Christmas Cookie Countdown – Oatmeal Fruit Cookies

cookie, contest, newfoundland

This week’s cookie is one that I personally like.  While it can technically be made any time of the year (as are most cookies), I personally like cinnamon flavour around this time.  It makes you feel warm and brings forth visions of sitting by the fire while sharing these cookies with your loved ones. Oatmeal cookies have always been a favourite of mine.  I like the more chewy ones over the crisp cookie.  So this cookie is perfect for that reason.

This is another drop cookie.  It’s one of the easiest cookies to make.  You can try other drop cookies, like my molasses drop cookies, or the Newfoundland classic, scrunchies.

I’m just going to dive right in with this one.  You’ll need to mix your brown and white sugars with the oil in a bowl with the mixer on medium.  Add the egg and vanilla.  Mix well.  Then add the banana, coconut, and raisins.  In a separate bowl mix together the flour, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon.  With your mixer on low, slowly add the dry ingredients until clear.  Then add the oatmeal.  I’ve used quick cooking oats for my cookie, but you could use regular oats for an even more chewy cookie.  Mix until well combined.

I let my batter sit in the fridge to firm up a little.  You want the batter to be a bit cooler for scooping.  Just throw it in the fridge for 30-45 minutes.  While that is happening, you can preheat your oven to 350F.  The cooler batter will mean that the cookies won’t spread as much as a batter that is at room temperature.  Because these cookies are only about a couple of inches across after baking, I though it was a good idea to chill the dough.

Scoop onto a parchment or Silpat lined cookie sheet and bake for 12-14 minutes.  The cookies will be a nice brown colour when done, with slightly darker edges.  Again these cookies freezer very well, so if you make them today, you can store them away until the holidays.

cookie, newfoundland, oatmeal, banana, cinnamon, raisin, chewy

 

Print Recipe
Oatmeal Fruit Cookies
cookie, newfoundland, oatmeal, banana, cinnamon, raisin, chewy
Course Dessert
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 14 minutes
Passive Time 45 minutes
Servings
dozen
Ingredients
Course Dessert
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 14 minutes
Passive Time 45 minutes
Servings
dozen
Ingredients
cookie, newfoundland, oatmeal, banana, cinnamon, raisin, chewy
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl with the mixer on medium, combine the brown sugar, granulated sugar, and oil.
  2. Add the egg and vanilla. Mix well.
  3. Add the mashed banana, shredded coconut, and raisins. Combine.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Mix with a whisk until all the ingredients are evenly distributed. Turn mixer to low and slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet. Mix until clear.
  5. Add the oatmeal and mix until combined. Transfer batter to fridge to cool for 30-45 minutes.
  6. Preheat oven to 350F. Scoop batter onto parchment of Silpat lined baking sheets with a couple of inches between scoops.
  7. Bake for 12-14 minutes until the cookies are lightly browned and the edges are a little darker. Let cool on sheet for 5 minutes and then transfer to rack to cool completely.
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Christmas Cookie Countdown – Christmas Snowballs

cookie, contest, newfoundland

The second week of the cookie countdown has begun and I can’t wait to share with you this wonderful recipe.   One little confession though, it’s not really a cookie per se.  For holiday baking I like to be a bit general in saying cookie, so it encompasses cookies, bars, rolled cookies, balls, and the like.  I hope you will let me indulge.  I may have to tweak these a little as they are a bit soft, but if you like that sort of thing, then don’t worry.  These will be perfect for you.

When you mention snowballs in Newfoundland for baking purposes most people will think if the chocolate/coconut/oatmeal ball which is rolled in sweetened coconut.  Those are the most common and are divine.  I usually end up making at least 50-100 of them each year.  They are so easy and quick to make.  If you like I can post that recipe later.

christmas, newfoundland, cookie, ball, snowball, dessert, holiday, coconut, marshmallow, cherries, graham, condensed, milkThese wonderful snowballs are closer to the real thing, but flecked with Christmas colours of red and green from the glace cherries.  I like to keep them in my freezer and pull them out just before serving because they are a little on the softer side.  You’ll want to make a few batches for the holidays.  Some for yourself and some to give away to others.

This recipe requires a little preplanning.  The batter has to sit to set up in the fridge so it’s best to do this at least a day before you actually need them to give you enough time to prepare.  I’ve made that mistake too many times where I needed some baking right away.  I’ve gone through about half of the recipe only to find that the batter needed to sit for a few hours or overnight.  Leaving me stranded and trying to find something quick to whip up.

This is great one bowl mix too.  Throw (almost) everything together and just roll them out.  How easy is that?  So, let’s get started.

