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Can I set the record straight on something please? Just because I’m from Canada does not mean that I am used to cold weather. Vancouver is, on most occasions, a very mild city. It rarely snows and when it does the snow doesn’t stay around for more than a few days. Celsius temperatures dropping past zero? That’s also fairly uncommon. Think Seattle. Think even Portland. But please don’t think igloos, the North Pole or sled dogs.

All of this to say that I’m freezing my butt off in Chicago these days. Snow constantly on the ground coupled with wind from the lake and temperatures around -15C are not my idea of fun.

How am I coping with this ridiculous weather?

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– drinking copious amounts of Bailey’s and hot chocolate

– Christmas movie marathons consisting of Elf, Home Alone 1 and 2, and Love Actually

– never leaving the house (this might be an exaggeration)

– reading “City of Thieves” by David Benioff

– Baking. A lot.

– Eating. A lot. (see above)

So it should come as no surprise that when a half batch of these peanut butter pretzel bites were made and disappeared on Saturday that a full batch was made on Sunday. Embarrassing. But seriously these are knock your socks off delicious and only eating one at a time is the funniest joke/most difficult challenge I’ve ever heard of.

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Christmas baking at its finest.

Peanut Butter Pretzel Bites

Recipe from Two Tiny Kitchens

1 cup creamy peanut butter     2 tbsp butter

1/2 cup icing sugar                  3/4 cup brown sugar

Pretzels                                   Mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

Combine the peanut butter and softened butter in a large bowl with a stand mixer.

Add the icing sugar and brown sugar. Mix to combine.

If the filling will not roll easily into balls without sticking to your hands add more icing sugar until the right consistency is reached.

Use a teaspoon to scoop the filling.  Roll each portion into a small ball, then sandwich between two whole pretzels and place on an aluminum foil lined pan.  Place the completed pan in the freezer for 30 minutes.

Pour the chocolate chips into a microwave safe bowl and heat at 30-second intervals, stirring occasionally until completely melted.  Remove the pretzel sandwiches from the freezer and quickly dip each half-way into the melted chocolate.

When all are dipped, return the tray to the freezer to set up completely.  Store the sandwiches in the refrigerator until serving time.

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So this was what started it all off. My obsession with muffins that is.

Push the rewind button back to grade 5 when my mom made this recipe for the first time. Little did she know the long-lasting repercussions that would be headed her way. Proven evidence of this: when my husband was asked what I could eat every single day for the rest of my life, he answered correctly. It’s a no brainer. Muffins. And yes since that day in grade 5 I’ve practically had a muffin every day for breakfast. How could you not?

These muffins probably led the way for a good 2 years. That’s correct, I ate one of these muffins every day for 2 years straight. No it didn’t get old or boring. But maybe it did for my mom since she decided to mix things up and thus begun phases that included these, these and these. Notice a chocolate trend?

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It’s safe to say that these are still a go-to in my life and that now someone else (husband) is just as obsessed as I am. Did I mention that when I bake these I sometimes undercook them and am in no way upset about it (and can always blame it on our slightly cooler than normal oven)?

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

1 ¾ cup flour             1 cup sugar

1 tsp baking powder   ½ tsp baking soda

½ tsp salt                 1 cup mashed banana

½ cup vegetable oil    2 eggs

1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F.

Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large mixing bowl.

In another small bowl combine the mashed banana, oil and eggs.

Stir the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients, add the chocolate chips. Mix well until all of the ingredients are moistened.

Pour into lined muffin tins and bake for 20-25 minutes.

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Being married is probably one of my favourite things, especially because I somehow snagged a pretty amazing guy.

Benefits of being married to him:

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permanent master chef junior, nfl, how i met your mother and movies watching partner. permanent snuggle buddy. permanent running/roller blading companion. permanent i don’t know how to build this or fix that so can you do it please person. permanent live in best friend and person to do everything with. amazing.

What isn’t so amazing though is the fact that he loves the muffins that I make. You would think that I would be encouraged by this, or appreciate it. But I’m an only child; which means that sharing isn’t my thing. So no I don’t want to share my muffins with you. Make 2 batches of muffins you say? No thanks, not my thing either.

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These muffins were out of this world delicious. Combining apples that we picked ourselves with a streusel topping led to one amazing muffin…even if I only got to eat half the batch.

Maybe one day I’ll learn how to share and be okay with it.

 

 

Apple Crisp Muffins

Recipe adapted from Iowa Girl Eats

1/4 cup butter, at room temperature     2/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup sugar                                        1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp apple cider                                   1 egg
1 tsp vanilla                                           1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon                                  1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp baking soda                                1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt                                            2 medium-sized apples (I used Granny Smith)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line a 12-cup muffin tin with liners then set aside (or use a 6 cup jumbo muffin tin like I did).

Combine the butter, oil, sugars, and cider in a large bowl (mixture will look curdled.)

Add and mix in the egg and vanilla.

In a separate bowl stir together flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Remove 2 Tablespoons of the flour mixture then toss with the apples in a separate bowl to coat.

