Peanut Butter Butterscotch Chips

I can’t believe we’re down to the last few recipes in Baked Occasions! Most of them are cookie recipes since the Baked Boys included a “12 Days of Cookies” section for Christmas, and we need to catch up.

Peanut Butter Stack

This week we mixed up these Peanut Butter Butterscotch Cookies, which are just a straightforward peanut butter cookie with butterscotch chips mixed in, with a sprinkle of sea salt. I switched it up just a tiny bit, because I saw these “sea salt caramel chips” at my grocery store that I wanted to try. They actually taste exactly like butterscotch chips, so it didn’t end up being a twist on the recipe after all.

Caramel Chips

Overall, these were tasty, but baked up so flat for me. I wasn’t sure if it was because it was a super humid day out today, but I didn’t have the patience to try chilling the dough before baking. I know my co-workers will eat them up anyway.

You can find the recipe here!

More Baked Sunday Mornings here!

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May on Planet Byn {2017}

by byn on May 31, 2017

in Monthly Recaps

Sweet Jesus

Here’s what was happening on Planet Byn this month:

  • At this point, I’m basically 85% vegetarian, so I was excited when my friend Alexis suggested Boon Burger in Burlington for lunch. This place is entirely vegan and has not one but FOUR different types of burgers (i.e. mushroom based, chickpea based, etc.) which is pretty amazing. Then there are 20+ different toppings combinations you can get, plus a bunch of different sides. They even have vegan soft serve! I ended up going with the Backyard BBQ Boon Burger and a side of sesame fries. Need to go back to try something else!
  • We had a 36-hour heat wave in the middle of the month, so I introduced my workplace proximity associates to Sweet Jesus (pictured above). I had the Cookies Cookies Cookies & Cream this time and devoured it! They also now have a cup option, which is so much less stressful and messy than dealing with a cone.
  • Heather, Jenny and I did a little Stateside shopping over the long weekend at our usual stops: Target & Trader Joe’s. Jenny had also heard that there was a specialty grocery store nearby selling pints of JENI’S SPLENDID ICE CREAM, so we had to go and verify. Welp, we found them, but the price was NOT right, at $11.99 a pint. That’s US dollars too. I was very conflicted, and ultimately left it behind, but will build it into my budget for our next shopping trip. The FOMO is too great!
  • I went to a wedding reception party last weekend (Congrats Christine & Daryl) and all the food was from Cava (they’re friends with the chef!). Picture long tables with cheeses, bread, olives and grapes, plus passed trays of tapas-inspired eats, including the most delicious fries with cheese sauce and crispy fried sage. Now imagine my face when dessert came out, which was just huge platters of the most delicious cookies: chocolate chunk, ginger molasses, shortbread…and I stopped myself there, but there were a few more kinds including a blueberry pistachio one that is now in my freezer. Just loved this idea! Reminded me of Champagne & Cookies!
  • I’m still working my way through Oh She Glows everyday (you can see more over here), and this month I made a couple of the smoothie bowls from the book. This trend needs to die, in my opinion. There is nothing satisfying about eating a smoothie like a bowl of soup. PASS.

Other non-foodie things I was obsessed with this month:

  • I finally cancelled HBO since Big Little Lies is long gone, but I watched the miniseries The Night Of before I lost the channels. It was SO good, like one long episode of Law & Order, showing all aspects of the case, from the detectives to the lawyers to the suspect dealing with life in prison. I also binged on Season 2 of Master of None the weekend it came out, and loved it all, except the last two episodes. Allora!
  • Lainey has been recommending The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas for a while now, and I finally got it from the library. This is a YA novel about a teenager who witnesses her friend being shot and killed by a police officer. It was so interesting and thought-provoking, and like nothing I’ve ever read. Highly recommend this one.
  • Honestly my one true obsession this month was trying to get tickets to The Weeknd, and I finally did thanks to StubHub and the Jack family. It was so worth it (heh heh, get it), and Drake showed up at the end for a couple songs!

