We’re still on the road, probably flying down some highway right now in an attempt to get mini-me home for school tomorrow. I’m highly doubtful she’ll make that first class. I told her I would try but it’s a long way from Alberta to Ontario so we’ll see how things go. I cannot wait to sleep in my own bed. And hug all my pets and horsey. Probably after a much-needed nap though. Naps then hugs all around.
Welcome to another edition of Burning Down The Kitchen. This is a weekly series where I have the good fortune to interview other bloggers. I get to dare them to do stupid things, and ask silly questions. It is such a riot to do each week. It all started when I realized I had bookmarked a ton of recipes from other bloggers but hadn’t been making them. So in order to make their dishes with an added spin the idea of a recipe and an interview was born. I cannot tell you what a joy this is to do each week. So buckle up for this week’s edition of BDTK.
BURNING DOWN THE KITCHEN WITH JANET OF “FROM CUPCAKES TO CAVIAR”:
The amazing Janet blogs at From Cupcakes to Caviar. She is my blogging soul mate, or twin as we like to refer to each other. We have a pact to get married, which is weird for twins I know. And we spend oodles of time planning the wedding on each other’s blogs. I think the only thing holding us back from twin wedded bliss is Janet is a Coke lover and I’m a Pepsi lover. It’s the elephant in the room people. You all know it was coming. I like Pepsi and think Coke is best used to clean drains, and Janet thinks Coke rules and Pepsi is swill. So it’s the straw breaking the wedding camel’s back. One day Janet will wake up realize Pepsi rules all but until then we’ll just agree to disagree and take every opportunity to jab each other on this heated issue. Personally I think it’s an American/Canadian thing. Most Americans I ask like Coke, while most Canucks seem to prefer Pepsi. So maybe you guys have some bad pepsi over there in America. Who knows. Okay, okay enough of this soda bashing and on with the reason you are all here. For Janet. The lovely Janet.
I met Janet through Foodbuzz. She is a wicked cool chick, hilariously funny and can kick anyone’s butt in the kitchen. She is also one of the most supportive and kind bloggers I’ve ever met. Beneath all our ribbing and jabbing we’re really good friends and I love her like a sistah from another mistah. She makes me laugh, she challenges me to think outside the box and she always brings her a-game with every recipe. She guest posted for me eons ago and made a Southwestern Ziti Casserole that will change your life. Well, if not your life, at least your waistline. And it will be worth every…. single…. calorie! She makes such a wide array of dishes which I love. Things like her decadent Chewy Cream Cheese Brownies, her mind-blowing Caramel Cupcakes with Caramel Butter Cream, her tempting Creamy Mascarpone Cheesecake, her gorgeous Berry and White Chocolate Almond Parfaits, her beautiful Blueberry Lemon Yogurt Cake, her right on the money Chocoholics Bundt Cake, her makes me wanna eat breakfast Bacon, Cheese and Caramelized Onion Tart, her spicy Southwestern Chorizo Burgers, her over the top Massively Cheesy Ravioli Casserole, and my personal favourite her Blackberry Lemonade Muffins. This lady can cook people. She can cook her a** off, she can probably cook your a** off, and if she could cook my a** off I’d really appreciate it to be honest.
Those who know Janet know she is a loyal and genuine person. She is a supportive fellow blogger who always has your back. I adore this woman so much. My sistah from another mistah, my twin soul mate who I forgive for drinking Coke cuz I love her THAT much. Please welcome Janet back to the asylum.
Rapidfire Q & A with Janet of From Cupcakes to Caviar:
1. How did you get started blogging?
I love to cook and I love to read, be it anything from a blog to the paper to a book to a toothpaste tube if I’m desperate. So it was a natural extension to go into blogging though it’s taken a hit from lack of time the last few months :-
2. What inspires you to cook?
I think boredom started it originally. And hunger lol. I started cooking when I was about ten. My mom worked and there was “never anything good” (the cry of kid-dom) in the house so I started just throwing things together. I learned to make cakes, cookies and candies that way. Some of it wasn’t pretty but enough tasted good that I kept going. Sweets became dinner, dinner became “omg, I’m a mom; what do I cook?!” and that became yet another inspiration; making things my family loves.
3. Is your family supportive of your blog?
Well, right now, I think they wish I would get back to it because they are missing the sweets that tend to make up the bulk of my blog. But yeah, my husband is very supportive of it and is the type that goes to work and shows off the latest post to all the women there (he’s an R.N and works mainly with women so they love my blog too… leftover treats for them! My boys are…well, boys. They couldn’t care one way or another so long as mom is making them goodies.
4. How do you balance life and blogging?
That sentence says in a nutshell why I had to slow down some. Between one toddler, my recent stroke, a special needs teen, another teen, a husband, six cats, working my butt off to try to lose weight (36 pounds down!) and the blog, I was wearing myself out. Balance wasn’t happening. But generally, how did I? My family came first, my attempt to lose weight second (so that made it hard to make the high cal things my blog is known for) and then the blog.
