Nosh

Peppernuts…spicy little morsels of my childhood!

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Peppernuts or Pfeffernusse are coin-sized cookies that pack a lot of punch.  Spicy notes of cinnamon, anise and black pepper hit your taste buds with a ton of flavour.  The smell of these little treats alone bring me back to christmases of my childhood.  My grandma made them every year at Christmas…the time she spent in her kitchen had to have been unreal!  They are crunchy and sweet and delicious.

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The recipe for these German-mennonite cookies is easy to follow.  Although a bit tedious they are fun to make and share.  Fill up mason jars, coffee mugs or dessert tins and pass them around this Christmas.  I love them with a steaming mug of black coffee or tea.

Here’s the recipe:

  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 cups corn syrup
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp ground star anise
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp baking soda
  • 1 Tbsp canilla
  • 8 cups + flour
  • In your mixer or with an electric beater, cream the butter and sugar.  Add the syrup and spices along with the vanilla.  Add in the flour and baking soda gradually until a soft dough is formed (much like a sugar cookie dough).
  • Roll into ropes (the thickness is up to you, I rolled mine 3/4-1 inch thick). Cover with plastic wrap and freeze.
  • Slice into thin coins while still frozen and bake on parchment lined baking sheets at 350* until golden and crisp.  Let cool (they’ll crisp even more) and store in airtight containers.  (This recipe makes 6-7 pan full, I’ve halved it many times as well when I’m not as energetic for a full batch!!)
Nosh

Ginger Cookies with a Split Twist

I’ve waited patiently for the beginning of December to let myself truly explode Christmas!! (Ok that’s a lie, I haven’t waited patiently…I haven’t even exactly waited as we’ve already done some Christmas activities including decorating the tree…oops!)  I just honestly can’t hold in the excitement! This time of year makes me feel closest to the magic of childhood!  If unlike me you are just letting yourself get into the spirit I hope to give you some easy inspiration to take your traditions to the next level this Christmas or inspire you to bring in some new traditions!

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In this post I’m showing you how to elevate an already favourite ginger cookie recipe (or use mine) into something super decadent and fun.  This is an easy decorating technique that your kids or grandkids (or nieces or nephews or even the neighbor’s kid) can get involved in easily as well.  Share the gift of baking with your loved ones!

Ginger Cookies

  • 3/4 cup butter (softened)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup molasses
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 c flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • Cream the butter and sugar then add the molasses, spices and vanilla.
  • Add remaining ingredients and mix until incorporated.
  • Drop by scoopful on a parchment lined cookie sheet.
  • Bake at 375* for 10-12 mins (rotate your pans if you are baking them together on convection.)

For the decorating:

  • Melt 3/4 cup white chocolate discs over a double boiler.
  • Dip each cooled cookie into the melted chocolate to cover half and then lay on waxed paper.
  • Sprinkle with your favourite decorations!  We used gingerbread man sprinkles and Christmas coloured little ball sprinkles.
  • Let cool to set the chocolate then share!
Nosh

Caramel Corn Craziness

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I’m a theme fanatic and I live for traditions. Halloween is one of my favourite holidays for getting full-on themed and I love that it’s all for the kids!

On E’s first halloween I dressed him up like a bucket of popcorn and hubby and I sported fancy bow-ties as the concession workers.  Of course we had to make caramel corn for our treats to give out on halloween night.  And we made oodles and oodles of caramel corn… (three batches to be precise)…caramel corn craziness!

 

 

I had a deep craving and perhaps a bit of nostalgia so I whipped up a batch today so we can munch on it and share on halloween (if there’s any left!!)

Here’s the recipe so you can partake in the feasting too!

  • 16 cups popped corn
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup corn syrup
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • sprinkling of salt (optional for that salted caramel hit!)
  • Pop your popcorn and lay it out on parchment paper on cookie sheets (I use 3)
  • In a large sauce pan bring the butter, syrup and sugar to a boil and let bubble for 5 mins, stirring occasionally.
  • Take the caramel off the heat and add vanilla. (Be careful as it may splatter)
  • Divide the caramel over the pans of popcorn and stir to coat the popcorn as best as you can.  Put the sheet pans of caramel corn into a 250 degree oven and every 15 mins for 1 hour remove the pans and stir to coat the popcorn.
  • Once baked for 1 hr sprinkle with salt and let the popcorn cool.  I like to go through it and remove any of the kernels that didn’t pop.  Store in air tight containers or bags.
  • You can also add nuts to the popped corn before coating with the caramel sauce or finish with sprinkles for a fancy flair!
Nosh

Squash Ravioli and Summer’s End

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The colder weather is making me dig out my cozy sweaters and dream of steaming bowls of pasta, fresh sauce and yummy cheeses.  This recipe takes advantage of the fall squash that are abundant this time of year.  It’s easy to make and freezes great.  Think about serving it for your next harvest dinner party to celebrate the crops and the end of a season.

