The Things We Do To Make Our Kids Smile…

November 28, 2017 at 8:52 pm | Posted in Caityisms, Family Ties, My Kid is a Donut, Sisters, Toeses and Noses | Leave a comment
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a) I need to invest in a box of food prep gloves.  I think my hands are permanently stained at this point.

b) A shout-out to my friend Candace for the instructions :). Thanks!  😘

Tonight I dyed the tips of Caity’s hair, and my hands, with liquid Cherry Kool-Aid (hence the need for food prep gloves!). She’s thrilled with the results – I think it’s a neat effect, and certainly cheaper than going to a Salon.

Here’s how you do it:

Boil enough water for two mugs.  Pour the water into the mug and add about 1/4-1/2 of the Kool-Aid bottle to each mug. Separate hair and place a ponytail holder at the top of where you want the colour to stop.  Repeat for as many ponytails as you need.

Make sure they’re wearing a shirt which can be thrown out if necessary and wrap a dark towel around their shoulder to protect from the dye.

Dip each ponytail into one of the prepared cups and let sit for at least 7 minutes – or as long as they’ll hold still.  I let Cait read while she was waiting to pass the time.  I had to put the mugs on a Kleenex box to get it to the right height.

Carefully take the ponytails out of the cups and dry with paper towel.  Blow dry the dyed ends.  Rinse them with cool water until the water runs clear.  Blow dry the hair and style.  This should last a few washes, fading as it goes.

It works best on blonde hair.

Caity loves the look and has already told me that next time she wants blue.

The nice thing about dying just the tips is, if you don’t like it, you can cut it off 🙂

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Girls’ Weekend 2017 and an Argo Grey Cup Win to Boot..!

November 27, 2017 at 9:56 pm | Posted in All Things Doodle, Caityisms, Christmas, Family Ties, My Kid is a Donut, Recipes, Sisters, Toeses and Noses | 2 Comments
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Another year, another Grey Cup game (Toronto Argonauts won btw), and another girls’ weekend 🙂

In years’ past, the girls were obviously much younger and it was easier to get them to watch a Christmas movie with me while we camped out on the floor for an indoor picnic.  I can tell Lexy’s older and in High School now, because getting her to spend more than 20 minutes out of her room can be a struggle.

That is, unless you make cookies….

This year, we (by ‘we’, I mean ‘me/I’) decided to make Sugar Cookies.  I tried a recipe for Sugar Cookies years ago, but it didn’t turn out very well and was discouraged from ever making them again.  I did a lot of research this year and the batch we made were really good.  Lexy said the recipe is a keeper, so here we are.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup room temperature unsalted Butter
  • 1 Teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 2 1/2 Cups All Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1/3 Cup Powdered Sugar
  • 1 Large Egg

Method:

Cream together Butter and Sugars until well blended (about 1-2 minutes) and smooth.  Add Vanilla and the Egg and beat for another minute.  Add the Flour 1 Cup at a time, mixing after each addition.  Once all the ingredients are in the mixer, beat for 3-5 minutes.  The dough will be a bit sticky.

Preheat the oven to 325°F.

Pour dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap and cover, then knead the dough until it comes together.  Shape into a rectangle or square.  Completely cover with the plastic wrap and refrigerate until you are ready to use, or at least 1/2 hour.

We made two batches of the dough.  When the second batch had been made and wrapped, the first one was pretty much ready to roll.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough to 1/4” thickness.  You will need to dust your rolling pin as well as the surface – just don’t add too much flour.  You can also roll the dough between pieces of parchment paper if you find it too sticky.

Using your favourite cutters, cut out cookies and place the cookies onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Usually I use two baking sheets, and keep one of them in the fridge while I’m waiting for the other batch to bake.  Starting with a cold sheet pan helps prevent the dough from spreading – it’s a good tip for shortbread cookies. Reroll the scraps and cut cookies until you have the dough used up.

Bake each tray for 15 minutes, turning after the first 8 minutes.  Take them out just as they begin to brown.  Cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before icing.

Makes 19-25 cookies, depending on the size of your cutter.  Use rolling bands (like elastic bands for your rolling pin) or wood strips to ensure you have dough rolled evenly.

