bear’s 5th birthday :: the chirp cake

my son is very particular about his birthday cakes. he chooses and plans what he wants and then DH and i are in charge of making these wishes come into fruition. luckily for us, bear’s wishes are not outrageous or complicated. in fact, they’re adorably simple. for his third birthday he wanted a car cake. for his fourth birthday, he wanted a triangle cake.

and, this year for his 5th birthday he wanted a chirp cake, as in chirp the wee yellow bird from chirp magazine.

this recipe is directly from the joy of cooking. any modifications we made are marked with an asterisk.

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp salt

2/3 vegetable oil
3 large eggs *we used boxed egg substitute
1 1/2 cups shredded carrot
1 cup chopped walnuts *DH has a srious walnut allergy, so we use sunflower seeds instead
1 cup golden raisins
(1/2 cup canned crushed pineapple)this is optional and we never include the pineapple


1. preheat oven to 350F, grease and flour you pan.
2. whisk together the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
3. whisk together the wet ingredients in a bowl, then with a rubber spatula, stir into the flour mixture until just combined.
4. stir in the rest of the ingredients.
5. scrape batter into your pan, ensuring it has spread evenly. 
6. baking time depends on your pan size/ dimensions. we used a 9 inch round cake pan and the cake baked for about 35 minutes.
7. let cool before applying icing, if so desired.

each month the magazine is complied together with a theme. one month it was BIRTHDAYS and there was a recipe for a chirp cake. bear saw it and immediately came running to me excitedly saying that that was the cake he wanted. we tweaked it a little; instead of donuts for eyes we used a puddle of icing and plopped blueberries for the pupils. we used dried pear slices for the beak. and the inside was yummy, egg free carrot cake. delish!!!

the kid was so happy, delighted and proud. he and lion actually worked hard with dear hubby with the mixing of all of those ingredients. i love that the kids are so eager to be involved!

xo, mama lola

blueberry & strawberry muffins.

lion and i baked some yummy muffins. i love to have his help in the kitchen. he is so determined to mix and stir everything for me! so sweet!

this time i used blueberries and strawberries, but i have also used pears, apples, dried cranberries, dried apricots and banana’s in this recipe. really just depends what you have on hand, and what flavours you want to mix together. the recipe calls for 1/2 cup of sugar, which i think is a bit much, so i often reduce that and add some extra fruit. delish!


1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup rolled oats
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg (or egg replacer of choice)
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter
1/2 tsp vanilla
3/4 fruit finely chopped

muffin cups. i prefer the aluminum ones as they peel off of the baked muffins so much easier.


1. preheat oven to 400F.
2. add dry ingredients to a bowl. then, add the wet ingredients. mix well together.
3. add fruit to mix and stir.
4. place muffin cups into the pan. then add muffin dough into the cups. put  a thinly sliced strawberry on top, as a decorative touch!
5. bake until your fork comes out clean, about 15-20 minutes.
6. let cool before taking a yummy bite!

happy baking!

xo, mama lola

delightful strawberry treats!

as we start to move closer to the weekend, here’s a little summer lovin’!

for me, strawberries are a sign of summer. and since we are obviously not going to have a snowy winter (again) and, since i am tired of this winter that turned muddy and brown, i have to admit that i am now yearning for some warmer temperatures and some green grass in my backyard. i know, i know, i’m a winter gal, but there has to be snow for it to feel like winter. and there isn’t so i’m ready for a change.
so, to brighten my spirits and yours, and to warm our toes i thought i would heat things up here at BEAR&LION and get the summer ball rolling… with some STRAWBERRY DELIGHTS!

1. strawberry tea from mandee’s candee shoppe
2.rhubarb strawberry tart from simply gourmet
3. strawberry bruschetta from the curvy carrot
5. strawberry shortcake from epicurean mom
6. strawberry jam from mike’s table

xo, mama lola

rice pudding :: riisi puuro

in finland eating rice pudding/ riisi puuro in and around christmas is very traditional. my boys love it so much, that i’ve extended the yummy stretch and have made the rice pudding into a winter favourite. i often make it on the stove and then the oven, but now that i have my beautiful crock pot i have slow cooked it too, which is kinda easier. no transferring of ingredients etc!


