30 Oct

Macaroons

coconut macaroons

I love macaroons. They’re coconut, a flavour which I adore, and they have this great chewy texture which I love.

I made these macaroons one night when I wanted to make a cookie but I had no butter or eggs in the house. My options were limited.

These only take about 5 minutes to whip up and 20 minutes to bake. I over-baked mine a bit because they were smaller than normal macaroons and I didn’t adjust the baking time accordingly. Plus, my oven is a notoriously fast baker.

Coconut Macaroon

  • Coconut Macaroons

    Ingredients

  • 2 2/3 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
    2/3 cup granulated sugar
    1/3 cup all-purpose flour
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    3 egg whites
    1/4 teaspoon almond extract

Directions

Preheat oven to 325F.

Combine coconut, sugar, flour, and salt. Stir in egg whites and almond extract.

Drop coconut mixture by the tablespoon 2 inches apart on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.


This recipe is part of the 12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies.

12 weeks of christmas graphic

Prior Posts:

Week 5: Wildberry Dream Cookies
Week 4: Speculaas: Dutch Spice Cookies
Week 3: Poppy Seed Filling
Week 2: Cinnamon Bun Cookies
Week 1: Soft & Pillowy Coconut Frosted Cookies

30 Oct

Pumpkin Party Dishes

Tonight I’m chillin’ in my new leg warmers, watching Being Erica, and waiting for the trick or treaters. The Menzies household is giving away full sized chocolate bars this year to try to entice more of the little ones to our place. Last year we had 5 kids come by and this year we’re up to 7. Well, it’s progress anyway.

This weekend Matt and I hosted a Hallowe’en party for our friends. I was a bit worried that everyone would have other plans but we had a decent turnout and everyone had a kick-ass outfit.

I went as a ballerina

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Kyle made a very sexy Katy Perry. Just look at those cupcakes!

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Tina made this awesome jellyfish costume:

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We had a ghostbuster and the stay-puft marshmallow man.

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There was also the bad boys of tennis, a black mage (that’s Matt), Ke$ha, and lego Indiana Jones.

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I love it when people get in the Hallowe’en spirit and dress up and have a good time.

I made a few different dishes for the party: Cheese and Olive Bites, which are always a hit, veggies and hummus, and these veggie nuggets dipped in some plum sauce which turned out great. I also went with a couple of pumpkin themed dishes: sweet pumpkin dip for apples, and pumpkin juice inspired by Harry Potter.


Sweet Pumpkin Dip

Sweet Pumpkin Dip

A sweet, creamy dip for apples or pears. This is a nice appetizer for Hallowe’en, thanksgiving or a fall party. It was a big hit!

Makes ~2 cups

Ingredients

1 can white beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree
1 heaped tablespoon peanut butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
pinch of ground cloves
apple juice, for consistency

Directions

Blend all the ingredients except apple juice in a food processor until very smooth. Add the apple juice as needed to get the desired consistency. Mine was soft and smooth, and not as thick as a hummus.

Sweet Pumpkin DipSweet Pumpkin Dip


Pumpkin Juice

Makes enough for 1 punch bowl

2L apple juice
796mL can of pumpkin puree
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
4 cans ginger ale

Bring the apple juice, pumpkin, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and pepper in a large saucepan to a boil over high heat.  Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes.  Let cool.

Before serving add ice and ginger ale to the cooled pumpkin juice mixture.

30 Oct

Caramel Apple & Pumpkin Cake

Caramel Apple Pumpkin Cake

It’s been a few weeks since the unfortunate apple picking of thanksgiving weekend. I have since picked through and eaten all the crisp and tart mutsus and am left with several pounds of mediocre empires and golden not-so-delicious.

I’ve been scrambling to think of some things to make with my apples.

I’ve made some apple sauce that was so good because it was far too sweet to be apple sauce and was venturing close to pie-filling territory.

I’ve made some apple and sweet potato fritters with poached eggs. A favourite dinner of mine, but I imagine it would be just as delicious for breakfast.

I also made some pumpkin dip for sliced apples that I put out for a Hallowe’en party that Matt and I hosted.

But for the most part I have been lazy and have decided to just eat them raw with some peanut butter (more as an excuse to eat peanut butter in a more refined way than off a spoon from the jar, to be honest).

