Energy Balls

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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.

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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).

 

 

Pizza Pockets & Hand Pies

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Following is the recipe for a basic, soft and easy to work with dough.  I used this recipe for making pizza pockets for my granddaughter Sloan’s first week of Grade 1, and then turned leftover dough into meat hand pies for 93 year old Auntie Elsie, who is kind of tired of cooking these days. Leftover dough you say???  Well I didn’t think 8-10 small pizzas would give me enough dough so I doubled the recipe … which yielded 25 pizza pockets, 10 hand meat pies and 1 pizza for our dinner.  Significant yield!!!

Pizza Crust: (makes 8-10 small pizzettas)
Ingredients:

  • 750 g white flour (use Tipo ’00 flour if you can or a strong bread flour)
  • 200 g semolina flour
  • 2 ½ cups lukewarm water
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. (or 1 x 8 oz packages) yeast
  • 2 tsp. sea salt
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil

Directions:

  1. Place your flour(s) and sea salt in a large bowl and whisk together. Create a well in the center.
  2. In a large measuring cup, mix together your lukewarm water and sugar until the sugar dissolves. Sprinkle in the yeast and let it sit for approximately 5 minutes, until the yeast starts to ferment.
  3. Pour the water/sugar/yeast mixture into the well along with the olive oil and stir together with a fork or large spoon until it is well mixed. Once it becomes too difficult to mix together with your fork or spoon, sprinkle extra flour on the dough and your hands and mix with your hands until the dough comes together in a ball.
  4. Place the dough on a well-floured flat surface and knead, pushing the dough using the palms of your hands, for approximately 10 minutes, until the dough looks smooth and stretchy. You may need to add extra flour as you go, being careful not to add too much to keep the dough from being too stiff.
  5. Place the ball of dough in a large bowl coated with olive oil, dust the top of the dough with flour, and cover with a clean dish towel and place in a warm draft-free area for about an hour, until the dough has doubled in size. Punch the dough down.  At this point you can either refrigerate the dough overnight (or up to 2 days, covered with plastic wrap and occasionally punched down) or divide the dough into 4-6 portions (depending on how big you want your pizzas).  I highly recommend making your dough in advance and letting it sit in the fridge as the longer ‘proof’ really makes a difference.   Ensure that your pizza dough comes to room temperature before cooking (bring it out of the refrigerator 1-2 hours before you are ready to cook).
  6. Once ready to cook, heat your oven to the highest heat setting (500F for most ovens) and place your pizza stone in the oven for at least 20 minutes.
  7. Portion the dough into 8-10 balls and place on a well-floured surface. Using your hands, with your knuckles, (dusted with flour, along with the counter to prevent the dough from sticking) form your pizza crust 15-20 minutes before cooking your pizza on a flat surface dusted with semolina flour until it is nice and thin. Keep stretching it with your hands to make a flat pizza base (it doesn’t have to be round or perfect!).
  8. Remove the pizza stone from the oven, lay your rolled dough on the stone, and add your ingredients ….

If you are using this dough for pizza pockets or hand pies, after step 5 skip to step 7 and form circles of dough.

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For pizza pockets, layer on pizza sauce, your chosen ingredients and cheese, closing the pockets with a fork.  Make sure to prick the top surface with the fork so steam can escape.

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For the meat pies I used an ice cream scoop to get a consistent amount of the meat mixture – centered on the dough, and then brought up the edges to crimp over the middle of the circle.  Brush with beaten egg and poke with a fork.

Bake pizza pockets or meat pies at 400 until golden brown, about 20 minutes.

FILLING FOR MEAT PIE

1 onion, minced finely

1 garlic clove, grated

2 carrots

2 stalks celery

1/2 cup each frozen corn and peas

1 small zucchini, diced

1 lb ground beef

1 tbsp each dried oregano and basil

Saute the onion and garlic until the onion is lightly carmelized, add the carrots and celery, season with salt and pepper, and cook until vegetables are almost cooked through, then add zucchini and saute for another few minutes.  Remove from heat and place in bowl.  Add frozen corn and peas.  Return pan to heat and stir in ground beef – cooking until lightly browned, seasoning with salt and pepper.

Add beef to vegetable mixture and season with dried herbs, adding more salt and pepper if needed.  At this point, if you feel like it needs a bit more flavour, add 1 tbsp of tomato paste.  Stir well and set in fridge to cool down.  When cool, continue on with forming your hand pies.

These pies are only limited by your imagination – use whatever you feel like to fill the pies, making sure to taste the mixture before filling the dough rounds.  Made in a smaller size they make a great appetizer too.

Orange Cranberry Muffins

These muffins are delicious, light, fresh and so so simple!

