Friday, September 30, 2011

Crock-pot Pear & Apple Sauce.

I stumbled upon this recipe early last week on a blog written by a fellow Canadian, Cookin' Canuck . I had been thinking of making apple sauce for awhile, but when I saw this i decided it would not take much more effort to throw some pears in, so i went out and bought some. Being a great multitasker, i threw everything in my crock pot Tuesday night, and went to bed. :-) Since I changed the recipe a bit, I will post my method; you can find the original Here.

Crock-pot Pear & Apple Sauce.

6 apples.
4 Bartlett pears.
3 Tbsp sugar.
1/2 tsp cinnamon.
1 tsp ginger.
1/4 cup water (or apple juice)

Pour water or juice in crockpot. Peel, core and slice pears and apples on top. Add sugar and spices, stir. Cook on low 8 hours, stirring a few times to break up fruit. For smoother sauce, cool and pulse in a blender for 30 to 60 seconds.

I got a 1 L mason jar, plus this small amount. At first i thought it was really sour, but then out of the blue a few hours later i realized I had forgotten the sugar! I didn't bother going back to add it to my jar, but i might as it is used up.

The original recipe called for 5 apples and 5 pears, but i had just glanced at the recipe before i bought them, so i figured 4 would be enough. I just substituted with an additional apple. Also, I cut down on the ginger, just as a personal preference.

I have been putting a Tbsp of this in my oatmeal all week, it turned out delicious! The pear flavour is not really noticeable, but it could be because i used more pears than apples. I will have to try again with the correct amount.

Except for the first day, Autumn has been hot and muggy so far. They say it is supposed to be really nice for the full season. Here's hoping, because our Summer was mostly wet and mild!

Hope everyone has had a good week, and a great weekend coming up! Next weekend is Thanksgiving here, I have been tasked with making the pumpkin pies this year! Instead of using a can of mix, I am planning on making them from scratch like we did last November!

Happy Friday, everyone!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Old Fashioned Chocolate Sheet Cake.

Last week, I was given a book called The Cake Mix Doctor Returns, it is a book full of recipes that start with a cake mix. Right away, i marked two square recipes I want to try.

A few days later, my mother asked me to make a cake for a BBQ we are having this weekend. Since I had three cake mixes on the shelf, I turned to this book to help doctor it up a bit. This recipe reminded me of a Texas sheet cake i tried at a pot-luck last year; i remember it was delicious, so I decided to give it a try. Here is a picture of the photograph in the book.

Old Fashioned Chocolate Sheet Cake.

1 pkg plain chocolate cake mix (18.25 oz).
1 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder.
1 + 1/3 cups milk or buttermilk.
1/2 cup oil.
3 large eggs.
1 Tbsp vanilla extract.

Place all ingredients in mixer. Beat 30 seconds to incorporate. Scrape sides of bowl and blend another 2 minutes, until mixture lightens and is smooth. Pour into prepared pan and bake at 350 F for 30 to 35 minutes, until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let cool in pan while making frosting.

Frosting. (makes 4 cups, enough to cover 2 cakes).

12 Tbsp butter.
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder.
1/2 cup milk.
about 5 + 1/2 cups icing sugar, sifted.

Melt butter in medium sized saucepan over medium heat. Stir in cocoa powder and milk. Cook stirring until mixture thickens and just begins to boil. Remove from heat, stir in 5 cups sugar, adding more as necessary, until it is the consistency of hot fudge sauce. 

Ladle warm frosting over top of cake, spreading to the edges. Frosting will harden as it cools. 

I had a hard time getting pictures to turn out today, they were all to bright or blurry. This is the best. The cake was easy enough to make, it took only a couple minutes with my mixer, and it baked up nicely in the time allotted. I gave it some sprinkles because Sunday is my sister's birthday, so i figured I'd fancy it up a bit. 

I ended up using Devil's Food, all i had was chocolate fudge, and there were no plain chocolate cake mixes in the store. Also, using the conversion table at the back of the book, i found my cake mix to be a bit small. it said 18.25 oz, my mix was 432g; and the conversion table says 450g is only 15oz. I still used the rest of the ingredients as listed and it turned out fine. 