You can use your favourite pasta dough recipe or search my blog for my healthier whole wheat pasta recipe (search ‘pasta’ or ‘Friday feasting’) or this one here:

  • 2 1/2 cup flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • Water to bring it all together
  • Put everything (except the water) in a food processor and blitz it up while gradually adding enough water to form a ball.  Cover the dough in wrap and chill in the fridge for up to 3 days.

 

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For the filling I used buttercup squash because that’s what’s most plentiful in my garden but butternut squash would work just as well.  To roast the squash cut it in half and scoop out the seeds.  Brush with olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper and place cut side down on a baking sheet with parchment paper.  I tucked a clove of garlic underneath each half as well.  Roast until the squash is soft and comes away from the skin easily.  Scoop out all the flesh and reserve for later or cool to use immediately.

Filling:

  • 2 cups roasted squash
  • 1 cup grated parmesan
  • 1 egg
  • 1 clove roasted garlic
  • 1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley
  • 1/2 tsp (or to taste) grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup ricotta or cottage cheese
  • salt and pepper
  • Mix all the ingredients well to combine.

Roll out your prepared pasta dough (by hand like me or with a pasta roller).  Drop filling by teaspoonfuls onto the base dough, leaving ample space to seal the borders.  Lightly brush the edges around the filling with water.  Place the top sheet of pasta over and press out air bubbles while you seal the edges.  Using a knife or roller (or even cookie cutters) cut around each mound of filling.  Place on lightly floured parchment paper to freeze or cook immediately in a large pot of salted boiling water.  Let ravioli float to the top of the boiling water and cook for another minute or so before removing gently with a slotted spoon and placing into serving platter or bowl. Do not overcrowd your pot, boil in batches as needed.

Browned Butter Sage Sauce

  • 1/2 cup – 3/4 cup butter
  • fresh sage leaves (6-8)
  • salt and pepper
  • In a saute pan melt the butter at a gentle medium heat.  Let the milk solids separate and cook to a golden brown.  While the butter is browning, crisp up the sage leaves in the pan as well.  Let them cook until they darken and start to curl.  Let drain on a paper towel and reserve to gently crumble over the dressed pasta.  Drizzle the browned butter over the hot pasta season with salt and pepper and enjoy!  (Optional: add some grated parmesan over top as well!)

 

I shared my bounty with my parents and brother and my mom made giant meatballs with fresh garden tomato sauce and a caprese panzanella salad.  It was so yummy…and the company wasn’t bad either!  Just another reason to make fall your favourite season!

Nosh

Top Notch Tomatoes

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I refuse to believe that summer is over.  I know that the leaves turning, the cooler nights, the back-to-school buzz and the last long weekend over screams otherwise but I refuse to believe it!  I can just frolic in oblivion right? Perfectly normal, perfectly healthy!  If you’re like me and continue to try and wring every last drop out of this season I have a super quick and delicious appetizer or meal accompaniment that is hanging onto summer just as hard as I am!

The tomatoes are bountiful right now and I’m happily picking buckets of this amazing fruit every morning using them in batches of salsa, sauce, slow-roasting them for soups and delicious bases and eating them fresh at every turn.  My mom gave E and two of his friends a tomato plant in the spring to take care of for the summer months and see who’s bares the biggest fruit.  He has taken great care in his plant, watering and watching it grow.  The other day he picked his first ripe tomato and then two more in the following days…He’s patiently waiting for more to turn.  I love that he’s interested in growing and tending to his own food.  Farmer through and through!

This recipe works with whatever kinds of tomatoes you have…grape, cherry, roma, heirloom, it makes no difference.  Just chop the larger ones up into quartered sections and feel free to leave the little ones right on the vine. (I love how this looks!). Toss them all into a baking dish, along with a bulb or two of garlic, sliced in half, a couple sprigs of thyme, a wheel or square of feta, a liberal drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper and bake at 400* until the tomatoes are bubbling and browning and the feta is getting a golden crust.  Serve hot and bubbly with toasty baguette and a chilled bottle of proseco or a lemon-minted soda spritz and friends.  I swear it will prolong that summer feeling!

Recipe Recap:

  • Assorted tomatoes (large cut into smaller quarter sections)
  • 1-2 bulbs garlic (sliced in half)
  • fresh thyme
  • feta (wheel or square)
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • Bake in a 400* oven until golden, bubbly and garlic is softened.