Sunday, June 23, 2013

Baldwin Street Burger

Sorry I'm so terrible at posting through out the week.
It's habit I'm working on breaking.
Last weekend John and I went for a drive to Brooklin Ontario to try the burgers at a place called Baldwin Street Burger that John and his work crew frequent when they're working in the area.
This day trip also fit in perfectly with my quest to find the best burger in the city (and surrounding areas)

The place is small and doesn't necessarily stand out on the street. Just a few signs to let you know who and where they are.
Inside is beautiful - large wooden tables and menus on chalkboards on the walls.
They even serve your food on thick cutting boards.
Very cute.

John got the steak burger with a side of mac & cheese.
The mac & cheese is creamy and extra cheese is melted overtop.
It's really good and very filling, which is why we opted for the 3 oz burgers (aka the kids burger) instead of the 6 oz patties.
I can't pull up the website on the computer so I can't give you an exact run down on what was on the burger but there was cheese and bacon and those delicious crispy fried onions.

I went with the Cesaer burger - lettuce, tomato, parmesan cheese, pepper, and bacon among other things. I also opted for a split order of fries and deep fried pickles as my side.
Very good.

While I don't know that this will break my top 3 for best burger ever, I highly recommend checking this place out if you're in the area.
They have a few burger options that I still want to try.
If you can view it check out the website (and hopefully the menu) here!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Cinnamon Buns like you've never had them before

While browsing through the copious amounts of delicious recipes on Pinterest one night, I came across this one recipe that sounded too good to be true.
It also combines two of John's favourite things so I knew I would have to try out this recipe at some point, and probably sooner rather than later.
So last week I did it.
And it did not disappoint!
I tried to post this last week but my computer kept refusing to save my drafts so eventually I just got angry and stopped trying.
But here it is, in all of it's glory.


  • 1 box Rainbow Chip Cake Mix (powder mix only)
  • 2 pkg. active dry yeast
  • 2 1/2 cups warm water
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 5 cups bread flour
  • 1/2 cup butter softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar packed
  • 1 cup yellow cake mix
  • cinnamon
  • sprinkles
  • 1/4 cup butter softened
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup yellow cake mix
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 3-6 Tbsp. milk
  • sprinkles


  1. In a large liquid measuring cup, measure out 2 1/2 cups warm water. Almost to hot to touch but not scorching. Pour in the 2 packets of active dry yeast and let it activate and foam up. (you could just pour the measured water into a bowl as well, I just find this easiest)
  2. Once yeast is active pour into bowl of a stand mixer. Add rainbow chip cake mix, salt, vanilla and bread flour. Use dough hook attachment to knead dough together, just for a minute or two.
  3. Spray a large bowl with cooking spray and place dough inside. Cover with saran wrap. Let sit for an hour until doubled in size. Punch dough down with fists and cover again and let rise for an additional hour until double in size.

4. Once dough has gone through its second rise, remove and placed on a clean floured surface. Roll out into a large rectangle shape.

5. Smear softened butter over top. Next evenly sprinkle, distribute and rub brown sugar over top. Then sprinkle yellow cake mix evenly over top of that. Rub gently to evenly cover if needed. Next sprinkle with desired about of cinnamon and sprinkles.

6. On one of the long sides, roll up to make a long and skinny log. Slice into even rolls. It should yield 24-29 rolls depending on how thick you slice them.
7. Place in a greased 9x13 baking pan, 12 rolls per pan.

8. Cover with plastic wrap and let cinnamon rolls rise a final time in the pan, about 30 minutes, or until they have doubled in size.

9. Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes.
10. While cinnamon rolls are baking, make the cake batter frosting. In a large bowl, beat butter, powdered sugar, cake mix, vanilla and milk. Add more powdered sugar/milk until desired consistency is reached. Add in as many sprinkles as desired.

11. Spread frosting over warm rolls. Sprinkle with additional sprinkles if desired.

If you love deserts, if you love cake, if you love the texture of cinnamon buns, and if you love ooey-gooey icing, than you need to try this recipe.
And if you haven't already joined the Pinterest craze I highly recommend you do!