The middle was a bit high, which caused the icing to pool on the edges a bit, but as it cooled i just scraped it into the centre with a rubber spatula. I halved the icing recipe as well. Four cups is a lot, and I only make cakes once or twice a year, so I had no use for the extra.

My icing turned out a bit lumpy, but my family does not care. So long as it is tasty, they will eat it no matter what it looks like! I can't tell you what the cake tastes like, but I can tell you the icing is really sweet, and delicious; and the batter is very tasty to! :-)

I am running the roads this weekend again, tomorrow is a trip to Saint Andrews, a tourist town a couple hours away. They are having their end of season sale for a lot of stores so we are going to try and get some deals. Sunday is a trip to my parent's house in Wirral for an end of summer BBQ. I can't wait! Today is the first day of Fall, and it is miserable here. Hopefully not setting up for what the rest of the season will be like!

Have a good weekend everyone! Welcome Fall!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Pumpkin Muffins

According to my calendar, Autumn starts next Friday. According to the weather, it is here. I was told there was a frost warning in Maine last night, and since we are directly above Maine, it was pretty cool here this morning, to. I found this recipe last week while I was looking for healthier baking, the recipe comes from a website called Mr. Breakfast. I found 4 recipes that i want to make right away; there are many more that I have not had a chance to look at yet. This is actually called Pumpkin Muffins 2, it has a long list of ingredients. I looked into the original muffin recipe on the website, it has a much smaller list so if you are looking for something simpler, check out this one

Pumpkin Muffins.

2 + 1/4 cups flour.
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp nutmeg & 1/2 tsp allspice or cloves).
1 tsp ginger.
1+1/2 tsp baking soda.
1 cup golden raisins.
1 cup brown sugar.
1 cup canned pumpkin (not pie mix)
1/3 cup buttermilk.
1/3 cup oil.
1/4 cup molasses.
1 tsp vanilla.
2 eggs.
2 Tbsp sugar.

In large bowl, combine flour, spices, baking soda and salt. Add raisins, stir. In another bowl, whisk together brown sugar, pumpkin, buttermilk, oil, molasses, vanilla and eggs. Make a well in dry ingredients and add wet ingredients. Stir until just combined. Scoop into lined muffin tin, sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 400 F for 15 minutes.

The recipe said it makes 18, but i didn't want to use a pan and a half, so i stuffed it into a dozen. The only change i made was i used regular milk instead of buttermilk. I didn't have the spice mix, so i used the combined spices suggested, and used the allspice instead of the cloves. As you can see from the picture, I forgot the sugar sprinkle. Oops.

Instead of cracking a new can of pumpkin, i used some from the freezer from last fall. It had separated a bit while thawing; i tried my best to stir it together but ended up just measuring and making sure i got some of the water that had come out. The recipe still came together quite well.

These muffins are moist and delicious, they turned out great! I can't wait to make them again. They are a perfect start to the Autumn pumpkin season. I have to admit i broke down and turned on some heat this morning to, but only in 2 rooms! Hopefully it will keep the house warm enough until next month, i hate turning on the heat to early.

I hope everyone is having a great weekend, hopefully this afternoon I will be learning how to put new brakes on my car. We have to have our cars inspected each year for safety here, and mine did not pass; it needs new front brakes, routers and a tie-rod end; and i have 2 weeks to get it fixed. Instead of paying the mechanic 550 dollars (his quote) to have it all installed, i went and bought the parts myself (about 130 dollars) and am being taught how to put them on by my handy beau. Yay for saving money! Tomorrow we are going to the Seadogs game, they are doing poorly so far this year; but they say it is because all the good players from last year were drafted and are therefore away at the training camps right now. Fingers crossed for tomorrow night!!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Marshmallow Fondant to Remember.

Yesterday i was reading a blog I follow called Single Dad Laughing and he asked "Where were you when the World stopped Turning?". It is the title of an Alan Jackson song, referring to the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001. I posted my memories of that day in his comments and then started thinking that I wanted to remember in my own way. I wanted to make a cake to 'send' to my neighbours to the South to let them know they are not alone tomorrow on their day of mourning. I decided to try two new things, a single person cake recipe I found on Happier than a Pig in Mud last week; and I wanted to try marshmallow fondant. A google search led me to a blog i already follow The Decorated Cookie. You can find the recipes by clicking on the bold links.Here is my tribute to the Red White and Blue, not as pretty as I had hoped, but pretty good for a first go.

