Monday, 23 December 2013

Christmas Baking Series #6: Mini Egg Shortbread Cookies

Wow....I This weekend was the weekend to END all weekends. It was like, 5 weekends mushed into one. First we had Hubby's Birthday Party on the Friday. I did a surprise "Build His Bar" theme for him so everyone brought him a bottle of booze to stock his bar. It's something he's always wanted to do, but we've just never been able to. Let me tell you, it is now FULLY stocked and he's PRETTY excited about it:

 Not to brag, but we also had an EPIC(ish) DIY photo booth, which people enjoyed immensely!  Add in some ugly Christmas Sweaters and silly props, and you've got yourself a party!

The next day, we had a family Christmas. Hubs and I were running on basically NO sleep, but we still had an amazing time. Lots of food, family and games. Loved it!

However, on the way home, we caught wind that there was an EPIC ice storm coming. I mean, we all knew something was coming, but we didn't know how bad it was going to be. When Jon and I FINALLY got home (and basically skated up the path to our house) we weren't too worried about the storm.

Turns was basically the apocalypse. There were trees down, power out pretty much everywhere and ice about 1/4" thick on the car. I was supposed to head downtown to meet with my Dad and sister, but I couldn't even get into my car. So, I took pictures instead.

After we DID unfreeze my car, we headed to a family Christmas. Hubs and I both had NO power in our phones, or house, or laptop and our car charger was missing. I've never felt so useless in my whole life. When we FINALLY got home last night around midnight....STILL NO POWER. It was cold, gross, horrible and cold. Luckily, the power DID go up around 5am, but I know the same cannot be said for MOST of the GTA, so I know we're pretty lucky to have power.

ANYWAY - what a mess. I'm epically exhausted and really just want to curl up with a big ol' glass of rum and eggnog. Oh, and eat these incredible cookies I'm about to tell you about.

These cookies are truly amazing. First, the shortbread is just to DIE for. It's everything shortbread should be. Then, with the addition of Mini Eggs? Heaven. I know Mini Eggs are more an Easter Treat, but they come in Christmas colours and that's why I'm adding this recipe to my Christmas Baking Series.

Also, this shortbread is amazing on its own, so it would be perfect to bring to any holiday party!

Mini Egg Shortbread Cookies

1 1/4 cup flour 
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup icing sugar
1 cup butter, softened
1 200g bag of Mini Eggs, crushed

Preheat Oven to 300 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or foil.

In the bowl of your stand mixer, sift together the flour, cornstarch and icing sugar. Add the butter and mix together on low until a stiff dough is formed. 

Using a wooden spoon, mix in the mini eggs. It's OK if there are some large pieces and some smaller pieces. In fact, it's better when it is a mix of sizes!

Once mixed in, roll dough into 1" balls and placed on your prepared cookie sheets. Press down on the dough with your fingers to flatten. You should have about 24-25 cookies. 

Put in oven for 22-24 mins on the middle shelf. After about 20 mins, keep an eye on the cookies to see if they start to brown. Shortbread Cookies are tricky to judge because you don't really want them to go brown, so just keep checking them. 

 Do not bake for longer than 24 mins or else the candy coating of the mini eggs will be really sticky when you bite into them. 

Take them out of the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool. Enjoy with a cold glass of milk. These things will melt right in your mouth!


- Lisa
Follow me on Facebook, Twitter & Pinterest too! 

Monday, 16 December 2013

Christmas Baking Series #5: Flourless Chocolate Cake

So, I don't know what it is about the month of March but for SOME reason, that's when everyone in my family & hubby's family decided to make babies. I swear, we have like 10 birthdays in the month of December IN MY IMMEDIATE FAMILY. Totally crazy.

Anyway, the first one up this month was my Dad's birthday. I like to make December birthdays separate from Christmas because it really does suck when you get jipped and have to celebrate both on one day. So we (my sister, her boyfriend, hubby and I) went over to my Dad's last night and made homemade pizza and wings.

It was quite the fiasco. My sister and her boyfriend are Gluten Free, so they had to make their dough separately (which took about 1 hour longer than normal because they kept forgetting the special ingredients like Xyantham Gum, Potato Starch and Eye of Newt or whatever). Here they are reading pictures of the recipe for the dough on a phone. Quite entertaining:
Anywho, since it was a birthday celebration, I wanted to make a cake that my Dad would enjoy and that the gluten challenged could digest. Then I remembered this FABULOUS flourless chocolate cake. It's SO GOOD. It's dense, but not too dense. It's sweet, but not too sweet. It's soft and moist and just...yum. Plus, it doesn't taste like it's gluten free because there is no substitutions necessary since there is no flour in it! It's a WIN-WIN for all! (Also, I only have 2 pictures of it because I was on my way out the door right after it was made!)

