Tag Archives: 40 Recipes

Cookies + A Movie

Hey, wait a second! Weren’t baked goods and films part of last year’s project?!

Why, yes, yes they were….I must be experiencing withdrawal symptoms!

I did accomplish both goals last evening: we’ve got cookies in the house again, and I watched my DVD.

The cookies turned out just fine…but aren’t spectacular:

flat, flat, pancake cookies!

As explained before, I like a poofy, buoyant cookie, both in terms of taste and for tactile enjoyment while making the batter. This recipe started off promisingly enough…until the finished product came out of the oven. I did use the planned recipe from my “Joy of Cooking” book – page 767, if you have the latest copy.

I love reading preamble to recipes: origin, history, inspiration behind the idea, etc. The accompanying notes for these cookies explain that “this recipe is a JOY classic, appearing in the book since the 1943 wartime edition.” (I have the 75th anniversary edition, re-released in 2006).

Disappointing looks aside, the cookies taste phenomenal! Just like a grandma’s, if you know what I mean.

Slightly impatient to get to my movie, I tried to move the cookies to the cooling rack a little too soon:

oops!

Upside-down cookie, anyone? Luckily, B is not picky! And “gorps,” as our family always calls them, just mean a taste-test is necessary! B does want me to mark this recipe as a “make again” – testament to the yummy-taste factor!

~*~*~

After I finished the cookie making, I popped in the DVD that Gina lent me.

The Long Green Line” is the story of a high-school x-country running team, as they seek out their 25th state title. The coach, Joe Newton, is in his 50th year of coaching the boys’ team. The film follows their season, and also shows Coach Newton’s life lessons and philosophies. It’s a documentary, which just happens to be my favourite type of movie, I’d have to say.

I really enjoyed the movie and can highly recommend it! It renewed my own passion for running, training, competing, race/goal setting…with 20+ years of running under my belt, it’s good to feel this fire!

Since it’s an “independent”-type release, I think, Gina, that you should set up a Netflix operation and rent out your copy! Haha!

I’ll share two quotes from the film that particularly resonated with me:

1) Coach Newton says there are three things that you can’t get back:

  • time
  • lost opportunity
  • spoken words

How very true. Seize the day you have today!

2) “You can’t take yourself too seriously in life.” How easily we forget this, no? Laughing, smiling, not sweating the small stuff…our stress levels would plummet if we kept this philosophy at the ready.

I knew that both Gina and her husband, Jeff, loved this film, and I was interested in getting Jeff’s perspective since he coaches x-country at the high school where he teaches. Jeff graciously – and quickly! – responded to a few questions:

Q: Jeff, what did you take away from this movie?

Jeff: “I was moved that the 157th runner felt as much a part of the team as the first 7 runners. I loved how he called the parents of the kid to tell them how great their kid was – I’m going to do that.”

Q: Did you take any tips from the movie that you will now incorporate into your coaching, that you didn’t do before?

J: “Next year I’m going to get my senior athletes to sign up as many grades nines as possible.  I already shake every athlete’s hand and try to call every kid by name every practice. (I learned that from his book which I read before watching the movie.)
I’m also going to try to have a thought for the day.  I’ll watch it again and try to incorporate a little more each year.”

Q: Did you show the DVD to your team?

J: “Cross country season had already ended when Gina and I watched this movie, but I will definitely show it to them next year!”

Thanks again, Jeff, for sharing your viewpoint! [Sidenote: I was flabbergasted by the size of the x-country team that Coach Newton had at York High School, Elmhurst, Illinois. Most Canadian high schools that I know of would be overjoyed with a team 1/4 of the size!]

I’d call last eve a very successful one. Two relaxing forms of entertainment…and I never had to leave my home!

~*~*~

Two Last Thoughts for Today:

~ Coffee is good. Coffee is yummy. Coffee is satisfying. Coffee breath?? Not so fond of…

~ My beloved Regis is leaving Live With Regis and Kelly! This is worse news than Oprah signing off on her show! I don’t watch Regis regularly, in fact, only catch the show a couple times of year, but the man always makes me laugh out loud. Full story here.

~*~*~

~ Off to Toronto this aft! Coffee date with The Brother, then time with him, SIL Ana, Little E and Baby C – yippee!

40 Recipes, Part 2: Jan9.10-Jan8.11

This post contains:

  • Recipes #21-40; Recipe #21 is the very last recipe at the bottom of this post; Recipe #40 is the very first recipe and it is found at the top of this post.
  • click here for Recipes #1-20.

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40. Chipits Chocolate Chip Cookies (Wed Jan 5th) – If you’d like a bit of preamble to go along with this recipe, please click here. That post explains the why’s and the wherefore’s of how today’s recipe came to be chosen as Recipe #40.
Because I wanted a lot of cookies with which to celebrate the end of my project (now that the pressure is off, who knows if I’ll bake again – haha! B better cherish each bite!), I doubled the recipe provided on the package of Chipits chips.
Here is the recipe as given on the package (NOT doubled); as always, my substitutions are in brackets.
Chipits Peanut Butter Chip Cookies
Cream together:
1 cup shortening or softened butter [I used Crisco shortening]
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
Beat in:
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
Combine:
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
Gradually blend into creamed mixture. [I did not pre-mix; I just added the dry ingredients to the moist batter, and stirred it all up!]
Stir in:
1 package (300 g) Hershey’s Chipits Peanut Butter Chips
1 cup chopped peanuts (optional) [I just added one 250 g package Chipits 50% Cacao Special Dark chips]
Drop dough by tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet. [I lined my cookie sheets with parchment paper].
Bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes.
Makes about 4 dozen cookies. [I got 6.5 dozen out of the double batch].
Here’s the photographic evidence:
raw choco chip cookie – where’s the vanilla ice cream to mix it in to?!
that spoon is the perfect size and shape with which to form the cookies!
the assembly line of cookie sheets is ready for the oven!
first batch outta the oven! not quite as high as i had hoped for…
that’s a lotta cookies! 6.5 dozen, to be exact!

And there you have it. [Wipes hands on dish towel].

What’s your perfect version of the classic chocolate chip cookie? Do share! I am open to suggestions…provided I bake again, that is! :)

OFFICIAL TASTE TESTER COMMENTS:

Me: “Is there anything more perfect than a chocolate chip cookie? This cookie provides exactly the taste I was hoping to achieve today. Slightly disappointed that the cookies are not a bit more poofy – I should tweak the fats/sugars/flour ratios a bit…I was going for my vision of the perfect chocolate chip cookie today, and while this is most excellent, I do think I have to give the Blue Ribbon to “Chocolate Chip Cookies – In Memory of Lucy” (Recipe #3).”

Manager Paul at The Store: “YUM!! Good cookies Cathy! Another successful bake! Thanks again!”

B: “No comment. My mouth is too full of five cookies.” [That’s pretty much the truth!]

Dad: “With my short memory, I don’t recall all the various things you baked this year but these chocolate chip cookies would certainly rank in the top 3.  They are just excellent, perfect, wonderful…whatever, very light and moist and flavourful.  I normally just eat one for dessert but tonight I had two and I have a feeling the other three will not see tomorrow evening. Thanks again  for thinking of me.”

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39. Marbleized Banana Loaf (Sat Jan 1st) – With just two recipes left to make (!), I asked B if he was feeling any particular flavour. I wasn’t all that surprised by his quick response! B loves a quick bread which incorporates these guys:
of course, the day i WANT very ripe bananas, valumart has none! this was as ripe as i could find!…
I looked through my recipe books for a simple banana bread recipe because I had an idea! Since I have thirty-eight recipes under my belt now, I thought a little freelancing was in order. My thought: separate the banana bread batter into two parts. Make one chocolate, the other chocolate chip, then swirl them to create a marbleized effect. With fingers crossed, I got to work!
I chose a recipe from my Edna Staebler “Muffins and Quick Breads with Schmecks Appeal” paperback.
an edna cookbook is like having a visit with your great-aunt!
Can you believe I hail from Waterloo County and this is the only Edna Staebler reference in my collection of cookbooks?? [Hangs head in shame].
Here is the recipe and I’ve added my *touches* in parentheses:

The Best Banana-Nut Bread

  • 1/2 cup butter [I used Earth Balance, a butter/margarine alternative]
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 bananas, mashed
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk [I made up sour milk by adding 1 tsp vinegar to 1/4 cup 2% milk]
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts [I subbed in 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • [1/4 cup cocoa powder – this is my addition for 1/2 of the batter; may have been a bit too much?? try an 1/8 cup??]

Cream the butter and sugar, then stir in the mashed bananas. Add eggs and mix well. Blend buttermilk and baking soda, then add to creamed mixture alternately with flour.**Stir in the nuts and turn into a large buttered loaf pan or 2 small pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. If you want to, you can add chopped maraschino cherries and chocolate chips.

**I followed the recipe until this point. Then I proceeded as follows: I divided my batter in half:

two bowls of plain banana batter…

Into one bowl went 1/2 cup choco chips. Into the other, I stirred in 1/4 cup cocoa powder:

which flavour would be your favourite??!

Next, I spooned the two batters into the pan in a checkerboard pattern:

stole this concept from the “marzipan squares” recipe my mom makes! (that one’s red and green for xmas!)

Then, a little knife twirling and swirling created this:

EXACTLY what i was hoping for!

Exactly one hour later, this masterpiece emerged from the oven:

the loaf popped right out of the pan!

If it tastes as good as it looks, this could be a repeat recipe!…for AFTER The Project concludes!

OFFICIAL TASTE TESTER COMMENTS:

Brad: “Stellar. That’s the only word for it. This is all I’m having for supper…mmmmm!!!” [B also wanted to know if I wrote this recipe down…guess that means it WILL need to be repeated!]

Dad: “Really enjoyed your banana loaf for breakfast…..very moist and tasty.  The chocolate makes it more of a snack/treat than a breakfast food…and I can see why Brad loved it.  Do all your recipes have chocolate in them?….ha,ha,ha.
Keep up the good baking and don’t forget about me!”

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38. Chocolate Chip Rugelach (Mon Dec 20th) – One day, months ago now, I suddenly had a flashback to childhood. I conjured images of a rolled up cookie: picture a pie shape rolled from wide to narrow, with a filling. I thought that I was imagining Snickerdoodle cookies. Doh! Way off base! Thanks to massive googling, I discovered that what I was picturing was actually rugelach. After telling my mom this story, she confirmed that my great-grandma used to make (a Mennonite version of??!) this traditional Jewish cookie.
My next desire was for a chocolate chip rugelach recipe. Back to Google. Here is the recipe I found, and this is what I made today:
So without further ado, here’s a pictorial play-by-play of today’s cookie making adventure:
9 a.m. this morning: I assemble the ingredients for the dough…
separating two eggs was a challenge (i needed two yolks) but it all worked out!
at this point, i was concerned! my two discs seemed a bit dry…but into the fridge they went…
i refridgerated the dough til about 5 pm this eve…when i rolled it out, the texture was much improved and not crumbly at all!
dough rolled out, sugar mixture sprinkled on top…we’re ready to roll ‘em up!
ready for the oven: rolled up and brushed with the glaze; b is right! these look and smell like mini-cinnamon rolls!
to be honest? these were fiddly, messy and i did not fell confident in how they would turn out! enjoy them this year, folks! ain’t gonna be a repeat recipe!
they are cute, though, don’t you think?!
i DO recommend this recipe if you are so inclined to knead/chill/roll out/shape/brush/bake a cookie recipe!

Final comments: I didn’t HATE making these cookies, but I did find them finicky. If I’m going to mess around with rolling dough etc, I would rather make a sugar or gingerbread dough, use cookie cutters for fun shapes and then go crAAAAzy with icing and make fun little people!!!!! But this recipe did stretch my comfort zone. At first, I was disappointed because the recipe contained no photographs of procedures or finished product. But, upon reflection, I’m actually GLAD I had nothing visual with which to compare my cookies. Do they look like they’re supposed to? Who knows! :)

OFFICIAL TASTE TESTER COMMENTS:

Dad: “Now your rugulah was just super…..great texture and moist dough….loved the nutty side taste along with the chocolate.  They tasted as good as Grandma Stobbe’s “snetja” but she always used plum or apricot jam instead of the chocolate.”

Brad: “I ate four for breakfast. Quote me on that.” [Done!]

Manager Paul: “I love the cinnamon sugar in these. The dough is not too sweet, but I can taste the cream cheese, now that you mention it.” [I asked Paul which he preferred, the shortbread or these cookies and he could not choose! He said each was delicious in its own way!]

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37. Shortbread Kissie Surprises (Fri Dec 17th) – Can you believe I am ready for Christmas?! The condo is decorated; the shopping is done, and the presents are wrapped; cards have been written and mailed. All that remains is baking as much as I want! Well, and I’d love to catch a Christmas Special or two on TV…and drive around and look at Christmas lights…and go through Waterloo Park again…OK! there are more activities to complete!
Tonight’s recipe is a childhood favourite. The original title is called Shortbread Cherry Surprises because my mom hid a maraschino cherry in the centre of each cookie. The Brother and I dubbed them “Rudoph Noses” in honour of the infamous reindeer!We only ever had these cookies at Christmas – part of our traditional selection of once-yearly goodies.
handwritten when i was likely about 15-16 years old!
Not being a fan of maraschino cherries (come to think of it, even as a child I didn’t care for them….but I loved the shortbread exterior!), I am experimenting by placing a Hershey’s chocolate in my version. I went to Bulk Barn and bought Kisses (milk chocolate), Hugs (white chocolate striped with chocolate), and a Cookies & Cream version.
love bulk barn! buy exactly what you need!
prepping the chocolates!
kisses, hugs and cream!
Here’s the recipe. It’s super easy. I stuck to mom’s original version, just swapping in the Hershey’s for the maraschino cherries. By the looks of things, my experiment turned out just fine!
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup icing sugar
  • 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour [I didn’t sift!]
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1 cup ground almonds [looks flour-like in consistency]
  • maraschino cherries or Hershey Kisses etc.

Cream butter and sugar, then add all other ingredients. [I used my electric hand mixer, then finished off by hand mixing a bit. The hand mixing helped the dough come together very nicely].

Coat/wrap cherries/chocolates in shortbread mixture. Bake at 325 degrees for 25 minutes. When baked [and still warm from the oven], roll in powdered, granulated or icing sugar. [I used my parchment paper on the cookie sheets tonight, and it worked wonderfully. I got 34 cookies out of this batch; mom’s notes say you’ll get 3.5 dozen…close enough]!

this dough is a lovely texture with which to envelop each chocolate! easy to mould!
ready for the oven!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

  

 

sugar stations, ready for dipping! L=granulated sugar; R=red+green sprinkles!

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

  

 

the granulated sugar balls are enrobed entirely in the sugar; i just dipped the cookies in the coloured sprinkles-you CAN overload on sprinkles!

 

OFFICIAL TASTE TESTER COMMENTS:

[These cookies are intended for our family Christmas cookie plate, so I’ll let B taste test them to make sure they are “worthy,” but the rest will be saved til December 23rd when we celebrate!]

B: “Great!” [I pressed for more descriptive adjectives: texture? taste?…in response, I got “I like it. Very rich.” I guess that is all I the response I will get since it’s the Friday of the end of school!]

Mom! (a surprise guest!): “I tasted a shortbread chocolate surprise cookie and it was outstandingly delicious.  Good taste and texture.  Made me think of when I made them with the cherries many years ago.” [wow, how praise indeed, coming from the original baker of these delights!]

Dad: “Loved the shortbread “surprise” treats.  Real good “short” shortbread.  I must admit though that I am used to M’s cherry insides.”

Manager Paul: “I will take more of these any time you feel like getting rid of them!”

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36. Oh Baby Bars (Tues Nov 30th) – The name of these squares doesn’t provide much clue as to what ingredients are involved, does it?!
I wanted to bake today, but what with all the Christmas decorating, I ran out of time for the recipe I really wanted to make. (I’m saving it for another day – it’s going to be fun!).
This recipe comes to us once again from the blog Eat, Live Run. This is the third recipe of the 1970KikiProject that I have found on this site! (See also #27 – Lazy Girl’s Chocolate Chip Brownies and #31 Brown Sugar Chocolate Chip Loaf Cake). Jenna is a mastermind with baking ideas!
Unfortunately, the Oh Baby squares did not meet my high expectations. In fact, I even debated whether or not to include them in my list of 40 Recipes. They are quick and easy to make, and look really good, but I ran into the same problem I had with recipe #33, the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Balls…read on, below, to see what I mean…
Two options for the recipe: you can click here for Jenna’s blog entry – you’ll find photos and the recipe, in full. Or, you can read on, below, for the recipe and for my necessary modifications!…
Oh Baby Bars
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 1/3 cups powdered sugar [I call it icing sugar]
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened [I used margarine]
  • 3/4 cup creamy peanut butter [I used my Kraft All-Natural peanut butter *and I think this was the error of my ways, once again*]
  • ~8 ounces milk chocolate
  • 4 ounces dark chocolate
  • 1 tablespoon butter [I used margarine]

Blend together the brown sugar, powdered sugar, butter and peanut butter until it reaches a smooth, paste-like consistency. Press into the bottom of a 9×13 inch pan.

Melt the chocolate with the tablespoon of butter over very low heat (or microwave). Pour melted chocolate over the peanut butter crust and stick in the fridge for an hour to harden. Cut into squares and serve!

OK! Sounds simple, right?!

the chocolate i purchased for the top layer! i had 200g milk chocolate and just over 1/2 cup (4 ounces) of the dark chipits…
uh-oh…

See? I ran into that dough-pellet problem, again. Any ideas? Mom and I are thinking it must be the all-natural peanut butter…Anyway, I readied my 9×13 inch pan…and realized there was NO WAY I had enough dough for that large size of pan. So I switched to 8×11, and this was a good size.

the spatula did NOT work for the job of pressing the dough into the pan…
…but my fingers did a better job with squishing down the dough-pellets!
chocolate melting in a pot on the stove-top!

Because I reduced the size of my pan, I only used the dark chocolate Chipits and the bar of Lindt milk chocolate. I saved the PC chocolate bar – maybe I can use it in a future recipe!

the finished product

I cut my squares into 24 bars; Jenna suggests 48 squares for a 9×13 inch pan. Those would be really tiny bars!!

So A+ to this recipe for ease of preparation, and yum-factor of ingredients. I was disappointed with my dough (I accept responsibility for this!) and that I had to change the pan size. We’ll see what the reaction is taste-wise!

OFFICIAL TASTE TESTER COMMENTS:

Dad: “Just had a square and really liked it.  It is just like Reese’s with a bit more and better chocolate……really enjoyed it.” [All right! At least the taste is fine, even if the texture is a bit less than ideal!]

Brad: “Phenomenal.” [Me: “Do they taste like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups?” B: “Yup.” OK! There you have it!]

