Saturday, October 29, 2022

Brownie Spiders

A simple two bite brownie base makes for the most adorable Halloween treat! My niece and I made these for her to enjoy this Halloween, they are easy and fun for little ones to participate in!

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Since the climax of Spooky Season is almost upon us, it was only fitting that I get into the kitchen with my 5 year old niece to create something perfect for the season! The little loves chocolate anything, so when I saw a photo of spiders made out of storebought 2-bite brownies and pretzels I thought it would be a great activity, especially if we made the brownies from scratch. Armed with measuring spoons and a keen eye on my food scale, I pretty much let her go to work, only taking over for the "hot" parts like putting the pan in the oven and taking the big ceramic bowl out of the microwave.

Just like when I taught Home Economics, the act of putting together the recipe was only part of the lesson. Having already broken the pretzels into "leggy" bits, she busied herself with sorting piles of 8 - because, as she proudly declared: "you know spiders have 8 legs". When telling her about baking powder's function (she was fascinated that these puffed up like mini mushroom clouds in their tins) we got into a discussion about pressure release, leading into volcanoes. It's never a dull moment when she's around! 

As far as assembly goes, I actually suggest going with pretzel sticks if you can find them, rather than the knot-style ones, and the thinner the better. A 2-bite brownie does not offer a lot of real estate to attach legs to! If you can't get the candy eyes (or, like me, if you run out of them), use mini M&Ms, Reeses Pieces, or chocolate chips!

Friday, October 28, 2022

Pumpkin Cranberry Sourdough

'Tis the season! This hearty loaf is filled with pumpkin and cranberries, with a hint of sourdough starter to balance out the sweeter dough and pumpkin spice @nakednutrition Naked Shake. Baked in a pie pan, it's low rising but a showstopper nonetheless.

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I'm currently sitting here watching my 2 year old nephew experience pumpkin carving for the first time. While he is less than amused by the sliminess of the innards in the pumpkin, he has fallen in love with separating the pumpkin seeds from the stringy webbing and putting them into a bowl - which 100% works for me, since I'll be roasting them for rodent snacks after everyone finishes theirs! 

Personally, I cannot carve my own pumpkins anymore - arthritis precludes trying to saw my way through a 2 inch wall of pumpkin flesh - but I do get into the spirit of things by using pumpkin in a variety of treats! This bread was born out of inspiration from King Arthur Flour and a bevy of spices which arrived from Selefina Spices - the freshness and aroma of them is unmatched. Combined with a handful of dried cranberries and of course, the pumpkin, the dough smelled heavenly. Of course, with all the pumpkin pie elements, baking it in a pie pan fit well - and helped the relatively soft dough keep it's shape. Sliced into wedges, it was a perfect accompaniment to breakfast or mid afternoon tea!

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Chocolate Banana-Zucchini Muffins

These vegan muffins are chocolatey, moist and perfectly sweet due to the addition of roasted banana. If you have picky people in your life who balk at a speck of green, just Peel the zucchini before shredding - they'll never know!

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Well, we've hit the official time of the year where we realize we have far too much stuff in the freezer. This is usually bags of produce we prepped and froze over the growing months - though I've gotten more realistic with my stamina when it comes to mass canning. Zucchini, shredded and packed in individually wrapped 1 cup bundles, has a more or less permanent spot in amongst the nuts, seeds, bread and meat, but since this summer featured all of the household cooks going on vacation for 2 weeks at a time, the hoard was getting a little unwieldy.

Enter the second round of zucchini-based baking. Of course, along with the standard (and previously posted) plain zucchini bread, I took the opportunity to use up some of the roasted bananas I froze as well in the treats. These muffins arose out of not only ingredients but a house-wide craving for chocolate, and boy do they deliver. Perfectly moist (yes, I used the word moist) and tender, each bite is packed with chocolate and banana flavour. I've made a few batches of these over the last few months and froze any that we couldn't finish in about 3 days - popping a still frozen one in a lunchbox allows it to be thawed and not dry by lunchtime, and if you're really desperate a quick burst in the microwave heats it just enough to where it feels like it was fresh from the oven.

Sunday, October 16, 2022

Maple Walnut Bread

Maple Walnut Bread with sour cream and Canadian maple syrup is perfect on its own, or toasted with butter. I've heard it even makes fantastic French Toast!

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 Happy World Bread Day! I almost missed it (joys of life piling up around me) but luckily I remembered that I had made this loaf a while back for the express reason of sharing it for the event! 

One of the best things about the cooler temperatures here is that cranking up the oven or the stove isn't as much of a bother to the rest of the household. As a result, we've been eating a lot more hearty meals: stews, soup, even hot cereal some mornings when there's a threat of frost outside. I'm trying to ignore the fact that in a few short weeks we will have snow on the ground! Lately, the go-to breakfast for my mom has been porridge with flax seeds and a spoonful of amaranth, topped with diced apples or blueberry compote, and that meal combined with the weekend favourite of pancakes with maple syrup and chopped nuts inspired this loaf's creation. 

This bread is so simple to put together that it's easy to dampen your expectations of it's flavour. To be honest, I've had hit and miss results baking maple syrup into bread when it came to the taste coming through, so I wasn't too sure what would happen. As soon as I opened the oven door to pull this out though, I didn't have to wonder: the aroma of toasted nuts and unmistakable maple filled the kitchen. Cutting into it an hour later (sometimes, we just can't wait for these things to cool completely), my mom remarked that it was the perfect addition to teatime - subsequent days saw slices topped with butter, cream cheese, slices of Cheddar and raspberry jam. The heels of the bread became French toast, which - covered in maple syrup  - smelled heavenly.

Since we are headed into the holiday period which practically guarantees extra bits and bobs of nuts and dried fruit around the house, I can't wait to see what variations I can make to this moving forward.

Banner World Bread Day, October 16, 2022