Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Peanut Butter Molasses Spice Cookies

There are few things cuter than a fat baby hand holding a cookie.

This little hand keeps sneaking cookies while I'm not looking.

I can't blame him.

These cookies are soft and molasses-y, they have peanut butter, they're a little spicy...

...and they're the perfect afternoon treat to accompany tea or a good book.

Peanut Butter Molasses Spice Cookies

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup spelt flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice and salt
1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup crunchy peanut butter
3 tablespoons butter, softened
1 tablespoon molasses
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla

Set oven to 350*.

Sift together flours, soda, cinnamon, ginger, allspice and salt.

Beat together sugar, peanut butter, butter, molasses, egg and vanilla.

Stir wet ingredients into dry with a wooden spoon. Mixture will be very thick.

Place 1 1/2 inch rolled balls onto a lined cookie sheet. Press down lightly with a fork.

Bake 7-8 mins.

Friday, February 24, 2012


Rainy winter days always call for a lot of creativity.

Today we are making these footprint ducks.

The kids loved having their feet painted.

I love having something to remember how small their feet are, right now.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Peanut Butter Cracker Jacks

Clara has been asking for Cracker Jacks.

And, since today is Family Day, I thought it would be a great time to try and make some.

I tried to make ours a little healthier than the stuff in the red box.

This recipe makes a ton and takes no time to make.

We used our trusty Whirley Pop popcorn maker but microwave popcorn would work too.

Clara requested peanut, marshmallows and honey in her corn and I think it is a swell combo.

We scooped ourselves a large bowl if it and settled in to listen to The Railway Children on

Peanut Butter Marshmallow Cracker Jacks
(adapted from

15-20 Cups popped corn (about 1 cup unpopped kernals)
1/2C honey
1/4C brown sugar
1/2C unsweetened natural peanut butter (if youre using a sweetened PB here just dont add any brown sugar)
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 C micro marshmallows
1 C peanuts

Pop corn.
Pick through and try to remove all un-popped kernals.

Pour popcorn into a huge bowl, salt popped corn to taste, add marshmallows and peanuts.

In a small pot, over med heat, stir together honey and brown sugar. Bring to a boil and simmer a few minutes to dissolve sugar. Stir in peanut butter and vanilla until well combined.
Pour honey mixture over popcorn and stir to combine.
Spread mixture out on a large cookie sheet and bake at 200* for about 10 minutes or so.
Eat warm if you want to....we sure did.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

February Soup

My treatment for feeling cold and a little couped-up in mid-February.

A. Spend time with these people.

B. Eat this soup.

I love this lentil soup.

It's loaded with vegetables, brown rice, lentils and just enough bacon to give it deep, rich flavour.

Simple ingredients, simple to prepare and can stand on it's own feet as a meal. Perfect.

Serve it with some rye bread or a simple spinach salad.

February Lentil Soup
(adapted from

1/4 lb bacon cut in to 1 inch slices
2 carrots, finely chopped
2 ribs celery, finely chopped
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp fragrant curry powder
1⁄2 tsp. dried thyme
8 cups chicken broth
1 cup long-grain brown rice, rinsed
3⁄4 cup brown lentils, rinsed
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
chopped kale or spinach (optional)

1. Cook bacon in a large soup pot, stirring until crispy and cooked. Drain fat.

2. Add carrots, celery, and onions, along with cumin, thyme and curry. Cook, stirring, until lightly browned, 10–15 minutes. Stir in chicken broth, rice, and lentils and season with salt and pepper to taste.

3. Bring to a boil, lower the heat to medium-low, and cook, partially covered, stirring occasionally, until rice and lentils are soft, about 45 minutes. Stir in greens, if using.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Blueberry Crumb Bars

You'll want to make these for a large group of people.

Otherwise you will be tempted to eat the whole tray.

A lemony shortbread crust with jammy blueberry filling.

These will not take you long to make.

In fact, I made a batch in the time it took Clara to read Nate the Great aloud.

Blueberry Crumb Bars

About 36 squares

1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup cold unsalted butter (2 sticks or 8 ounces)
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon salt
Zest and juice of one lemon
4 cups fresh blueberries
1/2 cup white sugar
4 teaspoons cornstarch

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease a 9×13 inch pan.

2. In a medium bowl, stir together 1 cup sugar, 3 cups flour, and baking powder. Mix in salt and lemon zest. Use a fork or pastry cutter to blend in the butter and egg. Dough will be crumbly. Pat half of dough into the prepared pan.

3. In another bowl, stir together the sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice. Gently mix in the blueberries. Sprinkle the blueberry mixture evenly over the crust. Crumble remaining dough over the berry layer.

4. Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes, or until top is slightly brown. (This took an extra 10 to 15 minutes in my oven.) Cool completely before cutting into squares.

Crispy Chicken

When I want to make a special dinner for Jimmy, it usually involves fried chicken of some form or another.

Sometimes I cheat and make oven 'fried'.

There are many ways to do oven baked, breaded, crispy chicken. I'm sure you have your own way of making it.

Cooks Illustrated created this recipe for pork chops and has you dredging in flour, dipping into a mustard egg and then into a herbed breadcrumb.

I decided to try this with chicken thighs.

