How to Make Real Snow Cones

Real Snow Cones

Growing up in Northern Ontario, winter meant lots and lots of snow. That’s all we knew. Staying indoors all winter wasn’t an option. And we didn’t have 24hrs a day TV, video games, iPads, and other electronic devices. We actually played outdoors. We would build houses (forts were for boys after all!) We would make walls, chairs, beds, even snow telephones. We could spend hours out there in our make-believe world. Snow was our real-world outdoor Lego.

If you are having difficulty tearing your kids away from their screens, and you want to entice them to have some outdoor fun, you might consider bribing them. Cue the snow cones.

When the weather outside is frightful, and the kids are climbing the walls, pull this coolest-mom-E-VAH trick out of your magic bag.

Real Snow Cones
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Ingredients
  1. 3/4 cup sugar
  2. 3/4 cup water
  3. 1 packet (0.16 oz) Kool Aid
  4. Clean snow (you are eating it after all!)
Instructions
  1. Combine sugar and water in a medium pot, bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.
  2. Reduce heat and let simmer 3 minutes until sugar is completely dissolved.
  3. Remove from heat and sprinkle Kool Aid over top.
  4. Stir for 1-2 minutes to combine completely.
  5. Pour into a glass container and place in fridge to chill.
  6. Place a good scoop of clean snow in a cup or mug.
  7. Drizzle syrup overtop (1-2 Tbsp).
  8. Enjoy!
Adapted from Hoosier Homemade
Adapted from Hoosier Homemade
Life In Pleasantville http://www.lifeinpleasantville.com/
If you prefer a more natural sweetener, 100% concord grape juice (like Welches) is super yummy and has a very saturated colour.  If sugar isn’t an issue, orange or blue raspberry pop (or soda for our US-based friends) also work well.

There are many recipes for sugar syrup, so feel free to mix things up and share in the comments.

What are you waiting for? Drag those kids outside! You never know what fun they might get into *wink*

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The Great Cinnamon Bun Taste-Off

cinnamon bun taste, The Great Cinnamon Bun Taste-Off

We have a birthday tradition in our family … and of course it involves food!  You get to choose a special treat breakfast.  For the past three or four years now, my son consistently has chosen cinnamon buns for his birthday. 

I’ve always been a little scared of making anything with yeast except for pizza dough.  But I ventured into bread-making this year and my confidence is at an all-time high.  I decided that I couldn’t take the risk on the day of his birthday to attempt my first cinnamon buns.  So I set out to practice and perfect.  I scoured the internet to find recipes that appealed to me and in the spirit of the holidays, I’m going to test, test, test and give, give, give.

I’ve chosen three scumptialicious-looking recipes.  Seriously, my mouth was watering just reading the recipes *wipes drool from keyboard*.

I tried one recipe, every other day and shared with our most awesomazing neighbours, the Ryans and the James’, and my sister, brother-in-law, and parents.  These recipes make a lot of buns.  *Geesh*.

Everyone weighed in on the presentation, taste, texture, gooeyness, and overall yum factor.

Here are the three recipes:

#1 Cinnamon Buns That’ll Make You Weak In The Knees by Bite Me More

#2 Homemade Cinnamon Roll Pull Apart Bread by Pinch of Yum (adapted from Bea Ojakangas)

#3 Cinnamon Rolls by Ree | The Pioneer Woman

The most interesting outcome of this experiment is that everyone really does have different taste.  Some prefer gooey, others think gooey is overrated.  Some like a more bread-like dough, while others want it doughy and tender.  Some like lots of icing, some prefer a scant smattering.  So I will share the results of our taste-off, but the bottom line is I would make each and every one of these recipes again.  Which one would depend on my mood!

The toughest thing about making all three recipes was getting the cook time right.  If you over-cook them, they become tough or dry.  One pan I overcooked ended up with a layer of burned sugar on the bottom *yuck*.  If you under cook, you’re left with under-baked dough in the centre.  Having cooked 12 or 13 pans of cinnamon buns (I lost count), I think I can visually tell now when to pull them out of the oven, but seriously, there’s no easy way to know for sure.  You want them brown on top, but not overly brown.

Also, if you over-crowd your pan, the buns in the centre take longer to cook, while the ones touching the edges of the pan start to burn.  I tried one pan with the buns spaced so that they wouldn’t touch while cooking – These, in my opinion weren’t as yummy.  The sweet spot seemed to be 7 buns in a round 8” pan. 