Combine in a large bowl the marshmallows, graham crumbs, glace cherries, condensed milk, and chopped nuts.  Stir the mixture until everything is combined well.  Then wait.  You’ll want to let this set overnight in the fridge so all the flavours mix together.  The next day roll the mixture into balls about one inch in diameter.  Then roll in sweetened coconut.  Keep the snowballs in the freezer and pull out when needed.  You can serve them almost directly from the freezer because they don’t really freeze completely.  (There’s too much sugar!)

christmas, newfoundland, cookie, ball, snowball, dessert, holiday, coconut, marshmallow, cherries, graham, condensed, milk

 

Print Recipe
Christmas Cookie Countdown - Christmas Snowballs
These wonderful Christmas snowballs are perfect for any holiday get-together, or as a treat when the kids come in from the cold.
christmas, newfoundland, cookie, ball, snowball, dessert, holiday, coconut, marshmallow, cherries, graham, condensed, milk
Prep Time 20 minutes
Passive Time 8 hours
Servings
dozen
Ingredients
Prep Time 20 minutes
Passive Time 8 hours
Servings
dozen
Ingredients
christmas, newfoundland, cookie, ball, snowball, dessert, holiday, coconut, marshmallow, cherries, graham, condensed, milk
Instructions
  1. Combine marshmallows, graham crumbs, cherries and condensed milk in a large bowl. Mix until well combined. Store in a covered container in the fridge for at least eight hours or overnight.
  2. Roll the mixture into one inch balls and then roll in shredded coconut. Keep refrigerated or in the freezer.
  3. Makes approximately four dozen.
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Christmas Cookie Countdown – Sour Cream Raisin Cookies

cookie, contest, newfoundlandWell, the Christmas music is playing, I’ve got a nice hot cup of tea by my side so I’m ready to start giving you some of my favourite holiday cookies.  I’m starting off with a drop cookie.  Drop cookies are one of the easiest cookie to make.  Cookies like my molasses drop cookie or chocolate chip are examples of a wonderfully easy cookie.  You just scoop out the batter onto a cookie sheet and bake.   You can be more precise with a cookie scoop so they all look the same and bake evenly.  I like using a scoop for that reason.  And it’s a little faster than using spoons.  Not to worry though, if you don’t have a cookie scoop, just use you tablespoons and you’ll be fine.

sour cream, raisin, cookie, christmas, newfoundland, dessert, brown sugar, holidayWhile most wouldn’t think about using sour cream in a cookie, it works really well.  It gives in a nice creamy texture with a hint of sourness.  And this cookie keeps well too.  You can make some and freeze them for the holidays and they’ll stay soft (after thawing, of course) and won’t crumble.  Perfect for your holiday get-togethers when you have to bring a housewarming gift.

First preheat your oven to 375F.  Now cream the butter.  You’ll want to get your butter nice and fluffy, so whip the butter for at least a minute.  Remember to have the butter at room temperature first.  It will make this step so much easier to do.  Add the sour cream to the mixture.  You’ll want to use full fat sour cream for this recipe.  It adds to the creaminess of the cookie.  Don’t worry about the fat content.  It’s not like you’re going to eat a dozen of them while watching a Christmas movie because you got home late and skipped supper.  No, nothing like that ever happened.  Ahem.

After you blended the sour cream and butter, add the brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla.  Mix well.  In a separate bowl combine the flour, baking soda, and salt.  Mix well to evenly distribute the ingredients.  Put your mixer on low and slowly add the dry to the wet batter.  Mix until clear.  That means you shouldn’t see any specks of flour in the batter.  Fold in the raisins.

Scoop by the tablespoon onto parchment or Silpat lined cookie sheets leaving about an inch between each scoop.  Bake for 12 to 15 minutes.  The cookies will have a slight colour so don’t be tempted to keep them in longer.  They will continue to cook as they sit on the cookie sheet.  Let them cool for about 10 minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.sour cream, raisin, cookie, christmas, newfoundland, dessert, brown sugar, holiday

Print Recipe
Sour Cream Raisin Cookies
sour cream, raisin, cookie, christmas, newfoundland, dessert, brown sugar, holiday
Course Dessert
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings
dozen
Ingredients
Course Dessert
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings
dozen
Ingredients
sour cream, raisin, cookie, christmas, newfoundland, dessert, brown sugar, holiday
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375F
  2. Cream butter on medium until fluffy. Add sour cream. Blend well.
  3. Add the brown sugar, vanilla, and eggs to butter/sour cream mixture. Mix on medium until well combined.
  4. In separate bowl combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. Blend together with a wire whisk to evenly distribute the ingredients. Turn mixer to low and slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet. Mix until clear.
  5. Slowly fold in raisins to batter.
  6. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto a parchment or Silpat lined baking sheet, leaving about an inch between scoops. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until set.
  7. Let cool on pan for about 10 minutes and then transfer to cooling rack to cool completely.
Recipe Notes

Currants or Craisins can be substituted for the fruit.

Always have your ingredients at room temperature for baking unless specified.

