Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Going Squirrelly!

So apparently January 21 is Squirrel Appreciation Day.  I don’t mind squirrels – even the grey one that sorta rules my backyard, stares my down when I come out with the dogs, leaves me bread in the winter and pears in the summer…  So it is nice that there is a day to appreciate them.  But January 21?!?!  The temperatures outside in Toronto on this January 21, 2014 is -23o C (or -8o F) so I’m thinking of renaming the today as Freeze Your Nuts Off  Day.  Stay warm everyone – especially our furry squirrelly friends.

Friday, January 17, 2014

I’m a Hermit (cookie) this Winter

Last week I asked what kind of cookies I should be making to fill some time before Valentine’s Day.  My cousin suggested Hermit Cookies because we are all such hermits in the winter.  Awesome idea for so many reasons.

A hermit is a person who lives in seclusion from society.  Between the ice storm in December and the arctic temperatures of January, I (and many of my fellow Torontonians) have become a bit of a hermit this winter.

A hermit cookie is a spice cookie full of dates, raisins and nuts (although I updated these and used SKOR bites ).  They are believed to have been called hermit cookies due to them keeping well and could therefore be hidden away like a hermit. But the truth is there will be no keeping these cookies because they are really really yummy.

Apparently they are so good there is even a National Hermit Cookie Day on November 15. I will have to remember that but I’m not going to wait until then to share the recipe. 

So here is how I made them…


½ cup unsalted butter (bring to room temperature if you have time)
1 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/3 cups flour 
1 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp heaping cinnamon
½ tsp allspice
¼ tsp cloves
1 cup raisins
1 cup dates, pitted and coarsely chopped
1 cup SKOR bites (or chopped walnuts)


Heat oven to 3500  and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Combine flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, allspice and cloves in a bowl and set aside.

Beat butter and sugar until sugar is light and mixture is fluffy.  Add eggs and vanilla.  I usually add eggs one at a time and scrape sides of the bowl in between.

Add flour and spices to the butter mixture until well combined.

Fold in raisins, dates and SKOR bites by hand.

Drop by tablespoon on to parchment lined cookie sheets.  I put 15 cookies on each sheet.

Bake 12 minutes.

Sit down and have a hermit with a cuppa tea and good book, by the fire and dream of warmer days. These cookies will make your house smell really good and warm your heart through this crazy winter. 

Friday, December 20, 2013

Chocolate Chip Shortbread

Shortbread is a type of cookie made from approximately one part icing sugar, two parts butter, and three parts flour and baked at a low temperature to avoid browning.

I make these cookies ALL YEAR ROUND but for some reason shortbread are often made and shared at Christmas.  I think these shortbread are make even better because they are chocolate chip.  Seriously isn’t everything better with chocolate chips?

Christmas is next week so I thought I would share one of my all time favorite recipes and here is how I make chocolate chip shortbread. 

1 3/4 c  pastry four (often this has salt but if not, add ¼ tsp.)
1 c mini chocolate chips
3/4 c unsalted butter
1/2 c icing sugar
2 tsp cold water
2 tsp vanilla

4 oz squares semi-sweet or bitter sweet chocolate (for dipping)

Preheat oven to 325.

Line 1 or 2 baking sheets with parchment paper (depending on the size of your cookie sheets – the recipe makes 30 cookies – they all fit on my 16x21”)

In a small bowl, stir flour with MINI chocolate chips (the cookies are only about 1 1/2 “ so normal size chips are too big).

In a large bowl, sing an electric mixer, beat butter until smooth, then gradually beat in icing sugar until fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.

Beat in water, vanilla (and salt if your pastry flour does not include).

Using a wooden spoon, gradually stir in flour mixture.

Shape into 1" balls and place on baking sheets.

Bake 1 sheet a time, until edges are light golden, 15 to 20 minutes.

Cool completely on rack.

Meanwhile, melt 4 oz of baking chocolate in a double boiler or in a microwave bowl.  Remove and stir until smooth.

Dip half of cooled cookies into melted chocolate.

Place on parchment paper.

