Monday, December 31, 2012

So Long 2012 :)

Hello Sweets,

Well it's the last day of 2012, and I thought I would take the time to reflect and see what the last year has meant to me.  Plus I have another fun kitchen gadget to share with all of you, since this will be a shorter post :)

As you may or may not be aware I have a rare diagnosis that will require me to have a type of brain surgery, well when 2012 started they did not want to go ahead with surgery just yet (which I can tell you can be devastating).  It had caused me to go off work in August of 2011 and a huge part of who I am was tied to my job, but this year I decided to start discovering who I am without the job title and it has been a wonderful journey.  Life isn't easy at times, and when it is easy it's probably not worth it.  I finally received the news this October that they will be going ahead with the surgery (finally!), I cannot even begin to describe how happy this news made me as this has been a hard adjustment in my life.  I also started my blog in October.  I started it because I was feeling down because of being off work.  However, the support I have received from all of you, coupled with the fulfilling feeling of blogging was just what I needed.  I've always enjoyed writing, and realize now that I should have never stopped because I feel like even when I'm having a bad day I can be thankful for what I do have and that I can peruse my passions.  Rediscovering my love of the kitchen, being encouraged to pursue it from the ones that mean the most to me, and not to mention the meaning it has brought to my life.  The one thing that can make a bad day better is creating in the kitchen, even though it can sometimes be hard on my body the feeling that it gives me encourages me in all other aspects of my life.  Nathan has even got me thinking about possibly starting my own little bakery shop, and I can't tell you what it means to have an amazingly supportive man in my life.  I think probably the best part of this past year was being completely accepted by Nathan's family and friends, knowing that when I move to Texas one day that I already have some family and friends makes the decision of change that much easier :)

Okay enough of the touchy feely emotional reflection of this past year, I have a super cool and helpful kitchen goodie for you again.  I had a recipe that is ready to blog about but wanted to save it for tomorrow, I did this because I wanted to do a reflection post with a fun ending.  Don't worry I will give you a super recipe tomorrow that is definitely worth the wait, not to mention this recipe has now spawned a new one of a kind recipe that is fully in the works and will be completed probably on the weekend, so keep your eyes peeled!  So as you all know, Nathan's family gave me a TON of cool kitchen tools for Christmas, and I am trying to show you all the cool items over multiple posts and today's is one of those posts!  I have mentioned in a previous post that I love everything that goes into creating in the kitchen, even the mundane prep work that has to go into each recipe.  I have also mentioned how much I love doing small things for Nathan, such as picking out the perfect melons at the grocery store and cutting it all up for him to it's ready to enjoy.  Well guess what one of the gadgets were, a melon slicer!  Now it really is a fun and easy tool but with my weak shoulders I needed Nathan's help  pushing in through the melon, however I am confident that post surgery I will be able to do it all on my own!  Okay lets get to the fun stuff :) (here's a link, not my exact one but just the same :) )
Let the fun begin!
 Start with a ripe melon, slice the top of the melon off
Place the melon cutter on top then rock back and forth a few times to get a grip
 Firmly push down, then remove.
 So pretty

There you have it, if you or anyone in your house really enjoys eating melons but hate the messy and annoying preparation, GET THIS!  It is so worth it lol it makes the cutting process much easier (not to mention pretty), and it's even cuts every time!

Well I hope you all have something enjoyable planned for your New Years eve, spend it with those you care about the most so you ring in the new year with a positive bang ;)  Nathan and I are going to share our first new years together with just the two of us, a romantic dinner first, and then sharing champagne at the stroke of midnight.  This will be the first time I have ever had a new years celebration like this, and I honestly cannot wait because I think the best way to ring in the new year is to be with the ones that make you the happiest.  There isn't a single person I would rather be with at midnight.  Spending it with my best friend and soul mate is the perfect scenario.  Happy New Years everyone, and I'll see you all in the new year!!!  Until next time (year lol)..............

Stay sweet,

Jennifer xoxoxo 

Sunday, December 30, 2012

A Breakfast Treat and Some Christmas Presents!

Hello Sweets,

I hope you all had a fantastic weekend, and that you are ready to ring in 2013!  Do any of you have special plans for New Years eve?  Nathan and I are opting for a romantic night for two in Fort Worth, maybe a candlelight dinner, some dancing, and of course champagne :)  I can't wait.  It will be a nice change from the crowded bar or dance, not to mention super romantic.