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35. Childhood Bran Muffins (Sunday Nov 21st) – If I had to associate one muffin recipe with my younger years, this would be the one. As with any typical ’70’s era mom, we had homemade cookies, muffins, bread, desserts in our house nearly all the time. And this muffin recipe was a family favourite.
I had a craving for these muffins, specifically for the molasses and coconut found within. Since I only remembered to take photos at the end of my baking adventure (maybe that flu bug  was already working on my brain?!) let’s start with the finished product and work backwards.
fresh out of the oven
close up!
Now, my mom’s original recipe makes a very dense, moist muffin, and I was tasting something a little more dry. Also, neither B nor I really like raisins…also, I had no bran but DID have oat bran…can you see where I’m going with this?! Yes, I made several modifications. In light of that, I am going to give you two recipes for the price of one, today! First, I’ll print mom’s version, followed by mine. The ingredient lists are the only things that differ; the process is the same, so you’ll find that included with mom’s recipe. If you follow my changes, just use the different ingredients.
Childhood Bran Muffins – Mom’s Original Recipe
  • 1/4 cup margarine
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, not packed
  • 6 T molasses (or honey or corn syrup)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1.5 cups natural bran
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1.5 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup raisins (anything from 2/3 cup to 1 cup)
  • 1/4 cup sweetened or dessicated coconut
  • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Beat liquids together (margarine, brown sugar, molasses, eggs, milk). Add dry ingredients. Stir/mix.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes. Makes 12 muffins.

Childhood Bran Muffins – My Version

  • 1/4 cup Earth Balance (a butter/margarine alternative)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, not packed
  • 6 T molasses
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup 2% milk
  • 1.5 cups oat bran
  • 1.5 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1.5 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup sweetened, flaked coconut
  • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

OFFICIAL TASTE TESTER COMMENTS:

Dad: (no flu in him!) “Okay, your muffin was very good…solid, flavourful texture but I have never liked coconut in such big pieces..(M says that she always uses “desiccated” in her baking); I just pulled yours out.  So in my opinion an improvement would be to use desiccated coconut instead of the large strings.  All in all a very successful product….keep me on your taster list.” [In my defense, I looked for dessicated coconut at Valumart and they only had shredded or flaked!]

Brad: “Love these muffins. Very good.” [I didn’t even have to ask for feedback! Unsolicited comments = very good thing from The Husband!]

Me: Perfect. Exactly the taste I was going for. My version maintains the molasses flavour of my mom’s and the extra flour means the muffin is still moist, yet just a tad more dense. I don’t mind the larger flakes of coconut, as there are not that many of them per muffin. Definitely will retain my modifications for next time!

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34. Cornbread Muffins (Wed Nov 17th) – Tomorrow, Aunti is bringing supper down to Toronto! On the menu? Homemade chili (which I will make tomorrow morning), salad, and these cornbread muffins. I wanted to have a menu that would be: pleasing to Little E and Baby C; easy to transport; comforting for a chilly November evening. Hopefully this meal fits the bill!
I found three cornbread muffin recipes in my arsenal of cookbooks. Funny enough, all three possibilities had the same ingredient list; there was just a slight variation among the amounts (ie 3/4 cup milk vs 1 cup milk). I chose the recipe in this book
see also recipe #22, blueberry oatmeal loaf, that came from this book
(over those in Muffin Mania and in an Edna Staebler) because it had less sugar than the others – somehow “sweet” and “cornmeal” don’t need to go together.
This recipe might well be the easiest and quickest that I have whipped up so far! The ingredient list is short and sweet:
that’s all, folks!
I didn’t even take out my electric beaters, just using good ol’ arm power and a spatula. That worked fine!
Here’s the recipe and my notes in parentheses:
1 cup yellow cornmeal [I used 1.5 cups, see photos below for explanation]
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 Tablespoons sugar
pinch of salt
4 teaspoons baking powder [this equals 1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon]
4 Tablespoons butter, melted [I used Earth Balance; note that 4 Tablespoons = 1/4 cup; why not just say 1/4 cup?!]
1 cup milk
1 egg, slightly beaten
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. [This recipe says to “heat muffin tins before spooning batter for perfect browning.” I did do this step, don’t know if it made a difference as my tins were cool again by the time I was finished spooning batter].
Grease muffin cups. [I didn’t bother to grease the cups as my mini-muffin tin is brand new…and I have to throw in that I am totally impressed with the Wilton brand – this is my second baking pan of theirs, and I’m finding it more sturdy and easy-to-wash/care for than Baker’s Secret. Bulk Barn, of all places, has a great Wilton selection at low prices].
Mix together cornmeal, flour, sugar, salt and baking powder.
Add melted butter, milk and egg, stirring until moistened.
Fill muffin cups 3/4 full.
Bake at 400 degrees for 10-12 minutes [I needed only 10 minutes with the mini-cups].
Makes 12 regular size muffins [or 24 mini-muffins].
After following the recipe as written, my batter looked like this:
see how runny it looks?

Thinking it looked a little too moist for my liking, I added in the extra 1/2 cup cornmeal…

that’s better!
I’m glad I added in the extra dry cornmeal because the batter was a lovely consistency, then, for spooning into the mini-tins.
And look what emerged from the oven!
cute little gems, aren’t they?!
a tiny muffin-pop!
These should be just the perfect size for Little E and Baby C – and yummy for the adults, too!
the dinner plate gives perspective on the mini-size!

OFFICIAL TASTE TESTER COMMENTS:

ME: “Very tasty. These went well with our chili supper. Maybe a bit on the bland side (?) which is good for kids…glad I put in the extra 1/2 cup cornmeal. Not sure what you would do to spice these up – cheese, maybe??”

Baby C: “Ohhhhh!” nom nom, gobble gobble

Little E: “I like them.” [when you’re four years old, food either gets a thumbs up or thumbs down, plain and simple].

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33. Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Balls (Thurs Nov 11th) – As mentioned here, I had decided earlier this week that today would be Baking Thursday. I had my recipe all decided: Snickerdoodles – that choice was made because that’s a funny word. :) I was going to google a chocolate chip version, just for fun.
That plan changed when I saw this recipe on Mama Pea’s website early Wednesday morning. You’ll recall that Recipe #30 was Pumpkin Spice Bars from this favourite blog o’ mine – and that recipe was a smashing success! So I unceremoniously dumped the Snickerdoodles…maybe another time.
Obviously, I was not the only one who fell in love with the balls (warning: ball humour makes me giggle – lotsa cheap ball jokes coming up…): this blog entry elicited 100+ reader comments – everyone is raving about the balls! (maybe we all just like excuses to make silly ball jokes!)
So. I used three new-to-me ingredients today:
#1: earth balance – a vegan butter/margarine substitute
#2 – this peanut butter is my least fave in my stash…so into the baking it goes! first time baking with it…
#3: 50% dark cocoa chippies!
Now, for the recipe, I want you to just go to Mama Pea’s post, “Having a Ball.” Enjoy her writing, the recipe, and her amazing photos. All are superior to what I would reproduce here.
In terms of the recipe, I followed it to the letter EXCEPT that I used white pastry flour, and not all my ingredients were organic or non-dairy.
Now, I followed the directions as provided…but ran into a snag. Here’s my dough right before I put it in the fridge to chill:
my batter is just a collection of tiny balls…i mean pellets!
Foodie friends!! What does this mean? What is to blame – the peanut butter? I followed the directions exactly, otherwise…Mama Pea did not have this problem…
So I used my hands and formed little balls. I had to really smoosh the balls to get the desired shape…
heavy duty ball squeezin’
I was concerned that the balls would hold together while they baked…
unbaked, raw balls…
I had to bake my balls for a good 15 minutes. And I got 22 balls…I must like small balls (sorry – but I warned you!!!)…Mama says not to overbake the balls, but at 10-12 minutes, I still had doughy balls.
baked balls – can you see a difference??
So, I must say that I was a tad disappointed in the dryness of my cookie dough…however, it’s the texture alone that is lacking. The taste is phenomenal! We have a peanut butter squares recipe that my mom only makes at Christmas, and these balls smelled and tasted a lot like our favourite pb squares. Nothing wrong with that!
I would make these again if I knew where I erred…but I found the dough crumbliness disconcerting. There was nothing wrong with the taste, though, as evidenced by our…

OFFICIAL TASTE TESTER COMMENTS:

Brad: “I’m pissed that you only gave me two. They’re great!” [B did not yet realize that there were six more balls for him in the fridge plus a dozen in the freezer. Pissiness averted.]

Me: “I tested both the unbaked batter (as Mama Pea suggests – and it’s safe because the recipe is egg-free) and then ate a ball fresh out of the oven. I can see why everyone is freaking out. The icing sugar makes the batter taste like a combo of cookie and icing…and I love the two flavours of chips. If I can figure out how to make the batter creamier, these are a repeat. As is, they crumble just a little too much to be A+ worthy.”

Dad: “Really enjoyed the cookies or should I say candy.  They taste exactly like Reeses Peanut Butter cups which I really like and buy periodically.  The Reeses have a bit more chocolate in them but the taste is remarkably the same. So…………………………..good!
Thanks for the samples.” [It cracks me up that Dad often likes recipes I think he won’t like; when I think he’ll love something, ie the chocolate chip loaf, he’s lukewarm over it. Oh well – keeps life interesting!]

At least we have homemade cookies for lunches again, and I had fun making these. Not as much fun as making ballsy jokes, though. :)

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32. Pumpkin Spice Cookies (Mon Oct 25th) – I sincerely hope that you are not yet sick of all flavours inspired by the fall season…actually, maybe that is ME who is now sick of working with pumpkin/spices/earth tones. In case you need to catch up, recently we’ve had Pumpkin Spice Bars (Recipe #30); Ginger Cookies (#26); Oatmeal Cookies with Pumpkin (#25); and Applesauce Muffins (#24). I think after this recipe we will move on…and with only EIGHT recipes left to make, I need to get crackin’ on the recipes that I really, really want to try (gulp – some challenges await!).

Today (Tuesday Oct 26th) B sees one of his classes for the last time. These guys will graduate in January, 2011. And yes, it is a class of 32 male students, so all guys. They write an exam with B today, so I thought it would be fun to surprise them with a little treat for after they have stressed their mental powers this afternoon. So what do you prepare for 32 male pre-service firefighting students? Hearty, healthy, yummy cookies…with two flavour choices as options!

I turned to this book for assistance:

…and i crossed my fingers; i’ve had SUCCESSES and FLOPS with mrs fields

I decided to double my recipe. By so doing, I could 1) use up all the extra pumpkin in my freezer 2) make each half of the recipe different 3) have a few leftovers for B’s lunches, for Dad’s taste test, for a treat to send to my Grandma.

the recipe! haha, don’t worry, i will reprint and NOT make you squint at this!

As I set out my ingredients, I noticed this:

not exactly the FIVE CUPS of all-purpose flour i would need!

I really had neither the desire nor time to scoot back to Valumart, so I ended up using ~2.5 cups all-purpose (more in that bag than meets the eye!) and ~2.5 cups whole wheat. So the substitution is NOT for health purposes only today!

Here’s the recipe. I’ve given you the recipe DOUBLED, as I did it, in case you ever find yourself feeding 32 male firefighting students yourself! :)

  • 5 cups all purpose flour [remember I used 2.5 cups all-purpose, 2.5 cups whole wheat; batter consistency was fine]
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 cups dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1.5 cups salted butter, softened [mine was unsalted]
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups pumpkin, canned or freshly cooked [this is exactly what I had to use up! yea! and mine was canned]
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract

**this was my basic batter which I then divided in half.

batter, divided

One half received:

  • 1 cup raisins

while the other half got:

  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
left: raisins; right: choco chips and walnuts

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, soda, salt and pumpkin pie spice. Mix well with a wire whisk and set aside.

In a large bowl, blend sugars with an electric mixer set at medium speed. Add the butter, and beat to form a grainy paste. Scrape sides of bowl, then add egg, pumpkin and vanilla. Beat at medium speed until light and fluffy.

Add the flour mixture, raisins and walnuts. Blend at low speed just until combined. Do not overmix. [I used my arm power, instead]. Drop by rounded tablespoons onto ungreased cookie sheets, 1 1/2 inches apart. Bake 22-24 minutes [I needed 25 minutes] until cookies are slightly brown along edges. Immediately transfer cookies with a spatula to a cool surface. Yield: 3 dozen. [I got 28 raisin cookies and over 30 choco chip/walnut cookies].

Verdict? This recipe was a SUCCESS! The batter was a little sticky, but fine to work with:

it took six cookie sheet rounds to bake all the dough! that’s a lotta cookies!

They looked great, out of the oven!

fluffy!

Then, I wrote up cards for each type of cookie, stating the ingredients, just in case any of the students are picky eaters  have any food allergies or food sensitivities.

looks like a cookie shop display case!

…and here are the cookies all packaged up, ready for delivery and consumption!

B DID remember to take the containers with him this morning! i had also put a sticky note on the door as an additional reminder!

So, I hope the students enjoy a little post-exam treat! I’m eager to see which type was more popular… and if B comes home with leftovers!

OFFICIAL TASTE TESTER COMMENTS:

B: “Awesome.” [I’ve accepted that this is the standard B response. He liked both types, although I forgot to really find out!]

Dad: “The cookies were both great.  Soft, moist and flavourful.  My favourite had the raisins but then I am a real raisin fan.  With the pumpkin flavour, these are an excellent fall tasting variety….very well done!”

The Students: [I hear the cookies were warmly received…as evidenced by the photo, below!]

wiped!

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31. Brown Sugar Chocolate Chip Loaf Cake (Sunday Oct 24th) – If it’s Sunday eve (it is), that means tomorrow is back to school for B (haha, sorry but I never tire of that phrase since I no longer – and never will – be back teaching school!). What better way to kick off the return to the work week (for B only – since I work retail, tomorrow is my Friday!) than with homemade goodies in the lunch pail thermal zip tote!

When Jenna of EatLiveRun blog fame (see Recipe #27, below, too, where we featured a Jenna creation) featured this recipe last week, I knew it was a have to make asap recipe. Jenna spares no calorie expense with her recipes, but I approve of them because all of the ingredients are wholesome – the real deal. And I know from experience that B’s palate prefers this type o’ baking (well, Dadster does, too, fo’ shuuuur). When I saw a grand total of eight ingredients, well, I was sold!

today’s recipe on Jenna’s blog – we love baking from blog recipes!

For an enjoyable and entertaining recipe reading experience (well, besides mine – haha!), I invite you to visit the EatLiveRun blog here for today’s recipe (plus, Jenna provides clear, professional-quality photos!). But in case you want the recipe RIGHT. THIS. MINUTE., here it is, too:

  • 2 cups pastry flour [yea! a use for the approx 500 lbs I currently have in the cupboard!]
  • 1.5 cups packed dark brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) salted butter, soft [I used two unsalted butter sticks]
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
party of eight, ready to socialize!

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. [I never do this til I am ready to put me batter in me pan, as I am a slooowww baker and don’t want to waste lotsa empty oven time].

In a medium sized bowl, combine your flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. [I actually did this step today!]

the proof of this step, completed!

Cream together your soft butter and brown sugar. When it’s light and fluffy, add the eggs one at a time, and then the vanilla. Beat until creamy and well combined.

evidence of creamy and well combined!

Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat only until incorporated.

usually i hand-beat in the flour mixtures, today i tried the mixer. we’ll see if there’s a difference!

Fold in your chocolate chips.

divine, creamy batter; choco chips folded in really quickly

Spread batter into a greased loaf pan and bake for 75-90 minutes [I needed 85 minutes], or until a knife comes out clean when stuck in the middle.

oven-ready!…with a little backdrop of blog!

 The top of the cake will get quite dark…this is normal. Let cool in the pan for ten minutes before turning out and serving.

wow! great results!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

  

 

jenna had warned that the top could turn out quite brown… this loaf just has a beautiful, darker crust – not too much, not too little!

 

Sold on this recipe and I can confidently recommend that you bake this up. EatLiveRun and MamaPea – top o’ the class!

OFFICIAL TASTE TESTER COMMENTS:

Me!: [Haha, I jumped in before the guys, this time!…and I say, “INSANITY!!! Holy crackerdoodles! This is fantastic. The pastry flour is what “makes” the bread’s rich yet light texture; my favourite is the crusty ring around the exterior of the entire loaf. I can see myself eating the exterior and giving b all the interiors of the slices – haha!]

Brad: “Killer.” [B also said something to the effect that this is the best recipe yet…I failed to note his exact words, and when I asked him, he forgets what he said. Note to self: record feedback the moment it is spoken!]

Dad: “The loaf was so so and not really one of my favourites.  The taste was okay but the texture was too hard and I thought it lacked moisture.  So I would vote that off my team but heh you can’t please everyone all of the time.” [This is TOO FUNNY as both B and I absolutely adores this loaf cake! “Chacun son gout,” as the French would say!”]

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30. Mama Pea’s Pumpkin Spice Bars (Thanksgiving Monday, Oct 11) – Mama Pea’s blog is on my list of daily must-reads. Sarah (Mama Pea) writes about everyday life with her two little girls (SIL Ana, I think you would esp relate and enjoy!), her wit is matchless, and her vegan recipes incredible (she does have a recipe book coming out).

For Thanksgiving Monday today, I wanted to spice up the condo casa. What could be better for a fall holiday than the scent of pumpkin and homebaking wafting into every corner? When Mama Pea posted this recipe on Sunday…a-ha! I had my answer as to what to make!

At some point in my life, I would love to run a vegan household. But with life rolling as it is right now, I have neither the time nor the energy to run a 100% separated his n her’s kitchen. So please check out Mama Pea’s original recipe (link above) for the ingredients she used (and also the beautiful photography); my adapted (aka non-vegan) version is typed out for you, below:

Bars:

  • 1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/3 cup 2% milk
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/4 cups white pastry flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Icing:

  • 3 Tablespoons margarine
  • 1/2 cup lite cream cheese
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups icing sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat together [I used my trusty hand mixer] pumpkin, oil, milk, sugars, vanilla with an electric or stand mixer.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices [I took the lazy way out and just dumped the dry ingredients onto the wet ingredients, then stirred]. Mix until just combined. Spread batter into an 8×8 inch pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray [I used margarine on my pan bottom and sides]. Bake for 30-32 minutes or until set [I only needed 30 minutes].

Meanwhile, prepare frosting by beating together margarine, cream cheese, vanilla and icing sugar. [I followed Mama Pea’s tip and refridgerated my icing after mixing it]. When pumpkin bars have completely cooled, frost. [Mama Pea suggests you could add in chocolate chips to the batter; I resisted – I know! can you believe it?! – because to me spices + cream cheese frosting = enough goodness. Choco chips = over the tipping point of tasty].

Makes 9-12 servings.