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Christmas Cookie Countdown and Contest

cookie, contest, newfoundlandIt’s the first week of November and already the shops are filled with holiday decorations and I’m starting to hear the holiday music being played over the airwaves.  And I LOVE it!  Don’t get me wrong, I know there are many out there who think the holiday starts way too early and one part of me does as well.  I totally get it.  I am still of one mind that holiday decor and goodies should be set out after Remembrance Day here in Canada, November 11.  It gives enough time for the average person to bathe in the holiday without getting too sick of it.

I, on the other hand, don’t mind the music playing.  I’ve been known to watch Christmas movies in the July heat.  Crank the Christmas tunes while driving in April.  There isn’t a time where I mind having a little Christmas in my life.

And we have busy lives.  With school, work, getting everyone organized and prepped for the holidays, it can get a little overwhelming.  That’s why I like to bake.  You can make a double batch and freeze some for the holidays.  That way it will seem that you’ve slaved for hours and hours, making all these different types of cookies, right before all your guests show.

So, I wanted to start a little early and give you a new cookie recipe each week before Christmas to help you along.  These recipes are ones of my favourites and I’ve gone back to them again and again.  Of course you can also find some more of my cookie recipes from previously to try as well.   Scrunchies are a great Newfoundland classic and are great for using up some pantry staples.  Or try the wonderful molasses drop cookies that seem to be in every Newfoundland kitchen during the holidays.

Starting this week I’m going to post a new cookie recipe for you to try and keep for your holiday gatherings.  And mid December I’m going to have a contest in which someone will win a great prize for themselves or a loved one.  I’m not going to give it away just yet.  Stay tuned.

Remember, don’t be hungry, be Gutfounded.

Blackberry Coconut Bars

blackberry, bar, dessert, berry, newfoundland, egg, coconut, meringueThings have been very busy this time of year and I apologize for neglecting all my blog friends.  I want to make it up to you by giving you this quick and easy bar recipe that can be made in less than an hour.

One thing that I’ve relied on for years is cake mix.  There are so many different recipes out there using boxed cake mix as a base.  There are even a few books put forth by a woman calling herself the Cake Doctor.  She doctor’s cake mixes making wonderful bundt cakes, cookies and bars.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve used that book.

This recipe is adapted from one of hers.  If you’ve made some raspberry or blueberry jam from all the berries you’ve picked then this recipe will help you use some it up.  My brother and I used to go picking berries when we were youngsters and you can still find people selling buckets of berries on the side of the road in Newfoundland.  While it’s past berry picking season now, you must have made some jam with all the wonderful fresh berries picked.  Or you can use store bought jam, of course.  We had a friend give us some wonderful blackberry jam, so I thought that would go with the coconut flavours of this bar.

Preheat your oven to 350F.  Mix together the cake mix, melted butter and egg yolks.  The mix will be crumbly, but that’s okay.  Press the mixture into a greased 9X13 pan so you have an even layer reaching all the sides.  Bake this layer for 8-10 minutes until just browned.  Remove from the oven, but leave the oven on for later.  Place aside to cool.

In a clean mixing bowl, place the egg whites and start mixing with the whisk attachment.  You can also use a hand mixer.  I stress that the bowl should be spotless.  Any chance of fat in the bowl (like you used the same bowl to mix the cake layer – hello egg yolks), will cause your eggs whites to fall flat and you’ll never get to the stiff peak stage.  When the egg whites are a little frothy, add the cream of tartar.  Keep mixing on high while slowly sprinkling in the sugar.  You want to add the sugar gradually so you can incorporate lots of air into the egg whites, making them nice and fluffy.  Keep mixing until you have stiff peaks.  That means you can pull the beaters (or the whisk attachment) out of the egg whites and they will still form small white peaks without falling over.  If the whites are too soft, just whip a little longer.  Then fold in the ground coconut*.

Meanwhile, in a microwave safe bowl, put the jam.  Microwave for 30-45 seconds; just enough for the jam to be spreadable.  Now spread it in a nice even layer on top of the baked cake layer.

Then spread the whipped egg white layer on top, but try not to mix it into the jam.  You want to spread everything evenly to all the edges.  Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden.  Remove from the oven and place on a rack to cool.  Cut into 24 bars, or smaller if you want squares.

blackberry, bar, dessert, berry, newfoundland, egg, coconut, meringuePro tip: The egg whites should be room temperature.  They will whip up fluffier and easier.  If you keep your eggs in the fridge, then leave them on the counter for at least 30 minutes before you make this recipe.

*The toasted coconut should be finely ground.  I used my spice grinder, but if you don’t have one, just use your food processor.

