Vegan Strawberry Banana Muffins

We decided that it was much too quiet in our house, so we adopted a new cat ūüôā ¬†Sean was the one who found him. ¬†He was intrigued by his quiet demeanor and gentle attitude.

We named him Taco. ¬†He is not a kitten but as soon as we brought him home, we realized that he tricked us with his relaxed attitude at the humane society. ¬†I guess it was depression from being locked in a small cage, rather than his normal temperament. ¬†It makes sense now, of course! ¬†Doesn’t he just look so sweet and innocent..?

Taco

We have really come to adore this little “maniac” as Ruby calls him. ¬†She loves him more than anything because he tolerates her hugs, brushing and “dress-up” games and is always by our side. ¬†I was worried that I would regret getting another cat two months after we lost JoeBoo. ¬†I was worried that I’d be disappointed. ¬†I was worried that I’d feel guilty. ¬†I worried that I was trying to replace JoeBoo.

I was soon pleasantly surprised to discover that I was falling in love with crazy Taco.

Guinness really likes him too.  Introducing the two cats was a very gradual procedure though.  The worst thing you can do when bringing a new cat into your house is to just throw them together and hope for the best.  This will work for some cats, but not as a general rule.

We kept Guinny and Taco separated for a full week. ¬†They were able to sniff each other under the basement door and see each other through the glass doors in Sean’s office. ¬†We swapped them out so that each cat¬†spent time in the room the other had just been in. ¬†This way¬†they could explore each others scents, including the used litterbox.

The first meeting between them took place under direct supervision. ¬†A few hisses were exchanged, and this is totally normal, but if it had escalated to growling, swatting or a full out fight, it would have meant they weren’t ready.

First meeting

I also used a product called Feliway, in diffuser form to help ease the transition.  This is an anxiety-reducing feline facial pheromone.  It is an excellent product used to alleviate stress in cats and I recommend it for many things other than introducing a new cat into a household.  It is also great for litterbox anxiety (and urine marking), new baby in the house, inter-cat aggression, travel stress, etc.

This is not an advertisement for Feliway though!  There are other good products out there.  If I had needed something extra to reduce stress in Guinness and ease the transition, I would have tried a product called Zylkene.  It is a colostrum protein that has been shown to have a rapid calming effect and is effective in both cats and dogs.

After a patient week from all of us, Guinness and Taco are now friends. ¬†Granted, Taco does get on his nerves sometimes. ¬†This isn’t too surprising given Taco is a rambunctious one year old and Guinny is a lazy ten year old. ¬†However, they are making it work and we could be happier…

Guinny and Taco              Guinness and Taco

Plus, now I have a new “baking buddy”, thanks to Taco’s obsession with food. ¬†It’s probably that stray cat mentality, where they never quite know where their next meal is coming from. ¬†He will pretty much eat anything. ¬†I caught him running away with Ruby’s grilled cheese sandwich the other day. ¬†Of course, she thought it was hilarious!

I made some muffins today that I haven’t made for a long time. ¬†Ruby ate a lot of these when she was younger and they had to be non-dairy because of her eczema. ¬†I had some over-ripe bananas and lots of fresh strawberries and decided to make these delicious treats:

Strawberry Banana Muffins

These muffins are not overpoweringly sweet and I love the flavour of banana and strawberry. ¬†I have used both coconut oil and canola oil in these muffins and they both work great. ¬†I also used 3/4 cup all-purpose flour and 3/4 cup whole wheat flour, because I ran out of all-purpose flour this time ūüôā ¬†Maybe it made them just a tad healthier, but then I added a simple glaze to make them sweeter! ¬†They are a great breakfast and they freeze really well. ¬†Luckily, Taco didn’t snag one of these!

Vegan Strawberry Banana Muffins
From: http://www.katesshortandsweets.com/2012/05/strawberry-banana-muffins-vegan.html?m=1

1 1/2 C chopped fresh strawberries
1/4 C plus 1/2 C sugar
1 C very ripe mashed banana (about 2 small)
1/3 C vegetable or coconut oil
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 C flour 
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

Preheat oven to 350F and line a muffin tin with liners.

In a small bowl, combine strawberries and 1/4 cup sugar. Lightly mash and set aside.

Whisk together the banana, oil, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt, 1/2 cup sugar, and flour in a large bowl. Add in the strawberry mixture and vinegar and whisk until just combined.

Spoon batter into 12 muffin cups. They should be about 3/4 full. Bake on center rack for about 20 minutes. Muffins will be puffed and slightly golden, and a cake tester inserted into the middle will come out clean.

Remove from oven and cool for about 5 minutes. Remove muffins from pan and allow to finish cooling on a rack.

Feel free to add a bit of extra sweetness with a water/icing sugar glaze or milk/icing sugar glaze once the muffins are cooled.  ENJOY!

Posted in Muffins | 1 Comment

Dark Chocolate Stout Cake with Bailey’s Buttercream Frosting

The day I had been dreading for the longest time finally came.  We had to say goodbye to JoeBoo last month.

It was probably the hardest day of my life.  People who have never loved a dog or cat like family will not understand this.  JoeBoo had started to deteriorate and even though I knew it was time, I felt so guilty.   Losing my best buddy was heart breaking.

