Baking, eat local

Butter Tart Bars

A few months ago while in my culinary program I was speaking to two of the other student, both of which were born in columbia and we began to have a conversation about what would be the national food of Canada, the chef instructor and I began to list foods such as poutine, peameal bacon, and even maple syrup.  

Looking through my cookbooks and my own personal recipes I had a lightbulb moment a few days later though, butter tarts. How could I have forgotten this delicious treat and it’s connection to this country? There are so many facts in the history of the butter tart that makes it first place and most lovef as a national food such as; 

  • There are multiple events in the country that star this pastry including Butter Tart festival at Muskoka Lakes, Ontario, the trademarked “Butter Tart Trail” at Wellington North, Ontario, and the “Butter Tart Tour” in ,Kawarthas Northumberland Ontario
  • The first published recipe for a butter tart was in 1900 from Barrie, Ontario and can be seen in The Women’s Auxiliary of the Royal Victoria Hospital Cookbook
  • Butter tarts are most popular in the provinces of Ontario and Nova Scotia
  • Culinary historians trace its creation back to lesfilles du roi, the hundreds of young women sent from France to populate Quebec in the late 17th century
  • At the 2017 edition of Ontario Butter Tart festival  in June, 50,000 visitors consumed more than 160,000 butter tarts Butter Tart Bars
  •  1 3/4  cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar 
  • 3/4  cup cold butter, cut into small cubes
  1. Grease a 9×13 pan and line with parchment paper
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit 
  3. Mix together flour and sugar and then cut in the butter into the flour until it resembles a crumb mixture. 
  4. Press the crumb mixture into the bottom of the baking pan and bake 20 to 30 minutes (until the edges just start to brown)
  •  2/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  •  1/3 cup +1 tablespoon flour
  • 4 large  eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2  tsp salt
  • 1 cups corn syrup 
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup 
  1. Mix together the flour and brow  sugar really well. Whisk in the eggs, and vanilla extract and then finally the corn and maple syrup and whisk well. 
  2. Let the mixture sit for 15 minutes while the bottom layer bakes (it will dissolve all flour and brown sugar in the time) stir occasionally
  3. As soon as the bottom layer has brown edges take out from the oven and pour over the syrup mixture and return to oven for an additional 40 to 50 minutes (it can be wobbly in the middle but not overly wobbly or it will need to be put back in the oven for a few minutes)
  4. Once cooled pull out the bars using the edges of the parchment paper and cut into big bars. 

*if you wish to add extras such as pecans or chocolate chips add about 1 cup* 

Baking, Happiness, Lifestyle

Apple Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

I enjoy Christmas holiday parties for the main reason that I get to spend a few days in the kitchen creating new recipes and I won’t have to worry about container after container of baked goods going to waste because there just wasn’t enough time to eat them, no with Christmas season upon us it means baking new recipes, having plenty of taste testers and being able to tell if it’s a hit or miss recipe if the plate is empty at the end of the night or if people are reaching over you to grab one for the ride home while you pack up; these where one of the hits this past weekend at my family Christmas. With a sweet and moist cake and the perfect ratio of cream cheese and cinnamon frosting. 

Apple Cupcakes with Cinnamon (Makes 12)

  • 1 1/4 cup flour, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
  • 1 1/2 cup shredded gala apple’s (about 2 medium)
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter at room temp 
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar 
  • 1/2 cup sugar 
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 
  • 1 egg, room temperature 
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk 
  1. Pre heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line a 12 muffin pan with liners 
  2. In a medium bowl whisk together sifted flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon. A small handful at a time add Apple’s and stir until apple is fully coated (Will help the apple’s not to clump all together in the final product)
  3. In stand mixer beat butter until creamy then add the sugars and beat until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla extract. Beat until combined 
  4. Beat in half the flour then the buttermilk, then remaining flour mixture. 
  5. Pour batter info prepared muffin baking pan and bake 20-25 minutes
  6. Let cool 5 minutes in pan then finish cooling on cooling racks.

