Friday, May 31, 2013

birthday cupcakes: chocolate Nutella cupcakes

Both my brother-in-law, Dave, and my sister-in-law, Alex, answered with an emphatic "chocolate" when I asked them what flavour they wanted their birthday cupcakes to be.

After a little more thought, Alex added that she wouldn't mind Nutella cupcakes either. Since I was delivering the cupcakes to both of them on the same weekend, I decided to cheat a little and bake them both chocolate Nutella cupcakes. 

I never ended up eating any of these cupcakes, although I did have a few mini bites made with the leftover batter. I did, however, get lots of comments from the ones that did get to eat the cupcakes so I have a fairly good idea of how they turned out.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

taste of the food terminal 2013

Last year, Paul and I attended the first ever Fresh Fest 2012 - the first time that the Ontario Food Terminal had been opened to the public. We had such a great time that I told my family, friends and co-workers all about it so that they could check it out this year.

Renamed as the Taste of the Food Terminal (personally I liked the name Fresh Fest better - more unique and describes perfectly what the focus of the event was - fresh food!), the event was also moved to May (last year it was held in September) so we were curious what seasonal products would be available.

Quick facts about the Ontario Food Terminal (which is only open to the public this one day of the year):
  • the largest wholesale fruit and produce distribution centre in Canada and the third largest in North America after New York City and Los Angeles
  • consists of a Farmer's Market with 550 stalls, a 100,000 square foot cold storage area, two restaurants and 4 acres of Farmers' Market stalls
  • 1,001,210 tons of produce distributed annually

Friday, May 24, 2013

birthday cupcakes: Crown Royal whiskey cupcakes (aka Boozy Cupcakes)

I never gave my father-in-law a chance to choose his birthday cupcake flavour - it was always going to be Crown Royal cupcakes.

You see, many years ago, when Paul and I were still dating, I gave a bottle of Crown Royal Canadian whiskey to his dad for Christmas after Paul told me it was his favourite. The tradition was born. Ever since, I have gifted Paul's dad with a bottle of Crown Royal every Christmas.

Many bottles of Crown Royal later, I didn't hesitate that this would be the flavour to kick off my birthday cupcake series.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

maison le grand sauces & a *giveaway*!

I was recently approached by Maison Le Grand, a Canadian company, to try out their new line of Rosée Sauces and I can't wait to get my hands on them.

Paul and I rarely purchase pasta sauces - we always make our tomato sauce own from scratch. However, from time to time, we like to try out pre-made sauces, especially pestos and rosées, so I was excited to have the opportunity to check out Maison Le Grand.

There are three products available in the new line of rosée sauces from Maison Le Grand:
  • Classic Rosée Sauce
  • Rustic Rosée Sauce
  • Spicy Rosée Sauce
I'll soon start sharing our recipes created with Maison Le Grand sauces, but in the meantime, how about a giveaway?

Maison Le Grand is generously offering my readers the chance to win the whole selection of their pesto and rosée sauces so that you can always give them a try. All you have to do is visit their website at and check out their lineup, then come back here and leave a comment letting me know which sauce you'd like to try first!

Please note, this contest is open to Ontario and Quebec residents only. 

Disclosure: I was provided with the giveaway prize by Maison Le Grand.

Monday, May 13, 2013

birthday cupcakes for the family

Earlier this year, I had the crazy idea to bake cupcakes for each of my close family members on their birthday. But, not just any cupcakes - these were going to be special birthday cupcakes based on a flavour that was either requested by them or chosen by me based on what I think they'd enjoy.

This was going to be a great learning experience for me because...well, first off - I'm not that great at baking cupcakes. They generally come out okay (in other words, edible), but not swoon-worthy. Plus my piping skills are horrible. And I mean horrible, I mean HORRIBLE.

However, since my last cupcake attempt many months ago, I have managed to become a little better at managing my oven (thanks to my macaron experiments), plus I have an amazing buttercream recipe that has become my standard frosting/filling, so I figured this would be a good time to pull out the old cupcake tins and give it another go.

If nothing else, it would make for a fun series of blog posts, right?

So, I hit the store and bought a variety of cute cupcake liners, large frosting tips (I never realized that there were HUGE frosting tips, which I'm hoping would improve my piping skills and pulled out the cupcake carrier I got from Alex (my sister-in-law) at Christmas.

I then announced my plans to my family.

You could hear crickets, I swear.

After they figured out what the heck I was trying to explain ("yes, you get to choose the flavour, but not EXACTLY the flavour, I'm going to INTERPRET the flavour you choose.") they got into the spirit and gamely told me what kind of cupcakes they would like for their birthday.