Monday, June 10, 2013

What I'm Reading this month

I am an avid reader and a big fan of books.
On my list this month:
1. 'The 100-year-old Man Who Climbed out the Window and Disappeared'
by Jonas Jonasson

I'm about 50 pages in and can already tell this is going to be a good one that I recommend to fellow book-o-philes.
2. 'And The Mountains Echoed'
by Khaled Hosseini

A review I read said it was not as good as his previous books. But I loved both The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns too much to not be anticipating reading his latest literary offering.
3. 'Inferno'
by Dan Brown

What can I say? His stories might not be as emotionally charged as Hosseini's but the man knows how to keep you turning the pages. Plus I'm a big fan of historical fiction.
Any recommendations from other readers?

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Red Velvet Cheesecake Minis

On Thursday night we had some friends over for dinner.
I obviously was quick to use it as the perfect excuse to break my cleanse.
I did, a little, and it was like heaven had been revealed to me.
Pita! Dips! Cheese! Pasta! *gulp* Cheesecake! Wine!
Our original plan was to have a lovely outdoor dinner on the patio and use one of our buildings rental BBQs. But ol' Ma Nature decided to veto that plan with rain and chillier than seasonal temperatures.
So we BBQ'd indoors!
On the menu was shiskabobs.
Chicken, orange peppers, onions, zucchini (some with muchrooms) and halloumi
& Spicy Italian sausage with yellow peppers and onions.
The appetizer was pita bread with 4 dips - hummus, tzaziki, spinach, and artichoke & asiago.
The sides were a pasta salad with a roasted red pepper & artichoke tapenade and a caprese salad.
Then for desert, since I was breaking my cleanse, I wanted to get as decadent as I could.
I made mini cheesecakes with a red velvet cake base. I tinted the cheesecake pink to go with the red.
They were pretty good but I used a boxed red velvet mix and it wasn't as rich as I was hoping for.
Could have been my fault for only making 1/3 of the box and probably messing up the ratios of ingredients a bit.
Anyway I won't post the recipe because all you need is a recipe for Red Velvet Cake like this one, and a recipe for Cheesecake, like this one.
Mix 'n' match with any and all of your favourite deserts and flavours.
In other news, I decided today that I couldn't go back to the sparse diet of the cleanse after allowing myself such indulgence. I did well during the day at work, fruit for breakfast, brown rice and veggies for lunch. But when I got home to the left overs from dinner I devoured them.
And subsequently am still - almost 12 hours later - dealing with the consequences.
I'm bloated and gassy and crampy and uncomfortable.
All signs seem to point to dairy though as the source of the trouble.
I did have cheese, dairy based dips, chocolate, and a mug of coffee that was easily 1/5 cream.
I think I'm lactose sensitive.
I won't say intollerant because I think I have to have a fair bit of it to make it an issue.
So back to the cleanse.
Tomorrow/today I plan to let my digestive tract have a break and then slowly start to include dairy but not so much that it gives me trouble.
But there's a good chance I'm stopping at Tim Horton's in the morning to get a donut.

Cleanse: Mid-week ranting

**Late Post written on Wednesday**

As you are probably well aware, this week I've been on a cleanse diet.
If you ever want to stop time and make it feel as though a week is the longest week of your life, try this diet.
I can't believe it's only Wednesday.

I've been surviving on fruits, veggies, brown rice, chicken, water and herbal (decaffeinated) teas.
It sucks.
Well that's not entirely true.
I actually quite like brown rice. It has a nutty flavour to it that makes me feel as though I can enjoy nuts sans annoying allergic reaction.
And I've been purchasing and eating a lot of really delicious fruit, especially stone fruits like cherries, peaches, nectarines, and apricots.

I did add in beans last night too and so far so good.
I've been less bloated, not crampy, and generally do feel better although I've been sleeping a lot more.
I suspect this is either due to my need for a good thick steak (first food to be added back in is red meat) or the fact that my body is actually detoxing from the copious amounts of caffeine it's used to receiving.
After red meat I'm bringing coffee back. Although my headache that's was almost my constant companion since Saturday has since let up so maybe I should take htis opportunity to drink less coffee.

On Sunday night (day 2 of my cleanse) I was faced with the greatest temptation of all:
birthday cake.

And creatively decorated cherry-chip cake! My brother in law and his girlfriend set to work on icing this bad boy and the entire thing was almost gone before the end of the night.
I sipped tea instead.

As soon as I feel confident I won't re-aggravate my stomach I'm going to eat the biggest burger I can get my hands on. Hopefully the Holy Chuck Burger. That's on my radar.
Then all breads, all cheeses, big breakfasts....

Sorry stomach, I wish I knew how to quit you.
My eyes are bigger and they win every time.

