Hot Cross Buns! (Yes, I chocolated these, you can go the traditional route!)

One of my favourite things about Easter was searching for treats with my sister. We established our own rules: no looking for eggs when you came out of your bedroom, you bee-line for the kitchen;  when the hunt was underway, you stick together, entering rooms and searching areas at the same time; no sampling the winnings during the hunt; when we finally felt like everything was found (to the best of our hunting abilities… apparently we often missed ones, much to the joy of our parents) we counted every last egg, bunny, marshmallow figure, and split it evenly. We took this fairness in hunting very seriously. We were serious about splitsies.

Our awesome mom kept hiding chocolate for us every Easter, straight through our teens. When my sister (who is three years older than I) moved away for school at 18, I was worried that my hunting days were over. Fortunately, dad got on board for Easter egg hunting… fortunately may not be the best word. Dad was ruthless! He was not part of the very structured system that Kellie and I had established. He was a competitive, chocolate-crazed Easter monster! He snacked on the ones he spotted on his way out of bed in the morning, then we ran from room to room, dad shoved me out of the way, stole candy from my basket, and gorged himself throughout the hunt. I remember at the end of that first year of hunting with dad I was defeated and bewildered, and I came away with a very dismal haul. I tried to explain to dad the “proper” way to conduct yourself at Easter but it was clear, the rules had changed! The next year I was much more prepared. I scouted chocolates on the bookshelves in front of my bedroom, snagged a couple in the bathroom and was much more aggressive as we made our way around the house. We had a lot of fun.


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Hot Cross Cookies!

With the excitement of both Gen and my new jobs I’ve been kind of in a mental flurry. I feel like I should be preparing for my first day next week but have no idea how to do that! I have organized my pens, gathered my schedule books, bought some new clothes and shoes, and have tried a bunch of casual work makeup looks. I’ve also signed off a stack of forms, giggled like a schoolgirl, and baked a lot of cookies. A LOT of cookies. We’ve been sending batches to Hospice Vancouver and that last batch (Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies) was perfectly timed as that very morning they received $950,000 to complete their funding drive! Now they can get on track, become fully staffed, and fill out the programs that mean so much to families like mine. Today’s cookies went to Gen’s work, as it was his last day at IGA! He starts his new supervisor position today!

An Easter favourite of mine has always been hot cross buns. I remember back when my sister was a newspaper carrier she brought home a batch of homemade hot cross buns from her supervisor’s house. They were fluffy, lightly sweet, with amazing spices. I am not in anyway a fan of currants, so the traditional buns have always fallen short on my enjoyment scale, there is only so much eating around those that you can do. Then! THEN! I few Easters ago I came across Cobbs’ chocolate chip hot cross buns and I was hooked! Add chocolate to pretty much anything and I am on board, AND they didn’t use currants! For the one Easter that I lived across from Cobbs I made a point to pick up few dozen of these amazing buns and haven’t had them since!


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Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies

Well, things are exciting! I have been offered an absolutely wonderful position! I start next week and will officially tell you about where I am working after that first day (I need to actually be there, pinch myself, and confirm that it is real… yes it is that fantastic). The position is in Vancouver and easily accessible from our apartment! So, Gen and I are both gainfully and fantastically employed. We will finally be able to start saving again! I can finally resume stalking properties and puppies (on the BC SPCA site… not in the park… there too).


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Double Dark Chocolate Guinness Cookies! A late St. Patrick’s Day offering

St. Patrick’s Day is always fun and is a really easy holiday to bake for: a generous dash of Irish Cream, a splash of Guinness, a finger of Jameson’s and you should be set. Unfortunately this St. Patrick’s Day I ruined that batch of fudge and failed to make successful repair cookies. To combat this failure I had a delicious pint of Jameson-infused beer and went about my day. Not that I was dwelling on the loss of that fudge or anything (maybe a little) but I still wanted to make an awesome treat with an Irish kick. Looking back at my first post, the Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes, and remembering that I had told my trivia team that I would bring cookies, I thought, “I bet I could make Guinness chocolate cookies!” And off I went to bake my heart away.


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One Year of Food!

One year of Not Crocker down and many more to come!