Royal Icing (a.k.a. The Royal Bitch):

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tablespoons Meringue Powder
  • 4 Cups Powdered Sugar
  • 1/4 Cup Water (plus several Teaspoonsful for thinning)
  • 1 Tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
  • Gel Food Colouring, assorted colours

Method:

Beat Meringue Powder and Water, using the paddle attachment, until it foams (about 1 minute). Add Vanilla and 1 cup of sugar at a time until it is all incorporated, beating well (slowly at first or you’ll wear the powdered sugar – don’t ask me how I know this) after each addition.  Beat the heck out of it for about 2 minutes until the mixture becomes light and airy.  You now have icing which you can use to ‘glue’ a Gingerbread House together.  Add the additional water, 1 teaspoon at a time, mixing well after each addition until you get to Flooding consistency.  To tell if it’s right, run a toothpick or fork across the surface of the icing and it should ‘repair’ and disappear within 15 seconds.

Divide the mixture by the number of colours you want to use and place each part of the icing into a plastic sandwich bag or piping bag.  Add different food colouring to each batch until you get the colour you want to use.  Snip a very small hole into one corner of each bag (ensure the bags are sealed first … again, don’t ask me how I know this…).  Outline the cookies, close to the edge, then pipe a bunch of icing inside the line (think of colouring in a colouring book when you were a kid).  Use a toothpick to spread the icing around the inside of the lines. Add sprinkles or other embellishments if you wish.  Let the cookies dry on a rack for several hours until the icing hardens, then pack them away so you don’t eat them all at once.

Somehow Lexy’s class benefitted from all of our hard work and we were left with only 8 cookies. :-s  Apparently the class gobbled them up.  Looks like we’ll be making more …

 

When Your Kid Wants Spinach, Make Her a Quiche…

October 30, 2017 at 7:04 pm | Posted in All Things Doodle, Food, Recipes, Sisters | Leave a comment
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Spinach and Mushroom Quiche

Ingredients:

  • 1 Frozen Pie Shell or use your own Pate Brisee recipe, if you prefer (I use this version)
  • 4 Eggs
  • 1 Pack of chopped frozen Spinach (2 squares)
  • ¼ Fresh grated Parmesan (the strand kind, not the dust kind of grated Parmesan – deli section)
  • 1 Small Onion finely diced
  • 1 Clove Garlic, smashed and finely diced
  • ½ Cup table Cream (or 1/3 cup Whipping Cream)
  • ½ Cup 2% Milk (or 2/3 cup 2% Milk if using Whipping Cream)
  • 2 Tablespoons Canola or Vegetable Oil
  • 1 Tablespoon Butter or Bacon Grease (if available)
  • Fresh grated Nutmeg
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Brunoise (very small dice) 3-4 Mushrooms – Shiitake, Cremini, Chanterelle or Button

Method:

Pre-heat the oven to 400°F (or to package directions).  Thaw and dock the Pie Shell by pricking all over bottom and sides with a fork.  Set aside.

Finely dice onions, set aside.  Same for mushrooms and garlic.

Thaw Spinach using water method: in a saucepan, add frozen Spinach blocks and 1 cup of water, bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer.  Stirring frequently, scrape the thawed Spinach off the frozen brick and stir into the water to prevent burning.  When all of the Spinach has been thawed, remove from heat and strain onto several layers of Paper Towel or cheesecloth nestled in a standing colander.  Allow to cool.  When cool enough to touch, wrap the Paper Towel or cheesecloth around the Spinach and squeeze out as much water as you can.  Repeat with new Paper Towel if needed.  Set aside.

When the oven has reached temperature, bake the empty Pie Shell per package instructions (8-10 minutes). Cool completely.  Reduce temperature to 325°F.

In a pan, heat Oil and Butter or grease until melted. Add the diced Onion and sauté until translucent (about 5 minutes). Add the Mushrooms if using and sauté until tender (about 5 minutes).  The Mushrooms may have sopped up all of your Oil, if so, add another Tablespoon or pat of Butter.  Add Garlic and continue to sauté until translucent being careful not to burn the Garlic.  Add cooked, cooled Spinach, Salt and Pepper to taste and a round of Freshly grated Nutmeg. Sauté for an additional 5 minutes to incorporate all flavours.  Set aside to cool.  Try not to snack on this while you’re waiting.  It’s yummy.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the Eggs, a pinch of salt and a couple of rounds of freshly cracked pepper. Add cheese and Milk/Cream mixture, stirring to incorporate.  Add cooked Spinach mixture and stir to incorporate.  Pour into cooled pan and place on a cookie sheet, then in the oven.  Bake at 325°F for 50 minutes, spin Pie half way after 30 minutes.  Allow to cool completely before placing in the fridge.