I think this caramel apple & pumpkin cake is the best thing that I’ve made with my apples so far. This past week, as I mentioned, was my Nonna’s 88th birthday. I had printed out a few recipes for cakes that I thought she might like. I narrowed it down to a sachertorte, a chocolate bread cake with nuts and booze, and an apple upside down cake.

I asked Matt’s opinion but it was one of those cases where I was really asking for no reason—I was planning on making the apple cake regardless. Luckily he told me to go with the apple upside down cake because Nonna loves apples and everyone was happy. This recipe seemed the easiest to make of the three and plus, I could get rid of some of those apples.

    This cake is very moist with a rich, spiced flavour. It makes a good coffee cake (or birthday cake, as the case may be)

      Topping

      2 apples
      4 tablespoons butter
      3/4 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
      1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
      1/2 cup light corn syrup

        Cake

        • 3/4 cup canned pumpkin puree
          1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
          2 large eggs
          1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
          1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
          1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
          1/2 teaspoon salt
          1 teaspoon baking soda
          1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
          1 apple, finely chopped

          Directions

          Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prepare a 9" round cake pan by greasing it, lining it with parchment paper, and then greasing the parchment.

          Cut the top off of one apple and set it in the middle of the pan, skin up. Cut the remaining apple into wedges and place them in the bottom of the pan in a ring around the apple top. I used one and a half apples for the top and cut up the remaining half to use in the cake.

          Topping:

          In a saucepan over low heat, cook the topping ingredients until the sugar is dissolved. Pour 1/2 cup of the topping over the apples into the pan, and set the rest aside.

          Cake:

          Combine pumpkin, sugar, eggs, spices, and salt together in a mixer at medium speed for about 2 minutes. Stir in the flour and baking soda. Add the chopped apple and stir until just combined. Drop scoops of the batter over the apples in the cake pan, and spread evenly.

          Bake the cake for 35 to 50 minutes (my oven gets very hot so the cake only took 35 minutes, but the original recipe called for 50)

          Let the cake cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then invert it onto a serving plate, bottom side up. Reheat the remaining caramel topping and pour it over the cake.

          28 Oct

          flour girl: homemade croissants for the win!

          I’ve been baking yeast bread on a weekly basis for at least three years now and yet I hadn’t even thought of making croissants before.

          It’s not because Matt doesn’t like croissants (a fact that I didn’t discover until after I made them). It’s not because they’re loaded with butter either (that never stopped me from making pie crust or a million different types of cookies).

          I think it’s because they’re so hard to make. Or at least that’s the widespread belief. But there’s also widespread belief that artisan breads are hard to make, and I make them all the time.

          Who is spreading this propaganda anyway? I should start my own “Breadmaking is Easy!” campaign. I’ll design wartime propaganda-style art deco posters and they’ll be famous. People the world over will frame them and put them in their kitchens. They’ll be like the “keep calm and carry on” posters but obviously cooler and more upbeat because we’re talking about bread here.

          Where was I going with this?

          Oh yes, “Breadmaking is Easy!” and you should try making your own croissants.

          I spent Saturday morning watching this old time The French Chef video, giggling at Julia Child’s loveable awkwardness, and following her process for making croissants. (side note: Julia Child would have totally put a “Breadmaking is Easy!” poster in her kitchen.)

          It’s quite a bit easier than you might expect. It takes a long time to make the croissants and they require a bit more hands-on work than regular yeast bread but they’re doable and definitely worth making. I started the inital dough on Friday night, proofed it in the fridge overnight, and by Saturday afternoon I had fresh delicious croissants.

          I liked Julia’s recipe because the croissants:

          -weren’t too flaky. I like flaky, but it’s still bread, not pastry and I want to be able to eat it without a huge crumbly mess all around me

          -weren’t too buttery. The butter adds great flavour and of course creates the flakiness, but I find a lot of croissants are greasy and way too buttery for my preference.

          -were a reasonable size. They’re about 5″ in length which is perfect for breakfast or a light snack. Think Pilsbury Crescent Roll sized, not Costco sized.

          I’m not going to write out the whole recipe and the process. I think it’s easier to get the idea of what to do by just watching the video.

