Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas

























The Holiday Classic Cookie Collection



Checkerboard Cookies:


Cut each 1/4 inch. bake 350/ 10-12 mins


Start with white dough in mixer bowl:

Cream
1 lb butter (room temp)
1 cup sugar

Add:
2 eggs, one at a time
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp orange zest

Add:
5 cups flour

Put the dough in a big zip lock bag and flatten into a big square.


Now make chocolate dough using same bowl/beater:

Cream:

1 lb  butter (room temp)
1 cup sugar

Add:
2 eggs, one at a time

Add:
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp orange zest

Blend and add:
5 cups flour - minus 12 tbsp  (almost a cup)
12 tbsp cocoa

 Put the dough in a big zip lock bag and flatten into a big square.

Chill dough. Once chilled slice into long pieces (square) and use chocolate and white dough to alternate to create a checkerboard affect.

Slice 1/4 inch thick and bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes


Crackle Cookie (x4 original recipe)
Makes 144 cookies
Bake 350 /12-14 mins


Melt:
26 oz melted dark chocolate

Mix Dry:

5 cups flour

2 cups cocoa powder

8 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
4 tsp vanilla

Cream:

1 lb butter

5 1/3 cup brown sugar

Add:
8 eggs


Final wet ingredient for alternating with dry ingredient:

1 1/3 cup milk


Confectioners sugar, for later

Don’t preheat the oven yet, this dough will need to chill for 2 hours or so.
Melt dark chocolate gently.
Mix dry ingredients (flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt).

Cream sugar and butter together, then beat in eggs and vanilla.
 Pour melted dark chocolate over the creamed butter and sugar, blend, then add dry ingredients & milk (alternating between the two to prevent puffs of flour getting all over the place).

The dough will be very sticky.  Cover the bowl loosely in plastic wrap and chill for approx 2 hours, or until dough is hardened and can be handled.

Preheat oven to 350. Scoop out spoonfuls of hardened dough, roll between your palms to form a ball, then toss the ball into a bowl of powdered sugar to coat it.  If the dough gets too sticky to handle, pop it back in the fridge or freezer to cool it back down.  Line cookie up on the sheet (not too closely – they spread) and bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes.
Use a spatula to handle them after baking to avoid fingerprints on the powder sugar.


Elfin Shortbread Bites
Double recipe if desired, meaning repeat the recipe once again after
Bake 325/ 12-14 minutes

1 lbs butter, chilled cut into small cubes.

Cut in:
5 cups flour
12 tbsp sugar

Once it starts to come together like dry crumbs add:

8 tbsp red and green sprinkles or 4 of each

Add all into a big ziplock bag and flatten with a rolling pin.

Chill and cut open the bag, slice shortbread sheet into 1 inch squares and bake


Perfect GingerbreadMakes 18 medium/large gingerbread men

350/8 for medium cookies and 10 for larger gingerbread men

Ingredients:

Cream:

1 1/4 cups (283 g) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup (220 g) light brown sugar

Add:
2 eggs

Add:
2/3 cup (220 g) cooking molasses OR (1/3 fancy molasses and 1/3 black strap molasses)
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Blend:

6 1/2 cups (815 g) all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt

Incorporate dry ingredients little by little without mixing too much.


Chill dough in zip lock bags and roll out to 1/4 inch thickness, cut in desired shapes and bake



Basic vanilla dough
(thumb print cookies)

Bake 350/12 minutes

Cream:

2 sticks unsalted butter
1 cup sugar

Add:
1 large egg
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Add:

3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt

Chill dough in zip lock bag or in bowl covered with plastic.


Assembly:
1 egg white
Chopped pistachio
Apricot Jam


Directions:

Whisk together flour, and salt in a large bowl. Beat butter and granulated sugar with a mixer on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture, and beat until combined.


Follow the instructions below for the basic dough, once it's made and chilled a bit roll them into small balls (bite size)
Next you poke a small hole in the centre with the back of a wooden spoon.
Beat a little egg white until frothy and set aside, then dip the tops of the cookies in the egg white and into the chopped nuts or coconut, it will stick to the top nicely.
Next use a small spoon or tiny piping bag to drop a tiny bit of jam into the centre (the thumb print/hole you made with the wooden spoon) not too much jam or it will over flow.

