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Archive for December, 2011

No matter how you bake them, butter tarts are hailed as a true Canadian

favourite.  Dating back to the early 1900’s, butter tarts recipes have been

passed down from generation to generation and many family recipes have

debuted at county fairs all across this nation. Synonymous with tradition

and old-fashioned goodness, many recipes originate from our mothers or

grandmothers who thought nothing of throwing together a batch of pastry,

mixing some butter, sugar and dried fruit and turning out these sweet

confections by the dozen. They were filled with whatever happened to line

the pantry shelf that day and often included raisins, currants, walnuts,

chocolate, cranberries, coconut, pecans or any combination of these.

The perfect butter tart all comes down to preference  and Canadians have

definite opinions about whether the filling should be firm and custard-like

or gooey and runny when you bite into it. Over the holidays, I baked

up several recipes while looking for the perfect butter tart but was mostly

disappointed, until finally, I found it.  The most delicious butter tart

filling I found, was from a blog called Under the High Chair by Aimée from

Montreal, Canada. These are her mother’s tarts and the only one’s she eats. 

If you make them, you’ll be sure to see why.

 The filling for these tarts is a perfect combination of both a gooey filling and a

chewy texture. The filling bakes up to a perfect stickiness that’s delicious on

it’s own, or paired with dried fruits and nuts.  These tarts perfectly capture the

homemade taste of sweet Canadian baking and are a delight of buttery

goodness from start to finish.  First you’ll want to start with a pastry that gives

you a light, flaky crust.  This sour cream pastry is easy to handle, rolls out

nicely and bakes up flaky, golden and tender.  It’s a perfect butter tart dough.

Double-Crust Sour Cream Pastry

2 1/2 cups (625 ml) all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp (2 ml) salt

1/2 cup (125 ml) cold butter, cubed

1/2 cup (125 ml) cold lard, cubed

1/4 cup (50 ml) ice water (approx.)

3 tbsp (50 ml) sour cream

 

Method

1. In a large bowl, whisk flour with salt. Using a pastry blender, cut in the cold

butter and lard until it’s in fine pieces with just a few larger pieces.

2. Using a liquid measure, whisk water with sour cream.  Drizzle over the flour

mixture, tossing briskly with a fork and adding a little more water if necessary,

until a ragged dough forms.

3. Divide the dough in half; press it into 2 discs.  Wrap; refrigerate until chilled,

approximately 30 minutes.

Notes

The dough can be made ahead and refrigerated for up to 3 days or freeze in an

airtight container for up to 1 month. This is a double crust pie recipe that will

make enough for 18-24 butter tarts.

Recipe Source:  The Complete Canadian Living Baking Book

Butter Tart Filling  

1/3 cup (75 ml) butter, softened

1 cup (250 ml) brown sugar

2 eggs

1/2 cup (125 ml) corn syrup

2 tsp (10 ml) vanilla

1/4 cup (50 ml) raisins

1/4 cup (50 ml) chopped walnuts

1/2 cup (125 ml) coconut, toasted

1/2 tsp (2 ml) salt

2 tablespoons cream

Method

1. On a lightly floured surface, roll out pastry to generous 1/8-inch (3 mm)

thickness.

2. Using a 4-inch (10 cm) round cutter, cut out 12 circles, re-rolling any

scraps. Fit into muffin cups; refrigerate for 30 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, in a bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar until light.

Beat in eggs, corn syrup, and vanilla and mix well.  Mix in raisins, walnuts,

coconut, salt and cream.  Combine thoroughly. Divide evenly between the

pastry shells, approximately 1/4 cup (50 ml) into each shell.

4. Bake in the centre of a 350 °F (180 ° C) oven until filling is set and pastry is

golden, approximately 20 minutes.  Run a thin knife blade around the edges to

release the tarts.  Let cool in the muffin cups on a rack for 20 minutes before

transferring to a rack to cool. These tarts can be made ahead and stored in a

single layer in an airtight container at room temperature.

Makes 1 1/2 dozen 2-inch tarts.

