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Friday, December 28, 2012

Whipped Shortbread

I first experienced whipped shortbread at a snack table at a funeral.  I nearly asked everyone I saw whether or not they had tried this little piece of heaven... and then I remembered that I'm an adult and I need to restrain myself until a more appropriate time.

A time like Christmas.

Makes about 60 small bite-sized cookies (recipe is easy to halve, double, or increase by 50%):

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 1 lb butter (approx 450 grams or 1 cup - half a "pack" here in Canada)
Whip the butter in a stand mixer.  Trust me, you will want a stand mixer or your arm might fall off.

Add the rest.  Leave it whipping in the mixer for anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes, literally.  This needs to fill with air. The dough will look very fluffy and white, somewhat like frosting or like meringue peaks. 

It's as easy as scooping with a fork onto a pan and baking at 350 degrees for up to 20 minutes.  My oven cooks hot - check after 12 minutes or so and ensure the bottoms aren't browning. These need to cook through but over baking will dry them out.

Sometimes I even cook a half recipe (my husband doesn't like shortbread) and that makes 30 small cookies. 

Enjoy with milk!

Sugar Cookies with Icing

These Wilton cookies paired with this yummy icing are just to die for. My co-worker makes these cookies occasionally and she has them down to a science.  Once you start eating them you will seriously not be able to stop.
  • 1 cup softened unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract (be careful and don't accidentally overpour like I did... or that batch will have a very strong almond flavour!)
Beat the above ingredients until fluffy. Mix the next few ingredients in a bowl and add them to the wet ingredients 1 cup at a time.  Beat with a mixer and use a spatula when necessary to incorporate everything:
  • 2 3/4 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
Roll a portion of dough out on a floured surface (I found about 1/4 inch to be the right width) as the cookies will rise a little bit but not a ton. Use cookie cutters - flour them if you find your dough too sticky. 

Carefully lift them onto a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for only about 8 minutes. If the edges start looking brown that's more than enough time!  They should be a nice light yellow without brown spots and they will become a yummy chewy cookie.

Top with icing:
  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 2 tsp milk
Mix above together, then add 2 tsp of light corn syrup and mix thoroughly.  Spread plain onto the cookies or use fancy icing skills that I don't have.  This part of the cookie-making is very time-consuming for me and my patience levels do not a beautiful cookie make.  Mine make it to my mouth before anyone sees them anyway.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Eggnog-Raspberry Muffins

These muffins are taken from and are a nice light, sweet muffin. I really like that the eggnog does not overpower the muffin. I didn't have cranberries so I picked the next most tart berry I had in my freezer - raspberries.  The original recipe is posted with beautiful pictures so please go there and admire Michael's skills.

Dry ingredients:
  • 2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Wet ingredients:
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup eggnog
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup fresh (or frozen if you're like me and that's all you have) berries

Mix wet ingredients briefly into the dry ones and spoon into a muffin tin (lined or greased). I prefer to make 10 larger muffins and they rise quite well.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes (toothpick test).  I baked my larger ones for more like 26 minutes.

Optional crumb topping (that I'm usually too lazy to bother with - the muffins are good enough):

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 5 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces or grated

Ginger Snaps

These are chewy Christmas delights. 
  • 3/4 cups butter (I use margarine... my cookies end up a bit flatter but they still taste goooood)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup molasses
Beat above ingredients together. Mix the following dry ingredients together then add slowly to the wet ingredients:
  • 2.5 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp ginger
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Pinch of ground cloves and pinch of nutmeg
Form into small balls and roll in white sugar. 

Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes on an un-greased cookie sheet.  These need to be slightly underdone so that they will be chewy - they will be very soft when they come out of the oven and that is good. They will harden enough.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Focaccia Bread

I don't know where this recipe originally came from - if anyone recognizes it feel free to let me know!

