Thursday, April 16, 2015

b9b1f82d95da4e0c81926217cdd1a35bCupcakes & Mini Cakes – more than 100 recipes for little cakes & cake pops
Published at DK Canada

About the book

With over 100 recipes for little cakes and cake pops, this delicious cookbook is sure to satisfy. The perfect step by step guide to creating delights and indulgent creamy bites, tasty truffles and breakfast brownies, this book covers all the essential techniques - from simply making to decorating cakes for every occasion.

  • Features over 200 full colour photographs
  • Visual recipe choosers group cakes by themes for easy inspiration

My Thoughts

I recently received this fun cookbook from DK Canada.   Turn out that it became really handy when two of my kids had to do something for their leaders.  They decided to work together and make cupcakes for them.   They picked a fun little recipe for their sweet tooth.  

This cookbook is easy to use and contains pictures to allow you to visualize the end result of a recipe.   The table of contents can quickly bring you to the recipe chooser, the techniques, the cupcakes and muffins recipes, the mini cakes and cake pops recipes, the mini bakes and bars recipes and finally the patisserie and tarts recipes.  Each recipe is clearly detailed with the ingredients and the steps to execute it.


So as I mentioned, my sons had to bless their Awana leaders in a special way.  The year is almost finished and the volunteers are helping the kids to work hard on their books.    Both my boys have done amazing this year each winning at the Awana Quizzing.  Jérémy and his team won the first place for their book while Dominic and his team won second place.


So to thank their leaders, they decided to make cupcakes.   The recipe that they picked is the Cherry and Coconut Cupcakes.   Here`s the recipe.


4 oz Maraschino cherries
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup superfine sugar
2 eggs
2/3 cup self-rising flour
3/4 cup shredded coconut, plus extra for springkling
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
a few drops of pink food coloring (optional)

For the icing:
3/4 cup butter, at room temperature
3 cups confectioners’ sugar. sifted
4 tsp milk
a few drops of pink food coloring
scant shredded coconut
12 Maraschino cherries.

How to make:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.  Line the pan with 12 baking cups.  Wash, dry, and quarter the cherries.
  2. Place the butter, sugar, eggs, flour, coconut, and baking powder in a large mixing bowl and beat well with a wooden spoon or an electric mixer until light and fluffy.  Add the quartered cherries.  Add a few drops of pink food coloring and beat briefly again.
  3. Spoon the mixture into the baking cups and bake for about 15 minutes or until well risen, golden, and the centers spring back when lightly pressed.   Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
  4. For the icing, beat the butter in a bowl.  Gradually beat in the confectioners’ sugar and milk until soft and fluffy.  Beat in a few drops of pink food coloring.  Pipe or spoon the icing on top of the cupcakes and top each with a sprinkling of shredded coconut and a Maraschino cherry.

This morning, after having done part of the homeschool assignments, they started on the cupcakes. 

Jérémy putting ingredients in the mixer.


We added the cherries at some point.


Whatcha doing Dominic?


Ready to be bake – I love the color of these cupcakes…. wish I could have one because I LOVE Maraschino cherries!


All baked and smelling yumy!


Decorating time…


And here’s the final result – a delicious cupcake that unfortunately mom can’t even taste.   I’m sure their Awana leaders will enjoy them!


To be honest, they have done everything themselves.  They followed the recipe and knew what to do at each step.   It was very easy to let them do this while I was helping their younger sister with her reading.   I am impressed on how easy it was for them to follow the recipe and that they didn’t have to ask for help at any point in time.

Tonight, they are bringing their cupcakes…..   as for me I am hoping that they will redo the recipe in a near future.  Maybe I should go get some Maraschino cherries to replenish our cupboards because they finished the container that we had.   

Cupcakes & Mini Cakes is available for purchase at your favorite bookstore, even and


Disclaimer: Thanks to DK Canada for sending me the above mentioned book for review purposes . I was not monetarily compensated for this review. Please note that the review was not influenced by the Sponsor in any way. All opinions expressed here are only my own.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

imageYan-Kit’s Classic Chinese Cookbook
By Yan-Kit So
Published at DK Canada

About the cookbook

Learn to cook traditional Chinese food with this extensive collection of authentic Chinese recipes from Chinese cookery expert Yan-kit So. Dim-sum, dumplings, Cantonese food — you name it — this classic book has every recipe and cooking method you need to prepare delicious, authentic Chinese food.

