{Eat} Skeleton Men

Happy Halloween!

Both the chocolate cut-out cookies (minus espresso powder) and royal icing recipes via Bake at 350.
No closeups because the icing was a little too thick so it didn't go on nicely at all. Cramped hands are no fun.
I started to run out of time (had to rush to a concert!) and steam so I just swirled the icing on the last few men.

Our Best Bites' are way cuter!

{Eat} Cinnamon Sour Cream Coffee Cake Recipe

I wish I knew where this recipe came from. I just have a photocopy of the handwritten instructions, but I love this cake and it's super easy!


1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar (I used 3/4 cup)
2 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups flour

1/2 cup pecans, chopped (toasted or untoasted)
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup brown sugar

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease 9-inch loaf pan or line the bottom with parchment paper.
  2. Mix the Topping/Ripple ingredients together in a small bowl. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Beat eggs in one at a time. Add sour cream and vanilla. Scrape down sides of bowl as needed.
  4. In a separate bowl, sift together baking soda, baking powder, salt, flour.
  5. Mix dry ingredients into wet ingredients until mixed thoroughly.
  6. Pour half of the batter into the pan. Then spread half of the topping on top. Repeat with the remaining batter and topping.
  7. Bake for 55-60 minutes until a knife inserted in center comes out clean. Let cake cool in pan for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack. 
The inside is nice and moist and the top is a little crunchy due to the brown sugar! It'd probably be better if the pecans were toasted, which these are not because I'm lazy like that. 

 Cinnamon and pecan topping.
Yum. Not sure what the last person who cut a piece was doing. My slice was missing a corner and not cut straight at all.

I've used walnuts instead of pecans before and it tastes just as good! Supposedly you can substitute the sour cream and pecans with apple slices, so I'm going to try adding apples with some pecans instead. I'm not so sure about replacing a major batter ingredient (sour cream) for apples though.

{Eat} Fall Cupcakes

After another few days at the hospital here, my mom finally had surgery to have her femur screwed together, though apparently it wasn't broken as the first ER doctor here thought. But she's now back at home and resting.

And for the cupcakes, I guess they'd be more appropriately themed for fall if I spiced them up a bit, but these are just plain ol' vanilla cupcakes.

My boys are always hounding me to bake cupcakes for them and I had promised them some in the summer but never got around to baking, so with my remaining vacation before work tomorrow (no NYC) and some unopened food colouring that I've been itching to open, I decided to make some fall coloured frosting.

The next time I bake these I'm going to modify the recipe a bit because they're a bit denser than I would like, but it could be because I always cut out 25-50% of the sugar listed. And for the frosting, I halved the recipe but forgot about that when I was adding the liquid so I poured some out after creaming with the butter/shortening and didn't put enough icing sugar in. Oops. Still, everyone always says this recipe is the best I've made so I'll just have to play around with the ingredients a bit more next time.

Also, don't mind the terrible photos. I was in a rush running out of the house to meet my girls so I just snapped the photos real quick and Photoshop couldn't save them.

 Nekkid cupcakes!
 I wanted to swirl the colours on each cupcake but that failed miserably... They were too ugly to even take pictures of to remind myself the next time I attempt to do that.
Packed up and ready to go!

More baked goods to follow soon I hope - Halloween cookies next week and mom wants coffee cake for all her visitors, though everyone's been bringing food anyway. But my cousin did bring Style at Home, Oprah, and Elle which my mom's not going to read, meaning they're mine!

{Out & About} Change of Plans

So I am back prematurely from my 18 day vacation with my mom which included an 11 day cruise from Rome (Civitavecchia) to Lisbon.

On the fourth night (Friday), my mom slipped and fell hard by the drink station in the buffet dining because one of the attendants was mopping, without a caution sign put up, and he had his back turned to my mom who didn't notice him at all.