Notes

Ease the rounds of pastry dough into the muffin cups and gently press them 

up against the sides of the cup with your fingertips. Without stretching the

pastry, fit the dough into the cup, working out as many of the folds as possible

for a circular tart shell or leave them wavy for a ruffled effect. 

Recipe Source:  Under the High Chair

Butter Tart Variations

Plain Butter Tarts:  omit the raisins, walnuts and toasted coconut.

Chocolate Butter Tarts:   add 3/4 cup ( 175 ml) semi-sweet chocolate

chips, omit raisins, and coconut.

Cranberry Coconut Butter Tarts:  add 3/4 cup ( 175 ml) cranberries,

omit  raisins and nuts.

Pecan Butter Tarts: add 3/4 cup ( 175 ml) chopped pecans, omit the

raisins, walnuts and toasted coconut.

There are, of course, the tried and trues, but the variations for these tarts are

endless. And, of course, that is what makes them so much fun ~ there’s

something for everyone!  I know I had my fair share.

Sshh!  That’s all I’m saying about that.

This Sweet Wife

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Image

With Christmas just around the corner, I’ve got recipe ideas flying around my

head like freshly falling snow.  If only I had the time to make them all! Aahh,

that would be so very nice.  Over the next two weeks, I’ll make as many

interesting recipes as I can, that tie into the holidays and help us to bake and

cook up the delicious scents and aromas that we love about them. 

Image

I love this time of year and I love all of the desserts and sweets that go with it

  Image

These tartlets hold a medley of four different kinds of nuts and red chopped

glace cherries in a cookie-like shell.  Wrapped up in a honey caramel, the fruit

and nuts offer a taste and crunch that are a perfect match for each other. 

Drizzled with milk chocolate, these tartlets will add a delightful festive

appearance to your holiday table that will have your guests reaching for

more. Make and freeze these tartlets ahead of the holidays and you’ll have one

less thing to do once the festivities begin. Hhmmm, that sure sounds good!

  Image

Nutty Cherry Tartlets with Honey Caramel

Crust

1 1/2 cups (375 ml) all-purpose flour

1/2 cup (125 ml) icing sugar

1/3 cup (75 ml) cold butter, cut into cubes

 1 egg

1/4 tsp (1 ml) vanilla

Filling

1/2 cup (125 ml) each of pistachios, pecans, almonds and hazelnuts

1/2 cup (125 ml)  glace cherries

1/3 cup  (75 ml) clear honey

1/4 cup (50 ml) sugar

1/2 cup (125 ml) 35 % whipping cream

2 tbsp (25 ml) butter

1/2 cup milk or dark chocolate

Method

1. To make shells, coat three dozen mini-muffin cups with cooking spray or

lightly butter.  If you have non-stick pans, you can skip this step.  Whirl flour

with icing sugar and butter in food processor until butter is in tiny, barely

visible pieces. Add egg and vanilla; whirl until moist crumbs form.  Turn out

onto a piece of plastic wrap or waxed paper and form into a solid disc of

dough.  For ease in rolling, divide dough in half  and roll between two sheets of

waxed paper or parchment. Roll out each half until slightly thinner than

normal pie dough.  Cut with a 2 1/2 -inch (6-cm) cutter; line cups, extending

the dough slightly above the cup edge.  Use scraps to repair any breaks or fill

in thin spots.  Freeze while making the filling or for at least 10 minutes.

Note:  You could certainly use your own favourite pastry recipe for the shell

instead of following the one here. 

2.  Spread the nuts onto a baking pan and toast in a 400 °F (200 °C) oven for 6

minutes or until lightly browned.  Use a tea towel to rub papery skins from the

hazelnuts.  Coarsely chop nuts and cherries.  Stir together; set aside.

3.  To make the honey caramel, combine the honey and sugar in a medium

heavy-bottomed saucepan.  Without stirring, bring it to a boil over medium

heat.  Meanwhile, in a measuring cup in the microwave, heat the cream and

butter together for 45 to 60 seconds or until very hot, but not boiling. 