I just need to stay strong for 4 more days on this cleanse then I can reward myself with a beef burger - hold the bun and condiments.
Or a tenderloin steak.
That seems like a good compromise!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Miller Tavern

For the past 3 years, John has wanted to go to The Miller Taven for his birthday dinner.
So this year was no exception.
I love this place. I always enjoy my meal, my wine, and the general ambience of the place.
We started the night with Malpeque oysters (ugh gross) for John and some bread with maple butter for me.
(Oh how I miss bread so badly on this cleanse. I almost caved and ate a baguette with cheese earlier this evening.)
We also got a bottle of a wine we've purchased from Cave Spring before (and drank pretty quickly) - The Dolomite Riesling.
The dolomite is so named because of the dolomitic limestone that can be found in the Niagara Escarpment and which gives the wine a real minerally, delicious taste.
Highly recommend this one if you're looking for a good sweeter white.

I was torn between the burger, the Sri Lankan chicken curry that seems to be my go-to, and the jerk chicken sandwich.
Lured by the combination of pineapple and bacon, I went with the Jerk Chicken Sandwich ($15).
It came loaded with grilled pineapple, bacon, pickled red onion, mango aïoli,
and jalapeño jack cheese.
And it was good.
I cut it in half thinking I'd save half but ... the sandwich was gone pretty quickly.

John, having been wowed off his seat last year when he ordered the burger, decided to go a different route and got the Portobello Mushroom Ravioli ($18).
It came with asparagus, pea shoots, rosé cream sauce and chipped reggiano.
I had a bite and even though I dislike mushrooms (cooked, I'll eat them raw), this ravioli was pretty good.
We were too stuffed to enjoy any desert but I bought him some cupcakes from a place near us called Bakes & Goods and I sang a proper happy birthday to him the next night.

Check out The Miller Tavern especially if you love seafood.
It's pricey but well worth it if you're willing to splurge.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Gluten Free Quinoa Chocolate Cupcakes

John's birthday was on Thursday so I sent him off with his favourite cupcakes - rainbow chip - but also with a gluten free option since I know some of his co-workers are gluten intollerant.

Having recently become a big fan of quinoa (and also not having any rice flour or other gluten free flour to substitute), I did a quick google search for cupcake recipes using quinoa and found this one from Michael Smith.

For a flourless cupcake it was pretty good, although I did run into an issue or two.

(Original recipe found here)

You will need:

2/3 cup (160 mL) white quinoa
1 1/3 cup (330 mL) water
1/3 cup (80 mL) milk
4 eggs
1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla
3/4 cup (185 mL) unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups (375 mL) sugar
1 cup (250 mL) cocoa powder
1/2 tbsp (7 mL) baking powder
1/2 tbsp (7 mL) baking soda
1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) salt
  • Combine quinoa and water in a pot. Heat to simmer, cover and cook until quinoa is soft and has absorbed all the water, about 18 minutes. Spread flat to cool. Should produce about 2 cups (500 mL).
  • Start with all ingredients at room temperature. Preheat oven to 350F/180C.
  • In a food processor, combine quinoa, milk, eggs, vanilla and butter. Blend until smooth, about 5 minutes, scraping down sides halfway. Add sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt and puree 2 more minutes.
  • Pour into 9-inch silicone cake mold (or a similar-sized cake mold, greased). Bake for 25 minutes, rotate and continue another 25 minutes. The top should spring back when touched. A toothpick will come out sticky, but dark, instead of shiny.
  • Rest in pan for ten minutes before removing. Set upside down on wire rack to cool.
My major complaint was that the cupcakes stuck to the liners and worse - they came out very deflated.
Nothing that a little extra icing couldn't fix though!

If you're gluten sensitive/intollerant or you're just looking for something new to try, give this recipe a whirl. Quinoa is really good for you so you can almost rationalize eating several cupcakes in one sitting.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Detoxing Home & Body

In my bid to redo our bedroom I finally got around to putting some pictures on the wall above our bed.
I went to Ikea and - after trying to make a budget version myself - caved and bought the framed Picasso sketches that I love so much.
I then went on a bit of a Picasso binge.