2 cups uncooked sticky rice (or brown rice)
5 cups whole milk
1 tsp salt
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup brown sugar

add all of the ingredients into your slow cooker and cook for 4-6 hours. i cook mine about 4.5 hours.

i got a recipe from vegetarian slow cooker recipes and then tweaked it a bit to suit my tastes. her recipe includes more sugar, raisins, vanilla and lemon zest among other things. i like to keep my rice pudding simple, so that it can be jazzed up with toppings instead.

when i serve the kids their bowls of rice pudding, i sprinkle a tiny bit of sugar and cinnamon, and add a bit of milk. sometimes i will also add some berries or fruit. the kids love this snack, especially for ilta pala, our bedtime snack.

xo, mama lola

oreo cookie and white chocolate bark!

i didn’t get around to posting any of the holiday treats and crafts we got up to this season. but, i have a few easy things i want to share, that aren’t necessarily x-mas related. i will start with this highly addictive (you’ve now been warned) bark. i’ve never made bark before and i was looking on pinterest and came across THIS super easy, super delish recipe at bakers royale.


15 oreo cookies
10-30 oz white chocolate 


1. line your pan with parchment or wax paper, leaving lots of overhang for easy removal at the end.

2. place chocolate in a double boiler over low heat and stir continuously, until chocolate is completely melted. i chopped and shaved the chocolate first, to help speed the melting process.  then, transfer the chocolate to a heat proof bowl and cool for 5 minutes. 

3. add chopped oreos and stir to combine. Pour mixture into pan. use a spatula to smooth out top. sprinkle more oreos on top if desired.

4. let the bark solidify in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. remove from pan, cut up and ENJOY!

i’m salivating just looking at these pics. holy mama, this was easy and yummy!
i made one batch with chopped candy canes sprinkled on top, but that was a bit too sweet (even for me!)
xo, mama lola


that’s right, i took something yummy and easy and added a delicious fall twist to it. i tried to find a recipe to follow, but all the ones i did find required whole pumpkins, and i all i had was half a can of the pureed orange stuff. so, i got creative. i took martha stewart’s apple crisp recipe and made it my own.
i know, ballsy, but i see you wiping that droll off of your chin, just thinking of the yummy goodness! 


3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup rolled oats 
1-1 1/2 sticks of butter
1/2 can of pureed pumpkin
6 medium sized apples
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground clover
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 maple syrup
2 tblsp lemon juice


1. preheat the oven to 375F.

2. peel and chop apples. cut into desired size, bigger sizes generally take longer to cook. (i chopped mine into smaller chunks as it’ll be easier for the kids).
3. in a bowl combine, flour, oats, sugar, salt, cinnamon and cloves. then add the butter and use your (washed hands) to blend the mixture. leave some clumps.
3. in another bowl mix apple chunks, lemon juice and almost all of the pumpkin puree. also, mix in the maple syrup.
4. grease a baking dish, add apple and pumpkin mixture. spread and even out. add remaining pumpkin puree long the edges to avoid burning the apples. then add, the dry topping, spreading it our evenly.
5. bake for one hour. let sit for atleast 10 minutes before serving. add a scoop (or two) of vanilla ice cream.

this dessert was a perfect way to end the week. we had a family movie night watching “ANNIE” while devouring the apple pumpkin crisps with a side of yummy vanilla ice cream. kids loved it, dear hubby loved and so did i!

mmmm…. there’s enough still to enjoy this afternoon!

xo, mama lola

maple pumpkin oat muffins :: oh, my!

i came across this perfect fall, thanksgiving muffin recipe on pinterest. i’m not the biggest pumpkin flavour fan, but there was something about these muffins that made me want to try them. so, i did.

the recipe for the maple pumpkin oat muffins with maple glaze is directly from the hazel bloom.

yield: approx. 12 muffins.


Maple Pumpkin Oat Muffins

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup quick-cooking oats
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon*
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger*
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves*
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg*
  • 1 cup buttermilk (if you don’t have butter milk, take one cup milk and mix in 1tbsp of lemon or white vinegar.)
  • 1/2 cup pure pumpkin puree – canned or homemade
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 egg (i used egg substitute)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Cinnamon-Maple Glaze

