Sunday, August 30, 2015

When life gives you lemons...

Just add butter and sugar, of course!

About a month or so ago, I was on a bit of lemon loaf kick.
I'm not sure why, but I was craving it bad!

Olivia loves lemons. Lemon was actually one of her first words. She asks for lemon every time she sees one. Weird, I know.

As a treat, we would sometimes get a piece of lemon loaf from Starbucks. That was until I checked out the nutritional value...after that, we stopped getting it! I shouldn't have been so shocked, it's basically cake. Soft, sweet, tart, lemony cake...I'll just let you think about that for a minute...
We good?
Ok!

When I went to the market to buy lemons, they were super expensive, so we ended up buying a bag of baby lemons. I had no idea baby lemons existed, but Lauren thought they were "real, real cute" and my great math skills told me it was a better value to buy a bag of the little ones instead of the big ones individually.

With the amount of lemons, I was able to make two loaves.
The first one was from my very well used Company's Coming Muffins & More book.

Company's Coming Lemon Loaf

 And the second one was from a recipe I found on Pinterest.

Check out that serving board!
It's a new one from Joseph Réal Design,
and it just may be my favorite. 

If you've read any of my posts you know how much I love my Company's Coming cookbooks.
But, I was a little disappointed with this loaf.
It was flat, a little dry and quite subtle in flavor even though I added more lemon than the recipe called for. The glaze was good though.


A few days later I made loaf number two. I had done a bit of searching on Pinterest for a recipe when I came across this recipe. The first line of the post was, "luscious, lemony, speckled with zest and very moist...",
I was sold!
A lot of the recipes I looked at said similar things, but most of them called for Greek yogurt, which I didn't have, and I had no intention of leaving the house to get some.

It was pretty much how the blog described it -
moist & lemony. The perfect mix of sweet and tart. It was delicious!
This glaze wasn't my favorite though, so if I make it again, I'll use the glaze from the the first lemon loaf.


Sorry Jean Paré, but this lemon loaf was the winner.

It's not that I didn't like the first loaf, we gobbled it all up, I was just hoping for and expecting a moister, lighter loaf. I'm sure one day I'll try the recipe again.

Lemon Loaf #1:
(Recipe adapted from Company's Coming Muffins & More)













Ingredients:
Loaf:
1/2 cup -  Butter, softened
1 cup - Splenda or sugar
2 - Eggs
1/2 cup - Milk

1 1/2 cups - Flour
1 tsp - Baking powder
1/2 tsp - Salt
1 - Rind of grated Lemon*

Glaze:
Juice of one lemon*
1/4 cup - Splenda or sugar

Directions:
Loaf:
In a large bowl, cream butter, sugar and 1 egg.
Beat in second egg.
Blend in milk.

In another bowl thoroughly stir flour, baking powder, salt and lemon rind.

Pour over batter - stir to just moisten

Spoon into greased 9 x 5 x 3 inch loaf pan.

Bake for  one hour or until tests done.

Remove from oven and glaze.

Cool in pan for 10 minutes and then remove from pan,

Once cooled, wrap tightly to store.

Glaze:
Combine lemon juice and sugar in a small saucepan. Heat and stir to dissolve sugar.
Spoon evenly over top of hot loaf.


Lemon Loaf #2:
(Recipe adapted from Stick To Your Hips)

















Ingredients:
Loaf:
2/3 cup -  Butter, softened
1 1/2 cups - Sugar
3 tbsp - Fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp - Freshly grated lemon zest
4 - Eggs
1/4 tsp - Vanilla
3 cups - Flour
2 tsp - Baking powder
1 1/2 tsp - Salt
1 cup - Milk

Glaze:
1/2 cup - Powdered sugar
1/2 cup - Lemon juice

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

Coat two 9 x 5 x 3 pans (I used one pan and an extra large muffin tin**) with vegetable cooking spray.

In a large bowl cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in the lemon juice, zest, eggs, and vanilla until well combined.

In another bowl stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt. 
Add alternately with the milk to the egg mixture, beating just until combined after each addition.

Divide batter among prepared pans and bake for 30 - 60 minutes depending on size of pans. 
While still in the pans, place loaves on a wire rack.

In a small bowl combine the glaze ingredients. 
Pour over the hot loaves and allow to cool completely before removing from pans. 

Once cooled, wrap tightly to store.

*As I mentioned above, I used baby lemons. I think it worked out that 4 - 5 baby lemons are equal to one big/regular lemon.

**With the second loaf, it made one loaf and 2 extra large muffins.

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Monday, August 24, 2015

Kids in the Kitchen: Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Muffins

Baking with the girls AND taking pictures can be a little very challenging, so I try and do it when Dave is home - he's my photographer.
Last weekend Lauren and I decided that we wanted to bake something. As usual, she wanted cookies or a cake. But after some convincing, we agreed on muffins.