The quality of my pictures isn't so good because of the glare from the window but this is what the Ikea picture looks like:
In other news, I've been having some stomach issues off and on for awhile. I can't pinpoint what exactly it could be that makes me so bloated and uncomfortable.
It happened again today seemingly out of the blue.
I get bloated to the point where I convince myself I've been pregnant for 3 months and am just starting to show.
It's bad.
And it's uncomfortable. When the bloating hits I have to lie on my stomach or with a pillow pressed up against my midsection just for some relief.
So I decided that I would try something my best friend tried a few times before she conclusively knew she was gluten intollerant:
The Brown Rice Cleanse.
I don't think I'm gluten intollerant. I eat a lot of bread. And generally there are no ill side effects. I don't think I'm lactose intollerant either cause I eat a fair bit of cheese, again, with generally no ill side effects.
But I feel like dairy might be the culprit...
Anyway, the cleanse works like this:
for one week (7 long days) you eat only foods that are gentle on your digestive tract which gives your body a chance to heal any damage done by foods that don't agree with you.
Sounds like a fantastic plan.
But basically you have to eat the most boring diet - brown rice, vegetables (but no corn or mushrooms and I also saw one incredibly restrictive diet plan that said to cut out tomatoes too but I'm going with the less harsh plan because if I followed the serious one I'd either die or John would find me hiding under the bed eating a 20 lb wheel of brie and then what good is the cleanse?), fruits (no bananas, no citrus other than lemons and limes)... know what?
Computers have the copy and paste function for a reason
"What’s allowed on the diet?

1)Brown rice, preferable organic
2)Fresh vegetables, any kind you like, lightly steamed. Onions are especially good for cleansing and are very sweet and tasty when steamed. Try a plate full with some fresh garlic.
3)Fresh fruits, any kind, except oranges and orange juice. With fruits and vegetables, it is best to consume only organic produce whenever possible. However, as this is not always possible, buy in season and locally grown fruits and vegetables, and wash them thoroughly befreo eating. When buying dred fruit, purchase only unsulphured dried fruit.
4)Fresh garlic and ginger
5)Cayenne pepper and/or non-salt herbal seasoning (e.g. "Vegit")
6)Vegetable and fruit juice – the best is fresh pressed from a juicer, otherwise juices with no additives, sugar, chemicals, and little or no salt (can be found in health food stores)

7) Other foods allowed are lentils, rice cakes, sesame seeds, ocean-going fish, free-range chicken, humus, tofu, and tempeh
8)Absolutely no shellfish (i.e. shrimp, oysters, scallops, clams, lobster, etc.) or catfish "
In a nutshell, I'm pretty sure the first few days, if not the entire week, are going to be miserable.
But I want to fix this bloating and find out what's wreaking havoc on my digestive system.
Here's hoping by the time next Saturday rolls around I look & feel like this:

Even though I can guarantee with almost 100% certainty I will look and feel more like this:

Mainly because caffeinated beverages are a big no-no and coffee is my life force.

Also the girls at Sugar Mountain are going to wonder what happened to me.
I'm almost a regular there.
Wish me luck.
I'm pre-writing a lot of this week's posts because otherwise I think if they're written in the moment they'll be very angry.
If you follow me on twitter get ready - I anticipate running the gamut on emotions this week.
 Desperate, bored, rejuvenated, clean, bargaining.
But probably a big dose of hangry.

Feel Good Friday: Dates on the Fly

Sorry I'm technically a day late. I guess the last feel good Friday was also posted on a Thursday so...clearly I don't adhere to strict deadlines.
Last weekend was probably the most fun I've had in a long time.
On Friday night I got together with some friends from middle school for drinks.
We had a reunion a month or so ago and since then have managed to stay in touch with has been really nice.
Our original plan involved a patio but my goodness it was cold.
We braved a patio for a bit, huddled close to the heating lamps, and then moved locations to another bar, also on a patio, but at least with a roof.
On Saturday morning I got a text from my good friend and talented soap-maker/cake-decorator/smartest-person-I-know asking if I had any plans.
I didn't so we came up with an impromptu date to walk around the Chinatown/Kensington area of Toronto and grab lunch somewhere.
After a nice lunch at Springrolls we enjoyed the sun and shops in the area.
This involved trying on a fancy dress of kitten fabric, trying on numerous tiny hats, and sampling a buying donuts, cheese, and pretzel bread.

After taking some pictures with a $90 slab of cheese, sampling some rather expensive kinds, and buying a slab of gouda to split, we found some greenspace and sat on the swings in the park.

It was one of those days where we had no real plans but everything lined up perfectly.
We have plans to go back and do it again - there are too many Mexican restaurants there that need to be given a fair shot.
Thanks again for such a wonderful day Danie!