Thursday, December 14, 2006

Gingerbread Pumpkin Cake (or Muffins)

This one literally makes The Boy squeal with delight. This is what I heard yesterday at lunch time:

"Mommy, what are we having for lunch? It smells delicious! I could smell it all the way up in my room... Oh my goodness, is that what I think it is??!! Baby, Baby! Guess what we're having for lunch??!! Oh my goodness, I'm so excited! Baby! It's ginger cake! It's GINGER CAKE!"

Gingerbread Pumpkin Cake (or Muffins)
Makes one 9x9 snacking cake, or 24 muffins

1 to 1 1/2 cups raw sugar (or granulated)
2 eggs
1 cup pumpkin (not pie filling- pure, puréed pumpkin)
1/2 cup oil (we use olive)
1/2 cup soured milk (1/2 cup milk with 1/2 tsp. vinigar or lemon juice added- let sit 5min before using) or buttermilk
1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. each ground cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and all-spice (I use 2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice)

In a large bowl, whisk sugar, eggs, pumpkin, oil and milk until smooth.

In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, spices, salt and baking powder.

Stir dry ingredients into large bowl until blended.

Pour into lightly greased 9x9 square pan (or muffin pans).

Bake at 350* for about 35 minutes, or until set in middle. Let cool in the pan before cutting and serving.

* Tastes amazing with a scoop of vanilla ice cream ;-)

Monday, December 11, 2006

Easy-Peasy Cranberry-Orange Short-bread Cut-Out Cook-ies

Mom bakes the shortbread ahead, the kids cut it out with Christmas-y cutters. No sticky mess, no transferring, no gingerbread man amputees or stars without points ;-) Fun and easy!

*if cost is an issue, this can be made as plain brown-sugar shortbread, with cranberries and orange zest omitted

Cranberry-Orange Shortbread
Makes 1 doz.

1 cup softened butter (we use olive oil margarine due to Baby's milk allergy)
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup raw sugar (or granulated)
1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (or just plain all-purpose)
1 cup whole-wheat flour (you can use all whole wheat flour, but the cookies will be heavier and dense)
zest of 1 organic orange, finely grated
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh (or frozen) cranberries
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract (if cost is a factor, this can be left out)

Mix butter and sugars on medium until light and fluffy.

Add remaining ingredients and mix on low until fully combined.

Turn dough out onto parchment-lined cookie sheet, and flatten with hands (or very lightly floured rolling pin) to 1/4 inch thick rectangle.

Bake on rack placed in center of 325* oven until edges are golden brown and center is slightly firm, 25-30 minutes.

Leave giant cookie rectangle on baking sheet to cool about 5 minutes, then use cookie cutters to cut shapes (if cranberry pieces get in the way, use a small sharp knife to cut them away from cutters).

Leave to cool completely, then store in air-tight container.

Eat leftover bits with a cup of tea and Christmas music playing in the background ;-)

**note- I adapted this recipe from one I clipped out of Country Living magazine a while back, and I see they've reprinted it in their Holiday 2006 issue

Butterscotch Pecan Cookies

Gracie tried these out a few years ago for a Thanksgiving treat, and they were overwhelmingly popular. She was asked to make them again for Christmas, and was happy to oblige. We haven't made them since that year, so The Boy suggested we ad them to our baking list for Christmas, only he will make them this time :-)

The Blue Castle version of Mrs. Field's Butterscotch Pecan Cookies
Makes approx. 2 doz.

2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar, firmly packed
1 cup softened butter (we use olive oil margarine due to Baby's milk allergy)
2 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract (if cost is an issue, this can be omitted)
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup whole pecans (if cost is an issue, these can be omitted)

For glaze: 4 oz. caramels and 2 Tbsp. cream (we use pre-made caramel sauce and dip our cookies instead, since Baby cannot have the cream)

In a medium bowl, combine flour, soda and salt with a whisk until well mixed.

In a large bowl, beat sugar and butter with a mixer until they form a grainy paste. Add eggs and vanilla and combine thoroughly. Add flour mixture and chopped pecans and blend just until combined (do not overmix).

Drop rounded tablespoons of dough onto ungreased cookie sheets about 2" apart, and press a whole pecan into the center of each. Bake 23-25 minutes at 300* until edges are lightly browned. Cool.

