Monday, December 31, 2012

Easy 2 Layer Mint Fudge

This year I made fudge to go with our Christmas cookies this year. Fudge is not hard to make! The only think about making mint fudge, is that the flavour of it is powerful enough to make everything else taste minty, so I recommend storing it in a separate container. If you store it with your other goodies, they will taste minty.

If you can't find mint chocolate chips, you can add more mint extract to the semi sweet chocolate chips.



Easy 2 Layer Mint Fudge
Adapted from Taste of Home
Makes 36 squares

Ingredients
2 cups mint chocolate chips
1 can sweetened condensed milk, divided
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
green food colouring

Directions
Line a 8x8 or 9x9 pan with foil and butter it. I think my pan was 8x8.

I used the microwave because it's faster. In a microwave safe bowl, add the mint chocolate chips, 1/2 the milk and the vanilla and microwave for about 60 seconds on high. Stir it up. Heat it for a few seconds more if the chocolate isn't completely melted, but it should be. Pour this mixture into the pan immediately, and spread with an offset spatula. Work fast, it sets quickly. Put this in the fridge for a minute while you prepare the next layer.

In a microwave safe bowl, add the white chocolate chips with the remaining milk, peppermint extract and food colouring. Heat this for 45 seconds and stir. Pour this immediately over the first layer and spread with your spatula. Work quickly again.

Chill for about 1/2 hour and then using a sharp knife dipped in hot water (and wiped dry), slice into squares. Dip the knife if the hot water and wipe it dry before every new slice. I put the squares into paper cupcake liners and stored the fudge in the fridge until Christmas. I made it a few days before.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Sugar Plums

I know I haven't been blogging much. I've been busy with Christmas stuff, but now that's all over for another year so maybe I can get caught up. I do have to start concentrating on my diet again in the new year though. In the meantime, enjoy this recipe for sugar plums!

This is probably one of the easiest recipes you'll every make, and a nice little sweet to go with your tea. All they really are is dried fruit and nuts. What do you think? Is this a healthier alternative to other sweets? Let's see. I've run the recipe through Spark People just for fun. This is the calculation for 1 sugar plum.

Calories 76.7 | Total Fat 3.3 g | Saturated Fat 0.3 g | Polyunsaturated Fat 2.3 g | Monounsaturated Fat 0.4 g | Cholesterol 0.0 mg | Sodium 0.6 mg | Potassium 124.5 mg | Total Carbohydrate 12.6 g | Dietary Fiber 1.4 g | Sugars 10.0 g | Protein 1.1 g

Oh, and I forgot to buy allspice, but the recipe called for 1/4 teaspoon so you can add it if you want.

To make these vegan, replace the honey with a vegan friendly sweetener.




Sugar Plums
Adapted from Savory Moments
Makes 25

Ingredients
1 cup walnuts, lightly toasted
1 cup pitted and chopped dates
1/2 cup pitted and chopped prunes
1/2 cup pitted and chopped dried apricots
zest of 1 orange
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
pinch of fine sea salt
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 cup sugar (I used turbinado)

Directions
Place all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until it kind of turns into a ball.

I used my small cookie scoop, and then rolled the balls between my hands before rolling them in sugar.

I made mine a few days before Christmas and stored them in the fridge, although I'm not sure refrigeration is necessary.

Peanut Butter Cookies with Milk Chocolate Chips

We made these delicious cookies as part of our Christmas Cookie selection this year. They were soft and chewy and did I mention delicious? I froze some and once they were thawed, they were just as soft as the day they were made.

The recipe made a lot of cookies though! It says 24 but we got 70, and they weren't small either! Next time we'll definitely have to cut the recipe in half. My cousin baked her little heart out this year, as you'll see in the images below. There were 3 of us baking this year and we had to send cookies home with everyone, but still couldn't get rid of them all. I dropped off a giant container of cookies to work a few days later, because I knew my co-workers would never say no to food. I wasn't there to see how it went though, because I was on vacation all week.




This is not all of it either! See below, Pavlina also made a few things to add to the collection.

I have already posted some of these recipes.
And I'll be working on posting some of the new recipes shortly.

Pavlina brought her Christmas Cake and a few other delicious treats! It took me days to be able to taste everything! I brought some home because there was no way I could taste everything on Christmas. I also made a cheesecake because I know it's my mom's favourite.


Peanut Butter Cookies with Milk Chocolate Chips
Recipe from WebMD
Makes 70 cookies

Ingredients
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup milk chocolate chips

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350F and line a cookie sheet with parchment or a silicone liner.