Print Recipe
Blackberry Coconut Bars
Prep Time 15 min
Cook Time 45 minutes
Passive Time 30 minutes
Servings
bars
Ingredients
Cake layer
Jam layer
  • 1 1/2 cup fruit jam raspberry, strawberry, or your favourite
Meringue layer
Prep Time 15 min
Cook Time 45 minutes
Passive Time 30 minutes
Servings
bars
Ingredients
Cake layer
Jam layer
  • 1 1/2 cup fruit jam raspberry, strawberry, or your favourite
Meringue layer
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F
  2. Mix together the cake mix, melted butter and egg yolks.  The mix will be crumbly, but that's okay.  Press the mixture into a greased 9X13 pan so you have an even layer reaching all the sides.  Bake this layer for 8-10 minutes until just browned.  Remove from the oven, but leave the oven on for later.  Place aside to cool.
  3. While the cake layer is baking you can mix your meringue layer. Using a clean bowl on your mixer with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites until frothy. Add the cream of tartar and set the mixer on high. Slowly sprinkle in the granulated sugar and whip until you have stiff peaks with the egg whites. Fold in the ground toasted coconut.
  4. Meanwhile, in a microwave safe bowl, put the jam.  Microwave for 30-45 seconds; just enough for the jam to be spreadable.  Now spread it in a nice even layer on top of the baked cake layer.  
  5. Now spread the whipped egg white layer on top, but try not to mix it into the jam.  You want to spread everything evenly to all the edges.  Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden.  Remove from the oven and place on a rack to cool.  Cut into 24 bars, or smaller if you want squares.  
Recipe Notes

You'll want toasted coconut for this recipe.  Just take some shredded coconut, place it on a parchment lined cookie sheet and broil on low for about a minute.  Keep an eye on this because you'll go from light brown to black in seconds.  Keep the pan a couple of inches from the broiler and watch it like a hawk.

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Amazingly Easy Apple Butter

apple, butter, cinnamon, fall, slow cooker,

It’s that time of year again when there’s a crispness in the air and the leaves are beginning to change.  One of the great things about this time of year is that one of my favourites come on sale: apples.  You can get so many different varieties now and there are always new ones to try.

We had the family visit a short while ago and we are lucky enough to have an orchard just a short drive away.  This orchard offers to the public the chance to pick your own apples.  They have signs showing which varieties are ripe and ready to be picked.  We picked about ten pounds of apples, and even had time to snack while we were picking.

If you know me, and you should if you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you will realize that if there’s a better, easier, or faster way of doing something I will find a way to utilize it.  That’s what I like about making apple butter.  It seems like you slaved over a hot stove for hours, stirring and reducing, but the workhorse for this recipe is your tried and true slow cooker.

This appliance gets lots of use from me, especially during the colder months.  I love the “set it and forget it” way you can make something and hours later, you have a delicious meal or, in this case, condiment.

If you haven’t had the pleasure of experiencing apple butter, then you have to make this recipe.  You get the intense flavour of apples with a slight sweetness from the caramelization of the apples.  There’s no actual butter added to the recipe, it’s just creamy and spreads like its dairy counterpart.

While I said that there isn’t a lot of work, here is where you have to do the lion’s share: prepping the apples.  You’re going to need enough apples to fill a five quart slow cooker.  I reckon about 4-5 pounds will do it.  You want to have the cooker filled to the brim.  It will cook down considerably, so don’t worry.  So, let’s get to it.

Once the apples are peeled, cut them into about one inch pieces.  Don’t worry about them getting brown while you’re cutting the rest.  They are all going to be that colour eventually.

These will save you so much time!

Pro tip: Invest in some slow cooker liners.  These amazing plastic liners save you the trouble of cleaning all the burnt-on sides of your crock pot.  I love them.  I picked mine up at Bed, Bath and Beyond, but I believe any kitchen specialty store would have them.  They are also available through their website.

If you don’t have the liner, then liberally spray the inside of the crock pot with cooking spray to cut down on the cleaning later.

Place all your cut apples into your lined slow cooker and add a couple of sticks of cinnamon.  I think the cinnamon adds another depth of flavour to the butter and complements the apples wonderfully.  Turn your cooker on the longest setting it can go.  Mine cooks for ten hours before it shuts off so that’s what I used.

apples, fall, butter, cinnamon, autumn

Now walk away.  I like to do this in the evening, so the slow cooker does all its work overnight.  That way I wake up to a house filled with the amazing scent of cinnamon and apples cooking.  It’s like waking to fresh apple pie.  When the cooking is done you’ll notice that the apples should have reduced by about half.  We’re not done yet.  Give the apples a quick stir and reset your cooker to cook for another ten hours.  This time you want to moisture to escape.  I just turn the lid a bit so there’s a little crack to let the steam out.  If you don’t feel comfortable doing this, then use a wooden spoon to keep the lid open.  When you go back to check on it the second time it should look like this:

apple, cinnamon, butter, fall, slow cooker

The mixture should have reduced to about 1/4 of what you started with.  See all that lovely caramelization?  That’s flavour and it will taste amazing.

