Friday, December 30, 2011

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

I wish you all perfect health and happiness for 2012. And maybe a little extra money too.



I'll be dieting (again) in the new year. My pants are too tight now. Not good. I need to work on my kids too. They're getting a little chubby. More vegetables and exercise for them.

How I Make Grilled Cheese

Sandwiches are what's for dinner on the nights when I'm too lazy to make anything else. Here's how I like to make grilled cheese. You can use any bread and cheese that you like. Tonight I used sharp cheddar and rye. Here we go.


For 1 sandwich

Ingredients
2 slices of bread
Some cheese
butter
granulated garlic

Directions
Butter both pieces of bread and sprinkle them with granulated garlic. Place the cheese between the slices with the buttered sides facing out.

Heat a frying pan somewhere between medium and medium low heat. Resist the urge to use higher heat, the bread will burn before the cheese melts. Just be patient.

Place the sandwich on the pan and cook until the first side is lightly golden. Flip the sandwich carefully trying not to lose any of the cheese in the process. Cook it until the second side is golden and the cheese has melted. Let it cool slightly before you eat it or you'll burn your tongue.

There you have it. A grilled cheese that almost tastes like garlic bread.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Magic Cookie Bars

This recipe is so easy even my 4 year old can assemble it.


The other little helper is hiding in the back there.




The chewy edges are the best part!


makes 12 squares

Ingredients
1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup margarine, melted
1 cup chopped walnuts
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup butterscotch chips
1 1/2 cups flaked coconut
1 1/3 cups sweetened condensed milk

Directions
Preheat oven to 350F

Pour the melted margarin into a  9 x 13 inch pan (or use 2 square ones like I did). Sprinkle the graham crumbs over the margarine trying to keep them even.

Next place the chopped nuts on top followed by the chocolate and butterscotch chips and finally the coconut. Pour the condensed milk over the top. Try to get it near the edges. They will brown nicely and get a bit chewy (this was my favourite part).

Bake for about 25 minutes or until lightly brown on top. Cool before cutting into squares.

Recipe from Allrecipes.com.


My Latest Bargain

Only $5 after the season clearance!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

No Bake Cheesecake

Everybody loves these! There's no baking involved and they are inexpensive to make. Cream cheese costs a fortune these days. When it's on sale I buy at least 4. You never know when you need to whip up dessert! Each cake uses just one package of cream cheese. A New York style cheesecake uses how many? Cherry always goes first by the way!


2 cheesecakes

Ingredients
2 graham pie crusts (I use store-bought)
2 8oz packages cream cheese, softened
2 packets lemon Jello (you can use sugar free)

1 tablespoon grated lemon zest (optional but yummy!)
2 cups heavy whipping cream

1 can pie filling (we like cherry)

Directions
Beat the cream cheese, Jello and lemon zest on medium speed until lumps disappear.


Add whipping cream and start on low. Once combined with cheese, turn the mixer up to high speed and whip until it's stiff and fluffy.

Pour the mixture into prepared graham shells and top with pie filling. Chill for several hours until firm. You will be able to slice it once it sets.

Tip: You could use any flavour of Jello and pie filling to come up with your own combination.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

No Bake Chocolate, Peanut Butter, Oatmeal Cookies

These were so easy and I whipped them up in no time! No eggs, no flour, NO BAKING! Fabulous! You can make individual cookies, but I just spread the mixture into a pan and cut it into squares later.




12 servings

Ingredients
3/4 cup and 2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup butter
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
1-1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cups Rice Krispies
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Directions
Combine sugar, milk, butter and cocoa in a pot over medium high heat. Whisk until it's smooth and starts to boil. Cook for 1 1/2 minutes.

Remove from the heat and stir in peanut butter until well mixed. Stir in oats, cereal and vanilla.

Spread onto a parchment lined pan and allow to firm up. Add sprinkles immediately after spreading if you want to get fancy. It won't take long to set. Cut them into squares with a sharp knife.

Adapted from allrecipes.com. I made 1/2 a batch. It was plenty.

White Hot Chocolate

One of my favourite things to order from the coffee shop is white hot chocolate. Who says you can't make it at home?



