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.

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 

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 

Baking, Goals, Happiness

Bread Making Tips

My quest to make a (not quite so) simple loaf of sandwich bread continued this week, I had spent the weekend going through my baking books and even asked my mother and grandmother for some help and baking tips. With all this new knowledge I went to work on Wednesday morning with the goal yet again to make a proper loaf of bread that day and…

I did it! I finally made a loaf of sandwich bread

I’m going to continue to make my own bread for the household and keep using all of the information I have accumulated in my brain to make the perfect loaf, and I thought I should share some of those tips with all my readers.

  • Make sure there is sugar going into your water and yeast mixture. The yeast needs something to feed off of which is why the sugar is used
  • Most cookbooks call for you only waiting 3-4 minutes for your yeast to activate,  but the best time is to wait 10 minutes, you will know it is activated it will look bubbly and frothy and double in size
  • Use bread flour! Most recipes I was reading were using regular all purpose flour, but bread flour is high in protein and will form gluten which will help the bread rise and bake with a good crust 
  • sift the dry ingredients!  Many recipes never mentioned sifting and I honestly didn’t think of doing it until my mother mentioned it
  • don’t be tempted to cut short kneading time, kneading distributes the yeast evenly through the dough. Kneading should be around 10 minutes, or until it’s smooth and elastic
  • the best way I learned to do the proving process is boil water in a kettle, poor the water into a large baking pan and put on the bottom rack of the oven, then put the dough in a bowl on the top rack ( do not turn on the oven!) It gives moisture to the dough and the perfect temperature to rise the dough
  • after an hour of letting the dough rise, take it out, push down the dough and expel the bubbles, knead again for 1 minute then put it in the baking pan, then proof it again for 40 or so minutes
  • For a great crust glaze the top of the dough with milk
  • Try nor to open the oven while baking! The intense heat is needed for a good crust
  • If the dough does start to go a little to dark, tent some aluminium foil over the bread. 
  • You will know the bread is finished if you turn it out of the pan and tap on the bottom of the loaf, if it sounds hollow it’s cooked.
Baking, Lifestyle, Personal

Determination and Bread Making

Determination is an amazing quality to have and to say I have that quality is an understatement. I’m a girl that grew up with social anxiety and depression without realizing that was my problem until I was 14 years old, it lead to many years of missed classes and assignments unfinished because my anxiety was to great to finish the project. Many teachers, counselors didn’t know if I would be able to finish high school with a diploma but I was determined and ended up graduating high school on the honour and with more then one award. I’ve been through abusive situations and have been able to get out with determination and strength. I’ve been a single mother for four years, I plan on opening my own business and when people told me I wasn’t able to do it a I am determined to show them wrong. 

When I started on a whim a few days ago I decidd to master making a simple loaf of white bread I used that same determination that has gotten me through life…and that determination was needed because at first it was an epic fail. 

Here’s my first tip, make sure your yeast isn’t expired. Growing up my mother would keep yeast in the cupboard, not in the recomended refrigerator. It made sense when we were younger because my mother made bread much more often and it was used up quickly but know that yeast is not used for months at a time keeping it in the cupboard is not the greatest idea which I learned after waiting three hours for my dough to rise and it hadn’t moved at all. 

The second tip I can give you, if you don’t have a kitchen thermometer that perfect temperature for yeast to activate is lukewarm. I was trying three different temperatures for water, hot from the tap (which is actually 130 degrees F) tried boiling water, and tried just steaming and of course it never worked, you don’t have to throw away the idea of bread making just because you can’t be exact at the water temperature, try lukewarm and wait for those bubbles ( go drink a cup of coffee by the end of the cup your yeast should be perfect) 

Third tip is add flour half a cup at a time, if you add to much it is difficult to work it all together again (if that does happen a couple drops of lukewarm water should fix that problem) work the dough but make sure you don’t over work it, and trust yourself if you don’t think you can add that last cup of flour without it turning out to dry, then don’t.  

Be patient let that dough rise, it might take you all day but it’s so worth it, and let it rise in the pan, don’t just plop it in there and rush it into the oven, let it rise and grow into the corners of the pan. 

It might take a couple tries, it might take a few more then that but it is so worth it for a loaf of bread that you can feel proud you made yourself. 

* I used the Joy of Cooking white bread recipe* 

Baking, Happiness, Homesteading, Personal, Uncategorized

Honey Madeleines


Having a madeleine pan since Halloween last year I felt it was finally time to check this off my list of things I have mastered in the baking world, I didn’t want just a plain madeleine but I wanted something simple due to the point that honestly I have never tasted or seen a madeleine in person and have only seen them in photos online, in cookbooks or on cooking competition shows.

The best tip I can give you though while cooking madeleines is use shortening and I’m not talking about in your recipe. Many recipes call for you to butter and flour your madeleine pan, or sometimes even just simply spraying baking spray on it. I will tell you though that none of those always work, there are going to be one or two madeleines that will probably stick, there always ends up being that one. Spreading shortening over the pan like you would butter makes the madeleines just slide out after a minute or two of cooling. IMG_2868

Honey Madeleines 

  • 2/3 cups unsalted butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 heaping cup of white sugar
  • 2/3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon heaping of honey*
  • Shortening, enough to grease the medeleine pan
  1. Melt butter in microwave or in a small saucepan
  2. In a large bowl, or in the bowl of a mixer whisk together the eggs and the sugars until the mixture is thick (about 2-3 minutes)
  3. Add the flour, baking powder and mix. Add the honey and melted butter. mix until everything is well incorporated and the batter is a thick consistency
  4. Leave the batter to rest in the fridge for at the least one hour (incorpates the honey flavour into the mix and cools down the butter and makes it ready for baking)
  5. Preheat oven to 500 degrees fahrenheit
  6. Generously grease the madeleine pan with the shortening
  7. Place a generous tablespoon of batter or use a piping bag
  8. Place the tray in the oven and turn down the temperature to 450 fahrenheit
  9.  Bake until the madeleines have risen and are lightly golden on top, for a large pan like I used its about 7-10 minutes.
  10. Once madeleines are cooked, pull out the pan, let cool for a few minutes and remove cakes from molds, and place on a cooling rack lined with parchment paper.

*The better the honey quality the better the flavour

*Spray your tablespoon with a baking spray before pouring the honey into the tablespoon so the honey comes out easier and easier to clean.