Here’s one step which you may skip.  I like my butter to have a more rustic look so I don’t do this.  If you want your butter to look more smooth and have that creamy texture, then you can place the mixture in your food processor and blend until smooth.  You can also use a hand held mixing wand to smooth out the butter.  If you like the more rustic, homemade look, then move on!

Now, you can put the apple butter in plastic containers and keep them in your fridge.  They will keep for at least a week or longer.  If you want things to last a little longer, then I suggest canning.  This batch made just over four 250ml jars with a little left over for my morning toast.  Throw your apple butter in the jars, heat seal in boiling water, and you’re set.

There you have it.  Amazingly easy apple butter.  Your friends will think you’ve slaved for hours, but you and I know better.  And it’s great on so many things.  Spread it on your cinnamon raisin bagel.  Mix it into your oatmeal.  Use it as a topping for pork or chicken.  Even put a dollop on top of caramel ice cream for your own caramel apple flavoured ice cream. The possibilities are endless.

See, now I have to go and make another batch.

The apple butter at the top of the post is spread on the apple oat loaf I made earlier.  You can find that recipe here.

Apple Oat Loaf

apple, oat. loaf, savoury, fall, autumn, cinnamon, farm, picking, breadMy family came up to visit this week and we wanted to show them around the area, so we did a little sight-seeing.  Just a little drive up the road is Homestead Orchards.  They used to be a dairy farm but the owners switched over to apples a few years back and now the son runs the farm.  They offer pick-your-own apples, as well as strawberries and fresh corn.  The strawberries help them out during the beginning of the summer when the apples aren’t quite ready, helps them in the pocketbook too.   They even bake apple goods on-site, so you can pick up a fresh apple pie or apple blondie hot from the oven, if you choose.

When we arrived there were three types of apples ripe for picking.  Apples ripen earlier or later during the season depending on the type.  When we went there were galas, gingergold, and jonamac apples ready to be picked.  They recommend you bring your own bags so it’s easier on the environment too.

When you arrive you can see rows of apple trees laden with ripening fruit.  The ones which are ready are clearly marked and you’re welcome to taste while you pick.  Jonamac is a combination of a Jonathon and a MacIntosh apple and is a perfect baking apple and great for applesauce and apple butter.  We spent about half an hour going through the trees and finding the ones we liked.

After you go back to the barn area, your apples are weighed and you pay a very reasonable price per pound.  Of course we picked up an apple blondie to go too, since the smell of fresh baking was wafting through the air.  At this time of year who could resist.   Talk about farm to table!

A while ago, I picked up some steel cut oats thinking that they were similar to large flake.  Boy was I wrong.  While the oats are delicious, I hadn’t realized how much more prep would be needed for the steel cut variety.  I foolishly picked up the large bag and we’re still have about half a bag left.  Instead of always trying to use it up making breakfast, I searched for another way to use these wonderfully filling grains.  What did I find?  Honey oat loaf.  Since we have the fresh apples, why not combine the two?

This recipe requires a little prep as you have to soak the oats for a couple of hours before everything else is mixed together.  You could even do it overnight and leave them in the fridge if you like, but you really only need to soak them for a couple of hours.

After the oats have softened, place in large mixing bowl.  Preheat your oven to 350F.  Mix in your melted butter and honey while on the mixer is on low.  Add the eggs and mix well.  In a separate bowl mix the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.  Blend the dry mix with a whisk until well combined.  While the mixer in on low, add about 1/3 of the dry ingredients.  Then add 1/2 of the milk, one more third of dry, the last of the milk, and finally, the last of the dry.  You should always end mixing with the dry ingredients.  That way you can tell if your mix is too wet or dry and you can adjust accordingly.  Then fold in the diced apples.   Place even amounts into two greased 8×5 pans and bake for 70 minutes.  The dough is very dense so it needs the longer bake time.

Once removed from the oven, immediately remove from the pans and let cool on the rack.  The steel cut oats give the loaf a nice chewy texture, interspersed with the warming flavour of apple and cinnamon.

apple, oat, cinnamon, loaf, savoury, bread, farm, picking, fall, autumn, harvest

Print Recipe
Apple Oat Loaf
Course Dessert
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 70 minutes
Servings
loafs
Ingredients
Course Dessert
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 70 minutes
Servings
loafs
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Place steel cut oats in a large bowl and cover with the two cups of boiling water. Let sit uncovered at room temperature for 2 hours. Stir once half way through.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  3. In a medium bowl, sift flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.
  4. In a small microwave safe bowl, melt butter and honey then stir into bowl with oats.
  5. Beat egg into milk and alternately add milk mixture and flour mixture to large bowl with oats stirring with a wooden spoon as you add each. Do not over mix, just mix to combine wet into dry. Fold in diced apple pieces.
  6. Generously spray two standard size loaf pans (8X5) with non-stick cooking spray and scrape the dough into the pan, using half the batter for each. Using a spatula, smooth out the top then place in oven for 70 minutes (one hour and ten minutes), or until a tooth pick inserted in center comes out clean. The dough is dense so we recommend leaving in for the full 70 minutes.
  7. As soon as the bread comes out of the oven, remove from pan and cool on a wire rack to cool completely. Slice and serve with additional drizzled honey.
Recipe Notes

Note: this bread is not meant to be that sweet.  I personally like to use more tart apples for a greater contrast in taste.  Experiment and let me know how you do.

