Showing posts with label Recipes. Show all posts

Small Bites Baking: Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes

cheesecake

I'm back in the baking groove and I've got a new #Smallbitesbaking item to share, mini pumpkin cheesecakes!

Maker's Mark Cranberry Sauce

homemade cranberry sauce thanksgiving christmas

Everything tastes better with Maker's Mark Bourbon! 

Small Bites Baking: Candy Corn Inspired Butterscotch Trifle

candy corn

A sweet and small dessert inspired by a quintessentially fall candy, candy corn! 

Small Bites Baking: Apple Spice Cake for Four

Small Bites Baking: Apple Spice Cake for Four

With one kid off to college and another about to follow, it was time that I start to adjust how this family eats. 

Turns out The Oldest was the big eater in the house (we had long suspected as such) and I have found that I am making far too much food at meal time. This is especially difficult as now that the weather has turned crisp, I turn to baking! It's my favourite way to spend a weekend afternoon, baking up treats to eat right away or save for dessert. For years we never bothered with dessert, unless it was a special occasion. Lately, I have been finding myself craving a little something sweet as we clear the dishes. 

I've been playing with different desserts and while everyone at work is happy when I bring in the leftovers, I knew there needed to be a better way to make desserts for 2-3 people without having too much waste. Also, we have to watch those calories and I wanted to find a way to have a few sweet bites before a nightly walk with the dogs. Welcome to my new baking series Small Bites Baking! 

celebrating this life


I started by experimenting with some favorite fall flavours in the kitchen. I made a some small batch cookies and a few mousses and puddings in ramekins. They were very well received! I made a simple pudding with fall spiced whipped topping that was about three generous bites. It was AMH, my husband and frequent taste taster who I should add is generally not a fan of sweets, who said this is what we need, just a few small bites of your baking. So there you have it, a new baking series and a name was born just before the Thanksgiving weekend. 

Traditionally, I would have baked a pumpkin or apple pie but I was feeling the need for a cake. And something with apple. The local farm is overrun with McIntosh's and this time of year I could eat the entire farm supply! The idea was to take a simple cake recipe and add a little apple and fall spices. Then instead of heavy calorie icings, use whipped cream for in between layers and as a topping. But how to bake a cake that would be considered small bites?

baking

Buy a small cake pan! I bought two small cake pans with removable bottoms. They're the exact same size and while I would have loved to buy three, there were only two at the second hand shop I found them in. They don't have a brand name on them and they also don't seem the most sturdy and I'm sure I'll be replacing them in the future. But for $2 I was willing to give it a go. When it comes time to replace, I'll just buy a few of the smallest cake pans, Wilton is a brand I've always used and loved. 

small cake pans

So I've got my recipe and my pans and I'm ready to go to make a small three tiered apple spice cake for our Thanksgiving dessert. First things first, I needed to butter and flour the inside of the pans. Because I have only two pans and needed three layers, I would be doubling up on one pan with the batter and just cutting it in half once cooled. I buttered/floured all the way to the top of my small cake pan because I wasn't entirely sure where the batter would end once filed. 

apple cake recipe

Spatula (bought on my trip to Santa Barbara, California!) | Kitchen Aid mixer Loving my new red mixer!

I wanted to keep this simple because I would be baking while cooking a 16 pound turkey and all the fixin's. That meant that instead of making my own apple sauce, I cheated and used good old fashioned unsweetened applesauce from a jar. Whatever. Sometimes busy people need shortcuts! Always remember that it is ok to take shortcuts when needed #lifeadvice 😀 I used to feel quite guilty about things like that and in my head I would think 'well Martha would have done it all from scratch'. Then one day it hit me that Martha doesn't have a full time corporate job and then has to come home to a sink full of dishes with dogs jumping all over her while her kids ask when dinner will be ready and a husband asking if his favourite shirt is washed yet! Life requires shortcuts and I am here for them. 

Alright, you know how baking goes. Put all your dry ingredients into one bowl, your butter and sugar go into the mixer and your wet, the apple sauce, is in a measuring cup. We mix up the butter and sugar, whisk together the dry ingredients and start adding them, alternating with the applesauce, ending with the sauce. I add a 1/4 cup at a time, starting with the dry ingredients. 

Once mixed, add to your buttered/floured pan and bake. When they are done, place on a wire rack to cool for 5-10 minutes. Then, remove from the pan (turn upside down and they will pop out!) and cool completely and start making the whipped topping. 

apple cake

Then you get to assemble! This is the really fun part. Because I had two pans and needed three layers, I baked more cake in one of the pans. I cut that larger cake in half to give me three. Then I cut the tops off to make sure all three layers were even. 

Place one layer down, add some topping, enough so it will ooze out the sides. Please a cake layer on top and continue. Add a generous topper and you're done! Simple!

As with any baking project, the best part is tasting. And this one is oh-so-delicious! Moist and spicy, it was the perfect ending to a cool, crisp fall day. 