Flashback!

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Old-School Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

I already have an Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe that I love, but I was still looking forward to trying the Baked Occasions version this week. This is a pretty standard cookie recipe, with a few exceptions:

  • Instead of adding the rolled oats whole, you grind the majority of them up in a food processor first
  • Interesting additions of cinnamon, molasses and bourbon
  • Combination of butter + shortening // all-purpose flour + bread flour (which to be honest, I ignored because I didn’t have any shortening or bread flour at home)
  • Rest period of 8 hours or overnight for the dough (I actually left mine in the fridge for a couple days)
  • Sprinkle of flaky sea salt before baking

My only tip for this recipe, as for all cookie recipes that require chilling, is to scoop the dough BEFORE chilling, instead of after, as it always gets too hard for scooping after being in the fridge.

Stacks

Overall, I liked these, and the cinnamon and molasses gave them just a hint of a gingerbread vibe. They were super chewy, but mine baked up a bit flat for my liking. The holiday we made these for is Teacher Appreciation Day, so I froze a bunch of cookies to deliver to some of my favourite teachers next time I see them.

You can find the recipe here!

More Baked Sunday Mornings here!

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Spongebob

When my nephew started telling me that he wanted Krabby Patty Cupcakes for his birthday this year, I had no idea what he was talking about. I looked to my brother for guidance and his explanation started with “Well, you know how Spongebob is a fry cook?” and the answer to that was a resounding no, as I’ve never actually given much thought to the occupation of this cartoon sponge (and clearly I’ve never seen an episode before!).

Turns out Spongebob works at Krusty Krab, flipping burgers all day, and those burgers are called Krabby Patties. When Joel and Matthew were looking up Spongebob birthday cakes, they came across Krabby Patty Cupcakes, and I accepted this challenge, as it’s my duty as an awesome Aunt to make all birthday cake dreams come true (see list of Matthew’s previous birthday cakes below).

Close up

Here’s how I did it:

  • For the burger buns, I baked two dozen vanilla cupcakes (recipe from The Joy the Baker Cookbook), being careful not to overfill the tins. I didn’t want an overflowing dome on the top of the cupcake, and wanted them to closely resemble slider buns. I actually tested a few first to make sure I was getting the shape I wanted. (I also made these a week in advance and froze them). Before assembly, I cut each cupcake in half horizontally, then using a pastry brush, brushed the top of each cupcake with a little bit of water, and sprinkled them with sesame seeds.
  • For the burger patties, I baked three pans of brownies (I only own one 8×8 pan, so just did one batch each night leading up to the party). Once totally cooled, I used a 2 1/2″ round cookie cutter to stamp out my patties.
  • For the ketchup, mustard and relish, I made a full batch of My Favourite Buttercream, split it into three bowls, and used my Americolor gels to tint them red, yellow and green. I added the icing to piping bags (no tips) and just snipped off the end.
  • To assemble, I put a small dollop of icing on the bottom of each brownie and used that to secure it to the bottom of each bun. I drizzled each of the icing colours on the top of each brownie, then added the top bun, pressing down gently.

For extra fun, I also made sugar cookie fries, but the recipe was a disaster, so I won’t repeat that here (they spread everywhere and I had to slice them into fry shapes). However, they still looked super cute because I put them in these cute baskets. I also added some sugar to a little spice shaker and labelled it “salt” and I put the leftover red buttercream into a squeeze bottle and labelled it “ketchup”.

Sugar Cookie Fries

I can’t even explain how big of a hit these were, and my other brother was legitimately confused when he walked in and saw the set-up (“We’re having sliders for dessert?”). Classic.