Basically, the reason why I'm including this as a "Christmas Baking Recipe" is because you could bring it to ANY holiday party and it will be a crowd pleaser OR you could cut them into squares and give them as gifts. It's so totally decadent which is perfect for this time if year! Plus, it goes well with Egg Nog (which is how WE enjoyed it)

Flourless Chocolate Cake
original recipe from Epicurious

4 oz bittersweet chocolate 
1/2 cup salted butter
3/4 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 cocoa powder 
Sprinkle of cocoa powder and icing sugar

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F. Butter an 8" round baking pan. If you have, a spring form pan, that would work perfectly. If not (I don't) cut a round of wax paper to line the bottom of your baking pan and butter that as well. 

In a double boiler (or a metal bowl over simmering water in a pot) melt the chocolate and the butter together until smooth. Remove the bowl from the pot/double boiler (CAREFUL, IT'S HOT!) and use a whisk to mix in the sugar. Add the eggs and combine well with the whisk. Sift the cocoa powder into the mix and stir until JUST combined. 

Pour the batter into your baking pan. Place pan in the middle of the over for 20 mins. The original recipe calls for 25, but I found that baking it that long dried out the edges of the cake a bit. You want the top to form a thin crust so make sure you're watching after the 20 mins is up. 

Take out of the oven when ready and cool for 5-10 mins. You can either serve it like that OR flip it over onto a cake stand or serving dish. Sift some cocoa powder and icing sugar on top.

Enjoy with a cold glass of milk, egg nog or a glass of red wine. Mmmmmm.

- Lisa
Follow me on Facebook, Twitter & Pinterest too! 

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Mostly Wordless Wednesday

Feeling a little down today and came across this...kind of REALLY put things in perspective and was exactly what I needed to read:

Monday, 9 December 2013

Christmas Baking Series #4: Twix Bar Chocolate Chip Cookies

The theme for my Christmas Baking post this week is COOKIES. I know this time of year Cookie Exchanges are a popular thing, so if  you're involved in one (or you just want to make an AMAZING cookie), this is a recipe you'll want to try.

The cookie dough itself is really, really good and I think would make a great base for ANY cookie. Then, when you have the added ooze of the Twix caramel and the crunch of the cookie bar, you've got one heck of a cookie!

Twix Bar Chocolate Chocolate Chip
original recipe from Averie Cooks
3/4 cup butter (salted or unsalted, up to you)
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt (if you use unsalted butter)
1 1/2 cups chopped Twix Bar (about 3 full sized chocolate bars)
3/4 cup milk chocolate chips

In a stand mixer or with a hand mixer, combine the sugar and butter, egg and vanilla until nice and fluffy. 

Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the flour, cornstarch and baking soda (and optional salt) and mix until JUST combined. Using a wooden spoon, mix in the Twix and chocolate chips. You could mix the Twix in by using the stand mixer, but I prefer the bigger chunks of the Twix bar that you get by hand combining them.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. If you bake the cookies with warm dough they will be thin and spread out.

When ready to bake, pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees F. Using a cookie scoop or a tablespoon, make cookies into 2" balls and place onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Flatten the dough either with a fork or the palm of your hand. I could fit about 9 on each baking sheet.

Bake in the oven for about 8-9 mins. Keep a close eye on them as you'll want to take them out JUST as they start to brown on the edges. It's OK if they're still a little soft in the centre. Let cool on the baking sheet for about 5 mins then transfer to a wire cooking rack.

Repeat until you have used all the dough!

Mmmmm. Gooey.

Happy Cookie Exchanging! What is YOUR go-to cookie exchange recipe?

- Lisa
Follow me on Facebook, Twitter & Pinterest too! 

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Christmas Baking Series #3: Candy Cane Oreo Cheesecake Truffles

I just had an AMAZING weekend. I mean, it was seriously, seriously awesome. Not only did I get to check a few items off my Winter Bucket List AND reached one of my goals for 2013, but I got to reconnect with old friends, spend time with hubby and the fam and just relax a bit. It was one of those perfect winter weekends. Oh, and I also made these amazing truffles as part of my Christmas Baking Series, but we'll get to that in a sec.

So we have this one set of family friends. Our parents have known each other forever, and so have the kids. We make a point at LEAST one time a year to get together and visit. Usually it is over the holidays when things are TOTALLY crazy and hectic, so the visit is short but sweet. THIS year, we manages to wrangle all the girls together to meet downtown for drinks and giggles. We met up in the Distillery District which was PACKED because of a Christmas Market, so the only place we could find to eat was OUTSIDE. It ended up being awesome and we had a totally valid excuse to drink hot chocolate and Baileys (check that off the bucket list) A totally awesome afternoon.
Moms and their girls!
On Sunday, it was hubby's family Christmas with the WHOLE fam jam. His family is crazy huge. With 10 Aunts and Uncles, plus their kids and their KIDS kids, there are A LOT of people. They are loud and fun and I love them. I am so so grateful to have married into such a wonderful family. Hubs and I also got the added "luck" to be Santa and Mrs. Claus for the kids, which turned out to be super fun.
THEN to top it all off, I came up with this concoction below and made some SERIOUSLY amazing truffles. I've been making basic Oreo Cheesecake Truffles for quite some time now, but when I was shopping on the weekend I found CANDY CANE OREOS...
SO, I formulated these Candy Cane Oreo Cheesecake Truffles in my head and they are FANTASTIC. Like, seriously amazing. They are cheesecakey and candy caney and truffly. I could eat these all day.