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting 

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature 
  •  8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature 
  • 3 teaspoon vanilla extract 
  • 2 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 
  • 4 cups powdered sugar 
  1. Beat butter until fluffy then add cream cheese (cut into cubes and add 1-2 at a time) and mix until combined
  2.  Add vanilla and cinnamon then add the powdered sugar half a cup at a time. 
  3. Fill a piping bag with the frosting and pipe onto cupcakes ( I used Wiltons 1M tip) 
Baking, Goals, Lifestyle

Cinnamon Maple Sugar Cookies 

The use of cookie cutters is definitely a baking skill I use rarely, if I had to estimate how many times in the past five years I have used a cookie cutter for cookies would be about twice. (of course I have sat with my daughter and used a cookie cutter while playing with her play dough though)

When I began my Christmas baking this past weekend I made the goal this holiday season to learn and perfect rolling dough and cutting cookies with snowmen, bells, candy cane and circular cookie cutters, and what better way to start that goal then to make a delicious glazed sugar cookie with a burst of flavour. 

Cinnamon Maple Sugar Cookies 

  • 2 1/4 cup cake and pastry flour 
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar 
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt 
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened 
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar 
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract 
  • 1 teaspoon  maple extract 
  • 2 eggs 
  1. Sift the flour, cinnamon, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl and whisk together. 
  2. In a bowl of a stand mixer cream together the butter and sugar. Add the extracts and eggs. 
  3. Slowly add the flour mixture into the liquid mixture in the mixture. 
  4. Wrap dough in a ball in plastic wrap refrigerate for up to two hours.
  5. After two hours pre heat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. 
  6. Roll dough on a floured work surface  until about 1/8 inch thick. *Does not puff up much during baking* 
  7. Cut with cookie cutter and place on prepared sheets. 
  8. Bake 8 – 10 minutes
  9. Transfer to cooling racks and cool completely. 
  • 1 1/2 cup icing sugar 
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon water 
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon 
  • 1 teaspoon maple extract. 
  1. Mix glaze ingredients (if you wish to have a runnier glaze add 1 teaspoon of water at a time until the thickness/thinness you want) and spread the glaze on completely cooled cookies. Let the glaze harden before eating, stacking or packaging cookies. 


Baking, Happiness

Hot Chocolate Cookies

We began our Christmas baking early this year, after Lily’s surprise outing to her first ever movie in a theater, The Star, which is the nativity story but through the eyes of the animals in the story. Lily enjoyed her time, sat quietly, loved the movie popcorn and we were able to have comfortable seats since we were in the reclining seats theater. 

After kicking of the Christmas season with a fun movie together and a walk through the mall with all of the Christmas decorations and taking cute photos of Lily enjoying time with the Christmas lights Lily and I took out our new cookie cutters and tried a new recipe for these delicious hot chocolate cookies with a sticky but sweet marshmallow fluff sandwiching two cookies together. My little kitchen helped did a great job cracking and whisking the egg, whisking together all the dry ingredients and even did a great job with the cookie cutter! I love having my little girl in the kitchen helping me and this season will bring plenty of chances for that so i’m excited to kick of the holiday baking season.

Hot Chocolate Cookies 

  • 2 1/4 cups cake & pastry flour, sifted
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • half a jar of marshmallow cream*
  1. In medium bowl, sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt
  2. Beat the butter and sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla and beat until incorporated.
  3. Mix on low while adding the flour mixture in two batches.
  4. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for  2 hours to up to one day.
  5. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper
  6. Dust the counter or baking mat with flour and dust rolling pin with flour and roll out dough until about 1\8 inch thick. Cut out cookies using 2-4 inch cookie cutters and transfer to baking sheets.
  7. Refrigerate the cookies on sheets for around 10 minutes
  8. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 12-15 minutes until slightly puffed and darker around the edges.
  9. Let cool for about 5 minutes on baking sheets, then transfer to racks to cool completely
  10. Spray a butter knife with a light bit of oil and use that knife to spread marshmallow cream on one side of cookies and sandwich them together.

*Might need more, might need less depends how much you wish to add to cookies.


Eat Pray Love Made Me Do It

When I picked up Eat Pray Love for the first time I didn’t think I would like it. I had gone searching through my mother’s romance novels stacked in her room hoping to find something to read that wasn’t romance since I had finished all my books, and I came across Eat Pray Love. The first time I read the book I didn’t actually know it wasn’t a work of fiction, I had no idea Liz was a real person sharing her struggles and overcomings in this book. 

Then a few years later I came across the book again in yet another search of my mother’s books for something to read and my mother told me how the book was turned into a movie, and enlightened me that the book was really a biography. I read the book again was gifted the movie the following Christmas and stole my mother’s copy to keep on my bookshelf. 

Years went by, I was hospitalized three times in one year to a psych ward and the beginning of the next year found out I was pregnant. I tried to make it work with my daughter’s fathers but there’s no way to make an abusive relationship  work let’s be honest. The next two years were a struggle, being a single parent, accepting my past and trying to move forward while pushing through fear.