Now for the photo gallery of Recipe #30!

what is it with me and giant bags of baking supplies?! (hello, mr oatmeal). this was the only size pastry flour at valumart. my hand is included for sizing reference. lotsa pastry flour recipes coming up, i believe!
necessities: computer, bowl, mixer, pumpkin – let’s get this party started!
someone’s in the kitchen with…aunti kiki! nice to have b home to be the photographer today!
stirring and stirring and stirring the brew…wait, that’s a hallowe’en song…save that for a coupla weeks
perfect batter consistency
the players on Team Icing!

I don’t think I’ve ever made an icing that did not contain milk…and you know what, today’s recipe was maybe my favourite EVER to mix up. The proportions must be perfect because it whipped up in a snap, with minimal flying icing sugar (I always hate that part, when you first start mixing and the icing sugar wafts out of the bowl, making a fine dust everywhere).

a very happy icing maker!

Have to say this recipe knocked my socks off from start to finish. The batter is creamy-dreamy, the icing whipped up beautifully. The spicy scent met my high expectations.

fresh outta the oven
a few hours later, iced!
care to dig in?!

This was my first Mama Pea recipe, and you can bet I’ll be back to try more. And I’ll be getting me her book, when available!

OFFICIAL TASTE TESTER COMMENTS:

Dad: “This is your BEST baking to date.  I just loved it.  Very moist and spicy with an override of pumpkin flavour.  The icing is super too.  The whole thing reminds me of M’s carrot cake and yours would rival that any time.  I hope Brad does NOT like it…..just send it all my way!
Way to go!” [Wow! This is the quickest that Dad has ever passed along his comments…like less than two hours after he received his portion! And this is high praise indeed!]

Brad: “Wow. This is awesome.” [I cannot reprint his next sentence as this is a family blog. It was complimentary, though!]

Mama Pea: [Sarah is one classy blogger. I emailed her a quick message to say I made her recipe and had blogged about it, and she replied right away...] “I am so glad you emailed me and also that your bars turned out so well.  Aren’t they insane?  I wanted to eat the batter straight and I think there are only about two bars left in the pan and I just made them Saturday night.”

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29. Dan’s Chocolate Cookies with White Chocolate Chips (Mon Oct 4) – I got to know my friend Dan when we worked together at the store last year. When other university students leave their employment with the store, we tend to part ways; for some reason, Dan and I have stayed in touch (thank you, Blackberry Instant Messaging!). When Dan told me he would lend me his “Born to Run” book, I offered to make him a batch of cookies, in exchange. Dan exuberantly and gleefully accepted (you have to know Dan)! Dan gave me a couple suggestions of what he would enjoy, and I chose to try chocolate dough with white chocolate chips –  a reverse chocolate chip cookie!

Here’s where I found my recipe:

from my mid-’90’s collection of cookbooks!

Here are the two stars of today’s show…

white chocolate chips and chocolate milk!

…and the cast of regular supporting characters:

luckily, i had all these staples in the backing supply cupboard already!

Now on to the recipe!

Reese’s Pieces Chocolate Cookies [obviously, I substituted the white chocolate chips for the Reese’s Pieces]

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine [I used butter]
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup cocoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup milk [Valumart was all out of the 250 ml/1 cup size white milk! So I subbed in chocolate – can’t hurt in chocolate cookies!]
  • 1 1/4 cups Reese’s Pieces Candy, divided [I used the whole package of white chocolate chips].

Heat oven to 375 degrees F. In large mixer bowl, beat butter, sugar, egg and vanilla until well blended. Stir together flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt; add alternately with milk to butter mixture, beating until well blended.

i beat together the butter, sugar, egg, vanilla…
…and actually followed the recipe by mixing the dry ingredients together, separately!
…the milk that got alternated in with the dry ingredients!

Stir in 3/4 cup candies. [I stirred in all of the white chocolate chips]. Drop by teaspoonful onto ungreased cookie sheet. Place 2-3 of remaining candies on top of each cookie, near the centre.

Bake 10-11 minutes or until soft-set (do not overbake) [I needed 12+ minutes per sheet]. Cool 1 minute; remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely. Makes about 3 1/2 dozen cookies [I got 3 dozen exactly].

i made the dough balls smaller than i usually do, for a change!

I think making cookies may be my favourite form of baking. They’re easy to make and I adore the smell of cookies wafting through the condo. These cookies turned out puffy, light and soft…but the dough was not SUPER EXCELLENT like a couple of previous cookie recipes. Don’t think I would use the recipe again??…At least they didn’t SPLAT, or anything…I’m just not overwhelmed by the consistency.

dark with light, for a change!
a fuzzy close-up!

OFFICIAL TASTE TESTER COMMENTS:

Dan will not get his cookies until later this week, so again, comments forthcoming. Just so you’re not in suspence, here’s B’s review:

B: “Interesting combination. I like my regular chocolate chip cookies, but these are very good. Very interesting. That Dan picked a good cookie.”

Dad: “I took one bite and my first words were…..”mmmmmmmh these are good!  Very yummy without being too rich. Thanks for thinking of me.”

Dan: (who posted this comment on Facebook) “your cookies are awesome!!! thank you :)!!!!!”

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28. Dad K’s Birthday Granola Bars (Sat Oct 2) – Hello, Dad K! Yes! Guess what you are getting as part of your birthday present?! Ummmm, sorry for the NON-surprise…and Happy Birthday on October 8th! :)

When BFF Debbie shared that she had made the most amaze-balls granola bars ever, I decided to make these for Brad’s Dad, and ship them to him for a birthday treat. They’ll be going to Collingwood, not too too far away, but I still wanted a recipe that would travel well and hold up to a couple of days in transit. Enter, the granola bars!

Guess what?! When I saw this recipe called for an 8 inch square non-stick pan, I finally picked one up at Bulk Barn! So happy I finally remembered to get myself a pan ahead of a recipe that requires it!

i like the sturdiness of this wilton brand!
love the bulk barn! you can exactly the quantity you desire – i much prefer this to having partial packages sitting around!

OK! Let’s get baking! BFF Debbie is totally correct in her recipe assessment: this one IS quick to prep!

GRANOLA BARS

  • 2/3 cup honey
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled [I used unsalted Becel margarine]
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 cups quick oats
  • 1/2 package (100 g ) pecan pieces, chopped
  • 1/2 package (100 g) slivered almonds, chopped
  • 1/2 cup dried and sweeted cherries, roughly chopped [I used dried blueberries, just for fun]
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line an 8 inch square cake pan with two criss-crossing pieces of parchment paper that overhang the pan slightly to create handles; set aside.

woo hoo! i already HAD parchment paper in the house, can you believe it?!

2. In a large bowl, whisk honey, butter, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt until smooth. Fold in remaining ingredients, mixing well to coat evenly. [Have to add that this mixture smelled ahhh-maaaaazing already, even at this point!] 

[In her notes to me, BFF Debbie suggested “you cannot scrimp on the honey…”; so I added a drizzle more, for good measure]:

a dSLR camera would really make this look pretty!…

3. Press mixture firmly into prepared pan and bake on the centre rack for 22 to 25 minutes or until golden. Cool before lifting from pan with the paper handles. Cut into 18 bars and serve, or store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.

i take my pressing seriously!! spatula + muscle power!

Per serving (1 bar): 200 calories; 3 g protein; 9 g total fat; 5 mg cholesterol; 27 g carbohydrates; 2 g fibre; 25 mg sodium [Great stats! These bars would make a perfect snack, dessert, breakfast, ice cream topper…I’m impressed!]

remember this big bag of oats?! i think it dates back to about recipe #3 in the kiki project; goal is to have it finished by the end of the 40 recipes!! my finger shows the remaining oats…

My own personal Anna Olson Debbie offered a few other suggestions that I’ll pass along: “Not sure you really need the sugar or all the sugar [I did use the full 2 tbsp]. I think it would depend on what kind of dried fruits you use (ie. cranberries, maybe yes to sugar). I think this would also be great with apricots and cashews and maybe coconut instead of a 2nd nut. Ditch the chocolate chips for that idea…but then I’d keep the sugar in.” Thanks for the ideas, Debbie!

dum da da daaaaahhh! the finished product! ready to be packaged into its (clean) pizza box and shipped away!

B’s been sniffing around the pan and oven…I may be mixing up another batch PDQ as I am standing firmly to my pledge to mail Dad K his FULL pan!

OFFICIAL TASTE TESTER COMMENTS:

So Dad K! Please email me your OFFICIAL TASTE TESTER COMMENTS when you’ve had a chance to try out this part of your birthday treat!

(Because the comments will be at least a week in coming, I will dedicate a separate post to Dad K’s granola bar review, then link back to this recipe). So stay tuned! My fingers are crossed!

ETA: see this separate post for Dad K’s comments!

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27. Lazy Girl’s Chocolate Chip Brownies (Fri Sept 24) – I may be many things in this life, but lazy isn’t one of them. However, it IS Friday evening, and I have episodes of Top Chef, Glee, and The Biggest Loser to watch…but I also have a husband who’s had a long week:

i have instructions from the photo subject that you are to be aware that this is “an unauthorized photo” – duly noted!

When I saw this recipe on Jenna’s Eat, Live, Run blog, I mentally filed away the idea. These squares sound like a variation of white brownies and chocolate chip cookies. Perfect for B, perfect for a Friday night quickie (sorry, could not resist that one)!

As this was a last minute baking decision, we stopped by the newly renovated Beechwood Zehrs:

this store is about 6x the size of my neighbourhood valumart

I needed but two items – eggs and chocolate chips. Can you believe I was UNable to get my usual omega eggs??! and the only 6 pac of eggs were these:

nothing wrong with these eggs, but how can i have better variety at little valumart?!
a chocolate chip dispenser! how fun!

What the photo does NOT show you is that it took B and me multiple efforts to figure out how to get the chips out! turns out you have to press that black bar/lever UP. Instructions would have been nice (but then again you know me and automated systems)!

Anyway, AFTER I had my chips, I discovered…

measuring cups! how handy! could have re-opened my bag and checked, but decided to see how close to 1/2 cup I could eyeball

Then it was back home to start the baking!

Enter the Lazy Girl’s Friday Night Girl’s Way to Blog a Recipe…I link you directly to Jenna’s blog! Click here and you will get the recipe. Jenna’s awesome – she gives you photos AND written directions.

While I may not be lazy, I am clutzy. Right after I snapped this photo of all my ingredients…

lazy = small ingredient list. there’s the recipe on my computer, in the background!

…I DROPPED MY CAMERA IN A SINK FULL OF SOAPY WATER!!! My panicked cries of, “oh no! oh no!” quickly roused B from his sleepy state. We quick popped out the camera card, and the photos thus far are proof that at least that part of the camera is OK. Guess we’ll wait til tomorrow when the camera will have dried out to see how it fared!!

I stuck to Jenna’s recipe exactly. Except for the pan size…(Blackberry camera to the rescue)!

the benefit of keeping your knitting bag on the oven – measuring tape at the ready!

OK! As it happens, my pan is 8×10, just what Jenna recommends!

This Friday Night Lazy Girl has no photos of the blondie-making process. But look how close I got with the chocolate chips!

i know b would rather have MORE than LESS choco chips, as recommended in the recipe!

Now Jenna states the blondies will take 30 minutes to bake; my pan took 45 minutes. But they look spectacular!

have to say – uploading pics from the bb happens at lightening speed! i’m a fan!

So there you have it. You may be lazy (“not that there’s anything wrong with it“) or pressed for time or in need of a choco chip cookie alternative; here you go!

OFFICIAL TASTE TESTER COMMENTS:

Brad: [gives an enthusiastic yet silent thumbs up] Seriously, this was exactly B’s first response. Guess this is the Lazy Husband’s Friday Evening Husband’s Baking Review!
Dad:  “It was absolutely decadent, very moist and tasteful.  It makes the usual chocolate brownies seem very ordinary and mundane.  Keep up the good work.” [Daddy is always so cute with his “keep up the good work” – I fear he includes that statement as a way to ward off any more *health food* trials!] :)

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26. Cookie Giveaway: “Spicy, Chewy, Ginger-y Cookies” for Michelle! (Fri Sept 17) – For purely selfish reasons, I was super happy that the random number-picker chose Michelle’s request – I got to make a recipe that, for once, did not include chocolate chips!! It’s just funny how things work out as they’re meant to be: Michelle and I already had made plans to go on a date with George Clooney go see “The American,” tomorrow eve (I’ll post my movie review this weekend!). PLUS, it’s Michelle’s birthday on Sunday (hope it’s ok to spill those beans, my friend! I won’t post your age – haha!).

Michelle Lewis Meet Michelle!

Michelle’s cookie entry specified (“spicy, chewy, ginger cookies”). I immediately thought of “Molasses Crinkles” as we called them when we were little. But as the name implies, I thought they might be a bit too crunchy/crispy. Then I found a perfect recipe in this book:

i got this book through the scholastic book orders back in grade school!

My mom has the date “November 24, 1978″ inscribed on the inside cover. This is the cutest book ever! There are twelve recipes, one for each month of the year, and to be frank, they all look delicious! I might have to return to this gem later this year!

Here’s the recipe I chose for Michelle’s cookies:

matters not that this is september and this is april’s recipe!

I gathered the ingredients…

nothing too crazy…
unbelievably, i already had all the required spices on hand!

I’m going to cheat again and post the recipe as it appears on the printed page. I feared changing the recipe just in case it wouldn’t turn out – can’t have a bad public rep as a cookie baker! I think it’s clear enough that you can read it, should you want to make a batch! **The only modifications: I added 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg and omitted the raisins. AND I doubled the batch – can’t have my Official Taste Testers get their noses out of joints – they may quit on me, and I still have 14 recipes to go!

i LOVE instructions aimed at kids! i understand them completely!
love that the steps are numbered…

Note the lesson about adding the baking soda to the sour milk:

don’t you love how they include a science experiment?! i, however, got no frothy, bubbly mixture…please tell me why, foodie friends!!!

Skipping along!…

batter, batter, s-wING, batter, batter!

AWESOME batter to work with. I swear I am a convert to Crisco. In both this recipe and the last one (#25, below), I’ve used Crisco instead of my usual butter, and I love the texture it creates – puffy, light batters.

pre-bake…
…and post-bake!
close up!

I got 42 cookies out of the double recipe, so just short of the 48 I should have gotten, according to the recipe. I also baked mine 17 minutes instead of 12 minutes.

Many thanks to Ned at Gourmet Pizza for supplying me with a pizza cookie box!

the bottom layer…
…and the top layer!

Ever the gracious winner, Michelle has already provided us with her acceptance speech! (see the comment section). Hopefully, the cookies do not disappoint!

And again, many thanks to all who entered the cookie contest. Better luck next time – haha!

OFFICIAL TASTE TESTER COMMENTS:

Brad: “Oh, wow.” munch munch. “These are awesome.” chew, swallow. “Just as good as the last recipe. Oh, GREAT!!!”

Dad: “An excellent ginger cookie or shall I say cake because it definitely is very moist and “cakey” with a wholesome ginger taste.  Very different from M’s version which is thinner and more of a ginger “snap”.  If there are any leftovers that no one wants please put me on the list of recipients.  Anyway, I still think I should have won that contest…..somebody goofed.”

ETA: [Michelle has received her cookies and was supremely satisfied with this version of spicy, chewy ginger cookie! Whew!]

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25. Oatmeal Cookies…With a Secret Ingredient (Sat Sept 4) – Today’s recipe is inspired by two things: 1) the sudden switch in the weather to downright chilly conditions. Even I concede fall is in the air…and in fall, thoughts turn to cinnamon and pumpkin (see that Starbucks has their pumpkin spice latte on the menu?) and 2) the opportunity to use up some ingredient leftovers:

L to R: crisco; “secret ingredient” in the food storage; eggs

I asked B what he was tasting if I baked tonight. His reply, in this order: cookies, chocolate chips, oatmeal Done! 

remember this mega-bag o’ oats from way back when? goal is to finish it by recipe #40!

For the recipe, I went with a new recipe book to the Kiki Project:

i noted in the front cover: “stocking stuffer, christmas 1996″

The recipe:

  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup water
  • Combine raisins and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and remove from heat. Cover and let cool to room temp. [I skipped the raisins in favour of….a 300g package of…]
go decadent or go home!
  • 1 cup butter [I used the Crisco – that package was 1 cup]
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin [the secret ingredient mentioned above! had extra, thought I’d throw it in for this fall-ish recipe!]

Beat butter and sugar together in a large bowl. Beat in eggs and vanilla [and pumpkin].

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1/2 t cinnamon
  • 1/4 t nutmeg

Sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.

you know me, usually i eschew the mixing of dry ingredient; so i didn’t SIFT today but did mix separately…

Blend the flour mixture into the creamed mixture until smooth.

  • 2 cups oats
  • [1 300 g package PC Decadent semi-sweet choco chips]

Add oats and cooled raisins and liquid [or chocolate chips] to dough and mix well. Drop by tablespoonful onto a lightly greased cookie sheet and bake in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes [I needed 22 minutes] or until evenly browned. Transfer to wire racks to cool. Yield: 18 large cookies [I got 25 cookies, and I made these pretty big…]

i used a SERVING SPOON to dish out the dough, and made little balls; they look like tea balls!
so cute! so uniform! so pleasing to my eye!

THESE TURNED OUT AM-AAAA-ZING!!! Even I agree with B that I must mark this recipe to repeat. We love the puffiness and lightness and shape of these gems!

i’d enter these in a contest!

Just a wonderful recipe: the cookies came cleanly off the baking sheet and retained their impressive curvature.

There was method to my baking madness: I am now going to watch a PRV’d “Mad Men” episode. Not B’s fave…but I think he’s in a cookie heaven right now, so I should be able to swing this deal!

OFFICIAL TASTE TESTER COMMENTS:

Brad: “These are awesome! Just awesome! They’re awesome, awesome, awesome!!” [OK!!! Considering I’m down to 21 cookies, now, yup, I’ll call these a success! And I smuggled some vegetable into B! Jessica Seinfeld would be proud!]

Dad: “They taste like a health cookie.  Very robust and chewy but the chocolate chips are a nice addition and just finish them off so they taste rich and yummy.  I had the last one tonight after warming it up in the micro and that made it even better.  Wonderful treat.”

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24. Back to School Applesauce Muffins (Mon August 30) – B’s students started today with their orientation sessions, so school is officially back in session! That means that we need portable breakfasts again as most mornings B is flying out the door and would rather have breakfast while driving to school “on-the-go” than take the time to eat at home. Enter muffins!!!

I thought that APPLE muffins would be perfect as apples = back to school, right?! But I was feeling lazy – I mean, I didn’t want to take the time to chop apples – um, I had a flashbulb moment and thought of…applesauce muffins! We haven’t seen these yet during the Kiki Recipe Project!