Apple spice cake


Makes enough for three small cake layers or 6 large muffins

1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
6 tbsp butter (1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp)
3/4 cups granulated sugar
1 large fresh egg
2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups unsweetened apple sauce

Butter and flour your cake pans

Combine dry ingredients in a bowl and lightly whisk

Beat butter and sugar until mixed. Add egg and vanilla, mix again

Alternate adding dry ingredients and applesauce to the butter mixture, starting with dry and ending with applesauce. 

Bake for 350 degrees for 40 mins, testing doneness with a toothpick after 30 minutes (just to be on the safe side) 

Spiced Whipped topping


2 c. heavy cream
3/4 c. confectioners or icing sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Using a mixer, beat the cream, sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form. Do not overmix or you'll end up with spiced butter 😁

Crispy Homemade Waffles aka My Graceland Waffles

waffle recipe

Bookmark this page for Sunday morning because I know you're going to want to whip up a batch of these crispy homemade waffles!

The Best Pancake Recipe for Fat Tuesday

pancakes

Grab your mixing bowls, it's time to whip up some pancakes for Fat Tuesday!

Brewing The Perfect Cup Of Tea

typhoo tea

After last night's snowfall and this morning's below freezing temperature, I thought today would be the perfect time to talk about brewing the perfect cup of tea. Yes, there is a true art to making a soul stasfiying cuppa that will leave a smile on your face.

Not So Scary Candy Apples

bloggers

My dear friend Kendra, of Kendra Bester Design, and I share a love of being in the kitchen. We try to coordinate a day every few months where we can whip up a few treats (remember our lemon drop party?). It's always fun to come with ideas and then spend the day creating in the kitchen while catching up on what's going on in our lives.

Homemade Apple Fritters

apple recipes

Now that the days are growing shorter and cooler, I am finding myself returning to my kitchen to bake up treats to satisfy my family's sweet tooth. One of our favourite treats, that was inspired by the region we live in, is apple fritters.

Quick & Healthy Breakfast Options

quick breakfast options

There is just something about fall that makes life feel a little more hectic than usual in the mornings. The lazy days of summer are over, the kids are back to school and at work, it's the last few months before the end of the year rush. I found myself stuck in a breakfast rut and craving some very quick, easy and healthy breakfast options.

Easy Weeknight Meal: Mexican Pizza

I feel like I am saying this every week, but this one is going to be a busy one. And hopefully it's the last busy one of the summer! The kids are officially done school tomorrow and The Oldest is graduating high school tomorrow (cue the mom waterworks). The end is in sight but to get to the easy breezy weeks that summer brings, I need to get through this week.

Lemon Blueberry Mousse Dessert

small bites dessert

My family is made up of horse racing aficionados so when the Kentucky Derby took place over the weekend, our house was bursting with excitement to see which horse would eventually get to wear the garland of roses! Always Dreaming took the top honour and my new dessert creation, lemon blueberry mousse did as well!

My "Oops" Southern Banana Bread

banana bread recipe

So first things first, why on earth is this called My "Oops" Southern Banana Bread. It's quite simple really. I found a wonderful and simple banana bread recipe in a Southern Living "Our Best Recipes" book from 1971 that I bought at a vintage shop years ago. The recipe was rather large as it was meant for two bread pans. I was making this banana bread for two little boys at the time so I decided to half the recipe. Seems pretty easy right? I made sure to half each and every ingredient...except for the butter. I accidentally added the full amount of butter and totally forget to half it! I mean, more butter is always better so this accident was a very happy one and for the last 10 years I have been making this recipe with double butter and I suggest you do as well! 

#CTLCookieExchange - Gingerbread People


I selected this week's #CTLCookieExchange, gingerbread people, because at the end of last week, I was off to a cookie exchange with some of my favourite people for our first annual cookie exchange. My original intention was to create gingerbread people that can hang off your mug and I thought I could just modify a regular gingerbread cutter for that. You can tell I'm not an engineer. After a few batches of trying to hook one arm of the dough, I realized (thanks Google) that there are cookie cutters for just the purpose. Oh well, there's always next year. But all was not lost! I continued on and made some of the cutest gingerbread people that sprinkles and icing could make.

#CTLCookieExchange - Raspberry Oatmeal Bars


For the fourth week of the #CTLCookieExchange we are shaking things up and baking bars instead of traditional cookies. Raspberry Oatmeal Bars to be precise! These bars are chewy, sweet and smell a-mazing coming out of the oven. They need to cool completely in the pan before cutting, which is actually the hardest part about baking these bars - waiting to eat them! The raspberry oatmeal bars are made with only six ingredients, all of which you probably have on hand. They take about 10 minutes to prepare, 35 to bake, and another 20 to cool so in about an hour you have a homey tasting bar ready to share...or eat all to yourself. No judgement here! They also freeze beautifully so you can save them for the holidays or leave one out to enjoy with a cuppa tea. 

#CTLCookieExchange - Hershey Peanut Butter Blossoms


It's week three of our #CTLCookieExchange and while last week I promised a more grown up cookie...The Youngest just returned from his adventures in Europe and the first thing he, and his big brother asked for, was these Hershey Peanut Butter Blossoms! How could I say no to these cute little (okay, not so little) teenagers! One request from them and I was off to the store looking for the largest pack of Hersey Kisses I could find (I bought two packs of 200g).