          But I will give you some tips that I learned in the process:

          roll out your dough on floured parchment instead of the counter. It’s less messy and sticky that way. When the dough required refrigerating I just wrapped it in the parchment that I rolled it on and put it in the fridge. I used the same parchment to roll it out on the next time around.

          do this on a cold day in a cold house. The butter will stay cold and you don’t have to worry about overworking the dough with your warm hands. And it’s always fun to be able to see your breath indoors, isn’t it?

          let the dough rest. When the dough feels elastic and shrinks back as you try to roll it out, walk away for 10 minutes and let it relax on the counter. It’s not ready for you to roll it, why you gotta pressure it like that?

          don’t put chocolate chips in it. If you want a pain au chocolat, fill the croissant with shavings of baker’s chocolate instead. Chocolate chips won’t get hot enough to melt inside the croissant. You’ll just end up biting into the thing and having a bunch of whole chocolate chips tumble out and you’ll be like, “…the fuck?”

          Anyway, chances are good that you are saying to yourself “Oooh I should make these croissants!” or maybe you’re actually saying “Who the fuck makes their own croissants?”. Either way, you probably won’t end up baking them because you still think they’re too hard/too time consuming/too insert-excuse-here.

          But if you do happen to be inspired by a half-pound of butter, a desire to nibble like a French woman, and a poster that says “Breadmaking is easy!” then let me know how your baking experience goes. These croissants do not disappoint.

          P.S. My husband, the self-proclaimed croissant hater, actually liked these. Homemade Croissants for the WIN!

          This post was submitted to Yeastspotting.
          27 Oct

          Photography Challenge Day 26 & 27


          Day 26: Close Up

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          This photo was taken on July 31, 2010 at Klassen’s Blueberry Farm in Colchester Ontario.


          Day 27: From a Distance

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          This photo was taken on October 21, 2011. It was the final game of the season for the football team that my husband coaches. Unfortunately, the team didn’t win but those kids had some amazing team spirit.

          This post is part of the October 30 Day Photography Challenge

          26 Oct

          Wildberry Dream Cookies

          I’ve been feeling nostalgic for Norway lately.

          image

          I know I make it sound like I spent half my life there when really it was only a week vacation but I fell in love with Oslo and the beauty of Norway, even in the middle of winter.

          The astronomical cost of everything there and long and cold winters are more than made up for by the friendly people, the beautiful scenery, and the very high quality of life.

          I really do just want to run away there right now.

          Oslo ParliamentNaerofjordFjordOslo

          When Matt and I were staying in Geilo we stayed in an apartment there so we were able to cook our own meals. This proved to be extremely practical because the cost of food was through the roof.

          One thing that we picked up on one of our many grocery store trips was, naturally, a box of cookies called Skogsbærdrøm Cookiene which roughly translates to Wild Berry Dream Cookies (according to google translate, of course).

          Wildberry Dream Cookies

          I really liked these cookies. They had dried fruit in them as well as white and milk chocolate. They were loaded with deliciousness.

          One morning while drinking tea with cookies and watching Norwegian news I was “reading” the side of the cookie package. A lot of Norwegian words are incredibly similar to English so it didn’t take me long to decipher that the recipe on the outside of the package was a recipe for the cookies was a recipe for the cookies inside!

          My first instinct was “Sweet! Jackpot!” and I immediately ripped the side of the cookie package off and tucked it into my luggage. I would be making these at home for sure.

          My second instinct was “Who the hell puts a recipe for their cookies on the cookie package??”

          Norwegians do. They’re good people.

          I typed up the recipe in Google Translate to make sure that I got everything right. Suprisingly, my own Norwegian to English translation was pretty much on the ball. I’ve held on to the recipe since March but hadn’t made this cookies until recently when my urge to go on vacation back to Norway was strong.

          They were just as good as I remembered.

          Related Norway Posts:

          Norway in March
          Norway Travel: The Food
          Exploring Norway by Train, Boat, and Bus
          Active Pursuits in Norway
          Homecooked Meals


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          Skogsbærdrøm Cookiene

          The recipe in Norwegian, for fun. Scroll Down for English.
          (ca 20 store cookies)

          4 dl hvetemel
          1 dl havremel
          150 g smor/margarin
          1 1/2 dl sukker
          50 ml farinsukker
          1 1/2 ts bakepulver
          1/2 ts salt
          1/4 dl sirup
          1/2 dl eplemos
          1/2 dl vann
          40 g torkede blåbær
          40 g torkede tranebær
          40 g rosiner
          100 g hvit sjokolade
          60 g lys sjokolade

          1. Bland mel, smore, sukker, bakepolver, og salt slik at det blir som små brødsmuler. Tilsett så sirup, eplemos, vann, og rør til en deig. Bland til slutt inn bærene og sjokoladen.