I turned to my trusty Muffin Mania as I recalled they had an applesauce muffin recipe. Actually, they have two: applesauce oatmeal and applesauce raisin. I have “November 12.1995″ noted on the oatmeal one – with no comments. That usually means that they weren’t that good. So I decided to go applesauce raisin…but sub in…choco chips instead of raisins to make it B-friendly!

the orange silicon pan in the middle is what i usually use; today i decided to go with the monster pans, featured top and bottom

Here’s the recipe with my modifications and notes:

  • 4 eggs [yes, that’s a lot of eggs; however, eggs are all-natural, real, healthy – not a problem, in my books]
  • 2 cups white sugar [I used 1.5 cups, more or less, because of the choco chip addition]
  • 1 1/2 cups oil [I used 1 cup canola then I ran out – oops! so 1/2 cup olive oil was subbed in – is this ok, foodies???]
  • 1 3/4 cups applesauce [I used unsweetened no-name; the 398 ml jar was exactly what I needed]
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour [I used 2 cups all-purpose and 1 cup whole wheat, just for “fun!”]
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg [*my addition*]
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cups raisins [I subbed in a 225 g package of organic semi-sweet chocolate chips; don’t know what the cup measurement is!]

Beat eggs slightly. Add sugar, oil, and applesauce and beat thoroughly.

Add dry ingredients and blend until smooth.

Stir in raisins (chocolate chips).

Fill greased muffin cups 2/3 full and sprinkle with brown sugar on the top of batter.

Bake at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes [I needed 20 minutes for the small tins and 22 minutes for the mammoth tins].

Yield: I got 12 B-sized muffins and 5 Dad-sized muffins out of this recipe.

Rather than have plain ol’ photos of ingredients, I’ve lined up an ACTION SEQUENCE for you today!…

eggs in motion…
pour some sugar on me… :)
oil slick…
flour power…
cinnamon is hard to sprinkle! easier to dump!
new brand of choco chips, not tried before…
a very moist muffin batter (not really a surprise, eh!)
i MADE SURE not to overfill my muffin tins today!!!
…and i had enough batter left over to make these cute minis!
sprinkle action for the topping…
the finished products

These turned out great! Have to add:  now that I think of it, I’m pretty sure this was my mom’s go-to recipe for applesauce muffins back in the day…care to comment or confirm, mom?!

Stay tuned for the taste-tester comments. Man, it’s been so long since they were called in to action, I hope my official taste-testers are still game!

OFFICIAL TASTE TESTER COMMENTS:

Brad: “They’re awesome!” [despite my further questioning and probing remarks, “what is awesome, the taste, texture???…,” all Ig to was, they’re awesome, repeatedly!]

Dad: “Your muffin was great and I enjoyed it for dessert after supper.  It definitely is very dessert worthy what with the chocolate chips but is very moist and yummy.  Quite the chip monster that you are married to.  Thanks for thinking of me.”

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23. April’s Protein Brownie Bars (Tues August 10) – Just cuz the husband’s away is no excuse to NOT bake! In fact, it’s the perfect reason to experiment with a recipe that tempts ME, for a change! Plus, it’s been over a month since I last did a recipe…does the oven still work??!

I found this recipe through Run Sarah’s  blog. She, in turn, got it from April. I follow Sarah’s blog regularly, and she posts some delicious meals and ideas. So today was the day to try Protein Brownies! I’m going to be using two ingredients I have never baked with before: stevia and whey protein powder. What will be the final outcome?!

the ingredient list is short n sweet…
happy for a chance to use up the jay robb that i bought in florida – it didn’t really impress me…

Here is the link to the recipe that Sarah used – it’s on April’s blog. The easiest way to get the original recipe is just to click on April’s name, there. But I’ll repeat it below, noting the slight adaptations I made.

Dry Ingredients:

  • 1/2 soy flour or whole wheat flour [I used whole wheat since that was in the house]
  • 1/2 c dry rolled oats [no problem there as I think my bag is going to last me to the end of 2010!]
  • 1/4 c unsweetened cocoa powder [I can’t tell if mine is unsweetened – is all cocoa powder unsweetened?]
  • 2 scoops or 1/2 c whey protein powder [my Jay Robb equalled exactly 1/2 c! What luck! I have a mix of vanilla and chocolate]
  • 1 tsp stevia [I used 1/2 tsp because I’m new to stevia and because I’m unsure of the sweetness of my cocoa powder]
  • 1 tsp baking powder

Liquid Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup egg whites
  • 1/2 cup pure pumpkin or applesauce [I used tinned organic pumpkin]
  • 1/2 cup water

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8 x 8 inch pan [mine is 10 x 7 inch] with non-stick baking spray [I used a bit of margarine]. Mix all dry ingredients together. Add in the liquid ingredients, mix well. Spread batter into pan. Bake for 25 minutes [I only needed 20 minutes, likely because of the size of my pan??].

Loved these super-easy mixing instructions! Here’s what my steps looked like:

dry ingredients…
…with liquid ingredients mixed in…
…batter is in the pan!…
…and the protein brownies emerge from the oven!

OFFICIAL TASTE TESTER COMMENTS:

I’m not sure if Dad will be in as a taste tester for this one…I’ll let him know these are available, and he can decide to participate or not! He may like to take one along on his Monday Golf Outing, though – an energizing break by the 9th hole, perhaps?

And we’ll see if I still have some in the freezer when B returns…maybe I’ll mention they are “brownies,” and see what his reaction is…

So that leaves ME to taste test my treat! …

sugar mountain melting in my mouth!

Oh dear! WAY WAY WAY TOO SWEET! WAY!! (yes, the brownie bite is in my mouth; not a reinactment!).

I’m not going to blame April – I’m thinking my flavoured Jay Robb added sweetness and maybe my cocoa? Definitely wouldn’t need stevia…can you imagine if I had used the full teaspoon?! The texture and size is just fine, but this is even sweeter than the time I made an anniversary cake all on my own as a 12 year old to surprise my parents…I don’t think any of us could choke down more than a bite of that loving gesture!

This is too funny – first COMPLETE RECIPE FAIL of the 1970 Kiki Project, and it’s for me…well, better that way than springing a mistake on guests! So, Erv, you are spared this time, is B! And I’ll go back to the drawing board! 

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22. Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins Loaf (Tues July 6) – ‘Tis but five short days now til I leave for my Florida vacation! :) Since B already left yesterday, Dad has so very kindly agreed to chauffeur me to the airport on Sunday. As a surprise, I decided to make him a quick loaf. I’m going over to my parents’ this eve to watch “The Jane Austen Book Club” on DVD, so I will bring this along tonight to present to Dad. (Check out the movie review then, tomorrow, under “40 Movies!”). ETA: Well, we had a glitch tonight with mom and dad’s dvd player (it wouldn’t work!) so movie night is bumped to this Thursday. We played Yahtzee tonight instead…and I won! :)

I got it into my head that I had to make a LOAF and I had to use BLUEBERRIES. If you know me, you know that once I get an idea in my noggin, nothing is going to sway me from following through. I could not locate a blueberry loaf recipe, neither in my cookbooks nor on Foodnetwork. But I know that Edna Staebler, for one, readily interchanges muffin and loaf formations. So that’s what I determined to do.

The recipe I chose is from “Nothin’ But Muffins.” I picked this book up on our honeymoon fifteen years ago this month:

inside the front cover of the cookbook

…and just paging through the book right now, I notice this is only the SECOND recipe I’ve ever made from it!

I have two sizes of loaf pans – since I am using a recipe which is meant to produce 12 muffins, I decided on the one on the RIGHT.

bigger is better today

I’ve missed doing Group Photos of assembled ingredients:

the Dry Family…
the Liquid-Moist Family!

Here’s the recipe:

  • 1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter [I used unsalted margarine]
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/8 cups quick-cooking oats [1/8 cup? Who has this?! I used 2 tablespoons – same diff]
  • 1 cup buttermilk [I used 1 tablespoon vinegar with 1 cup 2% milk]
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 cup flour [I used all-purpose]
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, finely chopped [I omitted as Dad finds nuts get stuck in his dental bridgework – TMI?! :) I’m sure he’s glad I shared this)
  • 1 1/3 cups fresh blueberries

1. Preheat oven to 400 degres. Grease muffin cups with butter. [I greased my loaf pan]

2. In small bowl, cream brown sugar and butter. Add egg and beat well.

3. Stir in oats, buttermilk and vanilla.

4. In large bowl, mix flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg and walnuts.

5. Add butter mixture, stirring until just moistened.

[Here I went down my own path – I just added the dry stuff to the liquids mixture…]

i stirred just a bit so as not to overmix…

6. Fold in blueberries.

folded blueberries

7. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full.

8. Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes. [I used 350 degrees for 50 minutes].

9. Makes 18 muffins. [Or one large loaf!]

I am ecstatic that I got to make a recipe without chocolate chips for once! But I thought the top of the loaf could use a little somethin’ somethin’…on the opposite page of the cookbook, the crunch topping sounded good:

i halved the recipe and still had a bit much…

…and sprinkled this topping on the top of the loaf before baking.

And you may wish to know that after an appointment this a.m. with my main girl Julia, my eyebrows are ready for Florida:

ja…
mais, oui!
what a nose angle, eh! if i was a celeb and this appeared in STAR magazine, i’d sue!

So, Erv gets the whole loaf, and I’ll report back with his OFFICIAL TASTE TESTER comments asap! Also note that while I am writing up this entry in the early aft, I’m not going to hit my “update” button til tonight, just before I go over to my parents, just so there is no question of whether the loaf will be a surprise or not! If I lose somehow lose this post in the meantime, I will spit nickels! ETA: Whew! Obviously, I did not lose the post!

out of the oven…
i think this will be a dense, moist slice o’ yummy-ness! (the crumbs taste good!)

OFFICIAL TASTE TESTER COMMENTS:

Dad: “The blueberry loaf is a splendid breakfast treat…fruity, moist and very tasty.  It is crumb eating worthy…..when I was finished I scraped up every little crumb!”

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21. Red Velvet Cocoa Cake (Thurs July 1) – Happy Canada Day! We are celebrating tonight with the annual Seagram Lofts Rooftop Party. Our rooftop provides the perfect viewing of the Columbia Lake fireworks display. The party starts at 8 pm with BBQ’d burgers and hotdogs provided by our Board of Directors, it’s BYOB, and always a fun time with our neighbour-friends (the building next door is invited, too). So, I thought I’d make up a batch of PATRIOTIC cupcakes to bring along! The recipe I used is actually for a two-layer cake, but cupcakes will be much easier to consume as a finger food. I used a recipe from my “Hershey’s Chocolate Lover’s Cookbook” and this was a new recipe for me.

Here’s the recipe followed by my photos!…

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon red food colouring [I used about 3/4 of a tablespoon as I then ran out of dye!]
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk or sour milk [I used sour milk: I added 1 tablespoon vinegar to a 1 cup measure, then filled the rest of the cup with milk, as directed in this recipe; my milk was a 250 ml 2% carton that I bought just for this recipe!]
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • Fluffy Vanilla Frosting [I’ll put the icing recipe after the cake directions and photos]

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans. [I prepped 12 muffin cups in my muffin tins with paper cups]. In large mixer bowl, beat butter, sugar, vanilla, until creamy. Add eggs and food colouring; blend well.

Stir together flour, cocoa and salt; add alternately with buttermilk to butter mixture, beating until well blended. [Oops! I didn’t see this part until I had already added in the flour, cocoa and salt! So I added the sour milk in two parts, all the while beating with my electric beater]. Stir baking soda into vinegar; fold carefully into batter (do not beat). [I did not beat!]. Pour batter into prepared pans. [**Question for foodie friends: is the purpose of the baking soda plus vinegar folded in to add lightness??**]

Bake 30-35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in centre comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Frost with Fluffy Vanilla Frosting. 10-12 servings. [I made 12 cupcakes; if I did it again, i would make 14 instead].

wow that’s bright! can canada adopt HOT PINK as our national colour?!
eek! i had no idea that the vinegar + baking soda would sizzle and fizzle like this – cool!
batter with all ingredients added in – very smooooth!
at first, I wondered if the batter was TOO satiny…but I think I am just used to heavier muffin batter; cake should be lighter
…and into the oven they go!

…and HERE was the error of my ways! As is my tendency, I ONCE AGAIN overfilled my muffin cups. :( When will I learn?!! Because this is what emerged from the oven after a 30 minute bake…

ack!!! MAJOR overflow! Luckily, i always place a baking sheet under my silicone muffin tins or we would have had a real mess – again!
…otherwise, they didn’t look too bad…

I let the cupcakes cool a bit, then the surgery began:

the uncertain chef!…

I ended up with a little bowl of schnibble bits. Then I had an idea!!! Maybe this is a new marketing opp! After all, if people are willing to pay good money to buy ready-made muffin tops , maybe I can sell Cupcake Crumbles?! :)

um, we got LOTS of cupcake crumbles here!
out of the muffin tins, intact – whew!

I tested the crumbles myself, and the schnibbles tasted fine to me: moist, smooth, chocolatey…(consider this an UNOFFICIAL taste test report!) but I am still undecided as to whether the cupcakes are “Party Worthy”…let’s see what adding icing does…

Fluffy Vanilla Frosting (**I am making a half recipe of the recipe below, but have provided the book’s exact recipe for the icing, in case you are following the two layer cake version of this recipe!)

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, softened
  • 5 cups powdered sugar [icing sugar], divided
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt [I am not going to bother]
  • 4-5 tablespoons milk

In large mixer bowl, beat butter, 1 cup powdered sugar, vanilla and salt until well blended. Add remaining 4 cups powdered sugar alternatively with milk, beating to spreading consistency. About 2 3/4 cups frosting.

FYI!!! The half recipe of frosting was EXACTLY the right amount for 12 cupcakes! Whew!

for “of spreading consistency,” i always go by when i can see the beater swirls – yup, this is good!
ok! i like the looks of these!

And now the REAL REASON I wanted to make something with WHITE ICING! …because earlier this week, I found something super-fun at Bulk Barn!…

can you see the shape of the candies?!!

So, finally, I think the cupcakes ARE ok to take to the party…they taste great, the icing is dandy, the candies add Canada Day cuteness…I officially deem them party worthy. Bring on the fireworks display!

the key is not to have TOO many candies per cakie, don’t you think?!

I’ll see if I can catch anyone willing to go “on the record” as an official taste tester tonight!

ETA: I did not catch any comments relating to the cupcakes other than Dad, who gave them the thumbs up. But by the end of the night, there were zero cupcakes left, so I consider that a successful contribution – esp given the professional Seagram Barrels Cake that was also at the party!

40 Recipes, Part 1: Jan9.10-Jan8.11

This post contains 

  • a list of the 40 Recipes I made for the 1970 Kiki Project, January 9, 2010 – January 8, 2011 edition, in chronological date order 
  • Recipes #1-20; Recipe #1 is the very last recipe at the bottom of this post; Recipe #20 is the very first recipe and it is found just after the chronological list of 40 Recipes.
  • Yum! :)

1. Jumbo Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies (Tues Jan 12.10)

2. Carrot Pineapple Muffins (Tues Jan 19.10)

3. Chocolate Chip Cookies – In Memory of Lucy (Wed Jan 27.10)

4. Peanut Butter Gems [cookies] (Sat Jan 30.10)

5. Super Bowl Sunday Decorated Rice Krispie Squares (Sun Feb 7.10)

6. Valentine’s Sugar Cookies: Part I (Wed Feb 10); Part II (Sun Feb 14); Part III (Mon Feb 15.10)

7. Pumpkin Muffins (Sun Feb 21.10)

8. Oscar-Worthy Apple Crisp (Sun Mar 7.10)

9. Microwave Oatmeal Squares (Tues Mar 9.10)

10. Carrot Peanut Butter Cookies (Wed Mar 17.10)

11. Pumpkin Nut Bread (Sun Mar 21.10)

12. Log (Wed Apr 7.10)

13. Yogurt [Date] Muffins (Tues Apr 13.10)

14. Aunti + Em’s Muffins (Wed Apr 21.10)

15. Double Chocolate Brownies (Wed Apr 28.10)

16. Banana Loaves (Tues May 18.10)

17. Butter Tarts (Wed May 19.10)

18. Mexican Cocoa Torte (Sun May 23.10)

19. Whole Wheat Zucchini Bread (Fri June 4.10)

20. Chocolate Cheesecake Muffins (Thurs June 17.10)

21. Red Velvet Cocoa Cake (Thurs July 1.10)

22. Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins Loaf (Tues July 6.10)

23. April’s Protein Brownie Bars (Tues Aug 10.10)

24. Back-to-School Applesauce Muffins (Mon Aug 30.10)

25. Oatmeal Cookies…With A Secret Ingredient (Sat Sept 4.10)

26. Cookie Giveaway: “Spicy, Chewy, Ginger-y Cookies” for Michelle (Fri Sept 17.10)

27. Lazy Girl’s Chocolate Chip Brownies (Fri Sept 24.10)

28. Dad K’s Birthday Granola Bars (Sat Oct 2.10)

29. Dan’s Chocolate Cookies with White Chocolate Chips (Mon Oct 4.10)

30. Mama Pea’s Pumpkin Spice Bars (Thanksgiving Mon Oct 11.10)

31. Brown Sugar Chocolate Chip Loaf Cake (Sun Oct 24.10)

32. Pumpkin Spice Cookies (Mon Oct 25.10)

33. Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Balls (Thurs Nov 11.10)

34. Cornbread Muffins (Wed Nov 17.10)

35. Childhood Bran Muffins (Sun Nov 21.10)

36. Oh Baby Bars (Tues Nov 30.10)

37. Shortbread Kissie Surprises (Fri Dec 17.10)

38. Chocolate Chip Rugelach (Mon Dec 20.10)

39. Marbleized Banana Loaf (Sat Jan 1.11)

40. Chipits Chocolate Chip Cookies (Wed Jan 5.11)

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20. Chocolate Cheesecake Muffins (Thurs June 17) – Over the course of this recipe project (half completed as of today’s recipe, did you notice?!), I have taken to warning Dad when I pass along a muffin. If the muffin has chocolate chips in it (and have there been any without chocolate chips?!), I’ve learned to advise Dad that he will enjoy the muffin as a dessert muffin – it’s just the way his tastebuds are, I have noticed.

Today’s recipe is most certainly a dessert muffin for both B and Dad, I do believe! It’s again from the trusty Muffin Mania cookbook, and this recipe is even found in the last section of the book, entitled, “Muffins For Dessert, Why Not?” Ummm, isn’t that then called a cupcake?! Or does a cupcake need icing to be called a cupcake? Ah, semantics! Anyway, I was excited to try a unique muffin type today.

So how did we get from this:

ready and waiting

…to this!

“wuh-oh, it’s magic!”