Sift flour, baking soda and salt in a bowl. Set aside.

Beat butter with both sugars on medium speed for about 3 minutes until fluffy.

Scrape down the bowl and then add the eggs one at a time, beating until combined.

Add vanilla and peanut butter and beat again until combined.

Add the flour mixture and beat on low just until combined.

Use a wooden spoon to stir in the chocolate chips. You're supposed to chill it for a few hours now, but I must have missed that step. I'll leave that up to you.

Using small cookie scoop or spoon, drop the dough on to the prepared cookie sheets and flatten slightly with your fingers.

Bake for about 8 minutes or until lightly golden around the edges. They will brown quickly so watch them. I had a few trays that I forgot about and they got a little darker.

Let them sit on the pan for a few minutes until you're able to transfer them to the wire rack without breaking them. Cool completely before storing. I froze most of them right away.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Banana Gingerbread Cake with Vanilla Glaze

Well, there were more bananas that were begging to be baked into something. This time I chose to do a banana gingerbread cake and it was great! I used only half the amount of ginger because I didn't want it to be too overpowering. And I made this at my mom's house. So what does that mean? Well, my mom doesn't have a lot of the pantry items that I have in my own kitchen, so I had to leave out some of the spices. 







Banana Gingerbread Cake with Vanilla Glaze
Adapted from Delicious as it Looks
24 servings

Ingredients
Cake
2 large ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 cup 2% milk
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup molasses
2 large eggs
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
Glaze
1 tablespoon 2% milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon melted butter
1 tablespoon corn syrup
1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar

Directions
Preheat the oven to 325F. Spray and flour a 9x13 cake pan (or a loaf pan).

Combine  bananas, milk, oil, molasses, eggs and sugar in a bowl. Whisk until well combined.

Combine flour, ginger, cinnamon, salt and baking soda and stir into the wet mixture just until combined.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and bake for about 30 minutes or until a tester comes out clean.

Cool the cake completely before adding the glaze.

To make the glaze, simply mix all the glaze ingredients in a bowl, and spread over the cake. You can add more milk or sugar depending on how thick you want your glaze to be.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Chocolate Banana Cake with Chocolate Ganache

Somehow I always have brown bananas sitting around. My kids like bananas but they never seem to eat them all no matter how many I buy. I usually only buy about 6 at a time. I like mine when they’ve just passed the green stage, but I don’t like to eat them once they’ve gone completely yellow, or even worse, when they start to get spotty.

The ganache was extremely rich. It almost reminded me of a mousse, and I definitely felt guilty eating it. I brought this cake to work and put a caution label on the container that the ganache may cause diabetes. A joke of course, but it really was very sweet. The good thing is that I decided to cut ½ cup of sugar out of the cake batter beforehand. You really don’t need to add as much sugar when you’re using ripe bananas, because they’re already sweet. That worked out well in the end.

Ganache is also very easy to make though, and I will definitely make it again, only next time I’ll be using milk chocolate chips instead of semi sweet, because milk chocolate is my favourite. But it’s up to you. If you like dark chocolate I’m sure you could use that too. Or white chocolate chips might also be nice in this recipe.



Chocolate Banana Cake with Chocolate Ganache
Adapted from Joy of Baking
 
24 servings
 
Ingredients
Cake
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 3/4 cups cake (or all purpose) flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 cup mashed bananas (I used 3 medium – very ripe)
1 cup cold water
1/2 cup 2% milk
1/2 cup canola oil
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
Ganache
8 ounces semisweet chocolate (or any chocolate you like)
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Directions
Preheat your oven to 350F and spray/flour a 9x13 baking dish. I didn’t use parchment and my cake popped out of the pan perfectly.

In a large bowl, combine the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt with a whisk (or sift it together).

In another bowl, beat together the eggs, bananas, water, milk, oil and vanilla just for a minute. Stir the wet mixture into the dry mixture with a wooden spoon just until combined, and then pour into the prepared pan. It’ll seem a little runny but it’s okay.

Bake for about 30 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. Cool completely before removing from the pan.

While the cake is cooling, make your Ganache. Place the chocolate in a medium bowl and set aside.

Heat the cream and butter in the microwave for about 1 ½ minutes or until it just starts to bubble. You can do this in pot too. Mix it up and pour over the chocolate. Stir the chocolate with a whisk until it’s melted into the hot cream. Now set this aside to cool completely. Once cool, beat the mixture for several minutes until it gets thick and creamy. I beat mine by hand with a whisk and it took about 5 minutes or so. I was too lazy to pull out the mixer, but I bet it would be faster!