Some, of course, were easier than others: Chocolate? I can handle that! Beer? Ummm...I think I'll need a few practice batches for that! But overall, I think this is going to be a fun ongoing series of blog posts. I'll be sure to also mention how successful (or not) each recipe was!

Check back soon as I'll start sharing my birthday cupcake series results!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

if there are bao (buns) to be eaten, i'm first in line

Bison Short Rib bun from HotBunzz

I had seen Hot Bunzz (@HotBunzzTO) around on Twitter for awhile but our first taste of their buns was at the September 2012 Toronto Underground Market where their Beef Basil Thai bun was a hit with both Paul and myself. I've been stalking following Hot Bunzz on Twitter ever since. Growing up in a Chinese family like I did, I ate a lot of buns (or bao as they're called in Chinese), especially meat-filled ones, so I'm always curious to see how these little snacks are interpreted by others.

For the past few months, Hot Bunzz have been hinting that something big was happening and I finally learned what the buzz was about - they were launching a permanent space! When Hot Bunzz's Mitch invited me to preview their new place inside the (also new) Urban Bistro (@UrbanBistroTO) at 21 St. Clair Ave. West, I couldn't be more excited and accepted immediately.

After arriving, I spoke with owner Mark about how Hot Bunzz came to be and he told me he was inspired by the traditional Asian bao after travelling through Hong Kong and Shanghai, but wanted to do something different with the fillings. He believes that "food is about adventure" and you can definitely see that philosophy in the HotBunzz on display - the flavours they were previewing were Sicilian Sausage, Canadian Elk and Bison Short Rib.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

happy mchappy day - wednesday, may 8!

On Wednesday, May 8, McDonald's is celebrating the 20th McHappy Day in Canada and they need our help!

For every Big Mac, Happy Meal or hot McCafe beverage that's sold on May 8, McDonald's will donate $1 to local children's charities, including Ronald McDonald Houses. Last year, that totaled $8,000,000!

Did You Know?
  • Last year, on McHappy Day, McDonalds Canada sold 402,802 Big Macs, 207, 246 Happy Meals and 709,907 hot McCafe beverages?
  • 1,400 McDonald's restaurants will be celebrating McHappy Day on May 8
  • 10,000 families stay in Ronald McDonald Houses each year

How you can help (super easy, I promise!):
  • On May 8, go to McDonald's and order a Big Mac, Happy Meal or a hot McCafe beverage (or all three!) 
  • Spread the word to your Facebook friends and on Twitter using #McHappyDay

Watch how Ronald McDonald House Charities give sick children what they need most - their families.

Disclosure: I am not sponsored by McDonalds Canada. For helping to spread the word, McDonald's Canada has made a donation to Ronald McDonald House on my behalf, otherwise I have not received any other compensation for this post. 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

happy first birthday!

365 days (actually, 366 since 2012 was a Leap Year) ago today, I posted my very first blog post here on kitchen frolic.

In the span of a year, what started out as a tentative step into the world of food blogging has turned into lots of wonderful new opportunities, allowed me to meet some incredibly friendly and generous people (both online and in real life) and increased my time in the kitchen. I'd like to believe that my cooking has improved during this time too!

I started this blog in order to encourage myself to become a better cook and to document my adventures (along with Paul) in the kitchen.While I can happily say that my blog has seen us spending more time in the kitchen, many other wonderful things that I never expected have also happened along the way. To name just a few of the highlights from my past year of food blogging:
Plus, I got to see "kitchen frolic" painted on a downtown Toronto wall, pinned to a map in TV show The Glades' production offices, chalked onto a restaurant sign and printed on a T-shirt and a McCafe mug! Even after a whole year, it's still pretty exciting to see my name on something I didn't create.

Of course, one of the best parts of starting this blog has been getting to meet so many friendly and passionate food-lovers from around the globe. There's no way I could name all of you here, but you know who you are. Whether we exchange blog comments, have back-and-forth Twitter conversations or have eaten together in real life, I am so glad that my path has crossed with yours and I hope to meet many more of you in person someday!

And just like any milestone, there are a few people that I have to thank:

A very special thank you to Paul for putting up with my kitchen messes, for accepting the fact that I have to take photos of all the food before he can eat it and for not complaining too much that I bake more than I cook.

Another thank you goes to my family and friends for putting up with my incessant food-fact spouting, for constantly gifting me with food-related Christmas and birthday gifts (especially my sister, Suzie!) and for being brave enough to try my kitchen experiments.

And of course...

Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for being on the other side of the screen and spending some of your time reading my blog!