2 servings

Ingredients
2 cups 2% milk
1 teaspoon instant coffee
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons white sugar
2 oz white chocolate chopped (or chips)


Directions
In a small pot on medium heat, heat milk with all ingredients except chocolate. Stir frequently. Once milk is hot add chocolate and stir until melted. Dust with cocoa, cinnamon or top with whipped cream.

Mexican Hot Chocolate - Rachael Ray


Right now I'm drinking Nutella Hot Chocolate, but if you're looking for another rich cozy drink, try this Mexican Hot Chocolate! Yum yum yum! 


2 servings


Ingredients
2 cups 2% milk
4oz semi sweet chocolate, chopped
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon chile powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch salt

Directions
In a pot, heat milk over medium heat. Try not to scorch it. Add other ingredients and stir until chocolate is melted and mixture is hot.
Add whipped cream to the top if you want. I didn't have any the day I made this but it would have been nice!

This one's from Rachael Ray.

Linking To


Monday, December 19, 2011

Nutella Hot Chocolate

Okay, I'm pretty sure this is what they're drinking up at the North Pole and that's why the elves are so happy! I didn't have half & half or whipped cream, but I did have marshmallows! My only suggestion is that no matter how excited you are about tasting this, wait until it cools a bit. I was impatient and burned my tongue. This is a rich and delicious hot chocolate. At 100 calories per tablespoon of Nutella .... well who's counting? It's Christmas!


Makes 1 serving

Ingredients
1 cup milk
2 1/2 tablespoons Nutella
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa
pinch of salt
whipped cream or marshmallows
sprinkles to make it look pretty

Directions
Place the milk, Nutella, cocoa and salt in a small pot over medium heat. Cook stirring with a whisk until it's well combined and hot.

Pour into a mug and top with whipped cream or marshmallows and sprinkles. Enjoy with a cozy blanket and a good book.

I got this recipe from The Daily Smash.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Liebster Blog Award - For Me?!

I got an award from Little Mommy Big Appetite. It was a nice surprise and much appreciated!


The Liebster (German for dearest, beloved or favourite) Blog award is given to blogs with less than 200 followers (that's me). 

Thank you Little Mommy for including me in your 5!

Do you want to give a little Christmas present to some of your favourite bloggers too?

  • Copy the award and post it on your blog.
  • Thank the giver and link back to the blogger who gave it to you.
  • Post 5 of your favourite blogs (with less than 200 followers) and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog. This part will be hard. I love so many!
  • Hope that followers will spread the love to other bloggers.

Here are the 5 fabulous blogs that I want to share with you today.

It's very festive over there right now! I have to go and catch up on some pinning after I finish this post!
You will need your coffee and cookies for this one. There are a lot of wonderful recipes so get pinning!
A new post today for Nutella Hot Chocolate! I'm SO pinning that!
Pin Pin Pin!! The lasagna soup is making me drool!
And for dessert, Andes mint surprise cookies! Who am I kidding, there are wonderful things worth pinning on all of these blogs!

Here I go to pin away! And won't you please visit the blogs above?! I have so many favourites, I wish I could choose them all!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Angel Crisps - Cookies

These are one of my favourite cookies ever! I can only explain the flavour as being like those yellow cookies you get at a Chinese restaurant ... not the fortune cookies, the round yellow ones. These are SO good! I use a small cookie scoop but you can make them bigger. If you like crisp cookies, then you need to make these! Even if you don't like crisp cookies, you still need to make these! I'm always looking for chewy cookies, but I really love these!



Makes about 40 cookies

Ingredients
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup white sugar for decoration

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400F and place rack one level above the centre.
In a large bowl, cream together butter, shortening, brown sugar, and 1/2 cup white sugar until smooth. Beat in the egg, and stir in the vanilla. Combine the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt; beat into the creamed mixture.

Use a small cookie scoop to make balls. Roll the balls in sugar and place them on to baking sheets about 2" apart. Flatten slightly with your hand.

Bake for 7-8 minutes or until they start to turn golden. Cool on wire racks.

Tip: The original recipe called for a higher oven temperature but I followed the recipe with the first batch and they burned. I lowered the temperature and raised the rack a notch and they were perfect.