Slider Central

Matthew’s Previous Birthday Cakes:

  • 7th (Minecraft Checkerboard Cake)
  • 6th (Lego cupcakes – not blogged – they were vanilla cupcakes with Lego block candy on top)
  • 5th (Wrecking Ball Cake)
  • 4th (Front-End Loader Cake)
  • 3rd (Dumptruck Cake)
  • 2nd (School Bus Cake…reigns supreme as most popular post on Planet Byn)

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Mushroom & Chard Quesadillas

This post goes out to my friend Weedy. She was telling me at Christmas how she loves Planet Byn for easy, weeknight dinner inspo, and name-checked these Thai Sloppy Joes as one of her favourites. I remember thinking I needed to blog more of these types of recipes, but then here we are in May, and I haven’t done a really good job in following through on this.

I think the problem is that I cook different things for dinner every week, and rarely go back to re-make things, in my never ending quest to cook every recipe on my Pinterest Boards (Spoiler Alert: this will never happen).

Anyway, I made these quesadillas for the first time back in January, and knew they needed to make it up here. I would say I’m almost 85% vegetarian at home now, basically doing a reverse Meatless Monday thing (i.e. I might eat meat once a week), so I’m always on the look out for tasty meals full of veggie goodness.

These quesadillas use a whole head of Swiss Chard, plus a pound of mushrooms, and some spices and cheese of course, to keep everything glued together. They get baked in the oven, so they get SUPER crispy, because nothing’s worse than a soggy quesadilla. You can dunk them in sour cream, guac, salsa, or all three, and the leftovers also pack up okay for work the next day (we have a toaster oven at work for re-toasting…as you know, I wouldn’t touch my office microwave with a ten-foot pole).

So here you go, Weedy! Try these and let me know what you think!

Side note: It is next to impossible to take an attractive photo of these. File under: ugly but delicious!

Mushroom & Swiss Chard Quesadillas

Source: Annie’s Eats

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 lb white mushrooms, washed and sliced
  • salt & pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced or grated with a microplane
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 bunch Swiss Chard, ribs removed, greens cut into 1″ strips
  • 1 tsp cider vinegar (I used white wine vinegar)
  • 4 oz cheese, grated (I used white cheddar, it was in my fridge already)
  • 2 tbsp minced fresh cilantro
  • 4 x 10″ flour tortillas
  • extra olive oil for brushing the pan

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 450°, and line a large baking sheet with tin foil. Brush a thin layer of olive oil onto the tin foil.
  2. In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil. Add the onion and saute for 5-8 minutes until starting to soften nicely. Add the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper, and saute for another 5-8 minutes until the mushrooms cook down and the juices have evaporated.
  3. Add the garlic, coriander and red pepper flakes, and stir to combine. Add the Swiss Chard and cook until it wilts down.
  4. Remove from heat and add the vinegar, cheese and cilantro. Spread the filling on half of each tortilla (I usually only have enough for three, but perhaps I’m overstuffing them) and leave a small border so the filling doesn’t ooze everywhere when it starts to bake. Fold each tortilla over and press down gently. Place the quesadillas on the baking sheet, and brush the tops lightly with oil.
  5. Bake for 10 minutes, then flip carefully (so the filling doesn’t fly out, learn from me) and bake for 5-10 more minutes until golden brown. Let cool for a few minutes before slicing.

 

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Black Forest Cupcakes

This week’s Baked Sunday Morning recipe is for Black Forest Cupcakes, but I actually made these about three and a half years ago while I was testing for Baked Occasions! Personally, I’m not a huge fan of Black Forest cakes, due to childhood encounters with them at birthday parties, but I was interested to see the Baked Boys* take on them.

Traditional Black Forest cake is a combination of chocolate cake, cherry filling, whipped cream and chocolate shavings.  This recipe doesn’t stray too far from that formula, just swapping in 7-minute frosting for whipped cream. One interesting addition, which didn’t make the final version of the recipe in the book, was 1/2 tsp of freshly ground black pepper to the chocolate cake. It wasn’t subtle either – I brought them to a party and all my testers commented on it. I felt it was too overwhelming. For the filling, I suppose you could also make your own cherry preserves for this recipe (here’s a recipe from way back in the Planet Byn archives), but I just used a jar of Bonne Maman.

