Tag Archives: Baked Goods

A Burst of Spring: Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

I have always loved Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins.  I remember choosing them from the Costco pack of assorted muffins – you know the pack that had chocolate, blueberry and poppy seed (well, that’s when they included lemon poppy seed. They are now long gone and Costco replaced them with some sort of apple cake…err I mean muffin!).

When I saw a fellow blogger, The Way the Cooke Crumbles, post these a few weeks ago, I was instantly reminded of how much I loved these muffins, and set my mind to making them!  Finding poppy seeds wasn’t the easiest of tasks, but I finally found some and away I went!

How good are they?  I made 12 at 8pm on Thursday night….Friday afternoon at 2pm, there were 4 left.  Let me remind you that it is only CH and I in this house.  I may have skipped making dinner and lunch, and we just ate these instead.  I am planning to make another batch on Sunday evening to have as breakfast for the week (if they last that long!).

I definitely recommend adding this to your baking list.  They aren’t overly sweet, just a nice hint of lemon and all around just delicious!  I skipped doing the glaze and/or frosting and just lightly dusted them with sugar when they came out hot from the oven!

I hope you enjoy…I’m off to fight CH for the last one!

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

Yield:  12 muffins
Prep Time:  10 minutes
Cook Time:  16 minutes


  • 1 lemon, for grated zest and its juice
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 stick (8 tbsp) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 tbsp poppy seeds

For the Icing (Optional)

  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 2-3 tbsp fresh lemon juice

~ OR ~

  • 3 tsp of fine sugar, for dusting while the muffins are warm from oven


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Butter or spray a regular-size muffin pan or line with paper muffin cups.

In your KitchenAid mixer, fitted with the flat mixer, mix the sugar and lemon zest together until the sugar is moist and the fragrance of lemon strong.

Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt to the lemon/sugar mixture and combine well.

In a large glass measuring cup or another bowl, whisk together the sour cream, eggs, vanilla, lemon juice and melted butter together until well blended.

Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and on medium-low speed, stir to blend.  Don’t overmix – a few lumps are OK and it’s better than over mixing the batter.  Stir in the poppy seeds.

Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups.  (Note – The mixture will have the texture of scones, or at least for me it did!  It was quite a sticky batter and a little hard to place in the muffin tin.  Just use your hands, it’s easier!)

Bake for 16 to 20 minutes, or until the tops are golden and a thick knife inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean.

Carefully remove each muffin from its mold and place on a wire rack.

Either sprinkle immediately with fine sugar, or cool the muffins completely on the rack before icing them.

Recipe From Tuesday’s with Dorie Host: A Cup of Sweetness (Post Inspired by The Way the Cookie Crumbles)


Filed under Breakfast, Healthy

What’s Baking: Traditional Tourtière (French-Canadian Meat Pie)

Our Italian Kitchen is the host of What’s Baking for the month of March!  The theme she has chosen is Bake From Your Nationality/Heritage, which literally make me leap with joy!  I knew immediately what I wanted to make.

Hopefully some of you have popped over and read a little “About Me” or about my cooking roots in my first post, Coconut Drop Cookies.  If not, very briefly, I am very proud of my French Canadian heritage.  My Memere and Pepere (French for grandparents) are no longer with us, but they are in our hearts and memories and my Memere lives on through my cooking.  This recipe is one of Memere’s pinnacle recipes.  She served this only on Christmas Eve and maybe one other time a year, and it is one that evokes wonderful happy family memories!

Tourtière is a traditional French-Canadian dish, originating apparently around 1611.  Every family has its own “original” recipe, passed down through the generations, so depending on the region your family is from, your recipe will reflect that!  Tourtière is served by generations of French-Canadian families throughout not only Canada, but also the bordering areas of the United States.  And, because I am a bit of a nerd, apparently tourtière got it’s name from the pie-pan used to cook it in, which was further named after the key ingredient, which was the cooked meat of the once abundant and now extinct passenger pigeon, the “Tourte(Thanks Wikipedia!).