JoeBoo was my first cat. ¬†I had grown up a huge dog person and didn’t really “get” the appeal to cats until my first year of vet school, when I met little JoeBoo. ¬†I was working at a vet clinic as a student. ¬†Someone found a little 4 month old kitten wandering the neighbourhood and brought him in to us. ¬†He was very skittish and shy and clearly hadn’t had a lot of socialization in his young life. ¬†I was immediately drawn to him and began to try to get him to come “out of his shell”. ¬†Every day on my lunch break, I would take him to the lunch room with me. ¬†We played and hung out and I shared my tuna sandwiches with him ūüôā

baby joeboo

In a few days we were buddies and since nobody had claimed him and he had no ID tattoo or microchip I decided he needed to come him with me.  Sean and I named him JoeBoo.

Over the years, we came to realize just what a unique cat we had fallen in love with. ¬†He was an adventurous little kitten that liked to climb to the top of our balcony screen door, sometimes falling on his head in the process. ¬†He was an agoraphobic adult cat who peed on me every time I took him out of the house. ¬†In fact, during many road trips between Minneapolis and Winnipeg, JoeBoo would pee, poop and puke within 5 minutes of getting into the car. ¬†I scooped poop many times from our car litterbox, throwing it out of our moving vehicle on the highway! ¬†Not something I’d recommend doing, but it seemed appropriate at the time!

JoeBoo would give high fives for treats and do his patented move, the “shamoo”, when he wanted us to pet him. ¬†He loved a good belly rub and would go crazy for salted ripple chips. He would come running every time Sean opened a bag of chips – and then be disappointed if it was just Doritos.

JoeBoo loved to hide under blankets and was such a good hider that we even thought we had lost him one time! ¬†He would often meow at me until I made him an appropriate little cave of blankets to hide in. ¬†It had to be of a certain standard, of course ūüôā

For a pampered house cat, he was one great mouser too! ¬†The one time we had mice in our house, he caught both, and paraded them around like trophies.¬†¬†He was so proud and excited that he forgot to actually kill¬†the mice! ¬†I was at work when this happened, but you can ask Sean about how he had to “euthanize” one poor mouse with his shoe…

JoeBoo also liked to play jokes on us – he once wiped some poop onto Sean’s cell phone during a road trip. ¬†He loved to wake Sean up in the morning with his “chomping” or a few gentle pats on the head; Just a reminder that it was time to wake up and feed him ūüôā

JoeBoo

JoeBoo slept beside me every night from the first day I brought him home. I still tear up when I think about him and I will miss him everyday for the rest of my life.  He single-handedly turned me into a crazy cat lady and I will be a cat person for life now.  Though there will never be another cat like him, because of JoeBoo , I will never be without a feline companion for the rest of my life.

Guinny and JoeBoo

Guinny misses his buddy a lot too.

Did I mention that JoeBoo was my baking buddy? ¬†He was always right there “helping” me, a.k.a trying to lick the butter. ¬†This cake was the last thing that we baked together.

Here is a picture of a few of the key ingredients:

Ingredients

The cake turned out chocolately, moist and absolutely delicious. ¬†The buttercream is fluffy and sweet with just a hint of Bailey’s for a unique flavour. ¬†I grated some Lindt dark chocolate and sprinkled the shavings all over the cake for an even richer cholocate taste. ¬†The original recipe called for Guinness Stout, but I decided to use a chocolate stout. ¬†I will definitely make this cake again. ¬†It’s a great option for a “grown-up” tasting chocolate cake. ¬†However, my nephews and Ruby both approved of the taste.

Chocolate stout cake              Thebakingvet.com

 

Dark Chocolate Stout Cake with Bailey’s Buttercream

From: http://www.preventionrd.com/2012/04/dark-chocolate-guinness-cake-with-baileys-buttercream-happy-birthday-mom/#comment-318163

Cake:
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 cup Guinness Extra Stout or any Stout beer
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 eggs

Buttercream:
2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
3 cups powdered sugar
3 Tbsp Bailey’s

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

In a small saucepan, melt butter. Remove from heat and whisk in stout, vanilla extract, and cocoa. Set aside to cool.

Butter and flour two 8 inch cake pans. Whisk together the dry ingredients (sugar, flour, baking soda). Pour the stout mixture onto the dry ingredients, then whisk in the 2 eggs. Pour evenly into two prepared cake pans.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Meanwhile, whip together the softened butter and sugar in a standing mixer for the buttercream, adding in just enough Bailey’s to get it loose and fluffy. Whip for 5-10 minutes, or until fluffy and light.

Once the cakes are done baking, cool completely. First, add the frosting for the middle layer. I used about 1/3 of the buttercream. Top with second layer. Coat top and sides with another 1/3 of the frosting mixture. Spread it all over, nice and thin. Refrigerate to set it. At this point, you can refrigerate the cake overnight. Once that layer is firm to the touch, add the final 1/3 of the frosting to the cake ‚Äď top first, then sides. Spreading it around evenly.

Serve at room temp.  ENJOY!