Continue boiling sugar mixture until it has turned a deep caramel colour. 

Remove the pan from the heat.  Avert your face while slowly pouring in the

cream mixture (because it will really bubble up); stir.  Reduce heat to low and

return pan to stove.  Gently boil, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes.  Stir in

nuts and cherries; remove from heat and set aside.

4. Remove tart shells from freezer; immediately place in preheated oven. 

Bake until pastry is golden, about 8 minutes (for a dark pan) or 10 minutes (for

a light pan). Cool; then generously fill with caramel nut mixture. 

5. Drizzle with melted milk or dark chocolate. For this small amount you can

easily melt the chocolate in the microwave in a microwave safe dish for 30

seconds, remove & stir until completely melted. Drizzle back & forth with a

spoon across the tarts.

Covered, these tartlets keep well at room temperature for up to 2 days; or

freeze in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.  Makes 3 dozen tartlets. 

Thanks for the company, and good luck with all your Christmas baking!

This Sweet Wife

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With the holidays fast approaching, Christmas morning recipe ideas are at the top of my to-do list.  Lots of folks will be busy opening gifts and sharing time with their families and no one wants to be stored away in the kitchen and miss out on all the fun.  So, while many a strata will be made on December 24th, here’s another idea that will bring a festive dimension to your holiday breakfast that can be made ahead.  Orange, Cranberry, Carrot Cake Muffins.

When it comes to muffins, I’m pretty fussy.  I like them moist, with nutritious ingredients, full of flavour and not too sweet.  A muffin should not be a cupcake.  I don’t think muffins need a lot of sweet, sticky toppings; I think the muffin should be good enough that it can stand alone. I like muffins that work for breakfast, can be packed with a lunch, are great  grab n’ go’s, and fill the void between after school and supper. This muffin really fits the bill.  But it also brings a dimension of satisfying holiday flavours in the orange, the cranberries, the carrots, the nuts, coconut and spices that your family and guests will really love. 

These muffins do not have an oily taste, they’re light and very moist from  the use of the whole orange.  The fruit and nuts add texture, flavour and good nutrition. Whip up a batch of these muffins over the holidays; prepared ahead,they’ll keep you out of the kitchen and free to enjoy the spirit of Christmas.

 

Cranberry Orange Carrot Cake Muffins

Ingredients

1 seedless navel orange, quartered, rind included

2/3 cup (150 ml) orange juice (approx.)

2 eggs

3/4 cup (175 ml) packed brown sugar

1/3 cup ( 75 ml) canola oil

2 tsp (10 ml) vanilla

1 3/4 cups (425 ml) all-purpose flour

1 tsp (10 ml) cinnamon

1 tsp. (5 ml) baking powder

1 tsp. (5 ml) baking solda

1/2 tsp (2 ml) each ground nutmeg and salt

2 cups (500 ml) grated carrots

1/2 cup (125 ml) each dried cranberries and chopped toasted pecans

1/2 cup (125 ml) shredded coconut

Method

1. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners or grease and set aside. 2. In food processor, finely chop the orange.  My food processor didn’t chop the orange fine enough for me so I ended up using my hand-held blender.  I really ground up the orange to a fine pulp until it was foamy and resembled jam. How much you grind up the orange is really a personal preference.  You may like to leave little fine pieces of orange or you can grind it to a foaming pulp like I did.  The skin of the orange can be quite strong so if you like a milder orange taste, grind it up well.

2. Scrape the orange into a liquid measuring cup; add enough orange juice to make 1 1/3 cups (325 ml).  Scrape into a bowl and whisk in eggs, sugar, oil and vanilla until well mixed.

3. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, salt; scrape orange mixture over the top. Add carrots, cranberries, chopped pecans and 1/2 cup (125 ml)  of the coconut; stir just until the dry ingredients are moistened.  Spoon into prepared muffin cups,  approximately 3/4 full and evenly distributed (I personally have trouble with this part; too much in some, not enough in another — whatever; don’t fuss, it always works out in the end).

