Thursday, December 29, 2011

Slow Cooker Shredded Barbeque Chicken

Shredded barbeque chicken that's as easy as ordering pizza.
After the busy holidays, and cookie making from hell, I needed something simple and easy to make for dinner, that would leave leftovers that didn't suck. (Sometimes I just can't with leftovers, you know?). And what's easier than throwing some chicken, spices, and barbeque sauce into a Crock Pot?

With as little as 10 minutes of prep, the most amazing, spicy, shredded chicken was born. Reminiscent of summer picnics and barbeques, it's the easiest lazy meal I've made all year.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Candy Stripe Cookies

I wanted to like making these cookies. I wanted to enjoy how delicate and perfect they are, the care and precision it takes to colour and roll them. But really? Fuck these cookies.
Don't get me wrong-- they're delicious. Crispy and sweet, and with a subtle holiday theme. But somewhere along the way, maybe between work, Christmas, parenting, and catching up on season 3 of Community, I lost my baking patience. Cookies blackened, fingers burnt, and stencils sogged (it's a word, okay?).
I didn't end up making the full batch-- my fingers grew tired of piping, prepping, stenciling, and then finally rolling up hot dough. I would like to try them again, though. Just on a day I'm feeling more determined.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Roasted Sweet Potato Soup

I'm kind of weird about soup. The texture grosses me out, and sometimes there's too much mixing of the things. But this one? This one even soup haters can love.

I picked up a slow cooker on sale at London Drugs a couple of months ago. Nothing fancy, just a basic Crock-pot to do my bidding during the day while I lazed about listening to Justin Bieber and stuff. After my initial disgust at slow cooker recipes and their obsession with canned soups and other questionable food products, I found the Canadian Living Slow Cooker Collection at the library. (Side note: If you're looking for cookbooks at VPL, I have them all. Sorry about that). The recipes use real, natural ingredients, are straightforward and versatile, and I haven't had one turn out bad yet.
This soup is my favourite, though, and a perfect antidote to the increasingly cold weather that's hitting Vancouver. Even if you hate soup, there's a good chance you'll love it.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Crispy Peanut Butter Chocolate Squares

This is a dessert for everyone overwhelmed by baking or pressed for time-- you don't have to settle for grocery store cookies!

Sometimes I get asked for easier recipes, ones that my friends can make without a million ingredients or more than a few minutes of prep or cooking. And sometimes I want recipes that satisfy my sweet tooth cravings right away. That's why these bars are my new favourite insta-dessert-- and you don't even have to wait for this one to set to eat it!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween Marble Bundt Cake

Happy Halloween! Here's a Halloween(ish) cake... you know, because it's orange and "black"...
Know why I love Halloween? Because once it's out of the way, the next holiday is Christmas! And because it provides ample opportunity to make fun and spooky twists on treats.

I've had trouble finding a marble cake that didn't suck. Normally the chocolate half ended up too dry, crumbly, or dense in comparison to the vanilla. But I think I've found a winner! The texture of this cake is consistent and delicious, and the glaze is the perfect complement, without making the cake too heavy or rich.
What's did you dress up as for Halloween this year?

Friday, October 28, 2011

Blueberry Banana Pancakes with Maple Butter

A deep Fall has settled in Vancouver, and I can finally feel Winter coming on. The mountains, when not shrouded in fog, are covered with a light dusting of snow. The grass is crunchy with frost in the morning. And my hands hurt like hell when I have to pump gas. It's all left me wanting to curl up in the mornings with tea and a warm, hearty breakfast.

I made maple butter the other day. It's unfortunately not the maple cream variety-- the one made by heating and cooling syrup until it reaches a creamy, spreadable consistency-- but rather maple syrup that's heated to 240F, and mixed with butter. The result is a smooth, buttery, maple spread that makes pancakes, cornbread, muffins, bacon, everything, absolutely wonderful.

(Yes; I just admitted I spread what is essentially butter on bacon. Moving right along...)