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White Chocolate Cranberry Cookies

HAPPY BIRTHDAY SEAN!

Today is my husband’s birthday. ¬†Or as it says in my iPhone calendar, “Sean is old”.

Speaking from experience, having a birthday so close to Christmas can be a bit of a let down. ¬†Your birthday gets overlooked by Christmas shopping, holiday parties, school concerts, and so many other events. ¬†You sometimes get those combined “Happy Birthday-Merry Christmas” greetings or gifts.

Speaking of Christmas shopping, my birthday gift to Sean was to finish his shopping for him today!  See how this December birthday thing goes?

So what did we do today to celebrate? ¬†We had a quiet night in with pizza for dinner, a beer or two and then some birthday cookies. ¬†Not quite the wild birthday celebration we once had in our bar years, but a nice little evening. ¬†But Ruby singing “Happy Birthday” was adorable, as was¬†her¬†reaction to the birthday card we gave Sean. ¬†It has a picture of two frogs hugging on the front. ¬†Since she has a mild obsession with frogs, she carried it around and talked to the card all day long.

So HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my favourite person! ¬†I hope we have many, many, many more birthdays together. ¬†And, I hope we don’t eat all these cookies tonight. ¬†I need to save some for Christmas! ¬†Hahahahaha, there we go again! ūüôā

And here they are…

These white chocolate cranberry cookies are amazing. ¬†There are white chocolate chips and cranberries in the batter. ¬†Then there is a rich cream cheese frosting slathered on top. ¬†Then more cranberries and finally…White chocolate drizzle! ¬†Perfect. ¬†For those of you who don’t know, they are the cookie version of the famous Starbucks Cranberry Bliss Bars that are so popular at this time of year.

White Chocolate Cranberry Cookies - thebakingvet.com

There are several steps to these beauties and I ended up making these over two days.  I froze the batter overnight and then finished them the following the day.  They were time consuming but fun to make and worth the effort.  Try them!

White Chocolate Cranberry Cookies

From: http://cookiesandcups.com/cranberry-bliss-cookies/#comment-241135

Ingredients:

Cookies
3/4 cup butter, room temperature
2 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/4 cup light brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/4 cups flour
1 cup white chocolate chips
3/4 cup coarsely chopped dried cranberries

Frosting
6 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup white chocolate chips, melted

Topping
1/2 cup coarsely chopped dried cranberries
1/2 cup white chocolate chips, melted

Directions:
In bowl of stand mixer cream butter and cream cheese together until smooth.
Beat in brown sugar for 1-2 minutes until fluffy.
Add in eggs, vanilla, baking soda and salt and beat until evenly mixed. Turn mixer to low and add in flour.
Stir in white chocolate chips and chopped cranberries. Chill dough for 2 hours or overnight.
Preheat oven to 375¬į. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
Drop dough on baking sheet about 2 inches apart and bake for 9-11 minutes, until edges are golden and centers are just set.
Transfer to wire rack to cool.

Frosting
Beat cream cheese and butter together until smooth. Mix in powdered sugar and beat until creamy. Finally mix in melted white chocolate, beating until incorporated.
Spread frosting on top of cookies.

Topping
To garnish, sprinkle remaining chopped dried cranberries on top of cookies, evenly distributing them among all the cookies. Finally, drizzle melted chocolate on top.

Makes 30-36 cookies

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Eggnog Cookies

I think it is appropriate at this time of year to talk about obesity in cats, since I’m also talking about baking and eating lots of cookies. ¬†It is also a huge problem in dogs but for this post, I’m going to talk about cats.

The vast majority of indoor cats are overweight or obese.  This stems mainly from inappropriate diet, inappropriate feeding schedule and lack of daily exercise.  A cat that is overweight or obese has a greatly increased risk of developing Diabetes Mellitus.  Other health problems that can arise as a result of excess weight include: respiratory difficulty, liver disease, osteoarthritis, skin problems (from not being able to groom properly) and a general decreased quality of life.  Keeping your cat at a lean, healthy body weight can add many good quality years to his or her life.

Here is a guide to help your cat lose weight or maintain a healthy weight:

1)¬†¬†¬†¬†Diet¬†‚Äď Cats are obligate carnivores.¬†¬†They require a large amount protein in their diet.¬†¬†Most commercial cat foods are too high in carbohydrates and too low in protein (especially dry food).¬†¬†All¬†cats should receive canned food at least daily. Canned food is high in protein and water.¬†¬†Since cats have evolved to be infrequent water drinkers, they need to get a large portion of their daily water intake from their food.¬†¬†This is especially important in male cats for urinary tract health.¬†¬†The bottom line is that most cats are taking in too many calories every day.¬†¬†Your veterinarian can determine how many calories (and thus how much food) your pet should be eating on a daily basis.¬†¬†Many cats need prescription diets under veterinary supervision to lose weight appropriately.