The Pull Apart recipe called to bake the cinnamon rolls in a “loaf” on a pan.  These were the ones with the most significant ooze and sugar burn.  Pulling these out of the oven before the sugar started to burn was critical to them being edible. 

The Pioneer Woman’s dough was the simplest to make and didn’t contain eggs.  Just mix and let rise.  The other two required kneading.  Not a big deal for me because I have a stand mixer, but the Pull Apart Dough caused my mixer to shut down for risk of overheating.

The Pull Apart recipe appealed to those who preferred a cinnamon bun that was less sweet.  It had more of a sweet-bread texture.  The other two were more like what you would find at a Cinnabon.

Most people enjoyed the texture of the Pioneer Woman’s dough.  So in a stroke of brilliance, I tried one final pan using her dough and the icing from Bite Me More’s Make You Weak In The Knees cinnamon buns.  This is when the heavens opened up and angels began to sing – seriously. They were so good, I wanted to keep the entire pan to myself.

cinnamon bun taste, Yummy Cinnamon Buns

The Roundup

#1 Cinnamon Buns That’ll Make You Weak In The Knees by Bite Me More
Score:  8.7/10

This cinnamon bun got good scores all around.  Everyone LOVED the icing on this one.  Even people who don’t typically go for cream cheese.   

#2 Homemade Cinnamon Roll Pull Apart Bread by Pinch of Yum (adapted from Bea Ojakangas)
Score:  8.4/10

The Pull Apart recipe appealed to those who preferred a cinnamon bun that was less sweet.  It had more of a sweet-bread texture.  The other two were more like what you would find at a Cinnabon.  This recipe featured the least-favoured topping.

#3 Cinnamon Rolls by Ree | The Pioneer Woman
Score:  9.1/10

Big hit with everyone.  This recipe makes a lot of icing and you can literally drown the cinnamon buns.  If you like gooey, definitely try this one.  The one disclaimer I have for the topping on this one is that I used 1/4 cup of maple syrup instead of the maple syrup flavouring and coffee … I *hate* coffee.

The clear winner was #3 Cinnamon Rolls by Bree | The Pioneer Woman, but if you like cream cheese icing, you may want to switch up the topping!

Winning Cinnamon Buns

No one was harmed in this experiment, except for the occasional scale creep.  These are seriously not low fat and sampling that many in the matter of a couple days did a little number on my digestive system.  I recommend exercising as much moderation as you can possibly muster. 

So in a couple of weeks when my soon-to-be teenager celebrates his 13th birthday, I’m armed with my new-found confidence in cooking with yeast and the perfect cinnamon bun recipe.  Lucky kid, eh?

 

 

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Super Easy Sugar Cookies for Christmas

For the last few years, I’ve leaned towards DIY Christmas gifts for my loved ones – in part because budgeting for gifts is extremely difficult on a single income, but also because I love making things. After spending hours and hours trying to decide what the “best” gift for this person or that person might be, I threw caution to the wind last year and made almost every gift I gave.

It was awesome.

Finley-ChristmasTree

My favourite DIYs involved my son’s hands and feet, first with our Christmas Tree canvas and second, with our LOVE canvas collection. We had a BLAST, but clean up was a whole other ball game – especially the time my son ran down the hall with paint on his feet. Oops!

This year, my Christmas lead-up has been lonely as my son is in Cape Breton with my family until we get him into a preschool in our new city (it’s a nightmare). It’s excruciating to be here in Moncton all alone during a time of “togetherness”, but I found a way to survive my (hopefully) last solo-weekend before Christmas: all kinds of COOKIES. 

FOURTEEN DOZEN cookies to be exact (I don’t care if I ever bake another cookie again). It was a tiresome weekend, let me tell you. Who knew baking could cause such a sore back? Anyway. Ginger cookies, shortbread cookies and these super easy sugar cookies – including a flop involving whole wheat flour and way too little sugar – and I’ve got no room left in my freezer. At least my other cookies don’t require an oven.

And now, I’m sharing the love.

