Last cake before I go

Heading off for our vacation, and the second stop on it is my Dad's place. His birthday was at the beginning of the month, when he was out of town. I had told him I would make him a cake but since I don't think he reads this, I doubt he knew what I meant when I said it. I'm sure the thought it would be a boxed cake with canned icing, not very fancy.

Think he'll be surprised?

Golf is one of his favorite things to do, as well as what he does for a living.

I intended this to be slightly rustic looking, with dips and divots in the golf course, along with a sand trap and a water hole, complete with sunken ball in the water trap.

The cake itself, btw, comes from a Today's Parent recipes, which can be found here.

And with the cake done, the bags packed, my family and I are off on vacation tomorrow morning. We will be gone for a few weeks, so no new posting from me during that time, though there will be cooking still, and lots of food involved!

See you late July!

Thank you cake

One of my children's favorite taekwon-do instructors is leaving us this summer to pursue her education in another city.

While we can't begrudge her this, we will miss her, and wanted to let her know she had been appreciated by all of us.

So as a thank you/good-bye gift, I made her a cake.

The figures sparring are actually tracings of our instructor, and her sister, another instructor who has left us, which she recognized when she saw the cake.

While this was a "simple" cake with only black and white, it did give me a bit of a challenge trying to figure out how to present it without too much black, and without overwhelming the figures.

I'm pretty pleased with what I eventually did, black color stripping for my border, to enhance the these two strong women showing what they can do!

Our thanks to both of the ladies for their years of patience and for passing on their knowledge to both of my children!

I scream for ice cream!

I'm sorry Meeta. I had time to make ice cream, I didn't have time to be creative about it. What with packing and cleaning, and children finishing school (and bringing home huge amounts of paper from their desks!)

And when I mean I didn't have time to be creative, I wasn't kidding! I didn't even go looking for a recipe. Instead I used a variation of the recipe I mentioned about here, though, start breathing again, I did NOT use 9 1/2 cups of whipping cream! Actually I didn't use any whipping cream, I didn't have any left, having given the last of mine to my son's teacher to use in his class. I did have half and half cream, 18% cream versus the 35% cream of whipping. I also had a can of condensed milk, and a mountain of strawberries.

Strawberry fields opened up for picking last week. My youngest had been bugging me for months about how it was almost time for us to go picking. So off we went to the field up the road from our house, hats on our head, basket ready.

So off I went. I took my children strawberry eating.

Yes, I said eating. See the picture of the baskets, nearly full? They were at my feet, and I was filling them. See my children? Further up the row, eating the berries?

I joked with the young lady running the stand that day that I was thankful she hadn't weighed the kids in, and wasn't weighing them out when we were done. She laughed and assured me that they could eat all they wanted, but I don't think she realized quite how many strawberries they could eat in a short time!

So I had alot of fresh strawberries that needed to be used fast, before they rotted and before we left for our vacation (which we will be doing very soon!)

I hope other bloggers were able to get more creative with their ice cream choices, giving me something to aspire to after the vacation, when the berries aren't so plentiful, and time is a bit more available!

Happy Monthly Mingle!

Strawberry ice cream

1 300ml can condensed milk
1/2 cup sugar
pinch of salt
touch of vanilla extract
2 cups of 18% cream
smushed and cut strawberries

Mix everything together before adding to freezer can of ice cream machine. Churn for 20-25 minutes before transfering to a container and the freezer for at least 1 hour.

For more family friendly ice cream, do not turn on your machine on your kitchen counter just before you sit down to dinner, making dinner conversation nearly impossible.

Sometime after July 4th, check out Meeta's site for all the rest of the creative ice creams in the Monthly Mingle Round-up!

See what happens when you put me in charge of the Daring Baker's challenge?

Yes, the Daring Bakers are at it again. This month we went on an entirely different track of baking, moving away from the mounds of cream and butter that we've enjoyed (?) over the last few months, into something a bit healthier, but just as challenging.

I don't know about everyone, but I know that I appreciated the break from butter, as did my partner in crime, co-hosting with me this month, Freya.

Yes, as you can see from all the pictures, we made BAGELS!!!

I have good friends who are Jewish, who when they heard I was making a recipe called Real Honest Jewish Purist's Bagels, informed me that Jewish people BUY bagels, they don't MAKE them! Apparently I have made 3 batches of buns, but not bagels. They aren't cooked in a wood burning oven, so therefore, they aren't bagels.

Well pshaw to them! Bagels I set out to make, along with all my fellow DB'ers, and bagels I (eventually) made!

As I've said, I made 3 batches of these.

My first was indeed bagel shaped buns. They looked round, but were very bread-like, not the chewy texture that good bagels should be. But letting the dough rise while the water came to a boil was too long to let them rise. With 4 tablespoons of yeast, I shouldn't have been surprised at how far and how fast the dough rose, but this I hadn't expected!

