Chocolate. Fudge. Brownies.
Need I say more?

I could write a longer post, but you'd just skip it to get to the recipe anyhow, so I'll get right on down to business.

Oh, did I mention... they're laced (with white chocolate, of course!)

Recently, I hosted a highly successful cookie party, where I willingly consumed enough sugar to put someone into a diabetic coma. This inspired me - no, not to diet or exercise, but to bake even more! On that note, I'll get my exercise by walking around carrying groceries. Let's face it - the gym might make you feel good in the long run, but food makes you feel good right now.

With classes finally on hiatus for the holidays, I've conveniently found myself with some extra time on my hands - perfect for concocting lovely little things in the kitchen. What better way to count down the new year than to offer you all a fantastic recipe for each day left in 2009?!

I'll begin with a simple holiday favorite of mine - sweet and salty bark. The secret? Soda crackers. No, really. They're in there, and they're delicious.

What You'll Need
1 package soda crackers (salted tops)
1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
1 cup chocolate chips (semi-sweet melts easiest, but any type will do)

How to do it
In a small saucepan over LOW heat, melt butter and dissolve sugars slowly, stirring. Once sugars are dissolved, let simmer until the caramel begins to bubble and become a slightly darker brown. Be careful not to let it burn!
Preheat oven to 300F. Lay crackers out flat on a cookie sheet, side by side, salted tops facing upward. Pour the caramel mixture over the top evenly. Spread with spatula if needed, trying to cover as many of the crackers as you can. Sprinkle chocolate over top.
Bake in oven for 10 minutes, or until caramel bubbles and turns slightly white. Remove from oven and spread chocolate with a spatula to form a coating. Refrigerate (or place on your doorstep if you're in a cold climate!) for about an hour or until hardened. Break into pieces, serve and eat!
One of my favorite desserts is a simple pleasure: plain vanilla cupcakes. In search of the perfect little cupcake - moist, slightly dense but still fluffy, slightly sweet, rich vanilla flavour - I have tried countless white cake recipes. After combining the best of the best and tweaking it to my liking, I've perfected my very own recipe. I've aptly named it the "Best White Cake Ever." Tastebuds everywhere tend to agree.

This cake comes out light and fluffy, but it is packed with buttery flavour. And, it's versatile - want almond cake? Add a couple of drops of extract, and voila! Matcha cake? Add a tablespoon of matcha to the dry ingredients. Fruity cake? Add whatever little fruits or  berries yor heart desires. The possibilities are endless - but at the end of the day, the savvy baker will remember that vanilla is the finest of the flavours.
The following is from

Just add food.

Don’t you hate going through your day eating boring food that doesn’t taste like bacon? Cereal – doesn’t taste like bacon, sandwiches – Don’t Taste Like Bacon, salad – DOESN’T TASTE LIKE BACON. Now using a combination of magic and science, the world’s greatest minds bring you BACON SALT!!!! Bacon salt is a wonderful seasoning that can be sprinkled on any ho hum food to make it taste like awesomely delicious bacon. Stupid diet got ya down? Well put some bacon salt on those vegetables and keep losing weight.

Bacon Salt can also be used to make good food better. Just think of the possibilities. Sure strawberry ice cream tastes good. Strawberry ice cream with Bacon Salt TASTES GREAT! Enjoying some chocolate chip cookies with the family? Think about the smiles on the kids faces when they discover the extra secret ingredient of bacon salt!
Best of all Bacon Salt is vegetarian and kosher friendly. You heard that right. There is no actual pork in Bacon Salt so everyone can enjoy that sweet sweet bacon flavor. Instead of tofu for dinner vegetarians can now have BACON flavored tofu for dinner!
It makes bad food good. It makes good food great. It lets vegetarians enjoy the glorious taste of bacon. IT’S BACON SALT!!!
Bacon Salt
  • Tastes like bacon!
  • Makes other things taste like bacon!
  • Vegetarian and Kosher friendly!
  • BACON!!

Contrary to popular belief, you do not have to be 80 years old (or constipated) to enjoy raisins. Raisins get a bad rep most likely because they're dry and they resemble fingers that have been soaking in water for hours. The irony is that if you soak a raisin in water for a while, it'll plump right up. One of the secrets behind my ultimate oatmeal cookies: soak your raisins. That is, if you are using raisins at all, which I think that you should. Over the years, I've tried and tested many oatmeal cookies and I've found it harrowing to find a great recipe. I've had decent ones, I've had good ones... but they've all fallen short of great. Some have too many oats, some have too little butter. Some have too much spice, and some don't have enough. Finally, I took the components of the cookies that I've enjoyed and I've combined them to formulate this cookie - aptly named the Ultimate. Unfortunately, a debate in my house always ensues: I vote raisin. Fiona votes chocolate. My brother votes anything, as long as he can dye them blue. I conclude that we make three separate batches. Mine win. (Obviously.)

