Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Chocolate Malt Cookies with Cranberries

Another weekend is over....  I like to think I accomplished what I needed to, and one of the things on my list was to make some baking for lunches in the week ahead.  This is a bit of tweaking of my favourite basic chocolate chip cookie recipe.  They offers the same chewy goodness with a lot of chocolate flavour and some cranberries added for good measure.  They really are nice with a glass of cold milk:)  You really should give them a try.
Chocolate Malt Cookies with Cranberries (and Chocolate chips)
1 3/4 cup butter softened
1 cup light brown sugar
2 cups sugar
2 1/2 tbsp malt extract
2 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla
2 tsp baking powder
2/3 cup cocoa powder
3 cups flour
1 cup dried cranberries
2 cups chocolate chips
Cream together the butter, and sugars.  Mix in the malt extract, eggs and vanilla. Mix in baking powder, cocoa powder and flour to combine.  Stir in cranberries and chocolate chips.  Chill dough for 1 hour in the fridge before baking.  Scoop by rounded teaspoonful onto nonstick baking sheets and bake for 7-8 minutes at 350F.  Try one or two cookies first on their own to get the timing right.  7-8 minutes should produce a cookie with a chewy center.  Longer baking will make a more crisp cookie.  Store in an air tight cookie tin.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Kettle Corn...Sweet and Salty

Ike's class was asked to bring in snacks to share for their Valentine's Day party earlier this month.  He decided that he wanted to bring popcorn for his contribution.  While examining the choices of pre-made popcorn in the grocery isles....I quickly decided that this was going to be too expensive for what he would be getting.  We opted to make our own to bring in and some seasoning flavours for the kids to pick their own.  Now usually we eat popcorn straight away, so I was on the internet looking for some suggestions on how to store popcorn made in advance.  Quite accidentally I found the Rachel Ray recipe for Sweet and Salty Kettle Corn.  I was intrigued by this flavour option as I had not ever tried to make it before, and it seems to be very popular with most of the neighbourhood here.  It turned out to be exceptionally easy, and pretty yummy too.  It was so easy to make....all you need is a bit of oil, a pot, some popcorn, sugar, and salt......and of course 4 minutes of your time.  I reduced the amount of oil in from the original recipe as it was not needed as far as I could see.
Quick and Easy Kettle Corn
2 1/2 Tbsp vegetable oil (we used canola)
1/2 cup popcorn kernels
1/4 cup sugar
salt to taste (we used about 3/4 tsp)

In a lidded pot, heat oil and popcorn kernels on medium high heat.  Once the oil begins to sizzle and make a bit of noise, add the sugar.  Keep the kernels moving by shaking the pot gently so they do not burn from kitting in one spot too long. Soon...in a few minutes, the popcorn will begin to pop.  Continue to shake the pop gently to keep the up popped kernel at the bottom and to keep the popped ones from burning.  When the popping slow down to just a few pops here and there, remove from the heat and transfer into a large bowl.  The kernels will be a bit sticky from the melted sugar.  Sprinkle to taste with salt while stirring to distribute the salt evenly.  Once the popcorn cools a bit it will not be sticky.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

A Mango Loaf

This little loaf recipe has been on my to do list for a little while now.  My mum has been telling me about it for quite some time now.  As each recipe makes two loaves....she has made over 40 loaves of this now.  Well...I just had to try it now didn't I??  Last weekend as part of my very productive weekend....I had a chance to give it a try, and it was really quite yummy!  I am planning to make it again and I have already got another can of mango waiting...so I'll be ready.  Although it contains mango, it is not a very over powering flavour....and the little cake is 'just enough' in terms of sweetness and flavour.  An interesting little loaf which freezes well and requires no icing!  That's a pretty handy recipe to keep in your little recipe box....I'd say!
We are at another weekend again and here's to hoping that it will be as productive as last weekend was!  I did manage to get a little more work done on my little crochet project......Well at least I have not given up and tucked it away....so that's good right??  More on that later...  If you are in need of a little something new to try in the way of baking....Give this mango loaf a try......I think you will like it!