That is a very large bowl and it was very, very full! I also could not shape the bagels fast enough to stop the rising, so, as I said, I made very bagel like buns.

However that first batch did give me some clues as to how to improve - start the water early, don't let the dough rise so much, really knead the heck out of it, and be sure to accurately time the duration in the water. Oh and cornmeal on a baking sheet is a bad idea, next time use parchment, then cornmeal. Unless I really want to take the time to scrub baking sheets again.

So I started again, this time making a half batch of the dough, and letting my 8 year old be my photographer.

The idea behind the bagel dough is a fast dough, with high gluten, that sinks into the seasoned (with malt syrup or sugar, not salt) water when you boil the dough, before you bake it off with whatever topping you want. Yes, I said the bagel should sink into the water. Notice I didn't say my bagels sunk?

The recipe makes allowances for this, which is good, because no amount of kneading on my part resulted in bagels that sunk for more than 5 seconds. They were floaters, all of them.

Oh well!

On my second batch, I also decided to try both methods of bagel shaping: the hole method and the rope method. Since I was especially careful to make sure that my ends were well joined on the rope style ones, once they were boiled, I could not tell the difference between the two types of bagels. I had hopped that one would result in a firmer bagel, or a less airy dough, that would sink. No such luck.

As the recipe chooser for the month, I had the "pleasure" of picking out the rules for this challenge. I don't think my rules were too bad, and I tried to allow for some creativity. One of the options I gave was for the topping of the bagels - baker's were required to leave the dough plain, but could top the bagels anyway they wanted. While I backed up the suggestion of the recipe author for savory toppings, I did leave it free to the other baker's to go crazy with their toppings.

I, on the other hand, was boring. I went with poppy seeds and sesame seeds. I went with what we like and what the children would eat.

On my third batch, however, I got a bit more "crazy" and tried to make cheddar bagels. You won't see any pictures of them her, though. They weren't even ugly to look at, they were down right scary!

Another lesson learned, however: Don't top your cheddar bagels with the cheese until the last 5 minutes of cooking. Not if you don't want them to look like greasy, almost-burnt hockey pucks. Sure they tasted decent (but not at all like what I was aiming for) but oh my did they look horrid!

Oh I also learned a lesson in why this recipe author wants bagels made by hand, and not by mixer. I waited until my third batch to try this (having stated very clearly in the rules that for our first batch we had to follow the recipe exactly!) Poor Bob, my lovely stand mixer, was too small for the task of a full batch of bagels. Perhaps one day Bob will have a companion, a professional mixer, who can handle 8 cups of bread flour, but for now, if I make them again, I will stick with by hand. Save myself having to pry dough out of parts that should never have had dough in it to begin with, dough that climbed up the kneading hook and tried to go inside the mixer.

One last part to bagel making (since this post is getting very long and I haven't even put the recipe up yet!) To add to the "challenge" of bagel making for my DB'ers, I also gave them the option of coming up with creative ways to top their bagels! This was completely optional but was added in an effort to give people another way to express themselves, since bagels did not leave much room for creative presentation.

Myself, my first homemade bagel was eaten plain, still warm, just like I would do if I were getting a warm, fresh bagel from our local bagel makers (who, yes, use wood ovens.) The children enjoyed theirs with strawberry cream cheese, the husband with plain cream cheese.
Stored in a ziploc bag over night, my next bagel was toasted and topped with butter and sliced Marble and Havarti cheeses. The cheddar bagels, the ones without pictures, were enjoyed with a green onion cream cheese.

Let's face it, we are a boring, conservative family of bagel eaters. Who were all perfectly happy not getting off our ordinary track of bagel eating.

I hope everyone who was able to complete this months' challenge enjoyed themselves. And were able to step a bit further outside their own comfort zone.

Bet you are craving bagels now, aren't you? :-)


I have copied this recipe over exactly from the website I found it at. This is the exact directions I followed when making my bagels.

This is a recipe by my friend Johanne Blank.

Gentle reader, it is assumed that you know from bagels. The bagel, in its peripateic history, has moved from the shtetls of Eastern Europe to the delis of the United States, survived the onslaught of many a foreign formulation and flavoring, and also has managed to remain relatively dignified in the face of mass-production, freezing and other procedural adulterations and bastardizations. In the United States, however, most people's idea of a bagel seems to be of a vaguely squishy unsweetened doughnut, possibly with some sort of godawful flavoring mixed into it (with the "blueberry bagel" being perhaps the most offensive), generally purchased in lots of six in some supermarket... possibly even frozen. These are not those bagels.

These bagels are the genuine article. These are the bagels that have sustained generations of Eastern European Jewish peasants, the bagels that babies can teethe upon (folk wisdom has it that the hard, chewy crust encourages strong teeth), the bagels about which writer and humorist Alice Kahn has so aptly written that bagels are "Jewish courage."