Candy Cane Oreo Cheesecake Truffles
By: ME!

1 regular sized pack of Candy Cane Oreos OR Regular Ones
20-30 mini candy canes
1 brick of cream cheese (8oz)
1 tsp peppermint extract
3 cups milk chocolate chips

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

In a food processor, combine the Oreo cookies and 15 candy canes (NOTE: If you don't have the Candy Cane Oreos, combine regular Oreos with about 20-25 mini candy canes) I have a tiny food processor so I had to do mine in a couple batches. 

In a large bowl, combine the crushed candy canes/Oreos with the cream cheese and peppermint extract. You could be fancy and use a mixer, but I just got in there with my hands. I find it combines more evenly when I do it that way. 

When everything is combined (it will look like dirt) roll the mixture into 1/2" balls and place them on your baking sheet. You can really make them as large or small as you want, but I like this size. There is enough oomph to them, but they aren't too big. When you're done rolling (should make about 36) put the baking sheet into the freezer for about 15-20 mins.  

Before you take out the balls (is it sad that I giggled when I wrote that?) take the rest of your candy canes (you only need 5-6) fold them up in wax paper and smash them with a hammer. Next, put about 1.5 cups of the chocolate chips into a microwaveable bowl and heat for 1 &1/2 min in the microwave, taking out at 30 second intervals to stir. Do this until chocolate is completely melted. Line another baking sheet with aluminum foil.

One by one, dip the truffle balls into the chocolate and make sure they are totally coated. Using a fork, scoop out the truffle from underneath. This allows the chocolate to drip through the fork. Place the truffle on the baking sheet and sprinkle with the crushed candy cane. Continue until the chocolate in the bowl starts to cool. Add the remaining chocolate and repeat the melting & dipping process.

When you're done, place the truffles in the freezer. If you have any left over chocolate, mix in the rest of your crushed candy cane (or crush more), mix and pour onto a lined baking sheet and put in the freezer. VOILA - Candy Cane Bark (winter bucket list item # 2 checked off!)

Enjoy with a COLD glass of milk. THE BEST.

- Lisa
Follow me on Facebook, Twitter & Pinterest too! 

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Winter Bucket List 2013

Not going to lie. I'm one of those annoying Canadians that LOVE winter. There is just something about it that is so beautiful and wondrous that every year, I look forward to the first snowfall.

Don't get me wrong, there are some aspects that drive me crazy. I have a pretty substantial commute to work, so snow usually means accidents, poor drivers and slow downs. I'm also not a huge fan of slush and gross snow and after awhile, I get pretty tired of the cold.

Aside from that, though, I HEART WINTER. I love that after a fresh blanketing of snow, everything just seems quiet and serene when you step outside. It's like the world is on pause.
Due to my love of winter, I've decided to put together a list of things I want to do this winter to enjoy it to the fullest! I'll be sure to come back and strike them out as they happen & add to the list if I think of anything!

Winter Bucket List 2013 
(in no particular order):

Before Christmas:
  • Listen to Christmas music and dance around my living room (preferably with my sister while listening to A Very Special Christmas Vol. 2, the best Christmas Album EVER)
  • Drink Eggnog with Rum
  • Make a big batch of cookies to be dipped in Eggnog
  • Go look at Christmas lights around the neighborhood
  • Make peppermint bark 12.01.13
  • Watch "Love Actually" "White Christmas" and "The Muppet Christmas Carol
  • Make LOTS of Christmas themed treats
  • Buy something sparkly to wear on NYE  
  • Annual Brunch & Shop with my Dad and Sister 
  • Go to a Christmas Party  
  • Drink hot chocolate and Bailey's 11.30.13
  • Play in the snow with my puppies and hubby
  • Spend an entire day in my PJ's watching movies with hubby 12.08.13
  • Make a snow angel
  • Have a snowball fight
  • Drink Coffee with Bailey's in it 12.07.13
  • Go sledding (on a Zipfy, cuz those things are rad)
  • Go skating - haven't done that in YEARS!
  • Make a big pot of soup - perfect for cold days
  • Make hot apple cider
  • Volunteer in a soup kitchen/"Out of the Cold" program
  • Wear thick, fluffy socks and slide around the floor
  • Dress up and go out to a romantic dinner or double date
  • Game night(s) with family/friends
  • Drink hot chocolate in front of a cozy fire 11.30.13
  • Go for a long, lazy run during a snow fall

Monday, 25 November 2013

Christmas Baking Series #2: Eggnog Truffles

I think I may be in love. Eggnog is one of my FAVOURITE parts of the holiday season. I think this is because when I was younger, it's appearance in the fridge meant that Christmas was near and that the festivities were about to get started!

