Cooking with Alison

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Chocolate Bar Cheesecake Bites (Won 1st Place in a Baking Contest!)

In Other Desserts on November 16, 2010 at am

These bite sized treats are creamy, chewy, and chocolatey with a crunchy toffee crust.  They’re a great way to use up leftover halloween candy.

These won 1st place (out of 14 entries) at my sister’s company’s baking contest.  It was their annual fund raising event for charity (United Way).  The winner is determined by the employees’ votes.  Last year was my first time competing and I submitted caramel popcorn.  Unfortunately, only 3 people chose to sample it. 🙂  But of the 3 people that sampled it, 2 voted for it.  So I consider that a success.  🙂  (See the recipe for my caramel popcorn here.)

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Camembert Cheesecake with Roasted Red Pepper Coulis

In Appetizers, Hors D'oeuvres, Snacks on April 2, 2010 at pm

I made these mini cheesecakes a few years ago for a holiday pot luck with co-workers.  Several people asked for the recipe, so I knew it was a success.  I made them again for my 100th Post Party.  It would also make an incredibly sophisticated entree for a dinner party or a special occasion.  The great thing about this recipe is that it can be made up to 2 days in advance.

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Cookies and Cream Cheesecake Cupcakes

In Cupcakes on March 27, 2010 at pm

I first discovered the concept of cheesecake cupcakes when I made and fell head over heels in love with Peaches and Cream Cheesecake Cupcakes (recipe here).  I love Hershey’s cookies and cream chocolate bars so when I saw these in Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes book, I knew I had to try them.  I really like the crunchy cookie base.  It’s the perfect contrast in texture to the smooth and creamy cheesecake on top.

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Peaches and Cream Cheesecake Cupcakes

In Cupcakes on February 24, 2010 at pm

These are the best cupcakes I’ve ever made or eaten.  The cheesecake has the perfect texture/density and the toppings have the perfect touch of sweetness.  I don’t love cheesecake but I adore these cheesecake cupcakes.  I made them for a bbq in the summer and people Loved them.  I made them again recently for Ed’s mom’s birthday and they were a huge hit with them too.  I ended up making these for my dad’s birthday shortly after that.  It takes some time to make and needs to be refrigerated before serving, but it’s really really simple and definitely worth it.

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Favourite Cheesecake Recipe

In Cakes on January 22, 2010 at pm

Ed and his family love cheesecake so I made him one for his birthday in January 2010.  I like cheesecake too, but only in small amounts because I find it always sits heavily in my stomach.  So you can imagine how happy I was when I found a cheesecake recipe that’s light and rich without the heaviness.  I went through 3 other recipes before I fell in love with this one.   I especially like that you can get a smooth top on the cheesecake without using a waterbath.  If you prefer New York style cheesecake (ie. a dense cheesecake, like Ed does, simply omit the sour cream).  Also, note that this recipe uses a shortbread crust as opposed to the more commonly used graham cracker crust.  I prefer the shortbread where Ed prefers the graham.  I tried both and found that the graham cracker crust burnt more easily and was more likely to get soggy.

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10 Reasons to Road Trip to Buffalo, NY

In Random, Reviews on September 11, 2016 at pm

I live in Toronto, ON, Canada, and plan road trips multiple times a year. Before the Labour Day long weekend in September, 2016, I told a co-worker that I was planning a road trip to Buffalo, NY, USA. She looked at me surprised and said, judgmentally, “Why?”. I realized then that a lot of people don’t realize how much Buffalo has changed in the last few years. So here’s a list of my top ten reasons for visiting Buffalo, NY.

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Review of the Best Steakhouse in NYC and the USA – Peter Luger

In Reviews on July 4, 2016 at am
John loves going to steakhouses, so we eat at popular steakhouses whenever we travel together in the USA. (See my reviews for steakhouses in Toronto here.) We’ve been to E.B. Green’s in Buffalo, Longhorn in Michigan, we’ve had Maui Cattle Co. steaks and burgers in Maui, and most recently, we tried Keen’s (see my review here) and Peter Lugers in New York City.

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Versatile Ingredients – Introduction and Staples

In Grocery Budget Challenge, How-To, Mind Your Cents, Versatile Ingredients on June 21, 2016 at am

This is the first post in the series, Versatile Ingredients.