This recipe makes approximately fifteen large bagels, The bagels are made without eggs, milk or any type of shortening or oil, which makes them pareve according to Kosher law. These bagels are plain, but I will provide suggestions as to how you may customize them to your tastes while retaining their Pristine and Ineffable Nature. May you bake them and eat them in good health.


  • 6-8 cups bread (high-gluten) flour
  • 4 tablespoons dry baking yeast
  • 6 tablespoons granulated white sugar or light honey (clover honey is good)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 cups hot water
  • a bit of vegetable oil
  • 1 gallon water
  • 3-5 tablespoons malt syrup or sugar
  • a few handfuls of cornmeal


  • large mixing bowl
  • wire whisk
  • measuring cups and spoons
  • wooden mixing spoon
  • butter knife or baker's dough blade
  • clean, dry surface for kneading
  • 3 clean, dry kitchen towels
  • warm, but not hot, place to set dough to rise
  • large stockpot
  • slotted spoon
  • 2 baking sheets


First, pour three cups of hot water into the mixing bowl. The water should be hot, but not so hot that you can't bear to put your fingers in it for several seconds at a time. Add the sugar or honey and stir it with your fingers (a good way to make sure the water is not too hot) or with a wire whisk to dissolve. Sprinkle the yeast over the surface of the water, and stir to dissolve.

Wait about ten minutes for the yeast to begin to revive and grow. This is known as "proofing" the yeast, which simply means that you're checking to make sure your yeast is viable. Skipping this step could result in your trying to make bagels with dead yeast, which results in bagels so hard and potentially dangerous that they are banned under the terms of the Geneva Convention. You will know that the yeast is okay if it begins to foam and exude a sweetish, slightly beery smell.

At this point, add about three cups of flour as well as the 2 tsp of salt to the water and yeast and begin mixing it in. Some people subscribe to the theory that it is easier to tell what's going on with the dough if you use your hands rather than a spoon to mix things into the dough, but others prefer the less physically direct spoon. As an advocate of the bare-knuckles school of baking, I proffer the following advice: clip your fingernails, take off your rings and wristwatch, and wash your hands thoroughly to the elbows, like a surgeon. Then you may dive into the dough with impunity. I generally use my right hand to mix, so that my left is free to add flour and other ingredients and to hold the bowl steady. Left-handed people might find that the reverse works better for them. Having one hand clean and free to perform various tasks works best.

When you have incorporated the first three cups of lour, the dough should begin to become thick-ish. Add more flour, a half-cup or so at a time, and mix each addition thoroughly before adding more flour. As the dough gets thicker, add less and less flour at a time. Soon you will begin to knead it by hand (if you're using your hands to mix the dough in the first place, this segue is hardly noticeable). If you have a big enough and shallow enough bowl, use it as the kneading bowl, otherwise use that clean, dry, flat countertop or tabletop mentioned in the "Equipment" list above. Sprinkle your work surface or bowl with a handful of flour, put your dough on top, and start kneading. Add bits of flour if necessary to keep the dough from sticking (to your hands, to the bowl or countertop, etc....). Soon you should have a nice stiff dough. It will be quite elastic, but heavy and stiffer than a normal bread dough. Do not make it too dry, however... it should still give easily and stretch easily without tearing.

Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, and cover with one of your clean kitchen towels, dampened somewhat by getting it wet and then wringing it out thoroughly. If you swish the dough around in the bowl, you can get the whole ball of dough covered with a very thin film of oil, which will keep it from drying out.

Place the bowl with the dough in it in a dry, warm (but not hot) place, free from drafts. Allow it to rise until doubled in volume. Some people try to accelerate rising by putting the dough in the oven, where the pilot lights keep the temperature slightly elevated. If it's cold in your kitchen, you can try this, but remember to leave the oven door open or it may become too hot and begin to kill the yeast and cook the dough. An ambient temperature of about 80 degrees Farenheit (25 centigrades) is ideal for rising dough.

While the dough is rising, fill your stockpot with about a gallon of water and set it on the fire to boil. When it reaches a boil, add the malt syrup or sugar and reduce the heat so that the water just barely simmers; the surface of the water should hardly move.

Once the dough has risen, turn it onto your work surface, punch it down, and divide immediately into as many hunks as you want to make bagels. For this recipe, you will probably end up with about 15 bagels, so you will divide the dough into 15 roughly even-sized hunks. Begin forming the bagels. There are two schools of thought on this. One method of bagel formation involves shaping the dough into a rough sphere, then poking a hole through the middle with a finger and then pulling at the dough around the hole to make the bagel. This is the hole-centric method. The dough-centric method involves making a long cylindrical "snake" of dough and wrapping it around your hand into a loop and mashing the ends together. Whatever you like to do is fine. DO NOT, however, give in to the temptation of using a doughnut or cookie cutter to shape your bagels. This will pusht them out of the realm of Jewish Bagel Authenticity and give them a distinctly Protestant air. The bagels will not be perfectly shaped. They will not be symmetrical. This is normal. This is okay. Enjoy the diversity. Just like snowflakes, no two genuine bagels are exactly alike.