Super Easy Sugar Cookies
Easy and delicious: just the way I like my cookies!
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
25 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
25 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
  2. 1 tsp baking soda
  3. ½ tsp salt
  4. 1 ¼ cups margarine (softened)
  5. 2 cups white sugar
  6. 2 eggs
  7. 2 tsp vanilla extract
  8. ¼ cup sugar
Instructions
  1. 1. Preheat oven to 350*F.
  2. 2. Mix flour, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl; set aside.
  3. 3. Cream together margarine and 2 cups sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs, one at a time then add vanilla. Blend well. Gradually mix in dry ingredients and stir until just blended.
  4. 4. Using a tea spoon, scoop dough and roll between your palms to create walnut-sized balls. Roll balls in sugar and place on ungreased cookie sheet. Flatten each ball with the bottom of a glass or other flat instrument.
  5. 5. Bake in preheated oven for 8 - 10 minutes, or until just golden.
  6. 6. Devour.
Adapted from A crumpled piece of paper I found in my cookbook
Adapted from A crumpled piece of paper I found in my cookbook
Life In Pleasantville http://www.lifeinpleasantville.com/
(Enjoy!)

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The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies

The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies

I love Christmastime and all the feel good giving, time with family, and parties with great food. Oh, the food *wipes drool and loosens belt in preparation for some epicurean debauchery*. This is the time of year that people bring out their best party recipes or their personal food treasures and share amongst their friends. I’m not the bravest party goer who will try one of everything on the buffet table – unless it’s the sweets table because “yes” to everything with sugar and butter as the first two ingredients – but I will give most things a try, especially when goaded by my friends because insert party food here is “soooo gooood”. I have definitely expanded my taste horizons thanks to Christmas parties, but I have also cemented the value I put on tried and true, best of the best, delicious comfort food. For me, comfort food takes the form of cookies, and I just so happen to have a recipe for the best chocolate chip cookies ever.

Some people thing that chocolate chip cookies are the plain Jane of cookies, but oh no, they are the pinnacle of cookies. A good chocolate chip cookie is what all other cookies are compared to to find their rank in the cookie hierarchy. Chocolate chip cookies are the all-season, any-occasion cookie and should definitely make an appearance on the Christmas sweets table.

This recipe came to me in 2006 from my husband who scoured epicurious.com looking for the best chocolate chip cookie recipe to make with the kids while I was off teaching karate. I came home one night and was greeted with the most delicious smell emanating from my kitchen and my kids all exclaiming that daddy had found it, thee best chocolate chip cookie recipe ever. It was like he had found the holy grail, and I guess he sort of had, he found the holy grail of chocolate chip cookie recipes. I adapted this recipe slightly, but only because I’m all about easy and simple and there was some finicky business about whisking an egg and only adding a portion of it to the dough. My thought was Meh, a little extra egg isn’t going to hurt anything and threw the whole egg in. I doubt a fraction of an egg is going to change the heavenliness of these cookies, and my way makes things easier.

As with all cookies and other lovely treats from the kitchen, feel free to package these up and give them as gifts. I guarantee you will make someone’s day merry and bright.

The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies
The holy grail of chocolate chip cookies.
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Ingredients
  1. 3 c all purpose flour
  2. 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  3. 1 1/2 tsp salt
  4. 1 c (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
  5. 1 1/2 c packed brown sugar
  6. 1 c granulated sugar
  7. 3 eggs
  8. 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  9. 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
For the dough
  1. Whisk together: flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl.
  2. Beat together: butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at high speed until pale and fluffy (2-3 minutes).
  3. Add eggs and beat until creamy (1 minute).
  4. Beat in vanilla.
  5. Reduce speed to low and add in flour mixture until just blended.
  6. Stir in chocolate chips.
Baking
  1. Form balls between 1-2 inches in size and place 2-3 inches apart on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil.
  2. Flatten balls of dough slightly.
  3. Bake until golden (9-12 minutes).
  4. Transfer to a cooling rack.
  5. Repeat from Baking step 1.
Adapted from epicurious
Adapted from epicurious
Life In Pleasantville http://www.lifeinpleasantville.com/
Three pictures of chocolate chip cookies

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How to Make Maple Taffy on Snow

Collage Maple Taffy on Snow

I have fond memories from my childhood of spending time at my aunt and uncle’s sugar shack.  Sure, all kids like sweet, sticky maple syrup, but the memories are about the carefree nature of those outdoor days. 