Bake on 350 for 12 mins or so.


Linzer Cookie
Roll and cut each 1/4 inch thick/330 for 12-15 minutes

Ingredients

Cream:
1 lb butter softened
2 cup powdered sugar, sifted

Add:
4 egg yolks

vanilla
2 teaspoon lemon zest

Blend and add gradually:

5 cups all-purpose flour
2 cup almond meal
1/2 teaspoon salt


1 cup seedless strawberry jam
Powdered sugar

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 330F. Prepare cookie sheets with silpat or parchment paper.
In the work bowl of your stand mixer, cream together butter and powdered sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Add in egg yolks one at a time, then lemon zest. In a mixing bowl, combine flour, almond meal and salt, then gradually add dry ingredients to the butter mixture, beating just until blended. Divide dough into 2 equal portions. Cover and chill 1 hour.
Roll each portion to a 1/8-inch thickness on a lightly floured surface; cut with a 3-inch heart-shaped cutter. Cut centers out of half of cookies with a 1 1/2-inch heart-shaped cutter. Make sure that you have an even number of solid and cut out cookies. Bake for 15 minutes; cool on wire racks.

Spread solid cookies with jam. Lay all the cutout tops on a parchment lined tray and sprinkle the powdered sugar over them all and then pick them up gently and sandwich onto the jam bottom layer. Place individual cookies onto a paper cupcake liner or onto a serving plate. Try to save the cookies in a container and prepare them with jam/sugar before serving or placing in a tin to give away.




Meringue


Bake 200 for 1:15 minutes and turn over off and allow to sit for 3 more hours or overnight without disturbance.


Heat over double boiler until sugar is no longer crystal and dissolves, feel with fingers.

3 large egg whites, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar

Add:
Large pinch of salt
Large pinch of cream of tartar

Add flavour:
Vanilla
Flavouring drops (peppermint - cinnamon - whatever you like)

Whisk on high speed until glossy and stiff.


Red Gel-paste food coloring
1 kebob skewer
1 zip lock bag or piping bag with piping tip (depends on the look you would like to achieve)

Or alternately add green food colouring and make trees


Directions:

Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Combine egg whites and sugar in a heatproof bowl.  Set bowl over a pot of simmering water, and stir until sugar dissolves and mixture is warm, about 3 minutes. Add salt and cream of tartar.

Beat with a mixer on medium-high speed until stiff, glossy peaks form and meringue is mostly cooled, about 7 minutes. Add desired flavourings or vanilla extract.

Using a small paintbrush, paint 2 vertical stripes of food coloring inside a pastry bag on opposite sides - remember to fit the piping tip first and prep the bag by placing in a cup for easy handling.

Fill bag with meringue, and pipe 1 3/4-inch circular shapes (they don't need to be perfect rounds) 2 inches apart on 2 parchment-lined baking sheets. As you finish piping each shape, apply less pressure to pastry bag, and swirl the tip off in a circular motion.

Bake meringues until crisp on the outside but still soft inside, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Do not remove from the oven and let them sit overnight with the oven off.

Store in a metal canister or tin away from heat or moisture.










(Double recipe for amount I made) 

Sable Cookies

These delicate, crumbly cookies hail from France's Normandy region and are delicious plain, dipped in dark chocolate, or sandwiched with jam. Once you have a handle on the basic recipe, try adding almonds, orange zest, or other flavorings. Adapted from "Entertaining."

