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Category Archives: Drinks

Master List of the BEST Cookbooks

Ever since I really started cooking non-diet food about 6 years ago, I’ve been scouring the internet, looking for the best cookbooks for the home cook. I’ve come across a ton of recommendations from many trusted sources including:  Huffington Post, Food52, Stylist, Cooking Light, Food and Wine, the Food Network, Good Housekeeping, and Chatelaine Magazine. Most of these were recommended by well known, professional chefs. I took note of when I cookbook was mentioned by more than one of these sources and made this master list. If you’re looking for a new cookbook for either yourself, or as a wedding gift, or housewarming gift, any of these would be a great choice – or perhaps the beginning of a cookbook addiction. Not that I’m speaking from experience or anything. 😉

Note: I apologize for the images. In the editor they look normal, but when I post they go out of whack. I have no idea how to fix them.

Joy of cooking  

Joy of Cooking

The Silver Palate Cookbook. I don’t have this one but you can find some of their more popular recipes online such as their Ratatouille or Chicken Marbella. Epicurious is a great source for recipes.

Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook. This is the only one I have so far and it’s quite comprehensive, although it doesn’t have any photographs. It does have some drawings which illustrate various techniques and the inside of the covers are filled with lovely fruit and vegetable illustrations.

The Fannie Farmer cookbook. My library only had the older version and it was set aside for conservation, if I remember correctly. Here’s hoping they manage to find another one and I’ll report back later.

Julia Child: Mastering the Art of French Cooking

The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook. I’ve made one recipe from Ina for cheddar biscuits and they were really good.

Martha’s Entertaining: A Year of Celebrations.


James Beard’s American Cookery

The Art of Simple Food

Plenty (Vegetarian)

The Silver Spoon

The Moosewood Cookbook (vegetarian)

Baking From my Home to Yours

Maida Heatter’s Book of Great Desserts

The New York Times Cookbook – from the New York Times I’ve made splayed chicken in a skillet and it was yummy.

How to Cook Everything. There is an app you can get with free basic recipes if  you’re curious. I’ve made a stew, no knead bread and some blondies, all of which were quite good.

The French Laundry Cookbook

Ad Hoc at Home

The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. This is one of the most recent cookbooks which was created by the well known blogger. There are hundreds of recipes on her blog:


Bridgehead Coffee #EK65

Leave it to Erik Karlsson to bring two of my favourite things together – hockey and yummyness 🙂 The former Norris Trophy winning hockey player is involved in a couple of charities including the Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa. He’s recently teamed up with a local fair trade coffee company to create EK#65 blend coffee with $2 from each purchase going to the Boys and Girls Club. According to Bridgehead:

EK #65 blend is a dark blend of Nicaraguan, Harrar, and Honduran coffees. Flavours: Bittersweet ~ Dark Caramel ~ Stone Fruit. It is a dark balanced blend that takes the best of two roast profiles to deliver a coffee that is sweet, complex and full-flavoured. The cup begins with sweet stone fruit and dark caramel that turns to a long smoky, roasted malt finish.

I’m in no way a coffee connoiseur so I’ll take their word for it. I’ve been drinking it for the past few days and I love it. Unlike some other coffees I’ve tried, I find this one is very smooth and doesn’t have a bitter aftertaste or leave your tongue feeling like sandpaper afterwards. I encourage everyone to give it a try. For those outside the Ottawa area or in the US they also ship within Canada and the US.

To learn more click here: EK#65 blend at Bridghead

Pumpkin Spice Latte

My friend Mr. M came over to take down the tent I had set up in the backyard. I gave him a few of the Snickerdoodle Cupcakes I made, plus a mug of this latte. The measurements looked off so I cut everything but the espresso in half. He says it tastes like Second Cup Pumpkin Spice Latte, but not as sweet. Good enough for me. And if you don’t have pumpkin pie spice on hand I’ve included an easy recipe for that as well.

Note: I made the espresso using Nescafe instant espresso powder. 

(I forgot to take a pic)

Pumpkin Spice Latte

Serves: 1
Total Time: 10 minutes

1 C. non-fat milk
1 Tbs. canned pumpkin
1 Tbs. vanilla extract
1 Tbs. sugar
1/4 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/2 C. espresso

Make a ½ cup of espresso. Set aside.

In a pot over medium heat, combine milk, pumpkin and vanilla. Stir mixture over heat until small bubbles start to form.

Remove pot from stove and add in vanilla and pumpkin pie spice. Whisk mixture until it becomes frothy. Pour into a coffee cup, add espresso and serve immediately.

Adapted from

Pumpkin Pie Spice

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp ginger, ground

1/8 tsp allspice

1/8 tsp nutmeg, ground

Combine and store in a spice jar.