It’s as though the cold didn’t affect us.  We would run and play in the forest while the adults were gathered at the shack.  Ski-doo rides.  Sleigh rides.  *Pretending* to help.  There was always music playing.  Fiddle.  Accordion.  Guitar.  The entire forest came alive. 

From the outside, it may even have looked chaotic.  From the inside, it was pure bliss.  I’m sure that there was yelling, fighting, parental reprimand.  Funny how memory can be selective like that. 

how to make maple taffy on snow

So clearly, I’m no longer an 8-year old girl running carefree through the woods with her bazillion cousins and cousins of cousins, but one thing can take me right back to that happy place.  Maple taffy on snow.  There is nothing else out there that compares to this gooey treat.

If you want to be elevated from Coolest-Mom-E-VAH to the ‘Sickest’-Mom-on-the-block head straight to the liquid gold.

How to Make Maple Taffy on Snow
Serves 6
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Prep Time
10 min
Prep Time
10 min
Ingredients
  1. Pure maple syrup (aka liquid gold)
Instructions
  1. Fill a large shallow container (baking sheet with a lip, lasagna pan, etc.) with lightly compacted snow. Leave it outside or place in the freezer while you boil the syrup in a saucepan.
  2. Boil maple syrup for about ten minutes. If using a candy thermometer, it should read 115 °C (238 °F) for perfect taffy.
  3. Remove from heat and test on snow to check for consistency. If it is too hard, add a little water and stir to combine. If it is too liquid, return to heat and boil some more. As you can see, this is a forgiving recipe *wink*
  4. Transfer to a Pyrex measuring cup for easy pouring or use a metal spoon to pour the boiling syrup over the snow in long strips.
  5. Wait 30 seconds (You may have difficulty holding back the kiddos at this point).
  6. Give everyone a wooden Popsicle stick and start rolling. I cannot stand the taste of the iconic wooden stick, so I just roll mine on a spoon.
  7. These won’t keep, so get lickin’!
Adapted from Ricardo Cuisine
Adapted from Ricardo Cuisine
Life In Pleasantville http://www.lifeinpleasantville.com/
Now that you know how to make maple taffy on snow, it may not mean you’ll always want to. There are a lot of great places to visit in Canada that routinely roll up the nectar of the gods for guests. Check out The Rideau Canal during Winterlude in February and you’ll find maple taffy being rolled alongside hot chocolate and Beavertails.

Tire sur la neige

Photo credits:  Joanne Duchesne

Image source:  White Meadows Farms

 

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Chocolate Covered Liquorice

Chocolate Covered Liquorice

Have you ever gone to a party and been confronted with a dish that makes you question the creator’s sanity? I have; it was just last year and the the food item I found so strange was chocolate covered liquorice. Granted, I am kind of a food purist when it comes to chocolate, I mean, chocolate is at the tippy top of my Foods I Love list. Not chocolate covered strawberries, chocolate covered nuts, or chocolate dipped bacon (Ew. What is the matter with people? No, just stop it with the bacon and chocolate.). I want just plain chocolate, a brick about the size of my head would be nice. The incorrectly quoted Gestalt principal that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts does not apply to chocolate covered confections*. Chocolate on its own is the greatest and adding anything to it does not make it any better. I only have two exceptions to this rule of mine: chocolate covered salted caramels (excuse me while I go get a towel to wipe the drool off my keyboard), and as of last year, chocolate covered liquorice.

I’m not going to lie, when I first looked at the chocolate covered liquorice on last year’s Christmas table I thought What the…? Who made this abomination? Then I turned and asked the hostess if she had been drinking when she came up with this. She’s my sister-in-law and she knows I love her, so it was totally okay that I insinuated she had been drunk cooking. Anyway, I passed over this dish a few times but ultimately felt sorry that these liquorice morsels were not getting any love and reluctantly put one one my plate. Two hours and ten pounds later I found myself elbowing my daughter out of the way so I could get to the last one. In my defence, she should know better than to get between me and the sweets table – it isn’t safe.

Now, chocolate covered liquorice is on my Must Make list at Christmas. I love giving gifts from my kitchen and these will be a nice addition to my ginger crinkle cookies and fudge. The only problem I see arising is not eating them all before I get them packaged up and out the door. It will take every bit of my gift giving spirit to exercise some self control and share my festive bounty. On the other hand, I am a firm believer in the To: Me, From: Me gift, and I see nothing wrong with all of us whipping up a batch to go under our own trees.