Begin to preheat the oven to 400 degrees Farenheit.

Once the bagels are formed, let them sit for about 10 minutes. They will begin to rise slightly. Ideally, they will rise by about one-fourth volume... a technique called "half-proofing" the dough. At the end of the half-proofing, drop the bagels into the simmering water one by one. You don't want to crowd them, and so there should only be two or three bagels simmering at any given time. The bagels should sink first, then gracefully float to the top of the simmering water. If they float, it's not a big deal, but it does mean that you'll have a somewhat more bready (and less bagely) texture. Let the bagel simmer for about three minutes, then turn them over with a skimmer or a slotted spoon. Simmer another three minutes, and then lift the bagels out of the water and set them on a clean kitchen towel that has been spread on the countertop for this purpose. The bagels should be pretty and shiny, thanks to the malt syrup or sugar in the boiling water.

Once all the bagels have been boiled, prepare your baking sheets by sprinkling them with cornmeal. Then arrange the bagels on the prepared baking sheets and put them in the oven. Let them bake for about 25 mintues, then remove from the oven, turn them over and put them back in the oven to finish baking for about ten minutes more. This will help to prevent flat-bottomed bagels.

Remove from the oven and cool on wire racks, or on a dry clean towels if you have no racks. Do not attempt to cut them until they are cool... hot bagels slice abominably and you'll end up with a wadded mass of bagel pulp. Don't do it.

Serve with good cream cheese.

TO CUSTOMIZE BAGELS: After boiling but before baking, brush the bagels with a wash made of 1 egg white and 3 tablespoons ice water beaten together. Sprinkle with the topping of your choice: poppy, sesame, or caraway seeds, toasted onion or raw garlic bits, salt or whatever you like. Just remember that bagels are essentially a savory baked good, not a sweet one, and so things like fruit and sweet spices are really rather out of place.

From: Carolina Rodriguez (

HHDD: Sorbet

I hate to say it, but I finally made a Dorie recipe that I didn't like.

Even harder to believe.... it used lots of chocolate, and I still didn't like it!

Yes, it's true.

Just as sad, I made it specifically for a blog event, Hay Hay it's Donna Day #13, where the theme was sorbet, hosted by fellow Daring Baker Laura of Eat Drink Live.

I love Dorie, I really do! There are so many more items in her book I want to make. I had to restrain myself at the bookstore yesterday, where I had gone looking for books for my children. The pull to the cooking section, and hopefully the rest of Dorie's recipes, was strong, oh so strong! I fought it, and won, but my heart was left feeling bruised and battered.

So it saddens me that her Creamy Dark Chocolate Sorbet (page 431 for those of you who have a copy), did nothing for me. I didn't like the flavor, I didn't like the consistency.

My children, on the other hand, inhaled it, so all was not lost, 7 ounces of chocolate was not wasted.

I admit I would actually like to try this again, but using milk chocolate. I love milk chocolate, but am not a huge fan of dark or bittersweet. And if I don't like it, well, I still have two chocolate loving little boys who would be happy to eat it for me.

In the meantime, I think I need to go back to Laura's blog and see if I have the stuff on hand to make one of her sorbets......

Sugar High Friday: Cravings

Poor Jennifer, aka The Domestic Goddess, stuck in the hospital, unable to enjoy any of the sweets and treats that she is craving. Though she could wallow in self pity, she chooses instead to use this time for a better purpose - to gather from near and far the recipes and desserts of others in one blog event, where anyone can come to find something that will surely satisfy their cravings!

It is somehow appropriate that this event began with Jennifer, and is now returning to its home.

I have lots of cravings, most of which I try to ignore. Lately my biggest craving involves an iced green tea latte from Starbucks (which I've recently learned I can make on my own with ingredients I can get at my grocery store, yippee!)

But no, I didn't make one of those for Jennifer. (If I happen to pick up the ingredients before I go on vacation though, I will make one for her.)

Instead I went back to a basic recipe that I have made for years, both warm, comforting, and summery in an odd sort of way - rhubarb cobbler with vanilla ice cream.

Yes, this recipes is a warm cobbler, suitable for winter eating. But it is also a summery style dessert when you realize that for me to make it, I have to harvest the rhubarb fresh from my garden. I'd take a picture of my rhubarb patch to show, but I harvested it recently so it is looking pretty barren right now!

I hope this cobbler helps make you feel a bit better Jennifer! I know it made me feel better when I ate it last week!

Rhubarb Cobbler
From Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book
No idea what year it is, or the publisher, neither shown in the book, but the book itself is over 30 years old and was given to my mother when she got married, in 1971.

For the filling:

1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon each water and butter
4 cups 1 inch slices of rhubarb (I use more like 6 cups)

Mix all the ingredients together in a pot. Bring to a boil, cooking and stirring for 1 minute. Transfer to an oven safe, round baking dish.

Pre heat oven to 400F.