Here’s the process I followed today:

Recipe:

  • 1 – 3 oz package cream cheese [my first error: I just bought a 250 g package and used all of it – realized after, when I had mountains left over, that 3 oz does not equal 250 g! probably should have used 1/3 – 1/2 of the package – oops!]
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar [i hope granulated sugar is the same as sugar as I used the same thing for both sugars!]
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 3/4 cup milk [I used almond milk, the only kind in our fridge right now]
  • 1/3 cup cooking oil [I used canola oil]
  • powdered sugar

In small bowl, beat cream cheese and 2 T sugar until light and fluffy. Set aside.

how’s this for light and fluffy?!

 In large bowl, stir together flour, 1/2 c sugar, cocoa, baking powder and salt.

Make a well in centre of dry ingredients.

i think my well more resembles a canal!

Combine egg, milk and oil. Add all at once to dry ingredients…

now it’s definitely canal–ish!

…stirring just until moistened. (Batter should be lumpy).

my batter really isn’t all that lumpy…

Spoon about 2 tablespoons of chocolate batter into each greased muffin cup or paper cup. Drop 1 tsp of cream cheese on top and then add more chocolate batter.

sadly, i only got SEVEN muffins today! and i didn’t make them THAT large, as you can see…

Bake 375 degrees for 20 minutes [I needed 23 minutes today].

Dust with powdered sugar if desired.

a more enjoyable type of dusting than what i usually do around the home!

I’m pretty pleased with how these turned out. Official taste-tester tasting results await!

Official Reviewer Comments:

Brad: “Pretty good…I’ve never had a muffin like this before…Tastes a bit like cake.” [ok…the pretty good is not a RAVE, but cake is yummy so i’m a bit confused by these comments!]

Dad: “I just finished eating your muffin and can report that it was first class.  An excellent dessert muffin which would go great with a cup of good hot coffee.  The taste, texture and moisture are what makes this so good and the interior cream was a bonus!” [that’s pretty high praise!]

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19. Whole-Wheat Zucchini Bread (Fri June 4) – On Sunday, B and our longtime friend, Brian, are taking off for North Carolina. Call it a Guys’ Road Trip, if you will. They haven’t done one of these trips in quite a few years; previous incarnations included mountain biking in Utah and biking in North Carolina. This time, they are driving to North Carolina and renting an RV in which to go “touring.” Can you tell everyone is 12-15 years older now?!

As a little somethin’ to pack along, I thought I’d make up a quick bread. This recipe is from my Anne Lindsay “The Lighthearted Cookbook,” from which I also produced Recipe #9 “Microwave Oatmeal Squares.” I think B is going to turn his nose up at zucchini; however when you’re on the road, healthy snacks are hard to find. The zucchini should help “keep things moving” if you know what I mean…and I don’t mean the RV! Besides, zucchini is relatively tasteless, and I’ve of course incorporated….say it with me now…CHOCOLATE CHIPS!

i luvvvv zucchini and eat it daily so I just dug this out of my veg drawer in the fridge
zucchini is a heckuva lot easier to grate than carrots!

Anne Lindsay’s recipe is for two loaves; I halved the recipe as I doubt that even B and Brian could eat two loaves while they’re fresh! I’ve put my measurements in brackets, below:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour [3/4 to 1 cup all-purpose flour]
  • 1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour [3/4 cup whole-wheat flour]
  • 1 Tablespoon cinnamon [dumped the remnants of my almost-empty cinnamon into the bowl- haha!-not more than 2 tsp]
  • 1 tsp nutmeg [1/2 tsp nutmeg]
  • 1 tsp baking soda [1/2 tsp baking soda]
  • 1 tsp baking powder [1/2 tsp baking powder]
  • 1/2 tsp salt [1/4 tsp salt]
  • 3/4 cup raisins [dumped the rest of the choco chips from my partially-filled bag – couldn’t have been more than 1/2 c]
  • 2 eggs [1 egg]
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil [<1/4 cup canola oil]
  • 3/4 cup low-fat plain yogurt [1/2 cup plain organic low-fat yogurt]
  • 1/4 cup milk [2 Tablespoons]
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar [1/2 cup, packed brown sugar]
  • 2 tsp vanilla [1 tsp vanilla]
  • 2 cups finely shredded unpeeled zucchini [1 cup grated unpeeled zucchini]
  • i bought this vanilla more for the cute little bottle than the fact that it’s organic!

Directions:

In bowl, combine all-purpose and whole-wheat flours, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and raisins/choco chips.

In large bowl, beat eggs until foamy; beat in oil, yogurt, milk, sugar, and vanilla. Stir in zucchini. Add flour mixture and stir until combined.

Pour batter into 2 well-greased 8 x 4 inch/1.5 L loaf pans. Bake in 350 degree oven for 55 minutes [my loaf took exactly 55 minutes] or until toothpick inserted in centre comes out clean. Remove from pan and let cool thoroughly before slicing. Makes 2 loaves (about 13 slices each) [I got 11 slices – my knife is dull!].

Have you heard of that expression “the good, the bad and the ugly?”! Well, here is my baking version for today:

the wet…
the dry… (yes, i actually used two bowls today JUST so i could poetically post the photos…)!!
the combined…
…and the finished product!

The batter was just of the perfect consistency when I popped the loaf pan into the oven, and I think the final loaf turned out super-well. I’m now going to slice the loaf and wrap each slice individually so the guys can just pluck out a slice when the moods strikes. So I sincerely doubt that I will be able to post any Official Reviewer Comments since it will be very much BYGONES by the time B gets home again (and hopefully I will have made another recipe by that time!). And Erv gets none. :( (ETA: I kept a slice out for Erv after all – since I had an odd number – now i can send 10 with the guys – no fighting, no biting over what would have been an extra slice for someone!)

Any bets as to which state the bread will make it to?!…

Official Reviewer Comments: OK! I DO have comments!…

Brad: (sent via Blackberry less than two hours after he left the house for his road trip: “The zucchini loaf is awesome!” [yea! and i was pleasantly surprised that when i confessed that the “chocolate chip loaf” had zucchini in it, b did not even bat an eye!…i think the fact that he tried butternut squash on his KCI canoe trip this past week had opened his mind a little!…]

Dad:  “I did have your zuccini bread for breakfast yesterday. I really enjoyed it as it was very moist, light and tasty.  More of dessert bread what with the chocolate chips! Keep up the good work (baking).” [I guess Dad had some dessert for his breakfast yesterday!]

Thank you, official taste testers! Look at that – I ended up with two more comments than I anticipated for this project!

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18. Mexican Cocoa Torte (Sun May 23) – I asked B what I could make him for a special birthday dessert to take over to my parents’ for our Sunday eve birthday. He immediately said “Log.” (see #12, below). I immediately felt bad – I said no. It’s in the Rules of the 1970 Kiki Project: which are in my head “Duplicating a previously made recipe does not count as a new recipe.” So then he said it didn’t matter. I again felt bad. So I searched my CookBook Library for a worthy replacement…

This idea seemed 40th Birthday Worthy. I found it in my “Hershey’s Chocolate Classics” cookbook. I’m not sure how old it is, but the price is $2.95 on the cover (granted, it’s soft cover, coil bound) and the dates that I’ve noted begin in about 1994. I’ve always thought this one looked really cool:

how closely will i be able to replicate this beauty?!

Plus, it is a bit “log-like” in the sense that there are creamy layers between cake-y layers and there’s chocolate involved. I crossed my fingers that this could be a welcomed log-substitute.

But yet another hurdle: one main ingredient is “pie crust mix.” I had never heard of such an animal! An American thing? But lo and behold, I DID find it – and at Valumart across the street, no less!

i’ve seen pre-made pie shells, of course, but those are not this – this product is like a cake-mix for pie shells

Onto the recipe and the multiple steps involved!

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup cocoa [Hershey’s, naturally, is suggested in my book! I used Fry’s]
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup shortening [have lots left from the butter tarts in recipe #17, below!]
  • 1/2 cup strong coffee [B is not a mocha fan, so I just used water]
  • 1 package (11 oz) pie crust mix
  • 2 cups heavy or whipping cream
  • mini chocolate chips

I started at 9:30 a.m. with the following steps:

Combine sugar, cocoa, cinnamon, shortening and coffee(water) in small saucepan. Cook over very low heat, stirring constantly, until smooth and creamy.

those words “stirring constantly” always strike fear into my heart as I have previously had bad luck with gloppy messes – today was fine!

Cool to room temperature.

Place pie crust mix in medium mixing bowl; stir in 3/4 cup of the cocoa mixture, [AGHHH!! as i am typing i realize that i added 3/4 of the mix NOT 3/4 CUP!!! oops! guess my pie crust mix turned out less dense then??!] blending thoroughly. Shape into smooth ball; chill 1 hour. [I chilled it several hours].

2:30 p.m.

Divide dough into 4 pieces. Line two cookie sheets with aluminum foil; mark two 8-inch circles on each. Place balls of dough on foil; press with fingers into marked circles. Bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes [I needed 15 minutes] or until almost set; cool on cookie sheets.

notice i DID mark out 8 inches…but i couldn’t get the dough to spread that wide!

[while the dough was baking, i made the cream…]

Add remaining cocoa mixture to cream in a small mixer bowl; beat until stiff.

this part went without issue except it takes a lotta beating!!

4:00 p.m.

Place one pastry round on serving plate; spread with one-fourth of the whipped cream mixture. Repeat layering with remaining three rounds and whipped cream mixture, ending with whipped cream.

exactly the same process as making log!

Chill several hours. Garnish with mini chips.

ta-da! compare to photo above from the book…ok, maybe skip that!

Additional notes:

  • Since we served dessert about 6:30 p.m., my torte chilled a couple of hours instead of several. We’ll see what the leftovers taste like today, after chilling more hours…
  • I had wayyyy too much whipping cream left over – like I could have whipped up 1 cup only, easy. But I didn’t want to put TOO much cream in the layers; comparing my torte with the cookbook photo, I could have used a bit more, but 2 cups is too much
  • if I made this again, I think I would double the amount of pie crust mix (there are two pouches in the Robin Hood box, so this could work) because my final torte was so teeny!
  • the recipe says it will make 8-10 servings; we got 6 tiny servings. Glad I was not making this for a dinner party!
birthday candles! 4 candles (10 years on each candle, haha!)

Official Reviewer Comments:

Dad: “Scrumptious! The texture is like a cookie-cake.”

Brad: “That cake kicks ass!” [I guess that means it is an acceptable log substitute!]

yum yum!

So, the torte is the grand finale to seven days of birthday treats for B. Thank goodness. I’m feeling a bit “baked out.” :)

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17. Butter Tarts (Wed May 19) – When I was paging through the “Come Taste the Pride” cookbook (see yesterday’s recipe #16, below), I happened upon this recipe for butter tarts. B is a huge butter tart fan…so what better Treat-of-the-Day for Birthday Week than homemade butter tarts!

Now you know me: I’m not a risk-taker, and livin’ on the edge is not quite my style… so why in heaven’s name did I decide to do up butter tarts today, **MY FIRST FORAY EVER INTO PASTRY MAKING!! **, with maman-the-Pastry-Queen out of city??? Nor did I Google any how-to’s or consult FoodNetwork…I was feeling adventurous, I do suppose…although a tad apprehensive:

are we making pastry, getting a tooth pulled or going for a needle?!

The recipe itself sounded simple enough. Let me be clear: my confidence in embarking on this baking expedition was..not so high. So I was not about to change a thing (except for the flour modification noted below) with the stated recipe. I even bought shortening and corn syrup (the evils!!) to ensure exactness!! Here is ze recipe:

Shells:

  • 2 cups all purpose flour [i KNOW mom’s super secret pie crust recipe has whole wheat, so I did 1 cup all-purpose, 1 cup whole wheat]
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup shortening
  • 4 tbsp water

Mix flour and salt in large bowl. Cut in shortening with pastry cutter [I used a knife]. Stir in water. Roll out thinly [yea, that’s easier said than done!] Cut into 4 inch diameter rounds. Fit into medium sized muffin cups.

Before starting, I went through all our round dishes to find one that was 4 inches in diameter:

see, this is why you store your knitting bag on top of the oven – so that you have easy access to a tape measure while baking!

Let me be frank with you, dears. I did not enjoy this pastry making process at all. The messiness messed with my inner Rain Man side:

ick, ick, want to clean, clean it up, messy, ewww…

The shells eventually got into the cups. They really looked dorky:

i know the pastry is too thick! i could not get it thinner!!! soooo messy!

But let’s move on…

Filling:

  • 3/4 cup raisins
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup corn syrup

Put raisins in pastry shells.

Phew! A procedure neither messy nor complex!

Mix remaining ingredients together in bowl and blend well. Fill shells 2/3 full with this mixture. Bake at 425 degrees for 12-15 minutes or until tarts are set.

Ready for the oven!

Sadly, I do believe the grade on these is going to be F for Fail…I needed to bake these 20+ minutes, and I only pulled them out of the oven JUST NOW because the fire alarm started going off!!! And these look nothing like the tarts I can buy right next door at:

seriously, this is taken from my window – we live 100 metres from tart bakers!!

Well, we shall see what the verdict is from the Birthday Boy Taste Tester [I am hoping he is a little more verbose than with the banana breads yesterday…] - even if they turn out to be an epic fail, I tried! I will consult with mom, BFF Debbie and the gals on FoodNetwork before another pastry session…or just walk 100 metres and wipe my hands. :)

A final shot of what could be a historic moment [remember the one and only time i made pastry?!]:

no clue how i will get them outta the pan…they made need to be eaten “in-house”…with a bib!

ETA: An A-Ha moment during my run…there IS a difference between my gorp-y tarts and those at Casa Mia: mine, at least, are made with love for the recipient; betcha Casa Mia doesn’t give a hoot who eats up their goodies!

(And I did finally get them out of the pans, with only two casualties!…)

they do remind me of the zwiebachs i made in florida at age 4, though!

Official Reviewer Comments:

[I’ll see what B says about the taste, then determine whether dad gets one or not this weekend!…]

Brad: “Pretty damn good. A success.” [whew!!! and i got this comment without any probing questions at all!]

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16. Banana Loaves (Tues May 18) – It’s B’s 40th Bday in THREE days!!! As such, I am trying to do a little something special each day this week (we started off yesterday/Monday with an early eve outing to The Duke). Today is baking day! I haven’t made a quick bread recipe yet for the “40 Recipes,” so that is today’s treat. And we’re getting TWO LOAVES out of the deal!

I found my recipe in my handy-dandy “Come Taste the Pride” cookbook that I bought at the 1995 International Plowing Match. It was held in Waterloo Region that year, around Ayr, if memory serves. No, I was not trying my hand at farming in that era; as a teacher at Rockway, I was accompanying the Grade 9’s on a school trip! I can’t tell you how many recipes I have made from this book over the years – countless. It’s an accumulation of favourites submitted by members of the Plowing Match Committees. Just down-home, rib-sticking, nuttin’ fancy, homestyle cookin’.

This recipe grabbed my attention because I could get two loaves made – why not?! Double the results for basically the same effort as one loaf. Now the title says “Chocolate Zucchini Loaf” – Brad + zucchini = NO! But the substitute is banana. Brad + banana bread = ALL RIGHT!!!

The recipe:

Haha, I am getting smart in my old age (40 + 4 months, 9 days now!) – here’s a PHOTO of the original recipe…because y’all just know I then made changes…

here’s the recipe as it appears in the cook book….

…and here is what I did differently:

~ I used 1/2 cup butter and 1/4 cup margarine

~ I cut the sugar from 2 cups to 1 1/2 cups

~ I used 1/2 cup almond milk, not cow’s milk

~ I used 3 bananas and 0 zucchinis :)

~ I used 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour and 1 cup whole wheat flour

THEN!!! I had the brainwave to make each loaf unique! So…after the addition of the cinnamon, I STOPPED! I divided the batter into two bowls thusly…

tried to get the batter 50-50 between the two bowls…

So bowl #1 on the LEFT became the CHOCOLATE bowl. I added to the batter: 3/4 chopped peanuts and 1/3 cup cocoa powder. Bowl #2 on the RIGHT became the WHITE bowl. I added to the batter: 1 cup chocolate chips (organic even! …which will be completely lost on B…).

So this…

reminds me of the black and white cookie episode from “Seinfeld!”

became this…

pretty even split, i think!

…which became this!…

i love the way these baked up – perfectly rounded!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

  

 

can’t resist one more shot!

 

Official Reviewer Comments:

Since the parental units are en vacances this week, Brad will be the only one submitting an opinion. I will have one slice of each loaf ready and waiting for him when he comes home from work today. Sheesh, what a Betty Crocker I am, or what!

B: “good and good.” [well. i am rather underwhelmed. i pushed and nagged for more, but got NO WHERE. i give up!]

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15. Double Chocolate Brownies (Wed April 28) – I like to read and study and analyze people – I actually do work at this! By that I mean studying body language, actions, “reading between the lines,” of emails, that kind of thing…so if you are gifted with this ability in any way, you may have noticed that any recipe I try to “healthy-up” gets less than stellar reviews from the two men at the pinnacle of our Official Review Panel. *Sigh.* It’s just me ‘n Jamie Oliver tryin’ to change the world…*Double Sigh.* (insert violin soundtrack here) :)

Feeling bored with my choice of cookbook square recipes (even though there must be, kid you not, 500+ at my disposal), I turned to my fave online source, FOOD NETWORK CANADA!!!! Anyone else totally in love with the TV channel, too? It is so my number one, first choice to put on in the fitness room while I elliptical an hour away. I wanted to do something Anna Olson, but this Christine Cushing recipe just seemed to jump right out as an olive branch offering for Erv-man and B-o-rama. Never have seen CC’s shows – anyone care to offer their opinion of her on-air personality? I will def be coming back to Anna O because I luuuuvvv’ed her on Cityline and luuuvv her show “Sugar.”

OK, on to the recipe…but see I can blabble away because all I am going to do for the recipe is link you to the website. You can see it for yourself right here! I did not add/subtract/substitute ANYTHING from the original list of ingredients.

I’ll just add a couple of side notes:

1. I just melted the butter and chocolate in a saucepan, and it worked just fine.

2. I do not have an 8 x8 ” pan – mine is oblong – when I told B, he said I am to take myself out ASAP and get one! Okey-Dokey, honey-bun!

3. I made these in the evening and we all know my brain goes to sleep somewheres around 7 pm, so I forgot to take photos til the end.

batter in the pan – looks very nice, must say!
anyone want to help with some dirty dishes? Anyone? Bueller?…

So Official Reviewer Comments will follow…if me and my little crystal ball are on the ball at all (paging dr suess!), I anticipate RAVE REVIEWS!… 

And would you like one brownie, or two tonight?!

Official Reviewer Comments:

Brad: “It is beautiful and I thank you.” [Wow! High praise indeed! Score one for the crystal ball!…B chose to have one brownie – see photo above – wise choice as it was about 9:30 pm – sufficient for a bedtime snack!]