Mix together:
  • 1 tsp. white sugar
  • 1 cup water (warm but not too hot)
  • 1 Tbsp active dry yeast
  • Let the yeast poof, then add 2 Tbsp olive oil
Combine dry ingredients:
  • 2 3/4 cup white flour
  • 1 tsp each of salt, garlic powder, oregano, thyme
  • 1/2 tsp basil
  • 1 pinch ground black pepper
Mix the dry and wet ingredients together.  Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface.  Place in a large oiled bowl, cover with damp cloth and let it rise for about 20 minutes.

Punch the dough down, pat into a flat rectangle about 1/2 inch thick.  Top with oil, parmesan/mozzarella, or various veggies, herbs, and other cheeses.  This is your chance to get creative!  You can go "basic" with rosemary and sea salt, then eat it with oil and balsamic vinegar, or jazz it up with banana peppers and asiago cheese.  I like to poke the dough all over with my finger so that the finished bread has dimples in it.

Bake at 450 degrees F for 15-20 minutes. Thoroughly enjoy it with balsamic vinegar / olive oil or other dips.  Happy eating!

Apple Muffins

I have a box of apples ripening on my counter so I made these the other day. My husband (who as a rule is not sentimental) says he remembers this was the first thing I ever baked for him.  Aww. I'll take what I can get.  No idea what the recipe is from - I will credit my mom and Grandma.  These are the perfect autumn treat when the fireplace is going and it hasn't stopped raining in three weeks.

They don't rise much so if I want regular-to-large-sized-muffins I will actually pour this entire recipe into half of a muffin tin. So if you want 12 large muffins, I would double it. And I put lots of apple because it's yummy.  They are satisfying, so consider it nearly a meal.

Mix dry ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon (or a bit more)
  • Fold in 1-2 cups (peeled) diced apple

Mix wet ingredients separately:

  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup veg oil
Mix wet ingredients briefly into dry until just mixed and pour into greased muffin tins. Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes, 24 minutes if making large ones. Test with a toothpick. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Mixed Berry Whole Wheat Muffins

These muffins are healthy!  Yay!  This recipe is from, found here.  I recommend checking out her pictures, because I can't do these muffins justice.

I cut down the sugar even a tiny bit more and have found that it's best when using a very flavourful fruit for the puree - if using strawberries as suggested, make sure they're small and fresh... I wouldn't recommend frozen large ones that come in a package because they make the muffins a bit bland.  I also wouldn't recommend pureeing a blueberry and blackberry mix... because though the muffins will still taste great, they will look black and burnt!  My favourite rendition uses a tart applesauce, made in the crock pot from my in-laws' apples.

Mix together:

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup white flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
In another bowl, mix:
  • 1 1/2 cups pureed strawberries (from about 16 oz strawberries) --> or applesauce
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp melted butter or margarine
Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ones, then add 1 cup of berries and fold them in. I recommend raspberries and blackberries - blueberries work too but I prefer the more tart taste of the others. 

Bake at 325 degrees for about 25 minutes - toothpick test. Mini-muffin bake time can be shortened by a couple minutes.  Enjoy!  

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Cheese Scones

I found this recipe through Kraft's site. These are delectable - I can't even explain how much I adore a good cheese scone.  I will never look for another one now that I tried this one.

It's a good recipe for halving, as I can make 4 large scones with a half-recipe.

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/3 cup cold butter/margarine, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 3/4 cup shredded cheese (I usually add a few small chunks of cheese too to get some nice cheese pockets in the scones)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup milk
Mix the first four ingredients well, then cut in the butter. Fork in the cheese and make a well in the middle.  Whisk together milk and eggs and add to the centre of the well, then mix gently and briefly with a fork until somewhat together. Knead gently with hands just to make dough gather together. Divide into flattened circular shapes messily or go to the hassle of rolling 1/2 inch thick and cutting out circular shapes with a biscuit cutter.