1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup cold butter
1/4 cup milk
1 beaten egg

Sift together dry ingredients into medium sized bowl. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Combine milk and egg, then add all at once to dry ingredients, stirring just until moistened.

Spoon biscuit topper in mounts on top of the rhubarb filling. Bake at 400F for 20-25 minutes. Serve warm with ice cream or cream.

Recipe by request, and a little bit of fun

Earlier today I posted my salad's for Lisa and Kelly's Salad Stravaganza and included in it a small picture of the chicken I had made and served to go with one of those salads.

I guess I was silly to not post a recipe for the chicken as well but then I was just happy to get an entry in on time (since I missed the HHDD one by a few days even though I made the recipe on time, again.)

Oh, and there isn't much of a recipe I can give for this, but I'll try!

Zest 2 limes, then juice the limes into a bowl. If they are light on juice, juice another lime. Chop up a good handful of fresh cilantro leaves and mix them in with the lime juice and zest. Add salt and pepper then drizzle in a good amount of olive oil, mixing as you drizzle until you have a good consistency, almost an emulsification.

Place chicken breasts, skin on, bone in for this photo, either in a flat container or in a ziploc bag. Pour all the marinade onto the chicken and try to coat each piece. Let sit for several hours, turning the chicken ocassionally.

Bbq on medium high heat, turning frequently, until the chicken is cooked through.

On a completely different note - today I got to volunteer in my youngest child's classroom, making ice cream. His teacher has been doing this for many years, so had her own recipe that she had made up, and on old fashioned hand-crank ice cream machine. (Yes, my arms are sore now!) I tried to get the recipe for it, and ended up writing down what went into her canister, with the help of the children.

1 cup of sugar
2 cans of condensed milk (300ml cans)
2 tablespoons of vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon of salt

And now for the really, really scary part........

9 1/2 cups of whipping cream!

No, I am not kidding! I counted as each child poured in their little carton of cream!

The ice cream came out very smooth and creamy, but also very rich and had a bit of an odd mouthfeel from all the cream.

And the children loved it, several asking for more!

Ah, one of the reasons why I wanted to be home with my kids, so I can volunteer at the school to do stuff like this!

Salad Stravaganza!

One of the little side benefits to being a Daring Baker is being in the "know" about blog events that I might otherwise miss. Okay, I know about alot of them, but still miss them! With the Daring Baker's, we sometimes get reminders of some really good ones!

Like this one, hosted by Kelly and Lisa, both Daring Baker's, who are giving us bloggers the opportunity to help save our waistlines and increase our summer salad repetoire! The Salad Stravaganza!

And I actually have two salad's for this! Woot!

Okay, I have one salad that I made, and one salad that I helped my 4 year old make. :-)

Let's start with my little chef in training first.

He learned to make this at a Loblaw's cooking class, so far the only one he's been to, and was so happy with how it came out that I helped him make it again for company earlier this month.

While I cooked the pasta, tri-colored fusilli, his favorite kind of pasta, he cut up chunks of marble cheese, baby carrots and cucumbers. After adding them to his pasta, we poured on some bottled Italian dressing and he tossed it all together for a quick, kid friendly pasta salad! We served it for dinner along with a quinoa salad that I had made (the same one I made for my first Weekend Cookbook Challange,) and some lime and cilantro grilled chicken that I never did post about.

My salad is a bit more complicated, but not by much, and just as child friendly.

The recipe for it is courtesy of my cousin and his wife, and comes from their family cookbook that they received as a wedding gift, and is called Romaine Strawberry Salad.

The dressing comes together in a snap and matches nicely with the sweetness of the strawberries, the mild oniony bite of the red onions and the crispness of the romaine lettuce. Sure my kids ate around the red onions (which is why I sliced them large enough to see, rather than dice them) but they did eat all their berries and most of their romaine.

I served this salad with steaks that I had seasoned with Montreal steak spice, grilled to a medium and sliced on the bias. My husband turned the entire thing into a giant salad, and went back for seconds!

I hope my two salads contribute slightly to the grand plan of shrinking Lisa and Kelly's elbows!

Romain Strawberry Salad

1 head romaine lettuce, torn
1/2 qt strawberries, hulled and sliced
1 medium red onion, sliced

1 tbsp poppy seeds
1/2 cup light mayonnaise (I didn't have 1/2 a cup left of light so used regular Hellmans instead)
14 cup milk
1/3 cup sugar
2 tbsp vinegar

Whisk together the dressing ingredients and toss with the lettuce, strawberries and onions.

Oh what will I do now?!?

Last year I was surprised to see my favorite fruit disappear from my local store. I had only recently discovered how much I love the Asian Pear, with it's crisp, juicy interior.

Yes, they are a tad pricey but worth every penny since I actually eat them! And yes, I know they aren't even remotely local, but again, balancing my eating the fruit versus my eating no fruit and the non-local thing becomes secondary.