It was perfect spread over these blueberry banana pancakes, fresh off the griddle and sprinkled with berries and warm syrup. The boy and I finished far too many, curled up under blankets on the couch, enjoying a lazy fall morning, and are sure to do the same thing tomorrow morning.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Chocolate Chip Pretzel Cookies

These cookies grew out of an old dream, and a new desperation to fulfill it.
I've been wanting to put pretzels and chocolate chips into a cookie forever. (I dream big). But buying pretzels was never on the top of my to-do list, and I never saw any in public or private that I could horde to bring home and bake with.

Then the boy turned 5 on the 13th (still in shock my baby is 5!), and I had a bunch of leftover snacks from his party. While I took care of seeing that all the Cheezies and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups were gone in record time, the pretzels were lagging a bit behind, and I didn't have a spot in my cupboard to store the giant bag. I think you see where this is headed...
Anyway, they turned out amazing! The salt gives them a good edge, and cuts down on the sweetness of the chocolate. Now I'm trying to think up other ways to use a couple more cups of pretzels. Pie crust? Brownies?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Cheesy, Spicy Kale Chips

Parmesan cheese, chipotle chile pepper, and kale. The perfect afternoon snack.
Potato chips are not often welcome in my home. Cakes, cookies, vodka: all things that can hang out on my counter and last for a few days. But not chips. I have no will power when it comes to chips.

Fortunately, I've found a healthy replacement. That I've smothered in oil and cheese...

Kale chips were introduced to me by my friend Tara, who is always making delicious things and never giving us the recipes. She made a variation of these during a clothes exchange at my place in late summer, and I've been hooked ever since! 
There are so many ways to make kale chips, I can't wait to try new variations. How do you make yours?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Easy Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry sauce so easy my 5 year old made it.

The boy was cranberry obsessed this past week. "DID YOU KNOW CRANBERRIES GROW IN FIELDS AND FARMERS FLOOD THE FIELDS AND THE BERRIES FLOAT?!", he’d yell at me from his car seat on the way home, with his distinct lack of volume control. Every day there was a new little cranberry factoid he couldn’t shout loud enough about. I chalked it up to either they were spending a disproportionate amount of time learning about Thanksgiving condiments and side dishes in Kindergarten, or his paternal side’s cranberry farming genetics were starting to burst through in weird, uncontrollable spurts.

Then on Friday he came flailing out of his classroom and shoved this adorable little jar of cranberry sauce into my face. Mystery cranberry obsession solved.

I am thankful to have such an exuberant little guy, who is beyond excited for us to share in trying the cranberry sauce he made tonight during our Thanksgiving dinner. I hope you all had a wonderful weekend, whether you celebrated Thanksgiving or not!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Red Pepper Soup

Happy October!

I love Fall.

Fall means warm clothes, jeans, and sweaters. It means boots and umbrellas (okay, every season means boots and umbrellas in Vancouver, but still). It means tucking away my self-tanner (and my razor!) and not smelling like a chemical-laden tropical smoothie while I try to figure out which looks worse: eerily pale or unnaturally streaked thighs.

But almost best of all, it means soup! I found this recipe on Smitten Kitchen and fell in love. I ended up halving the recipe for the boy and me, and cutting down the onion, and it was the perfect amount to keep us fed for a few days. The boy liked it best with croutons, and I liked to dip bread in mine. We're a carb family.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Quadruple Chocolate Chip Cookies

Quadruple chocolate chip cookies: because if you don't use all the chocolate, you might as well use none of the chocolate.
These cookies are intense. In a good way. In an all consuming way. I've been talking about them a lot, thinking about them a lot. I've found myself waiting to come home to them. Sneaking them into work in my purse and not sharing them with anyone.

They're just that good. A chocolate cookie with dark, milk, and white chocolate chips. The chocolates form an alliance that's neither too sweet nor too overbearing and the result sends me into a near panic with how perfect it is. 