Orange Cranberry Muffins

Combine:
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Set aside – and in either a blender (or bullet) mix together;
1 orange, cut into segments (remove the zest first and set aside)
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup milk
1 egg

Blend well, and then stir gently into dry ingredients with:

1/2 cup chopped dried cranberries
zest of 1 orange

Stir only until combined – then put into muffin tins.

Makes about 14-16 depending on size.

Bake at 400 for 12-15 minutes. Check them at 12 …

You could easily substitute the cranberries for dried blueberries or raisins – go ahead and experiment.

Oatmeal Pecan Chocolate Chip Cookies

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  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 cups rolled (old-fashioned) oats
  • ½ cup coarsely chopped pecans
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ½ cup lightly packed light brown sugar
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • ¼ cup coconut flakes
  • ½ cup semisweet chocolate chips

 

  • Set 2 racks in the middle and upper thirds of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.
  • In a medium bowl, stir the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, oats, pecans, cranberries and coconut flakes together with a whisk or fork.
  • In a large bowl, beat the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar together for 30 seconds until blended. Beat in the egg until smooth and barely fluffy. With mixer running on medium high, drizzle in the maple syrup, and vanilla until incorporated. Turn the mixer down to its lowest setting and gradually add the flour-oatmeal mixture
  • Drop walnut-sized balls of dough onto a nonstick or parchment-lined cookie sheet at 3-inch intervals. With moistened fingers, flatten and round out the cookies a little. Bake for 10 minutes, turning the pan once for even baking, then bake approximately another 7-10 minutes. They will not spread out or change in shape …
  • The cookies are done when they are lightly browned on top. Set the cookie sheets on a rack to cool.

Banana Chocolate Chip Cake

This cake just keeps getting better – didn’t have quite enough banana, but I had made some apple sauce for baby Stella Rose, just enough to bump up the fruit to the 3 cups – so moist and delicious!

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P1110037 P1100740 This was one of those favorite school box recipes. The kids loved it for years – and it was one of Meghan’s favorites so when she got married this year, I made it once again and it was just as popular.

1 cup butter

2 cups sugar

2 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla

3 cups bananas

3 cups flour

2 tsp baking powder

2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon

1 cup sour cream

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 1/2 cup chocolate chips

Cream butter and sugar.  Add eggs, one at a time – beating well with each until the battery is light, creamy and fluffy.  Add vanilla and banana.  Mix until smooth. 

Combine flour, baking powder and baking soda.  Add to butter, egg, banana mixture alternately with the sour cream. 

Combine brown sugar and cinnamon

Spread half in a greased and floured 9×13 baking pan. Sprinkle half the brown sugar, cinnamon mixture over…

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Peanut Butter Cookies

This is THE ONLY peanut butter cookie recipe you will ever need – deliciously addictive!  My good friend Jean gave me this family recipe, from her Aunt Grace, and we have always called them “Jean’s Aunt Grace’s PB Cookies” … 

Peanut Butter Cookies

1 cup butter (or margarine)

1 cup crunchy peanut butter

1 cup white sugar

1 cup brown sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

2 cups flour

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

Beat butter, peanut butter and sugars until light, fluffy, creamy and smooth.  Add eggs, vanilla and beat until a little frothy.

In a separate bowl mix dry ingredients together.  

Combine dry ingredients with butter sugar mixture and incorporate – you may have to work the last bit with your hands until the batter is smooth and holding together.

Form small balls and place on cookie sheet. (I like to use parchment paper) Press a fork (dipped in flour) both ways on the cookie to create a cross pattern.

Bake at 350 for 10-16 minutes.

Banana Chocolate Chip Cake

P1110037P1100740This was one of those favorite school box recipes. The kids loved it for years – and it was one of Meghan’s favorites so when she got married this year, I made it once again and it was just as popular.

1 cup butter

2 cups sugar

2 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla

3 cups bananas

3 cups flour

2 tsp baking powder

2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon

1 cup sour cream

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 1/2 cup chocolate chips

Cream butter and sugar.  Add eggs, one at a time – beating well with each until the batter is light, creamy and fluffy.  Add vanilla and banana.  Mix until smooth. 

Combine flour, baking powder and baking soda.  Add to butter, egg, banana mixture alternately with the sour cream. 

Combine brown sugar and cinnamon

Spread half in a greased and floured 9×13 baking pan. Sprinkle half the brown sugar, cinnamon mixture over and top with half the chocolate chips.  Add the rest of the batter, and complete with another topping of brown sugar, cinnamon and chocolate chips.

Bake at 350 for 50-60 minutes, until a toothpick – when inserted – comes out clean.

This can easily be converted to muffins if you don’t have enough over ripe bananas hanging around the kitchen counter …. today I only had half the bananas so I made 12 muffins by cutting the recipe in half.  Fabulous …. 

Banana Chocolate Chip Cake