Tag Archives: Christmas

Christmas Treats

Peppermint Bark-3

I’ve always wanted to try making Christmas themed candies or confections, but I know it’s WAY too much sugar for me to handle by myself. Luckily, my work was doing an “Adopt a Family” thing and we were allowed to send along food gifts, so I got the best of both worlds – I got to make my candy and not feel obliged to eat it all.
Peanut Butter Fudge-1

Having never made chocolate bark before, I wanted to try it and make it as Christmas-y as possible. Normally I shy away from candy canes (a stick of sugar? No thanks! I’d rather have my sugar in baking or chocolate), but since these weren’t for me, I figured why not? The peppermint bark was especially delicious with the extra mint flavouring from the chocolate.

I wanted to make some kind of fudge, but didn’t have the time or inclination to make “real” fudge with a candy thermometer and temperamental sugar temperatures. So, I chose to make peanut butter fudge, which is incredibly simple. And tasty. I wish I could figure out a way to make it less sweet and healthier – but I guess that’s what the internet is for!

From the small tastings I had, both were incredibly delicious! I would definitely make both again – as long as I have plenty of people to share it with!

Peppermint Bark-1Peppermint Bark

1 package of mint flavoured dark chocolate chips (if you can’t find these, normal dark chocolate chips & peppermint flavouring would work)
1 package white chocolate chips
4 – 6 peppermint candy canes

  1. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil (parchment paper would probably work, too).
  2. In a microwave safe bowl, melt dark chocolate chips. Pour onto lined cookie sheet and spread out.
  3. Place in fridge for 30 minutes or freezer for 15 minutes until solid.
  4. Meanwhile, place candy canes in a Ziploc bag and wack with a meat tenderizer or rolling-pin until small-sized chunks.
  5. Melt white chocolate chips and spread over the dark layer.
  6. Sprinkle with crushed candy canes and put back into the fridge or freezer.
  7. Once the bark is hard, remove from fridge/freezer. Peel foil off of bark.
  8. To prevent finger marks from getting on the bark, use a piece of foil. Holding edge of the bark in one hand, use a knife to stab at the bark, breaking it into pieces. This will ensure that the break is clean and looks like what broken up bark should.
  9. Store in the fridge if you have a warm house. If not, it should be fine being stored on the counter. I wrapped mine up in cellophane wrap tied with a ribbon. They looked pretty cute!
  10. Enjoy!

Peanut Butter Fudge-2

Peanut Butter Fudge
From The Joy of Cooking

1 1/2 c. smooth (non-natural) peanut butter – I used Kraft’s unsweetened peanut butter as this thing has enough sugar in it already!
1 1/2 c. butter
1 tsp. vanilla
Pinch of salt
4 c. icing sugar, sifted

  1. Butter an 8×8″ pan.
  2. In a medium sauce pan, melt peanut butter and butter together Bring to a boil.
  3. Remove from heat and add salt and vanilla extract.
  4. Stir in icing sugar until smooth.
  5. Pour/scrape into buttered pan and smooth.
  6. Cover with plastic wrap and cool in fridge until hard.
  7. Slice and enjoy! I wrapped them in wax paper to give away.

Peppermint Bark-2

What are your favourite Christmas Treats?

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Vegan Gluten Free Ginger Crackle Cookies

Do you ever have a strong desire to make cookies? Yesterday I was feeling fairly Christmas-y and decided that Christmas cookies were severely lacking in the Bean household and I needed to remedy that! Instead of defaulting to the usual Bean-family Cherry Almond Crisps, I asked Mr. Bean what his favourite cookies were. As you can probably guess, they’re Ginger Crackle Cookies, one of his family staples.

Given that I am unable to make the cookies exactly how his mum does (the gluten free requirement is pesky like that sometimes), I decided to embark on the adventure to make a similar, more healthy gluten free ginger crackle cookie. I also wanted it to be vegan as I’m saving up my dairy and egg quota for eggnog later this week! I think I was pretty successful – the cookies are quite soft on the inside and slightly harder on the outside, chewy and had the appropriate amount of crackling. They are also pretty delicious to boot!

I based my recipe on this one from In the Kitchen with Kath. I made them vegan, refined sugar, soy, cinnamon and gluten free so that everyone in my family could eat them (as frankly neither Mr. Bean nor I need to eat that many cookies ourselves!)

Vegan, Gluten and Refined Sugar Free Ginger Crackle Cookies

50g brown rice flour
75g sorghum flour
25g millet flour
50g sweet rice flour
50g tapioca starch
20g potato starch
1 1/2 tsp. xathan gum
2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
2 tsp. ginger
1/4 – 1/2 tsp. cloves
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon (if you can have it – I didn’t add it)
Scant 1/4 c. soy-free buttery spread, melted and cooled*
Scant 1/4 c. canola oil*
Scant 1/4 c. grapeseed oil*
3/4 c. sucunat sugar, finely ground
1/4 c. molasses
1 egg replacer (or 1 egg if you can eat them)
Sucunat or other granulated sugar – make sure that your sugar is coarse enough so that they don’t dissolve onto the cookie like mine did!