          2. Rull deigen forsiktig i en lang rull, ca 5-7 cm i diameter. Legg deigen i kjoleskapet i ca 30 min. Skjær deigen i skiver (ca 1 cm tykke) og legg skivene på en plate med bakepapir.

          3. Forvarm ovnen til 400F senk så temperaturen til 350F og stek cookiene i 10-15 min – midt i ovnen. Avkjoles på rist.


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          Skogsbærdrøm Cookiene – Wild Berry Dream Cookies

          (makes 20 large cookies)

          These cookies are very sweet, slightly crispy, and loaded with chocolate and dried fruit. The recipe is a bit funny because the volume measurements are metric (and not even standard) but with a few tweaks you can figure it out.

          400 ml flour
          100 ml oatmeal
          150 g butter
          150 ml sugar
          50 ml brown sugar
          1- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
          1/2 teaspoon salt
          25 ml light corn syrup
          50 ml apple sauce
          50 ml of water
          40 g dried blueberries (~1/2 c)
          40 g dried cranberries (~1/2 c)
          40 g raisins (~1/2 c)
          100 g white chocolate (~1/2 c)
          60 g milk chocolate (~1/4 c)

          1. Combine flour, butter, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a food processor until you get small crumbs. Pour into a separate bowl and add the syrup, apple sauce, water. Stir to form a dough. Mix in the berries and chocolate at the end.

          2. Roll the dough gently into a log, about 5-7 cm in diameter. Put the dough in the refrigerator for about 30 min. Cut dough into slices (about 1 cm thick) and place the slices on a plate with baking paper.

          3. Preheat oven to 400F, then lower the temperature to 350F and bake cookies for 10-15minutes – in the middle of the oven. Cool on wire rack.


          This recipe is part of the 12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies.

          12 weeks of christmas graphic

          Prior Posts:

          Week 4: Speculaas: Dutch Spice Cookies
          Week 3: Poppy Seed Filling
          Week 2: Cinnamon Bun Cookies
          Week 1: Soft & Pillowy Coconut Frosted Cookies

          25 Oct

          A Crumble and Cake

          Tonight I felt that I had a lot of energy on my run. Even though the weather was quite nice, I worked out on the treadmill today so that I could do some uphill work (hills are hard to come by in Essex County).

          I ran at about 6.5mph to warm up. Then I ran 5 consecutive minutes on a 5% incline. I decreased the speed a bit every minute, but I was really happy that I was able to keep up the incline run for that long.

          My pace was between 8:30 and 8:00 minute miles for the rest of the run which was really strong.

          I’ve been pretty happy with my speeds on my short and medium distance runs lately. I really think all the interval training that I’m getting from kickboxing is helping a lot.

          Oh, and I may or may not have deadlifted 185lbs today(!!!) No big deal, only the best ever. I was able to squeak out 2 reps, and it felt good.


          Last night I made this dish:

          Root Vegetable Crumble

          root vegetable crumble

          It’s exactly what it sounds like—a savoury crumble instead of the more common sweet version. I liked it a lot, but think that the recipe needs some tweaking.

          Here’s a rundown of what I did, in case you want to run with the idea in your own kitchen:

          – I cooked finely chopped onion, garlic, sweet potato, celery root, and bok choy, with a little oil and some rosemary
          – I toasted slivered almonds and flax, sesame, and sunflower seeds.
          – I mixed the nuts/seeds with whole wheat flour and cold butter to make a crumb. Spread it over the veggies, and baked it in a hot oven.

          What I would change:
          I think that it came out a little dry and next time I need to add either a vegetable with more water content or add some broth to the root veggies.
          Also, I think I skimped a bit on the butter in the crumble. It was a bit too crumbly.

          But, anyway it was a good dinner idea and side for Perfect Baked Tofu.

          Another thing I made last night was this thing of beauty:

          Caramel Apple Upside Down Cake

          caramel apple upside down cake

          It was for this little lady’s 88th birthday which was today.

          Me and Nonna
          Me and my Nonna

          I’ll share the recipe within the next couple of weeks. I have a few other delicious recipes that I’ve made lately! There’s so much to share.