Mighty Good Pickles

Strolling through the grocery store on my lunch the other day I stumbled across a nice big basket of local cucumbers. In a moment of impulse I grabbed them because (no word of a lie) the basket was adorable...

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As I'm sitting in my office sitting next to the basket of little cucumbers I realized I better think of something to use these for... Even my clients were putting me on the spot "oh! What will you make!?" Me: "Uhhhhh"

That's when it hit me, I had an old family recipe stored away for just an occasion! So I got my ingredients together and did a small batch of Mighty Good Pickles!

Mighty Good Pickles

12 medium size cucumbers, chopped into bite sized pieces

3 lbs onions

Chop and leave overnight with 3/4 cup salt.

Drain the onions and cucumbers (my aunt puts this in a pillowcase and hangs it in the basement for about half a day. I opted to wrap in cheese cloth and place in a strainer in a sink for half the day... felt better...)

( You can also leave the cucumbers and onions with salt for half a day, then drain overnight... Whichever works better for you.)

Cook in:

4-1/2 cups cider vinegar

1-1/2 cups cold water

6 cups sugar

1 cup flour

1-1/2 tsp celery seed, 1-1/2 tsp ginger, 2 tsp turmeric

Boil approx 1/2 an hour. Makes approx 5 quarts of pickles.

Some of the instructions made me laugh, who knows if "overnight" is 6 hours or 8 and "half the day"... 12 hours? Maybe 8 hours? Wing it, just wing it and be prepared for a strong onion smell during the first step aand a strong vinegar smell during the cooking.

This recipe is a staple on my families dinner table.

Banana Zucchini Chocolate Chip Muffins

Enjoy them with a little bit of margarine or just on their own. These muffins are stuffed with vegetables to make you feel good about your snack! (Along with a little chocolate to satisfy your taste buds) 

This started off as an old family recipe for a good tasty banana loaf, I took it and ran with it. Added a few extra ingredients, tweaked existing ones to make it my own. 

Banana zucchini chocolate chip muffins

One thing I love to have ready to go is some mashed up banana in the freezer. I will be starting a new job shortly so I took a little time off to enjoy the spring before starting at the bottom of the vacation pool again. First day one of the first things I did was take a bag of mashed banana and shredded zucchini out of the freezer!

Banana Zucchini chocolate chip muffins

It's been incredible having time to bake for fun again! Sometimes it gets a little exhausting coming home from work at 5pm stuffing some food in my face and baking a cake. I'm grateful that it's still something I enjoy doing and this little vacation was just what the doctor ordered.

Chocolate chip, banana, zucchini muffins

Below is my recipe for these delicious banana zucchini chocolate chip muffins.

banana zucchini chocolate chip muffins

5 Easy Easter Bakes

With Easter just around the corner here's...

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5 Easy and Fun Easter baking!

On Sundays I take some time to share something to make life easier. This week I'm dedicating some time to the holiday that reminds us that warm weather is on it's way and makes pastel colours the best thing since sliced bread! Below is 5 great Easter bakes that anyone can do.

#5 Chocolate Eggies Cake

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Who doesn't like chocolate?

Who doesn't like Hershey Eggies?

And there's nothing more fun than crushing up those Eggies... And eating the ones that try to get away. Grab your chocolate cake recipe and some chocolate icing and treat yourself to this spring treat!

#4 Carrot cupcakes

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A classic! And the vegetables make it healthy right? Carrot cake has a rich history, when you get the chance you should look into it. If it's too much reading, click here and we can just make carrot cupcakes and forget about it.

#3 Eggie Cookies

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I love Hershey Eggies if you haven't noticed.  Grab them at the bulk barn for the best deal!

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Not the prettiest cookies but very delicious! Rip these things apart when they're still warm and enjoy the chocolately goodness.

#2 Hot Cross Buns

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Now that song is stuck in your head. You're welcome. Such a traditional treat this time of year! Simply a bread dough with cinnamon and raisins drizzled with icing but it is drool worthy.

#1 Sweet and Salty!

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Genuinely in love with this combination, so simple but it's so effective. Buttered popcorn and Hershey Eggies. Just close your eyes and embrace what you get.

This brings us to the end of our list! I hope you were inspired to do some pastel Easter goodies.

Christmas Cupcakes

This has been a fantastic year for cupcakes! As sort of a "feel good initiative" I've been donating dessert to a local soup kitchen every Friday leading up to Christmas.

Nicole's Classy Custom Cakes

I've always believed in little kind gestures- sometimes the smallest thing can change someone's life for the better so I wanted to dedicate a little time over the holidays to promote that.

I was asked a couple of times why I chose to do it, mainly because it wouldn't exactly grow my business. I gave everyone the same response: it's just something nice to do. I wasn't concerned over the cost or the "potential business" sometimes it's just nice to do something for others.

