Saturday, April 23, 2011

One A Penny, Two A Penny....

Yesterday we finally took a day off from rehearsals (as it was Good Friday and the school was closed and all....).  I slept in a little, relaxed, and got some baking done.  A nice day if I do say so myself!  What did I bake you ask? Since it is Easter weekend and all, I decided to make some good old hot cross buns.  I remember my Mom making hot cross buns when I was little and I always loved the mildly spiced soft buns with the icing on top! This really is a nostalgic thing for me. I remember a distinct flavour and texture of these buns.  I have tried other recipes but they just didn't fit the bill. 

Years ago I scanned the recipe from my Mom's Purity cookbook.  It is a coil bound cook book with some real gems in it and still uses some very old fashioned language that I find so very neat. One of my sisters has it now and I couldn't find the scan.  Lucky for me, I actually found a newer re print version of the Purity Cook Book from 1967 last summer in the recycling  hut out at the cabin.  I opened the door to put my recyclables in the hut and found a stack of cookbooks just sitting there waiting for me.  It was just meant to be! 

When I make these, I just somehow feel  a bit closer to my Mom, as though she were back in the kitchen with me. I do miss her more during the holidays and I do find it interesting that something as simple as hot cross buns can help bring back so many memories.
Without further ado, I bring you hot cross buns:

Hot Cross Buns - Printable version

1 cup hot milk
1/3 cup sugar
2 tsp salt
1/3 cup butter
1 tsp sugar
1 pkg  active dry yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm water
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 egg yolk (save the white for the egg wash later)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 1/2 cups flour
2/3 cups raisins or currants
another 2 1/2 to 3 cups flour

In the bowl of your stand mixer using the paddle attachment (or a bowl and use a wooden spoon) place:
  • 2/3 cup of sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup butter, cut into pieces
Heat the milk (original recipe says to scald the milk but I put it in the microwave for 2 minutes).  Pour the hot milk over the sugar, salt, and butter. Mix until the butter melts and the sugar gets mixed in.  Allow this mixture to cool while proofing the yeast.

Now get the yeast working. In a bowl mix together and let it stand for about 10 minutes until all foamy:
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 cup lukewarm water
  • 1 pkg dry active yeast (or 2 1/4 tsp dry active yeast)

Add the yeast mixture to the hot milk mixture and stir.
Now add:
  • 1 slightly beaten egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 2/3 cup raisins or currants (I didn't have any so I didn't add any)
Beat until smooth, then switch to the dough hook (if using a stand mixer) and add another 2 1/2 cups to 3 cups flour.

Mix until a soft, smooth, and elastic dough forms this may take about 5 minutes.  If the dough is too sticky, add a bit more flour. 

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and continue to knead by hand (get that stress out!)

Form the dough into a ball and place it in a lightly greased bowl, turning the ball to coat the dough.  Cover the bowl with a clean tea towel and place in a warm spot to rise until double (about an hour)

Punch the dough down and divide into 2 equal portions, use a scale if you wish to make it really even!  Divide each half into 9 pieces and shape into a flattened bun.

Arrange on a lined baking sheet about 2" apart.  Cover with a clean tea towel and place back in that warm spot to double in size.(about 45 minutes).  This is a good time to pre heat the oven to 400.

Fetch that left over egg white mix in 1 tbsp water.  Brush the tops of the buns with the egg wash.

Using a sharp knife, cut an x (or a cross, a long the top of the bun.

Bake in a preheated 400F oven for 15 to 18 minutes.

Now it is time to make the icing!

Mix together:
  • 3/4 cup icing sugar
  • 1 tbsp hot milk (or water)
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla (or more if you like more vanilla)
Mix well and drizzle over the hot buns, following the cut marks in the buns.


Until next time, stay warm and eat well!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Not So Chilly Chili Cheese Fries

Well my friends, this will most likely be my last post....for a couple of weeks anyway.  Today I spent most of my day at a local theatre to start rehearsals for our school's production of Back to the 80s!!! We will be practicing all week long for our show's run so I am pretty darn sure I won't be having much time (or energy) for blogging.

So sad I know.  I figured I should get a post in today before I get too tired.  Last night using my new spices from Penzey's Spices I brewed up a large pot o' spicy chili!  Yum!!  Why not bake up a batch of seasoned french fries so I can have some chili cheese fries!!!

For Chili Cheese Fries you will need:
  • 3 russet potatoes, scrubbed
  • seasoning salt (I used Hy's Seasoning salt)
  • olive oil
  • your favourite chili, already made...spicy is nice! (Or try this one)
  • shredded cheese of our choice (today I had sharp cheddar and mozzarella so I used that)
  • green onions, chopped
  • sour cream
Pre heat the oven to 400 F and scrub the potatoes and cut into fairly even fries.  Drizzle with a couple tbsp olive oil and stir to coat.  Shake on some seasoning salt.

Bake for 25 minutes, flip with your favourite flipper.

Vader loves chili cheese fries!!
Heat up your chili and shred your cheese!

Bake for another 20 minutes or until desired about of crispiness is achieved.  You can also use the broil element at the end to crisp up our fries.
Plate up you cheese chili fries....fries, chili, cheese, a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of green onions....that's it....yum!!

Let me tell you, these hit the spot after a long day of rehearsals!! Spicy, cheesy, baked potato goodnes all on one plate!!

