Archive for the ‘Holiday’ Category

I did not grow up eating apple pies. I like them, I do not love them and as such I can admit I do not make them….Sam I Am. Enter husband. He very much likes apple pie.

I love to search the web for recipes.  In doing so I came across a recipe to make an apple pie in a cast iron pan. Brilliant. Even more enticing was the caramelized goodness underneath the actual pie. This recipe entered the rotation and tonight it was created much to everyone’s delight.

Due to my son’s obsession with scrambled eggs every morning I ran out of eggs and was not able to make the egg white wash for the top.  Didn’t affect anything other than browning on top of pie.

Also the original recipe called for 4 lbs mixed apples. I used approximately 10 cups mixed apples (green, macintosh and a wrinkled gala thrown in for good luck). You could use a little more if you have them.

Another confession – I also cheated and purchased a double pie crust instead of making from scratch (shoot me now).

If you do not love apple pies, this recipe will have you reconsidering that thought. Simple Apple Goodness.


Adapted from Southern Living


Cast Iron Pan Apple Pie

10 cups cored, peeled & chopped apples (green, gala, macintosh)
1-2 tsp cinnamon
2/3 cup white sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 tenderflake deep dish pie crusts (or your own homemade)
1-2 tbsp white sugar
2 egg whites

1 x 10-inch cast iron pan/skillet
Vanilla ice cream or whipping cream

Preheat oven to 350F.

Peel & core apples. Slice into thick wedges and place in a bowl. Toss with cinnamon & sugar, set aside.

Melt butter in cast iron pan over medium heat. Add brown sugar and cook, stirring until sugar mostly melted (a few minutes). Remove from heat and set aside.

Place one of your pie crusts in cast iron pan over brown sugar mixture. Pat down a little. Pour in your apple mixture. Top with second pie crust. Whip up your egg whites a little with a fork. Brush on top of pie. Sprinkle with 1-2 tbsp sugar. Cut slits on top of pie crust.

Bake in oven for 1 hour or until golden and bubbly. Cool a little before serving. Serve with vanilla ice cream, whipping cream or a spoon.

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I’m really pleased with how my photos turned out this time…there might be hope for me yet!  And so I got a little photo crazy in this post.

These cookies are easy to make.  Take your favourite chocolate chip cookie recipe, pick up some Cadbury Mini Eggs, a bottle of wine and you are ready to begin.

Here is my go to chewy chocolate chip recipe.

Adapted from Canadian Living

Chocolate Easter Egg Cookies

1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla
2 3/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/4 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 tsp cinnamon
1-2 cups Cadbury Mini Easter Eggs

Preheat oven to 350F (180C).

In a large bowl and using a hand mixer (or kitchenaid) beat butter until smooth. Slowly beat in sugar & brown sugar. Add your eggs & vanilla.

In a smaller bowl whisk together flour, baking soda & salt. Stir into wet ingredients. Drop in your chocolate chips and mix well.

Drop onto parchment lined cookie sheets about 1-2 inches apart. Once cookie sheet is full, gently press in 2 easter eggs.

Once all cookies have eggs; bake in oven for 8-9 minutes, turning/rotating half way through until edges lightly browned.

Let cool completely on racks. Can be frozen (2 wks). Makes about 2 dozen delicious, chewy chocolate chip cookies.

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I made this tasty and quick little treat last year for St. Paddy’s Day and it went over so well we had to make it again.  It’s easy, quick and fun for the kids to make.

St. Patrick’s Day Oreo Snacks

1 package Oreo Cookies
2 cups white chocolate wafers
Green Food Colouring
Green/white sprinkles

In a microwaveable bowl pour in your chocolate wafers. As each microwave is different microwave your chocolate at 20-30 second increments on medium heat. If the bowl is too hot to handle, your chocolate is too hot. Keep stirring every 20-30 seconds until chocolate is almost melted.  Remove bowl from microwave and stir until remaining chocolate wafer bits are melted.  Try not to get any water in the chocolate or it will seize up.

Once melted add a couple drops of food colouring, stir well to combine Keep adding green drops until you reach your desired level of green, mixing well each time you add drops.

Take your cookies and dip half into the melted chocolate. Then holding the cookie over a bowl or plate drop some sprinkles on top. Place on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Continue until you have used all the cookies. Place cookie sheets in fridge for 10-15 minutes until chocolate has firmed up.

You will most likely have a little melted chocolate left over.  Use it as a dip for bananas, strawberries or pretzels.  Yum!

