baking

Fifteen Wonderful Winter Date Ideas

Oh, the Christmas season! What a wonderful time of year to spend it with family, friends, and a beloved lover. The perfect time of year for some festive date nights, date days, or even date weekends. If you are running out of ideas look no further because I have Fifteen fun, creative, and festive winter date ideas just for you. Each one is sure to spice up your next adventure with your loved one, friend, or family. End 2017 with some fun and jump into one of these amazing dates… So… What are you waiting for? Grab a cup of hot cocoa and plan these dates for weeks to come!

| ONE | Snowman Building Contest

Bundle up and head outside! Build a snowman, big or small, creative or traditional take a picture and see what your friends think and have them judge who wins the contest. Make the prize something small and fun, like a back rub or a homemade dinner.  

| TWO | Snowball Fight 

Who doesn’t like a good old fashion snowball fight? I know I like them, they are fun, silly, and competitive, plus a hot cup of cocoa tastes so much better after a day out in the cold snow.

| THREE | Movie Marathon 

Put on some PJ’s and grab a drink, wine, baileys and coffee then grab some of your favourite Christmas movies. Snuggle up on the couch or in bed and watch away. My favourites are Home Alone, Roudoulfs Christmas, and The Grinch. What are your favourites? 

| FOUR | Bake & Decorate Sugar Cookies 

MMM cookies! Pull out the cookies cutters, bake up some delicious sugar cookies and whip together some sweet buttercream icing and get to decorating. Your mouth will be watering and your house will smell like a bakery after this little baking date.   

| FIVE | See The Neighborhood Christmas Lights

Get out of the house and hop into a warm vehicle, take a look at all the beautiful Christmas lights around town. This is something I used to do as a child and I loved it. My Dad would take us to Tim Hortons for a hot chocolate and tim-bits then we would drive around and look at all the wonderful light. 

| SIX | Go Ice Skating 

Lace it is tight and hit the rink or lake. Bring a puck and sticks along and make it a hockey date if you are into a competition. 

| SEVEN | Go Christmas Shopping

Hit the mall or main street, and give each other a little Christmas list of some of your must-have ideas and split up for an hour then meet back where you started. Careful you don’t bump into each other or rack up that bank account too much!

| EIGHT | Make Ugly Christmas Sweaters 

Stop by the thrift store and find the ugliest wool sweater you can, grab the hot glue gun, silly Christmas decorations and lastly the camera. Take a silly picture in front of the Christmas tree with your new fashionable sweaters and send it out in the Christmas Cards. This will be sure to have everyone in the family laughing!

| NINE | Have a Lazy PJ Day

You read it right! Have a lazy PJ day, skip leaving the house and buddle up together, make a yummy full breakfast with bacon, eggs, waffles, hashbrowns, and anything else you love. Relax and unwind from the busy everyday life.

| TEN | Build a Gingerbread House

Get out the measuring cups, sprinkles, candies and make some gingerbread. Cut out your own templates and make your very own gingerbread house with my recipe here! If that is out of your comfort zone grab one on your next trip to the grocery store, it is just as fun. 

| ELEVEN | Go Ice Fishing

Pack a lunch, some extra coffee, and the fishing rods then head out to your favorite lake and wait for the bites. A day spent outside in nature is the best type of day. But don’t forget to bundle up! This date is good for the whole family, dogs and all. 

| TWELVE | Hit The Slopes

Whether you ski or snowboard or if you are just going tobogganing. Get outside and enjoy the lovely winter weather.   

| THIRTEEN | Make Christmas Ornaments 

Pull out some paint or markers and doodle away! Make some silly, funny, or pretty then hang your creations on the tree. Then next year when you pull them out you will be sure to laugh and smile. 

| FOURTEEN | Go Christmas Tree Hunting

Head out to the bush or to a tree lot and hunt for the perfect, full, lush green Christmas tree to take home for the holiday. Be careful not to take and animals home with it! 

| FIFTEEN | Have A Baking Day 

Pull out the rolling pin. The flour, sugar, eggs, and butter, look up a fun recipe or pull out a family classic and bake away! My favourites are shortbread, fluffy shortbread with cranberry compote, and sugar cookies. What is your favourite holiday treat? 

I can not wait to tick a few of these off myself starting with a gingerbread house and a lazy PJ day. Now that you have a long list of dates for everyone this holiday season! How will you be spending it? Tucked under a warm blanket inside or bundled up outside? I know mine will be a mixture of both 🙂 

 

Grandma’s Special Gingerbread House Recipe

Do I have a treat in store for all of you today? I sure do! It will leave your mouth watering and have you running to the store for all these delicious ingredients. Your home will smell like a Christmas bakery and you will have to stop yourself from taking a bit out of the Gingerbread wall before it is built. A gingerbread house is the perfect, fun and yummy craft to do with a loved one, the children, friends, and the whole family.