Then my daughter began pre K, I was accepted into a culinary program and the night before I started I found Eat Pray Love Made Me Do It….and not to be dramatic but it changed my outlook. 

Reading all these stories of people that were inspired to grasp there dreams, to fight for them even though sometimes it hurt at the beginning pushed me through the early mornings, the long hours on my feet, pushed me passed the sadness of not being there to pick my daughter up from school everyday. 

So I have a few more stories to read, but once I finish I’m going to return to my worn out copy of Eat Pray Love and be inspired to keep going forward. 

Baking, eat local, Happiness, Lifestyle, Lily's Food

Jam Filled Buns/Cookies

This week instead of testing out new recipes and making them my own I wanted to be nostalgic and take recipes from my childhood and try to change them up a bit and put my imprint onto classic recipes my mother would make for me when I was a little girl.

This recipe was my favorite as a young child and teenager. We would call them Jam cookies due to the tiny size and hint of sweetness from the jam, but the original recipe my mother went from years ago they were referred to as “Jam Filled Buns.” they have a flaky biscuit look and taste to them, and are perfect for a picnic, summer party or just a quick breakfast surprise. IMG_3063

  • 2 cups sifted all purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup cold butter (cut into cubes)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cold milk
  • Jam (any flavor you wish)
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. In a large bowl combine the sifted flour, brown sugar, baking powder and salt. Cut in the butter until the mixture is crumbly. Make well in center.
  3. Whisk together the milk and egg, then pour into the well of the flour mixture and stir well to form a soft dough. (use more milk if needed)
  4. On a floured surface knead the dough 8-10 times, pat or roll out the dough until it is about 2 cm thick.
  5. Using a round cookie cutter, cut out circles and place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
  6. Make deep hollow in top center of each biscuit. Drop small spoonfuls of desired jam into each hollow
  7. Bake for 12-15 minutes depending on your oven. IMG_3065
Baking, Happiness, Lily's Food, Personal

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Cookies

Cookies have always been difficult for me to bake, they would would end up flat and burnt and crispy near the edges so it has been my mission for the last few months to finally and consecutively make perfectly formed and baked cookies and I’m proud to say I have figured it out. 

Part of the reason my cookies where coming out as flat is because most of the ingredients were warm and melted after mixing, to make the perfect for of a cookie refrigerate your cookie dough for at least half an hour and all the ingredients will come together, the flavor will intensify and you will get a perfectly formed and delicious cookie

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Cookies 

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4 oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon milk 
  • 1/2 teaspoon milk 
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cup powdered sugar 
  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder 
  • 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips 
  1. In a large bowl mix butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer until the mixture is fine and creamy 
  2. Add in the egg, milk and vanilla extract and continue mixing
  3. Then add the powdered sugar and mix until it is fluffy. 
  4. Then add the flour, cornstarch and baking powder, mix again.
  5. Finally add the chocolate chips and stir well. Leave in the fridge for one hour. 
  6. Preheat oven to 375 F 
  7. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper,  take dough out of fridge and former balls (or use a cookie scoop) *the dough will be quite sticky* 
  8. Bake for 10-12 minutes depending on your oven 

Happiness, Lifestyle, Lily, motherhood, Personal

In Pursuit Of Silence

The noise! 

That noise can not be blocked by hiding yourself behind the closed door of the bathroom…they find you there.

The noise will find you at night when you climb into bed next to your cos sleeping child that cries, laughs, snores and even smacks her lips in her sleep.

It follows you with those tiny three year old legs everywhere you go. The constant yelling, the constant screaming, the “please can I have a snack?  Why is it so windy outside, why is there an ant there? Why? Why? Why? 

Is it wrong to want peace and quite for longer then a few seconds? Every one says “that’s what having children is” or “better you just get used to it” as I pull my hair out because I can’t take this “advice” for the billionth time. As a mom, going crazy from no peace I will tell you it’s not wrong!

As a society we learn to just deal, we deal with having a job we hate, we just deal with a rude professor, we just accept. We just deal that as a mother we won’t get any quite….is that the right way to deal with it though? Why can’t we make it a priority to have a little more quite time, especially when we’re about to have about breakdown without it? 

What I’m trying to say is, don’t you dare feel guilty. If you need some quite time, do it. Take care of yourself and do this one little thing for yourself so all hell doesn’t break out. Do it before you get resentful, before you actually pull your hair out, before you start yelling about the little things because your already stressed out.  