I actually don't really buy it anymore, mostly because I prefer to eat my calories as opposed to drink them (...except when I'm drinking red wine...that's different, it has health benefits.)

Luckily, I found this recipe for Eggnog Truffles on Pinterest (is there really anywhere else to find recipe's nowadays?) which means I can basically EAT eggnog...which also means, that everything is now right in the world.

They are a bit finicky to make, but they were WELL worth it. Hubs was even impressed with how good they were. I was just happy that there was just the right amount of "Nog" (as my sister would say) in them and they satisfy my Eggnog cravings. I will be making these again for SURE!

Eggnog Truffles
original recipe from McCormick

2 1/2 cups white baking chocolate 
1/2 (4 oz) brick cream cheese
1/4 cup icing sugar
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp rum extract (add more if you want more "nog")
additional nutmeg for sprinkling

In a thick bottomed pot, melt 1 cup of the white chocolate on LOW heat. Stir frequently as you don't want the chocolate to burn. In a separate bowl, beat the cream cheese and icing sugar together with a hand mixer until smooth. Add the melted chocolate and beat again until fully combined. Cover with plastic wrap and put in the fridge for about 4 hours.

Once your mixture is somewhat firm, roll into 24 balls (I ended up with 26 because some of my balls were smaller) and put on a tray lined with wax paper. Put in the freezer for about 1 hour so the get nice and firm!

Now, this next part was a first time for me. When I dip things in chocolate, I usually do so while it is on the stove. However, I usually burn the chocolate and get angry. This method prevented that from happening :)

Place about 3/4 cup of white chocolate into a microwaveable bowl and heat for about 1 min. Take out the bowl, stir and place back in for another 30 seconds. Really make sure you watch the chocolate. My microwave is very temperamental so I took it out and stirred about ever 30 seconds.While this is happening, line a baking sheet with parchment paper OR foil. Either works.

Next, dip 12 of the truffles in the chocolate using a fork. I mean, you don't REALLY dip, it's more like, drop the truffle in the bowl, roll it around using the fork and then lift the covered truffle out by scooping it out with the fork and letting the chocolate drain off for a couple of seconds. Place the truffle on your baking sheet by shoving it off the fork with your finger. Using the fork hand (the one NOT covered in chocolate) sprinkle some nutmeg on top. 

After the first 12 are done, add the rest (3/4 cup) of the chocolate and melt again. Repeat the above. 

If you have any chocolate left over (I did) simply throw in about 1 tsp of rum extract and 1/2 tsp of nutmeg into the chocolate, stir it all together, pour it on some foil and VOILA, eggnog bark! It won't be much, but I can't STAND to waste leftover chocolate. 

Put the truffles and the bark (if you have any) in your freezer for about 30 mins. Remove from baking sheet and store in an air tight container for up to 1 week.

- Lisa
Follow me on Facebook, Twitter & Pinterest too! 

Monday, 18 November 2013

Christmas Baking Series #1: Candy Cane Chocolate Swirl Fudge

So, yea. I love Christmas. I know you've probably gathered that from previous posts, but I thought I'd just tell you again in case you were wondering :) However, since work has been so busy, I haven't really had a chance to get "in the mood" to decorate/shop/bake etc. I pretty much come home every night and sit, drooling, on the couch.

However, yesterday, hubs and I got in the mood (not THAT kind of mood, you perv) and got a whole bunch of shopping done, set up the tree and even did a little decorating!

On Saturday, I was invited to a Passion Party (totally hilarious/informative btw) and I told the hostess I would bring something, so I decided to use this as an opportunity to kick off my Christmas Baking Series and made this AMAZING fudge.

It was SO EASY to put together and it tasted delish. The neat thing is, you can start with the fudge base (condensed milk & white chocolate chips) and try different flavours/additions with it. This recipe however is something I'll be making A LOT of for Christmas Parties. Took me 10 minutes to whip up and seriously, it tastes like Christmas. In fact, I could go for some right now...but it's all gone.

Candy Cane Chocolate Swirl Fudge
original recipe from Sally's Baking Addiction

3 cups white chocolate chips
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 tsp peppermint extract (feel free to add more/less depending on your taste)
8 crushed candy canes
2/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Here is another reason I love this recipe - I get to smash things with a hammer :) What I did was got a bunch of Candy Canes from the Bulk Barn, unwrapped them and folded them up in wax paper. Then, I just smashed them with a hammer. The get all crumbly with both small and larger pieces.

Next, line a 8 x 8 pan with parchement paper and spray with a little cooking oil (like Pam)
In a pot, combine the chocolate chips and the condensed milk and melt at low heat until they are completely blended. Don't put the heat on too high, or else the sugar will burn (which I MAY or may not have done).

Remove from heat when everything is all smoothy. Add the peppermint extract and candy canes and stir. I found 1/2 tsp of the extract wasn't enough for me, so I added more. 

How Festive!
Pour the mixture into your pan and smooth with a spoon. Sprinkle the chocolate chips on top and swirl them in with a knife. Finally, sprinkle the top with a few more crushed candy canes and press into the fudge. 

