December 31, 2010

Peanut Butter Crispy Bars

So yes I realize it's New Year's Eve, and I realize your probably all sweet-ed out.  Maybe you think I'm crazy, but New Years Eve or not, when I crave peanut butter and chocolate, I make it.  Simple as that.  I'm not sure if I'm glad I did, I like everyone else, gained a few pounds this month and I thought I had more self control than I apparently do.  So now I can't stop thinking about this pan of bars in the fridge.  I've eaten double what I told myself I could eat already today, and they were just finished an hour ago.

Peanut Butter Crispy Bars

I'll admit I messed these up, that's why the pictures are so crummy.  I got impatient with waiting and turned my back on boiling sugar, it heated 10 degrees hotter than it should have so that made the bottom layer extra crispy.  It crackles in your mouth and tastes like caramel.  I'm not sure I like the mistake any better than the original (I made these in the summer) they're both really good.  The base stays together a lot better if you take it off at 235 F.

1 3/4 c rice crispies
50 g (1/4 c) sugar
3 Tbsp light corn syrup
45 g (3 Tbsp) butter, melted

Peanut Butter layer
5 oz milk chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 c creamy peanut butter (I used the natural kind)

Chocolate Layer
4 oz dark or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 tsp light corn syrup
60 g (4 Tbsp) butter

Line a 8 inch pan with tin foil and spray lightly with non stick coating.  Put cereal in a large bowl and set aside.  In a medium sized saucepan combine 1/4 cup of water, sugar and corn syrup.  Heat over medium heat and bring to a boil.  Insert a candy thermometer and wait for the syrup to reach 235 F, as soon as it does turn off the heat, mix in the butter and pour the mix into the rice crispies.  With your hands or a spatula evenly press the rice crispies into the pan.  Cool to room temperature while you make the next layer.

In a medium bowl suspended over a pot of simmering water, combine the chocolate and peanut butter.  Stir occasionally until the two are melted and smooth.  Pour the mixture over the cooled crust.  Put the pan in the refrigerator for an hour or until the peanut butter layer hardens.

Combine the chocolate, corn syrup and butter in a medium sized bowl and set it over a saucepan of simmering water.  Cook until the mixture is smooth then remove from heat.  Pour the chocolate over the peanut butter later.  I would tip the pan to spread the chocolate evenly, without disturbing the bottom layers.  Place the pan back in the fridge for an hour or until topping hardens.

Cut into squares, but keep air tight in the fridge.

Goodbye 2010

If you’re not saying it, you are thinking about it. We are all reflecting on a passing year. Our days were busy, fun and sadly gone. I’ve experienced a lot of change this year, our family growing up and moving on. I got married, and went on numerous trips in this half of the world. I’ve learned more about my husband and our growing relationship, like a tree, from the ground up. We’re becoming more solid everyday. It’s hard to believe I’m another year older, when it feels like we just started 2010.

To recap this year: a marriage (ours), a honeymoon, two sisters graduating and moving out, an amazing and bonding trip to California with said sisters, a sickness involving weeks in the hospital, a death of an elder, and a decade beginning birthday.

I had a lot of fun this year, it’s good to be young, one day I won’t have this freedom. It was nice to learn a little more about who I am and who I want to be. It was nice to feel happiness right down to my toes and warm fuzzy feelings eating me up. I enjoyed my time with family and friends and I especially enjoyed my summer. I enjoyed gaining a year of experiences and a year of experience with all the things I love baking, photography and being outdoors.

I’m anticipating yet another year full of change, life changing decisions to be made, futures to be started. 2011 is my year of realized dreams.

In the coming year I hope I can strike a better balance in my life, here is what I’ll try:

I want to pay more attention to you, whoever you are. If all you do is read this, I want to write to you more. If you are my close family I want to be around you, to give you more of myself. If you are not so close family I definitely want to know you better, wish you a happy birthday ON your birthday, surprise you with treats and show you that I care about you. If you are my dog I want to pay more attention to you, shower you with love and play your slimy game of fetch.

I want to travel more, see more, understand more. I want to make connections to new places and discover that which I overlook, the things around me all the time. I want to experience the rivers and mountains, here, and get outside even more than I do. Picnics in my favourite park, tea parties in my garden, cold water and granola bars at the top of our hikes. Foraging for mushrooms and fiddleheads, my food and outdoors belong together.

I want to stick to a baking budget. An allotment both of money and time. 2010 could be summed up as the year of my kitchen, all be it extremely tiny, but this is where I spent the majority of my time. I need to balance my baking with my needs. I need to be in the kitchen to keep sane, this is where I enjoy myself, but baking more than we could ever dream of eating is consuming the majority of my food budget, we need balance. So this means baking once every other day not a few items everyday. And slowing down once I get there, there is NO rush, no one told me I had to make anything!