With thirty years as a favorite in home kitchens everywhere, Yan-Kit's Classic Chinese Cookbook is a staple for cooking traditional Chinese food. Now this bestselling cookbook is reborn with wonderful photography that makes cooking Chinese food recipes understandable and simple. Even inexperienced cooks can find easy recipes in this complete collection, and more experienced chefs will find plenty to challenge and delight them as well.

Step-by-step instructions, tips and techniques, and complete menu ideas make Yan-Kit's Classic Chinese Cookbook inviting for home cooks of all skill levels: Find a new favorite dim-sum recipe, learn a great technique for dumplings, or polish your proficiency in the art of delicious Cantonese food. Yan-Kit's proficiency and expertise in cooking authentic Chinese food makes her the ideal chef to begin a journey into cooking Chinese food, and a trusted ally in guiding you in more expert Chinese dishes.

My Thoughts

The past three weeks, we have studied China with other families at our Homeschool Coop.   We had fun activities to learn more about the country and what makes it so different than Canada.

The older kids had a project that lasted three weeks – making a salt dough map of the country of China.



The finalized maps looked like this.



Meanwhile, the younger kids were doing a variety of activities. They made their Ming Plates.



They learned to write in Chinese.


They had fun to do a giant panda craft after learning about the animal.


And they worked all together in building the Great Wall of China.


Dominic helped with the fried rice and meal lesson.


The kids learned to eat with chopsticks.


And we performed a Dragon Dance.


These three weeks were amazing and the kids learned quite a bit about China.

To conclude our tour of China, we had decided to do a potluck – each families had to bring a Chinese meal to share.   This cookbook arrived at just the right time and I immediately explored it to determine which meal I would bring.  The table of contents is pretty much self-explaining and will provide quick access the the following sections: Ingredients, Equipment, Techniques, Recipes divided in specific groups like hors d’oeuvres, soups and fire pots, fish and seafood, poultry and eggs, meat, vegetables, rice/noodles/dumplings, and desserts as well as Regional Menus which includes regional Chinese cooking, Northern or Peking menu recipes, Eastern or Shanghai menu recipes, Western or Szechwan menu recipes, Southern or Cantonese menu recipes, as well as a mixed regional menu recipes. 

The book contains plenty of images and step-by-steps instructions which will help you do some of the recipes in the book.


I have decided to do the Sweet and Sour Pork recipe found at page 130.  This recipe serves 4 to 6 people if you include 2 or 3 other dishes.   Due to the fact that we were numerous at the coop, I doubled the recipe in hopes that we would have enough for everyone.  However, I will admit that I took whole-wheat flour instead of the potato flour, I forgot the egg, and I didn’t have any Worcestershire sauce….  Also, I have not deep-fried the pork due to time constraint.


1 LB lean pork belly, skinned and trimmed of excess of fat
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon thin soy sauce
1/2 egg, lightly beaten
3 tablespoons cornstarch
peanut or corn oil for deep-fryingIMG_3708
2 1/2 tablespoons peanut or corn oil
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
1 onion, skinned and roughly chopped
1 green pepper, halved, seeded, and diced
4 ounces canned pineapple chunks, drained, juice reserved

For the sauce
2 teaspoons potato flour
4 tablespoons water
4 tablespoons pineapple juice
3 tablespoons rice or wine vinegar
4 to 4 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons thin soy sauce
2 tablespoons tomato ketchup
1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce


1) Cut the pork into pieces about 1 by 1 1/4 by 3/4 inches.  Put into a bowl.
2) Add the salt and soy sauce and let marinate for 30 to 60 minutes.  Stir in the egg to coat thoroughly.
3) Dredge the pork, piece by piece, with the cornstarch, making sure it is evenly coated.  It is not necessary to use up all the cornstarch.
4) Half fill a wok or deep fryer with oil, heat to a temperature of 350F or until a cube of stale bread browns in 60 seconds.   Add the pork and deep-fry for about 1 minute in 1 or 2 batches; separate the pieces with a pair of chopsticks or a wooden spoon if they stick together.  Drain on paper towels.  This step can be done ahead of time.
5) Prepare the sauce.  In a bowl, dissolve the potato flour in the water and pineapple juice.   Add the vinegar, sugar, salt, soy sauce, ketchup, and Worcestershire sauce, and stir to blend. (This can be made in advance.)
6) Heat a frying pan or sauce pan (unless you have another wok) until hot.  Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil and swirl it around.   Add the garlic and onion, stir a few times and then add the green pepper.  Stir-fry for about 2 minutes over medium heat and season with salt, if desired.   Add the pineapple chunks.  Pour in the well-stirred sauce and bring to a boil slowly, stirring constantly.
7) Reheat the oil for deep-frying to a higher temperature, 375F, or until a cube of stale bread browns in 50 seconds.  Add the pork and again deep-fry in one batch for about 2 or 3 minutes, to ensure that the outside is crisp and golden without the pork inside getting dry.  Drain on paper towels and transfer to a warm serving plate.  Reheat the sweet and sour sauce and stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil.  This prevents the sauce from being gluey.  Pour the sweet and sour sauce over the pork.  Serve immediately.

Note:  When reheated, sweet and sour pork will be soggy but it will still taste good.

The meal was delicious and we had a wide variety of plates to choose from.   Everyone made a huge effort to bring something Chinese and authentic.  

This recipe book is packed with wonderful recipes from China and I plan to try out other recipes in the weeks and months to come.  Having a Chinese grocery store near our home is helpful to find the ingredients that wouldn’t be at the normal grocery store for sure.  If you want to expand your repertoire of recipes for your family and friends, consider getting Yan-Kit’s Classic Chinese Cookbook.  

Yan-Kit’s Classic Chinese Cookbook is available at your favourite bookstore, even and

Disclaimer: Thanks to DK Canada for sending me the above mentioned book for review purposes . I was not monetarily compensated for this review. Please note that the review was not influenced by the Sponsor in any way. All opinions expressed here are only my own.

Monday, March 30, 2015

imageWordUP! The Vocab Show – The Best Way to Learn Vocabulary from Latin & Greek Roots
From Compass Classroom

About the product

Dwane Thomas, of Visual Latin fame, stars in a zany new show teaching Latin and Greek roots, as well as hundreds of English vocabulary words. Utilizing a new approach to learning, WordUp! seriously expands a student’s grasp of the vocabulary used in literature, science, and standardized tests.

Each DVD or download set includes:

  • 10 video lessons (12-15 min each)
  • 20 Latin & Greek roots
  • 200+ English words
  • Links to online Vocabulary Flashcards

My Thoughts

I have seen a post about this product on facebook and it picked my curiosity.   So I decided to watch the trailer of the game and see what it consisted.   I was hooked because it was a great way to learn Latin and Greek words for kids of any ages.   So today I am delighted to be able to present you WordUp! The Vocab Show and tell you how we enjoyed it as part of our homeschool.  This DVD is consider as Volume 1 which I suspect will be followed by other titles.   It contains ten video lessons and over 200 words in Quizlet. 

Quizlet is an online quiz which allows your student to learn more word based on the lessons presented on WordUp! which will expand the grasp of the vocabulary used in literature, science and more.  The Quizlet provides cards to learn the words and definition, a section where you get the definition and you have to type the word, a speller which encourage you to type what you hear, a test where you can select the question types (written, matching, multiple choice and true/false), a game which consists in dragging corresponding items onto each other to make them disappear and finally a game where you destroy scrolling words by typing in their corresponding term and pressing enter.    Bottom line, the student has no excuses in learning the vocabulary words presented because there are plenty of fun activities for him/her to strengthen the learning of the words.

The best part of this product is that if you are uncertain of how it would be a good fit for your family, you can download two free lessons and try it out. 

WordUp! The Vocab Show is available for purchase directly from Compass Classroom in DVD format or download format.    Each are regularly priced at 15$ but for a limited time they are both available for 9.99$.

Disclaimer: Thanks to Compass Classroom for sending me the above mentioned product in download format for review purposes . I was not monetarily compensated for this review. Please note that the review was not influenced by the Sponsor in any way. All opinions expressed here are only my own.

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