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Zucchini Loaf

zucchini, garden, newfoundland, highway, dessert, A couple of months ago I planted some zucchini sprouts purchased from our local garden centre.  Every year I seem to lose my memory about how abundant zucchini plants are under ideal conditions.  This summer’s crop is doing really well.  We’ve had quite a bit of moisture this season.  Some farmers are complaining it’s too wet, while others say their yield is the best they’ve seen for years.  You can’t please everyone.

We went away last week to do some camping for the weekend and came back to find two huge zucchinis tucked away under the leaves.  I had thought I found most of the small ones, but for some reason there’s always one or two which I overlook.  Needless to say, the ones I didn’t pick were about the length from my elbow to my fingers, about a foot and a half.  So, I picked them and thought about what to do with all this wonderful bounty.

First I made some muffins.  It’s my go-to for using up stuff.  Then zucchini tots.  They are like tater tots, but use zucchini instead of potato.  Basically toss some grated zucchini in a large bowl with some bread crumbs, egg, salt, pepper, grated cheese, and garlic.  Press into little bite-size balls and bake at 400 for 20 minutes.  Yummy and fast.

Then came the loaves.  I’ve made 10 so far and there will be more coming.  Erma Bombeck talked about being that neighbour who has so much zucchini that you end up sneaking next door in the dead of night with little gift baskets filled with zucchini and ringing the doorbell.  As you crouch behind the potentilla, You spy your neighbour gingerly pick up the basket expecting an abandoned child or pet and pull back the gingham.  A cry of exasperation comes from their lips as they realize they’ve now been cursed with the gift of produce.

When we were visiting Newfoundland a few years ago we took a drive up the Northern peninsula to visit L’anse Aux Meadows.  It’s a national historic site which shows when the Vikings visiting the northern part of the island thousands of years ago.  As you’re driving up the highway you have to first be on the lookout for moose.  That highway is famous for accidents involving moose and cars.  Unfortunately neither the car with its passengers nor the moose fair well when they meet.  Always be careful driving, especially at dusk.

One other thing you’ll notice is along the highway there are gardens.  I thought it a bit peculiar to see a fenced garden just plopped along the highway.  Most of the plots that we were driving past were started in the late 1960′s when the highway was constructed. Up until then gardening had been a challenge due to the lack of plentiful and fertile soil along the coast. However, when the major road was built the dirt was piled up alongside the road where it could be put to great use in growing the main Newfoundland crops of potatoes, cabbages, and turnips.

While our garden isn’t along the highway, I wanted to share some of the bounty with my zucchini loaf recipe.  This recipe is fairly easy and you can add raisins or chocolate chips for variety.  I’ve added some All Bran buds for a little extra fiber.

Preheat your oven to 375F.  In your mixing bowl combine the eggs, oil, sugar, apple sauce, and vanilla.  Mix until combined.  Then add the grated zucchini.  Mix to combine.  In a separate bowl add the flour, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder and soda.  Mix with a wire whisk to evenly distribute the ingredients.  With the mixer on low add the dry ingredients to your wet.  Mix until you can’t see any more flour.  Then add the All Bran Buds.

Pour into a prepared 8X5 loaf pan.  I spray mine with cooking spray, but you can butter and flour the pan if you prefer.  Bake for 50-60 minutes until a knife comes out clean when inserted in the center of the loaf.   Let cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes.   Then remove from the pan and let cool completely.

zucchini, garden, newfoundland, highway, dessert,

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Zucchini Loaf
These moist and not too sweet loaves will help you use up all that wonderful zucchini you have been blessed with.
zucchini, garden, newfoundland, highway, dessert,
Course Dessert
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 50-60 minutes
Servings
loaf
Ingredients
Course Dessert
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 50-60 minutes
Servings
loaf
Ingredients
zucchini, garden, newfoundland, highway, dessert,
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 375F.
  2. In your mixing bowl combine the eggs, oil, sugar, apple sauce, and vanilla.  Mix until combined.  Then add the grated zucchini. Mix on low until evenly combined.
  3. In a separate bowl combine the flour, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda and powder. Mix thoroughly with a wire whisk until evenly distributed. With you mixer on low, add the dry ingredients to the wet. Combine until you no longer see any flour. Add the All Bran Buds cereal.
  4. Pour into a greased 8X5 loaf pan and bake for 50-60 minutes. It's done when a knife inserted into the centre comes out clean. Let the loaf cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then remove and let cool on the rack completely.
  5. Makes 8-10 slices.
Recipe Notes

I like to take some of the moisture out of my grated zucchini before I bake with it.  You can toss the grated zucchini with some salt and then place the zucchini in a fine sieve.  Place the sieve over a large bowl to catch the liquid.  Let sit for a least an hour.  Afterwards pat dry with a clean dish towel.  You can also use paper towel.