#CTLCookieExchange - M&M Sugar Cookies


Welcome back to the second cookie in our #CTLCookieExchange. Today we are again visiting one of my family's favourite cookies, but this time with a twist. These were my boys favourite cookies when they were very, very small (as opposed to them being very, very big now. They are both taller than me!). These cookies have always been a hit with little ones and if you have a few new parents in your mix, I know they will appreciate having a cookie that the kids will like. Because who doesn't like a sugar cookie with chocolate chips and M&M's? Nobody, that's right! I printed this recipe and kept it sandwiched in a notebook where I keep all my printed recipes and the date on it is 2005. Seriously, I've had this printed recipe for 11 years and still make these cookies every Christmas.

Celebrating This Life Cookie Exchange


Welcome to a new weekly series here on Celebrating This Life, a virtual cookie exchange! The invites are rolling in for an afternoon of swapping Christmas treats (and hopefully some cocktails!) and I have to say, I am loving the renewed interest in this festive activity. If you have not yet been invited to an IRL cookie exchange, start one! I remember my mom attending a few and as a youngster with a heavy sweet tooth, I always looked forward to taste testing the treats her friends made. It was an opportunity to try something entirely new! I still remember the first time I ate a rum ball and thinking it was the greatest thing in the world! They were not a usual treat in my family so this cookie exchange really broadened my cookie horizons.

This Christmas season I am taking some time for myself and have committed to baking one new cookie each week to bring to a cookie exchange, share with my work colleagues (they're going to love me!), or just to feed to my boys (AMH is not a sweets guy). I will be sharing the recipe and how best to package them every Wednesday from now until New Year's so make sure to come back and try out a new recipe for your cookie exchange!

*Rules for a successful cookie exchange

- Each invitee must bake one type of cookie for sharing (not a mixture of cookies)
- Cookies are to be packaged in one dozen units
- Bake an extra dozen to be sampled at the party
- The host must share the final RSVP numbers. This will determine how many dozen to bake (10 guests = 11 dozen cookies)
- Prepare for an afternoon of fun!


I am starting with an old family favourite, Lime Meltaways. It is always the first cookie I make of the season and because they are The Oldest's favourite (and he eats like a horse) I always end up making a few batches. The recipe below will yield 5 dozen and to ensure the flakiness of each cookie, I do not recommend doubling the recipe (I tried once and it just wasn't the same). They are so easy to prepare that even if you need to make 4 batches, it shouldn't take you more than 30 minutes. Once the dough is ready, they pop in the freezer for an hour and then you only need to slice, bake, and coat in powdered sugar to finish. I love popping the lime meltaways in clear baggies with colourful ribbons. They are easy to make, easy to package, and even easier to eat. Your fellow cookie exchangers will be thrilled with these melt in your mouth cookies.


The ingredients for lime meltaways are simple. Stick to fresh limes and the best vanilla you can find and you will be rewarded with the most flavourful, melt in your mouth cookies.

Lime Meltaways

Original recipe from Martha Stewart

Yield 5 dozen

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup confectioners' sugar
Finely grated zest of 2 limes
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice - approx. 2 limes
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt

1. Put butter and 1/3 cup confectioners' sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, and mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy. Add lime zest and juice and vanilla, and mix until fluffy.


2. Whisk together flour, cornstarch, and salt in a bowl. Add to butter mixture, and mix on low speed until just combined.


3. Divide dough in half. Place each half on an 8-by-12-inch sheet of parchment paper. Roll in parchment to form a log 1 1/4 inches in diameter, pressing a ruler along edge of parchment at each turn to narrow log. Refrigerate logs until cold and firm, at least 1 hour.


4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove parchment from logs; cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds. Space rounds 1 inch apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake cookies until barely golden, about 13 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through.


5.Transfer cookies to wire racks to cool slightly, 8 to 10 minutes. While still warm, toss cookies with remaining 2/3 cup sugar in a resealable plastic bag. Allow to cool before packaging in clear baggies. 


Don't forget to share your creations on social media and tag your photo #CTLCookieExchange. I'll be sharing some of your creations here on the blog for everyone to see! Happy baking! 

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup


Before heading out on last weekend's road trip up north, I made a pot of roasted butternut squash soup to bring with us. The soup is everything you want in a fall lunch - thick, tangy and sweet. It travels well in a thermos and tastes even better the next day. I posted a how-to on my Instagram Stories and now I am sharing the recipe below. Enjoy!

Pickled Garlic Jalapenos


It's pickling season at my house! This is the first year of our vegetable garden (look for that in a future blog post) and at this point we are harvesting every weekend. We have 12 tomato plants, a gigantic cucumber plant (unfortunately with only male flowers, so no cukes this year), lots of herbs, peppers and our especially well producing jalapeno plants. Since the beginning of September we have been harvesting our jalapenos each weekend (and a few times in between for dinner) and have spent some time during the weekend pickling them.