Put in the fridge to set for at least 3 hours! Cut up and serve. Save some for yourself too, because it will be gone in a flash!

- Lisa
Follow me on Facebook, Twitter & Pinterest too! 

Friday, 15 November 2013

Re-Group & Re-Start

My word. I feel like for the past month or so I've been living in a tunnel and today I am facing the other side. When I look back on the past 4 weeks I go "So....what just happened?" I feel like I haven't blogged much (well, I haven't, actually) and I was absorbed into another weird depression period that I couldn't get out of, no matter what I did. It was a really challenging month for me because, throughout the depression, I (felt) I had to maintain a sunny outside and pretend all was ok. I didn't tell anyone what I was feeling (except for hubs, who just seems to know) because I didn't want to admit that something was wrong. Then, in a series of 2 evenings, it all became too much and I folded in on myself.

It's tough. I was maintaining my meds, was off of junk food (which, oddly enough, is when this whole thing started) but this sadness just kept creeping into my day. Part of it, I know, was because I have gained back the 15 or so lbs I lost back in the spring. Not a huge deal, I know, but there is still this thing inside me that says "you are a failure" whenever I gain weight. Problem is, I still turn to food for comfort after I realized I've gained weight. Totally logical, right?

Next, I felt like I was having a 1/4 life crisis. At 26, I have a good job, married to my amazing hubby, not quite ready to buy a house, not anywhere NEAR ready to have kids, so life is just kind of at a stand still. There are things I'd love to do, but are just not an option for us, financially (travel, for one). what?

Another thing I felt really off about was friendships. Growing up, I didn't date a whole lot, and I was kind of a nerd, so one of my saving graces was my friends. They shaped me into who I am today (for better or for worse) but now, it's different. Everyone is at a different point in their lives and friendships that I've held near and dear to me feel like they are slipping away. It's also a matter of fact that I don't have time like I used to, to hang out with friends, call them, text them etc. I make plans that I know I can't keep, just in hopes that it will help me maintain that friendship. Not a good plan, but it's my knee jerk reaction. Money, money, money. Just when we're catching up, something brings us down again. Don't get me wrong, Jon and I are not down and out financially, but I do feel like we're not where we should be (for a variety of reasons) and I resent that. I let it fester inside me and stew until I snap. Then, I let it go until I start to resent it again. It's a horrid cycle. 

So, after that last evening where I just let it all eat me alive, I woke up and though "OK, enough" Enough crying, enough pretending, enough sadness. In my heart of hearts, I knew what steps I needed to take to help make me better, but it just took some time to get there.

First - More exercise. Not to loose weight but to help me keep my head clear. Every day, I need to do something, even if it's just a walk. I need that release of tension and stress otherwise the anxiety I carry with me becomes too much.

Second - start loving myself again no matter what. I love so many people unconditionally, but unfortunately, I don't feel that way towards myself. I was SO close to this back in the spring, but I realize it was superficial. I was loving myself because I was losing weight. This one, I'm not really sure how to solve, but I know it's something I have to do. I guess having more "Lisa" time would help (Thanks to J & B for really speaking to me about this to me last Saturday)

Third - come to terms with my friendships. This one is really hard for me. I want to be everyone's best friend and everyone's confidant. For a time, it was possible, but it is no longer. For the past year or so, I've been trying to be everything for everyone and as a result I've ended up becoming more distant from them. Instead of being a good friend, I've been an "OK" friend. Luckily (very luckily) I have people in my life who love me no matter what and have stuck by me through this. So thank know who you are. I know I have to focus on those friendships and show those amazing people how special they are to me.

Fourth & finally - money. This is a more personal thing, obviously, but I do want to say, that I made a GIANT leap and spoke up about this to someone who I needed to talk to. It was terrifying and while I was doing it I actually had a mini panic attack on the inside, but I did it. The issues that I was having won't be solved right away, but the things I was letting fester inside me are there no longer.

So here I am, folks. This has been a tough year for me so far, but also an amazing one. I have a lot of work to do still, but I know I can get through it. Again, I'm going to take a page from my friends in AA and take things "One Day at a Time"

Before I go, I also want to say Thank You, to YOU (yes you!) who has read this post and continues to be apart of my life and this blog. You are special to me whether I know you in life or online (or I don't know you at all!) I also want you to know that MORE AMAZING RECIPES WILL BE COMING SOON! I AM SO EXCITED FOR CHRISTMAS BAKING. WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!

- Lisa

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies


Quite frankly, I'm glad Halloween is finally here. I kind of forgot about it until this morning and I realized we had to get dressed up for work *sigh* I'm not a huge Halloween fan, as I've established before so I'm excited because tomorrow I can finally start my Holiday Baking Series!!

Before I do that though, I have ONE more Fall Baking Post for you! Given that I'm not a HUGE pumpkin fan, I was reluctant about these, but they are quite good. I brought them up to a family gathering with hubby's fam awhile back and they were GONE in about 10 minutes.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

3 cups all purpose flour
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 & 1/2 tsp of Pumpkin Spice
1 cup butter at room temp
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup pumpkin puree
2 cups chocolate chips (I used milk chocolate)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder and pumpkin spice and set aside.