*Yes, I know I used the incorrect version of the quote, but it suited my needs and it’s Christmas, so I’m hoping you’ll be merry and at peace with it.

Chocolate Covered Liquorice
Yields 30
A surprisingly delicious treat.
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Ingredients
  1. 15 Twizzlers liquorice sticks
  2. 1 c Milk chocolate chips
  3. 1/4 c White Chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Cut 15 Twizzler liquorice sticks in half.
  2. Cover a cookie sheet or rack with parchment paper of aluminum foil.
  3. In a double boiler heat the milk chocolate chips over low heat. Do not increase the heatto make the chocolate melt faster. Overheated chocolate can become thick and muddy.
  4. Once the milk chocolate is melted and glossy, dip the liquorice into it leaving a few inches without chocolate.
  5. Place chocolate coated liquorice on the lined cookie sheet/rack.
  6. Once all the liquorice sticks are coated with milk chocolate, melt the white chocolate in the cleaned double boiler.
  7. Use a spoon to drizzle the white chocolate over the milk chocolate portion of the liquorice sticks.
Notes
  1. Make sure no water, not even little drips from your stirring spoon get into the melted chocolate. This will cause it to sieze.
Life In Pleasantville http://www.lifeinpleasantville.com/
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Brutti ma Buoni (Ugly But Good Cookies)

My very best friend in the world is Italian. I’m not saying I chose an Italian best friend on purpose, but I think if you’re going to have a best friend then someone of Italian descent is always a good bet. Why? Well because of the food silly. Italian best friends have parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles who are always trying to feed you. The Irish? They don’t do this. Just sayin’.

best friend

Italian best friends also get married. For foodies, this is like participating in the Iron Man of eating. You must train hard for these events because you need your stamina to make it through a full seven course meal and then the dessert table. After the dessert table is of course the midnight buffet and then if you’re in the inner circle, you get a brunch the next day. Yup, having an Italian best friend has been pretty good to me, even more so because my best friend’s family owns an Italian bakery called Capo Foods in London, Ontario. Every birthday cake, every lasagna, every cookie tray we ever served at a party at my non-Italian house growing up came from Capo. And then I moved to Ottawa. *cue the tears*

brutti ma buoni

I miss the food. I’ve found nothing in Ottawa that comes close to Capo and so whenever my best friend visits, I put in a request. I ask for the world’s best seafood lasagna, and cookies from the bakery. Inevitably, nestled in the box of Italian goodness are these little babies, Brutti ma Buoni which translates to “Ugly But Good”. These cookies are little heavenly bits of meringue with toasted almonds and I will take anyone down who tries to take my Brutti ma Buoni.

If you live in London then skip the making of these and just go get what you need at Capo…just don’t tell my crushed soul. For those too far to make the journey, here’s the Brutti Ma Buoni recipe straight from Capo.

Brutti ma Buoni (Ugly But Good Cookies)
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Ingredients
  1. 454 grams sliced almonds, lightly toasted
  2. 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  3. 7 egg whites
  4. 1 tbsp vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Parchment paper, place on baking sheet
  2. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. In a medium size bowl and using an electric mixer whisk egg whites until they form glossy medium hard peaks, approximately 3-5 minutes. Begin slowly adding sugar to the mixture and then add vanilla extract. When the eggs form medium hard peaks use a spatula to gently fold in almonds.
  3. Using a tablespoon gently place heaps of cookies mixture onto the parchment paper, leaving a 1 inch space around the individual cookies on all sides. Place in the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the cookies from the oven and turn the oven to 250 degrees F. When the oven comes to temperature, place the cookies back in the oven and bake for another 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool to room temperature.
Life In Pleasantville http://www.lifeinpleasantville.com/
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The Best Ginger Crinkle Cookies

best ginger crinkle cookies, The Best Ginger Crinkle Cookie

It Christmastime, so in the spirit of giving I thought I would share with you a recipe for the best ginger crinkle cookies. I’m not exaggerating, these cookies are like a Christmas gift for your taste buds – slightly crunchy on the outside and a little bit chewy on the inside. They are so good that they have earned a spot alongside my fudge recipe as one of my favourite treats to make at Christmas and merit permanent membership on my Gifts From The Kitchen list. I would feel really good about giving these cookies as a hostess gift or wrapping up a few as a thank you for my kids’ teachers. I would also be happy to receive some if any of you are so inclined. The only thing not happy to see more of these cookies is the waistband of my pants.