As I was putting on Lauren's apron, I heard a little voice saying, "Me too! Me too!". It was Olivia wanting to help bake. And of course she wanted to wear an apron too.
Olivia doesn't have her own special apron yet, so she has to wear whatever we have kicking around. This time it was a vintage Montréal apron that I've had for years. That's the life of the second child...

And yes, before we even
started she had a dirty face...
two words - Second. Child

Like most kids their age, both girls have A LOT of energy. Getting them to sit at the table and focus on anything is close to impossible. At supper time, Lauren will get up and go do her "exercises" and then come back and eat. We get it, she needs movement breaks.
But when they bake, they will sit at the table for as long as I let them. They love it!


When we went grocery shopping we weren't totally sure what kind of muffins we were making, so we bought the necessities, (oats, chocolate chips, brown sugar etc.) and figured we'd decide when we got home.

Since the girls love raisins, and raisins and oatmeal pretty much belong together, we decided to make oatmeal raisin muffins.
But, I forgot to buy raisins. So we used chocolate chips instead.




The girls helped measure and mix the dry ingredients and I know it's kind of lame, but I did the rest of the ingredients like the molasses, milk and eggs. In my defense it was Sunday afternoon, we'd had a busy weekend and I was tired. The last thing I wanted to do was clean up spilled sticky molasses or eggs.


They don't even fight when they bake!

A speaking of chocolate chips...


 I let the girls choose what kind they wanted. Not that they know the difference between semi-sweet and milk chocolate, but I like to give them choices. And a certain three year old has long arms that likes to grab things, like chocolate chips, off the shelf.  They ended up choosing swirled milk & white chocolate chips.



The girls approved of those crazy swirled chocolate chips and most of them made it into the muffins. 


The recipe I ended up using was from The Company's Coming Muffins & More book - no surprise there!

Serving bowl by Joseph Réal Design

I didn't make any changes to the recipe other than the baking time.

 Oatmeal Muffins:
(Recipe Company's Coming, Muffins & More)
Makes 16-18 muffins.

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cup - Flour
1 cup - Rolled oats
1/4 cup - Brown sugar, packed
1 Tbsp - Baking Powder
1/2 Tsp - Salt
1/4 Tsp - Cinnamon
3/4 cup - Raisins or chocolate chips (or both!)

1 - Egg
2 Tbsp - Molasses
1/4 cup - Cooking oil
1 cup - Milk
1 Tsp - Vanilla

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Mix first 7 ingredients in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre.

In a small bowl, beat egg until frothy.
Mix in molasses, cooking oil, milk and vanilla.
Pour into well.

Stir only to moisten. Batter will be lumpy.

Fill muffin tins 3/4 full

*Bake for 13 minutes.


*The recipe says to bake the muffins for 20-25 minutes. I baked the first batch for 17 minutes and they were a bit over baked. The second batch I made I baked them for 13 minutes and they were perfect.


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Sunday, August 16, 2015

Peach Crisp

One of the things I look forward to the most in summer, is the fruit that grows on my grampa's farm - cherries, apples, pears, plums, and peaches! So good!

Check out the size of that nest
nestled in the peach tree! 

Every time we go to the farm to visit my dad (my grampa is in a nursing home now so my dad is running the farm), we leave with a ridiculous amount of fruit. I sometimes feel like I should say no, but I just can't!

Over the last few weeks we've had a never ending supply of peaches and apples. Seriously, at one point we had like 25 pounds of apples.


 I've been a baking machine - peach crisp, apple crisp, baked apples, cinnamon apple muffins, apple chips, apple sauce...you get the idea.


Considering the amount of baking I've done recently, I should have at least 5 posts ready to go.
But, I don't. Other than this peach crisp, I forgot to take pictures of ALL the stuff I made. Which is pretty awesome when you have a baking blog...

Anyways, we had a big bowl of peaches sitting in the fridge and some friends coming over for a BBQ, so something had to be made with those peaches.
Originally I was going to make a peach pie, but as usual I was running out of time. And to be honest, a pie seemed like a daunting task, but making a peach crisp, seemed like a great idea.


When it came out of the oven we dove right in, with vanilla Dairy Queen soft serve ice cream of course. That being said, I didn't get any pictures of it until the next day when the leftovers were already in the ramekin, and about to be delivered to my dad.

This was my first fruit crisp, and it was awesome! The topping was a mixture of oatmeal, butter, cinnamon and brown sugar. It was like a giant oatmeal cookie.
The filling was so good too, which may be due to the fact that my grampa's trees grow the juiciest, most delicious peaches.