Bake at 400 degrees for 15-17 minutes.  My larger biscuits (8 to a batch) take 17 minutes.  They are a little slice of heaven, and are a perfect accompaniment for soup on a colder day. 

Pierogi Pizza

If you've ever had "pierogi pizza" at Boston Pizza, you have experienced a wonderful thing.  One day I decided to make it myself.  I found someone else here who first tried, and I am thankful for their efforts!  I have adjusted the amounts to what I found worked best for me.

Original recipe for the pizza dough here. It is super easy - no-rise, not thin-crust. I have adjusted mine to be partially whole wheat and it still gets devoured.


  • 1 packet of yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 1 c warm water
  • 2 1/2 c flour (I use 1 whole wheat and 1.5 all-purpose)
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped (optional; I have not tried this)
  • Cornmeal for pizza stone

Topping for 1 large pizza:

  • 1-2 large russet potatoes (sliced thinly, peeled if you like but I don't mind a bit of potato peel strings on my pizza)
  • 2-3 tsp Cayenne Pepper (I increased this way up from the original because it needs to be spicy!)
  • 1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1/4 tsp Onion Powder
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 1/4 tsp Pepper
  • 1 tsp Vegetable Oil
  • 1 cup grated mozzarella cheese (grated)
  • 1/2 cup Medium Cheddar Cheese (grated)
  • 4 Bacon Slices (cooked and cut into pieces)
  • Sour Cream

Cook the potato slices in about 1-2 cups of water with the spices. This won't take nearly as long as cooking chunks of potatoes, so be careful not to overcook!  Cook with lid on maybe 10 minutes, then remove the lid to let the water burn off. Add a bit of vegetable oil if desired so the potatoes do not stick together and to the pan.  Be careful not to burn or cook the slices to mush! Remove from the pan and set aside in a bowl.

Spread a thin layer of sour cream on your pizza dough, and distribute the potato slices evenly (get close to the edge because when the dough rises you do end up with an empty crust around the edge, which I hate).  Sprinkle the pieces of bacon on top and then add cheese.  Simple.  Bake at 400 degrees for about 10-12 minutes until crust and cheese is golden.  Best to do this on parchment paper (on a pizza stone) spread with cornmeal. Garnish with dollops of sour cream and chopped green onions. Serve hot, or if you have to serve my husband, refrigerate and serve cold!


I don't cook.  My husband likes to, and he has made some amazing meals in the past. Unfortunately, sometimes we forgot how many options we have for dinners.  This post is just for when we need inspiration (or to make our mouths water).

Saffron risotto with shrimp and mussels

California and chicken teriyaki rolls

Seafood linguini with clams

Tuna nicoise salad (inspired by the Mediterranean cuisine we experienced in Barcelona)

Flank steak with bean sprout stir-fry

BBQ chicken pizza (or roasted corn and chicken, or basil and tomato, or roasted garlic, or pierogi pizza... the list is endless)

I am one lucky lady!

Apple Crumble

  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1 tsp cinnamon, nutmeg
  • 1/3 cup melted butter or margarine

Fruit filling just requires a pinch of salt, cinnamon, and a bit of sugar to lightly coat the fruit.  Standard recipe would be granny smith apples but nectarines (as above) or blackberries make an excellent summer treat!

375 for 30 min or until apples are soft when poked with a fork.  Best when served with ice cream.  

Chicken Enchilada Soup

Original recipe found here (Home is where the Holmans are), and many thanks!  This worked really well in my dutch oven. Again, my reason for re-posting is to ensure the recipe is never lost to me.

Photo of the finished soup found with my biscuit recipe here.  This is a wonderful spicy soup that doesn't really need a recipe unless you're like me and you can't cook worth anything.  Even I was able to modify based on what I had in my pantry and voila - tasty and cozy goodness!