2 cups white flour                     
1 1/4 cups white sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 eggs beaten frothy                     
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 c. reserved liquid juice from canned mango
1  (15 ounce) can mangoes, drained and chopped in chunks (reserve the drained liquid)
12 dates, Chopped and simmered for a few minutes in water then drained
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

In a large bowl combine flour, sugar, soda, salt and cinnamon. Beat eggs with whisk till thick and frothy. Add oil, vanilla, mango juice. Stir into flour mixture. Stir till just moistened. Fold in mangoes, chopped dates, chopped walnuts into batter just to incorporate.
Spray two 5 x 7 bread tins with pam. Line parchment paper in each tin. Spoon batter equally into both tins. Bake 350 degrees 50 minutes (in my oven)

** the top will split slightly when loaves are done.
** cut parchment paper so you have two handles on each side of loaf tin to pull loaves out of tins when removed from oven.
** loaves are done when you press on top and it feels firm and the loaves spring back.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Thrift Shopping

After a little bit of time in the thrift shops....I came home with this.  Now I just need some free time to work on some crafting projects.  I already started working with the crochet thread on a new project.  It has been on my list of things I'd like to make....hopefully it will see its way to being finished.  So far I have been able to follow the charted instructions without too much trouble.
As it becomes larger, the number of stitches in each round increases, and it becomes slower and slower going.  I also had to repeat two rounds when I discovered a mistake and had to rip it back.  Fortunately, with only one live stitch, it is much easier to rip back crochet than knitting.....and all it cost me was a little bit more of my time.  This is such a cute project.....I hope I can see my way to the end without problem.  Fingers crossed.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Happy Valentine's from Ike

Wow...what a productive weekend it has been.  There has been a lot of preparation for Valentine's Day and little projects going on around the house.  Shortly I will be off to pick up photos for Ike's class Valentines.  I printed one off at home for a trial run, but needed to adjust the cropping a little wee bit so that the printing is not falling off the bottom.  Still...you get the idea.  Pretty darned cute for a last minute Valentine.  It worked well for me as Ike's class is still exchanging Valentine's and most of the store bought options were really better suited to younger kids.  I found this idea on line last year but had already committed to a different idea.  Tonight Ike will be writing on all the backs of the Valentine's......

Monday, February 6, 2012

Valentine Crochet

Brrrrr.....there is a bit of a chill in the air, and I'm just trying to knock it off with a cup of hot Chocolate Ovaltine.  That's better....... although I might just need a little time in front of the fire place too.  I've been up to little crochet lately.  I do much less crochet than knitting.....which is not saying a lot since I don't actually do a LOT of either.  Well, let's just say that I am less competent at crochet....and that really is quite sad.  I've been slowly working my way towards working with crochet thread.   I've made quite a few things with size 3 thread, which really isn't 'thread' in my books, and have just successfully completed my first project using size 10 crochet cotton.  Yeah!  My first project using a steel crochet hook....size 7:)  The projects above are made with size 3 thread, are nice and quick, and are a nice little Valentine's Day gift.  The pattern is available for free here if you feel like making a few.  I ended up making 6 of these (Heart's Desire Doily) for the girls across the street.....a pair for each.  With the last one.....my seventh, I ran out of pink thread and finished it off with red.......I think it turned out OK too....but it sadly has no partner to match:( 
Now this is my size 10 thread project.  I made it in Valentine's colours since I have been involved in some Valentine's craft swaps which it may yet go into.  I have a love for vintage thread crochet pot holders and this (Round Pot Holder) pattern from Purple Kitty Yarns looked like an easy pattern to start with.  It is a double sided 8 inch round project, and it really was quite easy.  You pretty much have the pattern memorized by the third round on the first side.  I made it without a hanging loop as I never use them.....but one could be easily added.  I used only two colours rather that the three suggested by the pattern since I could not decide on a third colour and I wanted to use Valentine's colours.  The finer thread is slower going as there are a lot more stitches required to make the project than if were made with thicker thread.....But I'm pretty happy that I made my way through.......Next I'm thinking about a doily.  It will be a bit of a challenge to find a pattern that I like as I am most definitely not a doily person....I just want to see if I can make one.  Sadly most of the patterns that I've liked have been rated as challenging......perhaps not the best choice for my first one:)