Not a single chocolate craving can survive these.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Homemade Gnocchi

Making gnocchi is a lesson in simplicity.
I don't remember the first time I had gnocchi. I don't remember where I was, who I was with, or even if it happened earlier than a few years ago (it totally did). But I do remember a lingering fondness for these soft little potato pillows. A fondness that prompted me to make my own, and discover how such simple ingredients can be turned into something impeccable.

With just potato, flour, and some seasoning, come these delicate little treasures. The process seems intimidating, and the legends are terrifying tales of gnocchi gone wrong, but trust: If I can make these, you can make these. I'm the one who lit her microwave on fire. Twice.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Spiced Sweet Potato Donuts

These donuts. They're something else. And actually kind of healthy... (for a donut).
Health is rarely a selling point with me when it comes to dessert, especially donuts. But with just a few tablespoons of butter, two sweet potatoes, and no deep frying? And they still taste amazing? Please. You can't beat this.
I pitched the idea of sharing one for breakfast with the boy, and his 4 year old brain couldn't handle it. "But Mom," he said, "they're not THAT healthy. They're covered in sugar! Let's have Cheerios with blueberries instead. That's a much healthier breakfast, and we'll feel better if we eat it." Fine, kid. But I'm very disappointed. 

And now, if you excuse me, I have some Queen to listen to. Happy birthday, Freddie!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Carrot and Potato Latkes

It's real food!
For years I hated cooking. I loved baking instead, with its strict rules and sweet results. But lately I've had a change of heart, and have started to enjoy cooking as well.  This is, no doubt, due a large part to my allergens creeping into new food corners every day. It's becoming increasingly easier to just make everything from scratch.

And so, I will be sharing these new adventures with you, including these delicious, crispy, potato and carrot latkes.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Whole Wheat(ish) Banana Chocolate Chip Pancakes

Weekends are for big breakfasts, non?
Banana chocolate chip pancakes, to be exact. With real maple syrup. We're in Canada, after all, and maple syrup goes on all breakfasts, and all breakfast items, even the meat and potatoes.

What's your favourite weekend breakfast?

Ps. You'll be noticing a few changes around here in the coming weeks. I'm working hard on making the site better, and the first order of business is switching the title from how sweet it is to Leanne bakes. Now everything matches. Huzzah!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Nut-free Quinoa Granola

And now, in the category of "things that should have been posted Friday": Nut-free Quinoa Granola!
I had the honour of being a guest blogger over at Eat Yourself Skinny last Friday, sharing one of my favourite treats-- a granola I developed for those with nut allergies, like myself. It's delicious, versatile, and healthy, and I'm rarely without a jar in my fridge to sprinkle over yogurt or bring to work as a late-afternoon pick-me-up.

Check out my recipe over at Kelly's site!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Allergy-Friendly Vegan Brownies (dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soy-free... you get the picture)

These vegan brownies are best paired with wine, good friends, and gossip.
Baking for a get-together with my girlfriends can be a welcome challenge at times that really gets me out of my ingredient comfort zone. We have conflicting allergies -- no dairy for an intolerance and an allergy, and no dairy substitutes like margarine or shortening because of my allergies. and no nuts! -- but we persevere, and every now and then stumble upon some great favourites, like Olive Oil Chocolate Chip Cookies and now these Vegan Brownies.

Even though they lack my favourite ingredient ever (butter) they have plenty of my other favourite ingredient ever (chocolate), and the oil makes them rich and delicious. Perfect for your next party, family reunion, or quiet night alone at home.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Easy Whole Wheat Bread

I used to think baking bread took a lot of work. With all the kneading, and the waiting, I had myself convinced that it was way easier to just buy a loaf.
Now I think that going to buy bread is a lot of work. I didn't know it would be so easy and simple-- this loaf is made is just a few hours, and requires minimal effort and supervision. While I still love to experiment and make other types and loaves, this one  has become a staple in our breakfast, lunches, and dinners.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Chocolate Espresso Bars

Not too long ago, I wrote about my break up with coffee. We were done; it wanted nothing to do with me. Well, forget that, because it came crawling back after I made these bars, and we're happily back together, thankyouverymuch. 
If you know me at all, you know I suck at cooking. Jar sauce, meet noodles: my idea of cooking. The boy and I maintain healthy diets, and eat well, but food is not complicated around here. Recently my boyfriend (equally lazy when it comes to cooking) and I have taken to attempting to cook and it's... not going so bad. The food doesn't burn! I don't get scared or sick! I get to be mildly bossy and domineering when following recipes! (Actually, that last point is why I so much prefer baking. You just follow a recipe. There is much less guesswork than cooking. And I know which ingredients go well together-- all the fatty, sugary ones).