     
INGREDIENTS

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, plus more for baking sheets
2/3 cup sugar
2 large egg yolks
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
1 large egg yolk, for brushing as needed
Sanding sugar, if desired


Line baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat; set aside.
Place butter and sugar in the bowl of a food processor; process until creamy. Add egg yolks, salt, and vanilla; process for 30 seconds until combined. Add 1 cup flour and process until smooth. Add remaining cup of flour to processor; process to combine. Turn dough out onto work surface and form into flat square; wrap with plastic wrap and transfer to refrigerator until chilled.
Place a nonstick baking mat on work surface. Place half of the chilled dough on baking mat; top with a sheet of plastic wrap. Roll out dough between baking mat and plastic wrap until it is 1/8-inch-thick. Transfer to fridge to chill until firm, about 30 minutes. Repeat process with remaining dough.
Using a 2-inch round fluted cookie cutter, cut out dough and transfer to prepared baking sheets. Transfer baking sheets to refrigerator until dough is chilled, about 20 minutes. Roll out scraps, and repeat. Repeat process with remaining dough. Transfer to refrigerator and chill until firm, about 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Mix together remaining egg yolk with 1 teaspoon water; brush tops of cookies with egg white mixture. Sprinkle with sanding sugar, if desired. Transfer to oven. Bake until cookies are pale golden, 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Christmas 2016 Gift Guide


The cutest dolls from Cuddle + Kind and with each purchase they donate meals to children around the world! These dolls are artisinally made by skilled craft women in Peru. So fantastic! Dolls come in two sizes and the child in your life will ADORE these cuddly characters!





Gorgeous charm lockets from My Name Necklace (Canada)  Perfect for mom, grandma or new Mamas!


For the Cook in your life: Gorgeous cookbook from Joudie Kalla  at Amazon



For the Men in our lives, if they have facial hair they may enjoy this GORGEOUS damascus steel beard comb by Four Caliphs, it's absolutely stunning!  Available through The Date Palm and their own site

And Mission Belts for these fantastic adjustable belts! My husband loves his!






For the health guru and tea lover: Wellness collection by Silk Road Tea   Canadian brand selling exquisite teas. I enjoy their black teas very much!
For the Chocolate Lover, why not treat them to the best and it's locally made! Award winning Ontario Chocolate Makers - Chocolate by Hummigbird chocolate makers 

More foodie, bath and novelty gifts from Terrebleu



And for the ones that have a good sense of humor, the one and only Squatty Potty..  all jokes aside this is truly an amazing product!




Note: All photos in this post are taken from the internet and not my property or photography
















Friday, December 2, 2016

Baby Apple Sauce


Baby apple sauce with my secret ingredient..... dates!  Not just any dates, these are called "Sukkari" which literally mean sugar dates, and they in fact taste exactly like sugar! I had a bunch leftover from Ramadan and usually take one with my cup of black tea to avoid having to sweeten it with sugar. 
When making a healthy apple sauce for baby you want to also avoid the white refined (and even brown) sugars, in fact it's better to avoid most sweet all together I think to not get them hooked on it. Sugar is just as addictive as drugs. 

After giving birth I became quite addicted to it, now that I'm almost a year past I'm getting back to my normal self but because I never had much of a sweet tooth to begin with, even as a child I felt very strange all of a sudden craving all these sweets, in such an uncontrollable way, I would eat anything in my way, donuts, ice cream, chocolate on a daily basis, it was the only thing that really got me through my day and I looked forward to it. Whether I was addicted from starting a habit or it was hormonal due to post partum hormones or breastfeeding I'll never know but I'm glad I'm now away from it and it helps that I'm just not craving it any more and going back to my old self otherwise I would have had to put myself on some kind of diet to slowly stop. 

So back to the apple sauce, a super healthy treat for your baby and all home made. The easier thing to make as long as you don't burn it, like me. I'm always walking away from fruit on the stove and burning it so learn from my mistakes and stay close by. Its better to add more water than less because the sugars in the fruit tend to caramelize quickly once the water evaporates. 

I'm using ginger golds, home grown in Ontario here, they are slightly tart which is what I want. My secret ingredient, dates add just enough sweetness and I only throw in one or two upon removing the seed. 

Baby Apple Sauce 
Ingredients:

2 apples, peeled and cored, chopped into bite size pieces of slices for easy stewing

1-2 sukkari dates (of if you can't find 'em use Medjool) pits removed.
water, enough to cover. 