Enjoy cold or at room temperature.

Variations:

  • Replace Spinach and Parmesan above with Ham and Gruyère, replace Nutmeg with a pinch of dried Thyme.
  • Replace Spinach and Parmesan above with Ham, Gruyère and cooked and cubed Potato, replace Nutmeg with a pinch of Thyme and chopped Fresh Rosemary.
  • Same as original recipe above, but add cubes of leftover roasted Chicken (replace Parmesan with Cheddar).
  • Replace Brunoise Mushrooms with Mushrooms sautéed in butter with Onions and Garlic and a splash of White Wine (your choice of Mushrooms and Wine), add par-cooked Asparagus cut into 1″ pieces, and ½ cup frozen Peas. Replace Nutmeg with a pinch of dried Thyme.
  • Replace Spinach, Parmesan and Nutmeg with Roasted Garlic, Crispy Pancetta (sautéed with a splash of White Wine) and a pinch of Oregano and lots of fresh cracked Black Pepper

Great, now I’m hungry… :-S

For the Record, Donut’s Birthday is Cancelled…

February 6, 2017 at 12:39 am | Posted in Birthdays, Caityisms, Family Ties, My Kid is a Donut, Sisters, Toeses and Noses | Leave a comment
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Happy Birthday my darling Donut.  Today my littlest-little-one is 10.  Where’d the time go?  I officially have no more kidlets left with single digit ages.

birthday-girl

I’ve been attempting to write this post for about a week or so.  I’ve had a million thoughts go through my head, but nothing seemed fitting.  I don’t know that I have the words to tell you what I want to say about you on your big Birthday.

You know already that I love you … I tell you that many times a day.  You know already that I’m proud of you and your accomplishments and you know how beautiful you are – because those things too, I tell you every day.  You’re funny, you’re smart, you’re sweet and you’re kind.  You’re a big goof-ball.  You seem to be surprised when you do something well – but I’m not.  I know what you can accomplish when you put your mind to it.

I hope you have a wonderful 10th Birthday and that all of your dreams come true.

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Love, Mama xoxo

Let the Girl’s Weekend Begin…

November 26, 2016 at 12:14 pm | Posted in All Things Doodle, Caityisms, Christmas, Daddy-O, Family Ties, Food, Movies, Recipes, Sisters, Toeses and Noses | Leave a comment
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Alex is disappearing for most of the weekend since it’s Grey Cup time again.  The girls and I have the weekend planned.  We’re going to make Chocolate  Crunchy Shortbread Cookies, have an indoor picnic complete with Pizza and “Home Alone” tonight, and tomorrow we’re going to the movies with Grandma to see “Moana“.  Should be a great weekend, me and my big-little ones 🙂

Last year I found a copy of my Mom’s Shortbread recipe around the house somewhere.  I was so happy that I finally found a copy of the most incredible Christmas Shortbread that I had been searching for, forever.  My Mom can no longer bake or cook, or for that matter, even hold a coherent conversation any longer.  She can’t tell me her recipes because she doesn’t remember them.  Somehow, after I found the recipe I misplaced it, and it made me very sad – sad to the point of tears, over a stupid recipe.

So I searched the internet and stumbled upon the ‘Robin Hood Flour’ version of “Melt in Your Mouth” Shortbread Cookie. The ingredients, from what I could remember, were similar.  Damn they were good.  I cut up pieces of Dairy Milk with Crunchy (available at Walmart in the British Food aisle) and put them in the mix.  The cookies lasted until Tuesday. Except for the chocolate, they were my Mom’s recipe.  Mom used to shape the cookies into crescent moon shapes and after they were baked, she dipped half in melted chocolate.  Mom also sometimes added finely ground almonds to the dough.

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Ingredients:

2 cups (500 ml) Unsalted Butter

1 scant cup Sugar

3 1/4 cups flour

1/2 cup Cornstarch

4 oz chopped Chocolate (if using) or more

“Preheat oven to 300°F (150°C). Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Take your butter out of the refrigerator about an hour before baking so it will be nice and soft. This will make it easier for the sugar to mix in with the butter or shortening.

Cream butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until very light in texture, about 5 minutes.

Creaming butter with sugar adds air to the batter, increasing volume to help better mix the flour into the butter mixture.

Add sugar and continue beating until sugar is completely combined, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Combine flour and cornstarch in a separate large bowl. Add to butter mixture and mix with an electric mixer on low speed until just combined.

