Energy Balls

Energy Balls 3

Nailed it!  These energy balls are perfect for a bite on the go, or if you just realized you forgot to eat today …… (Hello Hayley).  This is the perfect recipe for a little creative flexibility.  We don’t like raisins, so you won’t find any here but they could easily be used in place of cranberries or the dried cherries.  The only thing that matters is that you use 2 cups of dried fruit – use any combination you like.  With all the peanut allergies in schools and restrictions with it (Hello Liv), you can easily replace the peanut butter with any nut butter you like.

Energy balls 2

A big part of the success story is your ingredient source …. Rancho Vignola has amazing nuts, seeds, and baking products.  Make sure you have great quality supplies.                                         Nope, this isn’t a sponsored post, I just love their products!

  • 1 cup toasted sunflower seeds
  • 1 cup toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 cup oats (I use a combination of quick cooking and large flake oats)
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup dried cherries (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 cups smooth peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 1/2 cups toasted coconut flakes
  1. Combine all dry ingredients together in a large bowl and mix thoroughly with your hands.
  2. In a separate small bowl stir peanut butter and honey together until smooth and well incorporated.
  3. Stir into dry ingredients, and mix well.  Again, I find your hands the best tools you’ve got.  Make sure you mix well …. those pesky little sesame seeds like to hide in the bottom of the bowl.
  4. Once you’ve got it all mixed, form balls and roll in the toasted coconut.  I find it helps to put a little coconut in my hands too and that really helps it to adhere.

Energy Balls 1

Store in the fridge for up to a week, or keep them in the freezer for a couple of months (if they last that long).

 

 

The Best Peach Shortbread

Peach Shortbread 6

1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon  salt
1 cup room temperature unsalted butter
1 large egg
2 -3 peaches, pitted and thinly sliced (between 1/8 and 1/4-inch thick)

 

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Butter a 9×13 inch pan, or spray it with a nonstick spray.

In a medium bowl, stir together sugar, baking powder, flour, salt and spices with a whisk. Use a pastry blender, fork or your fingertips, blend the butter and egg into the flour mixture. It will be crumbly.

Pat 3/4 of the crumbs into the bottom of the prepared pan, pressing firmly. Tile peach slices over crumb base in a single layer. Scatter remaining crumbs evenly over peaches and bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes, until top is slightly brown and you can see a little color around the edges. Cool completely in pan before cutting into squares.

Peach Shortbread 1

I like to whisk the spices with the sugar first, then the flour.  It helps to make sure everything is well distributed.

Peach Shortbread 2

Press 3/4 of the flour/sugar mixture into your baking pan, reserving the rest for topping.

Peach Shortbread 3

These peaches are really the star here, but that buttery crust plays an amazingly delicious supporting role.

Peach Shortbread 7

Not so much topping that the peaches are hidden, and for a little extra crunch, sprinkle the top with a little raw sugar.

Peach Shortbread 4

OOOHHH, the smell of sweet peaches and buttery crumb can’t be beat.

Peach Shortbread 5

It might be difficult to wait, but they cut so much better if you let them cool.

This recipe came from smitten kitchen.com, so if you want to go one more step towards deliciousness, head over to her blog …. Deb Perelman …. she also browns the butter for a nutty flavour that apparently really comes through.  Today, I just didn’t have time, as I wanted to get these slightly cooled bars out to the workers to enjoy the fruits of their labours with peach picking, sorting and packing!

Chocolate Chip Crisp Cookies

Cookies 6

Cookies are such a treat!  You can convince yourself (quite easily) that you are eating a nutritious cookie with the addition of wheat germ and rolled oats ….. (insert eye roll).

  • 1 3/4 cups unbleached flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup white sugar (granulated)
  • 2 large eggs (at room temperature)
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup large flake rolled oats (not instant)
  • 1 cup puffed rice cereal
  • 1/2 cup wheat germ
  • 1 – 1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cups chopped pecans

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl, set aside.

Cookies 1

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or using a hand held blender, beat the butter for 1 minute.  Beat in the sugars until the mixture is quite light and fluffy.  Scape down the sides and beat in the eggs, one at a time.  Blend well between the 1st and 2nd egg.  Beat in the vanilla and remove the bowl from the stand.

Cookies 2

You can see how fluffy the butter, sugars and eggs are – now is the time to work it by hand.

Using a wooden spoon, stir in the dry mixture just until combined.  Stir in the oats, cereal and wheat germ.  Stir in the chocolate chips and pecans.

Cookies 3

You don’t want to over mix cookie dough – stir just until combined.

Drop the batter in heaping tablespoonfuls onto the prepared cookie sheets, spacing them about 2 inches apart.  You should be able to get about 12 cookies on a regular cookie sheet.

Cookies 4

What are those coloured bits you ask?  I had coloured rice crisps …..