Refrigerate until chocolate is set.

If you make these let me know if they become one of your go to cookies.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Movie Camera ACTION!

I love going to the movies.  On most Saturday nights that is where you will find me and my husband at the movies.  And we are just as happy going to a drama or comedy or art film or documentary.  So when the Toronto International Film Festival comes to town we are so excited.  And then getting to make movie themed cookies … well you can just imagine...

TIFF is a big event in the city so I made these cookies and here is how I did it.

Materials Needed for Decorating:

- movie camera cookie cutter (I used the this one from Copper Gifts)
- gel paste to colour some of the royal icing (I used black & yellow)
- silver spray (I used PME Lustre Spray)
- royal icing – as always, I really like the Ateco meringue powder
- piping bags

Instructions and Tips:

Use your favorite sugar cookie recipe and cut out the movie camera cookies.

Outline each cookie.

Fill or flood the cookies.  I like using the squeeze bottles because it is so much cleaner then a piping bag when flooding cookies. 

Use a toothpick or bamboo skewer to pull the icing to fill the cookie.  If you just use the squeeze bottle there is a chance that you will overflood the cookie – it is always a fine line between the perfectly flooded cookie and a cookie that is over flowing with icing.  The toothpick “pull” really helps ensure an evenly flooded cookie.

Let the cookies dry overnight.

Spray the cookies silver.

Outline camera in black.  You can stop there or put a movie expression like “Action” or “Take One” in the middle of the cookie in yellow.  I always like the way the way yellow and silver look together but of course you can use whatever colour you like.

I was pleased with the way these cookies turned out and now its off to the movies (which of course includes popcorn)!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Sweet Challah

I make Challah almost every Friday but making Challah for the Jewish New Year is extra sweet.  Instead of sugar, I use honey and instead of a straight braid, I make a round challah.

This recipe makes 2 medium challahs – I make one with raisins and one with chocolate chips (which is always a big hit with the kids). 

This recipe (from my Cuisinart Bread Machine) is great all year round but extra sweet for a sweet new year.

And, here is how I make it.


1 cup water
1/3 + 2 TBSP canola oil
2 large eggs (room temperature)
1 ¼ tsp salt
4 TBSP honey (buckwheat is the most flavourful)
3 ¾ cups flour
2 ¼ tsp yeast, active dry, instant or bread machine


Place ingredients in order listed, in bread machine pan fitted with the kneading paddle.

Select the menu on your bread machine for dough.

Press start to mix, knead, rise your dough.

When cycle is complete, remove dough from machine and place on floured surface to rest – 10 minutes is good.

I usually make 2 loaves from the large recipe above.

Braid into loaves and let rise again if you have time – 30 to 60 minutes is good.

[NOTE:  If you wish you can braid the challah and freeze it unbaked for future use.  If you do this take the challah out of the freezer and let sit on a parchment covered cookie sheet for a few hours – they will rise again.  Then continue on the recipe as directed.  My sister taught me this trick and can be a real time saver depending on your week.]

Egg wash and cover with streusel topping.

Bake 30-40 minutes.

Mix Ins
Chocolate Chips
Sprinkles – for fun I put on top of chocolate chip challah

I put the mixins in before I braid.

Streusel Topping
1 cup sugar
1 cup flour
½ cup margarine, cut into pieces

Mix sugar, flour, and margarine with fork or in food processor to form a crumble. Sprinkle on top of challah before baking. (You can double and just keep remainder in the freezer to use week after week).

Have a Happy New Year – full of health and peace and all sweet things!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Hello Dolly!

I made these doll cookies – thinking they would be very cute and look like an American Girl doll (even though I am a very Canadian girl;).

When they were done, I thought they looked like me and my friend S.  When my husband saw the cookies (knowing I made Us in Cookie) he said “Cute, You and S. in Cookie” – this is funny because hubby does not really notice stuff like this. 

S. and I have been friends for over 30 years – yes yes we met long before we were born;)

Today is S’s birthday so I thought I would send this out with a big huge “Happy Birthday My Friend My Friend!”