In a mixer, cream together the butter and the sugar until nice and fluffy (about 3-4 mins). Add the vanilla, egg and pumpkin and continue to mix until all combined. Slowly add the dry ingredients until everything is JUST combined. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the chocolate chips.

Using a cookie scoop (or tablespoon, which is what I have) drop rounded batter onto the baking sheet. Put in the oven for about 10 mins or until they are golden brown around the edges. 

When they are done, let them cool on the pan for a couple mins, then transfer to a wire rack. 

Mmmmm pumpkin. Please ignore my ugly hands, clearly I'm a nail bitter.

Happy Halloween!!!!

Monday, 28 October 2013

Apple & Banana Kitchen Sink Bread

Okay, I have a confession. I'm really just biding my time with these Fall themed recipes. I absolutely cannot WAIT to start Christmas Baking. I KNOW, I KNOW, everyone hates Christmas but...

There is just SOMETHING about the whole holiday that I love. The snow, the specialty coffees, the anticipation in the air, the music and most importantly...THE FOOD. Eggnog this, peppermint's just the best.

That all being said, I have a 2 more Fall Baking posts to share with you.

This one is of my own imagination. Basically, I only had 2 ripe bananas and 1 apple to work with, and a brand new loaf pan, so I decided to turn them into something. I also had a little bit left of everything else in this recipe, hence the "Kitchen Sink." If you're nut-free, you can omit the nuts and the bread will still be super yummy!

Apple & Banana Kitchen Sink Bread
basic banana bread recipe from
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1 medium apple chopped up into small piece
1/3 cup melted butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1/4 cup chopped pecans


Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

With a wooden spoon, combine the melted butter with your mashed bananas and chopped apples in a large mixing bowl. Next, mix in the sugar, egg and vanilla. Sprinkle the salt and baking soda over the mixture and incorporate. Add the flour and combine completely until a nice dough forms. FINALLY, add the kitchen sink (everything else) and mix until everything is evenly distributed.

Pour batter into a 8" loaf pan (mine was a 9" so the bread came out a little thinner) and bake for 1 hour or until you can insert a tooth pick and it comes out cleanly.

Let cool on a rack. Since we don't wait until anything is cool, we cut into it right away :)

This bread is especially good with a coffee or tea in the morning :) Enjoy!

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Apple Cinnamon Scones

I have a confession. Although my blog is called "Running to Bake" I've been SERIOUSLY lacking on the running side of things. For awhile I made a whole host of excuses as to why I haven't been running. I've been too busy, or it's been raining, or I feel guilty if I don't bring the dogs, blah, blah, blah. Then, I started to become afraid of it again. I would put it off, and assume that I'd get back to it eventually. But I didn't.

I started getting depressed. Work has been really insane recently, I haven't been sleeping and even though I was doing Zumba, I was teaching, so it's not really the same brain break I've been craving.

Finally, the other day, I made a deal with myself. I would go out, even for 5 mins and see how it feels. In my heart of hearts I knew I needed to, but that anxious part of myself was terrified.

So I went. For 25 mins...and it felt f*cking awesome. My legs and lungs burned, but every time I tried to slow down, my legs kept pumping me forward. I felt like a puppy whose been cooped up in the house for too long. By the end of the run, I was panting, smiling and even crying. It felt so good.

When I got home, I was so inspired & excited, I HAD to make something (after all, this IS Running to Bake). I made myself a BIG ol' batch of homemade chips (hubby had some too, ok??) and prepared these apple scones to pop into the oven the next morning.

Let me tell you, there is noting quite like the smell of baking and coffee in the morning to pull you out of a funk. Oh yea...this face helped too:

I've never made scones before I tried this recipe, so I wouldn't say they were perfect, but they sure did taste delish with coffee and a little butter on them (peanut butter would have been good too!)

This is also my SECOND last post in my fall baking series. I'm kind of excited because I'm tired of pumpkin everything and I CAN'T WAIT TO START HOLIDAY BAKING!!!!!! IT'S MY FAVE TIME OF YEAR! AJDSNFDNVLDKVNLDKVNLKN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Apple Cinnamon Scones
adapted from King Arthur Flour

2 & 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp Apple Pie Spice or cinnamon
1/2 cup cold butter (I used unsalted)
3/4 cup apple, peeled & cut into 1/2" pieces (I used granny smith apples)
3/4 cup cinnamon chips (optional, I didn't use them)
2 large eggs
1tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce

3 tbsp sugar (coarse works best, but granulated is fine too)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon


In a large mixing bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and apple pie spice. Using a knife (or your hands) work in the butter until everything is crumbly and uneven. I don't really know what this means, but I cut the butter into chunks and then mixed it in with the flour with my hands. Stir in the chopped apples and the cinnamon chips (if using). 

