Blackberry & Pear Crisp

BB-Pear_Crisp-9BB_Pear_Crisp-5[ Blackberry & Pear Crisp – fresh out of the oven ]

Today a customer gave us our first batch of blackberries off one of the bushes he has in his side yard at home after the husband fixed his computer. (Not as a payment, but as an extra, “Here. This is for you because I remember your wife and you love these from last year when I brought you some at the store,” sort of way.) And we did.

He gave us about one and a half cups, and kindly washed them for us, so all I had to do was peel and cut up the lone pear we had in the fridge to add to the berries for this recipe. I love when a great plan comes together on the fly like this.

So, my challenge wasn’t what kind of crisp I wanted to make, but rather to scale the one recipe I love the most down to something that will use up everything I have onhand and will also fit nicely into two small baking dishes. I adapted the following to make a 2-person serving. Hope you all like it.

Auntie Stacey’s Blackberry & Pear Crisp:
2 C Blackberries + Pears (you can make them even or a bit more of one over the other)
3 Tbsp Brown Sugar
1-2 Tbsp Cornstarch

1/2 C Rolled Oats
1/3 C Flour
3 Tbsp Brown Sugar
1 1/2 – 2 Tbsp Butter (unsalted, cold and cubed)

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[ Blackberry & Pear Crisp – ready for the oven ]

In a small bowl, mix the sugar and cornstarch; lightly toss with the fruit, or if they berries are too tender, drop the mixture over the fruit as it sits in the baking dishes.

In the bowl again, mix the oats, flour and sugar. Top each baking dish with half of this mixture. Place the small cubes over top of the topping within half an inch of each other.

No need to go overboard or to crowd. If you leftover cubes, chill them for the next crisp you do or use them for your next corn-on-the-cob dinner.

Bake the crisps at 350 for 35 minutes, or until bubbling hot and most of the topping has crisped up.

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Cool till the fruit can be eaten without scaling the mouth, and serve with French Vanilla ice cream or, if you have it, freshly whipped cream topping.

Yields: 2

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{ So good. So, so good. ]

Homemade Hotdog Buns

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It’s Canada Day, and that means hotdogs and hamburgers made on the grill in a backyard or in a park by some water close enough to the fireworks hours later. It’s how we do it north of the 49th, kids. And we like it this way!

What we don’t like – or, what I should say I don’t like – is finding out our hotdog buns are moldy on a day when the stores are closed for a national holiday. It bums me out. But, because I discovered this problem very last night, I had lots of time today to make buns from scratch. Yes, I make bread, too. I make it ALL, baby.

{evil laughter}

I don’t have a stock bun recipe so I was planning to scour the innerweebs when Joy The Baker, bless her generous heart, decided this was the weekend she was going to post about her homemade hotdog buns. It was meant to be. 🙂

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From this…

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To this.

I halved the ingredient amounts to make a smaller batch than her recipe yields, but if you’re having a crowd over, Joy’s recipe will give you 18 regular 4″-5″ buns per batch. There’s still time to make a whole mess of these buns if you need more than that. They’re fast, straightforward and easy to make. I assure you. If you’ve ever kneaded dough before, you’ll be fine with this recipe. Pay attention to your type of yeast (I learned the hard way a month ago) and how to use it, and you should be fine.

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I made half the batch with poppy seeds, fresh cracked pepper and big grains of salt, and the other half only got the coarse salt. I liked the salted one, and my husband loved the all dressed up one. I took care to make these buns a full 7″ so the overgrown Costco sausages the boy loves so much would be evenly matched up bite for bite. He complains a lot about rinky-dink store bought buns not being long enough. So, needless to say, he was happy with these buns in ever respect.

Try these buns. You’ll love them. And they took me less than an hour – start to finish.

OK, we’re off to hit a movie if we can, so enjoy your holiday, everyone.

Happy 146th birthday, Canada!

A Batch of Cupcakes for Two

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[ Click picture to embiggen. Recipe & picture courtesy @AmberReed. ]

Sometimes I want something baked that’s a bit sweeter than a muffin, but I don’t want to make a full batch or a big production of it because half the time I want to taste test a new flavour combination I’ve thought up or found someone talking about online, and it just happens to be one the husband doesn’t like or isn’t into like Espresso Double Chocolate (for when I’m PMS’ing), so what is a girl supposed to do – park herself in front of a dozen muffins or cupcakes till they’re all disappeared from the house?

Uh, not going to happen!

I figure most of you feel the same way I do about not wanting a bunch of baked goods kicking around in the house, seductively calling out your name in the middle of the night from the kitchen all the way to your bedroom, like so:

“Psst! Hey, you! Oh good, you’re awake. Can’t sleep, eh? Me neither. Remember me? I’m those delicious treats you baked today. Come to the kitchen and visit. C’mon, just a short visit, and then I’ll have you back in bed in no time at all. I promise. I know you can hearrrrrrrr meeeeeee…” <– How many times has this happened to us, right?