It turned out beautifully served with some sweet potato fries and even cut up cold for a sandwich next day.

Crunchy Baked Chicken Thighs
(found at

Table salt
6 boneless skinless chicken thighs
4 slices hearty rye, wheat or white sandwich bread, torn into 1-inch pieces
1 small shallot, minced (about 2 tablespoons) or a dash of onion powder
3 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1 tablespoon)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Ground black pepper
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
1/4 cup plus 6 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
3 large egg whites
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard

Preheat oven to 350*.

Pulse bread in food processor until coarsely ground. Transfer crumbs to rimmed baking sheet and add shallot, garlic, oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Toss until crumbs are evenly coated with oil. Bake until deep golden brown and dry, about 15 minutes, stirring twice during baking time. (Do not turn off oven.) Cool to room temperature. Toss crumbs with Parmesan, thyme, and parsley.

Place 1/4 cup flour in pie plate. In second pie plate, whisk egg whites and mustard until combined; add remaining 6 tablespoons flour and whisk until almost smooth, with pea-sized lumps remaining.

Bring the oven temp up to 425 degrees. Spray wire rack with nonstick cooking spray and place in rimmed baking sheet.

Season chicken with pepper. Dredge chicken in flour; shake off excess. Using tongs, coat with egg mixture; let excess drip off. Coat chicken with bread crumb mixture.

Transfer breaded chicken to wire rack. Repeat.

Bake 25 minutes or until chicken is cooked.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Spaghetti and Quinoa Beef Meatballs

As if I needed something else to do with quinoa, I found this recipe at Whole Foods and just had to try.

Instead of using all meat in the meatballs, these are a combo of beef and quinoa.

Red quinoa totally blends in with the red meat and is practically invisible.

These are my new favourite.

Seriously, not even in a crunchy and mind over matter health freaky way.

These are good.

Spaghetti and Meatballs, done right, is my favourite thing to eat.

Whole Foods got it just right with these!

Clara even gave these a high review. "I really love these meatballs, Mum. And I'm not just trying to be polite!"

A little note, this recipe calls for 3/4 of a cup of cooked quinoa. I had a little less than a pound of ground beef so used about 1 1/2 cups of quinoa and it was great.

Quinoa Beef Meatballs

See bottom of recipe for how to cook quinoa.

1 pound ground beef
3/4 cup cooked quinoa **
1/4 cup finely chopped onions
1/4 cup grated carrots
1/4 cup grated zucchini
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon chopped garlic (or 1/2 tsp garlic powder)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1 egg

Preheat oven to 500°F. Line a large baking sheet with foil then grease with cooking spray; set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together beef, quinoa, onions, carrots, zucchini, ketchup, garlic, soy sauce, pepper, salt, oregano, thyme and egg until well combined. Shape beef mixture into 16 balls and transfer to prepared baking sheet. Roast until cooked through and golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Serve hot.

**Note: To cook quinoa, bring 1 cup water to a boil in a small pot. Pour in ½ cup quinoa, cover and simmer until water is absorbed, 10 to 12 minutes. Set aside off of the heat for 10 minutes then fluff with a fork. Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Apple Cake with Cream and Caramel Sauce

(Thanks for the photos Lau Merrick)

One of the most popular cakes on the Martha Stewart website is this delightfully easy and perfectly tasty Apple Cinnamon Cake.

I can't seem to stop making this cake.

I made it twice this week, shared it with a ton of people and everyone loved it.

My Gramma Dorothy is the queen of all things food. She loves to read about food, cook it and eat it.

She loves apple cake, so I made this one especially for her.

Though I'm sure Martha's recipe would have been great, I changed it a little.

The original recipe called for 3 cups of flour, 1 1/3 cups oil, 2 cups sugar... and that seemed a little intense to me.

I subbed in 1 1/2 cups spelt flour, 2/3 cup apple sauce in place of all the oil and reduced the sugar by 1/2 cup. It was lovely.

If you top the cake with a little maple-vanilla infused whipped cream and the caramel drizzle, I'm pretty sure it will blow your mind.

Apple Cake with Cream and Caramel Sauce
(adapted from

2/3 C oil
2/3 C applesauce
1 1/2 C all purpose flour
1 1/2 C spelt flour
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1tsp salt
1 1/2 C sugar
3 large eggs
3-4 Granny Smith apples, peeled and chopped into 1/2 inch pieces (about 3-4Cups)
1/2 C pecans or walnuts (optional)
1 tsp vanilla

Grease a large bundt pan and preheat oven to 350*.

Sift together flours, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
Beat together oil, applesauce, sugar and eggs until bright yellow.
Add dry ingredients to wet and stir just until combined.
Add apples and nuts, fold in.
Stir in vanilla.
Pour into bundt pan and cook 60-70 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean.
Cool the cake and then invert on a plate. Serve drizzled with sauce.

*I served this once with ice cream and once with Maple cream.
*For the maple cream I poured a medium container of heavy cream into a bowl. Mix until almost firm, add 2 Tbsp of Maple syrup and 1 tsp vanilla. Whisk again until firm.

Caramel Sauce

1 cup light-brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 cup evaporated milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Pinch of salt

Combine ingredients in a small saucepan over medium