Tuesday, 22 December 2015

White Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

Christmas Baking is well under way!!!!  Now, to be clear, I am not claiming that these cookies are by any means "better for you" except for possibly that they are homemade with lots of love and have no preservatives in them!  I also do believe moderation is key, and having a few decadent cookies at Christmas time is not a problem if you eat well all year long...  at least that's my story and I'm stickin' to it!!!

I have been making these cookies for YEARS!  They are in fact my oldest son's favorite, as well as my 2 younger daughters.  Not to mention that we leave these out every year for Santa, and last year he left a note beside the empty plate thanking us for them and letting us know that these cookies are his favorite!!!!  And as we all know, Santa wouldn't lie!  So you may want to do yourself and your children a favour and get these babies in the oven, at least for Santa!!!  You never know, you just might find a special thank you under your tree!  ;)

To make White Chocolate Peppermint Cookies you will need:

  • 3/4 cup room Crisco Golden all vegetable shortening
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 3/4 cup all purpose flour (I use unbleached)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup crushed candy canes or peppermint candies
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  If using a pizza stone to bake cookies, place it in the oven to heat up with the oven and have 2 pieces of parchment paper ready to put cookies on.  Otherwise, line cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
Mix shortening, sugars, vanilla together until well blended.
Beat in egg.

Combine flour, salt and baking soda.
 Mix into shortening mixture at low speed until just blended.  Stir in Chocolate chips and crushed peppermint.
 Shape into 1 inch balls and place 2 inches apart on parchment.
If using stone, remove it from the oven and slide your parchment paper with the cookie balls on it.  Return to oven and bake 8 to 10 minutes until lightly browned,
 Do not overbake!  You can now slide the baked cookies with the parchment paper off  your stone  and onto a wire rack to cool. Slide the next prepared cookie sheet onto your stone and bake 'em!!!

I truly hope your family loves these cookies as much as mine does, and I wish you and your family a Wonderful Christmas!!!

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Versatile Morning Glory Muffins

These days I am getting up very early with my Hubby to get him off to work (he used to work from home, so this is a huge adjustment!!!)  I have to say, it has been kinda nice having that extra time in the morning even though I am not completely thrilled with an alarm clock going off at 5am!!  The bonus is I am able to get completely ready for the day and even bake fresh muffins for my kids lunches before they even wake up.  I feel so accomplished by 7am!!!  The other beautiful thing about muffins is that there is no mixers needed, so it is a fairly quiet baking project that whips up in no time and doesn't wake up sleeping children!!!
I wanted to use up some apples in my fridge and found this old recipe that I haven't used in years, and I have no idea why I had forgotten about this one, it is one of my favorites!  I absolutely love morning glory muffins, and this particular recipe is so versatile, I can't even tell you how many modifications I have made to it over the years and it always produces tender, delicious healthy muffins, perfect for lunchboxes and also wonderful for a light breakfast or middle of the day snack with a nice cup of tea.  There is a lot of cinnamon in these- It is not a typo!!  and all that cinnamon is what makes these muffins absolutely irresistible!!  Whip up a batch now,or wait until the morning and enjoy them warm out of the oven, they are worth getting up a little early for!!!

To make Morning Glory Muffins, you will need:
  • 2 cups whole wheat all purpose flour, spoon and level measurement
  • 1/2 cup sugar 
  • 1 Tablespoon cinnamon
  • 2 Tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 large carrot, finely grated
  • 2 apples, peeled and grated
  • 1 cup raisins, optional, if using, soak raisins in water for 10 minutes to plump them a bit
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sour cream, yogurt or apple sauce
  • 1/4 cup canola oil (I use first press)
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbsp wheat germ
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  spray muffin pans with cooking spray and set aside.  For me this recipe makes 12 regular sized muffins + 6 mini muffins, filling the cups 2/3 full.
In a medium bowl whisk together eggs, sour cream, oil and vanilla, set aside.
No nuts in this batch as they are going to a nut free school
In a large bowl, stir together flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, salt, wheat germ and nuts, if using.

