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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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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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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Portuguese Orange Cakes – Bolinhos de Laranja

portuguese, orange, cake, dessert, portugalThe story of the Portuguese presence in Canada dates back to the Age of Discovery in the 15th and 16th centuries. Although it is not clear who may have landed in Canada prior to John Cabot’s historic voyage in 1497, it is believed that Diogo de Teive who set out from Lisbon in 1452, had previously explored the east coast of Canada. His exploration would eventually influence the likes of Christopher Columbus. It is well documented that Portuguese explorer Gaspar Corte-Real landed in Newfoundland in 1501. His statue stands proudly in St. John’s today.

Statue of Gaspar Corte Real in St. John’s, Newfoundland

Evidence of the Portuguese presence is manifest in the many places names of Portuguese origin in Atlantic Canada. Most notable perhaps is the name Labrador which is believed to be named after João Fernandes, a “lavrador,” (a farmer).

Some historians contend that after the Vikings the first attempt at a establishing a permanent colony in Canada was lead by navigator Alvares Fagundes circa 1520. The location of this settlement has never been found but believed to have been somewhere in Cape Breton. Although no permanent communities are known to have lasted, the Portuguese presence in Atlantic Canada continues to this day while men fish for cod on the Grand Banks.

If you have the time you can take the Baccalieu Trail. Baccalieu is derived from the Portuguese word for codfish.  This 230km trek will take through such charming places as Heart’s Content, Cupids, and Heart’s Desire.  You eventually find yourself reaching Baccalieu island off the coast.  Offshore, Baccalieu Island bears witness to the potential menace of the North Atlantic. The wrecks of more than a dozen ships lie under the waters that surround the island. Baccalieu Island Ecological Reserve has 11 species of seabirds nesting there, making it the most diverse seabird colony in the province. The island hosts 3.3 million pairs of Leach’s Storm Petrels, and thousands of puffins and black-legged kittiwakes and other birds each summer. The foxes that share the island with the birds rarely go hungry.

There’s even the Bacalao restaurant in the capital, St. John’s.  The owner, Andrea Maunder, celebrates the food and culture of the province while keeping the menu hyper-local.  Many of the menu’s ingredients are grown locally or hunted locally.  Drop by and give them a try.

I found this wonderfully simple recipe for these light orange cakes that take no time at all.  They are fluffy, light, and have the fresh orange citrus flavour.  Perfect as a dessert for a party or get-together.

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease 2 muffin pans.
In a bowl combine flour, baking powder, salt and orange zest.
In a separate bowl combine eggs and sugar and beat with an electric mixer for 3 minutes or until the eggs are pale yellow and fall in ribbons. Stir in orange juice, butter and vanilla until well combined.
Stir in the dry ingredients until just combined. The mixture will froth a little. Pour the batter into the muffin cups filling them 3/4 of the way up.  Bake for 13-14 minutes or until the edges start to brown. Sprinkle the top of each cake with some sanding sugar and return pans to the oven. Turn the oven off and leave them in there for 2 minutes.  Sanding sugar is a coarser sugar.  Its crystals are larger and will give your cakes a nice crunch.
Allow the pans to cool 5 minutes then run a knife around the edge of each cake and gently unmold. Let the cakes cool completely.
portuguese, cake, orange, dessert, portugal
Print Recipe
Portuguese Orange Cakes - Bolinhos de Laranja
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 14 minutes
Servings
cakes
Ingredients
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 14 minutes
Servings
cakes
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease 2 muffin pans.
  2. In a bowl combine flour, baking powder, salt and orange zest.
  3. In a separate bowl combine eggs and sugar and beat with an electric mixer for 3 minutes or until the eggs are pale yellow and fall in ribbons. Stir in orange juice, butter and vanilla until well combined.
  4. Stir in the dry ingredients until just combined. The mixture will froth a little. Pour the batter into the muffin cups filling them 3/4 of the way up.
  5. Stir in the dry ingredients until just combined. The mixture will froth a little. Pour the batter into the muffin cups filling them 3/4 of the way up. Bake for 13-14 minutes or until the edges start to brown. Sprinkle the top of each cake with some sanding sugar and return pans to the oven. Turn the oven off and leave them in there for 2 minutes. Sanding sugar is a coarser sugar. Its crystals are larger and will give your cakes a nice crunch.
  6. Allow the pans to cool 5 minutes then run a knife around the edge of each cake and gently unmold. Let the cakes cool completely.
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Where’s my Mummy?

mummy-cupcakes-3It’s the week before Halloween and I thought it would be fun to get a little Halloween dessert post in.  Of course, you’re probably inundated with pumpkin spice flavoured everything.  September had barely begun and I was pumpkin spiced out.  Drinks, cookies, breads, Kisses®, goodness knows what else.  I’ve even made a few pumpkin flavoured things myself, but I haven’t perfected the recipes yet, so it will have to wait for another post.