  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 2 skinless chicken breasts (I used equivalent in tenderloin strips)
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp ancho chili powder (I used regular chili powder)
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

Combine above and cook over medium heat (likely 20-25 minutes) until chicken is cooked through - then remove chicken, shred it, and set it aside. Add the following ingredients to the stock:

  • 1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 4-6 jalapeno peppers, minced (yes you'll probably want at least 4!)
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced

Simmer about half an hour until tomatoes are starting to fall apart. Add:

  • 1 15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cups frozen corn
  • 1/2 cup tomato paste
  • 8 oz cotija cheese and 8 oz pepperjack cheese (I only had mozzarella and a bit of asiago, so make do with whatever you may have for cheese)

Put shredded chicken back into soup and cook 20 more minutes or until desired consistency.  If using a crock pot after the chicken is cooked, add everything but the chicken and cook on low at least 3 hours. Add the chicken back in a half hour before serving, and add:

  • 1 cup chopped cilantro

Enjoy with a bit of shredded cheese on top and baked biscuits on the side!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp each of salt, baking powder, baking soda
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup sour cream for best results (but I usually use skim milk)
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup melted butter or margarine

Combine dry and wet ingredients separately, then stir together until just moistened. Pour into greased 8x8 square dish.  Bake at 400 degrees F for 20-25 min (add 5 min for a glass dish).  Test done-ness with a toothpick in the centre of the loaf - it should come out clean.

Berry Galette

This tasty treat was taken from a good old-fashioned book - Food Made Fast - Baking from Williams-Sonoma.  This is a quick-and-easy treat if you already have pastry dough in the fridge or freezer. Here's a link to my mom's fabulous pie crust.

  • 4 cups berries (I use a mix of blue/black/raspberries)
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 c. sugar
  • 3 Tbsp flour
I strayed from my usual precise measurements for this because hey - it's filling.  Precision is not required here.  You can afford to be sloppy.  Toss everything together. 

Roll out the pie crust (on a floured surface) into a large circular shape and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Spoon the filling onto the dough, leaving a 2-inch border.  Fold up the edge and pleat loosely (or do whatever else your heart desires).  If you like to brush your pastry with butter or egg feel free but I like it "natural."  Bake until the filling bubbles adn the pastry is golden brown - about 25 minutes at 425° F. Cut into pie-slice shapes and serve, warm if you can and with ice cream if you really want to enjoy it. 

Pie Crust

This is my mom's classic recipe... no source to cite here.  I loved her homemade pies despite her protests that they were "only homemade."

  • 1 package (1lb) lard / shortening
  • 5 cups flour
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt

Combine dry ingredients.  In a 1-cup measure, place one egg and 1 Tbsp white vinegar and then fill to the brim with ice-cold water. Blend with a fork.  Mix lightly into flour mixture and squeeze components together briefly to form a cohesive ball. Seal in a plastic bag and refrigerate at least an hour before handling.  You can store leftover dough in the freezer for use later. 

Then go ahead and make pies, pies, tarts, pies, and more pies!  I have always loved pies more than cakes - my birthday parties defied convention... my poor childhood friends were expecting cake and were usually disappointed. 


Thursday, June 14, 2012

Basic Biscuits

My mom's recipe for light, easy biscuits has saved me a few times when I need a quick soup accompaniment. I know everyone must have a biscuit recipe but I just don't want to lose my tried-and-true morsels of flaky goodness.

This is also a reason why I love my food processor - "cut in the butter" was my least favourite instruction ever until I discovered these wonderful whirl-y blades.

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup shortening (margarine is fine)
  • 3/4 cup milk for molded biscuits - 1 cup for "dropped" biscuits

Mix together dry ingredients, cutting in shortening. Add milk and mix lightly - just until moistened throughout. Form biscuits however you like or drop on greased baking sheet for crusty goodness. 450 degrees for 12-15 minutes.

Serve hot with butter (obviously)!