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I’ve had my eye on this recipe for a while (like years).  I specifically bought white chocolate wafers before Christmas so I could make this recipe.  However hosting my first ever Christmas Cookie Exchange and making the usual suspects (Christmas Baking) overloaded us with Christmas goodies and as such…it didn’t happen. 

With four days until Valentine’s Day, white chocolate wafers & leftover candy canes to use up, I decided today was the day to try out this recipe.  And what a great Valentine’s Day treat it turned out to be!  In fact next year I may crush cinnamon hearts instead of candy canes and make it as a class treat for Valentine’s Day!

Peppermint Popcorn Crunch

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The kids and I made cookies today.  Two kinds actually.  It was a cold day in Calgary and so it seemed like a good day to stay inside and warm the house with the smell of baking cookies.

The first batch we did was thumbprint cookies but we turned it up a notch since the kids wanted to throw in some cinnamon.  Nice idea I thought.  They added the cinnamon and the cookies turned out super yummy.

Adapted from Everyday Food Magazine

Cinnamon Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies

2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup butter + 1/4 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg, large
1 tbsp vanilla extract
5 ounces semisweet bars (1 bar = 1 ounce)
1/2 tsp peppermint extract
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup sugar, sanding sugar or crushed candy canes

Preheat oven to 350F, with racks in upper and lower thirds.

In a bowl mix together flour, cocoa powder, cinnamon and salt. Set aside. In a larger bowl, using an electric mixer, beat 1 cup each of butter and sugar on medium high until light and fluffy.  Add egg and vanilla mixing well.  With mixer on low slowly add in flour mixture and beat to combine.

Place 1/2 cup sugar, sanding sugar or candy canes on a plate.  Roll your cookie dough into 1 inch balls and then roll them in sugar to coat.  Place balls 1 inch apart on parchment lined baking sheets.  Bake 4 minutes then remove sheets from oven and with a melon baller or under side of a round 1/2 teaspoon make an indentation in the centre of each cookie. 

Put cookies back in oven and bake until they are set but still look moist (another 4 minutes).  Let cool on wire racks.

In a microwaveable bowl microwave your chocolate and 1/4 cup butter in 10 second increments, stirring each time until melted.  Stir in peppermint extract.  Let cool until thickened.  At this point you can either spoon the chocolate into the cookie indentations or put the chocolate into a ziplock bag, snip hole in one corner and pipe chocolate into indentations.

Should last up to a week in an airtight container and makes approx. 4 dozen.

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I typically host several family dinners during December which makes for a very hectic month.  This year we have decided it is just too much for us and so we are taking a break.   During one of these dinners (yikes about 5 years ago) I made this eggnog delight for dessert.  It was light, fabulous and a recipe I must share.  It’s being put back into the rotation for this year.  No baking required!

Adapted from ATCO Blue Flame Kitchen

Eggnog Cranberry Dessert
1 frozen pound cake (298gr), thawed
2 tbsp orange liqueur
1 1/2 cups whole berry cranberry sauce
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 pkg (6 serving size) instant vanilla pudding mix
1 1/2 cups eggnog
1 1/2 cups milk
1 tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp nutmeg
2 cups whipping cream
2 tbsp icing sugar

Cut pound cake into 12 slices. Cover bottom of a 9×13 dish with cake slices, trimming to fit if necessary. Drizzle cake slices with orange liqueur. Spread cranberry sauce over cake layer. Sprinkle dried cranberries on top.

In a medium bowl combine pudding mix, eggnog, milk, vanilla and nutmeg. Using mixer beat for 2 minutes until thickened on low-speed. Spread pudding mixture over cranberry layer. Let stand 5 minutes to set. Whip cream with icing sugar until stiff. Spread whipped cream over pudding layer.

Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight. Does not freeze. Serves 8-10.

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If you like blue cheese and stuffed mushrooms you will love these delectable bites.  Another favourite in our house during the holidays.

Adapted from ATCO Blue Flame Kitchen

Blue Cheese Pecan Stuffed Mushrooms

45 white mushrooms (small – medium size)
8oz cream cheese, softened
4 tbsp blue cheese, crumbled
2-3 tbsp pecans, chopped
1 tbsp green onion, finely chopped
1/4 tsp basil, dried
1/4 tsp pepper
Fresh parsley, chopped

Preheat oven to 350F (180C)

Remove stems from mushrooms and reserve for another use. Set aside caps.

Using mixer (medium speed), beat together cream cheese, blue cheese, pecans, green onion, basil and pepper until blended. Stuff mushroom caps with cheese mixture, mounding slightly. Place stuffed mushrooms on a lightly greased cookie pan with rims, or jelly roll pan.