These bars were our dessert the other weekend, after we poured through a few baking books and couldn't get this recipe out of our heads. Boyfriend was surprised I had all the ingredients on hand. As if some people don't have within three feet of them every ingredient to make any dessert at any given point? Strange.

But anyway, the bars definitely continue my obsession with all Williams Sonoma's recipes. They are incredible. Fudgier than fudge. Chewy, yet soft and melty in your mouth. And there's a layer of icing on top that beautifully blends into the bar so well you can barely differentiate between the two.

Plus they're totally a legit substitute for your morning coffee.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

I am a lazy baker.
When I bake I like to streamline the process as much as possible. Partly because I am messy, and the less chance I have to make more of a mess, the better. And partly because I want to get to that chocolately finish line yesterday. 

I rarely mix dry ingredients ahead of time, unless it's something really fancy (or it's something from RLB, because she will cut a bitch). I just mix the dry stuff into the wet ingredients one item at a time, starting with the smallest amount, usually salt and baking soda// powder. Everything turns out fine, except for when it doesn't.

These bars are one of the good times. They're chewy and dense, with the perfect ratio of dough to chocolate. Just like the perfect chocolate chip cookie, but better, because you can cut a giant square and say you ate just one, instead of being like, "Oh I had 8 cookies for breakfast...".

They'd also make a great base for other desserts. I plan on using it for the base of an ice cream cake for my son's preschool graduation next month!

What shortcuts do you take when baking?

tweet tweet 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Garden Cupcakes

Summer has finally (finally!) arrived in Vancouver, and our gardens are starting to look more like these cupcakes. Flowers! Insects! Colours!

These were made several weeks ago, in a flurry of catering jobs, bakers markets, work, mystery abdominal pain, graduation, my birthday, and oh, that whole Stanley Cup finals mess, for a beautiful wedding at Minter Gardens.
These summery cupcakes are chocolate hazelnut, chocolate raspberry, and lemon, all topped with a vanilla swiss meringue buttercream. If you've never had swiss meringue buttercream, please put a stop to that nonsense, and have some immediately. It will ruin you for other icings. Trust.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Buttermilk Cheddar Biscuits

I work for a company of junior kindergartens, and our office is located in one of the schools. On the kids' birthdays the chef makes a big cake. It's usually chocolate, and there's always a thick layer of icing and sprinkles. Sometimes there is cake left over in the kitchen at the end of the day; I usually track down this cake, creeping into the kitchen late in the afternoon. But lately I've been taking it a step further, finding myself checking the chef's calendar for kids' birthdays, and plotting the best time to find an excuse to go to the kitchen.

This is either a sign that I need to eat less dessert, or I need to bake it more often to meet my body's demands. For now I think it's the latter, but when I start sneaking into the kitchen before the cake is handed out, or attack the chef while she's over the oven, or do any other activities that involve stealing treats from preschoolers, please send for help, because I've got a problem I can no longer control.
In the meantime, I made something that won't fuel my desire for cake banditry. Cheddar biscuits! These little guys are easy to make, and taste great fresh out of the oven or the freezer. The boy loved eating them for breakfast, and was thrilled to find them as a snack in his lunch. (So was I). These are quickly becoming a staple in our kitchen.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Chocolate Hazelnut (Nutella) Cupcakes with Nutella Frosting

These Nutella cupcakes make me want to grab a big ol' fistfull of Benadryl and dig right in.