Anyways, back to the recipe!

Before this weekend, I had never made pie dough from scratch.  Typically when I make this dish, which has only been a few times since my Aunt and/or Mom usually make it for the holidays, I buy pre-made dough from the grocery store!  But, when this months What’s Baking challenge was announced, I knew I had to dig out my Memere’s recipe and attack the crust from scratch too.

It was actually a cinch making the pie dough, especially with my KitchenAid mixer.  This dish is actually fairly easy to make from start to finish, but tastes as though you spent hours making it (or maybe you did, because it took that long to decipher the fuzzily scanned and emailed 30 year old hand-written recipe!).

The flavours of the dish are warm, welcoming and truly comforting.  For me, just the smell of the meat mixture cooking, smells like family gatherings at home.

I hope you give this French-Canadian specialty a try, I know you won’t be disappointed!

*Note, traditionally this is made into one large pie.  However, I prefer to make individual pies as it makes serving them easier, plus I think it’s quite fun having your own*

Memere’s Tourtière

Yield:  One 9inch pie ~or~ four individual 4inch pies
Prep Time:  10 minutes for pastry, 10 minutes for filling, 20 minutes to assemble
Cooking Time:  25 minutes for filling, 25 minutes to bake

Pie Pastry


  • 5 cups all-purpose flour, unsifted
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 lb butter, cut into 1 inch squares and kept very cold
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar
  • 2 cups ice cold water
  • 4 disposable tinfoil pie plates (4inch diameter)
  • 1 egg + 1 tbsp of water, beat together to create egg wash


Slice your butter into small 1-inch squares.  Place in a bowl and keep in the fridge until ready to use.

In a large bowl, place 1 cup of ice and fill with 2 cups of cold water.  Set aside.

Using a one-cup measuring cup, break in the egg and add the vinegar.  Using the ice-cold water, add enough water to make 1 cup of liquid, including the egg and vinegar.

Place the flour, salt, baking powder and brown sugar in your KitchenAid bowl, fitted with your wire whip.  Mix to combine the ingredients.

Turn on your KitchenAid mixer to a medium speed, remove butter from fridge and add to the flour mixture.  Mix until butter is well integrated and only small clumps of butter/flour remain (no bigger than the size of a pea).

Switch the wire whip to your flat beater.  While still on a low speed, sprinkle the egg/water mixture into the flour mixture.  Mix until flour mixture comes together and forms a loose ball when pressed in your hands.  (Note – the mixture will not form a complete ball, but you should be able to form a ball that stays together). Do not knead the mixture and try to work as little as possible.

Divide dough mixture into 12 pieces.  Wrap each piece with plastic wrap and place in fridge to rest while you prepare the filling.

(Note – you will only need 8 pieces for the recipe below.   You can freeze the additional pieces in a freezer bag for 3-6 months)

Tourtière Filling


  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 1/4 lb ground beef
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced or grated
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp savory
  • 1/4 tsp celery salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground clove
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup breadcrumbs


Place all ingredients, except breadcrumbs, in a medium sized saucepan.  Over medium heat, bring the mixture to a rolling boil.  Reduce to a simmer and allow mixture to cook, uncovered, for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove from heat and add 1/4 cup of breadcrumbs.  Stir well.  Let stand for 10 minutes.

If mixture is still quite wet, add in more breadcrumbs, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the mixture is still moist but not drippy.

Set aside to cool while you roll-out pastry dough.

Final Assembly

Preheat oven to 375F.

Sprinkle a clean working surface with flour.  Place one of the disks of dough in the center of the surface and working outwards, using your rolling pin, roll the dough into approximately a 5 inch circle. Flip the dough occasionally as you roll it out, to get an even circle.

Place the rolled out dough into the tinfoil pie pan.  Gently push the dough into the corners and bottom of the pan.  If needed, trim the edges.

Repeat with 3 additional bottom crusts.

Fill the pie crusts with tourtiere filling and brush the edges of the crust with egg wash.