  • Tell your partner to watch the kids for a few minutes as you walk out the door to get a coffee or tea
  • Pick up library books on your own. Your kids missing one library trip won’t  hurt them. 
  • Set up a big bowl of water in the kitchen on a kid table, add bubbles let your kids play and you go hide in your  bedroom, if you can fit into your closest you can have a few extra minutes of silence because they can’t find you there.
  • Put the kids to bed a little earlier. Bonus if you have them outside running for an hour and they will be so tired they might get to sleep quicker.
  • Have the kids help with the chores that you normally do after bedtime so that you don’t have to spend your free time doing them and you can relax. 
  • Ask a babysitter or family or friend to watch your child(ren) for a couple hours, not because your busy just to be alone, do not do erands or chores, just relax. 

Don’t feel guilty, guaranteed your not the only one feeling the same way, atleast be the one that does something about it.

Goals, Happiness, Homesteading, Lifestyle, Lily, motherhood, Nature, Personal

Lavander, The Gateway Oil

Sleep is not my best friend, back in high school it was normal for me to go 48 hours without sleep, it’s normal for me to not be able to get to sleep until 1-2 in the morning some nights, I’ve lived my life used to only having about 5 hours of sleep a night. Eventually I was told by my doctor I have “insomniac tendencies” and was put on a sleeping medication. 

Sleeping medication though I’d also not my best friend,  it took me testing many different medications to find one that mostly worked. The first one I tried gave me horrible night sweats and if I wasn’t set to go to bed with pajamas on then I was out of luck because if I didn’t fall asleep in about ten minutes the medication didn’t work,  or the one medication that gave me terrifying dreams that I felt like we’re reality. The medication I decided to use (I honestly just ran out of other medications to try that were covered by benefits) leaves me with a sleep hangover, one that does not simply go away with a few cups of coffee. 

With my new lifestyle changes for a healthier family I decided to finally try to end my many years of relying upon sleeping pills, and look for a more natural way to help me and my daughter (who at the time was having nightmares and waking up through the night also) I tried by getting outside and taking in fresh air more in my day which did help, and adding more exercise and outdoor running games with me and my daughter which helped her sleeping issues. I though was still having problems staying asleep at night.

Then I found essential oils. Lavander to be exact, a few drops on my pillow and 20 minutes of reading in bed smelling that scent I had the most amazing sleep I had, had in months, amd without that horrible sleep hangover! I ventured to my local farmers market that weekend and went to the essential oils booth and purchased  some chamomile and the scent combination has helped me wonders. I can tell when I forget to sprinkle a few drops of oils I have a long night that I wake up constantly. Lily is also sleeping so much better, I sprinkle one drop of each on my daughter’s favorite teddy bear she sleeps with each night and she’s begun to sleep the entire night with no scares.

*Don’t forget to like my Facebook page @ahappinesshomemade *

Baking, eat local, Healthy Food, Lily, Lily's Food, Nutrition, Uncategorized

Blueberry Muffins

Blueberries are not normally eaten in our house fresh, I enjoy the taste of blueberry but whenever we buy a package they tend to be pushed to the back of the fridge and forgotten. We’ve decided to start buying frozen blueberries and we keep throwing them into our smoothies, and bake with them…my favorite fruits to bake with. I love the sweet taste that comes out of the berries when cooked and I love that the flavour spreads perfectly and pairs well with many other flavours.

With the decision to try and not buy many (if any) pre packaged foods, I decided to try and test out some muffins this week that can be used as a quick snack. after looking through other recipes so that I could get the basics down, I decided to make a few changes, using only brown sugar, and my favorite healthy swap of using yogurt instead of buttermilk and I was very happy of how the muffins turned out and Lily (who does not really enjoy blueberries) gobbled them up!IMG_2975

Blueberry Muffins 

  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour, sifted
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup yogurt*
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup blueberries
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit. Grease, or line a muffin baking pan (12)
  2. In a large bowl, sift the flour, add the brown sugar, baking powder, and salt. Mix well.
  3. In a medium bowl, with a whisk or fork mix the egg, yogurt, melted butter and vanilla.
  4. Stir the egg mixture into the flour mixture until combined (the mixture will be lumpy) add the blueberries and mix well.
  5. Spoon the batter into muffin tin 2/3 full
  6. Bake for 20-25 minutes depending on your oven.

*For added flavour, use a flavoured yogurt, vanilla or blueberry or mix it up and use strawberry or even peach.

*Don’t forget to go like my facebook page @ahappinesshomemade