4. Bake in the centre of a 350 °F (180 °C) oven until tops are firm to the touch, about 25 minutes.  Let cool on the rack for 5 minutes.  Remove from the pan and let cool on the rack. (If you decide to make these ahead; store in an airtight container for up to 24 hours or wrap individually in plastic wrap and freeze in an airtight container for up to 1 month.)

Adapted from Canadian Living Holiday Baking, Fall 2004

Happy Baking ~ I hope you stop by again real soon! 

Love,

This Sweet Wife

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I stumbled upon these cookies, quite by accident.  I was all set to make Ooey,

Gooey, Chewy, S’more Bars until I discovered that I was out of graham cracker

crumbs.  All I had were oreo cookie crumbs.  Hhhm. After a second look at the

ingredient list, I couldn’t see any reason why they wouldn’t work

with oreo cookie crumbs instead of graham cracker crumbs.  Maybe they

would make chocolate S’mores. Sounded good to me and good they

were.  Everyone went crazy for them!  My family downed these magical treats

faster than you can say chocolate S’more bars. They are exactly like the name

implies … they’re ooey, they’re gooey, they’re chewy, they’re chocolate S’more

bars and they’re really delicious. 

With the snow starting to fly here in Ontario, we’re always looking for heart

warming foods to serve our friends and families. Served slightly warm and

gooey, with steaming cups of hot chocolate, these bars can really warm things

up after a game of sport.   Whether it’s hockey, tobogganing, ice skating or a

giant family snowball fight, take the mitts off this winter and serve up a batch

of these satisfying bars.  You’ll be amazed at just how fast they’ll disappear. 

Ooey, Gooey, Chocolate S’more Bars

Prep:  25 minutes

Oven:  350° F

Bake:  35 minutes

Ingredients

3/4 cup (175 ml) butter, softened

1/2 cup (125 ml) packed brown sugar

2 eggs

2 tsp. (10 ml) vanilla

 1 cup (250 ml) all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups (375 ml) quick cook rolled oats

1 cup (250 ml) oreo cookie crumbs

2 1/2 (625 ml) cups tiny marshmallows

1 /2 cup (125 ml) milk chocolate chunks for baking

1/2 cup (125 ml) good white chocolate chunks for baking

Method

Preheat oven to 350 ° F ( 180°C). 

Line a 13x9x2-inch baking pan with foil, extending foil over the pan edges.  If

you’re having trouble getting the aluminum foil to line a pan smoothly you can

try flipping the pan over and shaping the foil around the outside of the pan,

extending it about 1 inch past all the edges.  Remove the oil, flip the pan

upright, and pop the foil lining in the pan.

Grease foil well, paying careful attention to the corners and set aside. 

In a large bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 2 minutes. 

Beat in brown sugar until combined, scraping the bowl occasionally. 

Beat in eggs and vanilla until combined. 

Beat in flour. Stir in oats and oreo cookie crumbs.

Reserve 1 cup (250 ml) of the oat mixture.  Spread remaining oat mixture into

prepared pan.

TIP Use the back of a large spoon dipped in hot water to spread the oat

mixture in the pan.  It’s near impossible to spread any other way.

Bake in the preheated oven about 15 minutes or until lightly browned. 

Sprinkle marshmallows evenly over the warm crust.  Top with chocolate

chunks. 

Dot remaining oat mixture over chocolate and marshmallows. Bake bars

about 20 minutes more or until top is lightly browned. Cool completely in pan

on a wire rack.  Using the edges of the foil, lift the uncut bars out of the pan. 

Carefully peel back the foil while the cookies are still warm.  

Cut into bars.  We cut 12 supersized bars ~ but you can also get 24 regular

sized bars. Delicious!

Place bars in an airtight container; cover.  Store at room temperature for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens Magazine of Christmas Cookies December 2009.

Be sure to let me know if you give these a try. I’d love to hear from you.