Dad (via email): “Had the brownie for supper and it was just stellar.  Although I will admit that I feel like my son [Chris] who says that brownies must have icing to be perfect.  So I put on a dollop of Dream Whip and that worked just fine too.  All in all a great treat….if Brad has any leftovers just bring them here and I will force myself to finish them.  I think they would also be excellent with a good cup of hot coffee.”

In completely unrelated but no less fascinating news, I got my first facial ever today. See?

do I glow? do I gleam? (um, not so much with no make-up and a roaring case of hat head!) but i feel clean!

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14. Aunti and E’s Muffins (adapted from Company’s Coming “Kid’s Cooking” Germ Muffins recipe) – (Wed April 21)

This week, I spent two delightful days in TO with The Divine Miss Em while SIL Ana and Little C were on an excursion. Thursday is our Gymnastics class, but I was looking for a little special activity that E and I could do together on the Wed aft…what better than a baking activity! E and I have delighted ourselves with our Christmas Gingerbread House Decorating and our latest success was an Easter House and Sugar Cookie decorating bonanza (who truly has more fun, E or Aunti?!). I thought that muffins would be easy, healthy, and take the right amount of time, considering Miss E is only three – we’ll wait til she’s, say….eight, to try our hands at, say…pies! :)

As noted above, I adapted the recipe from my Kid’s Cooking cookbook…and as you’ll see, it had a few changes made at the very last minute! I pre-measured and sandwich-baggied the dry ingredients at my place beforehand, so all E and I had to do was dump the dry stuff together, then add the wet ingredients – which I helped myself to from Chris and Ana’s kitchen. Here’s the recipe and also what E and I used:

  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cooking oil [we ended up with olive oil instead!…I asked Chris where their fam keeps their oil just as he was booting it out the door; he handed me olive oil…ok! we can experiment with this, thoughteth I!]
  • 1 cup buttermilk [I used the alternative, 1 T vinegar added to a cup of organic 2% milk]
  • 1 tsp vanilla flavouring [omitted from this recipe as I only found the vanilla in Chris and Ana’s kitchen AFTER we had the muffins in the oven!]
  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup wheat germ [I subbed in 1 cup oat bran]
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt

[Again, I only found the muffin cups in my hosts’ kitchen AFTER the muffins were a-baking…so a little butter greased the muffin cups instead!]

Directions: Break the egg into the large bowl:

Little E cracked the egg, Aunti opened the egg into our bowl

Add both of the sugars, the cooking oil, buttermilk and vanilla. Mix well.

two hands on the mixer make light work!

Now, we just added all the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients at this point. The recipe tells you to stir the dry stuff together in a bowl then add the wet to the dry. Our way worked just fine! E and I also freelanced by adding “toppings,” a job which fully fell into E’s domain. Her options were raisins, raspberries and granola cereal. The ratio seemed to be: one raisin for a topping, one for little E’s mouth – only natural when you’re 3, right?!

topping-adding: well done, Little E!

Bake on the centre rack of the oven at 400 degrees for about 12 minutes [we needed about 17-20 minutes, if memory serves – sorry, I was distracted with 3 year old chatter!].  The recipe says you’ll get 12 muffins; we got 9 nice snack-sized muffins.

Needles-to-say, taking the muffins in and out of the oven was an Aunti Job.

Aunti and E were both very pleased with the final results of our Baking Activity!

I think we’re ready to graduate from Muffin Baking 101 to Baking 102! Little E was a great help! Since both Chris and Ana are quite accomplished and adventurous Foodies, Aunti is guessing it won’t be long before E is teaching Aunti a thing or two!

Em then put on her Photographer’s Hat and snapped a couple of photos herself:

a close and rather dizzy-ing view of the muffeenies…
Alligator Aunti swoops on in!…

Official Reviewer Comments:

(A plethora for you today!)

Aunti: the oft-used but oh-so-applicable term “melt in your mouth” immediately popped to my mind; moist and just sweet enough.

E: [Aunti: what do you think of our muffin? do you like it?] vigorous head nodding ensued. no muffin crumb was left unconsumed. really cannot fault little E for NOT talking with her mouth opened – she has been instilled with excellent manners already! [note: we shared our muffin at a local coffee shop later that afternoon…while we also enjoyed water (E) and tea (Aunti) – the breather after the baking and before a park outing!]

Dada Chris: Surprisingly moist and flavourful given their rather standard appearance. Well done!

Uncle B: menhhhh… [ummmm, is anyone really surprised by Uncle B’s reaction, given that there are no CHOCOLATE CHIPS in these muffins?!?! didn’t think so!]

G’Pa: Enjoyed it for lunch yesterday with M’s excellent cherry/blueberry/kirsch jam.  What a great combination… together it was super.  Think the muffin was a good basic “eat me” treat. 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

13. Yogurt (Date)* Muffins – (Tues April 13). *There’s not a date to be found in my version! Instead we’ve got that usual standby…chocolate chips!! :)

Today’s recipe comes from “Muffins from the Heart,” by Shirley Hartung. When I taught aerobics at the AR Kaufman Y in Kitchener in the ’90s, Shirley was a class participant and regular member of the Y. I don’t remember when or where I picked up this book, but I think I got it because the recipes are very healthy and because I knew Shirley!

Of course, I made some modifications to her recipe. So her recipe is in full, below, and I’ve added my changes in brackets, as per usual! I chose this recipe today because I have some yogurt I want to use up. I really am prefering Liberte brand Greek Yogurt these days, but it’s not that easy to find around here: Valumart does not carry it, and it’s hit and miss finding it at Eating Well Organically. So once this regular yogurt is gone, I can get my “preferred stock” again! [Never tried Greek Yogurt? I highly recommend it. Lots more protein than regular yogurt, but with similar health benefits].

Recipe:

  • 3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour [I used 3 cups whole wheat and 1/2 cup oat bran – something else I’m trying to use up!]
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts (optional) [I omitted]
  • 1 cup skim milk yogurt
  • 3/4 cup low-fat milk [I used unsweetened almond milk – again, all the milk in the fridge at present!]
  • 1/2 cup liquid honey [I used my agave syrup]
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup canola oil or unsweetened applesauce [I used a bit less than 1/2 cup canola oil]
  • 2 large eggs or equivalent egg substitute [I used 2 eggs]
  • 1 cup washed, chopped dates [here maketh the appearance of the 1 cup choco chips!]

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix together flour and baking soda. Stir in walnuts, if using. Beat together yogurt, milk, honey, oil or applesauce and eggs. Stir dates into liquid mixture. Add liquid mixture to dry ingredients, stirring only until blended. Fill prepared muffin tins, the size of your choice and bake accordingly. [Shirley has a baking time chart on another page for various sized muffin tins; I needed 30 minutes in my oven for medium sized muffins]. This batch gave me 12 nicely sized muffins – in my mind, not too big and not too small. [Note: I also just do the following for muffins: beat all liquids, stir in dry ingredients a bit, stir in choco chips til all mixed – seems to work just fine and one less bowl to wash!] This batter turned out really nicely and I am pleased with how the muffins look, fresh out of the oven.

Only two photos for you today as I figure that really, how many bowls of muffin batter do you need to see on this blog?! So just a “before” group shot of the ingredients and an “after” photo of the finished product:

the cast of contributors!…
not bad lookin’ a’tall, if you ask me!

And a third photo, cuz…doh! I completely forgot muffin cups!

Ever peeled your muffin cups before?!

Official Reviewer Comments:

Brad: “These are awesome! What’s in them?” Me: “Well, there’s yogurt…” Brad: “YOGURT?!!! ok, stop. I don’t want to know any more. But they’re really good.” [Yea! I will not encourage him to read the blog/the recipe above!]

Dad: First of all, thank you for thinking of me with the gift of a muffin.  However, this report is somewhat biased since I was discriminated against by not getting a taste of “log”. [I have now promised Dad his own log sometime!] A very good dessert muffin with a nice chocolate taste but somewhat dense…still all in all very tasty.

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12. Log – (Wed April 7) Despite the rather unappealing name (which, I should note, is our family name for this dessert!), LOG is a classic Derksen family favourite. It’s hard to say whether Dad, Chris or Brad adores it more. I think my Grandma Cressman even made Log (I have hazy childhood memories). This dessert is tres simple to whip up (pun intended!) but looks pretty darn cool when it’s done.

Here was the scene outside our window this morning:

a rather rainy day…can you see the raindrops on the window?

 Poor B has to spend the entire day outside, and he really wasn’t looking forward to it. So being the Dear Wifey that I am :), I thought, what better way to welcome him home tonight than with LOG? (All B knows at this point is that I have a surprise dessert waiting for him…so shhh on what it actually is, ‘K?!)

Even though this is a 3rd generation-old dessert, I myself have never made log. But with two main ingredients, it’s soooo Kiki-friendly that it’s about time I tried.

Here are your ingredients:

Mr Christie’s Chocolate Wafers…

plus…

…whipping cream!

And that’s it! Now in consultation with my mom (cuz I never whip cream and wanted to clarify that all I do is literally beat the H-E-double hockey sticks out of it), she also suggested I could add a bit of vanilla, so I did dash in just an unmeasured splash. And I added 7 drops of green food colouring (no reason for 7, that’s just what I ended up doing)…however, you can’t really see the green shade (I was thinking “spring!”) so I should have added more. Now, if your dessert eaters are mint fans, you could add mint flavouring – but B is not a minty guy, so I did the vanilla.

Now, I should add right here, that the recipe for LOG is on the package of wafers. HOWEVER…they say to use COOL WHIP, not whipping cream. Gack! The horror, the sacriledge! We, in our family, sneer at Cool Whip. But just wanted to let you know that you could use CW as an alternative.

Ok, moving on… so you whip the gadgeebers out of the whipping cream with your electric beaters. It took me about 7 minutes.

if Erv was here, he’d lick the beaters fo’ sure!

The package instructions suggest you make little piles of wafer/whip/wafer/whip – so I made little stacks of 6-7:

it feels like making Oreo cookies!

Then, still following the package instructions, I did put everything in the fridge to set for a bit. I knit two rows (they’re long rows, it’s a baby blanket), blogged this post right up to this very moment, then continued on…

Good directions! The little logs were easy to pick up and move onto the board…

looks like a caterpillar, don’t you think?!

I creamed the top and side…and finished log!…

ta-da!

And back into the fridge goes Loggie.

Now it’s important to note that when you serve log, you cut it on the diagonal, like so:

cut.on.diagonal.

This method will give you zebra stripes and elicit the “oh, wow!” exclamations from your guests. Neat-o mosquito, eh?

I’ll try to get a photo when I get B’s taste tester response. (Erv may miss out on this one – Log does not transport well, and it’d be kind of funny to give B his special dessert with a chainsaw hack out of it…)

Oh – which reminds me of one last thing: Log does not keep well. Like you can keep in the fridge no more than 24 hours, I’d say. I have it on the cutting board right now, in the fridge, but will def transfer to Tupperware after B eats his share tonight. (I don’t think it’s a good thing if he eats an entire Log in one evening, but then again, we’re talking B and we’re talking LOG, so you never know)!

Well, that was fun! I’ll post the taste comments later…hopefully I got the alternating cream and wafer ratio correct!

Official Reviewer Comments:

Dad (via email): “That’s the best looking log I never got to eat!” [poor Dad…maybe next time I’ll have to make two twigs instead of one log so that he gets a taste, too!]

Brad: [I told B to close his eyes and hold out his hands, then…Surprise!]

“My very own LOG!” exclaims B!

Here you can see the stripes a bit better…on the TWO slices that B requested. We noticed that my LOG has less cream between the choc wafers, but B said he liked it – more chocolate-y, apparently.

B doing his best impression of my brother, he said!

Whew – I can carry on the family tradition of LOG (even if I am not up to speed on sticky buns or Paska!).

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11. Pumpkin Nut Bread (Sun Mar 21) – What better way to spend the first Sunday morning of Spring (yes! officially!) than with Edna Staebler, doing a little baking-action. I had an almost-full tin of pumpkin in the fridge from a disastrous attempt to make myself a Breakfast Cookie earlier this week (don’t even ask)…hopefully the rest of the pumpkin could be used in a recipe that would turn out better!

the way I operate: gather all the ingredients before we begin

Now you’ll notice that I did quite a bit of freelancing on Edna’s recipe, below. But just from the easygoing style in which she writes her cookbooks, and from what I have read of her personality, I think she would not mind. This recipe is from my Edna Staebler cookbook, “Muffins and Quick Breads with Schmecks Appeal” and I’ve had it forever.

Here’s Edna’s recipe and my adaptations:

  • 1/4 cup softened butter or margarine [I used about 1/8 cup margarine and 1/c all natural almond butter cuz I ran out of marg!]
  • 1 cup sugar [I used 3/4 cup as I knew I was going to add….you guessed it, chocolate chips, so I did not want an overly-sweet final product]
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup cooked and mashed pumpkin [I used tinned]
  • 1/2 cup milk [I used almond milk, all I had in the house…thought it would match with the almond butter ok]
  • 2 cups flour [I used 1 cup All Purpose and 1 cup whole wheat]
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt [I used 1/2 tsp – watching our sodium these days!]
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 cup chopped nuts [I had about 1/4 cup chopped walnuts hanging around, so I threw them in]
  • 1/2 raisins [I used about 2/3 cup chocolate chips, again just using up leftovers!]

Cream butter and sugar. Beat in eggs, then the pumpkin and milk. Stir in the dry ingredients sifted together until blended.

I never sift; I just shake the dry ingredients around the bowl (like this) then stir; is this ok? bad?

Stir in the nuts and raisins, and turn into a well-buttered and floured (I just buttered) loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-55 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean (I needed 58 minutes in my oven). Cool on a rack, slice butter and enjoy.

Inspired by the loaf slices at Starbucks, I whipped up a glaze for the top (and also thinking Paska, since Easter is not far off!)

  • icing sugar (didn’t measure)
  • couple shakes of cinnamon
  • water

I made one potion, but it looked and smelled really cinnamon-y. So I made a second one and liked the looks of it a lot better:

“can YOU see a difference?! there is a difference!”

The only cinnamon in Glaze #2 is from a spoonful of Glaze #1 that I added to Glaze #2.

we’re likin’ the looks of this finished product! ta da!

Now, I should caution that this turned out like a DESSERT LOAF and was a bit crumbly to cut. Suggest you have a fork handy for optimal eating conditions. Also I had to cut the slices pretty thick (B did not seem to complain over that one).

Official Reviewer Comments:

The loaf was still warm when B, itching and dying to try this, dug in. Now faithful readers will likely have noticed that B is not all that verbose about his eats. “Great!” “OK!” or if we’re lucky, “This is very good!” are what we usually can pry out of him. But today, my goodness, today his mouth runneth over…

B: “Work of art.”…”Don’t give any to Erv – haha! I want it all.” “This is the best thing you’ve ever done.” “That’s killer! I can’t shut up about it! Mmmm…..I just want more.”

Wowser…Erv will receive his slice tonight, so we’ll see what he thinks….

Next day…Dad says… Loaf review: excellent and very tasty; more of dessert loaf with the chocolate chips vs. loafs like cranberry bread etc.  Quite enjoyable especially with a hot cup of coffee.  Keep up the good baking!

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10. ?!?! (Wed Mar 17)

As promised, here are the taste tester comments for the latest recipe, then I have the recipe printed below the comments and sneak peek photo…

Official Reviewer Comments:

Dad: First of all I think the ingredients included carrot, whole wheat flour, chocolate chips, honey and maybe cinnamon.  Did I get some right? [Correct, except there is just one choco chip on top, haha! And NO honey…]
Now for my conclusions.  This is no doubt the poorest of your variety so far.  It seemed a bit dry, somewhat dense and not very flavourable.  Very few chocolate chips.  So my rating would be a 7 out of 10….not bad but not a winner.  Don’t forget they can’t all be “top” tier.  Thank you for letting me be a tester.

Me: I really liked this cookie! I loved the texture: dense yet puffy, if that makes sense (not a flat cookie). Now I ate mine as a morning snack, not as a dessert and I think that makes a difference. They taste more filling than sweet, I would say. I could taste the peanut butter, the cinnamon, and the “mystery sweetener.” I call these a success. I would highly recommend these for those of you with children! You can tell the kids “it’s a cookie!!!” (yet they are super healthy…but you can keep that to yourself!)

Brad: “They’re good.” [when I queried him on what he tasted, Brad replied: “fruit.”….um, sorry dear but there is no fruit in these cookies…”OK,” he said, “but there’s orange stuff in them.” That would be carrot, darling…I tried to pry other ingredients out of him, but “I don’t know” was as far as I got…I know when to stop pressing my luck!]

(POSTED WED MARCH 17) Let’s do things backwards today! I made a great recipe today that I truly think will be a success…but due to the *nature* (ie high level of healthiness) of some of the ingredients, I am going to have B and Dad taste them first, THEN I will post the recipe. I am also going to ask each of them to give me THREE ingredients that they taste. So stay tuned!…Here’s a photo as a sneak peek…So fear not – recipe WILL be forthcoming – likely Friday.

are these cute or what?!

Carrot Peanut-Butter Cookies

This recipe is a melange of a few I found online. The original recipe is “Wolfie’s Peanut Butter Cookies” from La Dolce Vegan, but a number of changes have been made by a number of people. I combined my recipe from two that I found online…unfortunately, can’t remember which websites I was poking around on…

1 3/4 cup All Purpose Flour [I used 1 cup All Purpose and 3/4 cup Whole Wheat]

1/2 tsp baking soda

gracious sprinkle of cinnamon [I used 1/2 tsp]

1 egg

1/2 cup natural Peanut Butter [I used 2/3 cup Organic Valencia peanut butter]

1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

1/4 cup agave nectar [haha – here is the mystery sweetener! I thought it was great: sweet is added but not intensely so; my first time using this product]

1 cup grated carrots [Yes! I finally have a grater!]

1/2 tsp vanilla [my freelance addition]

**Ya know I usually throw in chocolate chips to appease the men, but this time I refrained, just placing one mini chip on top of each cookie. :)

I just stirred all the moist ingredients together, then added the dry and stirred up.