So today I thought I would change it up a little bit and do something a little different.  I'm not going as crazy as to not have a recipe included (that would be insane lol), but I am also going to do a product review on some new kitchen toys that I received at Christmas from Nathan's family that I used in the recipe I'm about to share with you :)  I am probably one of only a few women that is okay with kitchen products or appliances as a gift and not be upset about it, actually I'm usually ecstatic :)

As you all know, Nathan gave me a Kenmore Elite Mixer (details) that is AMAZING (not to mention great for my shoulders, he's the bestest), so I wanted to make something that really needed to be mixed.  Then it was like a light went off in my head, dough needs to not only be mixed but kneaded as well which is usually really hard on me, but not anymore!  So it was time for my cinnamon buns to make their debut once again. Since I was making dough I also got to use my new Betty Crocker non-stick rolling pin (details), and my Weston non-stick baking mat (details).   The mixer is phenomenal.  It came with 3 different attachments; 2 bowls (5 and 6 qt), it has a light to make it easier to see, it has a lift feature so you don't have to tip the bowl to get it out, has a timer that automatically stops after the time you set (super helpful for dough).  It is very powerful (I have yet to go past 3), and it is chrome so it goes nicely with everything.  The baking mat has a lot of great features besides the fact that it is non-stick, it can withstand both extreme cold and heat, it's microwave safe, and it has measurements on it for precision.  The rolling pin of course is non-stick, but it is also slightly longer than a traditional wooden rolling pin which helps simplify the production of any dough.  So my product review is this; I love all of these products and would recommend them to anyone who likes to bake or cook :)

 Isn't she pretty :)
 These work fantastic, even more so together!

 Okay enough of my Christmas goodies, lets get to the cinnamon rolls!!

Homemade Cinnamon Rolls
1 pk of yeast
1 Tbs sugar
6C flour
2Tsp salt
1 1/2C luke warm water
1/2C milk
2Tbs butter, melted
2/3C brown sugar, dark
1/2C pecans, chopped
1 Tsp cinnamon
Cream Cheese Icing
4Tbs butter, softened
3oz cream cheese
1 1/2C powdered sugar
1/2Tsp vanilla extract
1/8Tsp salt

1)  Dissolve yeast and sugar in 1/2C of water, let stand for 5-10 minutes (it should double in size).

2)  Mix the flour and salt in a large bowl making a depression in the center.

3)  Combine milk, remaining water, and dissolved yeast and pour into depression.  Begin mixing flour with liquid making sure all the batter on side of the bowl is worked into dough.

4)  Knead until a smooth dough results and the sides of the bowl are clean.  Occasionally dip hands in water (I added small amounts in the mixer when it was dry) while kneading to give a smooth elastic finish.  Cover with towel and let rise in warm place for 2-4 hours.
look at the beautiful dough hook

1)  Roll dough into a rectangle about 18"x16".

2)  Brush with melted butter.  Combine sugar, cinnamon, and pecans and sprinkle over dough.

3)  Starting at the long end; roll dough tight as possible.  Moisten edges to seal, cut into approximately 20 pieces.  Place rolls cut side down into two lightly buttered round cake pans (rectangle works too!).  Let rise 1 1/2 hours until they double in size.

 4)  Preheat oven to 350F and bake for 25 minutes.

1)  Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl until well blended.

2)  Frost cinnamon rolls with icing while rolls are still in the baking pan and enjoy!

These cinnamon rolls are to die for, and they are great for a family breakfast (I served Nathan his with a bowl of fresh fruit).  Plus, they're not too difficult to make.  This was actually my first experience activating yeast when I made them the first time and I can say I was impressed with myself :)

Well I am going to be honest with you, I may not have a post tomorrow night because of the celebrations, but I may try to write it during the day before we leave for our romantic evening.  If I don't post tomorrow I want to wish you all a very happy new years and hope you start your year off in a positive light.  Spend it with the ones you care most about :)  Also, thank you for all your support in my first year of blogging, I am looking forward to my first full year in 2013!  Until next time.........

Stay sweet,

Jennifer xoxoxo


Baby It's Cold Outside....

