Sunday, November 30, 2008

Best Ever Chocolate Cake!

When I was shopping a few weeks ago with my Mom, Aunt and Sister, my Aunt described a chocolate recipe that her family demands she make at every family event. That was enough for me, if all my male cousins love this cake, then I was sure I would too!

She sent me the recipe the week after we returned from shopping and I finally had the opportunity to make the cake this week! Not only once but twice! I decided I would make it for a fundraising event this weekend but then wanted to make another version in advance, you know, just in case.

Let me say, this cake did not disappoint! I repeat this cake did not disappoint! It smelled absolutely sinful as it baked and tasted even better! My chocoholic oldest daughter was in heaven! I took the first version to work and my coworkers existed in a chocolate haze for most of the day! Ok, maybe I exaggerate a bit there....but not much! It is on the list for the work Christmas potluck!

So, without further ado, here's the recipe(its not for the faint of heart):

1 devils food cake mix
1 package instant chocolate pudding mix
1 cup sour cream
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
1/2 cup warm water
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350. Mix together cake, puddin' mix, sour cream, oil, beaten eggs and water. Stir in chocolate chips and pour into 12 cup bundt pan( I followed my Aunt's example and baked it in a 9 by 13 pan but plan too try it in a bundt pan soon!). Bake for 50 to 55 minutes, or till top is springy to touch and wooden toothpick inserted in centre comes out clean. If making as a bundt cake, cool in pan for 90 minutes then invert on plate and either dust with powdered sugar or drizzle with your favourite icing/glaze.

But if you've baked it in a 9 by 13 pan, when its fresh out of the oven, top with this icing:

1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup cocoa
1/3 cup milk
3/ 1/2 cups icing(confectioners) sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Five minutes before cake is done, combine butter, cocoa, and milk in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer about 3 minutes, remove from heat then stir in icing sugar and vanilla, blending until smooth. Spread immediately over hot cake in pan. Sprinkle with nuts if desired.

And thats it, your Best Ever Chocolate Cake is done!! Now go, run, bake this cake, you will not regret it!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Peace On Earth

Here's my card based on this week's gorgeous sketch by Kazan at 2 Sketches 4 You.

I liked blinging up Basic Grey paper!

As we enter into this holiday season, I wish everyone "Peace on Earth".

Ahhhhh, Spring!

These almost convince me its spring!

They are the flowers I picked up at the market this weekend, aren't they cheerful?

Monday, November 24, 2008

Baked Garlic and Onion Cream Soup

Kathyn recently mentioned that her son Ian loves roasted garlic. I commented that this soup would be any garlic lovers dream so this past snowy and cold weekend I decided to make one of our favourite soups, Baked Garlic and Onion Cream Soup.
This recipe comes from The New Basics Cookbook by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins.

Of course when I got into it I found I was missing a few things so substituted what I had and it still turned out wonderfully. I think its the melding of the onion and garlic flavours.

It uses four major ingredients, garlic, onion, chicken stock and cream, although I always use milk.

The part that takes the longest in terms of prep and assembly is peeling the garlic cloves and cutting up the onions. I find if you squish the clove a bit, the peel comes off more easily.

Here's the garlic, onion, chicken stock, seasonings and butter ready to go in the oven for 90 minutes.

And here they are after 90 minutes in the oven.

And this is the soup!


6 large onions cut into 1/2 inch slices
2 heads garlic, cloves separated and peeled
5 cups chicken broth(homemade is suggested although I usually use store bought)
1 1/2 tsp dried thyme leaves(I used rosemary today)
1 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
1 tsp coarse salt
4 tablespoons butter
2 cups heavy or whipping cream( I use milk although I think half cream and half milk would be awesome too or a lighter cream than whipping cream:))
fresh Italian parsley for garnish(I used chives)

Preheat oven to 350. Place onion, garlic in shallow roasting pan, add 3 cups chicken stock, sprinkle with thyme, pepper, salt, dot with butter.
Cover pan and bake for 90 minutes, stir once or twice while baking.
Puree onion and garlic with liquid in batches, until smooth, gradually add the remaining 2 cups stock and milk/cream.
Pour into saucepan and slowly heat through, do not allow to boil. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

Hope you enjoy this, do let me know if you try it!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Stratford Shopping

For the past four years, Kathryn and I have made it a point to go shop in Stratford prior to Christmas. Stratford is renowned for its Shakespeare Festival and as a result its downtown has wonderful shops and restaurants that cater to theatre goers.