In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, vanilla and apple sauce. When combined, add to the the dry ingredients and stir together until dough is moistened and stays together.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and sprinkle flour on top (this stuff is STICKY!)

Place dough on the baking sheet and divide in half. Pat and round each half so that it is about 5" in diameter and 3/4" thick. I didn't do that, obviously, I just kind of eye-balled it, but if you want to measure, by all means, go for it!

Next, to make the topping. In a small bowl combine the sugar and cinnamon. Coarse sugar would be best for this, but I only have the granulated stuff. Using a pastry brush, brush both mounds with milk and generously sprinkle the sugar/cinnamon mixture on top. The more the better as the scones themselves are not that sweet! 

The next part of the recipe requires the use of a regular knife, or a bench knife.

What is a bench knife you may ask? This is it. You're welcome.
Moving right along, using a regular knife of bench knife that you have run under cold water (can't help you with why you need to run it under water, sorry), cut each circle into 6. For those not so hot on fractions, do not cut it in half and then in half again. Just a friendly tip...

Pull the wedges away from the center and separate them just a bit. This is easier said then done...they're very difficult to work with. I almost went all "Psycho" with my regular knife, but reminded myself to stay calm. 

Now, if you're planning on making these right away, place your scones in the freezer for 30 mins. This relaxes the gluten (it's had a hard day) and will make your scones fluffier...or something. 

I put mine in the fridge overnight so that I could bake them first thing in the morning. 

Either way, at this point, pre-heat your over to 425 degrees F. After your gluten is nice and zen, bake the scones for 18-22 mins or until the tops are golden brown. When you go to pull them apart, they should look baked all the way through. 

Serve warm...this is VERY IMPORTANT. Scones need to be eaten when warm. That's just a fact of life. 


Thursday, 17 October 2013

Baked Sweet & Sour Chicken

To give you a quick update, my "Junk Food Free Experiment" is going quite well. I cannot say that I haven't had a COUPLE of slip ups (it was Thanksgiving after all) but otherwise, I've been REALLY good.

Observations so far: The first few days after I started, I was actually feeling kind of depressed. I REALLY wanted to eat a big ol' bag of chips. By Thursday however, I was starting to sleep better, and feeling more rested in the morning. Then Thanksgiving happened, and I was in a food coma for the better part of 3 days.

This week, not much has changed. I'm not sleeping well again, but I have a feeling it might have something to do with the fact we've adopted Maverick (my family dog) and these two silly goofs like to spend the night playing.

In any case, one thing that I HAVE noticed this week, is that I haven't been craving junk food. I mean, every once in awhile I'll want some chips or something, but the craving passes and I'll move on. That's pretty exciting! I also haven't had the urge to snack like a crazy person, so that's also a big "Whoohoo!"

I HAVE been craving Chinese Food recently though, and so has hubs, so I found a recipe for Baked Sweet and Sour Chicken online and decided to give it a try. I had to improvise a bit as I didn't have an ketchup on hand (we're in between grocery shops) but it turned out SO WELL. It was like a less breaded, better for you, Chinese take out meal!

 Although, it turns out, I don't know how to make rice. It came out all soggy and yucky. Didn't matter though, the chicken stood up just fine in it's own!

Baked Sweet & Sour Chicken
adapted from i heart nap time
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper
1/4 tsp garlic salt
3/4 cup corn starch
2 large eggs, whisked
1/2 cup canola oil
For the Sweet & Sour Sauce
1 cup sugar
1 tbsp ketchup
2 tbsp honey garlic BBQ sauce
2 tbsp honey
1 tsp garlic salt
1/2 + 1 tbsp white vinegar
1 tbsp soy sauce

Place the chicken, salt, pepper, garlic salt & cornstarch into a plastic ziplock bag and toss until chicken is evenly coated. (You can toss in a bowl as well if you don't have a big enough bag)

Next, heat 1/4 cup of the oil in a frying pan (at about medium heat). Dip chicken into the egg and add to your frying pan with a fork. My frying pan isn't huge, so I had to do 1/2 a batch at a time. Fry both sides of the chicken for about 2 min (or until a nice golden brown colour). When done, transfer to a baking sheet lined with FOIL. Parchment paper does NOT work in this case. Just trust me. 

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Do the same for the rest of the chicken using the remainder of the oil. Add to the baking sheet and evenly spread out the chicken on your baking sheet (it's ok if there is a little overlap). 

Whisk together all the ingredients for the sauce. Give it a taste after you're done. If it's too sweet, add a little more vinegar. Too sour? Add some sugar (or ketchup, if you have it). Feel free to experiment a little here, it's fun! 

Using a spoon, drizzle the sauce over the chicken until the chicken is coated.  Place in the oven for 20 mins. Take out and toss the chicken in the sauce on the baking sheet, then add back in the oven for another 15-20 mins. 

Serve with rice and veggies!


Follow me on Facebook, Twitter & Pinterest too!  