Well, it doesn’t have to happen anymore. That’s right, the picture at the top of this post holds the perfect solution to our shared dilema, kids. Give it a go next time you’re craving.

(Don’t lie. We all crave. I know you’re shaking your head right now, but you’re also giggling because you know I know I’m busting you!)

Edit: The second set of increments in the picture are all missing their slashes to turn them into fractions. If you don’t correct your measurements, you’ll have a HUGE mess on your hands. Bake them at 350 degrees for 15-18 mins.

Auntie Stacey’s Carrot Cookies

Auntie Stacey’s Carrot Cookies
1/2 C (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1/2 C brown sugar, packed
1/4 C white sugar
1 egg yolk
3/4 C flour (your choice – I use all purpose)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 C teaspoon rolled oats
3/4 C carrots, shredded
1/3 C dried fruit or chocolate chunks (your choice)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

1. Cream your butter and then mix in the sugars; add the yolk and mix till all is moistened.
2. Stir the flour and salt together; spoon into the mixing bowl with the machine running on its lowest setting.
3. Carefully spoon the last three ingredients into the mixing bowl while the machine is running on its lowest setting till everything is blended nicely.
4. Drop and flatten spoonfuls onto parchment lined cookie sheets and bake for 15-20 minutes per batch.

Dip part of cookies into melted chocolate when cooled if PMS’ing.

‘For Two’ Recipe Blog

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[ Click picture to embiggen ]

I keep meaning to tell Ellen and Wendy about a blog that serves up recipes for two single servings. The blog is called Dessert For Two, and it’s run by the lovely and friendly Christina. She goes by @DessertForTwo on Twitter so if you ever have a question, that’s probably the best place to grab her attention.

I love this blog. Often I will want to cook or bake something out of the blue but I don’t want a million bits of leftover kicking around going stale after we’ve satiated our hankerings. This site fits the bill because Christina has probably already taken the time to figure out the reduced ingredient increments for whatever we want to make into a micro batch.

For example, today I was thinking I would make some scones for breakfast tomorrow, and not just any scones, but bacon infused scones. I went to her site, searched “scone” and a few recipes came up. I really like this one for Buttered Pecan Scones. Yummy. (See her picture above for what they look like.) All I have to do is follow one and sub out the flavour ingredients for the bacon, and I’ll be off to the races.

I will post my results tomorrow if they turn out as well as I think they will. Stay tuned.

Old Fashioned Oatmeal Cookies

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[ Click picture to embiggen ]
Old Fashioned Oatmeal Cookies:
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs (room temperature)
1/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon vanilla

 

4 cups rolled oats (the 5-minute kind)
1+1/2 cups cups all-purpose flour
1 cup finely crushed graham crackers (about 15)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt

OPTIONS:
7oz marshmallow creme (Fluff) topped with 45-50 Hershey Kisses, unwrapped (S’Mores)
1 to 1+1/2 cup dried cranberries (Craisins)
1 to 1+1/2 cup chocolate chips

1. In a medium bowl whisk the oats, flour, graham crackers, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt together until well combined. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl beat the butter on medium speed for 30 seconds the beat in both sugars, scraping down the side of the bowl.
3. Beat in the eggs, milk and vanilla just until combined.
4. Beat in as much of the flour mixture as you can with the mixer, if it gets too thick for your mixer stir by hand until just combined.
5. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, or roll the dough out into logs in wax paper, and chill at least 1 hour but no longer than 4 hours.
6. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper or lightly grease.
7. Scoop up slightly rounded tablespoonfuls of dough and lightly roll into a ball, or cut up your logs into dough slices. Place each about 2 inches apart on prepared cookie sheets and bake 8 minutes.
8. Remove from oven to cool off on wire racks. Note: If making the S’mores version use the back of a measuring spoon to make a small indent in the center of each cookie before dropping teaspoonfuls (use another spoon to scrape it off the measuring spoon) of marshmallow fluff into each one and then push a kiss down into the center of that.
9. Store in one layer in a tightly covered container up to one week – although truth be told, they’ve never last that long around here.

I make these cookies almost weekly now. I routinely split the dough up into six measured out 10-oz blobs which I then roll into 2″ thick logs in sheets of waxed paper to create small bake batches. I twist the ends of the wax paper like a bon bon candy would be to seal the logs up, and chill them in the fridge for close to 2 hours before baking. Oh, and with my bench scraper (or the blade of my big chef’s knife) I flatten each end of the logs so all of the cookies are even and uniform when I cut them.

