Monthly Archives: July 2014

Coffee Cake Muffins


It took CH approximately 28+ years to figure out that: (1) a Coffee Crisp chocolate bars do, in fact, have coffee in them (at the time, he disliked coffee and this was shocking to him), (2) coffee cake does NOT, in fact, have coffee in it (previously, a deal breaker on the suspicion of coffee alone), (3) coffee isn’t so bad after all, and (4) coffee cake is delicious.  CH is now quite happy with himself :)!

Growing-up I remember my Mom making coffee cake – she got the recipe from a friend at work and it was amazing.  A while back (while stocking the freezer for my pregnant girlfriend), I came upon this recipe from Melissa at I Was Born To Cook and it immediately brought back memories of my early days enjoying this treat – except this was a modern approach in muffin form, and a few less ingredients involved, so I gave them a shot.  As soon as I made these with my friend, I knew I had to make them again for CH because a) he loves all things cinnamon and b) he loves muffins, so I had a feeling this would be a win-win in his books.  And they were.

These muffins aren’t overly sweet – they have perfect balance and the layered approach definitely helps that.  I’d bake-up a few batches of these to have on hand in the freezer for an unexpected weekend guest or just to please a hungry-breakfast-seeking family member.



Coffee Cake Muffins

Yield:  12 muffins
Prep Time:  20 minutes
Cook Time:  20-30 minutes

Ingredients for the Muffins:

  • 5 TBSP butter, melted, divided into 2 TBSP and 3 TBSP
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup milk, plus more if needed

Ingredients for the topping:

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts, pecans or cashews
  • 2 TBSP butter (from divided amounts above)


Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line muffin tins with paper liners.

In a small bowl, mix topping ingredients together, along with 2 tablespoons of the melted butter. Set aside.

In another bowl, mix together flour, sugar and baking powder.

In a third bowl, mix milk, egg and remaining 3 tablespoons of melted butter together.  Whisk until well incorporated.

Make a well in dry ingredients, add wet to it, and blend. Fold until dry ingredients are wet, then add in half of the brown sugar/nut mixture. Batter should be lumpy, not smooth, and thick but very moist. Add more milk if needed to achieve this consistency.

Spoon batter into tins, filling them about 2/3 of the way. Sprinkle remaining brown sugar/nut mixture on top. Bake 20-30 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. Let rest at least 5 minutes before serving.

Recipe from I Was Born To Cook



Filed under Bread, Breakfast

Barbacoa Beef for Burrito Bowls

photo 5

As I mentioned in previous post, our past 10+ months have been…well…different.  They involved a lot of cross-country flights (mostly on CH’s part), lots of Facetime, emails and phone calls.   But the biggest downside for CH, was not eating home cooked meals. His survival rested on one particular restaurant chain – Chipotle.  Thankfully there is one 2 blocks from his office and I am fairly certain they know his name and order by heart.  As his wife, I am grateful he eats so healthy and I won’t complain about his frequent visits here.  However, now that I am home and back in action, I need to fend-off the competition.  Thankfully, I have this ace of a recipe up my sleeve – Chipotle, you are no competition for me.

I’ve been making this for a while now – we hosted a fun summer party last year and had a build-your-own-burrito-bowl party.  I’ve made this for my Dad, my girlfriend with a new baby, my Mom and many more.  Every time I make it, it comes out with rave reviews and barely any leftovers.  I remember I even made it when we went camping – it was perfect because all you needed to do was re-heat the beef and you had an instant, delicious, non-camping food dinner.  CH and I disagree about the ratio of lettuce to rice to meat, mine being more of a salad bowl, his being more of a meat bowl, but hey, it works.

I am actually wishing as I write this that a giant burrito salad bowl was in-front of me…alas it is not, but it will be again soon! Definitely add this to your recipe roster, you won’t be disappointed (and Chipotle, well, CH says it was great while it lasted!).

IMG_1051 Barbacoa Beef 

Yield: 6-8 servings
Prep Time:  45 minutes
Cook Time:  5.5 hours (mostly hands-off time)


  • 3 lbs beef eye of round or bottom round roast, most of the fat trimmed*
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1 medium onion, cut into chunks
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 3-4 chipotles in adobo sauce (4 makes it quite spicy!)
  • 1 TBSP ground cumin
  • 1 TBSP ground oregano
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • salt and pepper  (generous amounts of both!)
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 TBSP oil
  • 2 cups water

For Serving:

  • lettuce
  • cilantro-lime rice
  • black beans
  • pico de gallo
  • cheese
  • guacamole
  • sour cream
  • fresh cilantro
  • tortilla chips
  • lime wedges

*Skinny Taste called for removing all of the fat – but I followed Sunny Side Up’s recommendation and left a little of the fat, as I agree it maintains the moisture in the beef better. 