Flour straight from the bag may be compacted. To loosen it, scoop it out of the bag with another container or spoon before pouring it into your measuring cup. This will help you get a more accurate measurement. Level it off with a knife to make sure you have just the right amount.”

Chop the Chocolate Bar into smallish pieces and mix them into the dough.

cookie and chocolatebatter 2

“Place ball of dough by heaping  tbsp (15 mL) on prepared baking sheets 2” (5 cm) apart.  Press down with a fork.

making cookiesmaking cookies 2

Place your cookies about 2” (5cm) apart to allow for spreading

Bake in preheated oven 20 to 25 minutes or until bottoms are lightly golden.  Remove cookies from baking sheet and cool on wire racks.”

baking

cookies

Keep the dough in the fridge between baking and use a second cookie sheet – let the first one cool off completely before you use it again (put it in the fridge), this will help prevent spreading.  Take the cookies out a minute or two before the time they’re done to avoid brown edges.

You can either scoop out balls of dough, round them, flatten them with a fork or roll the entire batch into two logs and slice when chilled (this method is easier for decorating).  You can pre-cut chilled logs, wrap well and freeze for 2-3 months – you can have cookies whenever you want 🙂

I rolled two logs, put them in the fridge and let them chill for an hour then cut them when ready and prepared the next tray while the first was in the oven.  The prepared tray was put into the fridge until ready to bake.  This greatly reduced the spread.

Makes about 45 cookies.

Should be a good weekend 🙂

Time For Thanks Giving…

October 5, 2016 at 12:03 am | Posted in Daddy-O, Depression, Food, Recipes, Sisters, Toeses and Noses | Leave a comment
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Fall is here and even though we can still wear shorts and t-shirts, it’s turkey time again. Actually, wearing shorts the second week of October isn’t all that unusual.  In Southern Ontario where we live, we often get an ‘Indian Summer‘ – a blissfully warm few days of gorgeous sunshine which follows the first frost of the season.  I haven’t noticed any frost lately, but it has been quite cool.  This past Summer was so hot, the cool weather was a blessed relief.

My Sister passed away last week.  She died from complications during a normal surgical procedure.  Saying she and I never got along was a mild understatement.  I shed about 5 tears.  Anyone who knows me, knows that is unusual because tv commercials can make me cry. Watching a particularly heart-wrenching episode of Grey’s Anatomy makes me sob.  I was despondent when my darling Dad passed away last year.  For my Sister, 5 tears.  I am free. Enough said.

Canadian Thanksgiving is this weekend and I’m hosting dinner – I’m so excited, I haven’t looked forward to anything in a long time.  I love cooking Turkey – the house always smells so wonderful that you can’t wait for dinner.

I told Lexy she was cooking the Turkey this year.  She’s a little panicked, thinking I was serious 😉

I wanted to post some of the side dishes I plan on serving.  I’ll add pictures later.  As I’ve said in previous posts,  I started this blog to record my children’s antics and to house some of the family recipes for them when they’re older.  As I found out last week, one never knows when your time will be up.

Slow-Cooker Butternut Squash

1 – Medium sized Butternut Squash, scrubbed and sliced in half length-wise, seeds removed

1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened

1/4 teaspoon Pumpkin Pie Spice

1/4 cup Brown Sugar

Water (enough to go halfway up the Squash in the Slow Cooker)

In a bowl, combine Butter, Brown Sugar and Pumpkin Pie Spice, mix until combine and spread over Squash halves.

Place the Squash halves cut side up in the slow cooker – cut into smaller pieces if they don’t fit properly – note they will shrink a bit as they cook.

Carefully pour water down the side of the Slow Cooker making sure you don’t pour directly on the Squash.  Cover and cook on high for 4-5 hours or on low for 6-7 hours or until the thickest part of the Squash is very soft when poked with a knife.

Carefully remove the Squash from the slow cooker, trying not to lose the sugar/butter mixture or burn yourself.  Note, you can keep the Squash in the Slow Cooker until you’re ready to eat, just make sure the cooker is turned off.

Using oven mitts if the Squash is too hot to hold in your hands, scrape the soft flesh into a large bowl with a spoon, careful not to get the tough skin and stir to combine all the yummy juices and spices.