The husband loves when I add dried cranberries (Craisins) into these cookies, but I’ve also added other stuff like chocolate chips, nuts, Fluff & Hershey Kisses, etc. Be as creative as you like. There are some suggestions above at the bottom of the recipe listing. You can even wait till after you measure each blob out to add your extra ingredients to make six different cookie logs in one go as long as you’re organized enough to do so.

Conversely, these cookies are delicious enough to stand on their own without any extras added. Just the bare bones cookie dough, all on its own. Try it. You’ll see what I mean.

Normally I split the batch of dough rolls to give three away to my in-laws, and reserve the other three to bake up small batches of a dozen bite size cookies for us to enjoy. I tend to bake one roll every other day to replenish our cookie stash. These cookies hold their soft, chewy texture really well, too. The proof of that is I left one cookie out all night by accident (OOPS) and the next morning it tasted just as fresh as it had the day before we made them.

This dough can also be frozen if you’re planning to use them at Christmas. I would recommend making these no longer than 3 months in advance if you so inclined to have your freezer that stocked up. I find making doughs and baking so many different cookies at Christmas stressful, so I like to start stockpiling around the last week of November and make one new cookie batch to freeze every week as time permits. In the end, all I have to do is cut, bake, cool and decorate as I wrap gifts. Saves me loads of time on doing dishes and fridge space as the doughs require chilling.

And finally, the logs should each yield at least 6 healthy cookies, or if you are modest or want to stretch the dough as far as you can make it go, you can probably make close to 16 thin cookies (but not paper thin — no one likes that!). I approach cutting up the long as I do cutting up sushi rolls. (Cut the log in half; line up those halves side by side and cut in half, and cut outward from there until all log sections are uniformly sliced up.)

Enjoy!

Peanut Butter Cookies

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Something about today is just breaking my brain. Or, perhaps my brain isn’t quite awake like the rest of me? Not sure. But, I’m fairly certain only simple things will get done today, like this simple 3-ingredient recipe for Peanut Butter Cookies. All it requires is one egg, 1 cup of sugar and one cup of peanut butter. (Ratio: 1:1:1)

Or, if you’re running on full steam unlike me today, and you like a bit of jazz hands with your Peanut Butter cookies, you can always try this version from Tasty Kitchen. You can’t go wrong with anything from that site!

Giada’s Nonna’s Lemon Ricotta Muffins

Lemon Ricotta Muffins by Giada
Lemon Ricotta Muffins by Giada

Giada’s Nonna’s Lemon Ricotta Muffins recipe. If you haven’t tried or tasted these, you MUST. This one is a favourite of my husband’s. I didn’t toast the slivered almonds on top, but I bet if I had, that would have simply added another dimension of flavour to these babies. And believe me, they’re already bursting with amazing flavours and sport a texture that will think you’re eating part of a cloud.

Why are you still reading this post? Go make these muffins. NOW!

Ice Queen’s Starbucks Pumpkin Scone Clones

Pumpkin Scones Recipe [pic courtesy Career In The Oven]

Pic courtesy of Career In The Oven. Pumpkin scone recipe comes courtesy of Ice Queen. Susan runs a cooking school. And she’s funny. Consider stalking her. She likes stalkers.

FYI, I send a batch of these to my brother and to a dear friend in the mail. They held up well if you seal them first and pack them in bubble wrap or styrofoam popcorn.

INGREDIENTS:
2 cups all-purpose flour
7 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
3 tablespoons half-and-half
1 large egg
6 tablespoons cold butter

PLAIN GLAZE:
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
2 tablespoons whole milk

SPICED ICING:
1 cup plus 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
2 tablespoons half and half cream
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch ground ginger

INSTRUCTIONS:
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

2. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon ginger in a large bowl.

3. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together pumpkin, half-and-half, and egg.

4. Cut butter into cubes then add it to the dry ingredients. Mix with your hand, rubbing the butter in until it is the texture of cornmeal or coarse sand.

5. Fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients, then form the dough into a ball. Pat out dough onto a lightly floured surface and form it into a 1-inch thick disk. Vut it into eight triangles, like a pizza, and separate them a bit so they can spread.

6. Bake for 14 to 16 minutes on a baking sheet that has been lightly oiled or lined with parchment paper. Scones should begin to turn light brown. Watch them, they burn quickly near the end!

7. While scones cool, prepare plain glaze by combining ingredients in a medium bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed. Mix until smooth.

8. When scones are cool, use a brush to paint a coating of the glaze over the top of each scone.

9. As that white glaze firms up, prepare spiced icing by combining ingredients in another medium bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed. Drizzle this thicker icing over each scone and allow the icing to dry before serving (at least 1 hour). A squirt bottle works great for this, or you can drizzle with a whisk.