Hello Sweets,

I hope you all had a fantastic Friday :)  Nathan and I had a great day.  We picked up some new blue rays and then he took me out to eat at one of my favorite restaurants, Red Lobster!  I LOVE seafood, and I fully believe that it is worth all the hard work that is required to get to the succulent meat.  Now that I am completely full, we are having a full on "gamers" night full of sugar and Star Wars.  I know I know I'm a little geeky, but hey whatever is fun for you, you should do!

Since we are going to be busy most of the night, I thought I would try and write my blog on our breaks, and since I don't have a super complicated recipe for all of you, I think it will work!  So I bet you're wondering what the correlation is between my title and the recipe; well it's simple they're both cold :)  Last year, I spent my first thanksgiving with Nathan's family, and for dessert they had something I had never seen before.   Have you heard of Ice Box Pie?   That is exactly what it was, and I wasn't really sure what to think of it, but I'm not rude and I like to try new things so I tried it.  It is very simple, not overly sweet, and a nice cool treat, plus it's yummy.  Let me show you how simple it is :)

Ice Box Pie (via Cooks)
1 can Eagle brand condensed milk
1 8oz container cool whip
1 6oz can frozen lemonade
graham cracker crust (I used a store bought one)

1)  Mix all ingredients except cool whip until well blended.

2)  Fold in cool whip and pour in graham crust

3)  Chill for at least one hour prior to serving.
front is pink lemonade and the back is limeade :)

So there you have it, a very easy dessert, perfect for if you need something in a pinch :)  Perfect for any holiday or family get together.

I know I said I was all done with all the Christmas recipes, but since this is a short post (sick day (also why you're getting this on Saturday), booo :( ) I thought I would share another favorite thing about Christmas since I started spending them with Nathan.
This beautiful tree full of white lights

On the way to the hanger or to Nathan's uncle, we always pass this cattle ranch, and in the middle of this vast field there stands a single tree.  Every single inch of it is covered in white lights, and on a cold winter night on the dark road it shines so bright it automatically brings a smile to your face.  Until next time.........

Stay sweet,

Jennifer xoxoxo

Friday, December 28, 2012

Straight From Granny's Kitchen

Hello Sweets,

How are you all doing post holiday?  Are you all baked out?  Are you turkeyed out?  Or are you just finally getting to put your feet up?  Nathan and I are just finally getting to put our feet up, and I think we both forgot how much running around there is to do with Christmas.  Wrapping presents was pretty hard for me because of my shoulders, so I listened to my body and wrapped in stages lol.  Overall it was a great Christmas and everyone was happy as they could be :)
 How cute is Berries the reindeer?!?

I have a recipe today that comes from Nathans granny, Dora.  She is a sweet lady, born and raised in Texas, and is full of all sorts of kitchen knowledge (aka other uses for cream of tartar) :).  So when she stopped in with a recipe from Nathans late grandfather for me to recreate, I was flattered and honored to carry the torch in the family.  The only thing I didn't use from the original recipe was the icing, which I was making later at night so opted for the icing I used for Nathans birthday cake (you can find it here), with another Canuckette twist of course.  So let me share this gem of a family recipe with you now :)

Dede's Chocolate Sheet Cake
2C all-purpose flour
2C sugar
1/2C shortening
1C water
4Tbs cocoa
2 beaten eggs
1 Tsp baking soda
1 Tsp vanilla
1 Tsp cinnamon
I will apologize in advanced for the lack of pictures, Nathans uncle was over my shoulder the ENTIRE time

1)  In a large bowl; sift together sugar and flour.

2)  Mix shortening, water, and cocoa in a sauce pan, bringing to rapid boil.  

3)  Pour over the flour and sugar mixture and stir until well mixed.

4)  Add the remaining ingredients; eggs, baking soda, vanilla, and cinnamon and mix well.  Pour into a greased pan (large cake pan), I ended up using a cupcake tin instead and lined them with cupcake papers.

5)  Bake at 400F for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let cool for 2 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool.  Icing them once they are completely cooled.