Below we have all the cupcake designs that made their way into Hope Cottage this holidays season on top of a couple of other creations that passed through my kitchen!

 

Reindeer cupcakes.

Reindeer cupcakes

If I did these again I'd go a very different route... These more look like Christmas bears.

 

Santa Hat cupcakes!

Santa hat cupcakes

So much red food colouring and they are still a little pink! But the festive feeling is there.

 

Wreath cupcakes.

Wreath cupcakes

These were for my close friends in my life. These poor souls put up with my terrible work schedule enough, they deserve some sweets!

 

Winter Wonderland Cupcakes

Winter cupcakes

You really can't go wrong with the classic cupcake, these are in style all winter.

 

Christmas Tree Cupcakes

Christmas tree cupcakes

My favorite ones this year!

Well there we have it. The collection for the month! Can't wait to see what the rest of the season holds.

Holiday Baking

Every Sunday morning at 8 am I recap the week, share what I learned and showcase some of my work!

Or in this case, it's all about the showcase!! The holidays are fast approaching and you know that you won't have time to do all the baking you dream of. So let me help you! I will even let you take the credit ;) 

Here are a few mouth watering and traditional favorites for the holidays from years past.

Chocolate cake with Reese's Peanut Butter cups, Reese's pieces, and chocolate drizzle on top! This mouth watering design will get you every time: Chocolate cake covered in chocolate icing topped with chopped mini Reese's peanut butter cups and Reese's pieces drizzled in chocolate.

 

Looking for more of a classic dessert? How about a traditional linzer torte.

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A little history on Linzer Tortes: Named after the city of Linz, Austria it's a holiday classic in Austria, Hungary, Sweden, and Germany and mainly seen on the dinner tables at Christmas time. Linzer tortes can be made in many sizes and shapes from cookies, tarts and tortes. I chose the torte for my experiment to make sure the baking times worked for the oven.

Or perhaps you prefer cookies!

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A great way to show off some cheer is with these colourful cookies!!

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I also specialize in cupcakes and can pretty  make any treat as long as sufficient order time is given.

See something you like? And live in Nova Scotia, Canada? Message me for a quote!

Review: Bagel Montreal Style

Every Wednesday I take some time to review a product, place or experience in hopes I'll inspire someone to try something new!

In the new house I now drive by this gem almost every single day, so one morning I just had to pop in to see what sort of bagel goodness was behind that big yellow sign! Within seconds of arriving you are surrounded by the wonderful smells of the fire oven and the fresh ingredients.

Bagel Montreal Style bakery

I could not believe how many flavors there were to chose from, things I've never seen put in bagels were in these bagels! I even said that to the owner when I was chatting with him, he's definitely thinking outside the typical box of bagels.

I was planning on only getting a handful of bagels but... That didn't exactly go as planned. A dozen bagels later (the more you buy the more you save).. 

No self control

I ended up getting:

- 6 Montreal steak spice bagels

- 4 Everything bagels (because you can't go wrong with an everything)

- 1 pumpernickel bagel

- 1 Banana chocolate chip bagel

- 1 Rosemary and olive oil bagel (his last one for the day, I couldn't resist.)

Montreal Steak Spice...

Montreal style bagels

These were the ones I was the most excited to try, this sounded like a salty dream come true. I was not as excited about the flavor as I was expecting to be.. It was a little strong in flavor and not in a good way unfortunately. BUT we did finish all of them so no loss. It may be a little bit until we get this flavor again though.

Everything Bagels...

Montreal style bagels

I've never met an everything bagel I didn't like and this bagel was no exception. It was delicious and flavorful! We will be getting more of these classic gems.

Pumpernickel Bagel...

So this one I was expecting a strong Rye taste to it, to my disappointment it really didn't taste like anything which I found odd. The most memorable part was getting the dark bread pieces out of my teeth.

Banana Chocolate Chip Bagel...

One word. Nope... Nope sorry too rich. Take a bowl of chocolate cocoa puffs, add some chocolate syrup and you're coming close to the richness of this bagel. I sadly couldn't finish it. Just not for me.

Rosemary and Olive Oil Bagel...

So I imagine this bagel being great for a chicken sandwich. This is NOT a breakfast bagel AT ALL. Also couldn't finish this one either for the exact opposite of the banana chocolate one. Way too savory to just eat with butter and a cup of coffee.

 

The general consensus: The bagels are well made, they were firm but softened right up when warmed up. Their recipe is full proof... There's just some flavors that shouldn'tbe put in a bagel! The owner told me there's pumpkin bagels in the works so I have full intentions on returning soon to test the waters of his new creations!

The 16 Hour Turkey

Every Sunday morning at 8 am I recap the week, share what I learned and showcase some of my work!

I decided to take on the challenge of hosting Thanksgiving dinner for my family this year... Apparently I crave kitchen related chaos!