I used to just use Cinnamon and Brown Sugar, but I also liked a bit of Nutmeg flavour.  Then I had a brain wave and decided to use Pumpkin Pie Spice which already has both of those plus Ground Ginger, Allspice and Cloves.  It’s a heady mixture that pairs amazingly with the succulent Squash.  Just go easy on it, a little goes a long way.  I suggest you start with 1/2 of the 1/4 teaspoon first, mix it with The Brown Sugar and sample – see if you like the flavour strength.  If not, add a bit more until you’re satisfied.  It’s so good – even Lexy likes it.

The next dish is one of my favourites and can be cooked when the Turkey is done – if your oven is like mine, the Turkey will take up the whole oven.  This dish is the ultimate comfort food, dreamy vegetables baked in herbs – amazing with gravy or on their own.  The beauty of this side dish is it doesn’t matter if you have this exact combination of root veggies, pick your favourites.

Oven Roasted Root Vegetables

2 Medium Sweet Potatoes, peeled and cubed into 1″ pieces

2 Large Parsnips, peeled and cubed into 1″ pieces

2 Medium Red Onions, peeled and cut into quarters

1 Rutabaga (or large Turnip), peeled, cubed into 1″ pieces

4-5 medium Yellow Fleshed Potatoes such as Yukon Gold (a Canadian invention by the way), peeled, cubed into 1″ pieces

4-5 medium Carrots, peeled, cut into 1″ pieces

1/4 to 1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/2 teaspoon dried Thyme

3/4 teaspoon dried Oregano

1/2 teaspoon dried Rosemary

1 teaspoon coarse Salt

Several rounds of Fresh Ground Black Pepper

Preheat your oven to 450F

Place all of the chopped veggies in a bowl.  The above quantities are an approximation – you will need enough veggies to fill a sheet pan completely, but loosely (to allow for flipping the veggies during cooking).

Drizzle the oil over the veggies and sprinkle on the seasoning, salt and several good rounds of fresh ground pepper, mix well to coat.

Place a length of non-stick Aluminum Foil on your sheet pan.  Dump the seasoned veggies on the pan and spread out evenly.

Place in the oven and cook for approximately 30 minutes and stir. Cook for another 30 minutes or until the veggies are fork tender and not burned.  Stir and flip the veggies so they caramelize and brown on all sides.

Place in a serving bowl and enjoy.  Try not to eat too many before they get to the table.

The veggies will hold in a covered dish on the stovetop for 4-5 hours if you want to make them in advance.  They can be served at room temperature.

Turkey Stuffing (for inside the bird)

My Mom’s recipe, it flavours the bird from the inside and tastes incredible.

1 Package Pork Sausage (Maple Leaf makes a great Pure Pork Sausage just for this purpose)
2 Slices dark Rye Bread (Dimpflmeier makes wonderful Rye but regular sandwich bread or pre seasoned turkey stuffing bread is also fine for this)
2 Cloves of Garlic, Minced
1 Large Onion Diced
1/2 tsp Poultry Seasoning
Ground Black Pepper
Garlic Powder

Sauté the diced onion until barely translucent. Add the minced Garlic and sauté for a few more minutes. Remove from heat. In a large mixing bowl, place the Pork Sausage, and the sautéed Onions and Garlic. Add 1/2 Tsp. Poultry Seasoning, several rounds of freshly ground Black Pepper, and 1/2 Tsp Garlic Powder.

Tear the bread into bite sized pieces and add them to the mixing bowl. Mix the mixture thoroughly but not too much that it all breaks down. Form into a loaf and stuff into the cavity of the bird (make sure there are no giblets in there first!).

When the Turkey is cooked, remove the stuffing – it should come out whole like a meatloaf. Slice and serve with dinner.

Dressing – for Outside the Bird

ingredients1 loaf Turkey Stuffing Bread (if you can’t find the pre seasoned bread, use a loaf of white bread and make sure you have lots of Poultry Seasoning)

Poultry seasoning (if you don’t have pre seasoned bread)

1 large onion diced

1 large clove Garlic, minced

2 half sticks unsalted butter, cut into slices – half for inside the mixture, the rest on top

4 packages OXO Chicken Bouillon powder and hot water prepared to package directions, set aside – note, you may not need all of the Bouillon; or you can use boxed low sodium Chicken Broth (Campbell’s)

Water, enough to fill the pan half way up the loaf

Saute onions until translucent and then add garlic. Saute for a few more minutes until the garlic is softened.  Remove from heat.