Allison's Ultimate Oatmeal Cookies

What you'll need
1 cup raisins, in water
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
1 cup butter, softened
2 tbsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs, well beaten
2 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ginger
¼ tsp nutmeg
1 tsp baking soda
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
3 cups quick-cooking oats
½ cup shredded coconut

How to do it
Preheat oven to 325 C.
Soak raisins in water while preparing other ingredients.
Mix sugars together. Cream in butter and vanilla. Mix in beaten eggs. Mix in raisins.
Mix dry ingredients together in separate bowl. Add slowly to wet ingredients until just coated.
Add oats and coconut, mix well.
Bake at 325C for 12 minutes, until crisp on the outside and soft on the inside.
Cold nights call for warm food; Uneventful nights call for guilty-pleasures. Tonight turned out to be chilly as well as boring and my cravings were teetering between something fried and something roasted. Other than a rare handful of chips, or an odd (and usually regretful) midnight diner visit, fried foods are infrequently seen in my diet. So maybe it was the hunger that had been building up for the last five hours, or perhaps it was the tempting smell of the diner across the way, but something made me decide that tonight would be a fried-food night. Now, before you go running off scared that I'm about to show you something greasy and heavy, I'll let you in on a little secret: my fried dish was surprisingly nutritious. Since my budget for the week lies somewhere between zero and zero, I had to make due with what I had in the fridge. Alas, delicious sweet potato pancakes were born! I served my creation alongside roasted herbed acorn squash rings, filled with peppered smashed apples. Topped it all off with cool refreshing sour cream and chives. Cravings satisfied.

The arrival of autumn comes hand in hand with the comforting aroma of cinnamon in my kitchen. Handfuls of freshly-picked apples are constantly baking in some form in my oven. My apples have taken many forms this season: apple pies, apple crisps, apple sauce, failed-apple-crumble-turned-discovery-of-gigantic-apple-cookie, and, my absolute favorite, apple cake. Other than it's perfectly balanced taste, something else makes this cake my favorite: it's simple. Now, I'm not a shortcut kind of girl. You'll never see me with a cake (or heaven forbid muffin) mix in hand. Not that I'm a food snob, I just truly enjoy the satisfaction of making something entirely from scratch. That being said, I do enjoy a recipe that allows me to whip up something fabulous in a snap, then leaves me with very little to clean afterward. The toughest job here? Peeling the apples. Plus, I usually coax someone else into doing that part anyhow.

Two-Bowl Apple Cake
adapted from Second Helpings, Please! By Norene Gilletz.

what you'll need 
• 1 1/2 cups flour
• 2 tsp baking powder
• 1 cup white sugar
• 2 eggs
• 1/2 cup vegetable oil (I used canola)
• 5 apples, peeled, cored, thinly sliced
• a few tbsp cinnamon
• 1/4 cup brown sugar
• dash lemon juice
• dash vanilla

how to do it (long version with all the details)
First, peel your apples. Slice them thinly, so that you have half-moon shapes. Now, halve your half-moons. See the photo above for what your apples should look like. Don't worry about making them perfect, you won't see them once they're in the cake! Coat them immediately with lemon juice (orange or apple juice works just as well, but the acidity in the lemon keeps them from browning!), brown sugar and cinnamon. I'll leave the amount of cinnamon that you use up to you. I just throw a few dashes in, about 3 tbsp. You can put more or less, depending on your taste. Now, wet your hands. Mix it all together, turning the apples well into the sugary cinnamon mixture. Make sure they're all coated. Sometimes, I'll add a dash of vanilla here, or, if I'm feeling nutty, a dash of amaretto. Now, put the mixture aside. (Put the bottle of amaretto aside too.)

In another bowl, combine eggs, sugar and another dash of vanilla. Beat with a fork just until blended. Pour the oil in. (Now, this part might be tricky if you haven't blended oil much before - using your fork, beat the oil, like you'd beat an egg, spinning around the bowl. Start from the outer edges, and work your way into the middle. Beat vigorously, as you want to make sure that the oil doesn't separate from the rest.) Once this is all done, add your flour and baking powder. Yes, into the same bowl. Mix it all together, again, folding the flour mixture into the wet ingredients. Once it's blended, you've got your batter ready. Told you it was easy.

Now, time for the apples and batter to mate and make a beautiful cake baby. Preheat your oven to 350F. Spread half of the batter into the bottom of a 9x9'' cake pan. I lined mine with parchment paper, but if you don't have any on hand, grease the pan with spray or a very light coating of oil. Spread the apples over the top of this. Now, spread the rest of the batter on top. A tip - wet your hands and spread it by hand. Wet hands won't stick to the batter, and it should spread perfectly. Don't worry if an apple or two are peeking out. Your baby is ready for the oven.

Bake it for 45 to 60 minutes, or until the top is golden and your entire kitchen smells like heaven.

    Well, here it goes... my attempt at a foodie blog. I've decided to start this project because I've figured that this is one step up from posting photos of my dinner on Facebook.

    Cooking is my passion - well, one of my passions - and I'd love to share my experiences, successes and misfortunes in the kitchen with the world. (Or at least, with the small part of the world that cares to read about it... Even if that small part of the world consists solely of my Mom.) So thank you for visiting, and I hope that you enjoy reading about my adventures as much as I enjoy writing about them!

    Feel free to comment and share your recipes, suggestions, tips, tricks or other ideas.