Directions:

Add all to the sauce pan and bring to a boil then simmer on low until fruit is soft. If there is too much water leftover allow the liquid to evaporate by removing the lid and staying close by to keep an eye on it and avoid burning the fruit. 

Once removed from heat and cooled add to blender and blend smooth. If you need to run it through a sieve to remove any date skins you can. 

Double the batch and freeze any extras for later if desired. 






Monday, November 28, 2016

Christmas 2016 Gift Guide: Stocking Stuffers


It's here! The 2016 Christmas Gift guide: Stocking stuffers edition! Featuring some of my favourite things, mostly local or non profit which is what makes it so great! 

We'll start with Saje because they're so hot right now, just making their big debut in malls across southern Ontario, they come to us from British Columbia after being established there for over two decades!

Gotta admit I had no clue what they were all about and often found myself just walking right past their stores. It wasn't until the expansion opening at Oshawa Centre that I received this cute tote filled with a bunch of goodies from the Guest services for doing some shopping on their grand opening weekend.  The tote included a little Pocket Farmacy from Saje and once again I just set it aside. At some point I made a note to visit one of their stores to figure out exactly how to use these little essential oil roll-ons.  

 People, they actually work!! The associates in store are so friendly and knowledgable, after a quick chat with one of them and bringing up a couple of videos on their facebook I felt like I had enough of an idea to navigate the world of essential oils.

I highly recommend starting with the little Pocket Farmacy kit, I promise you and your family will probably be using every single one in your lives.
There is one called Pain Release and I use it often on my shoulders, just rolling it on on the skin where the muscles feel tense. It starts off by releasing a lovely whiff or aroma and then I feel the warmth in my muscles as they begin to soften and unravel as the tension is slowly lifted off my shoulders.  This one is so fabulous because my shoulders are a real mess from carrying this ever growing baby around! 


If you suffer from headaches there is the Peppermint Halo, headache sufferers swear by it! And of course a Digestive Aid is always handy, none other than fennel oil which is, as was explained to me the only one that can be consumed because it's just pure fennel oil. Others are Stress Release, which I just sniff as I'm about to get behind the wheel and learn some driving, haha! Immune is the last one but oh so useful in the flu season. A little dab under my cheekbones and it lifted that stuffy congested feeling I had in my sinuses this weekend. 

The Pocket Farmacy is highly recommended as a starter, I think anyone can make use of it. This is more of a gift and not necessarily a stocking stuffer but that brings me to the next two. 
After so much success with using the other oils I thought of key problems I had in my life and wanted to see what kind of remedies Saje had to offer through their essential oils. The first one being restful sleep, mostly for my husband, and for this they recommended Sleep Well. 

Sleep Well is from what I understand mostly lavender, and as we all know is famous for it's calming and relaxing qualities. I would only advise to be cautious if you're a cat owner as lavender is toxic to cats and perhaps dogs too. Right now we're just using it to get a little sniff instead of rolling it onto our feet as recommended because the cats sleep on the bed. 

The next blend recommended to me is called Energy, and as I'm not a morning person and it takes me a long long time to wake up, yes, usually I'm still grumpy by lunch. With a baby up at 7 I needed something to snap me out of it.  This one is perfect! With Energy I feel refreshed and ready to take on the day! You can rub a little on your palms and then rub both palms together and hold 'em up to your face. This one really packs a punch!

Both sticks are sold separately and would be great stocking stuffers as I think most of us suffer from one of these two situations.

Click here to get started online shopping or head out to their many new stores now open in malls across the General Toronto Area



Now moving onto the FOOD, you know I love food gifts!! This is the most magical place I've discovered, Ten Thousand Villages at Oshawa Centre! It's a seasonal location but it is so awesome!!! From ornaments to stocking stuffers to jewelry and gifts, you'll find something for everyone on your list!  I just love love love everything in there, and obviously they are fair trade and made by local artisans around the world! 