Until next time, stay warm and eat well!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Pancakes, Pajamas, and The Empire Strikes Back

In the wee hours of the morning (5:30am) Boy and Hubby left for an early morning baseball practice.  Shocking! The Boy and baseball? A while after the two early birds left, I was joined in bed....get yours heads out of the gutter!! My adorable 5 year old nephew crawled in to cuddle.  We were joined shortly after by the two cats who always seem to want some sort of attention. 

We decided it was time to get up when we both had to pee. I know, that was too much information. With the big boys gone, the Lego came back out, we watched "The Fox and the Hound".  Of course while the movie was playing I was able to sneak into the Little Kitchen to mix up some pancakes.  Nephew wanted to help with the flipping but I was worried about the hot griddle and such...he did have fun watching though.  Using my intergalactic pancake moulds can be tricky though.
Top to bottom: Tie fighter, Millennium Falcon, and an X-wing
The Millennium Falcon gets a dab of butter and a dose of maple!
Not only did I get to use my moulds this morning, I also got to give my pancake pen a try as well as my new griddle! (Nothing but fun times in the Little Kitchen!)

Put together your favourite pancake recipe. I used this one today

Pre heat the griddle and oil up the moulds and place them on the griddle to heat up.

If you have a pancake pen, load it up with batter. If not use about 1/4 cup of batter per mould and a knife to help spread the batter into all the nooks and crannies.

Cook the pancakes until all bubbly and dry on the edges.  You will have to cook the pancakes longer on the first the side than you normally would. 

If the pancakes happen to stick to the edges of the mould, use a knife to scrape and push the pancake out.

Flip and finish cooking.

Transfer to a baking sheet in a warm oven to keep until all the batter is cooked and made into pancakey goodness.
Half the galaxy could have come over for breakfast!

Serve with maple syrup and butter!!

What did we do while eating our pancakes this morning?  We stayed in our pajamas and watched the Empire Strikes Back of course!!

Until next time, stay warm and eat well!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Cookies and a Sleepover!

Tonight my 5 year old nephew is sleeping over and we are having a blast making cookies!  What kind of cookies? Star Wars cookies!!! (My favourite kind!) Nephew is 5 years old and thinks the world of the Boy, who is 15....they are like 2 peas in a pod when they are together.  After playing with some Lego while watching the Mets game, it was time to make some cookies!

The Best cookie helpers...EVER!
 I pre made the dough so it would chill while the boys were playing.  This way the Little Kitchen was cleaned up a bit and we had some counter space to work. I used my go to recipe for sugar cookies, you know, the recipe used for the Sugared Snowflakes.

Best cookie cutters....EVER!!

I won't bore you with the recipe but the printable version can be found by clicking HERE
Baking with the boys is so much fun.  I will have to do it more often.

That Darth spatula is my favourite!
Hard at work to get those cookies cut!
The Boy is such a good big cousin!!
Sprinkle that flour!
Nephew LOVES to sprinkle flour!
Hey!  There's my favourite spatula again!
Now for the taste test!!
We decided it would be quite appropriate to watch Star Wars IV A New Hope while we ate our cookies.  After all the original movies are the ONLY ones worth watching!!
I think in the morning we will break out the pancake moulds!

Until next time, stay warm and eat well!!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Stories From the Road and Beyond and Yes, a Little More Baseball

So sorry I have neglected my blog and all of my lovely readers.  We got so incredibly busy with baseball and baseball activities in St. Louis, then the long drive home, then the unpacking, then the going back to all just piled up sooooo quickly!  We were getting back to the hotel so late, I didn't feel to much like taking food photos or typing for that matter. Here is the low down on the rest of the trip to fabulous St. Louis:

St Louis is in bloom!
1) The Canadian Rookies won their tournament!! Unfortunately I missed the game (bad parent!) as Hubby and I had to start the long drive home so we could meet the bus and pick up the Boy!  For those who understand baseball jibber jabber.....the Boy hit a 2 run double to bring the Rookies ahead by one, the other team scored a run, the Rookies had the bases loaded, 1 out, and went with a suicide squeeze bunt....and it worked!!!! Woot Woot!!

2) We attended Opening day festivities in downtown St Louis.  It was a fun time, with lots of music and some food...I especially enjoyed the free ribs from O'Charleys!!

3) We went the the Saturday game at Busch Stadium with the Padres playing the Cardinals....the Cards lost big time!!!  We had lovely seats in left field right behind the bull pen!! (Yes, we were out in left field! ha ha ha) The Boy and I each had a ball park bratwurst and shared some nachos. Hubby went for the pulled pork BBQ with baked beans.  We don't get to see MLB games too often so we don't feel guilty about eating the food! The Boy also managed to scarf down a pretzel!

Hello pitchers.....

4) The 12 hour drive to Fargo, North Dakota was long. We took food with us and stopped only for gas and restroom breaks. The Dinner we had at Ruby Tuesday's was lovely. We raided the all you can eat salad bar and called it a night!

5) We actually caught up to the bus Monday afternoon at 1pm, about 2km from the drop off point!

6)  I have officially lost count of how many loads of laundry we have done since arriving at home.

7)  After unloading the car we went grocery shopping.

8) I made chicken pot pies for supper Monday...the freezer needs to be restocked and I have to find a day to do a big freezer filling cooking day.

9) Returning to work means getting into full swing for out school production...I am the stage manager and may be away from blogging during the show and rehearsal times.

10) Life is slowly returning to normal, but I am still catching up on sleep.  I became quite accustomed to naps while on vacation!
What a great looking team!  That's the Boy, the tall one in the middle of the back row
 Now that the winter program is almost over, it is time for regular season baseball....and that means more games, more food, and more fun!!

Until next time, stay warm and eat well!