This Sweet Wife

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I’ve been baking a lot of cookies lately and even though I love all that sugar,

I started craving some crisp, satisfying vegetables before I fell into a sugar

induced coma.  This salad proved just the remedy to balance my gluttonous

cookie consumption and gave me a boost of vitamins full of delicious flavours

that blend really well together. I couldn’t wait for the dressing to marinate the

vegetables since it was already lunch time and munched down immediately

after it was made.  It was delicious. If you have the time, however, it’s even

better after it sits in the fridge for a bit to blend the dressing flavours.  The

salty bacon pieces and cherry tomatoes added just before serving, take this

salad up a notch with some stand out flavours and they also really dress it up.

The colours of this salad are delightful, they make me sing, and singing makes

me happy.  And when I’m happy, the world is a better place.

Fresh Vegetable Salad

2 cups (500 ml) broccoli

2 cups (500 ml) cauliflower

1/2 cup (125 ml) pepper, chopped (I used red, but you can use any colour)

1/4 cup (60 ml) grated carrot

1 cup (250 ml) mayonnaise or salad dressing

1/4 cup (60 ml) sugar

3 tablespoons  (75 ml) Parmesan cheese

2 bacon strips, cooked and chopped

6 cherry tomatoes

Wash vegetables under cold water, drain and pat dry.  Chop vegetables into

bite size pieces and toss in a large salad bowl. 

In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise, sugar and parmesan cheese; pour

over vegetables …

 … and toss to coat. 

Cover and chill. Sprinkle with bacon and halved cherry tomatoes just before

serving.  Yields 8 servings.  Bon Appetite!

Love,

This Sweet Wife

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For as long as I can remember I’ve enjoyed these crisp and chewy Rice Krispie Marshmallow Treats.  Growing up, my mom made them for me and I’ve been making them for my family for over 20 years.  They’re one of those treats that conjure up memories for childhood and fun.  They’re SO not serious or sophisticated, just simple and yummy. They can be dressed up or served simple.  Around here I usually keep them plain because that’s the way we love ’em.  They always go over well whenever there’s a crowd of teenagers around and my teenagers still enjoy them after all these years.

A pan doesn’t last long because they pass as a quick on-the-go breakfast … a mid-morning snack … a meal replacement … an afternoon snack … a meal replacement … no just kidding … I draw the line at having them for supper … though they are made from rice, aren’t they?  Hhmm.

We like our treats ooey and gooey, and made only with real butter. My kids have always asked me why my marshmallow treats always taste better than others they’ve tried and seriously, the only thing I can think of, is that I use real butter.  Other than that, I don’t really do anything extra special. Here’s the long version of making these simple treats.  They’re supposed to be one of the fastest cookies you can make but it’s probably my longest blog.  Just wanted to make sure you got them just right so I’ve included a pictorial! Hope you like it.

Rice Krispie Marshmallow Treats

1/2 cup (25 ml)  butter

1 teaspoon (5 ml) real vanilla

12 cups Rice Krispies cereal

16 cups (2 Qts.) marshmallows, either large or small will work.

This recipe fills a deep 9″ x 13″ glass baking dish and makes 20 large squares.

The first thing you want to do is melt your butter in a large pot.  Keep your heat adjusted to medium-low and stir.  You don’t want to burn all of that gorgeous butter~!  Once your butter is melted, add your vanilla.

Than add your marshmallows. Stir the marshmallows into the melted butter to coat them. At this point you’ll want to turn your heat down a little just to make sure your marshmallows don’t burn.

Keep stirring.

… and stirring …… and just for fun …  stir some more. See how the marshmallows are melting down.  We’re almost there.

Almost …

Hmmmm … okay, it’s really getting gooey now.

Look at that, we made it.  There’s only little bits of marshmallow left to melt so remove your pan from the heat and give it a couple more stirs and you’re ready for the Rice Krispies cereal.

Start dropping in your Rice Krispies cereal and stir. You’ve got to get them all coated with the marshmallow goo.