  • 1 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, depending on your tastes
  • 3 teaspoons pure maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Line 12 standard (1/3 cup) muffin cups with cupcake liners.
  3. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, pumpkin, maple syrup, brown sugar, oil, egg, and vanilla.
  5. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and whisk just until the ingredients are well incorporated. Try not to overmix!
  6. Bake for about 22 – 25 minutes, until the top of the muffins spring back when poked and a toothpick inserted into the center of one of the muffins comes out clean.
luckily for me, i had some seriously cute help. lion was a wonderful mixer of ingredients!


i skipped the glaze part, as i thought the muffins were sweet enough and the sticky mess from the glaze was not something i wanted to to deal with.we all loved the muffins.
to all my canadian friends, go whip up a batch this weekend for thanksgiving this weekend! yum!

xo, mama lola

ho! ho! holiday traditions!

i am desperately trying to incorporate finnish christmas traditions into our canadian holiday season. i find food is an easy and fun way to do that..

on the weekend i made some joulupuuro, translated as christmas porridge, which i think is basically rice pudding for all you english speakers. i also made some kiisseli to go with it. it’s like a thick fruit soup and you can use any ol’ fruit (fresh or dried), but for this time of year i use dried plums, apples, apricots and raisins. (in the warmer months i sometimes make rhubarb soup and my mom makes a wicked blueberry soup.)

for iltapala (bedtime snack) we each enjoyed a bowl of warm joulupuuro with a big heaping of kiisseli on top. the cinnamon smells wafted through the house adding to the holiday magic at our house.

the instructions are in metric as that’s what the finns use. easy enough to convert if you need to thanks to google!

this is where i got the recipe and directions from.


200 g dried plums
1 l water
3/4 dl sugar

place plums (and other fruit), water and sugar into a large pot. let it simmer on a low heat for 20-30 minutes* or until fruit is soft. add water if needed.

1/2 dl water
21/2 tblsp potato flour/ potato starch
mix water and potatoflour/ potato starch in a bowl. add slowly to pot with steaming fruits and let it simmer for a few minutes.

the amounts are a starting point i find. i didn’t measure my dried fruits, but just grabbed a handful of each and threw them in. i also increased my water and potato flour amounts slightly. the potatoflour is a thickening agent, if you want the soup to be thicker add more potato flour. i also threw in a cinnamon stick and a sprinkle of nutmeg.

* this time may vary depending on how hard your fruit is.

also, we made some more reindeer cookies using chocolate chip ready-made cookie dough. they tasted delish and looked adorable!

time to go and wrap gifts. we haven’t done any yet! yikes!
also, just wanted to mention that i am loving the sirius radio and the all day x-mas music we get to listen to! fun! fun! fun!

xo, mama lola

holiday magic.

i am a real fan of christmas. i have such lovely memories from my own childhood of holidays spent with my family back in finland. my mom would cook an amazing dinner for us to enjoy on christmas eve. we never had turkey, like they serve here, but instead we had a multiple course meal which included glazed ham, fresh fish, possibly some smoked reindeer meat, various vegetables cooked in a variety of ways and of course ample desserts and treats to be nibbled on.  as an adult today, i recognize the efforts she made each year trying to create some holiday magic at our house. and not just with food either; my mom was into making our own decorations and collecting natural treasures, and still is. (*note: i was speaking with a friend who fondly remembers last year’s holiday magic at my parents’ house, so it’s not just me).

joulutonttu, or the christmas elf left some chocolates for the kids in the advent calendar. it was messy and joyful. bear waited years before we gave him chocolate, lion is so lucky to be the second born!

i want my kids to feel the magic of the holidays too. it’s hard though, because my kids are still particularly little and their enthusiasm is very limited. but, still i plough on forward.

today bear and i made these cookies.

i’ve always been terrified of the ready-made doughs you can buy at the grocery store, but when i saw this recipe and saw how cute the cookies were i made an executive decision to ignore my fears and bake on. the simplicity and ease was shocking, but the chemicals still kinda freak me out. that being said, i think we created some holiday magic with this easy baking recipe, no clean up, all around hassle free.

this is the original recipe via pillsbury.
all you need is the cookie dough, they recommend the gingerbread one, but my local store didn’t have any so we used the albino sugar cookie stuff instead. various candies depending on the look you’re going for. we used various M&M colours for eyes and noses etc. the original recipe calls for chocolate chips for eyes, but we like colour in our cookies! also, make sure you get small pretzels. bear was so pleased in the end!

tomorrow i’m taking the kids to see the muppets! can’t wait!
i feel nostalgic already!

xo, mama lola
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