The other awesome part of these ginger crinkle cookies is the smell. The combination of cinnamon, ginger, and cloves, along with the sweetness of the molasses is what a Norman Rockwell Christmas painting would smell like if it was scratch and sniff. If you are having any trouble getting into the Christmas spirit and haven’t put up a single decoration yet, the smell and taste of these cookies will get you merry and bright in no time, I promise. I can’t guarantee they will make the untangling of Christmas lights any more enjoyable, you’ll need a cocktail for that, but they definitely help a home smell (and taste) festive.

The Best Ginger Crinkle Cookies
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For cookie batter
  1. 1 cup butter melted
  2. 1 1/2 cups sugar
  3. 2 large eggs
  4. 2 tbsp dark corn syrup
  5. 1/2 cup molasses
  6. 3 cups all purpose flour
  7. 2 tsp baking soda
  8. 2 tsp cinnamon
  9. 1 tsp ginger
  10. 1/4 tsp cloves
  11. 1/2 tsp salt
For coating
  1. 3/4 sugar
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375
  2. Beat first 5 ingredients (butter, sugar, eggs, corn syrup, molasses) with a mixer on low until blended.
  3. Increase mixer speed to medium and beat until smooth.
  4. Add next 6 ingredients (flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, salt) and mix until combined.
  5. Drop a dollop of batter that would make a 1 1/2 inch ball into the sugar.
  6. Roll the dollop of batter with sugar that was set aside for coating.
  7. Arrange 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.
  8. Bake for 9 minutes.
Notes
  1. This cookie batter is a bit loose and sticky. That is okay, that is how is supposed to be. If you find it is too sticky to work with, pop it into the fridge for five minutes to firm things up a bit.
Life In Pleasantville http://www.lifeinpleasantville.com/
best ginger crinkle cookies, Gift of Ginger Cookies

This batch of ginger crinkle cookies will be long gone before Christmas arrives and I’m sure I’ll be making batch after batch over the next few weeks. Today as I was making these, I decided to have a little fun with the last few cookies and made extra big ones that were about three times the size of the regular ones. Needless to say, these were a hit with the kids. It’s amazing the motivation a giant cookie can create. Homework and piano practice were done in record time – it was the first Christmas miracle of the season, and it was inspired by a cookie.

best ginger crinkle cookies, Two sizes of ginger crinkle cookies

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Chocolate Chip Pudding Cookies for National Cookie Day

Cjocolate Chip Pudding Cookies

October 1st is National Homemade Cookie Day! 

Now this is a day I can get behind! As I’ve said before, I hate cooking; but there’s something about butter, sugar, eggs and flour mixed up in a bowl that I find irresistible. Yes, I’ve eaten raw cookie dough, and I’m still alive… Cookies make everyone happy, whether you make them for your family or take them to work to share with your co-workers, they are sure to please, especially on National Cookie Day. Homemade cookies don’t last long in our house. The children will actually ration them, to ensure Dad doesn’t eat more than his share.

The word cookie is derived from the Dutch word “koekje”, meaning “little cake.” These little cakes were created by cooks who would use a small amount of cake batter to test the heat of their ovens. The little treats were easy to travel with and thus gained popularity. They have become much sweeter over time and have evolved into the gooey deliciousness that we all know and love today. Why shouldn’t cookies have their own day?

Some the earliest memories many of us have are of helping mom or grandma to bake – the best part was getting to lick the spoon afterwards! Cookies were the first things I made on my own, they are pretty much fool-proof. I also created similar memories with my own children – them with their chairs pulled up to the kitchen counter, a dusting of flour on their little faces and fingers full of dough – and me cleaning up the overflow as we went along. With the colder weather just around the corner, now is the perfect time of year to fill the house with the aroma of freshly baked cookies.