Stir, stir, and stir some more until they’re all coated. Believe me, it will be worth it. See all the lovely marshmallow goo covering the cereal.  The last thing you want is a dry batch of these because they become very hard and when you need to get out the butcher knife and heave with all your might on the handle to cut them, you know you’ve added too many krispies. Now go ahead and scoop out all that sweetness into a 9″ x 13″ glass baking dish. Coat your hands and fingers in a light film of butter and pat them down gently until they’re nice and even. A deep 9″ x 13″ pan holds a lot but I have 3 teenagers and a working man around the house … I need this size and then some.

So here they are, ooey, gooey Rice Krispie Marshmallow Treats.  They can be stored at room temperature for a couple of days covered in plastic wrap or an airtight container … if they last that long.

Good luck & enjoy!  I hope you stop by again soon!

This Sweet Wife

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Meatloaf is really a personal preference.  Everyone seems to have their own

version and it usually starts out with a ground meat of some sort … for some

it’s pork, for some, chicken, turkey or beef and  for some it’s a combination of

one or more of these. At our house, well … it’s always been just plain beef,

because that’s what we have an abundance of.  For years now I’ve been

making a standard meatloaf that combines the ground meat with eggs, milk,

salt & pepper, breadcrumbs, sour cream and a shot of worcestershire sauce

and mustard covered with a ketchup and brown sugar topping.  It’s always

been well received by most of my family, except my youngest son, Jordan. 

With my two oldest sons away at school a lot, it’s become rather difficult to

make the usual meatloaf, because there’s often just three of us and if one of us

doesn’t like it … well, it just seems to last forever. 

So, determined to find a meatloaf that even Jordan would like, I decided to try

these individual italian seasoned meat loaves.  The basic recipe is very similar

to what I was already doing, but it seems that the addition of the spices and

the parmesan cheese changes everything.  They were declared a winner and

now I can make meatloaf again.  Thank goodness, because I was wondering

just how I was going to use up all of that hamburger meat that I have in the

freezer.

Here’s the recipe. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

Italian Meat Loaves

2 eggs, beaten

3/4 cup (112 g) cracker or bread crumbs

1/2 cup (125 ml) milk

1/2 cup (125 ml) plus 2 tablespoons

(30 ml) grated parmesan cheese, divided

1 teaspoon (5 ml) Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon (5 ml) garlic salt

1 teaspoon (5 ml) Italian seasoning, divided

2  pounds ground beef

1/4 cup (60 ml) ketchup

1/4 cup (60 ml) brown sugar

Method

In a large mixing bowl, combine eggs, crumbs, milk, 1/2 cup cheese, onion,

Worcestershire sauce, garlic salt and 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning.  Add the

ground beef and mix well.  Shape into 10 individual loaves; place on a rack in a

greased large shallow baking pan.  Mix ketchup and brown sugar together and

spread on  top of each individual loaf; sprinkle with the remaining parmesan

cheese and Italian seasoning.  Bake at 350 °F ( 180 °C) for 45-55 minutes or

until no longer pink inside.  Makes 10 individual loaves. Recipe can easily be

halved.

lian

Italian seasoning is a staple in most grocery stores.  If, however, you have

trouble finding it, it is possible and actually nice, to make your own.  This

recipe can be made and stored in an airtight container for 3 months.  You can

use this combination of store-bought herbs or fresh herbs that you’ve dried

yourself.  Of course, the ones you grow and dry yourself will no doubt have

the best flavour.

Italian Seasoning

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
  • 2 Tablespoons basil
  • 2 Tablespoons marjoram
  • 2 Tablespoons oregano
  • 2 Tablespoons rosemary
  • 2 Tablespoons cilantro
  • 2 Tablespoons thyme
  • 2 Tablespoons dried savory

Method

In a food processor, combine basil, marjoram, oregano, rosemary, cilantro,

thyme, savory and red pepper flakes. Blend for 1 minute, or until desired

consistency is achieved. Remember, you can always change it up.  Leave out

what you don’t like and add more of what you do like. 

Adapted from: Taste of Home Magazine

Hope you enjoy these tasty meatloaf bundles!

This Sweet Wife

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