Make the bullion as directed on the package in a measuring cup.  Alternately pour a cup of boxed Chicken broth into a measuring cup.  Set aside.

torn-breadIn a large bowl, tear 1/3 of the loaf into small, bite-sized pieces.  If you used regular white bread, sprinkle liberally with Poultry Seasoning, then proceed to the next step.

If using the pre-seasoned loaf, scatter half the onion mixture over the bread.  Sprinkle some of the bouillon liquid or Chicken Stock over the bread and onions until the bread is just moistened.  The bread should hold a shape if you squeeze it in your hand, but it shouldn’t release any liquid. Add a few pats of butter. Mix to incorporate.

onion-bread-and-chicken-stockTear another 1/3 of the loaf and add the remaining onions and garlic and more bouillon or Chicken Stock as above.  If using the unseasoned loaf, add another round of Poultry Seasoning.  Mix.

Tear the remaining pieces and repeat as above.

Tear two pieces of Aluminum Foil and overlap slightly.  Dump the mixture onto the centre of the foil and shape into a loaf that will fit into the baking dish with some room on the sides of the dish.

ready-for-the-ovenPlace pats of butter all over the top and wrap the foil around the loaf so that the opening is at the top.  The dressing will steam in the oven, so the water can’t get in it.

Fill the pan with water, half way up the foil making sure water can’t  get into the package.

Place, covered, in a 350F oven for half an hour.  Remove lid and open the package for browning.  Place in the oven for another 1/2 hour.  The dressing is done when the top is crispy and a knife comes out clean when inserted into the middle.  So good with gravy 🙂

Time Marches By Too Quickly…

July 12, 2016 at 12:17 am | Posted in All Things Doodle, Birthdays, Family Ties, Miscellaneous Crap, Sisters, Toeses and Noses | Leave a comment
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I’ve had a lot of difficulty composing this post, after all it isn’t every day that your biggest-little one turns 13.  I’ve had a lot of things in my mind that I want to say to her.  She’s heard them all before a million times – yet one can never hear that they are loved too many times.

I’m not sure where to start. My beautiful daughter has far exceeded my expectations. Her sweet smile is all I need at the end of a tough day.  Lexy is so bright and intelligent and charming – she has a soft spot for babies and animals and they naturally gravitate to her.

I am so unprepared for her to grow up – I’ve said this every year. I wanted her to stay three, because when she was three, she was goofy, and cuddly and wanted nothing more than to be with her Mom.  Now she’s a teenager (EEK!), who’s still just as goofy, cuddles on occasion and wants nothing more than to be with her iPod… sometimes it feels like she no longer needs me.

I’ve tried to teach her the best I can about the things I know. How important family is, especially Sisters.  When you have a good family like ours, they will stick by you, no matter what.  I’ve tried to teach her to be respectful of others, to be kind, and have empathy for those less fortunate than yourself and to be a good person.

Happy Birthday Doodle – I love you more than yesterday and almost as much as tomorrow… Love, Mom xo

What to Do When Dad Goes Out With the Boys? Girls Night In, Making Cookies!

November 28, 2015 at 8:08 pm | Posted in Christmas, Daddy-O, Family Ties, Food, Movies, My Kid is a Donut, Recipes, Sisters, Toeses and Noses | Leave a comment
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Toblerone Shortbread Cookies to be exact…

Alex is off for his usual boys weekend involving much drinking, debauchery and Football, so I decided to make cookies with the girls and watch a Christmas movie (Santa Claus is Coming to Town) while drinking Hot Chocolate.  I dunno, but that sounds like a pretty good night to me …

Back to the cookies … I had a copy of my Mom’s Shortbread recipe around the house somewhere.  I found it after we moved my Mom from her Apartment to her Long-Term Facility this Summer.  I was so happy that I finally found a copy of the most incredible Christmas Shortbread that I had been searching for, forever.  Somehow, between then and now, I’ve misplaced the recipe and it made me very sad – sad to the point of tears, over a stupid recipe.

Last weekend I decided to try the Robin Hood Flour “Melt in Your Mouth” version because the ingredients, from what I could remember, were similar.  Damn they were good.  I cut up pieces of Dairy Milk with Crunchy (available at Walmart in the British Food aisle) and put them in the mix.  The cookies lasted until Tuesday. Except for the chocolate, they were my Mom’s recipe.  Mom used to shape the cookies into crecent moon shapes and  after they were baked, she dipped half in melted chocolate.  Mom also sometimes added finely ground almonds to the dough.