Growing up Halloween was a little questionable.  You never knew until the day of if you would have to wear your costume over your snowsuit or not.  More times than not there would be snow on the ground when you went trick or treating.  Sometimes a considerable amount.  When I was in grade one the snow plows had already been down the street to clear away the snow from the roads the week before Halloween, so my brother and I had to crawl over snow drifts to get to some folks’ doorways.  Didn’t stop us though.  Nothing will stop a youngster from getting candy.

Anyone remember these?

My brother and I donned our plastic masks with the elastic strap.  The mask would be worn for about five minutes until your warm breath made it too uncomfortable to wear.  Or your eyelashes had frozen to the inside of the mask because of the condensation.  Then you would have to pull the mask up over your toque so you wouldn’t feel suffocated.  Then the elastic would snap off because it was only held on by two staples on the sides of the mask.  Don’t forget the plastic costume which had to be bought a size larger than you needed because it had to fit over your snowsuit.  The costume was either a super hero or what was currently popular on television.  In reality it was a plastic bag with arms and the character’s picture on the chest.  Only the really well to do kids had homemade costumes.

So, my brother and I went up and down the street where we lived, walked to the doors of our neighbours and shouted “Trick or treat!” behind clammy plastic masks.  Don’t get me wrong.  I wouldn’t have traded it for the world.  Free candy don’t ya know.

And occasionally you would get a homemade treat, usually a popcorn ball or goodie bag.  Nowadays those are automatically thrown out, but back then we all knew our neighbours and didn’t think any different.  With those memories I wanted to make something that you could give out to your trick-or-treaters this year maybe at a Halloween party or school.  These mummy cupcakes are easy and quick to make.  You don’t have to make the cake from scratch if you don’t want.  Just use a Devil’s food cake mix, but add a few more items.   It will provide a richer, denser cake and people will think it’s homemade.  I won’t tell if you won’t.

Preheat oven to 350F. Combine with the cake mix, your eggs, sour cream, melted butter and milk.  Mix until smooth.  Fill cupcakes liners 3/4 full.  Place batter in oven and drop the temperature to 325F.  Bake for 20-25 minutes.  Test for doneness with a toothpick.  Let cool 10 minutes and remove from pan.  Let the cupcakes cool completely before icing.  That way it won’t melt if you put the icing on too early.

In a clean mixing bowl combine the butter and shortening.  If you are using a stand mixer, use the paddle attachment.  On low speed, add the icing sugar carefully.  Keep adding the icing sugar until you get about 5 cups in.  Then add the vanilla and milk.  This should smooth out any lumps.  Turn the mixer to medium and continue to mix until the frosting is light and fluffy.  If it seems too thick, just add a little more milk.

Are you my mummy?
Are you my mummy?

Add a layer of icing to the tops of the cooled cupcakes.  I used a Wilton 102 petal piping tip for my “bandages,” but you just use a plastic bag with the corner cut off.  It will work just as well.  Make crisscrossing bandages over the top of the cupcake.  Occasionally turn the cupcake so all the bandages are not going in the same direction.  Add two candy eyes and you’re done!

Happy Halloween everyone!

Print Recipe
Mummy cupcakes
Quick and easy mummy cupcakes for all your boils and ghouls.
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings
cupcakes
Ingredients
Cupcakes
Buttercream icing
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings
cupcakes
Ingredients
Cupcakes
Buttercream icing
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. In a large bowl or stand mixer combine the following: cake mix, eggs, sour cream, melted butter, and milk. Mix until smooth.
  2. Place in lined cupcake pan and fill each liner 3/4 full. Don't be tempted to overfill. I've made that mistake too many times. Place in oven and drop temperature to 325F. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Test for doneness with toothpick. Let cool completely.
  3. In clean mixing bowl combine the butter and shortening. Mix well and add the icing sugar slowly, unless you want your kitchen looking like the background to a white Christmas. Add vanilla and milk. Turn mixer to medium and mix until frosting is light and fluffy. Add milk if frosting seems too thick.
  4. On cooled cupcake, put a layer of white frosting. Using a piping bag with a Wilton 102 petal tip, or the cut end of a plastic bag, pipe bandages across the top of the cupcake. Remember to alternate directions to give it a random look. Add two candy eyes.
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