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) 
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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 

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, 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.
eat local, Goals, Happiness, Healthy Food, Homesteading, Lifestyle, Lily, motherhood, Nature, Nutrition, Personal

Crunchy Mom, My Badge Of Honour

 A “crunchy mom” is a woman on a quest for more information.  A mom who is environmentally, health, and socially conscious.

 I was called a “Crunchy Mom” a few weeks ago, and from the rest of the comment, it was definitely meant to be an insult. I’ve heard of the term, but have never thought of myself of being one, I definitely though never thought of it as a bad thing, it was one of those mom things that seemed like a good thing to aspire too. I mean look at the definition!  Coming from a girl that was in the environmental club through my school years, volunteered at the food bank, and even tried to start my own charity to give your old sleeping bags that just take up space in your closet that you never use to the homeless during the winter so that had a chance to stay warm in a freezing Canadian winter where shelters were packed full I think that looks like a real honour to be called a “Crunchy mom” but was I one really? 

First, I went to my boyfriend and our best friend Dave, I mentioned the comment and wondered what they thought. Obviously I had to kind of explain what the term exactly meant, but once I got the jist of the definition out I was promptly told “well of course someone said it, you are one!” It wasn’t one second of mulling it over, not one brief pause. So the two people I spend talk to the most and spend my weekends with believe I’m a “Crunchy mom” but I still questioned myself, that seems like such an honour to be called ( in my opinion) and I didn’t just want to take that label and run with it, I wanted to make sure I’ve earned it.

Where else to turn to? Well I don’t have many mom friends (social anxiety at its finest, I really have to just push myself and find more mom friends) and went to Facebook groups, one I had been invited to was a natural parenting group and I went there, as I read through these moms comments and questions I felt even more like I wasn’t one of them.  These were moms that went all vegan, moms that travel the world with there children, moms that bathe in the lakes they find while there road tripping through life in there mini buses there family lives in (ok not all, but I did find one mom that was doing just that!) I was nothing like that, I’m flexitarian, my kid bathes in a bathtub and my kid isn’t travelling mingle with different cultures on there natural land.

But was that what I had to do to be a crunchy mom? Or are there levels of “crunchiness” ?

I decided to open up, went to the post section and wrote how I had been deemed a “Crunchy mom” as an insult and felt like I wasn’t really doing enough to be “crunchy” so asked, am I really a crunchy mom? I couldn’t just ask a bunch of strangers and get a proper response so I decided to explain a bit about what I do, that I think is a bit “crunchy” but I still don’t think is enough.

  • Uses coconut oil religiously as moisturizer,  and make my own body scrubs with coconut oil
  • Lily and I have a minimum of one hour of nature time a day
  • I buy most of my cheeses, vegetables and meat from local farmers
  • All our sweet treats and desserts are home made
  • I’m attempting to make as much ourselves, soups, marinades, condiments and my quest to make our own breads is ongoing (see mu last post) and I hope to one day make all our sandwich breads, buns and such from scratch.
  • Instead of turning up the heat I try to use blankets and layers, or in the heat flowing clothes instead of turning on the air conditioner
  • I do yoga with Lily as much as I can to teach her how to calm her mind and body down.
  • I try to limit Lily’s tv time to one movie a day  (when she gets bored of the movie and runs off to play, the movie is paused and when her interest comes back to the movie the tv turns back on until she loses interest again.
  • I use essential oils for everything from making sure I have a good night’s rest ( chamomile and lavander) to muscles pains and growing pains for Lily.
  • I’m trying to cut down on processed foods, and snacks are only whole foods versus pre packaged snacks.
  • we are flexitarian,  we do eat meat but we don’t make it the only way we get our protein.
  • Lily and I still cosleep, even though she’s starting to move around more during the night and prefers my side of the bed, after almost four years were still comfortable. 

After writing the comment and posting it I had had revelation. Why do I need these mothers to approve that I am a crunchy mom? Why do I need to be approved to have this title?  I’m trying my hardest to be eco conscious, trying hard to make sure my daughter understands where her food came from, and how it’s made versus that it’s just something you buy in a store. I’m teaching my daughter to be aware of the world around her, and to not harm anything even as little as an ant and I’m teaching her that there are other ways to get rid of anxiety, pain and other ways to deal with sickness then popping a pill.

So yes, I’m a crunchy mom, and I wear that title as a badge of honor.

Check out the Facebook page for this blog @ahappinesshomemade 

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.

 

Happiness, Homesteading, Lifestyle, Lily, motherhood, Personal

A little dirt and a lesson 

kids make messes, kids push boundaries,  kids make mistakes, kids knock over the plant that you just finished planting all over your couch not even a minute after we finished planting it. 

That beautiful dream I had of picking the seeds from a strawberry and planting them in an indoor pot until they grew enough to plant outdoors, the plan that in my mind would grow into plenty of strawberries, enough to bake special treats. Well that plan had a standstill when Lily was standing on the couch looking at the pot on the ledge she somehow knocked the entire contents onto our couch. 

I can’t really be angry with her though (ok I won’t lie I did have an angry tone when I told her to step back while I vacuumed but I think I deserved to have a little bit of an angry tone) Lily offered to help, she pointed out areas I had missed and helped give me company when I went back to the strawberries and stared picking the seeds off again. 

Kids are naturally curious, they want to understand everything and we as parents need to let that curiosity blossom. Even though there’s some questions that are hard to answer or questions that you have answered before and can just not deal with answering it yet again we have to so that our children learn all the things they want to learn.

We have to understand our children are new, things that are obvious to us are not to them…why we put oil in a pan before we cook something, how worms come out when it rains, that we don’t need to water the flowers and the leaves but the dirt the plants come from so we get to the roots. 

There hands will get messy,  there’s going to be times you have to hose them down before they even get into the house because there so dirty, days your mind is so jumbled because you don’t even know how to answer that one mind boggling question. But take it how it is, a lesson.