That morning ten years ago, I was at the laundromat in Grand Bay. Fall was coming and I had to wash some of my heavy blankets that would not fit in Mom's washing machine. I was living with my parents and working at Tim Horton's, it was a Tuesday, my day off. I spent my days off usually in the city hanging out with my baby sister, who had moved out the January before to be closer to the University. 

I was at the laundromat early, it is just a tiny one, no television or radio. I finished up, popped a tape in the car radio and drove the 20 minutes home. It was about 9 AM; we are an hour ahead of New York City. Oblivious to what was happening in the world around me, I dropped off my blankets and headed back out. I was planning on picking up my sister and her boyfriend at University and we were going for lunch. My Dad was at work and my Mom was just pulling in the driveway from running her errands. 

About a quarter of the way to Saint John I realized I was running early, so I decided to take the old way through Westfield and Grand Bay instead of the highway, which takes about 15 minutes less. Just after pulling off the highway, i got stuck sitting at a construction site. The Flagger holding the stop sign ahead of my was kinda cute, so I popped the Disney tape out and turned on the radio. And this is when I heard what was going on. I immediately picked up my cell phone and called home; my older sister, who lived next door, answered. I told her what I had heard and to turn on the radio; she said they were watching it on television.

I made my way to the University to pick up my sister, listening to reports as they came in. When she got out of class, I asked my sister if anyone had told her what was going on. I filled her in and she said yeah, she had heard it, but she had also heard that it was a rumour that was just going around, a joke someone had started. I told her it was on the radio and television, so it was true. We found her boyfriend and decided to go to McDonald's for lunch, as they have televisions and play the news almost non-stop. 

The part of the day I remember the most is sitting at McDonald's eating hamburgers and watching the news. We were only 19 and 20, and we are far away from New York, so at the time I do not think we realized just how massive this was. We sat with everyone else and watched, eating our hamburgers, i know we sat a little longer after we were done, but then we just left. I can't remember the rest of the day. I can't even remember when I found out about the Pentagon and the Pennsylvania crashes, but I think it was when we were eating lunch. 

I remember the days that followed, though. I remember the pictures. I remember my Dad taking my cell phone and disconnecting the internet because they had said to stay off both to keep the lines free, so people who need to get in touch with their families could. I remember hearing about planes landing in Gander, Newfoundland; and how the people there opened their arms in true Canadian spirit to the passengers stranded. I distinctly remember walking around the community college the next day with a friend, he was attending classes there and they had been postponed. We walked into a classroom that had a half dozen people gathered around a television watching the attacks as they were shown again and again. We stood there watching until I couldn't any longer. For me, this is when the heartache set in and i truly realized the massiveness of it all. 

I have seen a lot of memories in the last few days, on television, online, everywhere. As the tenth anniversary arrives, i agree with the people that say we need to take this day back. Yes, it is a sad day and needs to be remembered; but it can not be the day that we are all afraid of.  As we are remembering tomorrow, I hope everyone has at least one happy thought. Remember the good times as well as the bad. Let's take the day back from the people who have struck terror in our hearts. 

I am not going to post my stolen cake and fondant recipes, perhaps some other day when I try them again. I will however show off how I got to my tribute cake with these few pictures. 

Cake Mix

Mini Cake

Fondant relaxing.

Coloured Fondant.
Trial 1; to thin and stuck the the counter.

Trial 2, mashed the stars into it and flipped it over onto the cake.

Finished cake with crumbs (from size testing and forgetting i was planning on flipping it).

I am hoping fondant freezes well, as i have plenty left over.

Tomorrow dawns a new day. My wish is that while we remember those lost, we find something that will make us smile. Be happy. Take back September 11th.

Have a good weekend, everyone. 

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Double Chocolate Oreo Cookies

I found this recipe a few days ago on a blog called Shugary Sweets, I decided to make them not only because they looked delicious, but also because I had a bunch of oreos left over from a project last winter. They were to stale to be eaten and i had yet to come across a recipe to use them in. Also, my cookie jar has been empty for a few weeks, again! The poor little cookie jar must be lonely, i decided; so this recipe was begging to be stolen!