I’ve been working on using up old ingredients in my pantry. To do this efficiently, I choose a single ingredient and give myself up to one month to use all of it. In order to make this challenge enjoyable (i.e. not having to eat the same dish every day), I’ve been experimenting with new ways to use familiar ingredients. I’ve learned so much and discovered so many new favourite recipes that I decided to start a new series, Versatile Ingredients. Each post will feature a different ingredient. To start, I’ve shared my versatile grocery staples below. See also, creative uses for avocados here.

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Review of Toronto’s Top Steak Houses (UPDATED)

In Red Meat and Eggs, Reviews on November 11, 2014 at am

I used to avoid steakhouses altogether, because I had only ever received disappointing, over-cooked, and over-priced meals (often with a side of snobby customer service) from the steak houses that I had been to.  Luckily, John, who loves steak houses, introduced me to some very good ones in the city.  Now we both love going out for steak.  It is a rare treat for us, so it took over a year to eat my way through some of the best rated steakhouses in Toronto.  Here are my reviews.  Please note that I always order the rib eye steak and I order it rare.  Also, I do not like eating at chain restaurants, so you won’t see Ruth’s Chris, The Keg, or Outback Steakhouse on this list.

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Gourmet Donut Tour of Toronto (Including the Original Croissant-Donut and Toronto’s Cronut)

In Reviews on February 17, 2014 at am

John is obsessed with donuts.  I don’t use the word “obsessed” lightly.  It’s not just that he dreams of donuts (sprinkled donuts, FYI), it’s that whenever he walks into a donut store, he wants to, and I quote, “make love to all of them”.  🙂  Which is why we served glazed donut shots at his housewarming party (see recipes here) and why I made him a giant donut pillow/costume for Halloween.  So, it came as no surprise when he told me that he wanted to celebrate his 30th birthday by having a donut day.  On donut day alone, we ate donuts from 6 different places across downtown Toronto, including an imitation cronut (the latest NYC croissant and donut hybrid craze).  I have since reminded John that he’s not in his 20’s anymore, and so is not allowed to eat so many donuts in one day ever again.  😉

I’ve now tried the most popular gourmet donuts in Toronto, including the city’s first croissant-donut hybrid, and I’ve been to all but one of the local places that have won Food Network’s Donut Showdown to date.  Hopefully these reviews will help you find your favourite gourmet donut in Toronto, Ontario.

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The Best Butter Tarts Recipe (Placed 3rd in a Baking Contest!)

In Pies & Tarts on November 14, 2011 at pm

Butter tarts are a wonderful Canadian dessert.  (Speaking of wonderful Canadian things, have you tried ice cider?)  Butter tarts are individually portion sized tarts that have a flaky pastry shell and a sweet and gooey filling.  If desired, the filling can include raisins or pecans.  I made both variations in the photo above.  If you like pecan pie (see my recipe here), you’ll probably like butter pecan tarts.  Personally, I prefer the tarts.  I made these butter tarts for the first time over Thanksgiving, 2011.  We were amazed by how good the pastry was.  This was the best, buttery and flaky pastry I have ever made and these were the best butter tarts we had ever had.  Although they can be a bit messy to eat, this pastry is the perfect compliment for this type and size of tart.  The filling is soft and gooey, you won’t get crystallized sugar, and it doesn’t drip.

I was so happy with this recipe that I made several batches for my sister’s company’s annual charity baking contest on November 14, 2011.  I was too busy to make these the weekend before the competition, so I made them weeks in advance and froze them.  Although they’re better when fresh, these were still good enough to win 3rd place in the baking contest.  There were a total of 14 entries.  (See my dessert that won 1st place in last year’s baking contest here.)

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Frozen Strawberry Pie Recipe

In Pies & Tarts on July 18, 2011 at pm

Ed and I went strawberry picking this summer so I was able to try a few new recipes.  I made strawberry swiss meringue buttercream, two types of strawberry cupcakes, and frozen strawberry pies (one 8″ tart and 12 miniature ones).  I also highly recommend this no-bake strawberry torte that could easily be made into a delicious trifle.  Of all of the strawberry desserts that I made this summer, this frozen strawberry pie was my favourite.  It received great reviews from everyone that tried it.  It’s perfect for any summer event and can easily be made ahead of time for entertaining or surprise guests.

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