Now, if you want to leave your cake whole then just remove it from the pan and spread the Ganache over it. If you want to get a bit fancier like I did, cut the cake into squares (I also cut off the edges) and pipe the Ganache on. I liked the look of the coloured sugar, but I used sprinkles on some pieces as well.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Christmas Cookie Round-up

Are you still trying to decide what to make for your cookie trays? I think I know what I'll be putting on mine this year. The past few years my cousin has been taking over half the cookie baking. We discuss who will make what each year. I'm still not 100% sure what I'm going to make yet, but time is running out! And some stores are out of cream cheese. Can you believe it?!

Here are some delicious cookie recipes that you might want to consider.

Chewy Coconut Cookies
Healthy Breakfast Cookies
Banana, Chocolate Chip, Oatmeal Cookies (no sugar, no flour, no eggs)
Eat Shrink and Be Merry Peanut Better Gingersnaps
Raisin Cookies
Robin Hood Chocolate Chip Cookies
Best, Big, Fat Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
Emelia's Fiesta Cookies
Spooky Witches Fingers
Almond Spritz with Raspberry Jam
Angel Crisps
Gingerbread Cookies
Cranberry Hootycreeks
Soft and Chewy Peanut Butter Cookies
Chocolate Almond Wrapped Dried Fruit Biscotti ( Whole Wheat )
Double Duty Chocolate Chip and Raisin Cookies (Whole Wheat)
Saffron Infused Cinnamon Raisin Biscotti
The Best Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
Chocolate Chip Rugelach Cookies
White Chocolate Raspberry Slice Cookies
Sugar Cookie Cutouts
Kourabiedes (Greek shortbread)
Brownie Roll-out Cookies
No Bake Chocolate, Peanut Butter, Oatmeal
Small Batch Mint Chocolate Cookies
Small Batch Peanut Butter Cookies
Peanut Butter Nutella Cookies
Small Batch Brown Sugar Cookies
Soft Sugar Cookies

Friday, December 7, 2012

Soft Sugar Cookies

Apparently the Crazy Cooking Challenge has ended, but I must have missed that bit of information somehow. That's a shame. I really enjoyed participating every month. This month we were scheduled to make sugar cookies, so I did.

If you like sugar cookies, then you'll probably like these. Even though I added some nutmeg to the recipe, I still found them a little blah. Every year I make a batch of rolled sugar cookies for the kids to decorate, but I always put them on the cookie trays I'm giving away so I don't have to eat them! They really look pretty, but I'd rather have something more decadent. So here you go, a recipe for soft sugar cookies, that taste like sugar cookies! I adapted this recipe from Allrecipes.





Soft Sugar Cookies
Makes 48 cookies

Ingredients
2 3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 1/4 cup unsalted butter
2 cups white sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
extra sugar for rolling

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

Combine flour, baking soda, salt and nutmeg in a bowl and set aside.

Combine the butter and sugar in a mixer and mix on medium speed for 2 minutes until creamy. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix for another minute. Then I added the dry ingredients all at once and mixed just until combined. Remember to scrape down the bowl now and then.

Take walnut sizes scoops of dough and roll them into balls. Roll the balls in sugar and place them on the baking sheet about 2" apart. Flatten the balls just a little with your hand.

Bake for 12 minutes or until they start to turn golden around the edges.

Let the cookies cool for a minute on the baking sheet before transferring them to a wire wrack.



Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Healthier Banana Blueberry Muffins

I like making things in muffin tins. Sweet muffins, egg muffins, pizza muffins or any other kind of muffin you can think of. Muffins are so easy to grab when you need to run out the door. How about making them a little healthier by using whole wheat flour and adding some oats and flax?

Enjoy your breakfast my friends!


 

Healthier Banana Blueberry Muffins
12 servings

1 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup large flake oats, ground
1 tablespoon flaxseeds, ground
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 milk
1/4 cup orange juice
2 bananas, mashed
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup blueberries
1/4 cup chopped nuts (optional)
Directions
Preheat the oven to 350F and line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, ground oats, ground flax, baking powder, baking soda and brown sugar. Your family will never know there's oatmeal and flax in here.
In a seperate bowl, combine the oil, milk, orange juice, egg and vanilla with a fork until well combined.
 
Now, combine the wet and dry ingredients with a wooden spoon, being careful not to over mix.

Finally, stir in the berries and nuts.