So what are you waiting for? Head over to the store and load up on sticky gumdrops, sweet peppermint candies, creamy chocolate drops and every other candy you need to have your gingerbread house looking as good as the one in Hansel and Gretal. Then start your baking! I have included everything you need below: recipe, instructions, and template. Print off the template, cut it out and use it to construct your new home. Feel free to print off the recipe too and share it with your family and friends so they can enjoy the fun too. 

Grandma's Special Gingerbread House Recipe
Author: 
Recipe type: Christmas
Cuisine: dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1-2 Houses
 
Ingredients
  • ½ cup room temperature butter
  • ½ cup dark brown sugar
  • ¼ cup light molasses or dark corn syrup
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1½ teaspoons ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons water
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. In a stand mixer or mixing bowl, cream the butter, brown sugar, molasses, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and baking soda together until the mixture is smooth.
  3. Stir in the flour and water to make a stiff dough.
  4. Chill at least 30 minutes or until firm. This will make it much easier to roll out and it will not stick to the rolling pin.
  5. Roll out and cut into gingerbread house using the template provided
  6. Bake for 15 minutes until the dough feels firm.
  7. Remove from oven and let cool completely before assembling and decorating.

Print Them Out

Grandma’s Special Recipe

Gingerbread House Template

Icing Recipe

 

 

Family Pumpkin Pie Recipe |Happy Thanksgiving|

Thanksgiving, the time of year where you get together with family share the memories of the year past and the hopes for the year to come. Give thanks to the people you love for being able to celebrate with you and share in a bounty of homemade goodies from stuffing to pies and all the yummy snacks in between. And what says Thanksgiving more than a delicious robust, spiced pumpkin pie made from a locally grown pumpkin? I sure don’t know what does! And that is why I am sharing one of my little Thanksgiving traditions with you. The art of making a pumpkin pie right from a vine grown pumpkin. After one bite you will not be going back to that store pie! This pie will leave your mouth-watering and your family asking for the recipe, for sure! So what are we waiting for, let’s get baking!

So first thing first, is the pie crust, you can use a store-bought one or you can make your own. If you choose to make your own you can use this recipe I have here. It is a basic family recipe and a choose to use butter and shortening because it gives the crust a nice flaky texture. As well you can substitute half the all-purpose for whole wheat if you like the bite on the whole flour, this is how I made mine this year and it turned out amazing. As well you will notice that the recipe has white vinegar in the ingredients, this is a do not miss it will keep the crust flaky, moist, and give it an amazing taste.

 

| Bateson Family Pie Crust |

Makes: 2, 9-inch pies

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoons sugar

3/4 cup butter, chilled, cut into 1/4 inch cubes.

1/2 cup of all-vegetable shortening, chilled

6-8 tablespoons ice water

2 teaspoon white vinegar

| Making The Perfect Crust |

First thing first is combining all the dry ingredients, preheating the oven, and for this recipe chilling your butter and pumpkin too. So turn the heat up on your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and allow it to – before you starting baking. You want to make sure that your butter and shortening are COLD and yes I mean very, very cold, this will give the dough a yummy flaky crumble you look for in a pie crust. After you have all flour, salt, and sugar in your mixing bowl add the 1/4 inch cubes of butter and shortening to the flour mix. Then combine the 2 teaspoons and 8 tablespoons of water in a small dish. Now turn your mixer up to medium speed and starting mixing. Slowly add your vinegar-water mixture to your flour mixture one tablespoon at a time until the dough looks like sand and pebbles, you may not use all of your water.      

Remove the dough from the mixing bowl and combine with your hands until it is smooth and you can form a ball without too many cracks. Separate the dough into two balls this will make it easier when you are rolling out the crust. Then wrap it in plastic wrap and set it in the fridge to chill while you prepare the pumpkin pie filling.    

| Bateson Family Pumpkin Pie |

2 large eggs

1/4 cup  granulated sugar

1/2 cup light brown sugar

2 cups fresh pumpkin puree

1 cup (175 ml) heavy whipping cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon cardamon