When they disappeared last year, I made a note to myself that this year I would stock up on them before they were no longer available, seeing as they store very well for a long period of time in the crisper drawer of my fridge, where I usually have a few on hand at all times.

So what did I find when I went into my local Farm Boy yesterday? No Asian Pears!

Yes, that is me sobbing!

Do you realize how long it is until November?

The only good thing I can say about that trip to the store is that another favored fruit, though not nearly as loved as my pear, has finally made an arrival and came home with me for breakfast.

Bars, bars and more bars

No I'm not suddenly taking up drinking. Nor have I headed out to Alberta to try and pick me up a young and single prince.

No, instead I have been enjoying not having to go to work (session is done for the summer), by baking up some bar cookies!

Monday was my first, where I made butter tart squares, from a recipe I had pulled from a magazine years ago. It had been sitting in my binder, just waiting for the day when I would make it! That day came when I had planned on making a different square but was missing an ingredient.

I didn't eat much of this one - I admit it (and I'm sorry Mom!) I cannot get past the smell and flavor of the Mexican vanilla she brought me. To me it has a slightly coconutty smell to it (and that's the best I can do to describe it.) I like coconut. But not in my vanilla. Normally I wouldn't have used that vanilla in something where the vanilla flavor would stand out. But I didn't expect it to stand out in the butter tart! (Oh and I was just about out of my homemade vanilla.)

My husband, on the other hand, very much enjoyed this, butter tarts being one of his favorite things (that I don't make very often.) It was goeey, though less so after it had been chilled, (which I would recommend be done BEFORE cutting.) I skipped the nuts and instead added a few extra raisins.

Now this is the recipe I had initially planned on making. Or one of them. It comes from the blog Cookie Madness, where Anna does indeed make cookies, but so much more! And all of it sweet and good. Except the things with the peanut butter. (Can you tell who does not like peanut butter?)

Chocolate Raspberry Crumb bars!

I've heard rumors that Anna has been the big winner at some of the baking events she highlights, but admit I've never gone looking to confirm this. Based on her creativity, I wouldn't be surprised though.

I learned a very important bit of information when I went to make this recipe, which accounts for the delay in making them - we Canucks get a different sized can of condensed milk than those in the US do! The recipe called for a 14oz can, which is 420ml. We get 300ml cans. So despite my butter being ready to go, and the rest of my ingredients ready, I had to delay making this until I made it to the store to buy a second can of condensed milk!

Aside from that little hitch, the recipe comes together beautifully.

And left me with half a can of left over condensed milk to make the second one of Anna's recipes, the Butterscotch Cheesecake Bars.

I think I could have eaten an entire tray of these on my own. I love butterscotch, and I love cheesecake!

No, they don't look like much, but they make up for it in taste.

I did make one small change to the recipe. Okay, two. First I omitted the nuts. Nothing new there. Then, after I patted down the crust into the bottom of the pan, I sprinkled the bottom with Skor pieces! No, the baking ones don't come covered in chocolate, but are just pieces of the toffee. Which I could probably eat with a spoon from the bag (but have never done!)

Fortunately this recipe did not make a 9 x 13 pan's worth of bars. Even giving some away to friends, these did not last long. I ate far too many of them, and likely would have eaten more had there been more.

It's a good thing I got busier by the end of the week, and have been doing this this week as well, otherwise I would probably still be making squares and bars. And eatings, because afterall, you have to test each of the recipes you make, if only for quality control and so you can report on the flavor on your blog!

Butter Tart Squares

I ripped this recipe out of a magazine several years so. The only information I can find about where it came from is a web site:

1/4 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 cup flour
pinch of salt
1 large egg
2 large egg whites
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
1 tbsp flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup raisins
1/3 cup chopped pecans (which I substituted with more raisins)

Preheat oven to 350F.
In a medium bowl, beat butter and brown sugar until creamy. Add flour and salt and stir until well combined and crumbly.
Press into the bottom of an 8x8 inch pan that has been sprayed with non-stick spray. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until pale golden around the edges.
Using the same bowl, combine egg, egg whites, brown sugar, flour, baking powder, salt and vanilla and stir until well blended and smooth. Stir in raisins and pecans, if using.
Pour filling over the base and return to the oven for 25-30 minutes, until golden and bubbly around the edges. It will puff up a bit as it bakes and then settle again when you remove it from the oven. Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.
Makes 16 squares.

A bit late but.... Introducing the Newest Daring Bakers!

Joining us for the newest challenge, to be posted about later in the month of June, are 19 new members!

All of their blogs have been added to my sidebar list of Daring Baker's, with links so you can get to know their blogs, as I am doing with the ones I didn't know (I admit, that is most of them.)

So here they are!

