Archive | November, 2011

Pancakes with a Twist

18 Nov

One of my favourite breakfast foods is probably pancakes. Pancakes are no doubt a comfort food and although the classic plain pancake with a pat of butter and syrup is great, some places have re-invented pancakes by adding their own touch to them.

Many American chain restaurants such as IHOP and Denny’s have come up with unique and tasty flavors of pancakes to keep their customers coming back. Approximately a year ago, IHOP introduced the Pancake stacker that featured a layer of cheesecake filling nestled between 2 fluffy buttermilk pancakes and topped with strawberry, blueberry or cinnamon apple compote and whipped topping. Definitely not a breakfast anyone should be eating everyday, but I think it would be a nice dessert or treat to have once in a while!

Pancake Stacker with Strawberries

Currently, IHOP is offering holiday-inspired pancakes that are just in time for enjoying during the Christmas season. These limited-time pancake flavors include: Sweet Eggnog, White Chocolate Chip Mint, and Pumpkin Praline. The Sweet Eggnog pancake contains a layer of smooth eggnog cream, spicy nutmeg, cinnamon, creamy whipped topping, cinnamon sugar, and butter-rum flavored sauce. The White Chocolate Chip Mint pancakes are buttermilk pancakes are filled with white chocolate chips and topped with peppermint flakes and creamy whipped topping. The Pumpkin Praline pancake is made with real pumpkin, covered with praline glazed pecans and drizzled with caramel sauce and topped with creamy whipped topping. These sound like pretty tasty combinations and I definitely wouldn’t mind trying a bite of each! I’m drooling just thinking about them now… An interesting option that IHOP offers is the “Under 600 Calories SIMPLE&FIT Pumpkin Pancake Combo” that includes 2 pumpkin pancakes, scrambled egg substitute, and 2 strips of turkey bacon. Although still not the ideal breakfast according to health conscious people, it’s nice to see that IHOP is at least trying to provide slightly lighter/lower in calorie options for those who want them.

IHOP's Holiday Pancakes

Similar to IHOP, Denny’s has also come up with a festive pancake flavor for a limited-time called “Arthur’s Christmas Cookie pancakes” and they come as 3 small pancakes with sugar cookies baked right in, topped with whipped cream and sprinkled with bits of sugar cookies. These pancakes are served with a choice of bacon strips or sausage links, one egg cooked any way and warm syrup.

Arthur’s Christmas Cookie pancakes

Another interesting pancake variety currently on Denny’s menu is the “Red Velvet Pancake Puppies with Cream Cheese Icing”. These are bite-sized pancakes made with white chocolate chips, sprinkled with powdered sugar and served with cream cheese icing for dipping.    

Red Velvet Pancake Puppies

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Cake Pops!

16 Nov

Part cupcake and part lollipop. Taking the best of both worlds, together they create the glorious Cake pop! The new trend in desserts nowadays seems to be to make them into bite-size indulgences in an attempt to cut calories. These mini treats are made of cake, icing, a chocolate coating, and decorative sprinkles or candy pieces.

The first time I heard of cake pops was when Starbucks came out with them. They have 3 different flavors: Birthday,Rocky Road, and Tiramisu. I thought these cake pops looked really cute; almost too good to eat! Starbucks has a line of bite-sized desserts called “Starbucks Petites” and in addition to the cake pops, they also offer mini Red Velvet whoopie pies, mini cupcakes (carrot cake or peanut butter flavored), and sweet squares (lemon or salty caramel). Sadly, I have yet to try any of these treats from Starbucks! Has anyone tried them? If so, what’s the verdict?

Cake pops from Starbucks

Over the summer, I had the chance to make my own cake pops. We tried to make them in the shape of little cupcakes…but as you will see later on it was harder than we thought. It was a long process but the results were definitely worth it!! We sort of followed a recipe by Bakerella that we found online and we just bought the cake mix and icing from the grocery store and the colored chocolate from Bulk Barn.