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Ingredients:

2 cups (500 ml) Unsalted Butter

1 scant cup Sugar

3 1/4 cups flour

1/2 cup Cornstarch

4 oz chopped Chocolate (if using) or more

“Preheat oven to 300°F (150°C). Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Take your butter out of the refrigerator about an hour before baking so it will be nice and soft. This will make it easier for the sugar to mix in with the butter or shortening.

Cream butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until very light in texture, about 5 minutes.

Creaming butter with sugar adds air to the batter, increasing volume to help better mix the flour into the butter mixture.

Add sugar and continue beating until sugar is completely combined, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Combine flour and cornstarch in a separate large bowl. Add to butter mixture and mix with an electric mixer on low speed until just combined.

Flour straight from the bag may be compacted. To loosen it, scoop it out of the bag with another container or spoon before pouring it into your measuring cup. This will help you get a more accurate measurement. Level it off with a knife to make sure you have just the right amount.”

Chop one and a half of the regular sized Toblerone Bars into smallish pieces and mix them into the dough.

cookie and chocolatebatter 2

“Place ball of dough by heaping  tbsp (15 mL) on prepared baking sheets 2” (5 cm) apart.  Press down with a fork.

making cookiesmaking cookies 2

Place your cookies about 2” (5cm) apart to allow for spreading

Bake in preheated oven 20 to 25 minutes or until bottoms are lightly golden.  Remove cookies from baking sheet and cool on wire racks.”

baking

cookies

Should be a good night 🙂

We might save some for Daddy when he gets home … maybe …

Last year we made a batch for the girls to take to their School’s Christmas party.   They didn’t contain either of the chocolate types because of potential allergies. After baking, the girls frosted them.  They were a big hit.

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Fall’s Around the Corner…

August 25, 2015 at 12:10 am | Posted in Family Ties, Food, Recipes, Sisters | Leave a comment
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imageIt’s hard to think that cooler weather will soon be here when it’s still so hot during the day. With the exception of my Pot-loving neighbour out back, it’s been a great year to keep the windows and back door open in the evening to catch the cool breeze. Too much air conditioning can be a bother. With the cooler weather approaching, I’m yearning to hibernate.  While I can’t actually do that, I can begin to fatten myself up (like I need more padding) for the upcoming Winter by preparing some of my favourite long-cooking foods I grew up with (hence the need for no more self-padding).

I’ve said it before that my Mom was an amazing cook and she taught my Brother and I well. Without realizing the tremendous gift she was giving us at the time – her knowledge and recipes; it’s taken years to truly appreciate what she gave us. With my Mom’s memory quickly fading, it’s been very important to my Brother and I to try to remember as many of her recipes as we can.

Both of my Parents are now in a long-term care facility about an hour and a quarter away from where we live.  I go up every weekend to visit because I can’t bear the thought of them being alone up there for long. On these trips, my Brother and I naturally have a lot of time to chat and catch up and invariably our conversations always turn to food.  We both love cooking and eating and experimenting with new flavours, but always we return to the classics.  Like my Mom’s Meatloaf…. I made it for the first time a couple of weeks ago and the girls loved it.  It was requested again this weekend.

I’m glad I have this blog.  One day it will be a trove of family recipes for my girls to try, and some funny anecdotes from their childhood. Please indulge me as I share another recipe. As typical of my Mom’s style of cooking, a lot of the seasonings were added ‘to taste’.  You might have to adjust some of the measurements to your liking, after all it’s hard to measure a ‘taste’.

Ingredients:
– 1 Pound Lean Ground Beef
– ½ Pound Ground Pork
– ½ Medium Onion, Finely Diced
– 2-3 Large Cloves Garlic, Finely Minced
– A good squirt of ‘The Keg’ Steak Sauce (approx. 1-2 tablespoons) – ‘HP Sauce can be substituted
– A good squirt of your favourite bottled BBQ sauce that’s a bit smoky rather than tangy or sweet (I use ‘Sticky Fingers’)
– 1 Large Egg, Beaten
– 1 Palmful of Breadcrumbs (hard to measure because it depends how moist your mix is, but start with a couple of tablespoonsful and add more if needed), or a couple of Soda Crackers crushed
– 1 tsp Paprika
– 1/4 tsp Smoked Paprika
– 1/4 tsp Garlic Powder
– 1/2 tsp Oregano
– Several grinds of fresh Black Pepper
– ½ tsp coarse salt
– 1/4 tsp Cumin
– A pinch of Turmeric (optional)
– 1/2 Tsp dried Rosemary, crumbled or chopped
– 8-10 whole Black Peppercorns
– 1 medium Onion, quartered
– 1 medium Roma (Plum) Tomato, quartered
– 3 cups Water
– 5 packages ‘OXO’ Bouillon Sachets
– 4 slices Bacon, cut in half