2)¬†¬†¬†¬†Feeding Schedule¬†‚Äď Cats are NOT grazers and should not be treated as such.¬†¬†Leaving food out (‚Äúfree feeding‚ÄĚ) allows your cat to determine his or her calorie intake for the day.¬†¬†Most cats will overeat if given the chance and become overweight with this method of feeding.¬†¬†Cats should be fed a¬†measured¬†amount of food approximately two to three times daily.¬†¬†Free-fed, grazing cats are more likely to develop a number of other gastro-intestinal disorders, including constipation.¬†¬†In a multiple cat house where free-feeding was being done, all cats will need to¬†learn¬†to eat meals at specific times so they can be fed separate, measured amounts.¬†¬†This transition can take time so please be patient.

3)¬†¬†¬†¬†Exercise¬†–¬†Indoor cats do NOT get adequate amounts of exercise.¬†¬†Lack of activity can have serious consequences that stem beyond weight loss.¬†¬†Exercise stimulates intestinal and colonic motility; therefore, sedentary cats are more prone to constipation.¬†¬†Exercise has also been shown to regulate blood sugar levels and reduce insulin requirements.¬†¬†It is important to try to devote at least 15 minutes per day to getting your cat to exercise.¬†¬†Play games with your cat.¬†¬†Use appropriate cat toys, play fetch (yes¬†many cats love this!), use a laser pointer, etc.¬†¬†Consider taking your cat outside on a harness/leash for walks (make sure he or she is vaccinated and dewormed regularly if going outside).

4)¬†¬†¬†¬†Food Ingredients ‚ÄstFor over-the-counter diets, make sure that you read the ingredient list.¬†¬†Check for good quality ingredients and make sure that meat proteins are among the first ingredients listed. ¬†But please note that wheat and corn are not awful, toxic substances for cats…This is a whole other discussion. ¬†Don’t get me started. ¬†

¬†My cats are not examples of a perfect body condition, especially Guinness. ¬†I do, however, feed them good quality food, including canned food three times daily. ¬†Feeding canned food is healthier than dry for sooooooooo many reasons. ¬†I even mix in warm water at each canned food feeding to make it more like a gravy slurry. ¬†The added water is perfect for urinary tract health and it makes them feel more “full” at each meal. ¬†I highly recommend feeding cats this way every day. ¬†They LOVE it.

Now then, speaking of obesity, I insist you try these eggnog cookies.  They are soft and fluffy and the glaze gives them just enough extra eggnog kick with some extra sweetness.  They are very easy to make and perfect for the holidays.  I will also be giving these away in my cookie tins this year.

Eggnog Cookies - thebakingvet.com
I love eggnog, but sometimes the drink is a little too rich, thick and heavy for me. ¬†I usually end up diluting it with some skim milk. ¬†These cookies have plenty of eggnog flavour (especially with the glaze) but they are not overpowering. ¬†Everyone will love them. ¬†I think next time I may try adding some rum extract ūüôā

Eggnog Cookies

From: http://www.yourcupofcake.com/2010/12/eggnog-cookies.html

Ingredients:

Cookies:
1 1/4 cups white sugar
3/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup eggnog
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon nutmeg
2 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Eggnog Glaze:
1 ¬Ĺ cup powdered sugar
3 tablespoons eggnog

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 300¬įF (150¬įC)
2. Combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg.
3. Cream sugar and butter until light
4. Add eggnog, vanilla, and egg yolks; beat at medium speed with mixer until smooth.
5. Add flour mixture and beat at low speed until just combined.
6. Do not over mix. Refrigerate cookie dough for 1-2 hours
7. Spoon onto un-greased cookie sheets or parchment paper, making approx 1 inch dough balls.
8. Sprinkle lightly with nutmeg.
9. Bake 15 to 18 minutes or until the edges barely start to brown.
10.  While cookies are in the oven, make the eggnog glaze by whisking together the powdered sugar with 3 T eggnog.
11.  Gaze your cookies warm or cooled and top with cinnamon.
Makes 2 dozen cookies. Enjoy!

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Frosted Sugar Cookies

I’ve been doing a LOT of baking this week. ¬†Christmas gives me a great excuse to bake, not that I truly need one. ¬†In order to prevent Sean and I from eating them all before I have a chance to share them with people, I freeze them as soon as they are ready. ¬†It also keeps them fresh until I’m ready to gift them.

I’m not a big fan of hard cookies, especially hard sugar cookies. ¬†That’s why I LOVE these cookies so much. ¬†They are super thick and soft and the frosting makes them irresistible. Plus, they are perfect for any occasion. ¬†I added green food colouring to the frosting since it’s Christmas, but they would be perfect for Halloween, Valentine’s Day, Easter, etc. ¬†But, really, you don’t need it to be a special holiday to enjoy these cookies.

Frosted Sugar Cookies - thebakingvet.com

Once again, Ruby “helped” me with the sprinkles and our kitchen needed a good cleaning after we were done.

To all my friends and family, I will soon be delivering some of these cookies (along with many other treats) to your door!

Frosted sugar cookies

From: http://cookiesandcups.com/favorite-soft-sugar-cookies/#_a5y_p=988429

Ingredients:
Cookies
10 Tbsp butter, room temperature
2/3 cup vegetable shortening
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 Tbsp vanilla
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3 1/3 cups flour

Frosting
1/2 cup butter
4 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup whole milk + 2 Tbsp whipping cream

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350¬į
Line baking sheet with parchment and set aside.
Cream shortening and butter together until smooth, add in sugar and beat for 1 minute on medium speed.
Beat in eggs and vanilla until smooth.
Turn mixer to low and add in baking powder, salt and flour until just combined.
Drop by rounded tablespoon onto lined baking sheet.
Bake 8-10 minutes until cookies just start to get golden.
Allow to cool on baking sheet for 3 minutes and then transfer to wire rack to continue cooling.