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

| Step One: Pure The Pumpkin |

Because I used a locally grown pumpkin I will tell you how to bake and pure the pumpkin to get the perfect pie. It is very easy, anyone can do it. So – your oven to 425 degrees and let it heat up. While the oven is heating up cut your pumpkin in half remove the seed and insides then slice up each half into about 1-2 inch half circle slices, just like how you slice an orange. Then arrange them on a baking sheet and cover with tin foil and place it in the oven and bake for about 25 minutes until it is soft to the touch. Once it is done, you can remove it from the oven and let cool. Then place it in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Now you have fresh pumpkin puree.     

| Step Two: The Crust |

Take out the chilled dough and begin to roll, make sure you roll it thin enough about 1/2 cm thick so that it fits into pie plate. Now with the oven pre-heated to 350 degrees and your pie crust pressed into the pan you are going to soft bake the dough. This will keep the middle of the pie from getting soggy when you place the filling in it and begin baking. Place tin foil on top of the dough and fill it up with some dry beans or rice works too then place it into the oven to bake for 10 minutes. Remove and let cool while you prepare the filling.

| Step Two: Pumpkin Pie Filling |

Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees then start making the filling. Combine all of the wet ingredients in your mixing bowl then mix until combined. Add the dry ingredients and mix again until it is all well incorporated, it will only take a moment so be sure not to over mix. And that was it, wasn’t that easy? I would say so! Now you are ready to pour this delicious mixture into the pie plate and bake at 425 for 15 minutes then turn the oven down to 400 and bake for another 35-40 minutes. The crust should be golden brown and the middle of the pumpkin pie will be a bit wobbly when you take it out. The heat from the pumpkin pie will cook the rest of the way through but be aware that making a pumpkin pie with fresh puree will make a softer pie that the canned pumpkin or a store-bought pie. It will taste amazing though and you will be running back for more.   

Now that you are done and your house smells of wonderful pumpkin pie and robust spice it is time to serve. You can serve it warm or cold and with ice cream or whip cream. You will have the family running back for more!

 

 

 

The Best Pumpkin Scones

If you are a fan of all things Autumn that must mean you love pumpkin or more importantly what the season brings. Autumn doesn’t just bring crisp weather, beautiful colours and hot drinks, it also brings all the delicious treats of the holidays. And what’s a better way to ring in the new season than with a totally divine seasonal treat? And by that, I mean a seasonal treat that even the most fearful of baking can throw together and still have turn out delectable. These little Pumpkin Scones will have your house smelling like a bakery and the combination of rich pumpkin, and robust spices leave your mouth watering. Plus on a chilly morning, nothing beats a warm pumpkin scone and a freshly pressed cup of piping hot coffee.


| The Recipe: The Best Pumpkin Scones |

Makes: 6-8 depending on how you cut it.
Preheat Oven: 425

| Scones |

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 Tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 Tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 Tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 Tsp ground ginger
  • 1/8 Tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 3 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cold and diced into 1 cm pieces
  • 1/2 cup + 1 Tbsp canned pumpkin puree, chilled 
  • 4 1/2 Tbsp buttermilk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

| Spiced Glaze|

  • 1 cup powdered sugar (more if needed)
  • 2 Tbsp buttermilk, (more if needed)
  • 1 Tbsp pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 Tsp ground cinnamon

| Step One: Dry Ingredients |

First thing first is combining all the dry ingredients, preheating the oven and for this recipe chilling your butter and pumpkin too. So turn the heat up on your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit and allow it to preheat all the way before you starting baking. This will give the baking a consistency while in the oven and your scones will rise properly. And make sure that your butter and pumpkin puree is in the fridge. Now that the oven is preheated and your ingredients are chilling you are ready to start your baking. Get out a large bowl, I used an average stainless steel bowl, any will work and combine your whole wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, light brown sugar and white sugar. Once all these are combined mix until well incorporated.  

| Step Two: The Butter |

Start by cutting the COLD butter into little cubes about 1cm by 1cm then add all of it into your dry bowl or place all of it into a food processor. Now now, if you don’t have a food processor that is okay, so don’t go running to the store for you. You can still make this recipe, it will just take a little more time and patience. You can easily cut the butter into the flour with a pastry cutter or by using a fork or two knives. I used a fork and it worked great! You should cut the butter into the flour until it looks sandy with some larger pebbles of butter. Now that you have all the butter cut into your flour mixture place the bowl in the fridge. This just keeps the butter nice and cold while you prepare the wet ingredients.

| Step Three: Wet Ingredients |

In a bowl whisk together the COLD pumpkin puree, egg, vanilla and butter milk, whisk this until it is well combined. Now remove the flour butter mixture out of the fridge and make a well in the center of the flour. This will be where you pour the wet ingredients. What are you waiting for pour away! Then mix with a wooden spoon or spatula until just incorporated, then knead the dough with your hand in the bowl or on a floured surface. Knead a few times until the dough comes all together, it will still be a little sticky and that is okay! 