And that brings me to my next point, I need to cook myself more dinners, real dinners. Learn the techniques I want for my children, my kids won’t want a bowl full of vegetables every night,or leftovers 6 nights a week! I challenge myself to break out of my safe food and get into the unknown, and hopefully share it with you.

So please, remind me of these things. You are important to me, more important than my hobbies, my pjs and a book, my over planned planning! Good luck to all of us in 2011, I hope it is your year of dreams too.

December 29, 2010

Swiss night at our house

So I totally dropped the ball.  Majorly.  We had a night in Switzerland yesterday.  Complete with an authentic fondue and an apple tart, but I completely forgot to take pictures!  Not even one.

We had some friends over and gorged on fondue, bread, ham, roasted cauliflower and potatoes, dried sausage and carrots.  We finished it with a flaky apple tart and cinnamon whipped cream.  It was quite good.  I don't know what happened...

Well okay, a half bottle of wine each happened.  Sorry.

Here's the recipe I used, it worked out perfectly and tasted great.

Cheese Fondue

1/2 lb (8 oz) Swiss style cheese such as Jarlsberg or Emmenthaler, grated (I used emmenthaler)
1/2 lb (8 oz) Gruyere, grated
2 Tbsp flour
1 cup dry white wine, I used a Sauvignon Blanc
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp dry mustard powder
a pinch of fresh grated nutmeg

An assortment of dip-able goodies, day old bread, ham, little sausages, blanched or roasted broccoli, cauliflower and carrots, cherry tomatoes or fresh fruit.

Place the shredded cheese in a freezer bag with the flour, shake it around and set aside.

Bring wine and lemon juice to a simmer in a medium sized pot over medium heat. Slowly, a bit at a time, mix in the cheese.  Let it melt a bit between handfuls.  Scrape the bottom of the pot continuously in a zig zag motion to keep the cheese sauce from seizing and balling up.  Cook the mixture just until the cheese is melted and creamy, then add the spices.

Transfer to a fondue pot.  Ours broke under the heat so we used a metal bowl suspended over a tealight with a little hot water in it.  We placed another metal bowl over top and put our cheese mixture in there.

Arrange your dippers around the bowl and dig in.

December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

Hope everyone is having an awesome Christmas weekend.  Here is a bit of what we are doing:

December 23, 2010


Post number 100. Holy hannah.

Here we are on Christmas eve eve. Tib's Eve if you will. 3 years 8 months and 26 days from the day I published my first post. And now I am at 100.

Natasha and I went for a beautiful, even a bit cold, walk. Oh how I love our walks.

December 22, 2010

Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies

I want to introduce you to these.  They sure don't look or sound like much, but are they ever good!?  Chocolate Gingerbread cookies.  Not really anything to the name, but they are my favourite thing I've made this season.  I made them on a whim, for a night of wine and cheese, ha! they've got nothing to do with wine or cheese, but we gobbled them none the less.

They are chewy, a huge plus in any cookie and very complex.  They are spicy with ginger and dark with a tiny bit of crunch all around the outside from the sugar.  They feel so decadent, but I can't. stop. eating.

Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies

I found these here.

1 heaping cup of semisweet chocolate chunks, chopped
180 g (1 1/2 c) ap flour
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp allspice
1 tbsp cocoa powder
125 g (1/2 c) butter
100 g (1/2 c packed) brown sugar
1/2 c molasses
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp boiling water
granulated sugar, for rolling

Cover a baking sheet with a silpat or parchment.  In a medium bowl sift flour, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and cocoa.  Set some water on the stove to boil.

In a mixing bowl cream butter on medium-high speed for three minutes until it is white and very creamy.  Add brown sugar mixing until combined.  Pour in molasses and combine.

In a small bowl mix together baking soda and boiling water.  First beat in half of the flour mix, then all of the baking soda/water mix and then the remainder of the flour mix.  Mix in chocolate chips (Batter will be very stiff) and dump out onto a piece of plastic wrap.  Pat into a one inch thick rectangle, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least two hours.

Heat oven to 325 degrees.  Cut dough into 24 equal pieces.  Roll each piece into a ball and coat in sugar.  I would place no more than 8 per cookie sheet, they spread a lot.  Place extra cookies in the fridge to chill while waiting for their turn to bake.  Bake for 14-16 minutes until the tops crack slightly.  Cool on the sheet for five minutes and then move to a cooling rack.

December 21, 2010

Christmas Box Finale

The christmas boxes finally went out.  I'm not as happy with these ones as the ones from last year, but these were a heck of a lot easier.  There was only one item in the boxes I baked the day before, everything else was done in advance and just needed to be portioned.  

The final list was: 
Chocolate Espresso Cookies
Speculaas Spice Cookies
Cranberry Bliss Bars
Bacon or Hazelnut Toffee
Hot Chocolate on a Stick
Spiced Nuts
Orange Pistachio Biscotti
I did 17 this year.  I love doing them, I am looking forward to next years already.