Double Chocolate Oreo Cookies.

1/2 cup butter.
1/2 cup shortening.
1 cup sugar.
1/2 cup brown sugar.
1/2 tsp salt.
2 eggs.
1 tsp vanilla.
2 cups flour.
1/2 cup cocoa.
1 tsp baking soda.
12 oreo cookies, chopped/crushed.
1 + 1/2 cups chocolate chips.

Cream together butter, shortening and sugars. Add eggs and vanilla, blend well. In another bowl, combine flour, cocoa, soda and salt. Blend into egg mixture. Fold in cookies and chocolate chips. Drop onto prepared baking sheet and bake at 375 F for 10 to 12 minutes.

I made these yesterday, and they are still crispy yet soft today. They are perfectly chocolaty, and I find there is a subtle taste of the oreo cream centre.

The dough came together really easily. I had blended the cocoa with one cup of flour and the soda, then after mixing that all in, i slowly added the second cup of flour. I find this way is easier, because some cookie recipes call for to much flour. Better to add it a bit at a time and withhold some, than to add it all and be stuck with dry cookie dough.

I will be definitely be making these again, once I get some more oreos. They are about 5 dollars a box around here, so I do not buy them often, and usually I get the store brand (at about 4 dollars a box, ouch!). The recipe made almost 4 dozen, so hopefully they last a week or so.

This weekend is going to be a busy one, so they may float out of the jar and disappear as people walk past. I am taking my nephew K to a picnic for work, and I am going to grill him about his first week of school, since he is not giving his Mommy any details. He started Kindergarten this week and says they are doing 'stuff' and he forgets what...prepping himself for being a teenager, i guess :-) Auntie will get it out of him, that is what cookie bribes are for!

Hope everyone is having a safe and fun week, I am running over to my other blog now, My Saint John  to post my pictures of last weekend's adventures in Nova Scotia. They have HUGE mosquitoes there, and they bite like fiends! I am covered in spots! Have a good week everyone!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Maple Fudge

This is just a quickie to let everyone know I am still here! It has been a nutty week, between Tropical Storm Irene and getting ready to go away this weekend, I have been going straight out! But, it is the long weekend, we are leaving for Nova Scotia in a couple hours, so I decided to relax a few minutes and post this, rather than waiting for Tuesday when I will most likely forget.

I am going to Nova Scotia for a BBQ, and my contribution is my super easy fudge that everyone seems to love. This is the first time these folks will be tasting my baking, so I decided to go with a recipe that I know will go over well. While we were discussing fudge last weekend, I was asked if I had ever made maple fudge. No, I haven't, since I am not wild about maple (bad Canadian). So, upon request, I found a recipe and decided to try it. I can't remember where I found this, but I think it was

Maple Fudge.

2 (10 oz) packages vanilla milk chips (i used white chocolate chips, it worked out to 3 cups, 1/4 cup and about a Tbsp).
1 can sweetened condensed milk.
1/4 cup butter.
1 tsp maple extract
1+1/2 cups chopped walnuts.

Combine chips and milk in bowl, microwave on high 2 minutes. Stir and microwave 1 minute longer if necessary. Stir in the rest of the ingredients. Spread into 8 inch square prepared pan. Refrigerate and cut into squares when hardened.

I ended up using a lot more maple flavoring, probably about a Tablespoon and a half's worth. I also added a splash of vanilla to make up for the vanilla white chips it called for. The next time I will use a rectangle dish rather than square, i think some pieces are a bit thick.

It came together very easily, pardon the poor picture. Last weekend I was wave watching when I tripped on the beach with my camera in hand. I took this one just as the battery was dying and also before I cleaned the lens.

I got a bunch of nice pictures last weekend camping at Fundy National Park, and a few good ones of the waves coming ahead of Irene. Unfortunately all the good waves were at night, it was to dark to take pictures since the beach was not lit. Check out my Photo Blog to see the best of what I got.

Break is over, off to finish getting ready for Peggy's Cove, I am sure to take plenty of pictures! Have a great long weekend everyone!!