Hot Cocoa 7 Ways


One of the other things I’ve been doing to try to curb chocolate cravings is treating myself to a low-cal hot chocolate. Cocoa itself is only 20 calories and .5 grams of fat per tbsp so it’s actually not bad for you at all. In fact you’ll hear many a chocaholic proclaim it’s health benefits. 🙂 According to

Cocoa powder contains more antioxidants than either tea or red wine, reports a study in the 2003 issue of the “Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry.” Antioxidants are compounds that help fight free radicals in the body, which cause cell damage and disease…regular consumption of cocoa products containing flavanols — or antioxidants — may help reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Read more:

Anywho…back to curbing the cravings. I’ve been experimenting with making my own flavoured hot cocoa, using a tablespoon of cocoa powder, water, a splash of 1% milk, sweetener, and a few drops of flavour extracts. I have vanilla, maple, peppermint, almond, rum and coconut on hand and have tried all but the coconut and almond. Almond flavour isn’t really my thing but if you like Amaretto then you’d probably like this as well. Mexican hot chocolate, where you add about 1/8 tsp cinnamon and a couple of pinches of chili powder, is also good and cinnamon helps stabilize blood sugar while spices speed metabolism. I find that I can get bored with plain hot cocoa so playing with these other flavours is a welcome change and it does help take the edge off for this chocaholic.

Note: the sweetener I use is called Krisda and its a blend of stevia, inulin and erythritol. I have tried pure stevia but I find it bitter. Inulin is great because it actually caramelizes.

Serendipity 3 Frozen Hot Chocolate

When I went to New York a few years ago it was when I rediscovered cupcakes, but I also took a pilgrimage of sorts to Serendipity 3 Café, the café featured in the movie Serendipity with John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale. This movie is one of my guilty pleasures. I watch it every time it plays on TV and it totally caters to the incurable romantic in me I suppose. But the café itself was quite charming and was supposedly a favourite of Andy Warhol’s. I took a couple of not so great photos while I was there, and tried their famous frozen hot chocolate. I stumbled upon this recipe because I was inspired by a similar drink offered at Second Cup. (Serendipitous perhaps?) It’s perfect for a hot summer day like today – +38 celcius with the humidity here in Ottawa today! That’s 100 farenheit!

Again, you can make this one much lower in calories and fat by using sugar free hot chocolate mix, skim milk and replacing whipped cream with low-fat whipped topping mix like Cool Whip.

Serendipity 3 Frozen Hot Chocolate

3 ounces best-quality chocolate

2 teaspoons store-bought hot chocolate mix

1 1/2 tablespoons sugar

1 1/2 cups milk

3 cups ice

Whipped cream

Chocolate shavings

1. Chop the chocolate into small pieces. Melt the chocolate. You can do this in a small saucepan, a double boiler or in the microwave. 2. Add the hot chocolate mix and sugar. Stir until well blended. 3. Remove from heat. Slowly add 1/2 of milk. Stir until smooth. Cool to room temperature. In a blender place the remaining cup of milk, the chocolate mixture, and the ice. Blend on high until smooth. It should be similar to the consistency of a frozen daiquiri. 4. Pour into a large goblet. Top with whipped cream and chocolate shavings. Serves 1.

Whipped Cream

1 cup heavy cream, very cold

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 tablespoons light corn syrup

Combine cream and vanilla. Mix well. Use an electric mixer and whip on medium speed. Slowly ads the corn syrup while beating. Whip until soft peaks form. Makes 2 approximately 2 cups.


Iced Cappuccino

I love Tim Horton’s Iced Cap’s but I don’t live near a Timmy’s and I wanted to make them at home for much cheaper. I found a couple of recipes on the internet and have been trying them out. I find this method is the best but play around with the strength of your coffee to tailor to your own taste.  I used about a half a blender of ice again and a bit more sugar. If you don’t want to use instant coffee, I just brewed regular coffee about twice as strong as I would normally make and used that. The great thing about this recipe is, you can make it as rich or as skinny as you like. For instance you can use sugar substitute and skim milk for something very low in calories and fat free!

Iced Cappuccino

2 tablespoons instant coffee
2 oz. (4 tbsp) boiling water
2 heaping tablespoons sugar (or sugar substitute Equal)
4-6 ice cubes
1/3 cup 15% cream. (or chocolate milk…or regular milk)

Mix first 3 ingredients together to make a syrup, put into blender. Add ice cubes and blend until slushy. Add cream and blend until frothy.

(Can be made with regular coffee or decaf)

Virgin Strawberry Daiquiri

My favourite thing to do in the hot summer months is to have a strawberry daiquiri on the patio but last year I was pregnant and was still craving a cold, fruity drink so I looked up recipes for virgin strawberry daiquiris. I found this one which uses the simpliest ingredients. I used only a half a blender of ice cubes so the strawberry flavour doesn’t get watered down too much.  It’s kind of difficult to measure out ounces of frozen strawberries to I converted to tablespoons which is 6 or about 1 cup while still frozen. I zapped the strawberries in the microwave for about 30 seconds or so to soften them up a little or they take forever to break up in the blender. Also, sugar doesn’t dissolve very well in cold drinks so I added about 4 tsp of sugar to 1/3 cup of room temperature water and stirred until most of it was dissolved before adding the mixture to the contents in the blender. This recipe makes just the right amount for one of those re-usable fast food drink cups.

Virgin Strawberry Daiquiri

1 ounce (2tbsp) lime juice

3 ounces (6 tbsp) frozen or fresh strawberries

1-4 tsp of sugar(or to taste) dissolved into 1/3 cup water

1/2 blender of cracked ice

Put ice in blender. Add lime juice, strawberries, and sugar water. Blend until smooth. You may add a little water if too thick. Pour into a chilled glass. Garnish with an extra strawberry or an orange slice. Enjoy!

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