5. How do you decide what to blog and what not to?
I make what I like. I am really stubborn (ok, ornery and unconventional) and have joked more than once on the blog that you will rarely find me making all the trendy foods. I make homey, comforting, ooey gooey decadent types of foods for the most part, interspersed with stick to your ribs (what the heck does that mean anyway? I need to have my ribs checked now to see what’s there) meats and side dishes. I mean, it took me until earlier this year to even TRY Nutella (which has been a trend in the foodie world for a couple of years now) much less cook with it hehe.
6. What kind of blogs do you like to read personally?
Gotta have a sense of humor in there. The dry ones with just recipes and no tidbits from the writer don’t do much for me. I may go to them for a recipe but won’t be actually reading them. I like a little heart and personality with my blogs, be it a food blog, political blog, mom style one, etc. Let me into your world a little if for no other reason than mine is so darn boring 😀
7. You have an amazing sense of humour, how do you stay so upbeat all the time?
Me? Why thankee ma’am. I think my insanity is all that keeps me sane at time. And I love making people laugh. it gives me a cheap thrill (well so do Twinkies but that’s another story) I’m that annoying person whom in the middle of an argument will crack jokes to alleviate the tension. Won a lot of arguments that way 😛 So the upbeat personality is medicine for me. I’m a firm believer in the idea “pretend to be in a good mood and 99% of the time you will really end up in a good mood”. The other one percent of the time is when you’ll find me in bed with chocolate, hot tea, a book and old reruns of Andy Griffith.
8. Do the kids help in the kitchen?
Not much. When my five older kids were little, I was so frazzled trying to get everyone raised and fed that I didn’t spend the time that I now wish I had letting them cook with me. By the same token, had I let them, I probably would have become a headline statistic on how even human mammals can eat their young. Now however, with my three year old, I’m a little less stressed and possessive of my kitchen. he’ll help me stir, he’ll get some dough to “knead and cook” when I make biscuits, things like that. But generally speaking, my kitchen is my zone and I prefer to be left alone.
9. Are any of your kids, or your hubby picky eaters?
Not so much thank God. My husband will eat practically whatever I put in front of him. The kids have their moments but I am old school and tend to go by the rule of “eat what I cook or don’t eat until the next meal”
10. What’s your favourite part of blogging?
I lead a very isolated life. I’m far shyer in real life than I am online plus having a special needs child has added to the isolation because it has made it difficult to leave for any period of time so for me, the connection to other people would be my favorite part. I get to chat and make people laugh and feel like a “normal” mom for a little while.
11. Sweet or savoury?
Depends on my mood. Since I’ve changed my way of eating there are times I would gladly eat an old gym sock. Sprinkled with salt or sugar… either would be fine.
12. Biscoff, Nutella or Peanut Butter?
Not a huge Biscoff fan. Not a huge fan of the others either lol. But were I pressed, probably PB in a good old fashioned PB&J.
13. Milk, Dark or White Chocolate?
Lord woman, you’re killing me here making me choose these things! I make a fantastic cookie that incorporates all of them (plus butterscotch) so I’m going to cheat and say all three.
14. Butter or margarine when baking?
Definitely butter. I’ll use margarine to coat veggies, things like that, but when it comes to baking, always butter. Every holiday season, my husband cringes and threatens to take out another mortgage on the house to pay for my butter/baking habit.
15. Coke or Pepsi? I already know the answer to this but I ask everyone so get your digs in now.
Lol! Geeeeee, let me think about this. Hmmm… I think I’ll have to pick Coke. I have always held to the notion that Pepsi drinkers are the same people who ate school paste as kids (sayeth the woman who just offered to eat a gym sock)
16. Apron or no apron when cooking?
I have two aprons. They are nice and clean. I have lots of t shirts. Not so clean.
17. If you had the dream kitchen what would it look like?
HUGE. Lots of cabinet space. I’m tired of storing my crock pots in the garage. Medium dark wood, fairly elegant looking but not snooty. Just clean lines, old fashioned looking and homey.
18. If you could tell home cooks 3 things to invest in what would they be?
A good mixer. I am still waiting for the kitchen gods to bring me a Kitchen Aid mixer. I have blown the motor out of more hand mixers than I can count. Also… mixing bowls. You can never have too many large mixing bowls. Good cookie sheets, not the 5 dollar ones from the dollar store that warp, pop and bend when they get hot, throwing all the dough on them to the roof of the oven. Don’t ask. Just don’t ask.
19. If you could have your dream job in the culinary world what would it be?
I already have it. Not a lady with huge aspirations here. I’d love for my blog to have more of a presence but I also know that that won’t happen until I have the time to get back to work on it. But I don’t have any big dreams of executive chef or Food Network calling me (though if Tyler Florence ever needs help, I’m there baby!). Well, maybe one dream. I’d love to own a bakery/coffeehouse/used bookstore. Weird, I know.
20. Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Is blogging still a big part of the picture?
I certainly hope it is. If not, it will be because in five years, I have already been institutionalized for the safety of the general public.
Dare Portion of Burning Down The Kitchen:
Show us a picture of your baking supplies.
Wow… this is gonna be embarrassing. I am a bit of the anal “omg, I need to buy 50 gazillion things in case the world ends and I can’t get them anymore”type. I only put about half of what I have in the photo. My table was bending under the weight. I think it may be time for an intervention.
Thanks for having me over to your neck of the blogging world today, Kim. You know I love you to death…. even if you do drink Pepsi. *Gives you a big hug and pours Coke in your pepsi can*
*Kim plays some elevator music while her hubs rushes her to the hospital for Coke poisoning.*
Okay all better now. Had to get that stuff out of my system right fast. I decided to cleanse my palate by making Janet’s amazing Coconut Caramel Cookie Bars aka Samoa Wanna Be Cookie Bars. I could not help myself. I had an older post all picked out then I saw these beauties and just knew they had to be mine. My precious. *Starts to turn into a weird little naked dude with a funny voice.*
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Pinch of salt
- 1/2 cup butter room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
- 1 teaspoon coconut extract
- 2 cups flour
- 2 cups oats
- 2 cups chocolate chips plus another 1/2 cup for topping
- 1/2 cups shredded coconut
- 1 cup caramel
Combine sugar and water in a medium saucepan, cook over medium heat until sugar dissolves.
Bring to a boil, do NOT stir. You can swirl lightly but do not stir. Mini-me just lightly swooshes the pot around is slow circles when needed.
Once it goes a nice amber colour remove from heat and add butter. Swirl around.
Add heavy cream and remember it's going to bubble up so make sure you are ready and your pot is big enough.
Add vanilla and salt and stir until combined.
Set aside to cool.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Line either two 8 inch pans or a 9 x 13 pan with parchment. I went with two 8 inch pans.
Toast your coconut if desired, I didn't bother.
In a mixer combine your butter and brown sugar. Mix it.
Add your vanilla, coconut extract and egg. Beat it.
In a separate bowl combine flour, oats, chocolate chips, baking soda and salt. Stir it.
Mix your wet ingredients with your dry ingredients. Good things are happening now. Break out your stretchy pants.
Press into the pan. If you spray a spoon with non stick spray it helps the process go smoother and there's less swearing when the spoon sticks.
Pour your caramel sauce over top. Ooh and ahh!
Toss your coconut over top of that. Grin from ear to ear!
Sprinkle your remaining chocolate chips over top of that. Try not to just grab a spoon and dive in without baking it.
Pop it in your oven and cook until set. I used two 8 inch pans and it took about 20-25 minutes for them to cook properly. If you use one 9 x 13 you may need to adjust about 5 minutes or so. They are best taken out when you think they are a tad undercooked.
Remove from oven and let cool if you can. This is why I baked it in two pans. That way I could scarf one while it was hot and no one would know.
Serve with a big old I ate the whole pan smile!
Seriously these things are almost as good as Pepsi. And you all know how I feel about Pepsi. They are ooey so I likey. They are gooey so I likey. They are chocolatey so I likey. They are coconuty so I likey. They are caramely so I likey. They are life altering so I likey alot!
I mean have you not had your life changed by a cookie before. It can happen people. I know we all wait around for the right cookie. The cookie that will change our life. The cookie who will love us. The cookie who will stand by us. The cookie who will make our life a better place. It’s out there people. I found my cookie. I only hope you find your cookie too. I’d say we can share this cookie but Lunie doesn’t share cookies. Sharing cookies is wrong.
anyone else thinking I’ve had one too many Coconut Caramel Cookie Bars right now??
Okay so I got a little carried away. It’s okay. My twin knows what a freaking nutball I am. I’m sure she loves her cookie as much as I love my cookie. And I’m sure she wouldn’t share her cookie any more than I’d share my cookie.
I’d like to thank Janet for allowing me the pleasure of torturing her with my questions. She was a pleasure to work with as always. Twin, you know I loves ya big time. More than cookies. Almost as much as Pepsi. Definitely WAY more than Coke.
If you aren’t already following Janet’s blog, From Cupcakes To Caviar, well, you’re a doofus. So rush over there right now you big doofus and sign up for her email subscription so you can get her rocking good recipes sent right to your inbox. You can also follow my twin on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest. It’s what all us cool doofus’s are doing.
Make sure you think about us as we’re driving like maniacs to get home today. I’m not so sure mini-me will be making it to class tomorrow. I’m highly doubtful in fact. But wish us luck anyway as we drive through the boring prairies. I mean a gal can only see wheat fields for so long before she needs to see a Sephora or Williams Sonoma to feel normal again. Am I right or am I right. It’s okay, I know I’m always right.
Toodles and smoochies! xx