Preheat oven to 275 degrees.

Add garlic, onion, lime juice, chipotles, cumin, oregano, cloves and water to the bowl of a food processor or blender. Process until liquified.

Heat oil in a dutch oven over high-heat. Cut beef into 4 large chunks and season generously with salt and pepper. Add the beef to the dutch oven and brown each side.

Add the liquified seasonings and bay leaves. Put a lid on the dutch oven and cook in the oven for 4-5 hours, or until the meat easily shreds.

Discard the bay leaf and shred the beef in the dutch oven. Taste and add additional seasoning if necessary.

Place the dutch oven over medium heat and cook at a low simmer for 10 minutes.

As stated above, serve with lettuce, cilantro-lime rice, black beans, pico de gallo, cheese, guacamole, sour cream, tortilla chips and lime wedges.

Recipe slightly adapted from SunnySideUp, originally from SkinnyTaste.

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Filed under Healthy, Mains, Mexican

Savoury Sausage and Cheese Breakfast Strata

Breakfast Strata 1

Breakfast has long been a favourite meal of mine, as long as it involves a lazy morning, coffee and a savoury meal.  I am not one for pancakes, waffles or anything sweet – but put a plate of eggs, hash browns and bacon on the table and I am happy.

My girlfriend had us over for brunch a while back and when we were arrived, we were greeted by the smells of an amazing strata.  When we sat down to eat, it was warm, comforting and delicious and reminded me how good a strata could be.  I love that strata’s are a little work to prepare ahead of time, but they are perfect for company and gatherings, as they are fairly hands-off once in the oven.  They also reheat beautifully, so it would be a great option for those quick weekday breakfasts too, if you are organized enough on a Sunday to prep it.

One of my friends in Vancouver recently had a sweet baby girl and although we cooked up a storm before her arrival and stocked her freezer, I still loved bringing her meals every time I visited, just to make her life a little easier. She loves all things breakfast (sweet things too – which you will see in a future post!), so I combined a few recipes and brought this strata one Saturday morning when my Mom and I visited her.  It definitely won the praises of all who enjoyed it.  It is hearty, savoury and just perfect for a weekend brunch, and if you are lucky, leftovers for the week.

If you are looking for a crowd-pleasing, impressive brunch item, this is it.   You can also spoil those you love and make it for a weekday breakfast, but be careful as it will be requested, again and again.

Be well and enjoy!

Breakfast Strara 2

Savoury Sausage and Cheese Breakfast Strata

Yield:  8-12 servings
Prep Time:  30 minutes, plus 8+ hours in the fridge
Cook Time:  Approximately 1 hour


  • 1 pound breakfast sausage
  • 1.5 cups finely chopped onion (about 1 large)
  • 2.5 cups fresh spinach, chopped
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 8 cups cubed (1 inch) sourdough bread (or other French style)
  • 6 oz coarsely grated Gruyère (about 2 cups)
  • 2 oz finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (about 1 cup)
  • 3 cups milk
  • 14 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp butter


Cook the breakfast sausage according to the package directions.  Once cooked through, drain the fat and set-aside the sausage in a bowl.  Once you have drained the fat from the sausage and removed it from the pan, add the onion to the pan and sauté for a few minutes, till the onion is soft and translucent.

Add the onion to your cooked sausage, and then add 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, and nutmeg. Stir.  Add in the fresh spinach.

Butter a 9×13 baking dish.  Spread one third of bread cubes into the bottom of the baking dish and top evenly with one third of sausage and spinach mixture. Sprinkle with one third of each cheese.

Repeat layering twice (ending with cheeses).

In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, mustard, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.   Once nice and frothy, pour the egg mixture over the bread mixture.  Do not stir or worry about it looking uneven, it’ll be fine once it has time to set in the fridge.

Cover your strata with plastic wrap or tinfoil, place in fridge and let sit for at least 8 hours (for bread to absorb egg mixture).  This is best to do the night before and then the work is done for the morning.

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Remove the strata from the fridge about 30 minutes before baking, to allow it to come to room temperature.

Bake strata, uncovered, in middle of oven until puffed, golden brown, and cooked through, 45 to 55 minutes.

Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Serve with a nice simple green salad, fresh fruit or all by itself.

Recipe adapted from Epicurious and Whole Foods


Filed under Uncategorized