Add remaining flour mixture to wet ingredients in two batches, mixing until just combined before adding the next batch. Fold in the apples. Scoop batter into prepared muffin cups.

Crisp Topping

1/2 cup brown sugar         1/2 cup old fashioned oats
1/4 cup flour                     1/4 cup butter, at room temperature
1/4 tsp cinnamon              1/8 tsp nutmeg

Mix ingredients together in a small bowl until well combined.

Sprinkle a heaping tablespoon on top of each muffin.

Bake for 15-17 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool in muffin tins for 10 minutes then remove to a cooling rack to cool completely.

(My muffins baked for roughly 25 minutes so be sure to check on them as you go)

Apples and Yams

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I guess you could say that a few minor things have changed in my life since my last post. “Minor” being a massive understatement.

Quick recap:

A) dating -> engaged -> married

B) living in Vancouver, Canada -> living in Chicago, USA

C) employed as a high school teacher -> unemployed and not allowed to work

Which leaves me here, with copious amounts of time and not much to fill that time with. And so, the rebirth of this baking blog. But probably not just baking any more, perhaps, now that I am technically speaking a housewife (cue the shudder), other meal time recipes too. If only for the fact that my husband and I can’t survive on dessert alone…

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My first order of business upon arriving in America was to celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving with all of my American friends. Slash more like I needed to help educate the few Americans that I know that yes Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving, no it doesn’t have anything to do with Indians, yes it is a month earlier in October, and yes we eat the same things that you do for Thanksgiving. Oh, and also: 15 reasons why Canadian Thanksgiving is better.

Like number 3 of the 15 reasons link says, yams are a staple on my family’s thanksgiving table. And so the yams were made in America and they were a hit. And then I missed home big time.

Remembering to be thankful can be a challenge these days, but I know that I’m blessed and am so thankful for old friends. family back home. new friends. new adventures. getting to celebrate thanksgiving more than once a year. my husband.

I’m also thankful for traditions old and new. So here’s to celebrating many more thanksgivings, no matter where or with whom they might be.

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Apples and Yams

– 3 large yams              – 1/4 cup brown sugar

– 1 tbsp cinnamon         – mini marshmallows

– 1 peeled apple            – butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Peel and cut the yams into thick slices. Place the yams into a pot and heat until boiling. Boil for 20 minutes or until tender.

Peel and slice the apple.

Combine the brown sugar and cinnamon in a bowl. Cover the apple slices with the brown sugar cinnamon mixture.

Put a layer of yams in the bottom of a 9 x 12 pan. Cover with the slices of apple. Add a dot of butter to the top of each apple. Sprinkle some mini marshmallows on top of the apples and then cover with a final layer of yams. Put a few more marshmallows on top and again add dots of butter.

Cover with foil and bake for 30 – 45 minutes.

* Most Thanksgivings we will make this recipe and then refrigerate it until the following day when it is baked and eaten.

recipegirl.com

recipegirl.com

I’m a really big fan of this whole it’s your birthday let me bake you a cake thing that goes on once a year.

I could 100% do without my birthday. It’s not an age thing, I could care less about getting older, it’s more of an I’m bratty and don’t like holidays or special days kind of person. That being said, having someone bake me a cake of my choosing is probably one of the best things ever.

A couple of years ago this German Chocolate Cheesecake Cake made me extremely happy. And now this year, a pumpkin cheesecake cake. Notice a trend? I think I might need a cake + cheesecake intervention. Especially considering the fact that this cake lasted a full week, which means that I’ve had at least 6 pieces of it all to myself. Happy Birthday to me!

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Call me crazy because this recipe doesn’t have anything to do with chocolate, but I am enamoured by this cake. Two amazing layers of pumpkin cake, which honestly would be great on its own slathered in some cream cheese icing but why would we do something as boring as that, sandwiched in the middle with a cheesecake filling and then topped off with a pumpkin cream cheese icing (holy amazing) with sugared pecans. That’s fine right? Not over the top at all.

The only problem was that the inside of the cake was definitely not photogenic. So a picture from the original recipe and one from amateur hour over here. I think we know whose is whose. Regardless, feel free to be awestruck like I was.

And thus begins the hunt for next years birthday cake. Wish me luck…

Pumpkin Cheesecake Cake 

Recipe from http://www.recipegirl.com/2012/11/02/pumpkin-cheesecake-cake/

 

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Christmas cookies are serious business and a little bit overwhelming. There’s so much to choose from, so many new and amazing recipes to try while at the same time there’s always the old faithfuls that get made yearly. But why do those annual treats get made? And are they really as good as I think? Or is it the nostalgia that keeps us baking them year after year?

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I love the fact that come Christmastime my father makes his yearly appearance in the kitchen and proceeds to go on a baking spree. Traditional Christmas puddings, brown fruit cake, white fruit cake, and crepes make up his repertoire, all recipes handed down to him by his parents. But let’s be honest for a minute. No one really likes the traditional Christmas pudding that gets doused in scotch and set ablaze. And the fruit cakes? It’s my favorite when they get pulled out of the freezer in June because we still haven’t finished eating them, because who even wanted to eat them in the first place?