The only "problem", if you can call it that, was that the peaches cooked down way more than I expected and the topping was really thick. No one seemed to mind though, because like I said, it was like a giant oatmeal cookie!


I found this recipe on Pinterest and modified it slightly. Making this peach crisp was so quick and easy! The most time consuming part was peeling and cutting the peaches. I liked it so much that I used it again the next week to make an apple crisp.
I had the same issue with the fruit cooking down a little too much and leaving a thick topping.  When I made the apple crisp, I knew I should've prepped more apples, but when you don't have one of those fancy apple peelers, peeling 10+ apples is just SO much work!


Peach Crisp:
(Recipe adapted from www.ohsweetbasil.com)

Ingredients:

Filling:
10-12 Peaches (or any other fruit)
Flour (approximately 2-3 tbsp)
Sugar - optional*
Lemon Juice - optional*

Topping:
1 1/2 cups Oatmeal
3/4 cup Brown Sugar
3/4 cup White Sugar
3/4 cup Butter - cold
1 cup Flour
2 tsp Cinnamon

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Mix in first amount of flour with peaches.
*Some of the peaches were a little tart so I added a small amount of sugar. I also used a little bit lemon juice to prevent browning.

Place fruit in the bottom of pan.

Mix together topping ingredients and spread over the fruit.

Bake for 35 - 40 minutes.
The top should be crisp like a cookie. If it's still soft, continue baking.

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Monday, August 3, 2015

Kids in the Kitchen: Gingersnaps

Lauren loves visiting her Great Grampa at his nursing home...and by visiting, I mean she sings and dances for him and tells him 3 year old stories. It's pretty cute! 
Grampa isn't in the best shape - he doesn't see or hear well, and isn't the chattiest. You can't blame the poor guy though, he's almost 93 and was farming right up until he was admitted to the hospital a couple years ago. 
He'd much rather be on his farm than lying in a bed.
Even though he doesn't say much, he really enjoys it when the girls, (and us, I think), come to visit.

Who wouldn't want to see these faces??!!



We've started a little tradition of taking cookies when we go visit. Last time we went to see him we took some of these mini chocolate chip cookies. This time we were planning on taking snickerdoodles.

In high school cooking class, one of the first things they taught us, was to read the entire recipe before starting. Ya...I didn't do that.
I got everything out and was about to start measuring the ingredients, when I finally read ahead. That's when I realized that after mixing the dough, it needed to be chilled for 2-3 hours before baking. Snikerdoodles weren't happening considering it was 6:30 pm when we go started.
That's when Dave suggested gingersnaps...Sold!!

With my helpers ready to go and my trusty Company's Coming Gingersnaps recipe in hand we got started!



Lauren is  getting really good
at cracking eggs!



When the cookies were done, we all had to try one. Or maybe two...
The last time I made gingersnaps was at Christmas and they tasted just like I remembered!
The cinnamon, ginger, molasses and brown sugar give them their delicious spicy flavor*, which makes them super addictive!


When I baked the cookies, I tried 3 different baking times, 9, 10 and 11 minutes. The longer they bake, the crispier they get. We liked them both ways.


Gingersnaps:
(Recipe from Company's Coming - Most Loved Cookies)

Ingredients:

3/4 cup Butter, softened
1 cup Granulated sugar
1 Large egg
1/2 cup Fancy (mild) molasses
2 1/2 cups All-purpose flour
2 tsp Baking soda
2 tsp Ground ginger
1 tsp Ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 cup (approx.) Granulated sugar, nonpareils, sprinkles, colored sugar etc

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350ºF

Cream margarine and first amount of sugar in large bowl.
Add egg. Beat well. Add molasses. Beat until smooth.

Combine next 5 ingredients in medium bowl.
Add to margarine mixture in 2 additions, mixing well after each addition until no dry flour remains.

Roll into 1 inch balls.
Roll each ball in second amount of sugar in small bowl until coated.

Arrange about 2 inches apart on greased cookie sheets.

Bake for about 9- 11 minutes.
Let stand on cookie sheets for about 5 minutes before removing to wire racks to cool.

Makes about 7 1/2 dozen (90) cookies.

*I'm not a fan of ginger, at all, but I love gingersnaps. The ginger in these cookies isn't too overwhelming which I really like. If you prefer to have a 'spicier' cookie, just add more spice to taste. I've heard that adding 1/4 teaspoon white or black ground pepper or crystallized ginger can spice it up as well.


I know I've said it before, and I'm sure I'll say it again, (over and over), but I love cookies and because of that, they aren't allowed to be in the house. And these ones in particular need to go...fast!

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