What we used to make these cake pops are:

1 baked cake (from a box cake mix or from scratch, any flavor)
1 can of cream cheese frosting or any flavor you desire (about 2 cups equivalent from scratch)
1 package chocolate bark
blue & white melting chocolate
bowls for dipping
wax paper
lollipop sticks
rainbow sprinkles
styrofoam block

First of all, we baked the cake and let it cool (we chose to use french vanilla cake mix). Then, we used a fork to break apart the cake into crumbs. This took a bit of time since we wanted to make sure every piece was crumbled properly into a fine consistency.

Next, we mixed in the cream cheese frosting with a spoon and made sure all the frosting was incorporated well with the cake crumbs. Then, of course we tasted the mixture which was obviously a VERY important step 🙂 (tasted like very vanilla-y cookie dough!).

We tried putting the cake mixture through a miniature circular cookie cutter and used a fork to make lines so it would look like a cupcake, but that kind of failed and seemed to take too long…so we ended up shaping the rest into balls since it was much easier.


After shaping, we popped the trays lined with wax paper into the freezer for about 15 minutes to let it set a bit. Then we took them out and were ready to cover them in chocolate and sprinkles. We dipped half of the cake in chocolate then stuck a lollipop stick in them and let the chocolate dry. Once dry, we drowned the other half of the ball into a different colored chocolate and covered it in sprinkles and stuck them in the styrofoam block to dry. We used brown, blue, and white decorative chocolate and rainbow sprinkles which I think made a very beautiful color combination!


The cake pops turned out very nice with a moist cake filled center and creamy chocolate on the outside. If you have a sweet tooth you will love these! I highly suggest that you try them out if you get a chance; they are great for parties and entertaining guests! It’s also very fun to make and definitely child-friendly as well.  

The final product!


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Recipe used:  

Tea with Bubbles!

14 Nov

Bubble tea has always been a popular drink in Asian countries but it wasn’t until recently that it was introduced to North American countries and now it has gained quite a lot of publicity and its popularity is increasing. It is such a fun and colorful drink it’s no wonder more and more people are drinking it!

Originating from Taiwan, legend has it that fruit juices were combined with chilled tea to attract young customers and in order to mix the drink you would shake it which resulted in “bubbles” forming and from that moment on, bubble tea was born! Bubble tea comes in an unbelievable array of flavors; pretty much any fruit you can think of as well as non-fruit flavors such as sesame, honey, chocolate, peanut, coffee, or even taro. Both black and green teas are commonly used for bubble tea and these teas contain antioxidants that have healthy effects on our body.

As the years went on, people continued to make changes and additions to this refreshing drink such as adding milk and black tapioca pearls. Tapioca pearls are made of mostly tapioca starch that is processed from the cassava plant and are generally black in color and around the size of a marble with a soft, yet chewy texture. It is important to cook the black tapioca pearl thoroughly or else the center of it will be quite hard and when chewing the tapioca, this can be quite unpleasant. If black tapioca pearls are not your thing, coconut jellies are also a popular addition to bubble teas. Coconut jellies are produced by the fermentation of coconut water which gels through the production of microbial cellulose. Coconut jellies are available in a variety of flavors as well such as lychee, green apple, strawberry, mango, or pineapple.

black tapioca pearls

Colored coconut jellies


As you can see, because of the unlimited possibilities of flavor and texture combinations, bubble tea can become very personalized and if you’d like you could get a different flavor every time! Because of the diverse nature of bubble tea, it is easy to accommodate different people who enjoy different flavors.

In terms of nutrition, black tapioca pearls contain quite a substantial amount of calories which is understandable since it is made of starch. For 1/3 of a cup of cooked tapioca pearls, which is a little less than the usual serving in a bubble tea, it contains 110 calories and 0 grams of fat (the good news!). The coconut jellies are generally seen as a healthier alternative to tapioca if you are concerned about ingesting those extra calories. Another modification you can make to your bubble tea to lower the calories and fat would be to opt for the bubble tea flavors that don’t use milk, milk power, or cream in them.

bubble tea 101

It is possible to make your own bubble tea as the bubble tea flavor powders and dry black tapioca pearls are available for purchase at certain Asian supermarkets. I’ve tried to do this before, but find it time consuming and would rather just go out and buy one. It is also difficult to cook the tapioca pearls to the perfect consistency and somehow homemade bubble tea just doesn’t taste the same to me!