Frosting
In mixer beat butter and powdered sugar together. Mixture will look like course sand.
Slowly add in milk and vanilla. Beat for 2 minutes until smooth and fluffy.
Color frosting if desired and spread onto cooled cookies. ENJOY!

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Frosted Pumpkin Spice Cookies

Life has gotten a little crazy these days.  Baking and blogging have taken a back seat to my cat, who was recently diagnosed with a very aggressive form of cancer.  It is called hypo dermal hemangiosarcoma, a very rare cancer in cats.

It started about 2 months ago when I noticed a small lump on JoeBoo’s side, under his skin. ¬†It felt like a harmless lipoma (fatty growth) so I forgot about it for a few weeks. ¬†Then my husband said to me, “are you sure it’s nothing to worry about?” ¬†And then it hit me. ¬†No, I wasn’t sure because I didn’t do any testing on it! ¬†BAD vet! ¬†But in my defense, JoeBoo is a cat who HATES leaving the house and especially HATES the car. ¬†When I take him out of the house for any reason, he pees on me, pukes in the car and hyperventilates and screams the whole way to the clinic (a half hour drive). ¬†So, maybe that could be why I postponed things for a while…

When I finally brought him into the clinic, I ran bloodwork, urine, radiographs and a fine needle aspirate (needle biopsy).  Yep, the works.

Unfortunately the FNA came back inconclusive, which happens quite often.  There was a lot of hemodilution in the sample, which basically meant it was a tumor with a good blood supply.  The next week, I removed the growth surgically and got the diagnosis shortly after.

I spoke with a wonderful oncologist in Calgary, who was supportive and compassionate.  Hypodermal hemangiosarcoma carries a pretty poor prognosis.  Metastasis will occur in about 80% of cases.  Staging tests prior to surgery indicated that there was no metastasis, but this can become evident shortly after surgery in many cases.

I have no idea how much time JoeBoo has left. ¬†I just really hope to be able to spend one more Christmas with him. ¬†He loves the holidays. ¬†He likes to lie under the Christmas tree and look up at all the lights and ornaments. ¬†He has never ¬†tried to climb it, but hopefully he will this year ūüôā

Please, please, please check your pets for lumps regularly. ¬†If you find one, it should be checked out by a veterinarian. ¬†Ideally, a fine needle aspirate or biopsy should be done because one can never tell with 100% certainty what a lump is just by feel or appearance. ¬†Most skin cancers have a very good prognosis if treated right away. ¬†Many of the lumps will be benign (non-cancerous) and then you can feel comfortable in “just monitoring” them.

JoeBoo is currently doing well. ¬†He is happy, active and has a great appetite. ¬†I know it won’t last, but I’m going to enjoy every minute of him.

Now to change the subject to something a little cheerier…

Here is a delicious cookie recipe I came across on a great baking blog. ¬†In helping me make these, Ruby dumped an entire jar of sprinkles on the cookies. ¬†Of course, our kitchen was then completely covered in sprinkles. ¬†Sean kept sweeping them up and they seemed to continue to multiply, trying to take over our kitchen. ¬†We don’t even have a dog to help us out with spills like this!

Frosted pumpkin spice cookies - thebakingvet.com

The cookies ended up being delicious.  They were super soft, with just the right amount of spice to them.  The frosting firmed up nicely after it set, so the cookies could be placed on top of one another in the container.  I made them at Halloween time, so I mixed red and yellow food colouring together to make the frosting orange.

Frosted pumpkin spice cookies

From: http://www.bakedbyrachel.com/2013/10/soft-batch-frosted-pumpkin-cookies/

Cookie ingredients:
3/4C unsalted butter, softened
1/2C granulated sugar
1/4C light brown sugar
4 and 1/2 Tbsp pumpkin puree
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
Pinch of ground cloves
¬Ĺ tsp salt
2 ¬ľ tsp baking powder
2 1/4C all purpose flour

Frosting ingredients:
2 1/2C powdered sugar
2-3 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
¬Ĺ Tbsp vanilla extract
3-4 Tbsp milk
Food colouring, if desired

Topping:
Sprinkles

Directions:
In a large bowl or stand mixer, cream together butter and sugars. Mix in pumpkin and vanilla. When mixture is just barely combined, add remaining dry ingredients. Mix until no streaks remain and batter is lump free.

Cover and chill for at least one hour.

Preheat oven to 350¬įF.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Using a medium cookie scoop, scoop dough, shape into smooth balls and gently flatten slightly. Bake for 10 minutes. Allow cookies to rest on the baking sheet for 1 minute prior to transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

When cookies have cooled completely, prepare frosting. In a medium bowl, mix together powdered sugar and butter until evenly dispersed, mixture may be crumbly. Add vanilla and 1 Tbsp of milk or water at a time until desired icing consistency is reached.