One sheet at a time, bake in the centre of the oven until set and lightly browned around the edges.  My oven took 11 minutes, but check after 9 – ovens can be so different!  Cool the cookies on the sheet, set on a wire rack for about 5 minutes before removing to a separate wire rack to cool completely.

The results are best if you allow the cookie sheet to cool slightly before putting the next batch on to bake.

Cookies 5

So many schools have restrictions on nuts these days – you could always replace the pecans with raisins (but not in this house) or dried cranberries.

 

 

 

Gram’s Shortbread Cookies

shortbread 4

Sprinkle with a little coloured sugar, or mini decorations, to fit the season, but don’t overload these delicate little gems.  They really don’t need much of anything.

This is an age old recipe, probably handed down for generations, and all from a box of cornstarch.  I started looking for this recipe as a way to honour Gram Shirley Goldie, and posting it today, on the first anniversary of her passing, seems fitting.  What I didn’t expect in my search through recipes to find her special recipe, is that it was also my mom’s recipe, another much loved and very much missed Gram.  Our very dear Auntie Elsie used the same recipe.  This year when I made the cookies, I felt the need to work the dough by hand, no mixer needed here.  As I watched my hands in the dough, I saw the hands of my mother.  I saw the hands of my mother in law Shirley, and I saw Auntie Elsie’s hands.  I’m posting the recipe to honour them all, and in the hopes that for generations to come, this will be the “go to” Christmas shortbread recipe.

  • 1 cup Canada corn starch (really, you can use any corn starch)
  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 2 cups sifted all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups butter (softened)

Sift cornstarch, flour & icing sugar together.  Use your fingers and work in the butter until a soft dough is formed.

shortbread

Maybe it was the Christmas season, but I found myself lost in watching my hands and thinking of the hands that taught me so much in the kitchen.

shortbread 2

Once the dough is held together nicely it should be soft and supple.  Either put in the fridge to rest at this point, or carry on with simple dough balls.

Shape into 1 inch balls and place on an uncreased cookie sheet.  Flatten lightly with a fork in a crosshatch pattern.

shortbread 3

Bake the cookies at 325 for 10 min or so – watch them, every oven is different.  Remove them the minute they show any colour.  They are very soft when they come out, so I recommend allowing them to cool on the pan so they don’t break.

It is possible to allow the dough to set up in the fridge after forming it into a ball, and use it to roll out and cut shapes.  This is a pretty delicate dough though, so don’t expect it to be as easy as sugar cookie dough.

How easy is this?

Fresh Cranberry Lemon Drop Cookies

These buttery little morsels are a great combination of shortbread richness with the tart hint of cranberry and lemon.  When I had the first one I thought …. Hmmmm, okay, they are good but maybe not my favourite cookie  –  however, next thing I knew I was reaching for a second cookie and now I just can’t stop.

Cranberry Lemon cookies 1

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 Tbsp lemon zest
  • 1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries, diced finely

LEMON GLAZE

  • 1/3 cup powdered icing sugar
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice

In a medium size bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.

In a large bowl rub the lemon zest into the sugar until moist and fragrant.  Add the butter to the lemon sugar and beat until light and fluffy, go for at least 3-5 minutes.  Add the egg and vanilla, mixing until smooth and creamy.

Add the flour mixture, mixing until just incorporated.  Fold in the cranberries by hand.

Cover and chill for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Gently form the dough into small balls and bake for 13-15 minutes on parchment lined cookie sheets.  They spread out a little but not too much so you can put quite a few on each cookie sheet.

Cranberry Lemon 2

Diced fresh cranberries give these little lemon balls a pretty pop of colour.

Let cookies cool slightly before moving them to a rack to cool completely.

To make the glaze, mix the powdered sugar and lemon juice together and drizzle over completely cooled cookies.  I used a pastry brush for this step to allow the whole top to get a shiny finish.  Watch your glaze mixture carefully, you just want it loose enough to brush or drizzle with either clumping or just running off the cookie.

Orange Gingerbread Cookies

The first time I tasted these orange ginger cookies, I knew we needed the recipe!  Thanks Courtney for supplying that courtesy of Nana Patti Collins ….. just wait until you try these.

Orange Ginger 1

Preheat oven to 365 F.

  • 1 cup soft butter
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 4 tsp orange peel
  • 2 tbsp corn syrup
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cloves

Cream butter & sugar until light and fluffy, add egg, orange peel & corn syrup.

Sift dry ingredients together and add gradually to creamed mixture.

Orange Ginger 2

Wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Orange Ginger 3

Roll between sheets of parchment paper (to 1/4″ thickness”) and cut.  (or form into a log and chill to slice and bake) These cookies do spread out quite a bit so leave lots of room between each one.

Bake at 365 for 9 minutes.