Christmas Baking

The last few weeks have been pretty busy between school, exams, work, and getting ready for Christmas.  I don’t have a lot of shopping to do exactly, but am in charge of practically all the christmas baking for our family and am organizing some stuff at work as well.

 

Christmas Baking List

Sugar Cookies – done!

Gingersnaps – done!

Banana bread – done!

Pumpkin cake – done!

Fudge – done!

Peanut butter balls – not done, need icing sugar

Peppermint patties – not done, need crisco

Peanut Butter Cups – not done

Chocolate Toffee – not done, need butter

 

Lots to do in the next few weeks.  I’ve been working on a curried roasted potato recipe but don’t have any potatoes left to try again and it’s not quite right yet.  Tonight I’m making lamb and chickpea curry because that’s basically all I can make with the ingredients I have at home.

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Applesauce

Now I know what you’re all thinking.  Really?  Applesauce?  How boring!  How bland and uninteresting!  We want excitement!  Well…applesauce is about the most exciting thing I’ve done in awhile, besides the pumpkin puree, which I already talked about.  Applesauce can be exciting.  And easy.  Honest!

First, buy apples.  I used Royal Gala and Macintosh for mine, I prefer the batch that is royal gala only.  It’s sweeter.  I also used my slowcooker for this, because I’m lazy.

Applesauce

6lbs apples, cored and quartered (leave the peel on!)

1/4 cup lemon juice

1 cup water

sugar to taste

1. Put cored and quartered apples into the slowcooker (better be a big one!).  Add the water and lemon juice.  Cover and cook on high 3-4 hours.  Once apples are soft and mushy, puree with an immersion blender.  You could use a regular blender or food processor as well if you like, but an immersion blender is more fun.  Add sugar to taste.

I was lazy this year and froze my applesauce instead of canning it.  You could process jars of applesauce in a hot water bath for 15 minutes before storing in a cool, dry place if you really wanted to, but I decided to freeze it in jars instead.  You could also freeze it in ziploc bags if you wanted.  Unsweetened applesauce is great for baking, you can replace up to 1/2 of the oil or margarine called for in a recipe with applesauce.

Update :o

So I’ve decided to post again a bit.  I’m starting to feel more like myself, but some days are still rough.  I still haven’t been cooking much for myself, it’s been all quick easy foods or a lot of takeout unfortunatly.  I want to make minestrone this week and found a recipe for curry beef stew which sounds interesting.  I also want to make biscuits to take to work isntead of buying them from Tim Hortons.  I have all this meat in my freezer that I was saving for when Adrian was up here, but since that’s not happening I don’t really have to store it up anymore.  I also haven’t really felt like eating much meat in the last few months.

I’ve been able to register for University courses, but I’m on a waitlist for 3 of them.  One of them is a compulsory course for my degree that I might not be able to take till next semester.  I’ve decided to take introductory french this year to brush up on my french, hopefully it’ll be an easy-ish credit.  Textbook prices are making me cry.  I’ve already bought one, but have more to get.

I still need to go see a doctor, but haven’t.  I dont have a family doctor in Winnipeg and hate going to clincs for serious stuff, but I dont have a choice really.  I don’t know when I’ll have time tho, so we’ll see.  I still have August 20th off so I might go then.

Hopfully I will have a more substantial post soon.

Cookbook Project

I adore looking at cookbooks and getting inspired by them.  Buying new cookbooks has become somewhat of an addiction…obsession…whatever!  I created a new page listing all my cookbooks by category (you can find it here).  Now I get to keep track of my obsession collection and share it with everyone, won’t that be fun!  The idea to do this was sparked by me realizing that I don’t really USE my cookbooks that much and I should start doing so.  I’ve already started going through all of them and writing down the recipes that I want to try on a sticky note to place inside the book.  (I got the most adorable sticky notes from Chapters made by this company.)  I’ve done about 4 or 5 books so far…only 25-ish to go.

News, News, News!

This weekend was surprisingly busy and dull at the same time.  I’m SO happy my previous roommates moved out this weekend, no more having to use draino on the tub every two weeks and no more having to worry about smoking in the bedroom!  Saturday morning was spent cleaning out the now empty bedroom and the bathroom.  The floors in the whole apartment were also cleaned as well as some of the walls in the kitchen where the garbage cans stand.  I’ve been advertising for a new roommate since January, and so far nobody has signed a lease or anything which has been frustrating and confusing.  It’s a great apartment in a really good area and the price I’ve been asking is pretty standard.  I had someone email me last week and he came to look yesterday.  He’s coming to sign papers and give the damage deposit on Tuesday!  It’s also kind of nice that he’s not moving in till April 1st, gives me some time by myself and for the room to finish airing out.  I can still smell cigarette smoke in there, but he said it was pretty faint.  This is such a big relief, I’ve been so worried about it.  While I can technically afford the apartment on my own, it’s a financial strain that I’d rather not have right now. 