My favourite part of this recipe was the frosting. I’ve struggled with this type of 7-minute or marshmallow frosting over the years, and this is the first recipe that worked for me! It’s now my go-to for any recipe that calls for it.

These were much better than the dreaded sheet cake from when I was a kid! You’ll love them if you’re a Black Forest fan.

You can find the recipe here!

More Baked Sunday Mornings here!

*Last week Renato announced he’s moving on from Baked to pursue other opportunities! Good luck Renato! I can’t even begin to describe the happiness you’ve brought me through your books over the last ten years. It’s not an understatement to say that recipe testing for Baked Occasions and attending the opening of Baked Tribeca was a highlight of my life, and has brought so many amazing people into it (see you in July, Dafna!). Wishing you all the best!

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Spring Quinoa Salad

I had my besties over for brunch this past weekend, and I was so happy with my menu planning and excited to write about it here! My friend Aoife has a few restrictions (no gluten, dairy or eggs) but nothing that prevented me from whipping up a totally delicious brunch (in my humble opinion!).

While I usually go with quiche as a brunch centerpiece, instead I made this bright, fresh salad. The base is quinoa, and you add in peas, chopped almonds and few handfuls of arugula (or other fresh greens of your choice). The dressing is just olive oil, fresh lemon juice and honey, and it’s so simple and perfect. This is also an ideal brunch dish because all the salad components can be made ahead of time, and then tossed with the dressing right before everyone arrives.

Bestie Brunch

To round out our brunch I also made:

  • roasted sweet potato and yukon gold hash from Oh She Glows Everyday
  • thick cut bacon that I baked in the oven until crispy
  • fresh berries (made me long for summer farmer’s markets!)
  • these Maple Cinnamon Oatmeal Breakfast Bars (because I like to have a carby baked good at brunch, and these were quick and easy using gluten free oats)
  • MIMOSAS of course!

Everything was totally easy, and it was so good to catch up and get some cuddles in with Aoife’s baby Nolan. If only it wasn’t 7 degrees outside, and we were actually having Spring weather!

Spring Quinoa Salad

Source: Pinch of Yum

Ingredients

Salad

  • 1 cup quinoa, uncooked
  • 2 cups frozen peas
  • 1/2 cup chopped roasted, unsalted almonds
  • 3 cups fresh greens (i.e. arugula, baby spinach, shredded kale)
  • optional add ins: 6 slices bacon, cooked and chopped, 1/2 cup crumbled feta, 1/2 cup chopped fresh herbs (i.e. basil)

Dressing

  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 2 big lemons)
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Directions

  1. Cook quinoa in your preferred way (mine is in the rice cooker with 2 cups water), and set aside to cool completely.
  2. Fill a small saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Shut off the heat, then add the peas and cover for 3 minutes. Drain and add to the quinoa.
  3. Stir in the almonds, fresh greens and any other add ins.
  4. For the dressing, add all ingredients to a small mason jar with a lid, and shake until combined. Pour over the salad and toss until evenly coated. Let sit for 30 minutes or so at room temperature before serving.