Friday, 4 December 2015

Whole Wheat Blueberry Muffins

As we are heading into the Christmas season I know everyone is posting all the Christmas goodies imaginable!  Tis the Season after all!!  However, our kiddies are still in school, which means they need healthy lunches, which in turn means I am making whole wheat muffins.  When I asked this week what they would like in their lunches I got a unanimous "Blueberry muffins!!!" Unanimous does not happen around here very often, I am lucky to get 2 out of 3, usually it is 3 very different requests (which is why I very rarely ask).  I did ask this week because I just didn't know what I wanted to make, so I took a chance.  :)
I do love these muffins and had kinda forgotten about them.  They have been nick named 'to die for',  which may be a little exaggeration... I'll leave that to you to decide  :)
They are however light and fluffy with the perfect amount of blueberries, perfectly sweetened as well as a very forgiving batter... don't want to use a lot of oil (as I don't)  sub in apple sauce or even sour cream (as I did)  no egg?  use flax seed! I made this recipe twice this week as my hubby and I ate some and I didn't have enough to get through the week, and the second time I made them I increased the recipe slightly as I wanted to muffins to be a little bigger, And they were perfect!
I hope you enjoy these as much as we do!!!

To make Whole Wheat Blueberry Muffins, you will need:

  • 2 cups whole wheat all purpose flour, spoon and sweep measurement
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1/3 cup + 7 1/2 tsp first press canola oil ( I used 1/3 cup oil + remainder sour cream)
  • 1 large egg + 2 tsp ground flax
  • 1/3 + 1/4 cup milk 
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. grease muffin cups and set aside.
Combine flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder in a large bowl.  In a separate bowl (or measuring cup) combine oil, egg, flax and milk, set aside.

In a small bowl add blueberries (I used frozen and did not thaw them!)  Add about 1/4 cup of the flour mixture to the blueberries and stir to coat.
Pour the oil mixture into the remaining flour mixture and stir to combine, but do not over mix!
Gently fold in the blueberries, being careful not to overmix!
divide batter among 12 muffin cups evenly and bake for 20 minutes,
until tops are lightly browned and the center muffin springs back when gently pressed, or check doneness with a toothpick :)
Allow to cool 5 minutes in pan, then remove the muffins from pan to continue cooling on a wire rack


Thursday, 19 November 2015

Chocolate Zucchini Mini Muffins

It has been unseasonably warm in my part of the world and I have been thoroughly enjoying it!!!  I found zucchini on sale at my local produce store, and since the weather has been spring like, I thought it only fitting to leave the pumpkin and apples out of the baking for the week and get some zucchini in!  My family will not eat this lovely vegetable unless it is grated into baked goods, and these muffins are just so yummy, and so full of good stuff, who am I to deprive them?
I have always made this recipe as mini muffins, but I had a little batter left over and thought I would try baking it as a cookie..
It didn't turn out badly!  Obviously a very cakey consistency, but it was nice as a little treat to go with my afternoon coffee  :)

To make Chocolate Zucchini Mini Muffins, you will need:

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour, spoon and sweep measurement
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup cocoa
  • 1 tsp each baking powder and baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup minus 2 Tbsp greek yogurt. 
  • 2 Tbsp milk
  • 1/3 cup apple sauce
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1tsp vanilla
  • 1 small zucchini, grated 
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips (mini chips prefered)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large bowl, sift together flour, sugar, cocoa, salt, baking powder and soda.
In a large measuring cup, measure 1 cup of greek yogurt and remove 2 Tbsp.  Add the 2 Tbsp milk and stir (this is a wonderful replacement for buttermilk, so if you have buttermilk on hand you can use that- I prefer to use greek yogurt for the protein content). Add in the applesauce, eggs and vanilla and stir to thoroughly combine.
Add yogurt mixture to flour mixture
and add zucchini and chocolate chips,
stirring until just combined.
Pour batter into muffin tray
I forgot to add chocolate chips to my batter, and only had regular sized chips in my pantry, so I just added a few to the tops
(I use a small cookie scoop- it ensures my muffins are all the exact same size and is wayyy less messy than trying to pour batter into these little cups!!!
Bake for 20 minutes, until tops bounce back when touched and toothpick comes out clean.  Allow to cool completely on a wire rack.


Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Homemade Pumpkin Puree

As I promised a few weeks ago, now that Halloween is done and the pumpkins are no longer needed for decorations, they have made their way into my oven and are now puree.  I absolutely love doing this every year.  It is so yummy, so good for you and wayyy less expensive than the canned stuff. And, to top it off, this is so easy to do!!  
I use pie pumpkins (smaller ones).  I really don't know if this would work with a regular large pumpkins, I have never tried it.

To make pumpkin puree, you will need:

  • Pumpkins!!!!
That's the shortest ingredients list you will ever see!!!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
Cut the tops off the pumpkins as close to the stem as possible.  I find it much easier to use a serrated knife.
Cut the pumpkins in half, scoop out the seeds and keep to roast  :)  This is the bonus!!!
Place the pumpkins cut side down a foil lined, greased jelly roll pan.
Place in oven for approximately 30 minutes, until flesh is soft.  This may take more time, depending on the size of your pumpkins.
Remove from oven and allow to cool.
Once cool, simply peel the skin off!  If there are any strings inside, they can easily be scooped out using a spoon.
Put the flesh in a food processor and blend until smooth.

Portion the puree into 1 cup servings and freeze.
To use, simply remove from freezer, thaw and use as you would canned pumpkin.
Now I am going to go make a pumpkin banana cake... recipe coming soon!  :)

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Apple Cranberry Muffins

I just wanted to take a minute to say a very sincere Thank You to all of you for taking the time to look at my blog. I truly appreciate the time you have taken to look me up, and I hope that some of these recipes have made it into your kitchens and have been enjoyed! I hope to be growing this blog with the purpose of feeding my family and helping you feed your families a little better. :)
 Before I get into muffins.... I am going off topic with an amazing homemade kitchen and bathroom cleaner I found this week. I use a lot of vinegar to clean my home, and have been using mostly home made cleaners for years, with the exception of my bathrooms. I somehow believed bathrooms needed more "heavy duty" cleaners in order to truly get the job done... I stand corrected friends!!! This stuff is incredible!!!  Spray this stuff, let it sit for a few minutes and it just MELTS the grime away!!! Best of all, it smells amazing! It's funny how something so small can make me so happy! I hate cleaning bathrooms, but this cleaner actually made it kinda fun (I cannot believe I just wrote that!) So get yourself a spray bottle and mix:

  • 1 cup vinegar
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup dish soap (I use Dawn)
  • 1 1/4 cup water 
  • 2 tsp baking soda
Pour all the liquids into a bottle and add baking soda.  It will foam up like crazy, so I learned to add the soda at the last second while I am in the bathroom. Put the spray trigger on the bottle quickly and direct it at the shower wall, as it will automatically start to spray out of the bottle due to pressure.  Spray the entire area that is to be cleaned, allow it to sit for a few minutes and gently scrub any areas needed.  Be sure to thoroughly rinse the shower so it isn't slippery.

Ok!  Now for Muffins!!!  I had a bunch of apples in my fridge that no one was eating, so, like everything else in my home, I had to use them up!  I made a large batch of whole wheat muffins and froze them.  They have been perfect in lunchboxes, especially since we just finished halloween and my kids got WAYYYY to much candy!  I am glad to be able to pack them something that they will eat and enjoy!  This will make up to 36 muffins, or you can also make it into a loaf if you prefer, baking times will change :)
To make Apple Cranberry Muffins, you will need:

  • 4 cups whole wheat flour (spooned and swept)
  • 1 cup quick oats
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups yogurt
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled
  • 1/2 cup apple sauce
  • 4 apples, peeled and grated
  • 1 cup chopped cranberries
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients and whisk to combine.
In a second bowl (or large measuring cup), combine all wet ingredients, eggs and grated apple, whisk to combine.
 Make a well in the flour, pour the wet into the dry.
Stir until just combined, gently stir in cranberries.
Distribute batter into greased muffin tins ( I used 1 12 cup muffin tin and 1 mini loaf pan).
 Bake for 13 to 15 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.