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?

Irresistible Turtle Cheesecake

turtle cheesecake 4

Not sure how a cheesecake can be creamy, delectable and somehow light at the same time.  As an added bonus, it’s easy to make.

 

3 cups cups finely crushed chocolate wafers (or use a combo of graham and chocolate wafers)

3 Tbsp. butter, melted – use your judgement, may take a little more to get the crumbs to stick together
1/4 cup caramel sauce (plus more for drizzle)
1/4 cup chocolate sauce (plus more for drizzle)
1 cup chopped and roasted pecans
3 pkg. (8 oz. each) Cream Cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. vanilla
3 eggs
I used a 9 1/2″ springform pan for this cake – depending on the size of your pan, you may need to adjust slightly for the amount of crumb.
Heat oven to 325°F.
Combine cookie crumbs and butter; press onto bottom and 1-1/2 inches up side of 9 1/2 inch springform pan.
Sprinkle toasted and chopped pecans over crust layer, and top with the caramel sauce.
turtle cheesecake 1

I used a combination of chocolate and graham crumbs and really loved the way it turned out,

Beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla in large bowl with mixer until blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing on low speed after each one, until really smooth.  Pour over caramel layer in crust.  With an offset spatula smooth the top.
I always like to bake my cheesecakes in a water bath – this makes them even smoother and creamier, as well as less likely to crack on top.
turtle cheesecake 2
TIP – Double wrap your cheesecake pan with foil, then set in large roasting pan.  Put this in your preheated oven, and ONLY THEN fill with hot water until about 1/2 way up the sides of the springform pan.
Bake 1 hour 5 min. to 1 hour 10 min. or until center is almost set. Run knife around rim of pan to loosen cake; cool before removing rim. Refrigerate 4 hours.
turtle cheesecake 3
When the cake is completely cooled, remove from springform pan and sprinkle reserved pecans over.  Then drizzle with both caramel and chocolate sauces.  Irresistible.
turtle cheesecake 5
You can be as creative as you like with both the caramel and chocolate sauces.  They are easy enough to make, but if you are inclined to take it easy on yourself, just buy them.

Chicken Pot Pie

Chicken Pot Pie 2

See the sauce bubbling out the side?  That’s what you are looking for.  Crust is golden, now just try and wait while it sets up a bit …. no judgement if you can’t!  I promise it is delicious.

Fall ….. it just makes me want to bake, and roast, and toast.  This chicken pot pie recipe is a staple around here.  You can make it as easy as “pie” by purchasing pre-made pastry shells or make your own – either way, this pie is flaky, tender and bursting with bites of chicken and vegetable goodness.  Serve with a tossed salad and dinner is ready.

Preheat oven to 400

  • 2 pastry shells
  • 2 cups cooked chicken (use leftovers or a rotisserie chicken for simplicity)
  • olive oil
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • diced vegetables – your choice and about 2 cups worth of:
  • sweet peppers
  • celery
  • carrots
  • peas (not in my house, neither of us like cooked peas)
  • zucchini
  • corn
  • green beans
  • a generous handful of herbs, I like thyme, basil, oregano and parsley
  • salt and pepper

Brush one pie shell with beaten egg white, sprinkle with sea salt and bake at 400 for 8-10 minutes, just until starting to turn golden brown.  Remove from oven and allow to cool.

pie shell

I find if you pre-bake the bottom crust, brushed with beaten egg white, the pastry stays flaky.  Sprinkle a little sea salt on for that extra bit of crunch.  I think you can see here that my bottom crust was in the freezer, thank you Tenderflake pastry!

In saucepan heat olive oil, then stir in onion.  Stir until just translucent and add in the garlic clove.  If celery is one of your chosen vegetables, add it now too.  Allow to saute for a few minutes until just starting to become tender.  Add the flour and create a thick paste, letting the flour cook for a minute in order to remove that “floury” taste.  Gradually stir in the chicken stock, just a bit at a time until it is all incorporated and your sauce is starting to thicken.  Stir in the rest of your vegetables, taste and season with salt and pepper, and set aside.

Pour the chicken & vegetable mixture into the prebaked pie shell, and cover with the 2nd pastry shell.  If you’ve purchased pre made pastry, just squish and squiggle it around a bit and play with the edges, nobody will ever know you didn’t make it!

chicken pot pie

The top crust was a pastry shell I had in the freezer, probably leftover from an apple pie day!

TIP:  If you are vegetarian, or just feel like a vegetarian meal, this is so easy to do!  Just omit the chicken and use a LOT more veg.  Instead of chicken stock use a vegetable stock.  Your results will be ever so delicious …. you’re welcome!

Sprinkle the top with a bit more salt and pepper, some Italian herbs and either paprika or a bit of dried roasted red pepper.  (yes, we do our own dried seasonings with the surplus of vegetables in the field)

Put the whole pie in the oven (I’ve learned to have a foil dripping sheet below it…..) and cook for 15 minutes at 400, then lower the oven to 350 and cook for about 40-50 minutes, until you see the sauce bubbling out the side and the pie looks golden brown.

If your pie is looking golden brown, but not yet bubbling out the sides, loosely lay a sheet of tin foil over the pie until you see that bubbling action.

Make sure you let it sit for 15-20 minutes after it comes out of the oven, that allows it to set a bit.  Not that it tastes any less wonderful if it is running all over your plate ……..

chicken pot pie 3

See what I mean?  We couldn’t wait the 15 minutes, but it was delicious.  By the time we came back for seconds it had set up and made nice even slices.  Amazing either way!