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April on Planet Byn {2017}

by byn on April 30, 2017

in Monthly Recaps

Easter Treats

  • This month kicked off with a super fun and cute baking project! I made the treats for my friend Kristine’s niece’s 1st Birthday party. Her sister requested four dozen vanilla cupcakes (I used the recipe from Joy the Baker’s first cookbook) with vanilla icing (I used My Favourite Buttercream) and I ordered the Flamingo sprinkle mix from Sweetapolita to go with the colour scheme for the party (pink and gold). I also made a batch of brownies topped with chocolate ganache and more sprinkles. I was so happy with how everything turned out!
  • I took a short vacation to Cuba, which was so relaxing and restorative, but it’s true what everyone says about the food there: it sucks. Kristine and I did discover a new fun cocktail though, which I’m going to blog about soon.
  • While we were waiting for our flight home we discussed in detail what the first thing we wanted to eat was when we got back, and the verdict was SWISS CHALET. So satisfying. I also got a bag of the Chalet Sauce chips, and they were just okay. Nothing super exciting that I’m dying to have again (I have very strong feelings about all categories of potato chips, so this was a big deal for me).
  • For Easter this year, my Mom hosted, but I brought the same amazing stuffing that I made back at Thanksgiving. Honestly, I could just have a plate of turkey and stuffing with gravy and be so happy. Dessert was this pretty cake I blogged about last week!
  • I made a pre-Easter trip to Cake and Loaf, so I could try their infamous Creme Egg Brownie (pictured above). It was good, and not overly sweet like an actual creme egg, and I will definitely attempt to recreate it next year. My favourite treat was the little mini chocolate cheesecake with crushed Mini Eggs on top, it was to die for.
  • My foodie friends and I went to Square One last weekend to try Jamie’s Italian and it was a total BUST. Everything we had was just meh. Total disappointment, sorry Jamie Oliver. Better to go to Scaddabush, which is right nearby.
  • My friend Sarah got a new job, and was adamant that she didn’t want any fuss on her last day. I tried to respect her wishes (i.e. didn’t plan a big lunch or surprise meeting) so instead I made her a #drakeoncake (this recipe) and we had a private party for two in my cubicle. She loved it, and I shared the rest of the cake with our co-workers.

Other non-foodie things I was obsessed with this month:

  • I read a bunch of books this month that I recommend. Today Will be Different, is a quirky book by Maria Semple, that I recommend if you liked her other one, Where’d you go Bernadette. Your Perfect Life was a fun beach read, if you’re fan of body-swapping comedies (such as Freaky Friday or The Change Up). I Let You Go got off to a slow start, but turned out to be a pretty twisty, creepy read, must read if you liked Gone Girl and The Girl on The Train. All Grown Up is a quick one, but I really like this author, and ended up liking this too. I also read Difficult Women, but just found it just made me sad; proceed with caution on that one.
  • Obviously I saw Fate of the Furious on opening weekend. It made me miss Paul Walker, but I loved Charlize as the villain and love Jason Statham and The Rock in anything.
  • Raptors are in the playoffs again! I almost had about five heart attacks during the first round, but they made it through and Game 1 against Cleveland is tomorrow!

Flashback!

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Easter Cake

Last year’s Easter Cake was a work of art, in my humble opinion. Three layers of marble cake with Nutella filling, speckled buttercream frosting and cute little chocolate nests with mini eggs on top. I mean, come on. It doesn’t get much better than that. I couldn’t decide what to make this year, and I think it’s because I knew I wouldn’t be able to top that cake. At the very last minute, I decided on a lemon blueberry layer cake, hopefully to help usher in Spring, which hasn’t fully arrived here yet.

I used a recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction, and while it was good, I was disappointed because the layers were SUPER thin, like less than 1″. Once I stacked them up, things were looking pretty short and squat over here, and I was worried there wouldn’t be enough to serve the 13 hungry people at my family’s Easter dinner. I also love the drama of a nice TALL cake, because I’ve definitely been brainwashed from watching too many cake decorating videos on Instagram.

Pretty Swirls

Speaking of those videos, my newest Instagram obsession is Milk and Water Baking Co., who’s doing just the absolute cutest decorating technique with pastel swirled icing. For my first time decorating in this style, I made a half batch of My Favourite Buttercream, divided it equally into four bowls, and dyed it pink, yellow, turquoise and purple with my Americolor gels. I used four different shape and size piping tips, and just kind of played around until I liked the way it looked. I loved the way it turned out! Next time I’ll try swirling the colours together.