Roll out the 4 additional pieces of pie dough, using the instructions above.  Drape over the filled bottom crusts.  Trim the edges to the same size as the bottom crusts and fold the edges together to form a clean edge.  You can crimp or scallop the edges to your liking.

Cut three or four slices in the top of the crusts to vent the tourtiere.  You can do simple slices or be creative and do some decorative holes!  Using the egg wash mixture, brush the top of the pie crust.

Place on a baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes, or until dough is golden brown and mixture is steaming.

Serve with a homemade gravy [CH: I pour mine on top, through the vents, but not too much is needed], mashed potatoes and some green beans!

Recipe from JBean’s Family Kitchen (and slight adaptations by JBean herself!)

One final note, these can be made ahead and frozen.  Simply prepare until you reach the baking step, double wrap the tourtiere in plastic wrap, one final wrap in tinfoil and then freeze.  When ready to bake, remove from freezer the morning you plan to bake it, and continue as planned.


Filed under French, Mains, Quebecois

Mom’s Famous Chocolate Cake Recipe

This cake is famous.  No really, it is.

Okay, well maybe not world famous, but within our family and friend circle it is.  This is my Mom’s hand-me-down recipe and she’s been making it for years.  Just the smell of the cake baking reminds me of being in my Mom’s kitchen, or calling her over 10 times for the recipe because I kept losing it (don’t worry, I’ve got that covered now – it’s on my blog – I can’t lose it!).  This cake shows up at birthdays, parties, special occasions or best of all, just because.  CH and my brother have been known to ‘fight’ over this cake.  In fact, one time my brother tried to hide the cake on CH, so that he wouldn’t have to share! [CH: He failed, then we decided to hide it from everyone else at the party and ate it all by ourselves. Flawless victory.] Apparently, it’s that good!

This cake is so versatile too!  It can be topped with a chocolate ganache, which makes it truly decadent.  I also dust it with icing sugar (as shown) and serve it with ice cream.  It also goes really well with strawberries and whipped cream.  All I know is that leftovers are known to disappear for breakfast (actually, as I type this post….I just heard CH open the cake stand….I’m serious)!

I know what you are thinking, it’s a pretty simple and basic cake recipe and it uses a cake box mix (*gasp*).  But, the say the proof is in the puddin, so try this cake soon.


Mom’s Chocolate Cake


  • 1 box Devil’s Food chocolate cake mix (I use good old Betty Crocker)
  • 1 pack chocolate instant Jello pudding (dry packet)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup chocolate chips



Grease a bunt pan with butter.  Set aside.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Using your KA stand-mixer, fitted with your flat beater, add in eggs, sour cream and oil.  Mix well.

Add in the cake mix and the pudding.  Mix well again.  Add in the 1/2 cup of water and give it one more good mix – until no clumps remain and the batter is smooth.

Finally, toss in the chocolate chips and stir to combine.

Pour cake batter into bunt pan and spread out evenly.  Give the bunt pan a few taps on the counter to release any large air-bubbles.

Baked at 350 degrees for 50 – 60 minutes.  Test doneness by inserting a long skewer (it’ll come out clean when done!)

Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes.  Flip over onto a rack and let cool entirely.

*This cake can be prepared the day ahead and it still tastes as if you just baked it.  I leave mine overnight in my glass cake stand, but you can also place it on a plate and cover it with a plastic bowl.   I will glaze it with the ganache about 30 minutes before serving.



  • 2 cup of chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup of half and half cream
  • 2 tbsp of butter or margarine


Place chocolate chips, half and half and butter in a small sauce pan.

Over very low heat, melt until smooth consistency (I usually melt the mixture until there are still a few un-melted chocolate chips left.  I then remove it from the heat and stir until all chips are completely smooth).

Pour the hot ganache mixture over the cake and use a spatula to spread evenly.

Let side for 20 – 30 minutes before serving (it’ll harden slightly, which is what you want!

Recipe from Momma JBean, Adapted from Best of Bridge


Filed under Desserts