Banana Apple Orange Loaf

You know how it goes when the fruit on your kitchen counter starts talking to you when you walk past ……. “Hey Kathy, whatcha gonna do with me”??  That happened this week with a couple bananas looking spotty and a few Mac apples.  Add in a little fresh orange juice and you’ve got a fruit salad in a loaf.

Banana apple orange loaf 1

Chunks of carmelized apple and a bit of orange juice make this the most moist loaf ever.

  • 1 stick (+ 2 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature)
  • 2 tbsp dark brown sugar
  • 2 apples: peeled, cored and cut into 1/2 inch dice
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 very ripe bananas, mashed  to equal 1 cup
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
  • raw sugar

In a large skillet, melt 2 tbsp butter with the brown sugar.  Add the apples and cook over moderately high heat stirring until tender and golden, about 4-6 minutes.  Add 1/2 tsp cinnamon and 1/2 tsp vanilla and transfer apples to a plate to cool off.

Banana apple orange loaf 5

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour a 9 x 5 x 4 1/2 inch loaf pan.  I also like to line it with parchment paper.  In medium bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, salt, cloves, nutmeg and the remaining 1/2 tsp cinnamon.

Banana apple orange loaf 6

In a large bowl, using a handheld electric mixer, beat the remaining stick of butter with the sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, 1 at a time and mix until smooth.  Add mashed banana, orange juice and the remaining 1 tsp of vanilla and beat until smooth.  Add dry ingredients, and beat on low speed just until combined.  Gently fold in the apples.

banana apple orange loaf 4

banana apple orange loaf 2

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface.  Sprinkle raw sugar over the top.  Bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.  (cover loosely with foil if the loaf starts to brown too quickly).

banana apple orange loaf

The raw sugar sprinkled over top creates this crunchy, crackly crust.

Let the loaf cool in the pan for 10 minutes before turning it out onto a rack to cool completely.

 

 

 

Pumpkin Pie

I will bet you don’t even know how easy it is to make your own pumpkin pie at home!  Try this one out and you may never go back to grocery store pumpkin pie.

Pumpkin Pie

This pumpkin pie hit all the notes, tender and creamy, with just the right amount of spice to wake up your taste buds.   I used my flaky pie crust with vinegar and egg to make the crust, but if you’d rather, a frozen pie crust will work well too.  Give yourself that break when you need it …

  • 1 (14 ounce) can EAGLE BRAND® Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 15 ounce can pure pumpkin puree

1 (9 inch) unbaked pie crust

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Whisk pumpkin, sweetened condensed milk, eggs, spices and salt in medium bowl until smooth. Pour into crust. Bake 15 minutes.
  2. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F and continue baking 35 to 40 minutes or until knife inserted 1 inch from crust comes out clean. Cool. Garnish as desired (we like whipped cream).
  3. Store leftovers covered in refrigerator.

Chocolate Chunk Zucchini Loaf

Still trying to use up zucchini???  Here is a winner, hints of my Mexican Chocolate cake in this loaf, with a bit of cinnamon added to the chocolate and coffee flavours.  If any loaf recipe uses up 2 cups of zucchini it has to be healthy, right??

Chocolate Chunk Zucchini Loaf 2INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup melted unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar (packed)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 2/3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp espresso powder (instant)
  • 2 cups shredded zucchini (squeeze all the moisture out)
  • 1 cup good quality chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease and line a loaf pan with parchment paper.  (you don’t have to do this step but I like the way it helps remove the loaf from the pan cleanly)

METHOD

Grate your zucchini and allow it to sit while you do everything else, so important to remove the excess liquid.

Chocolate Chunk Zucchini Loaf

In a large mixing bowl stir the brown sugar into the melted butter and mix until all the sugar has dissolved, then add the eggs one at a time.  It is really important to add the butter before the egg so you don’t cook the egg!  Stir in the vanilla and set aside.

In a separate bowl combine flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, espresso. Whisk to make sure it is all blended together.

Stir dry ingredients into the brown sugar mixture until just combined.  Gently fold in the zucchini and the chocolate.

Chocolate Chunk Zucchini Loaf 3

 

This makes a VERY thick mixture, but don’t worry, it will be moist and delicious.

Coconut Zucchini Bread

Looking for a new way to use up some of that never ending zucchini that keeps showing up in your garden?  This is it … so moist and tender with enough coconut that you get a bit of crunch in every bite.

Coconut Zucchini 3

I keep a cinnamon/sugar mix in a jar – sprinkle it over your loaf before baking and you will be guaranteed an extra crispy loaf top.

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded zucchini (make sure to drain well and squeeze out extra moisture)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt (at room temperature)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan.  I like to set in parchment paper also for easier removal.  Run it the length of the pan with a little sticking out each end – easy to grab and keep the loaf whole as you lift it out to cool.

In a mixing bowl, sift or whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.

In another bowl combine sugars, coconut oil, yogurt, egg and vanilla.  Blend and stir in zucchini.

Coconut Zucchini 1

Add the wet ingredients to the dry bowl, and stir JUST until combined.  Do not overmix.  Gently stir in the coconut.

Pour batter into loaf pan and smooth the top.  Bake for 50-60 minutes.  Use a toothpick to test, make sure it comes out clean before you remove the loaf from the oven.  Let your zucchini bread rest in the loaf pan for 10 minutes before removing and setting it on a rack to completely cool.

Coconut Zucchini 2

The combination of yogurt and coconut oil makes this loaf so moist you won’t even notice there isn’t any butter in the recipe, or need to put it on after!