 

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Lemon Partridgeberry Bars

lemon, meringue, partridge, berry, lingon, shortbread, dessert, bar, Dr. Oetker, Shirriff, mix, potluckCan you feel it?  The days are getting warmer and thoughts are turning to having a couple of months off for summer vacation from school, or going out to the lake for the weekend with family, or just hanging out on the patio with some good friends and good food.

As the days get warmer, I love experiencing the fresh tastes that becoming more seasonal.  A friend used to give me some of her Meyer lemons from her tree every year and I would whip up some tarts or squares.  Meyer lemons are a bit sweeter than the regular ones from the store.  A nice subtle lemon flavour.

This week I was asked to make some goodies for a 50th wedding anniversary celebration.  The request was for all things gold or yellow.  I immediately thought of lemon squares and prepared those.  They were a hit.  I then noticed that I still had a little leftover partrigeberry jam from the time I made the partridgeberry marshmallows.  I know that lemon goes well with raspberry and cranberry and partridgeberries have a similar flavour profile.  So why not?  The worst thing is that they will taste horrible and I’ll chuck them in the bin.

Luckily they tasted amazing.  I love the sweetness of the meringue topping, the tart lemon filling, and the amazing unique flavour of partrigeberries.  All piled on a crispy shortbread crust, you can’t go wrong.

Note:  This recipe uses a pre-packaged lemon pie filling mix.  Shocking, I know.  While I will try to make things from scratch,  I wanted to use this mix first because of its ease of use.  And I’ve always loved the Shirriff lemon pies.  I have not been compensated in any way by Shirriff or their parent company in any way.  (Although, if anyone from there is reading this, I wouldn’t mind some wonderful products, if you’re inclined.  Nudge, nudge, wink, wink, say no more, say no more.)

Preheat your oven to 350F and line a 9X13 pan with parchment, making sure the parchment comes up the sides.  You’ll thank me later for this.

For the shortbread crust combine the flour and sugar.  Cut in the cold butter with a pastry cutter until the mixture has the consistency of coarse bread crumbs.  I like to first start with the pastry cutter to get all the larger pieces of butter incorporated, but finish off with my hands.  (Clean, of course.)  That way I can feel for any larger pieces of butter which may have escaped the cutter.  Plus I can take in the lovely aroma of fresh butter mixing with the flour.  I don’t know why, but it’s one of the favourite baking smells.  You can use a food processor to do this, but use the pulse button until the butter is mixed in accordingly.

Now press the shortbread mixture in the bottom of the 9×13 pan until you form a nice, even layer.  It’s okay if you see flecks of butter still in the crumb.  Just make sure there isn’t any larger chunks.  Now bake the crust for 20-25 minutes.  The edges should be a little brown when you take it out.  While the crust is still warm add the layer of jam.  Use a spoon or an offset spatula to make sure you have an even layer of jam going all the way to the ends.  The heat from the crust with help spread the jam easily.  Set that aside.

Prepare the pie filling as the packaging suggests, EXCEPT reduce the warm water by one cup.   This recipe uses two packages of pie filling which calls for four cups of warm water.  I wanted the filling to be more firm so I reduced the water.  Once the filling is set, spread it on top of the jam layer.  It should be thick, and will set completely once it cools.

Now, preheat your oven to 425F.  Prepare the meringue topping with the egg whites left over.  (The yolks went into the lemon filling.)  Whip the whites until you have a soft peak, then add the sugar while it’s still mixing.  Whip until you have firm peaks.  Spread on top of the lemon filling.  You can make a nice design with the meringue or even pipe it with a rosette piping tip to give you the nice ridges.  Bake for 5-7 minutes to give the browning on top.  Keep and eye on it though.  Mine was done at 4 minutes, but you should know your oven.

This dessert is best made the day of, because the meringue has a tendency to sweat if left to sit for too long.  Place the pan in the fridge to cool for a couple of hours.  Once cool carefully remove the bars from the pan.  This is why I asked you leave some parchment over the sides.  This way you can lift the whole thing out of the pan and place on a board for cutting.  I cut the bars into 18 pieces but you could easily cut them smaller for bite-size morsels.  Enjoy with your favourite iced tea.

lemon, meringue, partridge, berry, lingon, shortbread, dessert, bar, Dr. Oetker, Shirriff, mix, potluck