| Step Four: Shape & Bake |

Now that you have your dough all ready to go, shape it into a big 9-inch circle, the dough will be about 1 thick. Next, cut it into eight pieces and place the slices on a parchment lined baking pan. Then brush the top of each scone with a little butter milk, this will make them brown to that perfect golden brown. And last but not least pop them in the preheated oven for about 13-16 or until they have browned and a toothpick test is clean.  

| Step Five: The Glaze |

Now that your scones are done and smelling amazing it is time to make them look the same with a sweet spiced glaze. Add your icing sugar, pumpkin puree, cinnamon and butter milk in a small bowl and mix until well combined. This mixture should not be runny but if it is, just add more icing sugar until you get a thick consistency. Next, pour it over the top of each scone using all the glaze for a yummy and sticky treat.  


| Tips and Tricks |

  • Leave out the pecans if you have a nut allergy and try cranberries or mini chocolate chips instead.
  • If you are not an admirer of pumpkin substitute mashed banana instead.
  • Substitute the egg for ground flax seed and water to make an egg substitute, use cold coconut oil instead of butter, agave or maple syrup for sugar and coconut or almond milk instead of cream for a vegan alternative.
  • Add some cream cheese to the inside of the middle of the scones before baking for a creamy surprise when you bite into it.
  • Make sure your butter is COLD, warm or room temperature butter is a serious no-no.

 

Three Layer Lemon Cherry Cheesecake |recipe & tips|

National Cheesecake Day! Who knew that it was even a thing, I sure didn’t and I’m not complaining! It was the perfect excuse for me to do a little baking and take a little trip to the cherry orchards too. One of my favorite fruits is the cherry and there is just something about freshly picked ones.They seem sweeter, juicier and they are just all around better tasting!

So in honor of National Cheesecake Day and cherry season, I decided to make a Lemon Cherry Cheesecake. This 3-layered delicacy will leave your mouth watering and have you wanting seconds after the first bite. I used two different types of cherries in the cheesecake I made, Skeenas and Sweethearts. Skeena cherries are very sweet, robust and dripping with juice, whereas Sweetheart cherries are a little smaller and have a more sour and tart taste. For the second layer, I blended Skeena cherries to add a level of sweetness then I mixed in chopped Sweetheart cherries so that the sweetness of the Skeena did not overpower the cheesecake flavour. For the topping, I used only Sweetheart cherries so that the cheesecake was not too sweet, I like my cheesecake to have a strong cream cheese flavour and not be overly sugary. By using two different types of cherries I added a level of complication to the recipe but you don’t have to get that complicated. It will be just as good with only one type of cherry and who knows maybe even better!

At first, the 3 layers may seem scary and daunting to those, not fond of baking but do not run just yet. After you see how easy it is to make you can run, run to the kitchen and try it out for yourself. It is light, creamy, fruity and full of flavour. It is everything you want in a summer dessert.  I know you will be adding it to your favorites and calling on a backyard BBQ just to showcase your new found love for baking and this delicious Lemon Cherry Cheesecake. So, what are we waiting for? Let’s get baking!


Lemon Cherry Cheesecake

8.5″ Springform pan
Serves: 10-12

Crust:

5 tbsp   Butter (melted)
1 1/2 tbsp   Sugar
1 1/2 cup   Grahm Cracker Crumbs

Middle:

1 3/4 cups   Whipping Cream (whipped)
3 cups   Cream Cheese
1 1/4 cups   Powdered Sugar
6 tbsp   Lemon Juice (about two lemons)
1/2 cups   Cherries (chopped)
1/2 cups   Cherries (blended)

Topping:

1 cup   Cherries
1 tbsp   Lemon Juice
2 tbsp   Chia Seeds

|Instructions|

Crust:

  1. Preheat oven to 350º F. Line the bottom of an 8.5″  springform pan with parchment paper.
  2. Combine graham cracker crumbs, sugar and melted butter in a bowl and mix until well combined. Then press into the crumb mixture into the bottom of the pan (I used a measuring up to press it down and it worked great). 
  3. Bake in the preheated oven for 7 minutes or until the edges are golden brown, remove and let cool completely.  