We stayed on board that night and since she still could not lift her leg while lying down or put pressure on it to stand/walk the next morning, we were taken to a hospital (a private clinic that deals with international students/tourists) in Barcelona. My first time in an ambulance and Barcelona!

The itinerary for our trip was:
Civitavecchia, Italy
Florence, Italy
Monte Carlo, Monaco
Nice, France (this became a day at sea due to rough seas preventing us from docking on the pier or tendering in)
Barcelona, Spain
Day at Sea
Motril/Granada, Spain
Gibraltar, UK
Cadiz/Seville, Spain
Lisbon, Portugal
London, UK
Toronto :(

Both my mom and I had already been to all the ports prior to Barcelona (she's already been to BCN) so we missed out on all the new places (in italics).

Saturday & Sunday
After disembarking the cruise, I spent the next 2 days in the hospital with my mom, waiting for news but since it was the weekend, there were no specialists around. We did find out that she fractured her femur right below the bone's head and so there was no bone displacement since she had for the most part, kept off of that leg.

The specialist was finally in and told her she could move around in the room and sit on a chair instead of laying in bed all day. If the bones stayed in place, we could go home and proceed with whatever treatment was necessary and would not have to have surgery in Barcelona.

So with that news, my mom kicked me out of the hospital and I spent the rest of the day exploring the city on the hop on/off buses.

They were still waiting to see if there was any bone displacement but then we also had to wait for the port agent to find us a flight home, so I wandered the streets a little more and darkened my farmer's tan just a touch.

More waiting, so I spent a few hours at L'Aquarium Barcelona staring at the sharks and penguins and walked back up through the shopping district to the hospital though my legs were like jelly at that point and it was all uphill, of course.

During my 5 days there, I have to say, my Spanish did not improve at all. Not that I had the vocabulary to begin with - should've watched some Dora before we left! Whenever I'm in France I want to speak English, in Italy I tend to blend French and the little Italian that I know, but in Spain I was either at a complete loss for words or would want to speak English/French/Italian/Mandarin. Basically anything BUT Spanish. Not many Spanish people know English so I think a lot was lost in translation! One super nice doctor who saw my mom briefly in the ER upon our initial arrival kept coming in to check on us and translate for the specialist who knew very little English. Between the nurses, usually one knew just enough English to get by, but there was one shift where I had to speak with my bad French since none of the nurses on duty could speak English.

We flew back (with a walker, crutches, and cane in tow - I was a complete mess trying to juggle everything lol) and my mom is currently at the local hospital awaiting surgery. Things sure have advanced these days though! All the doctors in Barcelona and Toronto have said that after plates are screwed to the bones, there's only a 2-3 day recovery period and then she can be on her feet again (probably with some Tylenol 3 :) ).

Next Week?
So since I still have another week of vacation left, which I debated about cutting short, I might just head off to NYC for a few days to join my brother who went on Wednesday for 12 days. For the past 4-5 years, I've gone to NYC four times each year to watch all the Broadway/Off-Broadway shows that I can squeeze in and this trip would be my fifth of the year, having last been in June. If I can't have my yummy 5 star cruise food, I'm not going to pass up another chance for NY street food (chicken biriyani from a cart on 46th & 6th is amaaazingly good) and cupcakes!

I have tons of trip pictures to sort through (lots of sharks/penguins...) so for now, here are some pics from the Covert Affairs Season Two Pre-Wrap Wrap Party. Sandy Cohen Peter Gallagher serenaded us!

Peter Gallagher is a bee-yoo-ti-ful, beautiful man!
L: Christopher Gorham watching Peter Gallagher; R: Christopher Gorham and 'Covert Affairs' co-creator Chris Ord enjoying Peter Gallagher's songs and stories.
Piper Perabo also loving Peter Gallagher's performance.
Me and Peter Gallagher.
Me and Christopher Gorham.
T: Me and Melinda Clarke! I LOVE HER!; B: Alexandra Holden and I. She was filming a guest appearance that week.
I wish my work parties were like this :(