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Saturday, October 30, 2010

Pumpkin Muffins

I love carving pumpkins. And I love roasting and eating pumpkin seeds.  But that's about all of the baking, I that I have ever done with anything from a pumpkin...until I tried these delicious pumpkin muffins last year at our annual "Thanks'oween Dinner." I knew that I had to try them myself to see if they would taste just as good as I remembered them to be.

So, I e-mailed my friend Julia for Camille's recipe.  Thanks Camille for sharing it!  All of the delicious flavours of Fall in one bite.  Pumpkin, clove, ginger, cinnamon, brown sugar and chocolate chips!

I used an ice cream scoop to evenly scoop out the batter into a muffin tin.

And set the muffins on a rack to cool.

How about a little pumpkin butter to compliment the pumpkin muffin?


Oh my goodness!  I totally forgot about the Wilton Halloween Cupcake Pack that I bought to make these look pretty!

Better late than never! I guess!

Pumpkin Muffins

1 3/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 cup mashed cooked pumpkin
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 375F. In a medium bowl, use a fork to stir together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger (make sure that there are no lumps).

In a large bowl, whisk together oil, eggs and vanilla. Stir in brown and granulated sugars, mashed pumpkin and chocolate chips until blended. Stir in flour mixture until just combined.

Spoon batter onto a lightly greased muffin pan. Bake in centre of oven until a cake tester inserted in centre comes out clean, about 18-20 minutes. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes; remove and let cool on rack.


Happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Cookies for Hayden's Second Birthday

When my girlfriend Julia asked me to make some cookies for Hayden's loot bags, I began to search for ideas.

Thanks to Bridget at Bake at 350, I found this idea! Bake at 350 is also the same blog that inspired me to make Scrabble Cookies!

My neighbour Janet works at Redpath Sugar. If you live in Toronto, you may have seen her driving around in the Acts of Sweetness Truck!  She knows how much I love to bake, and gave me a new kind of icing sugar to experiment with. This icing sugar is 10 times as fine as regular icing sugars. That's what the DS 10X means on the bag of icing sugar pictured above. 

First, I piped the border of the cakes as well the number two above. This needed to dry for about an hour.

Next, I flooded the inside of the cake with baby yellow icing.

I then immediately added the dots to the wet yellow flood.  By using different sized tips, I was able to create larger and smaller dots. 

I began with the purple dots.

Followed by turquoise dots...the same color as the piped border.

And finally, I added the pink ones.

And that was it...the cookies needed a good 24 hours to dry and then I packaged them for the kiddies!

Happy Second Birthday Hayden!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Apple Pie

About 4 weeks ago, I arranged a "Field Trip" to Applewood Farm Winery with all of my bridesmaids, the boys and their kiddies!

It was such a gorgeous day outside.  Perfect for apple picking and for a hay ride!

The apples were ready to be picked.

And the kids were ready to pick 'em! Just after our walk through the corn maze.

For the apple pie I baked, I used a combination of Macintosh and Granny Smith apples.

"Look what I got Mel!" exclaimed Riley.

While Addy enjoyed eating her apple in one hand...
And held her container of Goldfish in the other hand.
How much fun was this!?!
It's not too often that we all get to see each other.

Okay...onto the baking...
You're not going to believe this but my camera died just as I began baking for this post..Rrrrr...This meant that I was only able to photograph the beginning of this recipe. I didn't even have a picture of the final product!  

Lots of butter!
This recipe calls for shortening; however butter can be replaced for half of the shortening.

Wash those apples.  Although the skin is not used in the filling of the pie, it is important to wash the apples before peeling them, to rinse off any of the dirt from the surface.  (My grandmother taught me that!)

I used one of my new gadgets!  This apple slicer is one of three attachments in this set. The set is called the KitchenAid Multi Slicer and is great not only for apples, but the other attachments work well for cutting potatoes into fries.   

I used some fresh lemon juice to keep the apples looking so white! Initially, I began cutting each wedge into slices.  I quickly nixed that idea and used my food processor to slice the wedges. It does a much faster job that I do!

And that's compatibility with my card...oh my goodness!  My camera suddenly stopped working! And...Rich wasn't even home to fix the problem...he was at hockey! Sorry everyone...No more pictures from this point on....but a delicious recipe follows below!