The best moist turkey recipe
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So I slapped on my favorite apron (equipped with it's own pearls) and went to work! I was absolutely obsessed with having the best and moist turkey possible!! So first came scouring the internet to mash up some of the best and brightest ideas from my favorite chefs on the internet. It didn't take long to realize this was going to be a huge project to take on- the bird's gotta sit in a sweet salty brine for a MINIMUM of 8 hours... But hey like I said whats life without whimzy...

 

The recipe I ended up collaborating together was as followed...

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1.5L hot water

2/3 cup sugar

2 cups coarse salt

1.5L cold water

1 container (I think it was like 940ml or somethin...) vegetable broth

 

Find yourself the biggest container you can find! Some internet peeps were using a giant cooler to be able to soak their turkey properly... Those guys also replaced the 1.5L of cold water with ice to ensure the bird stayed food safe. Mine however was nowhere near that big and I managed to cram it into my fridge for the night.

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See theeere's the big guy! ... Literally the cheapest turkey money could buy.

 

So! To make our lovely brine- pour the hot water into your tub and dissolve the sugar and salt into the water. Add cold water (or ice) and chicken broth.

Let the turkey soak for 8-12 hours.

Originally my plan was to wake up at 5am on Thanksgiving to ensure my bird would be ready for oven time at 1pm... But as the day went by that dream slowly became very unattractive and staying up until 1am became muuuuch more realistic. So at 1am with plenty of wine and excitement in my heart I was ready to get 'er done!!

Making the brine takes about 3 minutes... So I started the process at 1am and at 1:05 I proceeded to bed.

 

~~ The Next Day!~~

Next day is Thanksgiving day! The moment of truth!

At 1pm it was time to make magic happen! First things first- removing the water logged bird from the brine- giving it a really good rinse and patting it nice and dry. Now preheat your oven to 500°F.. 

Yep you heard right! Make sure there's no ickies at the bottom of your oven! Cus' they will burn up!

Prep your turkey pan with a small 1/2" layer of water then place that bird in the pan.

Take some fresh thyme and sage, 1/2 an onion, 2 celery stalks and 2 carrots all roughly chopped and insert it into the turkey (Make sure not to stuff it! Stuffing it will require more cook time for the bird to be done!)

I had some random baby carrots in my freezer that were not in any state to eat... but as a flavor enhancer in my bird they worked perfectly!

Now, take some time to measure how big your turkey's breast are (This was an internet find- not my own doing) You're going to want to have a piece of tinfoil that will fit on top of the breast meat perfectly to ensure it cooks a bit slower then the dark meat. Once you have your piece of tinfoil, set it aside- you're going to need it later. Make sure shiny side is up.

Next up we are going to lather that turkey up in butter! Literally massage it right on there. Make Colonel Saunders proud!

Once the bird is lathered up it's time to start cooking. Cook your turkey uncovered at 500°  for 30 minutes to seal in all that hard work that you just did! Add another 10 minutes if it doesn't look brown enough for you.

Remove the turkey from the oven and reduce the oven's temperature to 350°. Take the piece of foil we measured earlier and grease the bottom with oil/ PAM spray- whatever you have on hand and position over breast meat. This is going to ensure your white meat cooks slower then your dark meat and makes sure it isn't over cooked.

Once the oven is ready- return the bird to the oven and cook for 2-2 1/2 hours. DO NOT open the oven!! The turkey's skin has been prepped to hold in it's moisture so opening the oven to baste will do nothing but let out heat which will increase your cook time.

Your bird is ready when it's internal temperature is 161° - it will continue to cook the remaining 4° after it's been removed from the oven. Cover the turkey with more tinfoil and let it rest for 30 minutes- otherwise the moisture will all flow out and all your efforts will be for nothing.

Thanksgiving recipes

And there he is! This turkey was an absolute piece of art and tasted absolutely spectacular! It was received by my family very well.

Moist turkey recipe

50th Argyle Birthday Cake

Every Sunday morning at 8 am I recap the week, share what I learned and showcase some of my work.

I don't have much to share this week due to going through a move (I hate moving) so I'm showcasing a great cake!

The instructions were... Something elegant, with nice colors... And THIS written on it!

Celebrating a 50th Birthday the right way

Who says your 50th should be a somber occasion. These ladies understood how to celebrate: with a couple of laughs. You have accomplished quite a bit at this point after all! It should be embraced with class and a little humor. This cake says it all with the crisp argyle pattern and very forward writing.

 

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Checker board cake inside I was able to sneak into the establishment to take a look at the inside to make sure it worked out as it should... Nailed it!

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Aside from the writing I really loved this cake, it was the first time experimenting with argyle patterns and cutting the fondant to make the pattern. I hope to do something like this again.

An elegant birthday celebration

An elegant birthday celebration