Bake the cookies at 375 degrees for 15 minutes. [I needed 16 minutes in my oven; I got 22 small-ish cookies out of this batch]

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

  

  

I loved the texture of this dough: firm yet moist, a bit sticky – great for shaping the cookies

 

unbaked little blobs…

So there you have it! Comments at the top, recipe below. Another in the books for the 40 Recipes Project! Note: to add intensity of flavour, maybe increase peanut butter content? I was wary of doing this for fear of messing the recipe completely… or add in chopped peanuts (or chocolate chips!) :)

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9. Microwave Oatmeal Squares (Tues Mar 9) – B’s off to see the Trailer Park Boys at Centre in the Square tonight. Now, I do find the antics of Bubbles, Ricky and Julian funny on TV…but not so funny that I want to see them up close and personal-like (even though B raved about their show when he saw them on their last tour). So I sent B off with a guy-friend, and I am delighting in the possibilities offered by a huge bag of oatmeal!!! (see recipe #8, below!). As Prince would say, “Let’s Go Cr-A-zyyy!!!!” :)

I also want to do something vite vite vite tonight. It’s been an “Erv Day” (family term of endearment, best defined as when you make an impossibly long To Do list for the day, one that you could not possibly complete even with 37 hours at your disposal, yet fully believe that somehow, you will get it all done, and end up a tad grumpy when you fall short – but i’m not grumpy, promise) :)

I started off by exploding butter all over the microwave. Then I dropped the scissors and they stabbed me in the ankle. Get the impression I should have left well enough alone, and left micro squares to another day? Yea, me too. Happily, things improved after these two gaffes…maybe (wait til the end of this recipe). Anywayyyyyy, am I ever going to get around to giving the recipe you ask???!

This recipe is from Anne Lindsay’s “The Lighthearted Cookbook” and I have never made it before. The copyright on the book is 1988! Jeepers! I knew I have had it awhile, would not have guessed that date…Anne Lindsay is quite prolific and has published a lot of books since 1988, but this is the only one in my library. I do like her style. Simple, easy-to-make, healthy recipes. She states that these squares are “very easy and the fastest squares I know how to make.” I agree – super fast, like cr-A-zyyyy fast!

Recipe:

1/2 cup margarine [I used butter]

1/2 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

2 cups rolled oats [two cups used out of the humun-go bag – score!]

In 8″ square glass or microwave safe dish, microwave margarine at high power for 40-60 seconds or until melted [oops, that was my error, I didn’t read that part and put it in for 2 minutes – explosion occured at 1min 40seconds]. Stir in extract and sugar; mix well. Stir in rolled oats; mix well.

Firmly press mixture into pan. Microwave at high power for 5 minutes. Let cool and cut into 25 squares.

TO BAKE IN CONVENTIONAL OVEN: [This is what I did]…Melt margarine, combine with extract and sugar, then add oats; mix well. Press into pan; bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until bubbling and golden brown [I did 18 minutes].

See photos below for the wild n crazy freelancing!

the oat mixture, as prescribed by Anne Lindsay…
…but in this household, you KNOW we add chocolate chips to everything!

Yup, I threw in 1 cup mini-chocolate chips. After melting the butter, I waited for it to cool before proceeding – it worked. My chippies did not make a melty mess. I was a little worried at this point, though, as the mixture seemed quite loose.

“pressed firmly into pan…”

Uh oh…me not happy. I go to cut them into squares and they are STILL very loose…pop the pan into the fridge while I shower and we’ll see…

OK, 20 minutes later…squares are better but I’m not thrilled with the end result…crumblier than I would like.

glad these aren’t for a magazine photo shoot!

Well, we’ll just have to see what the Official Taste Testers say. And homemade squares are better than nothing!

Official Reviewer Comments:

Brad: “They’re sweet.” [I remain in the dark as to whether this means “sweet – give me more” or “too sweet, ew.” Will have to investigate further]

Dad: “If I closed my eyes it felt just like I was eating a quality, dessert, chocolate granola bar.  A real treat.  So well done again.  I’m afraid my tasting and reviewing your baking is adding a few pounds to my frame.  All very good but also rich and chocolaty!” [wow! i am genuinely surprised that Dad enjoyed these so much!…cool!]

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8. Oscar-worthy Apple Crisp (Sun Mar 7) – It’s the Oscar Awards tonight! We are staying in and watching - I am watching – the red carpet fashion extravaganza and maybe some of the awarding of the awards…truth be told, I like the red carpet arrivals better! I am thinking that maybe with a little apple crisp dangled in front of him, B will be willing to join me on the couch to veg out and watch Hollywood’s Finest. Now B likes his crisp desserts in general C-O-L-D, so I am making this mid-aft so that it can chill out in the fridge for a few hours for him (Dad, stop clutching your head in horror; I know you love that fresh-out-of-the-oven warmth for your baked goods!) :)

Apple-y desserts are my absolute fave. For my 40th back in January, I requested “Mrs Mostert’s Apple Squares” (old family fave) instead of a cake for my celebration time at mom and dad’s. To be honest, it’s the topping/crumble/square base that I love the most. Just give me a bowl/square of that, skip the apples, and I’d be happy as a clam. :)

This Apple Crisp is once again courtesy of my mom, and dates back to childhood. I have never met a better crisp recipe. IMHO, a good crisp needs: cinnamon; oatmeal; brown sugar; butter. Herewith, the recipe. You could use with other fruit in the base (like berries), I am sure, but Apple Crisp cannot be beat.

A coupla photos to start us off:

i foresee a lot of recipes-that-include-oatmeal coming up, given the size of this bag i bought!
Macintosh apples bake up well, i am told…these are shiny, happy ones!

Recipe:

In a greased 8 or 9 ” square pan [I used a round unknown-number-of-inches pan!], place 4 cups (or just 4 apples) sliced, peeled, apples. [Despite the above photo which features five apples, I actually only used three as they were quite large and my pan seemed full].

Blend until crumbly, then spread over apples:

2/3 cup brown sugar [I semi-packed the cup, not super firmly but just made sure it was nicely full]

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup rolled oats [I used large flake although you could use instant, for example]

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp nutmeg

1/3 cup butter [I used margarine]

Bake at 375 degrees for 35 minutes or until apples are soft [I judge by when the topping is slightly browned, and it was 35 min].

this…
plus this…

…equals this perfection-in-a-pan!…

Best. Dessert. Ev-ah!!!

Official Reviewer Comments:

HAHA!!! Sorry, Dad, but I’m bumping you from the review panel this week and I AM TAKING YOUR SPOT! HAHA!!!

B: “Mmmmmmmm…” [I guess that about sums it up!...]

Me: Apple Crisp, dear Apple Crisp, Oh, how I love thee…

Come to Mama… :)

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7. Pumpkin Muffins (Sun Feb 21) – It’s back to routine scheduling tomorrow as B returns to school after a week at home for Reading Week. I thought I would make up some muffins for his breakfasts. He finds muffins easiest to eat “on the run” on school days.

This recipe is from “Muffin Mania,” too (as were the Carrot Pineapple Muffins, below). My mom almost always has these pumpkin muffins on hand as dad’s life is not complete without a pumpkin-muffin-a-day, more or less! When mom makes them for Brad and dad, she makes half with raisins for dad, and half plain, for Brad. I decided to do a chocolate chip version for Brad – quelle surprise, right?!

Now I found this funny: as I was recipe searching today, I was going through my “Come Taste the Pride” cookbook from the 1995 International Plowing Match. I found this exact recipe, but with the chocolate chips instead of raisins, as I am doing today. Recipe plaigarism?! Or is it not, as long as you change one ingredient??!

Recipe:

  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups white sugar [I used about 1 3/4 cups as I ran out of sugar! Also, the choco chips will make them sweeter]
  • 1 1/2 cups oil [I used canola oil]
  • 1 3/4 cups pumpkin (small can) [I used 14 oz/398 ml can]
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour [I used 2 cups all-purpose and 1 cup whole wheat, just to be different]
  • 1 T cinnamon
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cups raisins [I used 300 g package semi-sweet mini choco chips. My foodie friend Laura at the store mentioned that she likes mini-chips in baked goods, so I thought I would try these minis; usually I use the regular or even jumbo size]

Beat eggs slightly. Add sugar, oil, pumpkin and beat thoroughly.

Add dry ingredients and mix until smooth.

Stir in raisins/chocolate chips.

Fill muffin cups 2/3 full and sprinkle tops with brown sugar.

Bake at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes. [I had to bake for 30 minutes]

I got 18 muffins out of this recipe today. I tried not to overfill the muffin cups as I have had troubles in the past with overflowing muffins tins – hate that! Today went much better!

before the flour mixture is added…smooth and pumpkin-y, eh!
this recipe makes a BIG bowl of batter – like, double, a typical muffin recipe, I think
ready for the oven!…
very happy with the final result, here – “sweet!”

Taste-tester (aka dad and Brad) comments to follow…I think I will warn dad that he may wish to have this as a dessert, not a breakfast item, as I have a feeling the taste will be quite a change from the raisin version he is used to! Brad will be fine with the sugar content!…

Official Reviewer Comments:

Brad: “They’re perfect.” [I pressed a little more, saying I wasn’t sure that the sprinkling of brown sugar on top would be too much. B did admit that I “could skip that the next time.” Good to know!]

Dad: “An excellent dessert muffin; very tasty but the chocolate covers up the pumpkin (but the pumpkin keeps it moist).
So yes I really like it for a treat but would not enjoy it for breakfast.” [I thought this would be more of a “cupcake”-style treat in Dad’s mind!]

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6. Valentine’s Sugar Cookies – Part 3 (Mon Feb 15)

The end is in sight! Saving the most fun for last, this morning is Ice The Cookies time.

I used the same recipe from Mom that appears in #5, below, the Rice Krispies squares icing (icing sugar, milk, vanilla, margarine/butter).

three icings: vanilla, pink, and chocolate
sprinkles, choco chips and gel icing add to the fun!
Step one: icing on the cookies
Step two: toppings added – ta da!

And that completes the cookie decorating process! I think I am ready for a simpler project next, and also one that does not involve icing sugar! But this was fun, and Valentine’s provided the perfect excuse to have some sugar cookie fun.

Official Reviewer Comments:

Brad: “These are very good cookies.”

Dad: “These are the kind of cookies where one is not enough.”

Valentine’s Sugar Cookies – Part 2 (Sun Feb 14)

So the dough “chilled” in the fridge for a few days until today – heart making on Valentine’s Day – perfect!

the rolling and cookie-cutting messes with my love of pristine work surfaces

 I was momentarily worried that I no longer had my marble rolling pin and slab of cutting board…whew, I DID keep them!

OK, that was not so bad…the dough rolled nicely and I got 21 cookies out of the dough, plus one “gorp” circle of the last bit of dough.

the neatness and symmetry of cookie cutter cookies pleases me!

 I kept a hawk-ish eye on the baking process so as to not overbake the cookies. I think they turned out just fine.

my fear was over-baked/burned cookies – but we’re cool

Next step is the icing process – the F-U-N part! But I think that will happen tomorrow…today’s designated baking time is up!

Valentine’s Sugar Cookies – Part 1 (Wed Feb 10)

Today I am making the cookie dough and will keep it in the fridge til this weekend when I’ll bake and decorate cookies for Valentine’s Day. It has been years since I have done sugar cookies – like, maybe, 10 or so years ago at Christmas? I am using mom’s fail-proof sugar cookie recipe:

Mix thoroughly:

  • 1/2 cup shortening and 1/4 cup butter [I am using 1/2 cup butter and 1/4 cup margarine]
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

Sift together: [I will not sift, just stir and then stir in…]

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt

Stir into first mixture. Chill one hour, minimum. Roll 1/8″ thick. Cut sugar cookie shapes. Bake at 400 degrees F for 6-8 minutes on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Can’t wait to play with icing and decorating again!!!

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5. Super Bowl Sunday Decorated Rice Krispie Squares (Sun Feb 7) – Today’s project had a three-fold purpose: 1) to use up some of those Chocolate Rice Krispies (see “40 Cereals”); 2) to have a sweet treat to bring to our friend Jeff’s for a Super Bowl get-together 3) to let me play with icing. :)

I just used the Rice Krispies Squares recipe on the box of cereal. Unfortunately, I cut out the recipe before I thought to take a photo of my primary ingredients!

I think the choc Rice Krispies will be better in squares than in the bowl?!

 I made the squares last night (Saturday) and refrigerated them overnight so that my “football field” would be nice and solid for adding on icing.

Rice Krispie Squares: (I am including the recipe just to be consistent in the “40 Recipes” layout since this recipe is easily accessed on the cereal box!)

1/4 cup margarine or butter [I used margarine]

1 – 250 g package marshmallows [I used mini white marshmallows]

1/2 tsp vanilla [I used 1 tsp]

6 cups Rice Krispies cereal [I used 4 cups chocolate Rice Krispies and 2 cups regular Rice Krispies]

In large saucepan over low heat, melt margarine. Add marshmallows; stir until melted and well blended. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla. Add cereal, stirring until coated. Using spatula, press into buttered 9 x 13 inch pan. Cool. Cut into squares.

A perfect Saturday eve recipe as they took me less than 20 minutes to make up!

 I was sorely tempted to buy a container of Betty Crocker or Duncan Hines icing…however, in the interests of this project, I made my own icing. I used my mom’s tried-n-true EZ icing recipe, but had to double it. Here is the double-ized version, as it really did not make all that much icing in a single batch.

Icing:

4 tablespoons butter or margarine [I used margarine]

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

4 cups icing sugar

2-4 tablespoons milk [I used about 4]

drops of green food colouring

Beat it all together. Electric beaters.

Now the fun part! (making icing today was messy –  I dropped my margarine container in the icing and as mentioned, I realized a single batch of icing would not do the trick so I had to make more, then I had clouds of icing sugar wafting up from the bowl after I had just cleaned the house…*sigh.*)

First, I made my field:

real grass, not astroturf, given the uneven nature of the surface…

…then added the endzones, the yardlines and the footballs. The footballs are meant to represent touchdowns, completed plays and errant passes.

will we see footballs all over the field like this in today’s game?!

It really matters not how great these squares end up tasting. Today it’s all about creative fun with decorations!! I’ll see if I can get any taste-test comments at our Super Bowl Party…

**Back from the Party – the general consensus is “too sweet!” – oh well, it was more about the LOOK then about the TASTE for this project…can’t win ‘em all (just like the game tonight!)

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4. Peanut Butter Gems (Sat Jan 30) – Yup, I know. I just made a batch of cookies three days ago (see Recipe #3, below). However, there are currently eight cookies only left from that batch. And my intent tonight was to make peanut butter muffins. Being in a giving mood, though, I asked Brad which he would prefer: peanut butter muffins or peanut butter cookies. His eyes gleamed at the mention of the cookies – I got the hint! I am in a peanut butter mood because I want to see how my Kraft All-Natural PB bakes up (and Brad loooovvves peanut butter, pretty much anything peanut butter-y. Although I have yet to convince him of the joys of PB on apple – I think that’s a Derksen thing, right Chris?!).

This recipe is from the Company’s Coming series by Jean Pare. This book is called “Kids Cooking.” :) I bought it myself years ago, assuming (correctly) that the recipes would be easy and yummy. I’ve made this recipe before – first time in 2002, according to my notes.

  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened (at room temperature) [I used butter]
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter [as stated, I used Kraft All-Natural; seems to be fine in baking]
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chocolate chips [my Freelance 101 addition; isn’t everything better with chocolate chips?!]

[I will omit some of the kid-friendly directions, ie “you will need cookie sheets”…!]

Combine the first six ingredients in a bowl. Beat on low speed until everything is moistened. Beat on medium speed until smooth. Add the flour, baking soda and salt. [I just stirred these three in, not using the beaters but a spatula].

ingredients mixed – dough is a lovely sticky/soft consistency

 Using the palms of your hands, roll the dough into 1 1/2 inch balls. Arrange the balls on the cookie sheets about 2 inches apart.

balls on the pans (no smart comments, now!)

Press down with a fork.

cookies forked – check!

 Bake on centre rack of the oven at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes [I needed 14-15 minutes]. (I got 22 cookies out of this batch).

the finished product – hooray! these cookies do not splat, either. i love that.

 Official Reviewer Comments:

Brad:

“a picture says a thousand words” :)

Dad: “These are great cookies, a very worthy addition to your repertoire!”

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3. Chocolate Chip Cookies – In Memory of Lucy (Wed Jan 27) 

Out of all the chocolate chip cookie recipes in my various books (must have, what, 50 variations, at least), this one is my favourite in terms of taste and more importantly, texture and “dough feel.” These are fluffy, puffy choco chip cookies – foodie friends, what makes them so? The hot water and baking soda? They STAY poofy even after they come out of the oven, too. They don’t splat. Just gorgeous.

This recipe is one part happy, one part sad. I got to know Lucy when we taught aerobics together at the Y, back in the ’90’s. Lucy had an infectious laugh, sparkly eyes and was just a fun person to be around. Sadly, Lucy died very suddenly of complications from a blood clot in her leg that traveled to her lungs. She had not been married very long, and had just moved out west. At Lucy’s funeral, we each received a copy of this chocolate chip cookie recipe. Making this recipe brings back happy memories of my aerobics days at the Y, and of delightful Lucy. I have a feeling this batch is not going to last very long!…

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (I did not pack too firmly)
  • 1/2 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 & 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon hot water
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • packages of chocolate chips (this is what the recipe says! I used 2 cups; Lucy loved chocolate!)

Cream butter and sugars together. Add egg, hot water and vanilla and beat until fluffy. Sift flour (I did not). Measure and add salt and soda. Sift again (I did not). Add sifted dry ingredients and beat until smooth (I just stirred). Add the chocolate, lots of it, and blend into the mixture. Drop teaspoons onto a greased cookie sheet and space 2-3 inches apart. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes or until light brown. (I got 23 cookies out of this batch).

masterpieces!
these beauties deserve a close-up!

Official Reviewer Comments:

Brad: “These are awesome!”

[me]: “Could I please have a different comment?” (begging)

Brad: “There’s lots of chocolate chips in them. They’re 50% chocolate. It’s a respectable amount of chocolate.”

Dad: “They are just excellent as just a wholesome good chocolate chip cookie.  No surprises but filled with lots of chocolate chips…..no cheapie here.”

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 2. Carrot Pineapple Muffins (Tues Jan 19) – the following is an account of an actual exchange that took place this past weekend in our kitchen…

[me] – “So I was thinking that for the next recipe of my 40 Recipes that I would make some muffins.”

[B] – “THAT SOUNDS AWESOME!!!”

[me] – i really shouldn’t ask this question… “Is there anything that you are tasting in particular?” please, say ANYTHING except…

[B] – “CARROT MUFFINS!!!!!”

[me] – carrot muffins…

Ah, the sacrifices I am making for this project. But I figure that since there are not to be any repeat recipes in the “40 Project,” at least I’m gettin’ ‘em out of the way early. Carrot muffins are my least favourite muffin to make because you have to grate the carrots. And wouldn’t you know it, I had all the ingredients assembled and I cannot find my grater for the life of me. I have no clue as to when I must have ditched it. When we moved here? (5.5 years ago). Quite possibly.

This recipe is from “Muffin Mania,” that Canadian Best Seller first published in 1982. I have had my copy since about 1985 – that’s the date on two of the recipes in here, I see.