Adapted from allrecipes.com.

Brownie Roll-out Cookies

I didn't know until I started making these, that I didn't have enough cocoa. I had just over half the amount needed so I added a few tablespoons extra flour. They still turned out great! I decorated with melted chocolate to make them look festive. I also rolled them a little thinner than normal because I wanted to get more cookies out of the dough to bring to work and daycare. Unfortunately, I didn't count them. Everyone enjoyed them!



Ingredients
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup unsalted butter

1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa

melted chocolate or icing

Directions
Sift flour, salt, baking powder and cocoa. Set aside. Mix butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla with a whisk or mixer just for a minute or two. It doesn't need to be super fluffy or anything.

Add flour mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until it forms a ball. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least one hour.

Preheat the oven to 350F and line a baking sheet with parchment.

Roll out cookie dough on floured counter. 1/4 inch is a good thickness but mine were about 1/8th. I would have liked them thicker. Next time!

Place them on the cookie sheet and bake for about 8-10 minutes or until they just start to turn golden around the edges.

Cool on wire racks. I melted chocolate coating chips and tinted it green, then sprinkled with green sugar. You can decorate them however you like, or don't decorate them at all!

Adapted from smitten kitchen.



Pavlina's Christmas Cake

This is a wonderful dense cake full of dried fruit and topped with chocolate. It's NOT fruit cake. I don't like fruit cake myself, but this is completely different! It's perfect for breakfast and would make a great gift too!

Here's the one I made.

Here's the one Pavlina made for us last Christmas.
I ate it for breakfast the next morning and decided I had to have the recipe.
 
Jan 1, 2013 : Pavlina made her cake again this year.
This time I took a picture of the inside for you.


12-16 servings

Ingredients
3 eggs
1/2 cup white sugar
4 tablespoons milk
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
½ cup melted butter (cooled)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
½ cup chopped walnuts
zest of one lemon and one orange
1 cup chopped dried fruit and candied citrus peel
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350F.

Beat eggs with sugar on high speed until fluffy. Add milk, oil, melted butter and vanilla. Mix by hand.

In a separate bowl, mix flour, cinnamon, baking powder, zests, dried fruit and walnuts. Add to egg mixture and mix by hand until creamy.

Put the mixture into a buttered bundt pan.

Bake for 20-30 minutes then reduce the heat to 325F and bake another 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 1/2 hour before removing from pan.

Melt chocolate chips in the microwave for about 60 seconds. Stir and spread over the cake once it's cool. Decorate with sprinkles if desired.

Note: I used a combination of raisins, dried figs, dried apricots and candied orange peel. Cranberries would also be nice!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Cranberry Hootycreeks - Cookies in a Jar

This is a fabulous cookie in a jar recipe. It makes a wonderful gift for teachers or to take with you when visiting. Our schools and daycares are all nut free, so instead of using pecans, I used a layer of semi sweet chocolate chips instead. But you can use pecans at home.



Ingredients
5/8 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup white sugar
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup white chocolate chips

1/2 cup chopped pecans (or 1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips)

To make this, the recipient will need additional ingredients
1/2 cup butter, soft
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla


Directions
Layer the dry ingredients in a 1liter jar in the order listed. Decorate the jar if you like and attach a tag with the following directions.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, beat together 1/2 cup softened butter, 1 egg and 1 teaspoon of vanilla until fluffy.

Add the jar of ingredients, and mix with a wooden spoon until well combined.

Drop using a small cookie scoop, onto the prepared baking sheet.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or just until edges start to brown. They should look slightly undercooked but they will be perfect once they cool. Transfer to wire racks to cool.

An alternate method to make these at home (without putting the ingredients in a jar of course)
Beat sugars and butter until well combined. Add egg and vanilla and beat again until fluffy. Mix dry ingredients except cranberries, chips & nuts. Mix well then add the cranberries, chips & nuts. Mix until just combined. Use a small cookie scoop or drop by the heaping teaspoon full onto parchment lined cookie sheets. Bake until the edges start to brown. Remove them when they still look a bit undercooked so they stay chewy once they're cool.