Monday, June 11, 2012


This Mennonite classic was prompted by my father-in-law's insistence that I "find them and make them."  It took me forever to figure out what they were, as he pronounced it "Toy-buck" (possibly low German or Russian?). Unfortunately the link I originally took it from has disappeared so I am unable to cite my source.  They were surprisingly easy - not super quick but high-yield.

Start with:

  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 Tbsp dry active yeast

Mix and let sit 5-10 minutes.  Once the yeast has foamed up, add 1.5 cups of warm milk (not too hot) and 1.5 Tbsp vegetable oil.

  • In separate bowl, mix:
  • 4.5 cups white flour
  • 1.5 tsp salt

Take 2 cups of the above mixture and cut in 1/2 cup of room temperature butter. Add it to the wet ingredients, then add the remaining flour. Knead gently on lightly floured surface.  Let dough rise until doubled (cover bowl with a wet cloth or plastic wrap and set in a warm place).

Shape into two-part buns (larger one underneath, smaller knob on top, poke your finger down the center to stick them together).  Bake on parchment paper for 18-20 minutes at 400 degrees F.

Eat when warm with butter and jam.  Delicious!

Sunday, March 25, 2012


I don't know where I originally obtained this recipe but here is my version.  These are great because you can add whatever "feature" ingredient you like.

The key to flaky layers is cold butter, sliced in in flaky pieces. However if you're lazy and have a food processor, that is an easy way to cut the butter in.

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar (I often use slightly less)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup margarine (or slightly less than 1/2 cup if using butter)
  • 1/2 cup frozen fruit (tart fruit is best... if using sweet fruit like blueberries you may want to add a touch of lemon zest or lemon juice)
  • 1/2 cup milk (or buttermilk)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Mix the dry ingredients up to the margarine, then cut that in or pulse a few times in the food processor. Mix the fruit into the dry mix with a spatula.

Mix the milk, egg, and vanilla in a bowl with a fork.  Add your dry mix and stir briefly until dry and wet mixes are crumbly. Don't over-mix. Pull together dough with your hands until it looks like this:

Grease a cookie sheet (or line with parchment paper) and form your scones. Either flatten one large circle and but into eighths, or divide your dough into about 8 pieces. Shape into triangular forms (if you're feeling fancy) or just scoop some dough with a small measuring cup and drop it onto the sheet for a rough shape. Sprinkle a pinch of raw sugar on the top of each scone if desired. Bake for 15-17 minutes. 

Voila!  Warm and yummy. Serve with butter or eat them plain. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

No-Knead Bread

Crispy crust! Large air holes! Perfect for dipping in oil and vinegar!  No kneading! 

This bread rises well and takes minimal effort to bake, other than wait times.  This version seems to be floating all over the internet.
  • 3 cups flour (don't overfill or shake down; you don't want flour packed into measuring cup)
  • 1 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • Any other mix-ins you like (for example - in the bread below, I added a handful of flax seeds, sunflower seeds, some rosemary and a taste of parmesan)

Mix all together and let it sit in a bowl covered by plastic wrap. Leave it on the counter for 18-20 hours. Pour onto a well-floured piece of parchment paper and form into a round loaf.  Cover it with the previously used/moist plastic wrap and let it rise a bit while the oven is preheating to 450 degrees. Put a Dutch Oven (Le Creuset or some other oven-safe ceramic pot with a tight-fitting lid - I use a Calphalon ceramic pot) into the oven while it's preheating.  When the bread is ready to go, pull out the pot, gently place the parchment paper with bread into the pot, and bake for 30 minutes. Take off the lid and bake for another 15 minutes. Your bread should look and smell amazing. 

For the lightest bread, use all-purpose (white) flour. I often replace 1/3 or even 1/2 with whole ground wheat flour.  If I want to be really healthy, I'll do a full whole wheat version with slightly less flour and let the loaf rise well before baking... or else it is really dense. Put it very gently in the pot so the air bubbles don't burst inside. I'll usually put craisins and flax seeds in that one to provide some nice textures in there.