*Side Note:  for the icing I added peppermint extract to give it a festive touch (use your taste buds for this part)*
 I ended up adding little candy cane sugar decals to make them even more festive :)

So there you have it, another family recipe passed down to the next generation.  What makes it even better is that I am getting them from both sides to create my own family recipes to share with my children :)

So now that the Christmas hoopla is finally over I can share with you the super fun gifts that I made for the ladies in the Texas family.  As you guys know I have a pretty kick ass pecan pie muffin recipe (click here). Well every time I make them, the family rants and raves about how tasty they are.  So I decided to make jars with all the dry, non perishable ingredients and completed it with the recipe written on a cute gingerbread man (add full recipe on the back).  I then finished it off with some festive ribbons, a silver bell, some fun Christmas stickers, and sticky tags to label for all the special someones.  I snapped a few pictures of the completed jar so you guys could see it for yourselves :)

The only road block I ran into was that the recipe calls for pecans to be added at the very end before placing into the oven, but thanks to Michael's, I got some festive zip lock bags that I placed on top and it filled the jars perfectly.  Now all the special family ladies in my life have the fabulous recipe for themselves always on hand, and they have a super cute recipe card now too!  I even had one extra left over so I decided to label it for Nathan, for when he misses me it'll be like I'm already there :)

So there you have it, all my Christmas recipes and super cute gifts, I hope you all enjoyed them as much as I did.  Tomorrow I will have a southern recipe to share with you and I will show you some of the super amazingly awesome kitchen gadgets I got from Nathans family, so don't forget to come back and check it out!  Until next time..........

Stay sweet,

Jennifer xoxoxo

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Jack Frost Nipping at Your Nose?

Hello Sweets,

Merry Christmas to all of my readers, from the great state of Texas!  I hope you all received some special kitchen tools from Santa, I know I did.  But more on that later, today was our first of two Christmas dinners and I would say it went off pretty much without a hitch.

Since I am writing this on Christmas eve (because even bloggers need a day off now and then) I thought I would keep it festive, so I saved one last holiday cookie recipe to share with all of you :)  I have some great memories from when I was a little girl and I am going to share one of those moments with you.  I come from Canada, and if you know your geography you know that no matter where you are in Canada, winter means snow, and a lot of it.  Well you knew where to find all the neighborhood kids when the snow started falling; outside enjoying the winter wonderland (although I no longer feel that way).  And when we finally were convinced to come inside every single part of us was frozen, sometimes even my mittens had icicles on them lol.  My grandmother would always make us hot cocoa with little tiny marshmallows in them, and it is a drink that I still enjoy today on a chilly night.  Well when I came across a recipe for hot cocoa cookies I couldn't pass them up!  Lets get to the warm gooey goodness that is this cookie :)

Hot Cocoa Cookies (via The Food Network Magazine)
2 1/4C cake flour, plus more for dusting
1/4C unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 Tsp baking soda
1/4Tsp salt
1C butter, room temperature
3/4C sugar
1 large egg
1 Tsp vanilla extract
1/2C marshmallow cream

1)  Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl.

2)  Beat the butter and sugar in a large bowl with a mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 3-5 minutes.

3)  Add the egg and vanilla and beat until incorporated.

 4)  Reduce the mixer speed to low; add the flour mixture in two batches and beat until just incorporated.

 5)  Divide the dough in half, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.

6)  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.  Working with one piece of dough at a time, dust the dough generously with flour and roll out between 2 pieces of parchment paper until about 1/8" thick.  Cut out shapes using 2 to 4 inch cookie cutters and transfer to the prepared baking sheets.  Gather the scraps and refrigerate until firm; re roll once to cut out more cookies.  Refrigerate the cutouts until firm, about 30 minutes.

 7)  Position the racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 350F.  Bake the cookies, switching the position of the pans halfway through, until slightly puffed and darker around the edges, 12-15 minutes.  Let cool 5 minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer to racks to cool completely.  Sandwich the cookies with the marshmallow cream.
forgot to take a full picture, but don't these 2 look lovely :)

Well folks there it is, the final holiday cookie recipe I have for you.  Now that doesn't mean I won't be baking any goodies in the near future, have you heard me talk about my sweet toothed sweet heart??  Lol but who knows what Canuckette will bake next, heck I'm her and I don't know yet.  

I do want to warn you guys, I will have a couple of "technical" posts coming up. I just got a whole whack of fun kitchen toys from Nathans family and frankly I am SUPER excited to share with all of you :)  But I think my turkey tiredness is starting to kick in, so I will leave you with well wishes and a merry Christmas!  Until next time.......

Stay sweet,

Jennifer xoxoxo