Food and Photo
Cupcake, My Love
My Food Geek
Confessions of a Cardamom Addict
Should You Eat That
Nook & Pantry
Cupcake Punk
The Left-Over Queen
Corner of 94th
Little Foodies
A Fridge Full of Food
Sweet Tooth
I Cook, Therefore I Run
Vals Kitchen
The Glutton
A Cracking Good Egg
Mele Cotte
Smitten Kitchen

I hope that these links work, but if not, the ones at the side should be good to go!

Weekend Cookbook Challenge #17: Cornmeal!

I actually made this several weeks ago, specifically for this challenge. I was about to include it in my "Ooops I've missed a bunch of challenges!" post when I discovered I hadn't actually missed this yet!


Hosted by Ani of Food Chickie, this months theme requires the use of cornmeal in a recipe. And coincided perfectly with the arrival of my Fine Cooking magazine!

Peach and blueberry cobbler with cornmeal biscuits.

I find recipes from Fine Cooking come either two ways: Exact and precise measurements and instructions, or with a whole list of options, add-ins and variations you can make. This recipe came from the second type, a cooking without a recipe version that gave the basics but then let you go while and get creative!

I loved the look of the peach and raspberry version and had planned on making it. However fresh raspberries were $5 per half pint. Quite expensive and not worth the price when I would be cooking them. Fresh blueberries weren't quite as expensive, but could easily be swapped out for frozen blueberries, which I happened to have on hand. The peaches at my local market looked good, and even more importantly, smelled good!

I make this cobbler in stages: while my children ran through the sprinkler in the front yard, I sat out with the big bowl of peaches, pitting and slices them ( left the skins on on purpose.) Later I was able to through together the biscuit dough, which came together in a food processor very quickly. The cobbler itself baked while I make dinner (I think it was the night I made my Mexican burgers), and was ready to be eaten when dinner was done!

Served with a huge blob of whipped cream (we had no ice cream, my usual cobbler topping), this went over very well with the children. My oldest even asked for seconds, when I wasn't sure if he would enjoy the texture of the biscuits.

Sour Cream Cornmeal Cobbler Biscuits
Source Fine Cooking Magazine, July 2007

1 2/3 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar or packed light brown sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
6 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into 10 pieces
1/4 cup ground cornmeal
3/4 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup sour cream, chilled

In a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Pulse briefly to blend. Add the butter pieces adn pulse until they are the size of small peas, 5 to 7 one-second pulses.
Dump the mixture into a large mixing bowl. Add in cornmeal and cinnamon and stir until evenly dispersed. Add the sour cream. Using a rubber spatula, gently smear the ingredients together until the flour is evenly moistened and the dough begins to form a large, soft, moist clumps. Bring the dough together into an 8-inch long log. Divide the log into 10 roughly equal round pieces. (I made 6 large blobs.) Refrigerate the pieces in the bowl while preparing the fruit.

For the fruit: Mix together 8 cups worth of fruit, in this case I used 6 peaches and the balance in frozen blueberries, with 1/2 to 3/4 cup sugar (less for very sweet fruit) and 1 to 2 tbsp all purpose flour (more if you are using alot of berries) and a pinch of salt. I also added in a sprinkling of fresh grated nutmeg. Gently toss to mix, then place in an 9x13 baking dish, being sure to scrape in any remaining juices and sugar.

Preheat your oven to 350F.

Arrange the biscuit pieces randomly on top of the filling, being sure to leave some space between the pieces. If desired, sprinkle with 1 1/2 tbsp of sugar (demerara, granulated or turbinado, your choice.) Bake for 50-60 minutes, until the filling is bubbling and the topping is browned. Let sit about 20 minutes before serving.

Happy Birthday dear friend!

June is usually considered to be the month of weddings, with many birthday's taking a back seat to all the bride's and grooms who take over the world! (I should talk, my anniversary is this month, though my wedding date was chosen based on the date of our first date, not because June is THE month to have your wedding in!)

And what a better birthday to celebrate than Meeta's? She who hosts the Monthly Mingle (which I read, but have yet to participate in,) one of my fellow Daring Bakers! Her pictures are beautiful, those of food droolworthy! Her dedication to healthy eating and to teaching her son about nutrition admirable!

To help celebrate Meeta's birthday, I bring along to the party a bit of a sweet, something to balance out the cakes that will be coming her way - orange cranberry biscotti.

This is a variation of Dorie's Lenox Almond biscotti (page 141) - where I swapped out the almonds for dried cranberries, replaced the almond extract for fresh squeezed orange juice and added in a large orange's worth of zest as well.

To me the unusual part of this cookie is the cornmeal - it gave it an extra crunchy texture. Perhaps if I had had fine cornmeal instead of medium it wouldn't have been so obvious to the texture of the cookie.

I brought these to work, where they were very well received, but personally could not get past the cornmeal crunch. The flavor of the orange and cranberries, however, was divine! (So I obviously need to get some fine cornmeal and try it again!)

Happy Birthday Meeta and the Monthly Mingle!