Okay. Maybe not so much. But there is something so irresistibly delicious about Nutella that makes me almost want to take the risk.  

Then I remember that rogue cashew last Christmas. Or that accidental coconut last week. And all the swelling and the wheezing and the general mayhem that comes along with it all, and my mind says to put down the effing cupcake and walk away (something my general health says frequently, but no one listens). 
My mom and I have been testing recipes for Chocolate Hazelnut cupcakes for an upcoming wedding, and although I don't know first hand, I've heard this one might be the winner. An almost brownie-like texture, it's rich, dense, and full of the Nutella flavour I miss so dearly.

ps. I'm on twitter

Friday, May 13, 2011

Lemon Bars

Lemons are for warmth and sunshine, non? The minute the weather heats up here (and, believe me, it hasn't heated up much) I start craving lemon and other fruit desserts.
I always convince myself that lemon bars are harder to make than they really are. In my head, they feel as if they take hours, with a series of complicated steps that can go easily wrong.  I think it's the double bake that confuses me; baking the crust separately seems to leave a trigger in my mind of harder recipes that I've laboured over.

The truth is the opposite: they're practically foolproof.
I made these the other night, completely oblivious to the plague that was about to hit me in the middle of the night. I've spent the last few days in bed, incredibly sick. I'm happy to say the worst has passed, but unhappy that I was too sick to enjoy these bars.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Mom Bakes Mondays: Creme Caramel (and the Canucks Puck Bite giveaway winner!)

This creme caramel graced our table at Easter, in much happier times (before this atrocious election happened). I actually didn't get around to try much of this dessert, since I was too busy stuffing my face with the bunny cake, but it was loved by all. You can never go wrong with whole milk, eggs, and sugar. Trust.

And the winner of my Canucks Puck Bite giveaway is Sandra!  Congrats!!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Canucks Puck Bite Giveaway

Want to win a dozen puck bites?  
I heard the Canucks had a pretty big win the other night, so here are some munchies to help you through Round 2!

All you have to do to enter is leave a comment on this post! It's that easy.

But there are a few other things you can do for an extra entries:

1. Become a fan of how sweet it is on facebook and leave a comment here telling me you are a fan.

2. Follow me on twitter @leannebakes and comment here telling me you are a follower.

3. Tweet about this giveaway! An example tweet would be something like "Win a dozen #canucks puck bites from @leannebakes #giveaway", or retweeting my tweet.

The contest closes Sunday, May 1st, and is open only to residents of the Lower Mainland. (My poor car will only drive so far for delivery).

Cupcake Exhaustion

Me too, kid. Me too.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Monday, April 25, 2011

Mom Bakes Mondays: Happy Easter (Bunny)!

This little bunny hopped out of my mom's kitchen today just in time for our Easter dinner!
Growing up, my mom used to make my brother and me a special bunny cake every Easter. She decorated it with coconut, but my immune system has kind of killed that for her, so this guy is the resurrected allergy-free bunny. Seeing the look on the boy's face when I brought it upstairs reinforced why she always took the time to make him when I was little.

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend, whether you celebrated Easter, Passover, or the impending sale on Cadbury Creme Eggs (totally my holiday).

Friday, April 22, 2011

M&M Brownies

Candy in brownies? Why not!
It's been a week. You know those weeks? Yes, one of those. And now finally it's the long weekend and the boy and I have some time to decompress and reconnect. We spent today lounging around, doing some grocery shopping, and decorating Easter eggs. Holidays are infinitely more fun with a little one around, and his excitement is a bit contagious.

One of our favourite things to do together is bake. He's quickly caught on that it's a way we can spend time together, and if he asks late enough in the evening, he might just get to stay up a little past bedtime to taste one of the cookies or cakes we've made, curled up on the couch with a cold glass of milk and some cuddles.

The other night we whipped up these brownies, having impulse bought some M&M baking chips in the afternoon. I don't remember whose idea it was to add candy to the brownies, but I'd like to blame it on the 4-year-old.
(Okay, it was me).


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