a close eye on it because it can get burnt very fast. Let it cool completely.
4. Once the brigadeiro has cooled, grease the palm of your hands with margarine and roll a small amount of brigadeiro into a ball and coat it with the chocolate sprinkles or the chopped hazelnuts. I myself preffer the hazelnuts because it makes the Nutella flavour stand out more.

Tip: If you are too lazy or you absolutely can't wait for the brigadeiro to cool, you can put them into shot glasses and eat it with a spoon. Just cook for 2-3 minutes less in step 1 and pour into shot glasses. Be careful not to burn your mouth. ;)

Yields ~20 brigadeiros.

Monday, February 7, 2011


For some odd reason, I've always been reluctant to bake bread. It is probably a combination of the amount of time it takes, plus the messiness of it with all that flour and kneading, however if one follows the process of baking bread correctly, then the final product is well worth the work.

This weekend I baked my very first batch of cinnamon and raisin bread from scratch (if you don't count the bread machine I've used in the past.) I've always wanted to bake this bread, and after looking at several recipes I found an easy and straightforward cinnamon and raisin bread recipe from It takes forever to make so you've gotta bake it on a day when you've got plenty of time to spare, even though that (time) is becoming much harder these days.

Although time consuming, there is something therapeutic about baking bread, and the smell of it as it's baking, especially a cinnamon and raisin bread, is heavenly.

Cinnamon Raisin Bread I
By Faye Salisbury @

1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup warm water (110º F/45º C)
2 (2.5 ounce) package active dry yeast
3 eggs
1/2 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup margarine, softened
1 cup raisins
8 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons milk
3/4 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons butter, melted


1. Warm the milk in a small saucepan until it bubbles, then remove from heat. Let cool until lukewarm.

2. Dissolve yeast in warm water, set aside until yeast is frothy. Mix in eggs, sugar, margarine, salt, and raisins. Stir in cooled milk. Add the flour gradually to make a stiff dough. (it is more sticky than stiff)

3. Knead dough on a lightly floured surface for a few minutes. Place in a large, greased, mixing bowl, and turn to grease the surface of the dough. Cover with a damp cloth. Allow to rise until doubled.

4. Roll out on a lightly floured surface into a large rectangle 1/2 inch thick. Moisten dough with 2 tablespoons of milk. Mix together 3/4 cup sugar and 2 tablespoons cinnamon, and sprinkle mixture on top of the moistened dough. Roll up tightly, and the roll should be about 3 inches in diameter. Cut into thirds, and tuck under ends. Place loaves into well greased 9 X 5 inch pans. Lightly grease top of loaves. Let rise again for 1 hour.

5. Bake at 350 degrees F (174 degrees C) for 45 minutes or until loaves are lightly browned and sounds hollow when knocked. Remove loaves from pans and brush with melted margarine.

I love cinnamon, so choosing just one recipe was a very tough task. While flipping through a Cook's Illustrated Holiday Baking edition (2010) I stumble upon a Quick Cinnamon Streusel Coffeecake and thought it would be perfect for the blog. I mean, it's a coffeecake, quick - in less than 15 min you will have a cake in the oven, it has cinnamon in it and streusel! Four perfect words.

The final result is a moist, cinnamon-y and fluffy-like-a-cloud cake. I think I used a larger pan than I was supposed to so I didn't get a thick layer of the streusel. I got a thin-crispy sugar and nuts layer instead, which wasn't a bad thing at all. I highly reccomend this cake, specially for you guys up north. A piece of this cake with a cup of hot coffee/tea/chocolate is perfect for a snowy day.

Keep yourselves warm! And for those of you who are enjoying the hot weather like me, don't forget to put sunscreen! ;)

Quick Cinnamon Streusel Coffeecake

1/3 cup packed (2 1/3 ounces) light brown sugar - used dark brown
1/3 cup (2 1/3 ounces) granulated sugar - used refined sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 cup pecans, almonds or walnuts, chopped coarse - I used cashew nuts

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour - I used regular all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups buttermilk or plain whole yogurt*
1 cup packed (7 ounces) light brown sugar
1 cup (7 ounces) granulated sugar
3 large eggs
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1. For the streusel: Mix sugars, cinnamon, and melted butter together in medium bowl until mixture resembles wet sand; stir in nuts and set aside.

2. For the cake: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350ºF/180ºC. Generously coat a 13 by 9-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.

3. Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt together in a large bowl. Whisk buttermilk, sugars, eggs, and melted butter in separate bowl until smooth. Using rubber spatula, gently fold egg mixture into flour mixture and stir until batter looks smooth and well combined.

4. Using rubber spatula, scrape batter into prepared pan and smooth top. Sprinkle streusel evenly over batter. Bake until streusel is golden and toothpick inserted into centre comes out with just a few crumbs attached, 40 to 45 minutes. Cool cake on wire rack for 15 min. before slicing and serving.

Serves 8 - I got 16 squares.

*You can make your own buttermilk at home! Add 1 tablespoon lemon juice into a small bowl and add 1 cup milk - whole, skimmed - let stand for 2 minutes and it's ready to use.