As many readers know, it has been an interesting year full of ups and downs. I started this site during the second semester of my Master of Publishing coursework, kind of a ridiculous thing to do considering how demanding the workload was but it was a nice distraction and gave me a place to publish all the recipes for the cookies and cupcakes I was bringing in for my colleagues. With the personal stress in my life, my father’s diagnosis of brain cancer and his passing, Not Crocker has been a place where I can create beautiful things, relax, and share. I’ve fiddled around with the formatting, post schedule, and style of baking and cooking a lot over the past year and I am still figuring out what works for me, but all along the way I’ve enjoyed watching the blog grow!

I’ve gotten the chance to participate in the wonderful Food Blogger Cookie Swap, I’ve been featured on some incredible websites, and I’ve started to find my place in the dynamic food blogger community.

Thanks to all you wonderful readers who come back time and again for recipes that have become favourites. So much love to the family and friends who have been avid supporters of Not Crocker from the beginning.

Without further ado, here is a Not Crocker retrospective! Let’s take a look at my first post!

St. Patrick’s Guinness Cupcakes with Irish Cream Buttercream!

So, these were incredibly delicious, the Guinness Chocolate cake was a hit with my colleagues and I may or may not have gotten a professor a little tipsy with the amount of liquor. It was a fun way to start a blog that was mainly initially dedicated to my baking for my friends. Since then, I’ve included all my cooking and baking endeavours, with over 150 posts in the last year. Here are some of my favourites and some reader favourites for everyone to enjoy!

Coconut French Toast

This was one of my earliest hits. This post went up on Tastespotting and EXPLODED my site for weeks. The traffic has died down a bit for it but it was a regular draw for Sunday brunchers looking for something special to whip up. I created this as an ode to the Honeybuns of my father’s childhood. The mixture is sweet and custardy with a nice buttery coconut flavour.


Chocolate-Dipped Strawberry Cupcakes

This post was the first with a new camera, resulting in clearer pictures. I actually quickly moved on from that camera to another and things have just gotten crisper from there! These cupcakes are INCREDIBLE. Seriously. Made with fresh strawberries, you could easily eat them plain. My dear friend Caelin still demands that I figure out how to ship her some to England.


Beer Bread

A huge favourite for all my readers, beer bread is an easy, buttery, delicious quick bread that makes lives easier and more beer filled! This first went up to rave reviews and is a consistant top-read for everyone coming to the site. This bread whips up in minutes, is crunchy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. You can add some cheese, spice, and deeper, darker beers to the mix to create incredible variations. A slice smothered in butter is the ultimate comfort.


Brown Sugar Scones

These are my mom’s recipe and one the simplest, most incredibly delicious baked goods out there. There are a lot of word to describe these, most of them start with mmmmmmmmmmm. Honestly, there is not a lot to say other than, “go make a batch.”


Buffalo Chicken Dip

This is such an easy and delicious dip for any occasion. The sharp flavours of the buffalo sauce with the creaminess of the cheese and ranch make for an awesome combo. My friends Heather and Tobias are crazy for this dip, and I am right on board! This dip, along with my Jalapeño Popper dip are go-to party foods!


Rum Cupkrakes

These cleverly-named (by my husband) cupcakes went crazy after Kraken Rum posted them not once, but twice to their Facebook and Twitter. These mini rum cakes pack a deliciously buttery, boozy punch. I prefer to use Kraken Rum in mine to give it a little extra depth of flavour, and come on, look at that bottle!


Butter Chicken from scratch

One thing I always prefer to do is to make my meals from scratch where I can. I’ve made mayo, bread, cranberry sauce, curry spice mix, pita, and a whole lot more. I decided one day that I wanted to tackle one of my favourite dishes, and wow, totally worth it!


Blackberry Cream Cheese Muffins

Blackberries and cream cheese are awesome on their own and are a super team in this muffin. Lightly sweet with a punch of flavour, these are some of the most delicious muffins I’ve ever made. I am excited to try to sort out the original inspiration muffin, but in the meantime these are a fave!