Print Recipe
Lemon Partridgeberry Bars
A wonderful lemon flavour combined with partridgeberries. Amazing!
Servings
squares
Ingredients
Shortbread Crust
Pie Filling
Meringue topping
Servings
squares
Ingredients
Shortbread Crust
Pie Filling
Meringue topping
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 350F and line a 9X13 pan with parchment, making sure the parchment comes up the sides.
  2. For the shortbread crust combine the flour and sugar in a large bowl. Cut in the cold butter with a pastry cutter until the mixture has the consistency of coarse bread crumbs. You can use a food processor to do this, but use the pulse button until the butter is mixed in accordingly. Press into a nice even layer on the bottom of the 9x13 pan.
  3. Bake the crust for 20-25 minutes. The edges should be a little brown when you take it out. While the crust is still warm add the layer of jam. Use a spoon or an offset spatula to make sure you have an even layer of jam going all the way to the ends. The heat from the crust with help spread the jam easily. Set that aside.
  4. Prepare the pie filling as the packaging suggests, EXCEPT reduce the warm water by one cup. This recipe uses two packages of pie filling which calls for four cups of warm water. Once the filling is set, spread it on top of the jam layer. It should be thick, and will set completely once it cools.
  5. Now, preheat your oven to 425F. Prepare the meringue topping with the egg whites left over. (The yolks went into the lemon filling.) Whip the whites until you have a soft peak, then add the sugar while it's still mixing. Whip until you have firm peaks. Spread on top of the lemon filling. You can make a nice design with the meringue or even pipe it with a rosette piping tip to give you the nice ridges. Bake for 5-7 minutes to give the browning on top.
  6. Let the lemon bars cool completely before cutting. Place in fridge for a couple of hours. Remove the bars from the pan and cut into squares.
Recipe Notes

Partridgeberry, or Lingonberry jam can be found in most Newfoundland stores, or your local Swedish furniture store.  Raspberry can be substituted as well.

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Butterscotch Cereal Bars

butterscotch, bar, square, dessert, newfoundland, camping, travel, make ahead

It’s the Victoria Day weekend and the first thing that comes to mind for most people is camping.  This is traditionally the weekend everyone brushes off the camping gear and heads out to the lake, cottage, or park.  It’s warm enough during the day to go hiking or play some sports, but cool enough at night to have a nice bonfire going.

Camping can be a little different in Newfoundland than in other places I’ve been.  My parents had a camper trailer that collapsed and you had to crank to raise.  Similar to this one.

camper trailer nostalgia

Everything would be packed into the base of the trailer and hooked onto the back of the car.  Then we would drive for a couple of hours and camp at a provincial park for the weekend.  That way we could go exploring to the beach, or on many of the trails in the park.  My parents would usually stick around the camper and relax.  At least, that’s how I remember it as a child.  In reality they probably did relax with some beers.

In Newfoundland, though, you can usually find campers just off the side of the highway parked in gravel pits.  It’s not uncommon for people to just pull off the side of the road, just feet from the busy highway, and park there for a couple of days.  Usually it was beside a lake so you could go fishing if you wanted.  Maybe catch something for supper that night.  It’s not as common as it was, gravel pit camping, but you can still catch the occasional camper parked along the highway if you’re visiting the island.

I always look forward to camping and the wonderful things you can make beside the campfire.  We all grew up with roasting marshmallows on sticks and blowing them out after they caught fire.  Or wrapping a potato in foil and laying beside the warm embers to have a beautifully roasted potato, smothered in butter, with your dinner.  Or bring your cast iron frying pan and fry up the fresh trout you caught in the morning in the nearby pond.  Something about being outside makes the food taste so much better.

Of course we brought some homemade goodies too.  Usually cookies and sandwiches.  I thought of this quick recipe you could take with you on your car ride to the camping ground or to have as a snack around the nice warm fire. They also keep really well so you can make them a few days ahead.

In a large sauce pan melt the butter under medium-low heat.  Once the butter is completely melted add the marshmallows and stir until melted as well.  Then add the butter extract, pudding mix, Skor bits, and cereal.  You’ll have to work quickly as this seizes up fast.  Transfer the mixture to a greased 9×13 pan and press down to make an even layer.  Let cool for a couple of hours and then cut into squares.  Makes 24-36 squares depending on how big you cut them.

butterscotch, bar, square, dessert, newfoundland, camping, travel, make ahead

Print Recipe
Butterscotch Cereal Bars
Course Dessert
Prep Time 10 minutes
Servings
squares
Ingredients
Course Dessert
Prep Time 10 minutes
Servings
squares
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Spray a 9x13 pan with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. In a large saucepan, under medium-low heat, melt the butter until completely melted. Add the marshmallows and stir occasionally until all the marshmallows have been melted.
  3. Remove from the heat and add the extract, cereal, butterscotch pudding, and Skor bits. Mix until combined. Quickly transfer the mixture to the prepared pan. Press down to make an even layer. I used my hands just slightly dampened with cold water.
  4. Let the mixture cool completely for at least an hour. Remove from pan and cut into squares.
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