Bake for about 20 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. Let the muffins cool. I like muffins when they're completely cool, but you can eat them warm if you like them that way.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Small Batch Brown Sugar Cookies

Tonight I decided to try making a cookie without eggs and the result was delicious! When I first took them out of the oven (and let them cool slightly) they were crispy on the outside and chewy in the middle. As I let them sit they got crispier but the flavour of these cookies is so fabulous that it doesn't matter! Normally chewy cookies are what I like, but I think this cookie could be one of my new favourites.

 
 
I'm adding this new photo December 30th 2012.
I made this recipe again but I tried to double it for Christmas. I think I may have measured something incorrectly because they were completely different from the first time (as shown above). They were delicious though, and I wish I knew what I did wrong so I can do it again! The inside was like a chewy Pillsbury cookie, and the outside was kind of lacy and crisp.
 


Small Batch Brown Sugar Cookies
Servings: 15 cookies

Ingredients
1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
extra brown sugar for rolling (optional)

Directions
Preheat the oven to 375F and line a cookie sheet with parchment.

In a medium bowl, beat the butter and sugar together with a wooden spoon. I only beat it for about 30 seconds. Add the dry ingredients and mix to combine.

Using a small cookie scoop, make balls of dough and roll them in extra sugar if you want to. I rolled some in sugar and left some without it but really couldn't tell the difference once they were baked. Place them about 2" on the prepared baking sheet (they will spread out a lot) and flatten them slightly with your fingers.

Bake for about 10 minutes or until the edges start to turn golden. You'll have to leave them on the baking sheet for at least a minute to firm up before transferring to a wire rack.

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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

My Mom's Traditional Bread Stuffing - Crazy Cooking Challenge

We usually eat turkey twice a year in my family. Thanksgiving and Christmas of course. Well, here in Canada we've already celebrated our thanksgiving (in October), and my mom has informed me that she won't be making a turkey for Christmas this year. WHAT??? She said that she wants to try stuffing chicken breasts instead since they'll cook faster. The turkey always takes the longest and we end up eating really late because of it. But phew, for a second I thought she wasn't going to give us stuffing. She will, it'll just be inside the chicken instead of the turkey.

My mom has always makes the same stuffing and I love it. Lots of sage in there. I guess the flavour is a bit strong for some people, but not for me. Bring it on! One thing about my mom, is that she prefers to use dried herbs, but you could always use fresh if you like. She also uses water, but I would say chicken stock would be even better!

You may need to make more or less depending on the size of your bird. This amount will stuff a 15-20lb turkey. I think that's what we usually get.

And don't forget to eat your veggies too!

I like the part of the stuffing that's sticking out of the turkey. It gets nice and crispy.


My Mom's Traditional Bread Stuffing
8-10 Side Servings

Ingredients
10 slices white bread
3 celery stalks, diced
1 large onion, diced
1/4 cup butter
1 teaspoon dried sage (or more)
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
Salt
Pepper
Water or chicken stock

Directions
You can let your bread dry out for a few days before the big event, or toast it on 300F oven for 15-20 minutes until its dry, but you don't need to get it too brown. Definitely try not to burn it! Once dry/toasted, break it into bite size pieces and set aside.

Over medium heat, fry the celery and onions in butter for about 8 minutes or until softened. Stir in all the spices and cook for another minute. Now, stir in the bread.

A little at a time, start adding the water or stock. You want it to come together, but not to be really gloopy because it'll continue to absorb liquid once it's in the bird in the oven. Allow your stuffing to cool completely before stuffing your turkey. You can also place the stuffing in a casserole dish and cook it on the side for 20-30 minutes. But you'll need to add more liquid or it may be too dry.


Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Recent Lunch Boxes and Muffin Tin Meals

Here are a few more ideas for lunch and dinner.

I love feta for breakfast.

That's slow cooker chicken with peppers and tomatoes on the top left.

The kids really enjoy the variety of these muffin tin meals.

Meatloaf.

Cake Mix Chocolate Chip Blondies

I know I keep saying that I'm not baking anything else before Christmas, but I just can't help myself. These Chocolate Chip Blondies are made with a box of cake mix. Very easy to do. The first day the texture is like a dense cake, and the second day they end up as something in between dense cake and a cookie. But they were delicious. I adapted this recipe from Girl Meets Life. But I'm not into sprinkles too much so I left them out and used semi sweet chips instead.





Cake Mix Chocolate Chip Blondies
12-15 servings

Ingredients
1 box white cake mix
1 large egg
1/4 cup canola oil
1/3 cup milk (or water)
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350F and line an 8x8 or even a 9x13 inch glass dish with parchment. Spray with cooking spray.