Filling:

  1. With an electric mixer mix the whipping cream on medium high speed until stiff peaks form then set aside in the fridge for later. 
  2. Combine cream cheese, sugar, lemon zest, and whip with an electric mixer until well combined. Then slowly add the lemon juice 2 tablespoons at a time and continue mixing on medium speed until light and fluffy.  
  3. Add the whipped cream you made earlier to the cheesecake mixture and gently fold them together until they are well combined.
  4.  Pour 3 quarters of the cheesecake mixture into the springform pan and transfer it to the freezer for 15 minutes to let it set. With the remaining cheesecake mixture add the chopped cherries and the cherry juice then mix until well combined. Once the first layer is set remove it from the freezer and pour the remaining cherry cheesecake mixture ontop. Now return the cheesecake to the freezer and allow it to set for 15 minutes again. 

Topping:

  1. In a blender combine the cherries, chia seeds, and lemon juice and blend until smooth. Then pour over the top of the set cheesecake.  
  2. Return the cheesecake back to the freezer for 3 to 4, this will allow the cheesecake to set. After it can be transferred to the fridge. The Cheesecake can be eaten frozen or chilled. It will keep in the fridge for about 3 days and can be kept in the freezer for up to a week.

*The recipe above is a combination of recipes that I have used over the years and tweaked to make it my own.*


|Tips & Tricks|

  1. If you are not a fan of cherries try substituting them out for strawberries, blueberries, raspberries or any other fruit of your choice.
  2. If you don’t like fruity cheesecake try using chocolate or caramel instead.
  3. Don’t want to have a full slice try making them in muffin tins for a perfect on the go cheesecake bite. Or put them in popsicle molds and keep them frozen for a refreshing snack on a hot day.
  4. Try it the no-bake way by removing the sugar from the crust and setting it in the freezer for 15 minutes.

Three Layer Lemon Cherry Cheesecake
Prep time: 
Total time: 
 
Ingredients
  • Crust:
  • tbsp Butter (melted)
  • 1½ tbsp Sugar
  • 1½ cup Grahm Cracker Crumbs
  • Middle:
  • 1¾ cups Whipping Cream (whipped)
  • cups Cream Cheese
  • 1¼ cups Powdered Sugar
  • tbsp Lemon Juice (about two lemons)
  • ½ cups Cherries (chopped)
  • ½ cups Cherries (blended)
  • Topping:
  • 1 cup Cherries
  • 1 tbsp Lemon Juice
  • 2 tbsp Chia Seeds
Instructions
  1. Crust:
  2. Preheat oven to 350º F. Line the bottom of an 8.5" springform pan with parchment paper.
  3. Combine graham cracker crumbs, sugar and melted butter in a bowl and mix until well combined. Then press into the crumb mixture into the bottom of the pan (I used a measuring up to press it down and it worked great).
  4. Bake in the preheated oven for 7 minutes or until the edges are golden brown, remove and let cool completely.
  5. Filling:
  6. With an electric mixer mix the whipping cream on medium speed until stiff peaks form then set aside in the fridge for later.
  7. Combine cream cheese, sugar, lemon zest, and whip with an electric mixer until well combined. Then slowly add the lemon juice 2 tablespoons at a time and continue mixing on medium speed until light and fluffy.
  8. Add the whipped cream you made earlier to the cheesecake mixture and gently fold them together until they are well combined.
  9. Pour 3 quarters of the cheesecake mixture into the springform pan and transfer it to the freezer for 15 minutes to let it set. With the remaining cheesecake mixture add the chopped cherries and the cherry juice then mix until well combined. Once the first layer is set remove it from the freezer and pour the remaining cherry cheesecake mixture. Now return the cheesecake to the freezer and allow it to set for 15 minutes again.
  10. Topping:
  11. In a blender combine the cherries, chia seeds, and lemon juice and blend until smooth. Then pour over the top of the set cheesecake.
  12. Return the cheesecake back to the freezer for 3 to 4, this will allow the cheesecake to set. After it can be transferred to the fridge. The Cheesecake can be eaten frozen or chilled. It will keep in the fridge for about 3 days and can be kept in the freezer for up to a week.
  13. *The recipe above is a combination of recipes that I have used over the years and tweaked to make it my own.*
  14. |Tips & Tricks|
  15. If you are not a fan of cherries try substituting them out for strawberries, blueberries, raspberries or any other fruit of your choice.
  16. If you don't like fruity cheesecake try using chocolate or caramel instead.
  17. Don't want to have a full slice try making them muffin tins for a perfect on the go cheesecake bite. Or put them in popsicle molds and keep them frozen for a refreshing snack on a hot day.
  18. Try it the no-bake way by removing the sugar from the crust and setting it in the freezer for 15 minutes.

 

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