After all was said and done, this cake was a HUGE hit, and a few peeps around the table said it was the best ever. It was super hydrated, nice and lemony, and I loved the burst of blueberries. I’d definitely make this again, but double the entire recipe for a nice tall cake.

Lemon Blueberry Inside

Lemon Blueberry Layer Cake

Source: Cake from Sally’s Baking Addiction, Icing from Annie’s Eats

Ingredients

Cake

  • 1 cup (2 sticks butter), room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • zest & juice from 3 lemons
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries tossed with 1 tbsp flour

Icing

  • 10 oz cream cheese, cold
  • 6 tbsp butter, room temperature
  • 3 1/4 cup icing sugar
  • 4 tsp clear vanilla extract (or just regular if you don’t have clear)

Directions

  1. To make the cake, line three 8″ or 9″ cake pans with parchment paper and spray with non-stick spray. Preheat the oven to 350°.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and both sugars for about 3 minutes until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix again until fully incorporated.
  3. Add the flour, baking powder and salt, and mix on low speed until just combined.
  4. Add the buttermilk, lemon zest, and lemon juice and mix again until just combined.
  5. Gently fold in the blueberries with a spatula by hand.
  6. Divide the batter evenly between the three pans and smooth out with an offset spatula. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let cool for 30 mins or so in the pans, then invert onto cooling racks. Cool completely before frosting.
  7. For the icing, whip the cream cheese and butter together until combined. Add the icing sugar and vanilla and whip again until smooth and fluffy. Don’t overmix!

 

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March on Planet Byn {2017}

by byn on March 31, 2017

in Monthly Recaps

St. Patrick's Day

This was a pretty low-key month for me, especially since we had super cold wintery-weather, and my hibernation mode was still in effect. Here’s what was going on in the kitchen:

  • It was my friend Jen’s birthday and I made these Black Bottom Cupcakes for her little celebration. They’re chocolate cupcakes with chocolate chip cheesecake centres. I haven’t made them for years, and this reminded me how good they are. Must make again!
  • I went to Lavelle for a birthday dinner, and despite a super obnoxious hostess, had a great time. I had the most delicious creamy mushroom soup with truffle oil as a starter, and then their heritage pork chop for dinner, which was good, not great (in my opinion). Should have had steak frites which is my usual go-to anytime I’m somewhere with French food. Lavelle has a pretty chill vibe, and it’s fun because it’s on the roof, so you get nice views of the city. I’d definitely go back for a cocktail (just one, ‘ cause they’re like $28 each).
  • On St. Patrick’s Day I was over at my friend Heather‘s house, and she gave me this Rhine Stone Cowboy to drink (pictured above) which I actually really liked! She’s literally becoming a Beer Sommelier, so she can totally match-make you to the beer of your dreams.
  • The best dinner I made this month (besides these Mini Beef & Guinness Pies) was a batch of Smitten’s Everyday Meatballs, and this Spinach & Parmesan Orzo from Table for Two.

Other non-foodie things I was obsessed with this month:

  • I couldn’t take the FOMO of not watching Big Little Lies, especially since I loved the book so much and my hair idol Reese Witherspoon was producing and starring, so I subscribed to HBO Canada. I don’t regret it, I’m totally loving it, even though I know how it’s going to end. The last episode is on this Sunday!
  • HBO Canada also comes with On Demand, so I watched a season of Girls that I missed, and Issa Rae’s show Insecure which I’m OBSESSED with! Kristine is trying to convince me to catch up on Game of Thrones so I can watch the new season this summer. I may try, if only so I finally know what Chris & Andy are talking about during their podcast.
  • Didn’t read that much this month after I got home from Florida, but did read What was Mine, as recommended by Danielle, which I liked, and You Can’t Touch My Hair, which was so great.
  • I went to see Beauty & The Beast and had to physically restrain myself from not singing the songs out loud. It was so great, especially if you were a kid in the ’90s and had the VHS copy of the cartoon version in the puffy white case and watched it 1,000 times like I did.

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