Bake in oven for 15-20 minutes or until cheese bubbles a little. Sprinkle with parsley and serve. Do not freeze.

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Whipped Shortbread

This year for my Christmas Cookie Exchange I am doing a Trio of Shortbread.  Trying to find something to please everyone!   My mom would make Whipped Shortbread every year at Christmas time.  I always waited with eager anticipation to put the cherries on the cookies, because that was my job.  I’ve tweaked it along the way and here is the recipe I use.  The key to this recipe is turning it from dough into whipped dough.  Patience.

Whipped Shortbread

1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup icing sugar

Candy canes, crushed
Small candied cherries, cut in half

Preheat oven to 300F (150C)

Using low-speed of an electric mixer beat butter until creamy. Mix in flour and icing sugar until dough comes together. At medium speed beat about 5-10 minutes. This step takes time. The dough needs time to turn from cookie dough into whipped dough. Once you’ve reached the whipped stage they are ready to bake. Drop from spoon onto parchment lined baking sheet roughly 3 across (1-2 inches apart).

Press either candied cherry piece or crushed candy canes into centre of each unbaked cookie. Bake for 8-10 minutes turning & rotating half way through for even cooking until lightly golden around edges. Let cookies sit for 2 minutes on sheets, then transfer to cookie racks to let cool. Store in airtight container between layers of parchment or wax paper.

Can be frozen. Makes 3-4 dozen.

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Can you tell I’m preparing for a Christmas Cookie Exchange?!!  This shortbread recipe has become another regular Christmas time favourite in our house.  It’s a little bit of a process having to constantly refrigerate these cookies (as per the original recipe) and admittedly I don’t do it as much as the recipes calls for because seriously who has all day to make cookies?!  And so I did it my way and they turn out just fine!  The orange & nutmeg lends a delicious flavour to these cookies.

Adapted from Canadian Living

Orange Nutmeg Shortbread Stars

1 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 tsp finely grated orange rind (I typically use a whole orange)
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup icing sugar

Preheat oven to 300F (150C)

In large bowl beat butter with sugar until fluffy. Stir in cornstarch, orange rind, nutmeg and salt until blended. Add flour one-third at a time, stirring to make smooth dough.

Between waxed or parchment paper roll out dough on a cookie sheet or cutting board to 1/2 inch thickness. Refrigerate as is for approx. 30 minutes.

Using floured star cookie cutter (1 1/2 inch), cut out shapes, rerolling scraps and cutting out cookies as you go. Place about 1 inch apart on parchment lined baking sheets.

Put one baking sheet on top and one on the bottom thirds of oven baking for 6 minutes then switch and rotate pans. Bake for another 6 minutes. Switch & rotate pans again. Here is where you start baking 1-2 minutes at a time watching for the bottoms to brown slightly. In my oven my stars take approx. 13-15 minutes.

Let cookies cool in pans for about 5 minutes then transfer to racks. Using a sprinkler/shaker/colander shake/sprinkle the icing sugar all over the cookies while they are sitting on the rack and while they are still warm. I find this helps the icing sugar adhere to and stay on the cookie.

Lastly try not to eat them all at once ;).  Makes approximately 3 dozen.

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I started making this recipe a couple years ago when my Mother-In-Law came for Christmas.  We loved having her here and wish she could come during the holidays more often.  It’s a lovely variation of a shortbread cookie and comes via the cook book Anna and Michael Olson Cook at Home.

Cherry Walnut Shortbread Cookies
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup icing sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups candied red & green cherries, halved/quartered
3/4 cup walnut pieces

In bowl beat butter with icing sugar until fluffy. Add in egg and vanilla beating to combine. Next dump in your flour & salt stirring until everyone is happy. Finally add in your cherries & walnuts. Divide your dough into thirds and shape each section into a 10 inch long log. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill until firm – at least 3 hours.

Preheat your oven to 325F (160C)

With a sharp knife cut logs into 1/8 inch thick rounds. This is really thin and mine end up between 1/8 & 1/4 inch thick…it still works fine. Place on prepared baking sheets (covered with parchment paper), approx. 1 inch apart. Bake in top and bottom thirds of oven, rotating and switching pans halfway through just until edges begin to colour. Watch them carefully – every oven is different!

Bake 8-10 minutes. Let cool in pan a few minutes and transfer to cooling rack. These cookies freeze very well. Layer with wax or parchment paper in airtight container for up to one month.

Makes approximately 11 dozen cookies.

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