Tip: You can use any combination of dried fruit, chocolate chips and nuts that you like. Good for freezing!

Adapted from allrecipes.com. 

Marbleized Crayons - Gift Idea

Occasionally I like to post fun ideas for kids. This time I was looking for something easy to make for my girls to take to daycare for their friends. I found this idea online of course. You can use any silicone mold you like. They come in various shapes. I happened to have mini muffin silicone molds already and I wasn't using them for muffins so they worked out perfectly for this project. Apparently this also works with mini metal cake molds but I haven't tried that.



I packaged the crayons in little baggies with a mini candy cane and a note saying Merry Christmas. I forgot to take pictures of the finished bag. Oops. My note also included a line which states that these are crayons so please don't eat them. I put them in the kids' cubbies so the parents could see them first and read the note. You never know with these little ones, they might think these are made of chocolate.



This is also a great way to use up broken crayons. I used new ones though. You can use any brand you like. The first night I had 5 boxes of 24 crayons (the Wal-Mart brand). If you do the math, that totals 120 crayons. Each mold took 2 1/2 crayons so I ended up with 48 crayons. The second night I used a combination of Disney crayons and Crayola. The Crayola were the hardest to peel (without a blade). Their paper is like construction paper and rips too easily but not in a good way.







Also, when you go to restaurants, bring home the crayons that they give the kids and start a collection. When you have enough, break them up and make these! The restaurant will only throw them away anyway.

What you need
Silicone molds
Crayons
Sharp blade

Procedure
Preheat the oven to 225F.

Remove the paper from the crayons. I sliced a line from top to bottom with a blade. It was 100 times easier but be careful!! The blade is very sharp, if you're working too fast or not paying attention you might slice your finger off! Or you could just peel them but it takes much longer.

Break the crayons into pieces. I was able to break mine into 4 or 5 pieces. 

Place the broken pieces into the molds filling them at least half way up. Try not to have any crayons hanging over the edge, you don't want them dripping over when they melt. You can match colours or get totally wacky.

Bake the crayons for about 15 minutes or until they're completely melted. Remove them from the oven. You can put them in the freezer if you have room but it's really cold here right now (since it's winter and all) so I put mine outside and they were hard in less than 10 minutes.

Pop them out of the mold and repeat the process until all the crayons are used up.

Check these out. I got the idea from these blogs.
My Favorite Finds
Elle's Studio
Making Memories
The Pumpkin Patch

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Kourabiedes (Greek Shortbread Cookies)

I made these cookies to bring to work today. One of the companies we work with provided us with a holiday lunch of delicious Greek food, so I wanted to make a Greek dessert to go with it. I got this recipe from my friend Nathalie. Yes, she's Greek! She also taught me a little trick on how to make the crescent shapes quickly. The number of cookies will really depend on the size you make them and the thickness of the dough. You can use any shape cookie cutter or even just make rounds.


Whipped sugar and butter.








Makes about 75 cookies

Ingredients
1 cup powdered sugar
1lb (2 cups) butter, softened
2 large egg yolks
1/4 cup brandy, whisky (even ouzo or rum would do)
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup roasted almonds, finely chopped
rose water (optional)
extra powdered sugar for coating

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment and spread out about 1 cup of powdered sugar on a tray.

On low speed, mix 1 cup of the powdered sugar with butter for about 3 minutes until fluffy. Add egg yolks, brandy and vanilla. Beat until well blended.

Mix flour and baking powder. Using a wooden spoon, mix flour mixture into the butter mixture until crumbly. Add almonds and mix until a ball forms.

Roll the dough out to about 1/2" thick (I think mine were a bit thinner, but it still worked). Use a glass or a round cookie cutter to cut crescent shapes (see the image above). Place the crescents on the baking sheet and bake for about 8 minutes or until very lightly golden.

Remove the cookies from the oven and immediately spray or brush on some rose water if you're using it. Let the cookies sit for 2 minutes then transfer the warm cookies to the tray covered with powdered sugar. Dust the tops generously with more powdered sugar. Let them cool.

Repeat the cutting, baking and coating with sugar until the dough is gone. You can keep re-rolling it.