Finally a surprize reader favourite has been my Muffin Pudding (or Muffin Bread Pudding).
It seems that I am not the only one who gets stumped about what to do with stale muffins. Who knew that something so hairbrained could turn into a delicious dessert that people look for every day!

These are just a small selection of some of my favourite recipes and the favourite recipes of the readers. Please feel free to cruise the post index at the top or through the categories at the side for most recipes to try and love!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Sigh, well let me tell you a quick tale. A tale of two failures if you will.

First, I was all geared up for St. Patrick’s Day, and had set about making some Chocolate Bailey’s Irish Cream Fudge from scratch (ie: no condensed milk, marshmallow, etc.). I had watched Alton Brown’s video about how fudge comes together and was all set up to make an amazing treat. I had all the ingredients going on the stove, they were coming together, looked as they should. But I made a fatal mistake, over cooked it and created instead a monstrosity of chocolate, Bailey’s, sticky-hard sand. Ugh. So, I decided to repurpose this failure to create delicious thumbprint cookies with a delicious Chocolate and Bailey’s centre. No, the butter cookies spread more than intended and the ‘filling’ clumped out and was just terrible. Big failure all around!

So I had something glorious planned for today but after the miserable fudge issue and then the half-hearted cookie attempt I am left with nothing more than kind words and lots of love!

I hope you all have a lovely Sunday and I will be sure to make up for the failures this week!

Simple Saturday Side, Roasted Asparagus

The rain has dampened my enthusiasm for cooking, thinking, doing stuff this week. I had an incredibly exciting interview on Tuesday, and email for another exciting interview for next week, and then spent the rest of the week in brain-melt mode. I was able to be mildly productive but nearly as productive as I wanted/needed to be. My goals for next week are big and shiny and will make up for the lost time of last week’s slump. Some sunshine would really help motivate me…*coughcough*mother nature get on this *coughcough*. Fun fact, apparently Elton John, when in a hotel in Germany, was so bothered by the wind while he was trying to sleep that he asked his agent (or manager) to do something about the weather. I am with Elton on this, somebody please correct the weather (preferably the weather in Vancouver, not Germany… I mean, clear theirs up too if you want).


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Blackberry Cream Cheese Muffins

There are a lot of magical little places up in the Yukon. I was fortunate to work at the incomparable Alpine Bakery, and have struggled to find bread of that quality in either Calgary or Vancouver. There are incredible cafés, restaurants, and shops that would stand out even in the largest cities, and we are always thankful to have these gems in our small town. One such gem is the Chocolate Claim. First, they sell some of my favourite earrings from Lara Melnik, but they also have two types of muffins every day that are sure to knock your socks off (they also used to have a cranberry bread pudding muffin that is as close to heaven as I’ve been, I am not sure they still make it). When I was working at the Yukon Transportation Museum I used to go out of my way a few days a week to get a coffee and muffin. One of my favourites was their Raspberry Chocolate Chip, it had the perfect balance of tart and sweet. My ultimate favourite which seemed to appear less often was the Blackberry Cream Cheese. Their muffins were massive and packed with berries. But the best part was on top there was a hunk of cream cheese, baked into the muffin and lightly crusted with sugar. That nugget of cheesey goodness POPPED with the flavour of the muffin.


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Fresh Homemade Tzatziki- dress up chicken, veggies, a spoon!

Well thank goodness Vancouver! I woke up this morning feeling drowsy, I noticed the blazing sunlight and figured I had slept through the morning. Feeling terrible about wasting my day, I pulled myself out of bed to discover that it was 8:30am! What an incredible day! I cruised outside for a stroll, lingering in the sun. It is not summer-warm yet, but it feels incredible and I am once again thrilled to live in this city! Feeling summery I am back on track with bright and fresh food, this dip is no exception!


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Tweaking and making the BIG shuffle

So I’ve been contemplating this move for some time, and have finally decided to move over to a self-hosted site. I did it on the stupidest day possible, a Saturday when I get a ton of traffic! I am sorry to those who came to the site for the hour or so that I was figuring things out, but I’ve gotten it mostly sorted now. I am taking a break for the night and plan on tackling the CSS issues tomorrow!

That’s my news for today! If everything falls down and crashes in the next few weeks… well I will figure it out as it comes!