But in November, the locals have the stores all to themselves. As we live a half hour away I wonder if that makes us local?

Anyway, we travelled to Stratford this past Friday afternoon and evening braving the snowsquall that dumped about 6 inches of snow on us while we were there.

The interesting thing was that as we travelled home, the snow progressively became less and less. There was just a light dusting at home. Downtown Stratford even had significantly more snow than the eastern edge of Stratford.

Here's some photos from the stores we visited.

First up was Cozyns, a garden and decor center, where all the Christmas tree photos were taken. The trees looked much more impressive than they appear in the pictures.

Next stop was Rheo Thompson, an excellent chocolate store and home to their fabulous mint smoothies(little squares of mint flavoured chocolate that melt slowly in your mouth, so good!).

I took a picture of this display as I thought the little pails full of chocolate balls would make a fun place setting treat.

Isn't this display in wicker baskets lovely?

Third was Delea's, a card and gift store that always has some unique items and beautiful cards. I was strong though and didn't buy any cards since I have made a few already and plan to make more!

Then we headed to Family and Company, an old-fashioned style toy store that is one of my favourite stores ever! They have such wonderful toys that you can try in the store, enthusiastic sales staff, complimentary gift wrap(and apple cider while you wait) and excellent store window dispays.

In these photos you can see how heavily it was snowing, big fluffy, wet flakes that truly make you think Christmas! This snowman actually bounced around in its display, so fun!

And finally Bradshaws, a gift, china, crystal, home decor and kitchen store that has many unique items.

They are always on top of current trends which this year has to be glitter! We saw glittered items like these trees everywhere!

And yes its a large store!

Then before we headed home, we had a nice dinner at Down The Street Cafe, where we enjoyed some wonderful salads, frites with garlic mayonnaise and creme brulee for dessert!

Friday, November 21, 2008

New Christmas Papers

Well I broke in to my new Imaginisce paper for these card challenges.

When you use paper as pretty as this its easy to create beautiful cards!

The first is for Laura's sketch over at 2 Sketches 4 You.

The second is for this week's CPS sketch.

Hope you like them!

Thursday, November 20, 2008


I'm just back from taking my daughters and a few of their friends to see Twilight.They were so excited to see it and fortunately through work I was able to get tickets to see it tonight before it's officially released tomorrow. Imagine two theatres mostly full of young teenage girls....

I've read this series of books myself and found them to be entertaining reads. This movie was an excellent adaptation of the first book. Of course the characters were not quite how I'd imagined they looked when I read the books but they do grow on you as you watch the movie. Of course if you don't buy into the vampire theory then this is not the movie or series of books for you. But I'll go see the next movie and the next one after that, that Victoria is one wicked vampire!

And here's a fun quiz I found! I'm quite Ok with being Alice!

I'm a Alice! I found out through Which Twilight Female Are You? Take the quiz and find out!
Take the Quiz and Share Your Results!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

November Designs Part 2

Here's more cards I designed using the Christmas Basics line by Reminisce.

I couldn't resist tucking the Santa hat brad on this card.

Oh and here's another Santa hat brad!

Love this holly paper with the leaves outlined in glitter!

And a mix of papers and die cuts.

And finally this is a layout I created on an ornament shaped piece of paper. The photo does not do this paper justice at all.
I created this by layering papers then die cuts using foam dots. I also added a Melissa Frances star, a silver bow and a couple of red rhinestones for shine.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Cuttlebug Challenge 7

I had a chance to complete Cuttlebug Challenge 7, to emboss on a die cut.

I created ornaments from embossed circles and add a bit of stickles for shine.

I think I'll add the sentiment, 'wishing you peace and joy', to the inside of the card.

And this card also meets this week's dare at Daring Cardmakers to create a card with a bird on it. Although the bird looks a bit bare to me, what do you think it needs?

Edited to add:

Because I wasn't happy with the bird, I thought about it awhile and then added some distress ink and some bling! I think its a bit better now!

November Designs Part 1

For my first month on the Younique Design Team, I made several cards and a couple of layouts so will be posting my designs over more than one post. As I mentioned previously all these designs feature the Christmas Basics line by Reminisce.

I love adding a touch of glitter with Melissa Frances glittered chipboard.

The die cut stickers adhere well and are very versatile. And I did use foam dots a few times to provide depth.

The photos do not do the paper justice, they all have a wonderful shimmer and match beautifully.

Another mitten gift card holder!

A jolly layout!