Two Crust Apple Pie

2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup plus two table spoons shortening (or 6 tablespoons each butter and shortening)
4-6 tablespoons cold water

In a medium bowl, mix the flour and salt.  Cut in the shortening, using a pastry blender (or tossing with a fork) until particles are the size of small peas.  Sprinkle with cold water, 1 tablespoon at a time, tossing with a fork until all flour is moistened and pastry almost leaves the side of the bowl (1 to 2 teaspoons more water can be added if necessary).

Lightly sprinkle flour over a cutting board or countertop.  Gather pastry into a ball.  On the floured surface, divide pastry in half and shape into two flattened rounds.  Wrap flattened rounds in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 45 minutes or until pastry is firm and cold, yet pliable. This allows the shortening to become slightly firm, which helps make the baked pastry flakier. 

On a lightly floured surface, roll pastry rounds with a floured rolling pin into a circle that is 2 inches larger than an upside-down 9-inch glass pie plate.  Fold pastry into quarters or roll pastry loosely around a rolling pin and transfer to pie plate. Unfold or unroll pastry and ease into plate. 

To finish preparing the pie, spoon filling (see recipe below) into pastry lined plate.  Trim overhanging edge of bottom of pastry 1/2 inch from rim of plate. Roll other round of pastry. Place pastry over filling and trim overhanging edge.  Fold and roll top edge under lower edge, pressing on rim to seal.  Use a fork to make the edges look pretty!  Finally, use a knife to cut 1/2 inch slits in the middle of the pie to allow the steam to escape during baking.

Prep time: 30 minutes
8 servings

Pastry for Two Crust Pie (see above recipe)
6 medium tart apples such as Granny Smith or McIntosh (I would add two more)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Dash of salt
2 tablespoons cold butter or margarine, if desired
2 teaspoons water
1 tablespoon granulated sugar

Make pastry as directed above.

Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Peel the apples.  Cut each apple into quarters, remove core. Cut the apple quarters into 1/4 inch slices to measure 6 cups.

In a large bowl, mix 1/2 cup sugar, he flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Stir in the apples. Spoon mixture into pastry-lined pie plate. Cut butter into small pieces; sprinkle over apples.

Cover with top pastry.  Brush top pastry with 2 teaspoons of water, using a pastry brush; sprinkle with 1 tablespoon sugar. Cover edge of pastry with a 2-3 inch wide strip of foil to prevent excessive browning. 

Bake 30 minutes; remove foil.  Bake 10 to 20 minutes longer or until crust is golden brown and juice begins to bubble through slits in crust. Cool on a cooling rack at least 2 hours.


Saturday, October 9, 2010

Baby Cookie Bouquet

Congrats Sher and Al on the birth of your beautiful baby girl!

I was waiting for my girlfriend Sherri to have her baby to use these adorable baby cookie cutters.  I knew that I wanted to make cookie lollipops.

Before I "planted them into the pot," I had to take some pictures in the colorful cake stand that my friend Sarah bought me for my birthday! It's actually three tiers from the cutest store little tea salon in San Francisco called Crown and Crumpet. Above is the smallest tier.
And this is the middle sized tier.
Onto the Cookie Bouquet...I bought some craft supplies from Dollarama, including a terra cotta pot that was painted pink with the help of one of my former students...thanks Stephanie! Since I could not find a large enough piece of styrofoam, I used a piece of foam similar to what could be used to make a floral arrangement. It held the cookie lollipops in place. I had pink ribbon that said, "It's a Girl!" as well as brown tissue paper and cellophane that I used to wrap the bouquet.   

This is what it looked like before it was wrapped.
And this is what it looked like after!
I think it's pretty cute!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Pink 'n Pretty Cake Pops

My sister asked me to come over to help her make some upside down cake pops for her friend's Bridal Shower.

This time, we used Wilton Lollipop Sticks and pink Candy Melts. For more detailed, step by step instructions of how to make cake pops, click here.

Since we made these a couple of days before the party, we traced two pieces of waxed paper to fit the base of each tupperware. This allowed for the pops to set directly in the containers. The cake pops will stay fresh in airtight containers on the counter for up to five days.
Yummy!  Melted candy coating!
Place on waxed paper.
Or, sprinkle some coloured sugar to change things up a bit!


All done and ready for the party!

On the day of the party, arrange on a platter and enjoy. 
Congrats Jen!

Look at how pretty they looked!  (My sister just sent me this picture!) Also...this dessert is great, not only because it is bite sized, but also, because it can be prepared a day or two before and still tastes fresh and delicious!