For the gravy:
– 4 tablespoons flour
– 2 heaping tablespoons ‘Bisto Gravy Maker’
– Enough water to form a slurry

Method:
In a large bowl, mix the Beef, Pork.  In a small bowl, beat the egg and add all off the Seasonings (except whole Peppercorns) into a slurry.  It looks horrible, but its a better way to distribute the dried Seasonings.  Add the slurry to the meat along with the diced Onions, minced Garlic, Keg sauce, BBQ sauce, and Breadcrumbs.  Mix well to incorporate, but don’t over-mix or it will toughen the meat. If your mix is too moist, add a bit more Breadcrumbs.  If it’s too dry, add a bit of BBQ sauce. Form the Meat into an oval-ish loaf shape and place in a covered roasting pan which has been sprayed with vegetable oil.  The Meat should retain its shape. Add the quartered Onion, quartered Tomato, whole Peppercorns and some Rosemary to the pan around the Meat, not on top of it. Put in the fridge to allow the seasonings to fully permeate and marinate the loaf for at least an hour, up to overnight if you have the time.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Take the Meatloaf in the pan out of the fridge while the oven is pre-heating and you prepare the next step.

In a small saucepan, heat the Water almost to boiling and turn off the heat.  Stir in the Bouillon and allow to cool for 10 minutes. When ready to put the Meatloaf in the oven, carefully pour the Bouillon water into the pan so that it fills no more than half-way up the side of the Meatloaf. Bake, covered, in the oven for ½ hour.  Remove from oven and carefully place the Bacon strips over the top of the loaf so that they cover the entire surface without overlapping. Increase the temperature to 375°F and place the pan, covered, in the oven for an hour, rotating the pan half way during the hour (if you have a convection oven you don’t need to rotate the pan).

After the hour is up, remove the pan from the oven, take off the lid and place the pan back in the oven to crisp the Bacon, about ½ hour. When the bacon has browned and begun to crisp, remove from the oven, transfer the Meatloaf to a platter and cover with foil. Allow to rest while you make the Gravy.

Begin by skimming off some of the Grease – get what you can, but don’t worry if you can’t get it all, it adds flavour. Place the roasting pan over a burner on medium heat and allow the liquid to approach boiling then reduce to a hard simmer.  If you wish, remove the cooked Tomato and all- or most-of the cooked Onion, and the Peppercorns (I only remove the Tomato), but don’t and I’m serious about this, don’t remove the scraps of Meatloaf and Meat Juices which are floating around the pan – that’s flavour baby!

In a mug combine the Flour and Bisto and enough Water to make a thick Slurry.  Mix well to eliminate lumps.  You can also place the ingredients in a Mason Jar and shake the heck out of it… When the liquid has stared to boil, add about ⅓ of the Slurry, ensuring you whisk briskly to avoid lumps and incorporate into the Gravy.  Allow to cook for a few minutes to cook off the raw Flour taste.  If the Gravy isn’t as thick as you’d like, add more Slurry and cook again. Taste the Gravy and adjust seasonings if you wish.

Slice the Meatloaf into ½ inch slices.  Serve with Mashed Potatoes and Broccoli in Cheese Sauce.  So incredibly good.  Enjoy 🙂

Twelve Already…

July 12, 2015 at 1:43 am | Posted in All Things Doodle, Birthdays, Family Ties, Sisters, Toeses and Noses | Leave a comment

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Happy Champagne Birthday, beautiful girl 🙂

It’s hard to imagine that my biggest-little one is not a little kid anymore, but a fabulous, bright young lady.  I hope you know how proud I am of you.  I write about your strengths and your stories and accomplishments, because you amaze me all the time.  I don’t know if I’ve ever told you that you have my Dad’s smile.  I realized that one day when you were standing there smiling at me, just happy to see me, that it was the same as your Poppy’s.

I hope you know how much we love you.  You’re a wonderful daughter and a great big sister and we’re so lucky to have you in our lives.

Never stop singing.

Love,

Mom

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