Bubble teas can be made hot or cold although I’ve never tried a hot bubble tea before. I suppose it would be great to have a hot bubble tea in the winter but I’ve always just felt that bubble tea is meant to be cold and tastes best at this temperature 😀 . Personally, I don’t have a favorite flavor or combination. For bubble tea and coconut jelly flavors, I definitely go through phases and when I get sick of a particular one, I just move on to another flavor combination I’ve never tried before! This is what’s so great about it, you always get to try something new!

Hot bubble tea

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Eating at the Ex

10 Nov

The CNE (Canadian National Exhibition) runs for just 2 weeks every year from the end of August into the first week of September and millions of people come to enjoy this event. There are plenty of games, live shows, a casino, and many booths where you can browse or purchase clothes, home décor, hats, sunglasses; virtually anything (even hot-tubs…I’m not kidding you)! But the majority of people who come to the CNE are looking to accomplish one thing: to fill their stomachs with lots of delicious snacks and deep-fried foods that they might’ve never seen before!

This past summer, I went to the CNE in hopes of trying some of these tasty treats! The lines for some food stands were longer than others but nobody really seemed to mind the wait in order to get a taste of these foods. Every year, there is usually one food item that gains the most hype; last year it was the deep-fried butter, this year was the doughnut burger. Yes…you read that correctly.

 At the EPIC Burger & Waffles booth, they offered burgers that were truly extraordinary and have never been seen before. I had the chance to try the doughnut burger and overall, I have to say that I did not enjoy it as much as other people did. Apparently the doughnut burger contained approximately 1500 calories! Yikes! The gastronomical art piece consisted of a thick ground chuck patty, a slice of cheddar cheese, one slice of tomato, a couple pieces of iceberg lettuce, your choice of typical burger condiments and last but not least, two Krispy Kreme doughnuts in place of burger buns. If you were feeling extra hungry and wanted to indulge, you had the option of adding bacon and a fried egg to your burger for an extra $2 on top of the $8 for the plain doughnut burger. Considering how all foods sold at the CNE are generally overpriced anyway, I thought the price of this burger was not too bad given how thick the burger patty was.

THE doughnut burger

What I didn’t really enjoy from the burger was the overly sweet and salty combination of the burger. The mix of flavors just tasted strange and unnatural to me. I shared the burger among 4 people and in the end, 1/3 of it had to be thrown away because nobody could force themselves to eat any more of it. On a more positive note, the burger patty was actually surprisingly moist and flavorful from what I remember.

At a booth that specialized in all things mac and cheese, I shared a “breakfast mac and cheese” with my friend. The dish consisted of 2 breakfast sausages and a fried egg on top of a bed of mac and cheese. Macaroni and cheese is probably one of my favourite comfort foods and you can’t really go wrong with it but I was a little disappointed in this one that I bought at the CNE. The noodles were overcooked and as a result the texture of it in my mouth was quite starchy and unpleasant. Also, the cheese flavor (which is obviously one of the most important aspects of a mac and cheese!) was quite bland and not as prominent as I had hoped it would be. 

Breakfast Mac n Cheese


Another treat that I tried while at the CNE was the deep-fried mars bar. This was my second time eating it and I have to say, it was just as good as the first. A regular mars bar is coated in a batter (sort of like a corn dog batter, but lighter and sweeter), thrown in the deep-fryer, and then sprinkled with icing sugar and a drizzle of chocolate syrup. When you bite into it, the mars bar is perfectly melted so you’re left with a mouthful of fluffy cake batter and warm gooey chocolate. It’s definitely something to be shared though because I found it difficult to eat more than a couple bites as it is very sickeningly sweet! If Mars bars aren’t your thing, don’t worry because they were not the only sweets being deep-fried at the CNE. Oreos, Snickers, Twix, and even Twinkies and Pop-tarts were being deep-fried in batter at this booth! Has anyone tried these? I heard the deep-fried Oreos were good!  