This upcoming weekend is going to be fairly busy.  It’s my dad’s birthday on Sunday so I’m going out to Altona for most of the weekend.  I also need to purchase a bread machine as my hand-me-down from my Mom has stopped working, which makes me sad.  Granted it was about 12 years old and I was kind of surprised it was still working, it stopped baking loaves all the way through and wasn’t kneading enough anymore.  I haven’t really decided yet which brand/model I’ll be going for and am open for suggestions if anyone has any!  I make mostly whole wheat or whole grain loaves so a machine with a strong motor is a must.

The last bit of news that I have is that I’ve decided that it’s best for me to bite the bullet and go back to school.  I’ve been kind of wanting to go to Red River Community College for a number of years for web design or IT, but I can’t afford to go to school during the hours they do their schedule.  My choices really are to go to University of Winnipeg and take either morning classes and work 2pm-10pm at IG or take evening classes and work a 7:30-3:30 at IG.  This way I continue to have full time employment and can take the classes I want.  U of W doesn’t have a web design or programming degree, which is ok.  I’ve decided to do a 4- year business degree  with a focus in Human Resources as I figure that will get me a job later on and will also be something that IG can support if I ever become a perminent IG employee.  It’s gotten to the point where I NEED to go to school if I ever want a job I enjoy.  Nobody in Winnipeg, except Shaw, is hiring technical support right now, and I really don’t want to stay on the phones for the rest of forever.  This gives me options later on and I need to just buckle down and do it.  I’ve emailed a recruiter and am just waiting for a response!  Fingers crossed I will be accepted and be able to get a student loan.

Ah the Simple Things

Valentine’s Day is over, and I actually think I had the best one ever.  No, I wasn’t with my sweetie, I didn’t get any chocolates, stuffed animals, cards, flowers, and I didn’t go out for supper or get any overly dramatic displays of affection.  I did, however, spend the day with people I love…my parents.  Since it was a long weekend in Manitoba this weekend, I decided to make the trek out to Altona to visit my parents, spend some time baking, and to visit a friend and her very pregnant Great Dane.  The plan was to learn how to make pie dough.  The plan did not get carried out, but that’s ok. 

On Saturday Mom and I baked 3 kinds of cookies.  We did Oatmeal Raisin, Oatmeal Chocolate Chip, and Sugar cookies.  Mom was surprised and a little amazed that I used 100% whole wheat flour in all 3 kinds with no problems whatsoever.  Then on Sunday I made my 90 minute cinnamon buns, which are amazingly awesome, and Monday brought about my granola bars, which mom requested packed with dried fruit and butterscotch chips.  Saturday morning I woke up to fresh whole wheat waffles too..awesome with peanut butter, a banana and syrup.  Looks like I need to get a waffle iron!  Too bad I don’t know where I would store it…

Mostly Vegan Granola Bars

They’re not QUITE 100% vegan since they contain honey, but they’re dairy free and egg free!  They could be gluten free if you substitute a non-gluten flour for the whole wheat and maybe the wheat bran?  (I don’t know if wheat bran contains gluten.)  It took 4 attempts to get the recipe right so they’re chewy, not too peanut-buttery, have just the right texture, and stick together properly.  They’re incredibly flexible, you could add sesame seeds or sunflower seeds, mix it up with the nuts, exchange some chocolate chips for dried fruit or just add dried fruit without removing any of the chocolatey yummyness.  Candied ginger might be tasty too…hmm…

Granola Bars!

 

1/2 cup margarine, melted

1/3 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup ground flax seed

2/3 cup honey

1/3 cup smooth peanut butter

3 cups rolled oats

2 cups rice krispies

1/2 cup chopped almonds

1/2 cup chopped pecans

3/4 cup chocolate chips

1/2 cup wheat bran

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1. Mix margarine, brown sugar, flax, honey and peanut butter till smooth, let sit 5-10 minutes.

2. Mix remaining ingredients in large mixing bowl.  Pour wet ingredients over and mix well.

3. Press firmly into a 9×13″ pan and bake at 325 for 20-25 minutes or untill edges are golden brown.  Let sit, uncovered, overnight before cutting.