Frost cookies with a small offset spatula and immediately top off with sprinkles. Allow frosting to set or enjoy immediately. Once frosting has set completely, store cookies in an airtight container.

Posted in Cookies | 1 Comment

Chocolate Layer Cake and Chocolate Cupcakes

I think I’ve finally found the perfect chocolate cake/cupcake recipe. Luckily there have been a few birthdays in my family over the past few weeks so I got a chance to test out some stuff.

First, for my mom’s birthday at the end of August, I made a triple chocolate cake. It was the first triple layer cake I had ever made and it turned out great, though my husband told me it was “too tall”. I didn’t know there could be such a thing as “too much cake”, even though it¬†was too tall to fit in the cake stand with the lid on. ¬†But the only negative to this, in my opinion, was that it was difficult to transport to my sister’s place. ¬†These two pictures represent the before and after from the dinner for my mom. ¬†Naturally, I took the remaining half of the cake to work the next day and my co-workers helped take care of it ūüôā

Chocolate layer cake - The Baking Vet              Chocolate Layer Cake - Thebakingvet.com

Now, nothing against my mom, but the most special occasion was next. ¬†Ruby turned TWO years old this past Friday and we had her party on Saturday. ¬†I used the exact same recipe to make cupcakes. ¬†It ended up making about 40 cupcakes with just enough frosting for all (and I am always generous with the frosting). ¬†For the cupcakes though, I added some rainbow sprinkles for my girl ūüôā

Chocolate cupcakes - thebakingvet.com            IMG_2494

The party was an absolute blast. ¬†We rented a 15 x 15 foot inflatable bouncy house castle. ¬†It was so cute to see all the kids in there jumping around like maniacs (and some adults too). ¬†I went in for about 10 minutes and left exhausted! ¬†I don’t know how those little kids were able to jump around for as long as some of them did! ¬†Ruby chose a “hello kitty” theme for the party, and as you can see, she loved her new bike!

IMG_2490           IMG_2511

When the guy came to take down the bouncy house at the end of the night, Ruby was sad, so we told her the jumpy house had to go to sleep because it was getting dark. ¬†The whole way home in the car and in the bath and getting ready for bed, Ruby kept saying “Bye jumpy house. ¬†Wake up soon.” ¬†And though she never¬†cried,¬†she said it in a very sad Ruby voice ūüôĀ

As I said before, my search for the perfect chocolate cake/cupcake is over. ¬†I found the recipe for the cake at “The stay at home chef” blog but I kind of made up the icing on the fly. ¬†I really like adding melted dark chocolate and whipping cream to the frosting to give it a rich, smooth taste and texture. ¬†The cake is really moist and fluffy too. ¬†I will make this recipe many times over, I’m sure! Even my silly nephew, who claims to “not like cake or frosting” ate one of these cupcakes at Ruby’s party. ¬†It was the ultimate compliment ūüôā

Chocolate Layer Cake/Chocolate Cupcakes

Adapted From: http://www.thestayathomechef.com/2013/02/the-most-amazing-chocolate-cake.html?m=1

Ingredients for the cake:
A little unsalted butter and flour for buttering and dusting the cake pans
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder (the better quality chocolate you use the better it will taste)
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 1/2 cups warm water
1/2 cup canola oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Instructions for the cake:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Butter three 9-inch cake rounds. Dust with flour and tap out the excess
OR
Line muffin tins with cupcake cups

3. Mix together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a stand mixer using a low speed until combined.

4. Add eggs, buttermilk, warm water, oil, and vanilla. Beat on a medium speed until smooth. This should take just a couple of minutes.

5. Divide batter among the three cake pans. I found that it took just over 3 cups of the batter to divide it evenly.
OR
Fill cupcake cups 2/3 full.

6. Bake CAKE for 30-35 minutes until the cake meets the toothpick test (stick a toothpick in and it comes out clean).
OR
Bake CUPCAKES for around 18 minutes (again, once they pass the toothpick test).

7. Cool on wire racks for 15 minutes and then turn out the cakes onto the racks and allow to cool completely.

Ingredients for the Frosting:
4 sticks unsalted butter (2 cups), at room temperature
7 cups powdered sugar
1 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3-4 ounces dark chocolate, melted
5 tablespoons heavy whipping cream

Instructions for the frosting:
1. Cream the butter until smooth using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment.

2. Gradually add the icing sugar and cocoa powder until combined.

3. Add the vanilla, salt, melted dark chocolate and whipping cream until smooth and thoroughly mixed.

4. Frost away!

Posted in Cake, Cupcakes | 1 Comment

Cinnamon Roll Cookie Bars

My favourite time of year has arrived!  The NFL is back!  This is one NFL season that I will never forget, thanks to my recent trip to Denver to see my Broncos play against the defending Superbowl champion Ravens.

My husband decided that we should fly to Denver for one night to see the game. ¬†I was resistant at first because I had NEVER been away from Ruby for even one night. ¬†Well, I’m just glad my husband is pushy because he “convinced” me to go and I didn’t regret one minute of it. ¬†(Well there WAS that moment when the text came in saying that Ruby was stung by a wasp and ended up in the clinic with a swollen hand…But I knew she was in good hands with grandma and I couldn’t do anything about it from Denver anyway!)

Sean and I spent a great day walking around downtown (which was all decorated for the NFL season opener), sampling some great food and beer. ¬†We really enjoyed our lunch at a place called FreshCraft. ¬†I had fried pickles, veggie sliders and a few beers for lunch and it was all fantastic. ¬†This is a picture of their glorious selection of draft beer. ¬†Too bad we couldn’t have tried them all ūüôā

Draft beer           IMG_2460

It was an amazing, whirlwind, 24 hours in Denver, made even better by the 49-27 win! ¬†I have seen Peyton Manning play live in 3 different cities now and he hasn’t lost yet. ¬†However, seeing him throw 7 TD passes was a nice surprise! ¬†I loved the chemistry he had with his new, ex-patriot receiver, Wes Welker too. ¬†This was our view from the upper deck at mid field:

Denver!

 

It turns out Sean and I also had chemistry with Wes Welker. ¬†Here’s us hanging out in the heat before the game ūüôā

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Now that’s my first NFL focused post. ¬†This blog¬†really could be called the “Baking-NFL loving-Vet”!¬† Stay tuned…And Go Broncos!

Now here is a recipe that myself and my co-workers really enjoyed. ¬†It’s super easy too. ¬†I think the instant pudding mix makes this dessert bar really moist and you can’t go wrong with cream cheese frosting.

Cinnamon Roll Cookie Bars - thebakingvet.com

Cinnamon Roll Cookie Bars
From:  http://cookiesandcups.com/cinnamon-roll-cookie-bars/#_a5y_p=591769

Ingredients:

Bars:
1 (15.25 oz) box Vanilla Cake Mix
1 box instant Vanilla Pudding
3/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 eggs
1 Tbsp water
2 Tbsp cinnamon

Frosting:
1 (8 oz) block cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup butter, room temperature
5 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Cinnamon Sugar garnish:
3 Tbsp sugar + 1 tsp cinnamon

Directions for the bars:
Preheat oven to 350¬į. Spray 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray, set aside.

In large bowl combine all ingredients. Stir until there are no lumps.

Spread into prepared baking dish and bake 20-25 minutes until edges are golden.

Let cool completely before frosting.

For the frosting:
In mixing bowl beat together cream cheese, butter and vanilla until smooth. Slowly add the powdered sugar and continue beating for 1-2 minutes until smooth and creamy.

Spread on cooled bars. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar mixture on top for garnish

Cut into squares when ready to serve. Enjoy!

Posted in Brownies and Bars | Leave a comment

Soft and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Seeing pictures of cats playing with yarn in my daughter’s books makes my blood pressure go up. ¬†I’m not sure how this common theme began, but a cat playing with yarn is a terrible idea. ¬†Sure, they may¬†like playing with yarn but it can be very detrimental to their health.

Cats that play with yarn often end up eating some of the yarn.  Long strands of ingested yarn can lead to a condition called a linear foreign body.  The same idea applies to fishing line, string, ribbon/gift wrap, dental floss, thread, etc.  At Christmas, I never even allow ribbon in my house!

When a long strand is ingested by the cat, one side often becomes anchored somewhere in the digestive tract (like under the tongue or in the pylorus). ¬†The movement of the intestine continues to move the other end of the strand through. ¬†This causes the intestines to bunch up¬†around the strand and may eventually lead to a tear in the intestine. ¬†This results in serious and life-threatening peritonitis. ¬†The ¬†affected cat will need surgery to survive. ¬†Sometimes, large pieces of the affected intestine will have to be removed. ¬†Trust me, this will be the most expensive piece of yarn you have ever bought. ¬†What’s worse is that not all cats will survive, even with aggressive surgery.

Sometimes, a cat will be lucky and a long strand will make it all the way to the anus without any major problems. ¬†An owner will often see a small piece of string peeking out of their cat’s butt and then try to pull it out. ¬†Although good intentioned, if this string is very long it might cut through the colon as it is pulled out. ¬†So, if you do see this, please avoid the urge to pull out the string. ¬†Call your vet!

This is the book I read my daughter tonight that caused me to write this post. ¬†It’s a very cute book except for this page:

IMG_2426

Now I will share my favourite chocolate chip cookie recipe with you. ¬†Who doesn’t love a good old chocolate chip cookie? ¬†These are very moist and chewy and¬†soft. ¬†I really don’t like a hard chocolate chip cookie and I always tend to underbake my cookies slightly. ¬†It’s a very simple recipe but one of my favourites. ¬†Here is a picture of my giant plate of cookies with a cup of tea ūüôā

Chocolate chip cookies - thebakingvet.com

Soft and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

From: http://www.thecurvycarrot.com/2012/01/06/soft-and-chewy-chocolate-chip-cookies/

Ingredients:

2 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 bag (12 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate chips

Instructions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Line baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and baking soda; set aside.
4. In the bowl of your standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugars together on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
5. Decrease the mixer speed to low and add the salt, vanilla, and eggs, mixing well until thoroughly combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
6. With the mixer speed still on low, add the flour mixture, mixing until combined.
7. Gently fold in the chocolate chips until evenly distributed.
8. Using a cookie dough scoop or tablespoon, drop the cookie dough in mounds (about a tablespoon’s worth or so) onto the baking sheets, spacing them about 2 inches apart.
9.  Bake the cookies, rotating and switching the pans halfway through the baking time (if baking two sheets at a time), until the edges are light brown, about 10 minutes.
10. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack and let cool.

Makes about 30-36 cookies

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Oreo Cheesecake Cupcakes

In my line of work, the expression, “you get what you pay for”, couldn’t be more true. ¬†This is most applicable to surgical procedures, especially a common spay or neuter.

Let’s say that clinic A charges $100 for a spay and clinic B charges $225 for a spay. ¬†Does this mean that clinic B is just a bunch of crooks, trying to steal your hard-earned money? ¬†Well…it’s possible, but not likely.

When you get a quote for surgery, you have to find out what that price includes.  Does your pet get an IV catheter, IV fluids, blood pressure monitoring, pain relievers, etc.  Does this include pre-anesthetic bloodwork?

An IV catheter is the most important thing to consider.  If YOU were having surgery, even a minor procedure, I can guarantee that you would have an IV catheter placed prior to surgery.  This allows IV fluids to be given before and during surgery, which is important for maintaining good blood pressure and keeping your major organs happy while you are under the effects of anesthesia.  Equally as important as this however, is that if something starts to go wrong during surgery (like your heart rate starts dropping), the appropriate medications can be given immediately through the IV to fix the problem.  The same is true for your pet.

A lot of clinics make the IV an optional item. ¬†However, I firmly believe that most people are NOT able to make a truly informed decision. ¬†They usually aren’t really told¬†why¬†an IV is a good thing and they don’t have the medical training to fully understand why it is necessary. ¬†If I was a client, I might think “if it’s made optional, then how important can it really be?”

Another thing that drives me crazy is when pain relievers are made to be optional. ¬†People think of a spay surgery as being a minor “snip, snip”, when in fact it is a major abdominal surgery with post-operative pain similar to a C-section. ¬†However, it’s hard to get clients on board with this when a LOT of veterinarians still aren’t. ¬†It’s sad. ¬†If your vet doesn’t send home pain medications for your dog after they have been spayed, then¬†ask¬†for them!

DO NOT let anybody tell you that it’s good¬†for animals to be in pain after surgery because it means they won’t move around as much. ¬†That thinking may have been fine 25 years ago but we now know that pain relievers and anti-inflammatories help to speed up the healing process.

Most clinics make pre-anesthetic bloodwork optional for young pets.  I have no problem with this, as long as it is explained to pet owners why we recommend it.  It is a tool that veterinarians can use to determine if your pet is healthy enough to undergo an anesthetic procedure.  In a young, healthy dog, it will be normal 90% of the time.  In the other 10%, depending on what is wrong, we will either postpone surgery to focus on the medical issue that we just diagnosed OR we will go ahead with surgery using an altered anesthetic drug plan.

Now, please do not be angry if your pet has normal bloodwork. ¬†Yes, this has happened to me. ¬†A client said, “See, I told you it would be normal. ¬†Now I’ve wasted all that money”. ¬†Actually sir, the fact that it is normal is a good thing! Plus now, we have a baseline for your pet to compare to in the future. ¬†It is most definitely NOT a waste of money!

So, clinic B is probably not just trying to steal your money. ¬†They are probably trying to make surgery safer for your pet, reduce recovery times, complications and relieve post-op pain. ¬†Clinic A probably doesn’t put in an IV catheter or give IV fluids (obviously – the two go hand in hand), doesn’t monitor blood pressure (or other important parameters that I didn’t get into) and doesn’t give appropriate pain medications before and after surgery.

It’s 2013. ¬†Your pet deserves these things.

And you deserve these cupcakes.

Oreo Cheesecake Cupcakes - thebakingvet.com

Martha Stewart sure knows how to make good cupcakes. ¬†I got this recipe from her cupcake book and have made them many times. ¬†These are amazingly creamy, delicious and they look super cool. ¬†They make you look like you’ve slaved away in the kitchen all day, when the truth is, they are really easy to make. ¬†They are my husband’s favourite.

Oreo Cheesecake Cupcakes

From: Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes

Ingredients:
21 Oreo cookies (6 coarsely chopped and 15 for the cupcake bottoms)
2 packages of 250 g (8oz) cream cheese at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs at room temperature, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup sour cream
A pinch of salt

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 275 F. Line standard muffin tins with foil or paper liners.  Place a whole Oreo cookie in the bottom of each cupcake cup.

Using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat cream cheese until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Gradually add sugar and beat until combined.  Add vanilla.

Add eggs a bit at a time, beating to combine and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.  Beat in sour cream and salt.  Stir in the chopped Oreo cookies by hand.

Divide batter evenly between the cookie-filled cupcake cups, filling almost to the top.  Bake about 22 minutes, until filling is set, rotating the tins halfway through.

Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely.  Refrigerate at least 4 hours before serving.  Enjoy!

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