Deep-fried Mars bar

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Cne photo:

Who Screams for Ice Cream?

6 Nov

Ice cream: a scoop of delicious-ness made from such simple ingredients that has the ability to make us happy and forget about the world for just a second. I can’t imagine why someone wouldn’t love ice cream; the creamy melt-in-your-mouth texture, the sweet indulgent aspect of it, and the large range of flavors it can come in.

When we think about ice cream, it brings us back to our childhood summer days where we would enjoy a scoop of creamy vanilla ice cream in a delicious sugar cone. But all of that is in the past because nowadays plain vanilla just doesn’t cut it anymore. Gone are the days where ice cream flavors only contained one flavor, now the trend seems to be to mix complementary flavors to create an experience that will have a lasting impact on your taste buds. People have developed a taste for novel things and are always on the lookout for new and strange foods (hence you are reading this blog right? :)). Ice cream makers know this and so instead of the traditional sweet and fruity ice cream flavors, they are now mixing in flavors that are salty, savoury, and even floral. Ice cream is such a versatile product that practically any flavor can be incorporated into it.

Let’s start off by introducing some ice cream flavors that are a bit tamer…THEN we’ll move on to some of the crazy stuff!

At Jeni’s, an ice cream shop in Ohio, they are offering an array of sophisticated ice cream and sorbet flavors. The more unusual ones to note are: Buttercup Pumpkin & Amaretti Cookies, Goat Cheese with Cognac Figs, Smoked Tea & Plum Pudding, Vanilla Cedar Wood, Riesling Poached Pear Sorbet, and Wildberry Lavender.

Buttercup Pumpkin

Wildberry Lavender









Goat Cheese With Figs


If you’re into even more strange flavors, Humphry Slocombe in San Francisco offers a huge variety that will be sure to make you want to try them all! This ice cream shop is catered towards adult consumers and their menu of flavors change daily usually offering 10-12 flavors a day. Below is a list of just some of the bizarre yet enticing flavors they have to offer:


  • Prosciutto (cured ham)
  • Cinnamon Brittle
  • Foie Gras (fattened duck liver)
  • Bourbon (whiskey)
  • Olive Oil
  • Jesus Juice (red wine & coke)
  • Peanut Butter Curry
  • Pink Grapefruit Tarragon
  • Sour Cream
  • Salted Licorice
  • Strawberry Black Olive
  • Strawberry Candied Jalapeno
  • Sweet Summer Corn
  • White Chocolate Lavender
  • Salt and Pepper


  • Carrot Mango
  • Cayenne Canteloupe
  • Cucumber Ice Milk
  • Golden Beet Saffron
  • Hibiscus Beet
  • Pineapple 5-spice
  • Rhubarb
  • Szechuan Strawberry
  • Thai Chili Lime

These flavors sound amazing and I wish I could fly to San Francisco to try some of these out! These combinations of flavors may sound odd, but who knows, maybe they are surprisingly complementary and not as weird-tasting as their name suggests. Would you be brave enough to try some of these flavors? Or do you tend to play it safe and stick to the time-tested classics?

ALSO…I thought an interesting thing to talk about is the use of human breast milk in ice cream. Do you think this is absurd and creepy? I do. The thought of ingesting a stranger’s breast milk is just awkward beyond words. But believe it or not, this ice cream was available in an ice cream shop in London before Government officials found out and confiscated this flavor. The flavor was named “Baby Gaga” and contained Madagascan vanilla pods, lemon zest, and of course, human milk. It was shut down due to concerns around the potential harm of contracting hepatitis from the breast milk. The owner of the ice cream parlor insisted that the women who donated their breast milk were screened before the milk was taken and pasteurized to be used for ice cream and therefore it was safe; but nevertheless there was much debate around the issue. Another interesting fact: apparently Lady Gaga wanted to sue the ice cream shop for using her name in their ice cream!

Baby Gaga Ice cream

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Hunphry Slocombe ice cream: