Deception.

January 29, 2011 at 8:19 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Deception. When are you allowed to deceive someone? Is it ever acceptable? What if it was for the greater good? I am very weary of deceiving someone even if it is deemed okay.

The reason I write about deception is because my daughter will not eat vegetables. The only veggie she likes is broccoli (which is the king of vegetables in my humble opinion). So, what is a mother to do?

Well, many people have heard of the cookbook called Deceptively Delicious–a cookbook that I received two years ago and never tried. I didn’t like the idea of duping my kid into eating seemingly healthy foods. However, I needed some artillery to fight this battle and this book was the answer.

Out of the cupboard it came and on to the counter. As I flipped through the pages my eyes set on a brownie recipe. The brownies called for pureed carrots and spinach, which are two of my child’s most hated foods–perfect!

My eyes scanned over the recipe and disappointment spread over my smug deceptive face.

Margarine!?? In a baked good?! Never! I have a problem with margarine that I won’t go into but I will say I don’t believe it is very healthy.

The only option left was to come up with a brownie recipe that wouldn’t comprise flavour yet still allowed for it to be packed with vitamins.

I whipped up the brownies (the purees were a bit time consuming but I made huge batches and froze them in 1/4 cup portions) and their aroma filled with house.

“I smell something!” My daughters eyes widened as she descended the stairs. “I smell chocolate!”

On the counter she could see the brownies and looked at them in her shy, coy manner her mouth open panting in anticipation of tasting something sweet.

“Here, have a brownie sweetie” I said.

My daughter’s eyes gleamed as she bit into the not-too-fudgy but not-too-cakey brownie.

Mmmmm.

They passed the tests but I failed. I had to tell her there were carrots and spinach in them. It didn’t matter in the end, though, they were knowingly delicious.

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Picky Eaters Brownies

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup Dutch-processed cocoa
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 2 oz bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup carrot puree
  • 1/2 cup spinach puree
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 large eggs, 2 egg yolks
  • 1 scant tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups light brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 oz semisweet chocolate chips

Method
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line a 13×9 inch baking pan with aluminum foil so that the sides of the foil hang slightly over the pan. Spray foil with vegetable oil.

Whisk cocoa and boiling water in a large bowl. Add chocolate chips and whisk until they are melted. Whisk in the purees and butter until combined (the mixture will look a bit curdled). Add the eggs, yolks and vanilla. Whisk until smooth.

Whisk in sugar until fully incorporated.

With a spatula, mix in flour and salt until combined.

Fold in chocolate chips.

Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake until brownies are set (when a toothpick is inserted it comes out with moist crumbs)–about 30-35 minutes.

Transfer pan to a cooling rack and cool.

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Compromise on the pies

December 22, 2010 at 7:45 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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I guess I should admit something.  I am a really picky eater.  I have a list of foods in which I won’t eat and another list of foods I won’t even try.  A fan of mushrooms I am not.  Tomatoes? No way!  And don’t get me started on any kind of red meat other than beef.

But the worse of all is pumpkin.  Every autumn and winter pumpkin is seen everywhere creeping its orange goopey-ness into everything from soup to muffins to pies!  I love pie but for at least a decade now I have been deprived from them during the winter holidays because of that menacing squash!

No longer will I stand for a lack of pie consumption during Christmas!  I do, however, understand peoples affinity for a staple (in this case the dreaded pumpkin pie) so I decided on a comprise–sweet potato pie.

When I told my husband I was making sweet potato pie he thought it was a savoury dish and not dessert.  It seems not many people here in this part of Canada have tried sweet potato pie. I believe, that it isn’t that common a dessert in American save the south.  Since I love southern food I thought why not.  Sweet potato pie it was.

Sweet potato pie is similar to pumpkin pie as it uses a lot of the same spices that you will find in pumpkin pie.  Sweet potato pie, however, is a bit lighter, less dense and more importantly not pumpkin.

I chose this recipe because I liked the ingredients the most and I had everything on hand.  What are you waiting for, give sweet potato pie a try!

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Sweet Potato Pie

from Ruth Reichl’s Comfort me with Apples

2 medium sweet potatoes (about 1 1/4 pounds)
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup whole milk
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon dark rum (I omitted this)
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour (I omitted this)
1 unbaked 9-inch pie shell (I used my favourite pie dough recipe)

Method

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Prick the sweet potatoes with a fork and roast them on a shallow baking pan in the middle of the oven until very tender, about 1 1/4 hours. Cool to room temperature. (If preparing the night before, transfer sweet potatoes in airtight container and refrigerate).

Raise the oven temperature to 400°F, and place a shallow baking pan on the bottom rack.

Scoop the flesh from potatoes into a bowl and discard the skins. Mash the sweet potatoes with a fork until smooth. Melt the butter in a small saucepan and stir in the sugar. Add the melted butter mixture to the sweet potatoes with the milk and the eggs and beat with a whisk until smooth. Whisk in the remaining ingredients (the filling will be quite liquid).

Pour the filling into the pie shell.

Carefully transfer the pie to the heated shallow baking pan on the bottom rack of the oven and bake until the filling is just set, about 40 minutes.

Transfer the pie to a rack to cool.

Winter Cold and Holiday feasts

December 21, 2010 at 10:58 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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December 21st is the start of winter. With winter brings the cold weather and also the common cold.

While Jack Frost is nipping, my family and I are sneezing and coughing. We are all sick but we must prevail and not having a holiday feast is not an option.

So, this post will try to detail how to throw a holiday bash while managing a sick family.

When you make a big dinner try and think of dishes that you can make (or partially make) a day or two ahead. Also, try to to find recipes that utilize kitchen appliances other than the oven. When the turkey is monopolizing the oven it is hard to get everything to the table on time.

Here is my holiday dinner plan:

Appetizers (all of these recipes can be whipped up one day ahead of the dinner)
Parmesan Black-Pepper Biscotti
Hummus
Caramelized Onion Dip
Veggie Platter

First Course
Spinach Soup (this can cook all day long in a slow cooker adding ingredients throughout the day)

Side Dishes
Broccoli (simply steamed broccoli with butter, easy and simple. Have broccoli trimmed and cut two days before to make steaming easy)
Yorkshire Pudding (as the turkey is resting, throw these into the oven and once the turkey is carved they will be ready to go)
Parisian Bread-Bacon Dressing (can be semi-prepared the day before)

Main Course
Turkey (brined 24 hours before cooking and make the day of the dinner)

Dessert
Sweet Potato Pie (pie crust made two days before, rolled out the day before wrapped well in plastic wrap. Mashed sweet potatoes made the day before stored in a airtight container)

I will try to post all the recipes I used but my life seems to get so hectic that I can ensure anything.

What I can ensure, however, is that I will definitely post the recipe for sweet potato pie!

Trouble Makers.

November 26, 2010 at 6:04 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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My kids are great. I love them. That being said, they are also little monsters (my three-year-old even insisted on being a monster for Hallowe’en and her favourite movie is Monsters Inc). I think my kids are such trouble-makers so that I can experience what my parents went through.

When I was only a toddler, my brother and I would hatch plans and get into a terrible amount of trouble. Soon after I learned how to walk, I used the drawers in the kitchen to create steps up to counter. There I was able to get the bottle of Flintstones vitamins and hand them to my brother who proceeded to open said bottle–we ate them all.

Another time, we decided that we wanted all the Fudgesicles and Popsicles for ourselves. So, when my mom and dad went to bed we snuck downstairs to the big chest freezer in the basement. My brother lifted me up while I opened the freezer and took the icy treats. We thought we would be smart and save them so we hid them under our pillow. We awoke to my mother’s screams as she saw a melted brown mess spreading from underneath my pillow.

Now, it is my turn.

It seems like every day my daughters stir up trouble. One incident happened just yesterday. I went to the bathroom and I was gone for under 2 minutes only to return to a gigantic mess of cracked eggs and butter smeared over the kitchen floor and on my little angels. Mind you, this was just after then had been given a bath.

Today, they decided to top themselves. My daughter asked me to peel her an orange. My first mistake was turning my back to them. They grabbed one of their chairs from the craft table and placed it near the cabinets. My eldest daughter climbed up and removed the vaseline from the a basket. All the time I was doing this I was thinking “wow, my children are so great. They can play so nicely and quietly together.” That was my second mistake–my girls never play quietly.

Let’s just say that vaseline is a lot harder to clean up than butter and eggs.

Despite the lack of butter and eggs, I knew I had to make some cupcakes today. It was someone’s birthday weekend and I had to deliver some birthday spirit in the form of baked goodies. It was a bit hard to figure out what to make because this person doesn’t really like sweet stuff. So I racked my brain and decided on Gourmet’s dessert of the month, Spiced Applesauce Cake with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting.

Again, this recipe is perfect to satisfy a desire for autumn flavours (and a cinnamon fanatic like myself). Instead of a cake I made cupcakes so that it would be easier to serve and eat.

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SPICED APPLESAUCE CAKE WITH CINNAMON CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
From Gourmet Magazine
Makes 14 cupcakes

FOR CAKE

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened applesauce

FOR FROSTING

  • 5 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Method

For the Cake:
Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Line muffin tin with paper cups or grease.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices.

Beat butter, brown sugar, and vanilla with an electric mixer at high speed until pale and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.

Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in applesauce. At low speed, mix in flour mixture until just combined.

Scoop batter out into muffin tin filling it 3/4 full.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted into centre comes out clean.

Cool in muffin tins for 10 minutes then transfer to cooling rack to cool completely.

For the Frosting:

Beat cream cheese, butter, and vanilla with an electric mixer at high speed until fluffy.

Sift confectioners sugar and cinnamon over cream cheese mixture, then beat at medium speed until incorporated.

Spread frosting over top of cooled cupcakes.

Sometimes Downers can be a good thing.

November 23, 2010 at 2:52 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Wow, my last post was probably one of the most dull posts that ever was. All I can say is that I am very sorry. I don’t know what is wrong with me but I have been feeling extremely drained for the past two weeks.

This exhaustion that I am experiencing is odd because I have always been someone who needs very little sleep. Oh well, such is life I suppose so I shall trek on.

The weather in Whistler has been getting colder and colder. Last night, while I wasn’t sleeping, I heard the constant howling of the wind and rattling of the trees outside. Just the sounds alone sent chills throughout my body. Today, however, didn’t feel so cold so my daughters and I wrapped ourselves up in layers of clothing and ventured out to the market.

At the grocery store we scored some great deals, which included fresh organic cranberries. In light of the upcoming American Thanksgiving I decided to bake a recipe I saw a few months back. To my surprise many other food blogs posted the same recipe today–collective food conscience perhaps? Whatever the case this would be a great dessert alternative for the standard pumpkin pie.

The recipe was featured as a Tuesday’s with Dorie choice in september. I won’t retype the recipe here but, rather, direct you where you can find it (Superfluous: TWD- Cranberry Upside-Downer).

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Whether you are in America celebrating the holidays or in Canada give this recipe a try. It is sure to be a hit and proves that sometimes Downers can be a good thing.

Always room for comfort

November 21, 2010 at 8:41 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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It seems like November has only just arrived but it is already mid-month. Where has the time gone? This month has been extremely busy–the majority of which I spent lying in bed in at my parents’ house in mild pain and sleeping. When I finally returned home, I was struck with the bite of frosty weather.

The weather in Whistler is getting chilly and my house lacks proper insulation. So, I decided I would be efficient and heat the house with my oven while baking something homey for my husband since apparently the bachelorhood he endured while the girls and I were gone made him feel quite lonely.

Apple crisp was the perfect treat for these cool fall days especially for my family because we always equate the dessert with feelings of comfort. This is a straight forward recipe that has always been a hit with our family. Sometimes comfort comes in the simplest of ways. It may not be the prettiest dessert, but it’s sure to warm you up on a cold, wet day.

Mom’s Apple Crisp

10 medium sized apples (macintosh, golden delicious or granny smith) peeled and sliced

2 tbsp granulated sugar

1 tbsp cinnamon

Juice from 1 lemon

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup light brown sugar

1 cup butter, cut into cubes

Method:

Preheat oven to 370 degrees.

In a medium sized bowl toss the apples with granulated sugar, cinnamon and lemon juice. Pour apples into a 9×13 pan and set aside.

In another medium sized bowl, mix flours and sugar together. Then, with a pastry blender (you can also use your hands) cut in the butter until it the butter is coarsely mixed in and is about the size of peas.

Spread the flour mixture on top of the apples evenly and place in preheated oven.

Bake for 45-50 minutes or until the topping is golden brown and you can see the apples mixture at the corners bubbling.

Remove from oven and cool.

Serve with ice cream or on it’s own for breakfast, lunch, dinner or all of the above.

Busy Me

November 7, 2010 at 9:13 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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I bake a lot. I clean a lot. I generally do a lot–at least that is what most people tell me. I often hear “How are you able to do all this stuff?” Honestly, I just don’t like doing nothing (paradoxical I know) or what my husband likes to refer to as relaxing.

As far as I can remember, I have always been keen on doing something as opposed to just sitting around. When I was in secondary school I would finish assignments 2 weeks in advance. At university I felt like I wasn’t busy enough so I took a full load of summer courses and once, during the normal school year, I took 14 courses.

When I became a stay-at-home mom I had a huge void of activity in my life. During nap times and bed times I was at a loss. My husband would constantly tell me that I should just go to bed to get some rest. The problem with that, however, is if I go to bed early I will generally wake up 5 to 6 hours later. I, unlike my husband, do not like my sleep.

So when my husband and children are sleeping and the house is clean and the laundry is folded there is only one more option: baking! Generally, I have no one to bake for but this Sunday I was invited to a baby shower. The items I decided to bring were macarons filled with chocolate cream cheese frosting, buckeyes and a cake.

America’s Test Kitchen is turning out to be my favourite source of recipes. Every recipe I have made from there has proven to be a winner and their yellow cake recipe is no exception. I loved that it didn’t dome in the centre so that it provided a nice even cake and the crumb was nice and tender. I iced the cake with one of my favourite frosting recipes from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking. I filled the middle with chopped up mini hershey cookies and cream and milk chocolate bars (what can I say, I had a bunch of left over hallowe’en candy).

Rich and Tender Yellow Cake
from America’s Test Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 4 large eggs , room temperature
  • 1/2cup whole milk , room temperature
  • 2teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4cups sifted cake flour
  • 1 1/2cups granulated sugar
  • 2teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4teaspoon table salt
  • 1/2pound unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened
  • each stick cut into 8 pieces

Method

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 350
degrees. Generously grease two 9-by-1 1/2-inch cake pans with
vegetable shortening and cover pan bottoms with rounds of parchment
paper or wax paper. Grease parchment rounds, dust cake pans with
flour, and tap out excess.

Beat eggs, milk, and vanilla with fork in small bowl; measure out 1
cup of this mixture and set aside. Combine flour, sugar, baking
powder, and salt in bowl of standing mixer fitted with paddle
attachment; mix on lowest speed to blend, about 30 seconds. With mixer
still running at lowest speed, add butter one piece at a time; mix
until butter and flour begin to clump together and look sandy and
pebbly, with pieces about the size of peas, 30 to 40 seconds after all
butter is added. Add reserved 1 cup of egg mixture and mix at lowest
speed until incorporated, 5 to 10 seconds. Increase speed to
medium-high (setting 6 on KitchenAid) and beat until light and fluffy,
about 1 minute. Add remaining egg mixture (about 1/2 cup) in slow
steady stream, about 30 seconds. Stop mixer and thoroughly scrape
sides and bottom of bowl. Beat on medium-high until thoroughly
combined and batter looks slightly curdled, about 15 seconds longer.
(To mix using hand mixer, whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt
in large bowl. Add butter pieces and cut into the flour mixture with a
pastry blender. Add reserved 1 cup of egg mixture; beat with hand
mixer at lowest speed until incorporated, 20 to 30 seconds. Increase
speed to high, add remaining egg mixture, and beat until light and
fluffy, about 1 minute. Stop mixer and thoroughly scrape sides and
bottom of bowl. Beat at high speed 15 seconds longer.)

Divide batter equally between prepared cake pans; spread to sides
of pan and smooth with rubber spatula. Bake until cake tops are light
golden and skewer inserted in center comes out clean, 20 to 25
minutes. (Cakes may mound slightly but will level when cooled.) Cool
on rack 10 minutes. Run a knife around pan perimeter to loosen. Invert
cake onto large plate, peel off parchment, and re-invert onto lightly
greased rack. Cool completely before icing.

Boiled Frosting
adapted from Baked

Ingredients
1 1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup cream
1 1/2 cups butter, softer but cool. cut into small pieces
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Method
In a medium heavy bottom saucepan whisk together the sugar and flour. Add the cream and milk to the sugar-flour mixture and cook over medium heat. Whisk often and cook until mixture comes to a boil and thickens (approx. 20 minutes).

Pour mixture into the bowl of an electric mixer that is fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat on high speed until cool. Reduce speed to low and add butter. Mix until butter is thoroughly incorporated. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until the frosting is light and fluffy and add vanilla extract.

If frosting is too soft, transfer the bowl to the fridge and chill slightly, then beat again until the proper consistency. If it’s too firm, place bowl over a pot of simmering water and beat with a wooden spoon until it’s the proper consistency.

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Pink Cake with chocolate writing

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Green Macarons

The value of a virtue

October 27, 2010 at 6:07 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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My husband often tells me that I am too intense, which can result in my being impatient.  I have always admitted that I am a Type-A personality.  When I need something done it needs to be accomplished right away.  This philosophy translates into most faucets of my life–exercising, work and even baking.

(Side note: rushing and impatiences are also how I cut off half my finger last week but that is a story no one wants to hear).

The opportunities I have to bake are fleeting.  I usually need to get things done fast or I will be left with half-baked goodies and two weeping children tugging at my limbs. The only problem with my quick forging baking technique is that I get muddle headed and I won’t mix something enough or even worse–I’ll forget an ingredient (sugarless treats are not a pleasant surprise).

Today, however, was a day of change. The girls were content with playing in my pantry and “baking.” So I thought that I would make some macarons. I carefully weighed out all the ingredients ahead of time. I took time to whip the eggs at a slow speed and for them to become glossy and stiff.

Somedays taking time and really relishing in an activity is the most calming and satisfying moment (well, aside from taking that first bite of a delicious macaron).

I made a cinnamon macaron with cream cheese filling for my husband who has been requesting them for the past month.

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Cinnamon Macarons with Cream Cheese filling
adapted from Not So Humble Pie and Baked

yields 50 macarons

Ingredients

  • 60g almond meal
  • 100g powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 50g egg whites
  • 15g granulated sugar
  • food coloring gel
  • Cream Cheese filling (recipe below)

Method

Line 1 heavy gauge aluminum baking sheets with parchment. Prep a piping bag with a round tip.

Sift almond meal, powdered sugar and cinnamon to remove any clumps. (If you own a food processor, I highly recommend blending the almonds and powdered sugar and then sifting.)

Weigh out the egg whites into a large mixing bowl (stainless steel or copper), if you’re using stainless feel free to add a pinch of salt, 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar or couple drops of lemon juice to help strengthen the whites. If you’re using copper you need not and should not add any additional acid.

Weigh out the granulated sugar.

Begin beating the eggs on low speed. What you’re doing here is unraveling the egg white’s proteins (these are what will capture the air bubbles you whisk in), they’re bundled up and you need to gently unwind them. A light touch does this far better than scrambling them on high speed. Once the egg whites are very foamy, begin sprinkling in the sugar as you beat. Increase the speed to medium, if necessary, and beat the meringue to stiff glossy peaks. (If they start looking grainy, clumpy or dry you’ve gone too far.)

Add the food coloring (for the full recipe it usually takes 2-4 drops of gel, for a half batch 1-2 drops does the trick) and mix.

Add about 1/4 of the almond/sugar mixture and fold in until no streaks remain. Continue to add the almond mixture in quarters, folding until you reach the proper batter (the consistency of molten lava).

Pour the batter into your prepared piping bag and pipe rows of batter (dollops a little bigger than a quarter) onto the baking sheets, giving them space to spread.

Tap the pan on the counter to bring up any air bubbles and quickly pop them with a toothpick.

Allow the cookies to rest on a level surface for 30-60 minutes. Until they are no longer tacky to a light touch.

While they rest, place an oven rack in the lower 3rd of your oven and preheat to 280°F.

Bake the cookies for 16-20 minutes.

Remove the cookies from the sheet soon after removing from the oven. If they’re very sticky you may need to allow them to cool a little but ideally they’ll have good bottoms and you can lift them right off the paper immediately.

Once cool fill with prepared filling.

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Cream Cheese Filling
Ingredients
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Method

Sift sugar into medium bowl and saet aside.

In a bowl of an electric mixer with paddle attachment, beat butter until completely smooth. Add cream cheese and beat until combined.

Add sugar and vanilla and beat until smooth. Be careful not to overbeat the filling, or it will lose structure. (Filling can be made 1 day ahead. Cover the bowl tightly and put it in the refrigerator. Let the filling soften at the room temperature before using.)

Assembling the macarons

Match the shells according to size. Place macarons on their back (feet up) and pipe a dollop of filling in the centre and put other shell on top pressing down slightly. Repeat until all shells are used.

Store in an air tight container and let mature for 24-hours to achieve best macarons.
 

For the love of Autumn.

October 18, 2010 at 11:12 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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I absolutely love autumn. I think it is my favourite season. I love the smell of the sweet decay of leaves, the vivid colours of rust and gold that hang from tree branches and the crisp fall air.

Autumn is also my favourite season to run in because of the reasons mentioned above. However, since I live in British Columbia this time of the year means rain. I don’t have a problem running in the rain (it actually makes me feel tough and reminds me of action movie montages where the heroes are training for the next battle). I can’t run in the rain anymore though because I am a nice mother and would rather my kids not soaking wet.

So, when it’s a rainy October day and running is not an option the next best thing to do is bake cookies to warm-up the house and our stomachs.

Fall baking, to me and probably most people, means a treat that is made with spices and brings comfort upon the first bite.

I decided to make these snickerdoodles because they encompass what I believe is a good autumn treat, and my husband told me he wanted me to make them. A win-win situation for all!

I found the recipe from this great blog called Liv Life, which always features delicious goodies.

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Best Ever Snickerdoodles
Nancy Baggett, The All-American Cookie Book p. 14

Flavorful cookies with a texture that ranges from slightly crispy around the edges to slightly chewy as you reach the center. Sure to be a hit anywhere you take them!

Ingredients

  • 2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp cream of tarter
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly softened
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 Tbs light corn syrup
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup sugar combined with 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon for topping

Method

Preheat oven to 375º and prepare baking sheets with a silicone mat or cooking spray.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cream of tarter, baking soda, salt and nutmeg, set aside. In another large bowl, beat the butter, sugar and corn syrup together until well blended and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla, beating until well blended and smooth. Beat in half of the flour mixture until evenly incorporated. Stir in the remaining flour mixture just until combined. Let the dough stand for 5-10 minutes. Mix together the additional sugar and cinnamon in a bowl.

Roll portions of the dough into generous 1 1/2 inch balls with lightly greased hands (dough will be soft). Roll each ball in the cinnamon sugar. Place on the baking sheets, spacing about 2 3/4 inches apart.

Bake the cookies 8-11 minutes, or just until light golden brown at the edges. Reverse the sheet from front to back half way through the cooking time to ensure even browning. Transfer the baking sheets to a wire rack and let stand until the cookies firm up slightly, about 2 minutes. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool. Enjoy!

Blueberry Muffins

October 6, 2010 at 3:01 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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As a young mom I often feel intimidated around older moms. I don’t know if all young mothers feel like this but I do. Now after having two children, I am starting to gain confidence. However, that confidence suddenly becomes fleeting and I am broken down within two minutes over certain instances.

The times when I can’t control my children and they run around or the moments where I have older women telling me how I should dress or parent my children is when the belief in myself as a mother crumbles into a pile of self-doubt.

When my oldest daughter was born I was constantly busy trying to balance the life of a university student with motherhood. Some days I would go out of the house with my daughter dressed in a sleeper onsie, which for those who don’t know is basically a one-piece pajama with long arms and legs.

At the mommy groups, older mothers would constantly comment on the dreaded sleeper. “Oh, your daughter is so adorable but she’s wearing a sleeper?” “Is that a sleeper your daughter is wearing?” were questions I often heard.

Time passed and I, of course, became more resilient. However, sometimes the comments from complete strangers still sting. I don’t know if I am a good mother, but I do know that I am constantly striving to be one. I love my kids and my biggest fear is failing them. So, I try to spend as much time with them by interaction.

One activity my eldest daughter likes to do is help me bake. I usually give her a bowl of flour and water and let her “bake” daddy something. Because I love my daughter and feel an utter amount of regret for leaving the house with her while she was wearing sleepers I decided she could bake today.

Here is a recipe for Best Blueberry Muffins. It is an America’s Test Kitchen recipe and I really liked the way they made the blueberry flavour intense. I might not be the best mom but I know a darn good recipe for blueberry muffins so I guess that is a step in the right direction.

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Best Blueberry Muffins
Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen

From Season 10: Best Weekend Breakfast

Makes 12 muffins

Ingredients

  • 2 cups fresh blueberries (about 10 ounces) (I used frozen wild blueberries as blueberries aren’t in season)
  • 1 1/8cups sugar (8 ounces) plus 1 teaspoon
  • 2 1/2cups unbleached all-purpose flour (12 1/2 ounces)
  • 2 1/2teaspoons baking powder
  • 1teaspoon table salt
  • 2large eggs
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter , melted and cooled slightly
  • 1/4cup vegetable oil (I used Almond oil)
  • 1cup buttermilk (I used whole milk)
  • 1 1/2teaspoons vanilla extract

Method
Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Spray standard muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray.

Bring 1 cup blueberries and 1 teaspoon sugar to simmer in small saucepan over medium heat.

Cook, mashing berries with spoon several times and stirring frequently, until berries have broken down and mixture is thickened and reduced to ¼ cup, about 6 minutes. Transfer to small bowl and cool to room temperature, 10 to 15 minutes.

Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt together in large bowl. Whisk remaining 11/8 cups sugar and eggs together in medium bowl until thick and homogeneous, about 45 seconds. Slowly whisk in butter and oil
until combined. Whisk in buttermilk and vanilla until combined. Using rubber spatula, fold egg mixture and remaining cup blueberries into flour mixture until just moistened. (Batter will be very lumpy with few spots of dry flour; do not overmix.)

Following photos below, use ice cream scoop or large spoon to divide batter equally among prepared muffin cups (batter should completely fill cups and mound slightly). Spoon teaspoon of cooked berry mixture into center of each mound of batter. Using chopstick or skewer, gently swirl berry filling into batter using figure-eight motion.

Bake until muffin tops are golden and just firm, 17 to 19 minutes, rotating muffin tin from front to back halfway through baking time.

Cool muffins in muffin tin for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack and cool 5 minutes before serving.

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