I felt like freelancing a little today so here is the recipe but also with my additions. I will post the taste-tester comments when available!

  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2/3 cup oil
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup finely grated carrot [or in my case today, finely CHOPPED mini carrots!)
  • 1 cup crushed pineapple, drained
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts [my freelance addition]
  • 1/3 cup raisins [my freelance addition; used this amount because the measuring cup was the only clean one left]

Combine beaten eggs, sugar and oil. In another bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt and mix well. Add dry ingredients to the sugar and oil mixture and stir to moisten. Add grated carrots, pineapple, vanilla [and walnuts and raisins]. Fill muffin tins to the top and bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes.

I got 10 muffins out of the mixture today. AND THEY OVERFLOWED THE MUFFIN TINS!! I HATE WHEN THAT HAPPENS!!!

the muffins – a little blotchy?
my splotchy oven that I will now have to scrape – grrr…

 Official Reviewer Comments:

Brad: “These are awesome!!”

Dad: “The texture of the muffins was delightfully light (too many muffins are heavy), very moist and flavourful.  No problem eating those on a regular basis.  M has promised to make me your recipe tomorrow.”

What Are The Chances?! Heard today from my dear friend Gina in Winnipeg (she hasn’t always been in Winnipeg). Can you believe she makes this same recipe from Muffin Mania? AND she happened to make them yesterday (we’re obviously on the same karmic level). Too funny. Anyway, Gina is a Talented Foodie and she freelances this recipe, too…although she is at Freelance 5.0 whereas I am at Freelance 2.0. Here are her changes (and knowing Gina’s skills, these substitutions will be worth it!):

  • cut down the sugar and oil and sub in applesauce
  • use whole wheat flour and ground flax instead of white flour

Muffin, Please – Pronto! My Dad so enjoyed the two muffins he got for being part of the Official Taste Test Panel, that he pleaded for his very own batch. Mom to the rescue! Mom joined in to the Freelancing spirit and made her own adjustments to the original recipe. Here are her comments:

“Thank you for introducing us to this delicious recipe.  I used just a 1/2 cup sugar and substituted whole wheat flour for the all-purpose with no ill effects.  I used Craisins instead of raisins and Dad loves them.  But what have you gotten me into, girl?  Now Dad thinks he should have a daily carrot muffin.”

What changes would you make for your batch of carrot muffins?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

1. Jumbo Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies – from my Baker’s “Chocolate Celebration Cookbook” that I’ve had since I was about 12 years old! (Tuesday Jan 12)

My cookbook notes state that I first made this recipe on Oct. 23rd, 1993. And that they are “Brad’s favourite – delicious!” (Quirky habit, I always date a recipe the first time I make it). Since Brad and I only started dating in August 1993, I am guessing that this must have been one of the first recipes I ever baked for him. They are winning cookies, I guess we could say!

Recipe #1 needed to be an oldie but goodie. Since 1993, I have made this recipe several times. What makes them so enjoyable, I think, is the size and the combination of oatmeal, choco chips and raisins. Here is the recipe:

1 cup butter                                                                                                  

1 1/2 cups firmly packed brown sugar                                                   

2 eggs                                                                                                             

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 1/3 cups rolled oats

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 package (350 g) BAKER’S semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 cup raisins

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Add flour, oats, baking soda and salt; mix until well blended. Stir in chips and raisins. Drop dough in 1/4 cup mounds onto greased cookie sheets about 3 inches apart. Flatten each cookie into 2 1/2 inch circle. Bake at 350 degrees F (180 C) for about 15-20 minutes. Cool on pans 5 minutes; remove and finish cooling on racks. Makes about 20 large cookies. (I got 24 out of the recipe today).

fresh out of the oven

Official Reviewer Comments:

Brad: “These are awesome!!”

Dad: “(This is) a man’s chocolate chip cookie…full bodied, moist, with lots of chocolate taste made chewy with the raisins. All in all, one of the best!”

And Just Like That…

…the 1970 Kiki Project is finished!

(source)

Recipe #40 was the only task left to complete.

I debated for days over what to make for the final recipe. Under consideration:

~ a birthday cake for this weekend, for myself (a lot of work, and I prefer a fantastic slice of cake eaten out, rather than homemade, sometimes!)

~ Mrs Mostert’s apple squares (this was my birthday celebration dessert last year when we celebrated at mom and dad’s; this choice could have been a fitting Recipe #40, as I would have ,then, the same dessert one year apart)

~ apple platz (platz is “squares” in German; this traditional family recipe is totally yummy plus I liked the significance of family)

But, in the end, I decided that simple is best. With the recipe I chose, I could utilize skills acquired over the previous 39 recipes; the finished product would be adored by all – especially B; this baked good is, I’ve decided, my favourite type of baking to play around with. As a hint, here are the ingredients for Recipe #40, assembled and ready to go:

look carefully, now...

What’s your guess?!

OK, I’ll spill the beans…

Recipe #40 is…

Chocolate Chip Cookies!

Now, who did I turn to for the most stellar recipe possible???

Was it…

Ina Garten (The Barefoot Contessa)?

(source)

Was it…

Anna Olson??

(source)

Was it…

My Mom??!

Bzzzzt. (buzzer of wrongness)

Instead, I went straight to the experts:

the recipe on the back of the chip package

This choice reminded me of stories you hear where Grandma or Great-Auntie’s cookie recipe is the best in the family. Then, when queried as to the origin, the family matriarch states that it comes from the back of the chocolate chip package! Strange, but so true.

To get back to why I chose to make classic chocolate chip cookies, here are my reasons:

~ Making cookies is my favourite form of baking, I’ve decided. You can make a cookie as easy or as complex as you wish, they freeze well so leftovers are not problematic, and you can freelance if/when you see fit.

~ Butter, margarine, or shortening?? That is the debatable question. From my cookie trials this year, I declare that the winner is:

shortening!

i prefer the cookie texture that comes with crisco use!

~ Parchment paper is the best “new to me product” this year – I had never tried lining cookie sheets with this paper before, and I love both the results and that you don’t have to scrub caked-on cookie bits off the cookie sheets when you’re done baking.

Near the beginning of the Recipe Project, I purchased a giant bag of oatmeal. My goal was to empty it by the conclusion of The Project. Well, I got close:

i put the one cup measure there to show the amount of oats left...that was one big bag!!

The only other “leftover” is this, from Recipe #18:

pie crust mix, purchased back in May...all sealed up, though, so it should be ok, right?!

And what are the chances…my one and only baking boo-boo occurred today:

just makes me look professional, right?!

To commemorate the end of my project, I decided to share the cookies around among friends and family. Just to be special, I made up fun little cookie bags:

the tags say, "celebrating the conclusion of the 1970 kiki project"

And, I kid you not, after making up the gifties, I had this amount left for our freezer:

exactly. forty. cookies.

Honestly, total coincidence – I didn’t know how many cookies were on those cooling sheets til I had prepped the cellophane bags. I love it!

Happily, we’ll be stocked with cookies for a while!

bye bye!

For the recipe details on today’s final production, click here and you’ll be taken to the “40 Recipes” page.

As Kool and the Gang would say, “It’s A Celebration!”

(source)

You Can’t Steal Christmas

My absolute favourite Christmas story of all time is How the Grinch Stole Christmas.* 

(source)

*(The original version NOT the remake starring Jim Carrey).

For as far back as I can remember, we watched this Holiday Special every year on TV, curled up on the couch in our footed-PJ’s when we were kids. While I don’t have all the lines memorized, I can recite them in my head, along with the unimitable narrator, Boris Karloff, whenever I watch this classic. It really is the most fabulous story: both humourous and touching, The Grinch imparts life lessons with unmatchable charm. My favourite scene? I adore when Max the dog hops onto the back of the sled, and waves impishly at the Grinch as they sail down the mountain to Whoville.

 (source)

Everyone should watch this movie yearly, and be reminded of what’s really important during the Christmas season.

*************************************

The Grinch: It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes, or bags.
Narrator: The Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before.
The Grinch: Maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas…
Narrator: He thought
The Grinch: …means a little bit more.

**************************************

A bit of bad luck has befallen our family this year. Last week, Mumsy came down with the worst case of the flu of her entire life. She spent five full days unable to stir from her bed, downed by all of the classic flu symptoms: upset stomach, fever, aches, vicious coughing bouts, fatigue…truly horrible. Just today, she was able to change out of her dressing gown and into regular clothes. We’re grateful for the small steps that indicate a return to good health will be forthcoming.

As the date of our family Christmas celebration edged closer – we had picked the date of Thursday, December 23rd as our immediate-family get-together – it became evident that mom would in no way be able to participate in, let alone host family Christmas. An added worry was the celebration on December 25th with our cousins etc, and the big turkey dinner that was planned.

Earlier this week, after a flurry of round-robin phone conversations (despite the prevalence of email and instant messaging today, sometimes the phone just IS the best option!) we all decided to postpone Christmas and downsize Christmas Day. So here’s our new plan:

December 25th: traditional sticky buns and gift opening…but at Paul and Sharon’s house, not mom and dad’s place. It’s still up in the air as to whether mom and dad will be able to join us – fingers crossed that mom is able to come out for a short spell, at least! And the evening turkey dinner is cancelled.

December 27th: traditional family get-together at mom and dad’s (instead of celebrating tomorrow, December 23rd).

As plans were quickly being re-formulated, all of us were quick to reiterate that the celebration date did not matter to us; what was important was finding a time when all of us could be together and be in good health and fine spirits.

I always say everything happens for a reason. This lesson has been proven to me countless times over the years. I’ve been known to be very regimented and strict with how I like our Christmas get-togethers to flow: no variances, no additions, no deviations from tradition, year to year! Well, I don’t mind in the least that we are trying new things this year. It feels refreshing, in fact! And in discussion with mom and dad, we all agree that maybe next year, we should experiment with even more new-fangled approaches to how to celebrate Christmas! The Grinch would approve: my heart is already two sizes too big in excited anticipation of Christmas…whenever it arrives!

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The store was absolutely NUTSO today! My daily retail revelation: shoppers are definitely feeling a time crunch. There is little browsing or debating going on; instead, both men and women are quick to pick something that will do, and take me up on my suggestions with little hesitation. In, out, and on to the next store, seems to be the order of the day!

Other random updates:

I’m well into Wally Lamb’s “The Hour I First Believed,” and it is rocking my socks off. I read every night until my eyelids are literally drooping with fatigue. I’d read all night, if I could! I still have about 500 pages to go, and I just don’t know what direction this story will take!

Since I’m all done my Christmas knitting (no panicked, fingers-flying, clock-watching deadlines this year!), I’m on to another blanket. I always must have a mindless and a mindful project on the go. The mindful one is this lace blanket:

this lace requires mucho concentration!

The mindless one, as in I can read while I knit, I just started. So far, I am doing a moss stitch border, and will move on to a simple pattern for the interior:

3 mm needles (ie very tiny) - this could also take a while!

Of the two batches of Christmas cookies recently made (#37 and #38 of the Kiki Project), the rugelach are definitely my favourite. Sinfully addictive. Maybe the fiddly work on them IS worthwhile!

…and to all a Good Night!

The Recipe that Isn’t

that's it for the animals! what will the four remaining pieces depict??!

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Here and here I talked about how one of my 40 Recipes would be Baklava. I had every intention of making Baklava. Why the fascination with this epic Greek dessert?? Well, The Brother, B and I used to call a “balaclava” a “baklava” back in the day. That made us laugh. Then, during our phase of obsessive Seinfeld-watching, back in the ’90’s, there is an episode where the storyline revolves around baklava. My baklava would be a Tribute to the Glory of Seinfeld.

So yesterday I googled for a chocolate chip baklava recipe. I easily found one. It sounded delicious. It also sounded like one bite would be enough to permanently rot the teeth right out of your head, and send you zooming around the room in a fitful sugar frenzy. This is the recipe that I found, and was prepared to whip up labour over:

 http://www.cooksrecipes.com/bar/chocolate-chip-baklava-recipe.html

I started to write out the ingredient list…then paused. I just couldn’t see myself making and serving this recipe! Plus, allllll the phyllo layers scared me. I decided to go with an intimidating cookie recipe instead! Click here  to see how that went down (hint: this is going to be a “once in a lifetime” baking experience!).

Tonight we’re off to our building’s Christmas Party in our lobby (I’ll be contributing two types of homemade cookies, not baklava). The venue is not as unappealing as it sounds; it’s always a fun night! Recap on our social eve will follow tomorrow!

Six Movies, Four Recipes

The heat is on!

One month from today, 1) the 1970 Kiki Project Blog will turn one year old 2) I will grudgingly celebrate yet another birthday 3) the 1970 Kiki Project will be a wrap!

That’s right: 30 days remain in which to watch six films and bake four recipes. Piece of cake, right! (pun intended!) :)

Those are entirely achieveable stats. How do I anticipate reaching these goals?

FOUR RECIPES: I hope to do three Christmas-themed baking projects and one baklava extravaganza. I am still searching for a baklava-worthy celebratory occasion. If you need a baklava for a Holiday Party, let me know, and I’ll happily donate one to you. Of course, since I’ve never actually made a baklava, results are not guaranteed! But the offer is genuinely out there!

SIX MOVIES: Thanks to a last-minute viewing last eve, six is indeed the magic number. Three movies are already determined (the final three, maybe?) and just by going to the Galaxy Cinemas at Conestoga Mall this week alone, I would gladly see Burlesque, Love and Other Drugs, and Due Date. The Town is out soon on DVD, and BFF Debbie and I are talking about going to see the new Reese Witherspoon movie, How Do You Know. Maybe I better turn 45 (not!)! We always watch more movies over the Christmas holidays anyway, so this should be smooth sailing to the finish line (hopefully not “famous last words!”).

As mentioned, I intend to pursue a fresh incarnation of the Kiki Project in 2011. Likely, I’ll announce the new project one month from today!

40 Reads – done!

40 Cereals – done!

I’ll leave you with the updated Advent Calendar:

noah's ark??!

Over and out!

Welcome to the Whirlwind!

It’s officially Christmas Season!

december 1st=first marker placed on the advent calendar!

I don’t know about you, but December is likely the busiest month of the year for me. Between Christmas preparations (cards, shopping, baking, decorating, wrapping), social events, busy shifts at the store, PLUS “regular life,” the month will fly! But I love all of hubbub – if I’m not feeling stressed! This year? So far so good. I started shopping after Thanksgiving, the decorating is done, and I already feel the Christmas Spirit in my heart.

Today is still very November-ish, weather-wise: grey, a bit blustery, looks and feels like rain. While snow is GREAT for December 24th (“I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas,” anyone?), I don’t feel the need for a White December!

Last night, I ended up making a pan of squares. See here for the details…they didn’t turn out exactly as planned! I was quite disappointed; with only five recipes (now four) left to make in order to complete the “40 Recipes” of the 1970 Kiki Project, I am hoping for aces the rest of the way!

How are you feeling about the month of December? Enjoy your traditions and preparations!

Photo of the Day:

this little house always sits on top of the stove - even when we lived in our apartment and then our house, i've placed it in the same spot!

In Honour of American Thanksgiving

Happy American Thanksgiving!

OK, it’s not a national day of feasting and celebrating for us, exactly, but I’m in the mood to celebrate giving thanks! And in the mood for a little lighthearted fun!

Thus, here are FIVE THINGS I AM THANKFUL FOR in FIVE DIVERSE CATEGORIES:

CATEGORY: NATURE

1. rainbows

2. sunsets

3. clear blue skies

4. clean, white, newly-fallen snow

5. a forest of brightly-hued leaves in autumn

CATEGORY: SWEET TREATS

1. apple crisp

2. butter cream frosting

3. Starbucks Pumpkin Scones

4. chocolate chip ice cream

5. bread pudding

CATEGORY: HOBBIES

1. knitting

2. blogging

3. giant jigsaw puzzles

4. easy crossword puzzles

5. Woody Allen movie watching

CATEGORY: SPORTS IN WHICH I CAN VICARIOUSLY PARTICATE, THANKS TO TV

1. Hawaii Ironman Triathlon

2. The Olympics (Summer and Winter)

3. Hockey

4. Figure Skating

5. Football

CATEGORY: INVENTIONS IN THE RUNNING WORLD

1. chip timing devices at races

2. Walkman cassette players –> handheld CD players –>iPod Shuffle

3. vaseline (for face protection on a cold day)

4. shoe brands galore!

5. a solo sport (every runner for him/herself) that you can make social

Take a moment today and give thanks for the big and/or little things in life that you appreciate!

Oh – and we’re one day closer to Christmas now – haha! :)

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

We watched Movie #33 last eve – see here for the review. It was really a close call as to whether to award 2.5 or 3 stars…

Comments have been posted here on Recipe #35 (Childhood Bran Muffins). We have a differing of opinion concerning one ingredient, in particular!…

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Tomorrow is a special day for a special person….we’ll pay tribute to a certain someone’s birthday!…plus, I hope to check a Christmas To Do off my list (I don’t mean to make this sound like a chore…I do enjoy this part of Christmas prep!).

SideSwiped

The past 24+ hours have not been fun. :(

I woke up yesterday (Monday) at 5 a.m. as per usual, and immediately sensed that something was off. I definitely felt woozy, slightly dizzy and brain-fuzzy. By the time I got downstairs to the kitchen, I KNEW I was under-the-weather. Back upstairs to bed. And I didn’t leave said bed until 7 a.m. this morning (Tuesday). (Except for sick trips to the loo – will leave it at that). Whooooa. I tell you, I have not been hit by the flu bug like that since Teacher’s College – we’re talking about 17 years ago, here. I feel like I was sucked into a time tunnel for 24 hours and a complete day disappeared into never-never land.

Unfortunately, I was not the only one gobsmacked by this bug: B came home from work at noon with it, too. AND The Brother, Little E and Baby C felt its impact, as well. Since we were all together on Saturday, it’s really no surprise! (We don’t believe it’s food poisoning as we have headaches, body aches and crave sleep – all symptoms of the classic flu bug).

Happily, this morning both B and I are feeling better and on the road to recovery (as are the little nieces and The Brother, thank goodness). I just feel extremely rubbery and lack energy. Threw in a load of puked upon laundry and needed to lie down for half an hour. Went out to Tim Hortons (what the what?!?!) cuz I needed two donuts (double chocolate and sour cream glazed), then flaked out on the couch for an hour. So today is definitely low key, and I’ll take the rest of this week to build up my strength and ease into routine again.

Sadly, I had to call in sick to the store yesterday – first time in 5.5 years. Luckily, it was an overlap shift with my manager, so it wasn’t too much of an inconvenience. Things work out!

Obviously, I did not have the opportunity (or the energy or desire) to update the 40 Recipes page with the latest muffin recipe. So that has now been completed! See here for Recipe #35 – Childhood Bran Muffins.

OK, guess what? Time for a nap!

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