Chocolate Chip Pudding Cookies
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Ingredients
  1. 1c butter
  2. 1c brown sugar
  3. 2 eggs
  4. 2tsp vanilla
  5. 1tbsp milk
  6. 102g instant vanilla pudding mix (dry)
  7. 2c flour
  8. 1tsp baking powder
  9. 1tsp baking soda
  10. 1tsp salt
  11. 2c chocolate chips (or your favourite substitution)
Instructions
  1. Blend butter, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla until light and fluffy.
  2. Add milk and pudding mix until blended.
  3. Separately mix flour, powder, soda and salt together, then, add to mixture.
  4. When blended, add chocolate chips.
  5. Drop onto cookie sheet and bake at 350F for 12 minutes.
  6. Cool on cookie sheet for 2 minutes then move to wire rack.
Life In Pleasantville http://www.lifeinpleasantville.com/
I could give you a recipe for healthy or gluten-free cookies, but that’s just not how I roll. Here is a favourite of my family. I made these last week and used half chocolate chips and half toffee bits. If Heaven had a taste, this would be it.

 To quote the Cookie Monster, “C is for cookie, that’s good enough for me!” ENJOY!

 Plate of cookies

 

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Delicious Dairy-Free Chocolate Coffee Coconut Mousse

Chocolate Coconut mousse

I love a few things in life. I love coffee, and chocolate, and…oh yes! I love my kids, and dessert, and also coconut. It’s pretty easy to make me happy if a day can somehow involves all these things.

We’ve been trying to eat a healthier diet here at my house, and since cold and flu season is upon us, that means watching our sugar intake in hopes of keeping our immunity strong. But we love sweets, especially after dinner, me more so than my kids even. I’m also trying to reduce carbs and grains because I just feel better when I do, and so through some trial and error (lots of sweet, delicious error) I’ve finally come up with a dessert mousse incorporating coffee, chocolate, coconut, and honey which is good enough to serve to guests. (Disclosure: I usually eat it all myself, so sorry future guests.)

It’s also a great dish for families and guests who have dietary restrictions. I didn’t set out to make it particularly allergen-free, but as it happens sometimes in life it was a beautiful coincidence. This recipe is dairy-free, gluten and grain-free, and it’s also relatively low sugar, using only 1/4 honey. You can reduce honey further, or substitute maple syrup or even stevia if you prefer. My autocorrect wants to make “stevia” into “Steve,” but I don’t think he’d make a good addition, so leave him out.

One more note: Because the mixing stage calls of this recipe calls for high-speed, take caution and take cover. Otherwise you’re going to be explaining to a gaggle of school children who slipped into the house unnoticed under the noise of the mixer why Mommy is licking chocolate mixture off the cupboards.

Chocolate Coffee Coconut Mousse (Dairy and Gluten Free)
Delicious, rich, "not too sweet" dessert mousse.
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Ingredients
  1. 2 cans coconut milk (best quality; NOT reduced fat)
  2. 4 oz strong brewed Keurig coffee
  3. 2 squares dark baking chocolate, unsweetened
  4. 1/4 cup honey (local if available)
  5. 1 tsp vanilla
  6. 1 cinnamon stick
Instructions
  1. Use Keurig set to "Strong" and 4oz brew-selection to brew a strong coffee. (I used Italian roast.)
  2. Add cinnamon stick to hot coffee and set aside. (This can be done day before.)
  3. Open cans of coconut milk and removed solids (coconut cream) which have risen to top. If you've purchased a quality milk, there should be approximately half a can worth.
  4. Put these solids into a medium size saucepan along with all chocolate squares and honey. Melt over low heat, stirring constantly.
  5. When chocolate has melted and mixture is completely incorporated, slowly add coffee (remove cinnamon stick first!) :)
  6. Cool this mixture in refrigerator until coconut cream sets. This can happen in 3-4 hours, but best left overnight.
  7. Once mixture has set, use stand mixer or hand mixer on high speed to fluff and introduce as much air as possible. Scrape down sides with rubber spatula and mix again.
  8. Spoon into individual serving dishes or large bowl and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Life In Pleasantville http://www.lifeinpleasantville.com/
This recipe can also be turned into a delicious soft ice cream. Use mixture in ice cream maker as per standard machine directions.

Disclosure: Thank you to Staples.ca and Keurig for sponsorship of this post. I was furnished with a Keurig coffee maker and coffee samples for participation in this program, but I’ll tell ya – I have been a Keurig fan since they arrived on the scene. Anything that makes the coffee-to-mouth route easier is a-okay in my books, also because I can be a danger to fellow humans without a morning cuppa.)

Follow Staples.ca on Twitter and watch for the opportunity to win a similar bundle as they host Pick Me Up Hours on Monday, September 29th. Good luck!

 
 
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