Call me crazy, but I would be perfectly content with a refillable glass of egg nog and an endless tray of Nanaimo Bars for the entire holiday season. No other cookies or treats are necessary or required for me. That being said, I’m glad that there are always so many other options.

Like these for instance. I made these yesterday for a pot luck and they were a hit. Peanut butter cookies that are stuffed with mini Reese’s. And not only are they cookies, but they are baked in mini muffin tins, so it feels way more satisfying to bite into compared to a thin cookie.

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My dad tried to convince me to put some of the dough into the jumbo muffin tins and then put a regular Reese’s into the center of each “cookie.” Jumbo size. I think he might be onto something. I think I might know where my sweet tooth comes from.

I like these and am mentally adding them to my Christmas baking list for future years. Now pass me the egg nog.

Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

1 3/4 cup flour           1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda       1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup white sugar   1/2 cup peanut butter

1/2 cup brown sugar  1 egg

1 tsp vanilla               2 tbsp milk

Mini Reese’s peanut butter cups

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Cream together the butter, sugar, peanut butter and brown sugar until fluffy.

Beat in the egg, vanilla and milk.

Add the flour, salt and baking soda and mix well.

Shape into 35-40 balls and place each into an ungreased mini muffin pan.

Bake for 8 minutes.

Remove from the oven and immediately press a mini peanut butter cup into each ball.

Cool and carefully remove from the pan.

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I realize that this post might be a bit out of season but here it is. My favorite month of the year? Easy, September. Hello sunny warm days and cool sweatshirt evenings, the start of football season (go Seahawks), a new school year, fall leaves and everything else good. Yes my favorite season is fall. Close runner up? Summer. Duh. Holidays, the lake, water skiing, camp fires, traveling, there is nothing wrong with this situation.

Foods associated with my favorite seasons: pumpkin, apples, cranberries, and pumpkin (it’s that important that it needs to be repeated) for fall, and berries, fresh fruits and produce, s’mores and bbqs for summer.

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Where I’m going with this is that it was fate for me to make these cupcakes. Pumpkin s’more cupcakes? Hello best of both worlds/seasons.

I have to be honest here, I’m not a cupcake fan. They just don’t make any sense to me. I’m probably the ugliest eater ever so that works out perfectly when I’m handed a cupcake. Can’t I just have a full piece of cake all to myself that I can top with ice cream and eat with a fork like a lady? What a joke. But whenever I’m with the Minnesotan we bake cupcakes. Turns out they are growing on me. Especially thanks to these.

These cupcakes were pretty up there. The pumpkin was delicious, the graham cracker crust was a bit over the top, the hidden chocolate was my favorite, and the marshmallow topping was definitely all right. Again some honesty, next time I’d switch things up a bit, keeping the pumpkin and chocolate combo and topping it all of with a cream cheese icing.

Yes there will be a next time.

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After all, now that we’re entering into winter I’m going to need something to do to keep myself from getting depressed about all of this rain and darkness. 7 more months until summer. But who’s counting.

Pumpkin S’more Cupcakes

Adapted from How Sweet Eats

Graham Crust
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a muffin tin with lines.

Combine the melted butter and graham crumbs together, mixing well until combined.

Spoon about 1/2 tablespoon into each cupcake liner, pressing with the back of a spoon to form a crust.

Cupcakes
1 1/3 cups brown sugar      1 large egg
2 tsp vanilla                       1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled
3/4 cup pumpkin                1 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda                1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt                         1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 cup milk

Whisk egg and sugar together in a large bowl until combined and no lumps remain.

Add in vanilla extract and butter, then whisk in pumpkin puree.

Add in flour, baking soda, powder, salt and pumpkin spice, then add in milk and stir until combined and smooth.

Drop about 1/4 cup of batter on top of each graham cracker crust, filling the liners 3/4 of the way full.

Bake for 16-18 minutes, or until cupcakes are set and spring back at the touch. Let cool completely.

Fudge Ganache filling
4 ounces mini chocolate chips
2 tbsp heavy cream

Combine and heat the heavy cream and chocolate chips in a pot over the stovetop stirring frequently until melted and combined.

Let sit until cupcakes are cool, then fill a pastry bag with the chocolate and insert the top straight down into the cupcake, squeezing the ganache inside.

Marshmallow Frosting

2 large egg whites            1/2 cup sugar
1/8 tsp cream of tartar     1/2 tsp vanilla

Combine the egg whites, sugar and cream of tartar in a heat-proof bowl. Place over top of a double-boiler that contains simmering water and whisk constantly 3-4 minutes until the sugar has dissolved and the egg whites are slightly warm.

Remove the bowl and using a beater, initially beat on slow, gradually increasing the speed to high.

Beat 6-7 minutes until glossy and thick, then beat in vanilla until combined.

Frost the cupcakes.

Torch the frosting or place in the oven on grill to create the toasted effect.