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl until well combined, then pour the batter into the prepared pan. The batter will be thick. Use a spatula to spread it out as evenly as possible.

Bake for 20-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely before cutting into 20 squares or they'll fall apart.


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HAPPY HALLOWEEN


No More Weight Watchers Points

I’ve been on weight watchers since late June. While I’m happy to report that I’ve lost about 17lbs so far, I’m really getting bored with having to calculate points. That’s probably one of the reasons why I haven’t been making a lot of new recipes lately. It’s annoying having to calculate every recipe to get the points value before I eat it. Calorie counting is easier and a lot of recipes from cookbooks, magazines and websites already include nutritional information. So I’m switching back to My Fitness Pal. I love their app too. It allows you to scan barcodes from packages and place the items right into your tracker. Now if Weight Watchers had that feature, they may have been able to keep me longer, but they don’t so I’m moving on.

I went for my physical today and for once my doctor didn't have to give me crap about losing weight. He noticed that I lost some and told me he was trying to lose a bit himself using My Fitness Pal. What a coincidence! Although he never really seemed overweight to me to begin with.

Speaking of cookbooks and magazines; I just re-organized my bookshelves. I saved my favourite magazines and am in the process of pinning recipes from the ones that I don’t care as much about. That way, I can get rid of a lot of them and clear some space. As you can see from the after photo, I managed to get everything onto one bookcase. I recycled a lot of magazines too. i thought about saving them to make paper beads, but the goal here was to get rid of the clutter. Not have it stick around. The cookbooks stay. I probably won’t be buying any more for awhile though. My shelves look like they're gonna collapse soon.
 
 
 
 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Muffin Tin Meals

Muffin tin meals are very cool! I've made 2 so far and my kids love them. I use the free printable planner page from Second Story Window. I love how this planner has all the food groups listed at the top. You check them off to make sure you've included something from each group in your meal.

I've got a bento/ muffin tin meal Pinterest board going as well. Whenever I come across meal ideas I pin them of course.

So far, I'm keeping it simple. I chose 6 cup muffin tins and some silicone liners. You can use all sorts of food picks and bento supplies to make your meals fancier or with a theme. There's also a great printable list with lunchbox ideas from Meet The Dubiens. But bento and muffin tin meals don't have to be just for lunch. My kids don't eat lunch at home during the week, so muffin tin dinners it is!

Here are the muffin tin meals I've made so far.

Pork ribs (that I removed from the bone to save myself a mess later), steamed broccoli, strawberries, frozen peas & corn (they love this), drinkable yogurt, goldfish.

Cheese, yogurt, rice cakes, turkey, crab apple, brussles sprouts. My kids like vegetables!
 
So you can see we've got our protein, dairy, carbs, fruits and vegetables. And they can be a combination of warm and cold foods. But keep the cheese away from the sprouts unless you want it to warm up.
 
There's a blank space on the planning page. Probably for dessert. Well, I don't know about your kids, but I'm sure dessert would be the first thing my kids pick off the plate so... better to leave dessert off the menu until they're a little older and understand that dessert comes last.
 



Get the planning sheets.



Get the list.




Follow my bento/ muffin tin meal board on Pinterest.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Peanut Butter Nutella Cookies

I just made these in between loads of laundry. They were delicious! Probably not that Weight Watchers friendly though. I've been slipping the past few weeks with all the baking I've been doing. Time to stop until closer to Christmas. Or at least bake more low fat items instead.

I told my cousin to take this recipe and use 1/2 cup Peanut butter and 1/2 Cup Nutella, then tell me what happened. She said they still turned out great and her co-workers enjoyed them. So there you go. You can change the ratio of peanut butter to Nutella and still come up with a delicious cookie!









Peanut Butter Nutella Cookies
26 cookies | PointsPlus per Cookie: 2

Ingredients
1 large egg
3/4 cup peanut butter (I used smooth)
1/4 cup Nutella
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup large flake oats

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

Combine all ingredients in a bowl with a wooden spoon, until well combined.

Using a small cookie scoop (or teaspoon), place cookie dough 1-2 inches apart on the prepared sheet.

Bake for 10 minutes. They were perfect at 10 minutes for me, but the middle should just be past that under-cooked looking stage.

Remove them from the oven and let them sit on the cookie sheet for 2 minutes or until you can lift them off with a spatula without breaking them. Cool on wire racks.

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