Orange Cranberry Biscotti
As adapted from Dorie Greenspan's Lenox Almond Biscotti (found in Baking From my Home to Yours)

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoon orange zest
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoon orange juice
3/4 cup dried cranberries

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment.
Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together. Add the cornmeal and whisk again to blend.
In bowl of stand mixer, work orange zest into sugar using fingers. Using paddle attachment, add butter to sugar and mix until very smooth, at medium speed. Add the eggs and continue to beat, scarping down the bowl as needed, until the mixture is light. Beat in the orange juice.
Turn speed to low and add the dry ingredients, being careful not to overmix. The dough will be soft and sticky. Toss in the cranberries and mix quickly to blend.
Scrape half the dough onto one side of the baking sheet. Using your fingers, work the dough into a log about 12 inches long and 1 1/2 inches wide. Form a second log with the rest of the dough on the other side of the baking sheet.
Bake for 15 minutes or until the logs are lightly golden but still soft and springy to the touch. Transfer the baking sheet to a rack and cool the logs on the sheet for 30 minutes.
If you've turned the oven off, turn it back on to 350 degrees F.
Transfer cooled logs to a cutting board, and with a serrated knife, trim the ends and cut the logs into 3/4 inch thick slices. Return the slices to the baking sheet, but turned onto their side, and put back into the oven.
Bake for another 15 minutes or until cookies are golden and firm. Transfer to rack and cool to room temperature.

Deep Freeze Summer Challenge!

One of the newest members of the Daring Bakers is hosting what sounded to me like a really fun event - creating a complete meal from the contents of your freezer! And while it sounds like my freezer is not nearly as packed as Chris' freezer is, it too could use a clean up!

Actually, all three could use a clean up. You see, I have two fridges, so two over the fridge freezers, as well as having a deep freeze. I tend to keep things that are used frequently (like frozen waffles and ice) in the kitchen freezer. I keep much less used items, like popsicles, pies and frozen fruit, in the other fridge freezer. My big freezer is for my meats and frozen veggies. And while it isn't nearly as full as it has been in the past, I still find myself having to haul items out of it to figure out what I have in the bottom of it. When it is much fuller than it is now, I keep a list.

Lately, though, I need to remind myself that no matter how bad I think my freezer is, at least it isn't like my grandmother's, which needs a brick to keep it closed, has a probe thermometer sticking out of it to monitor the temperature, and is so full of freezer burned items that will never be used!

With those conditions in mind, it was time to go rooting in my own freezer for stuff to make for the challenge!

I actually started with dessert, making use of the left over puff pastry dough I had made for my last Daring Baker's challenge, the Gateaux St. Honore. And with it I made two desserts: a few little palmiers using brown sugar and cinnamon, and "shortcake" bases. For the shortcake bases I simply rolled out a chunk of dough and cut it into four pieces, sprinkled them with some sugar, and baked them off until they were golden and puffy.

While they baked, I pulled out bags of frozen fruit: the small amount left over of a bag of mixed berries (blackberries, raspberries, blueberries and strawberries,) mixed in more frozen strawberries from another bag, and more blueberries from yet another. A sprinkling of sugar was all the berries needed, just enough to let the juices become a bit syrupy while the berries defrosted.

A large spoonful of whipped cream (an allowable addition to the challenge), covering the juicy berries between the layers of sweetened puff pastry, topped with a palmier, and dessert was ready! Total time, maybe 10 minutes. A few items less in that freezer.

While dessert was in it's various stages, I went on to dinner. A chicken found at the deep bottom of my chest freezer was chosen for the main component. Butterflied, seasoned with a touch of olive oil, pepper and a garlic-chili sea salt, then roasted to a golden crispiness. Yum!

Frozen corn was added in, sauted up with more olive oil, a bit of butter, and salt and pepper. I've more and more been serving frozen veggies this way, finding the saute adds a big punch of flavor to what can otherwise be a bland vegetable.

The last item for dinner was not that amazing though - frozen stuffed, baked potatoes from M&M meat shop. I used to serve these more often as they were tasty and convenient. These were convenient, but sure not tasty. I had chosen the stuffed cheese and broccoli flavor but didn't actually taste either flavor in the potato, which needed a fair amount of sour cream to be edible. Small flecks of green were all you could see of the broccoli. Maybe this is why I stopped buying them?

In the end, however, I had a complete meal from my freezer, and the contents of the three freezers were a bit smaller than before I started!

Thanks Chris! I should try this more often until I've cleaned out all my freezers, then go back to making lists of what is inside!

Go Sens Go!

I had promised my oldest that we would do this together and we finally had time this morning. Good timing, what with game 3 tonight.

He helped mix colors and put some of the sparkle on it, but was having a hard time figuring out how to squeeze the icing out of the bag. We used my 3 stars at once tip, which in my opinion worked terrible, hence the unevenness of the black. Sure it will taste the same!

Even better timing that I had said he could have this done. Am I a cool mother or what? :-)

Now here's hoping we've brought luck to the team! (And I didn't hurt my wrist too much doing this!)