I picked up some Zatar, which I'm so excited to try! Sprinkled on some pizza dough or thinly rolled out lavash dough these make yummy holiday appetizers.
Couldn't resist the large bag of true cinnamon, I've switched over from regular cinnamon to Caylon Cinnamon over a year ago. This is important especially when using it in baby recipes because it's not harsh on the liver as the other cinnamon blends sold in stores. This is the stuff  you want in your mug of hot water during flu season, a little drizzle of honey or pure Amber maple syrup and you're good to go. 

Couldn't resist the little lama ornament, he's just so fuzzy and CUTE!
All their ornaments are so unique and beautiful, I just picked up this one covered in jewel tone bells as my little guy was wandering out of the store every two seconds but the entire store is drool worthy!

To shop online, click here 




White chocolate drizzled old fashioned caramel popcorn all dusted with a hint of Peppermints! Doesn't this just say Christmas?! Another great brand by the lovely people who brought us Olive That! Hollywood Popcorn is the newest gem in Durham Region. The great thing is that they only use 100% Ontario corn, GMO free, offer tons and tons of varieties and flavours.. They got candy apples too!  This is your one stop shop party store! Go check 'em out!

Click Here 


 And not to forget all those local crafters, artisans and vendors out there! Usually they showcase their goods around Christmas through Churches, Christmas Bazaars and community events, so get out  there in your community and support these local artists

I picked up these hand knitted mitts at a local Christmas Bazaar in Oshawa over the weekend! Can you believe they were $4 each!

Last but not least, what could be better than these Chocolate Shortbread squares by local bakers Eat My Shortbread Company? All their baking is 100% natural, vintage style baking. They've been around for a while but I'm new to discovering their products and glad they are on my radar this year!   Can't get enough! The chocolate shortbreads are my fave, so rich, like a cross between a cookie and a brownie and just a little nibble here and there satisfies that Chocolate craving.

Click Here to check out all the different goodies they have to offer.

Hope you enjoyed this little guide, and I can't wait to bring you more!!!

Friday, November 25, 2016

Baby Mujaddara and snacks


Here's a fun and healthy recipe I came up with after picking up these sprouted lentils from the health food store. I call the recipe baby Mujaddara!

Mujaddara is a popular middle eastern rice and lentil dish but I swapped out the rice for super fine brown bulgur, the type you would use for tabouleh.

Start by browning finely diced onion in a bit of olive oil then add lentils and bulgur wheat sauteeing to coat with oil. Finally add stock or water to simmer until tender.

These sprouted lentils say they need to cook in 5X the amount of water but they do tenderize quickly as it only takes 5 minutes to cook them. And the bulgur is a quick cooking variety too so the dish comes together very quickly. Add water/stock as you would with rice, 2 cups liquid per 1 cup of grain. Cover and simmer.  The browned onion gives a nice taste to the dish and you completely omit salt or lightly season (or as I do, use herbamare)

2 tbsp onion, finely chopped
2 tsp olive oil 
1 cup fine bulgur
1/2 cup sprouted lentils
2 cups water or broth
Sprinkling of salt or Herbamare

Add oil to pot, heat and add onions browning them on medium to medium low. Add bulgur and lentils stiring to coat. Add liquid and seasoning. Cover and simmer until tender.

Enjoy with a side of veggies and greens. 








A couple of interesting products at the health food store that I discovered along the way. Baby ancient grain blend instead of the typical rice or oatmeal cereals. Barley is super delicious too and usually I mix them all together for a hearty breakfast cereal.


Yoso is a cultured coconut dairy free "Yogurt" it's unsweetened if you buy the one without fruit and it's super delicious! Good for babes with eczema who are on a dairy free diet.

I was told by a health guru that the most important thing in a babies' diet is to build up a strong gut, and that's by using a probiotic as well as good cultured foods like the coconut kefir yogurt, lots of avocados too and stay away from toxins (meats) as well as contaminated fish (which is pretty much most of them)

DHA supplement or oil is a must and we like this one by Nordic.



And last but not least a couple of healthy treats for every now and then. We are not too big on rice products, and definitely no sugar so these fruit bars as well as some freeze dried fruit are perfect treats for when we're on the go.

Do feel free to share your favourite baby menu recipes with me as well as snacks and supplements, I'm all ears :)