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Gluten-Free Dark Chocolate Pumpkin Brownies

Well my friends, I only have 2 more weeks left of my fall baking series until I switch over to my Holiday Baking Series (which I'm pretty much beside myself with excitement for!). I think out of all the fall recipes I've made so far (here, here and here) these are one of my faves!

Every year for Thanksgiving, my Grandmother brings her ah-mazing pies for dessert (her apple pie is actually the best apple pie in the world. True story) Unfortunately for my sister and her boyfriend though, these pies are not gluten free. So, I promised I would bring a dessert this year that was GF. Originally, I wanted to try and make some Pumpkin Pie Truffles that I saw on Six Sisters Stuff  but ran out of time. So, I sent hubs on an internet mission to find another GF dessert that was quick, easy and looked yummy and thisis what he found at

Look at these beautiful things! Fudgy, moist, chocolatey...totally delish. Everyone in the family enjoyed them as well, which doesn't usually happen when it comes to GF food. It was a Thanksgiving Miracle.

Gluten-Free Dark Chocolate Pumpkin Brownies
adapted from
4 oz Semi-Sweet baking chocolate
1 3/4 cups canned pumpkin pie filling
1 cup unsweetened apple sauce
2/3 cup plain yogurt (I used Activia)
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cup all purpose gluten-free flour (I used Bobs Red Mill)
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1 Tbsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp salt

In a double boiler, melt the baking chocolate (I don't have a double boiler, so I just places a glass mixing bowl over boiling water) When melted, remove chocolate from the stove and let cool, about 5-10 mins.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a LARGE mixing bowl, combine the pumpkin, apple sauce, yogurt, vanilla, melted chocolate and sugar and mix until combined.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice and salt. I suggest that you sift the flour first as I found mine was quite lumpy. Whisk these ingredients together.

Next, whisk the dry ingredients into the wet (now you'll see why I emphasized LARGE mixing bowl) until combined. Pour batter into a OILED baking dish (Mine was a 14" x 8") and put in the oven.

Bake for about 1 hour. You'll know they are done when you stick a fork into the middle and it comes out clean. Let cool for 30 mins or so before cutting into them. They'll look almost like they aren't done, but trust me, that is the magic of these brownies!

Happy Baking!

- Lisa
Follow me on Facebook, Twitter & Pinterest too! 

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Homemade Potato Chips

So I have a new baking bible and it isn't a blog (which is unusual for me). It started out when I saw this amazing cookbook at my friends house called "The Homemade Pantry" by Alana Chernila. First, I was excited because it came from the library and I didn't even KNOW you could get cookbooks at the library. Secondly, the recipes in this book were SO accessible and so easy to follow and for 90% of the recipes, I have the ingredients at home already!

Oh yea...she also had an amazing recipe for Potato Chips.

If you read my blog, you know that I have a bona fide addiction to chips. Chips are my vice. Some people smoke, I cram chips down my throat. However, I'm running a month long junk food free experiment (store bought junk food anyway) and anything that I want to snack on, I have to make myself.

You see where this is going :) Naturally, I took out the book from our Library and got to work right away!

Two great things happened. They were delicious AND after only a small helping, I was completely satisfied. I had NO desire to keep snaking after I had my little serving. Even better, they are baked, yet they taste like deep fried! I cannot WAIT to try more recipes from this book!

Homemade Potato Chips

**NOTE: This recipe is for a big batch. I only used about 3 small potatoes and still came out with a serving. You can adjust this recipe for whatever works best for you!**
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 pounds of potatoes (any kind), scrubbed 

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F. Using a touch of olive oil, grease 2 baking sheets.

Fill a large mixing bowl with water and 1/2 a tsp of salt. Stir to make sure the salt has dissolved in the water. 

If you have one (I don't) use a mandolin to cut your potatoes into 1/16th inch slices. I used a sharp knife to cook mine. I'm not sure how thick they were, but they turned out just great. Just try and slice them as thinly as you can! As you slice your taters, place them in the bowl and let them soak for 5 mins.

Remove the potatoes from the water and dry them off. Empty your bowl, dry it out, and place the potatoes back in the bowl and toss in the olive oil & remainder of the salt. Trust me when I tell you, it is enough salt. Any more and they will be too salty!

Spread the potatoes out on your baking sheet and try and spread them out so that there is almost no overlap. Place in the oven for 15 mins then reduce the heat to 300 degrees F. Rotate the pans and bake for another 15 mins. Switch again and bake for a final 15 mins (total baking time of 45mins). 

As you're baking them, you may notice some of them are done sooner than the others (especially if you cut them by hand and some are thinner than the others). Remove them as they become golden and dry and start peeling off the baking sheet. Some may need to stay in the oven for another 5-10 mins after all the others are done. Just make sure you keep watching them!

Remove from baking sheet & enjoy! They have such a great crunch to them and a fantastic salty flavour. 

If you want to store them, you can keep them in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks (good luck keeping them that long!)

Let me know if you try them, I'd love to hear how they turned out! Also, I HIGHLY suggest you check out this cookbook, it's fantastic! :)