Glaze: Melt caramels and cream in pot on low or in microwave on high (20seconds or so at a time, stirring in between until mixture is smooth). Drizzle on cooled cookies using a fork or spoon in zig-zag pattern.

If using glaze, store between layers of waxed paper after glaze has completely cooled.

Snowball cookies

B has made these for the last 3-4 years, and they always go fast! Easy, and only a few ingredients, so make loads- you'll be glad you did ;-)

Snowball cookies
Makes approx. 2 doz.

1/2 cup icing sugar (I think in the US you call it confectioner's sugar??)
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup butter or margarine (we use olive oil margarine due to Baby's milk allergy, and it works as well as butter- but use butter if you can for the shortbread-y flavour)
1 tsp. vanilla extract (if cost is an issue, you can omit this)
2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
* optional addition: 1/2 cup chopped pecans
More icing sugar for coating after baking

In a large bowl, combine sugar, salt and butter and mix well.

Add extract and gradually mix in flour. If adding nuts, do so now and work well into dough.

Chill well- at least 2 hours.

Form into 1-in balls (any larger, and they will not set in the center) and place on ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake at 400* for 8- 10 minutes or until set but not brown.

Roll immediately in more icing sugar to coat and leave to cool.

Roll in sugar again and store in air-tight container or freeze.

Christmas cookies!

I asked each of the kids to choose their favourite cookie/ baked treat, and we would limit our baking to just those items this year. We're travelling, packing gifts, suitcases, etc., and just won't have room for much in the way of extras.

Gracie's choice was B's specialty; Snowballs (which B has made every year for the past three years or so, and are a huge favourite!).

The Boy chose Gracie's specialty- Butterscotch Pecan cookies (often requested by the grandparents).

Baby chose her favourite- gingerbread cookies!

My favourite is shortbread, but with a twist- you cut out the shapes *after* you bake the dough! Much easier for little people to manage independently (no trying to transfer finicky dough to the cookie sheet), and the orange-cranberry flavour combination is a Christmas classic.

And Hubby has generously offered to sample them all ;-)

Separate recipe posts forthcoming.

Monday, October 23, 2006


This is what I decided on for MIL's visit on Friday. I wanted something I could pop in the crockpot and would be ready regardless of what time she arrived (the trip can take 5 hours on a good day, 7 on a slow one).

Sauerbraten *

4 lb. beef rump roast
1 cup water
1 cup vinegar
1 lemon, sliced with peel on
1 large onion, sliced
4 bay leaves
5 whole peppercorns
2 Tbsp. sea salt
2 Tbsp. raw sugar
15 gingersnaps, crumbled (does not need to be fine crumbs, just broken up)

Combine water, vinegar, lemon, onion, bay leaves, peppercorns, salt and sugar in deep ceramic or glass bowl (do not use metal). Add roast, cover and refrigerate 24-36 hours, turning meat several times (I turned mine twice a day, and it turned out great).

To cook:
Put beef in crockpot and pour one cup of marinade (liquid only) over meat. Cover and cook on low 6 hours for a newer cooker, up to 8 hours for an older one.

Remove meat to a platter and cover with foil to keep warm. Turn crockpot to high and stir in gingersnaps. Cover and cook for 10- 15 minutes.

When sauce is ready, slice meat, and serve with sauce poured over top.

I served this with mashed potatoes (the sauce tasted great with them!) and green beans.

* Based on Old World Sauerbraten from Fix-It and Forget-It Lightly

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Meals for week of October 15- 21

Sun- roast pork loin with onion and rosemary (with leftovers for Tuesday), oven-roasted potatoes with olive oil, rosemary and sage, mixed green and yellow beans

Mon- roasted mixed veggies and beans with sausage (with leftover sausage for Saturday)

Tues- pork and curry (recipe to come), green salad

Wed- The King's turkey and fettuccini stew (recipe to come)

Thurs- cabbage rolls (with leftover cabbage for Saturday), green salad

Fri- to be determined (found out last night that MIL will be coming for a visit, so I have to decide what to serve)

Sat- cabbage and sausage crockpot soup (recipe to come)

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Saturday, January 14, 2006