*I just poured about the same amount of each in the same measuring cup until I had 2/3 c. oil. Anything more than that is too much!

  1. Whisk together the flours, xathan gum, baking soda, salt and spices. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, beat the oils, sugar molasses and egg replacer until combined.
  3. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet and beat until well blended and smooth
  4. Cover dough and refrigerate for one hour.
  5. Preheat oven to 375F.
  6. Shape the dough into 1 – 1 1/2″ balls. Dip in granulated sugar then place on parchment lined cookie sheet.
  7. Bake for 8 – 12 minutes.
  8. Then cool on a wire rack.
  9. Store in a plastic bag or sealed container.
  10. Enjoy!

What is your favourite Christmas Cookie?

Shared at: Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays, Traditional Tuesdays and Gluten-Free Wednesdays.

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Filed under Baking, Food

Holiday Edits & A New Blog Header!

Now I feel like a bit of hypocrite, as I was feeling inspired yesterday and thus have designed a new Christmas themed header for my blog. Oops. I always find it interesting that after you’ve got something off your chest you can let it go and move on from it and I guess that’s the case with my new header! I’m still not listening to Christmas music, though. ;)

For this week’s Good to Wow: Shoot and Edit, I wanted to use gradual filters like what Cedar talks about in her tutorial. Fortunately, I did take a landscape photo, which works really well for that kind of filter. I also fiddled with the white balance and saturation to make it look better.

Original Shot

Looking at photos like that makes me so happy that I live in Alberta and have the Rocky Mountains on my doorstep.

What’s on your “doorstep” that makes you happy?

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Filed under Photography

Bah Humbug?

To be honest, I really haven’t been feeling terribly Christmas-y yet despite the snow on the ground and it being Advent and all. Mr. Bean can attest to how annoyed I was that my favourite radio station started playing Christmas music on American Thanksgiving. (It’s not even advent yet! Why are they playing Christmas music already!??! Why can’t they wait until Advent starts or until it’s December?!!?)

When I was growing up, we didn’t really start celebrating Christmas itself until basically Christmas Eve. I especially loved that some of the first Christmas Carols we’d sing were at the Lessons and Carols service at Church as well as on Christmas Eve instead of at the end of November. It made it seem so much more special! My family celebrated Advent and would do the Advent wreath/calendar things in December but we wouldn’t really put up any decorations, including our Christmas tree, until the 20th – 23rd (depending on how organized we were! haha. For what it’s worth, my family is usually one of the families whose Christmas cards arrive after Christmas.) Some of you probably think we’re crazy, which is fine, but we’ve always believed that the 12 days of Christmas start at Christmas and so that’s when we’d really celebrate Christmas and enjoy the Christmas atmosphere. So, I guess one of the reasons why I’m not terribly enthused for Christmas at the moment is that I’m afraid that I’ll be tired of it by the time it actually comes around – do you ever feel this way? Plus, from being in university, I learned quickly that as much as I might have wanted to get into the Christmas Spirit, I couldn’t if I wanted to do well on my finals! Old habits die-hard I guess!

View of the Rocky Mountains on Saturday Morning

That being said, given that it’s now actually December and we’re now in the second week of Advent, Mr. Bean and I have put up our mini Christmas tree, our Christmas lights and our door wreath and that helps make me feel a bit more in the Christmas spirit. I have been listening to the Christmas songs on the radio occasionally while I drive to tutoring because I like the DJ in the afternoon, they give good traffic updates and sometimes secular music annoys me more that 24/7 Christmas music. (I’m really picky, aren’t I? I guess that’s what happens when you enjoy listening to Christian music and then it’s taken away from you – that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it! haha.) Despite that, I’m still trying the “dip your toe in first” method instead of the “just jump right in!” method when it comes to enjoying Christmas in hopes that when Christmas finally gets here, I still want to celebrate it! Maybe like Scrooge I’m not so Bah Humbug-y after all; I just take a bit of time to get into the Christmas spirit! :)

When do you start celebrating Christmas? Are you sick of the Christmas atmosphere by the time it actually comes around?

These photos are Straight Out Of the Camera (SOOC) and are my submission for this week’s Christmas/Holiday themed Good to Wow: Shoot and Edit over on Jill’s Blog.

 

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Cherry Almond Crisps Version 3

I know, it seems ridiculous that I have three versions of the same cookie, but these are my family’s favourite Christmas cookie and every year I make changes to make it that much better! Previous versions were fairly dry and/or crispy, but this version of the recipe gives a nice chewy and non-crumbly cookie. Of course, eating the raw dough is my family’s favourite thing about these cookies – so it means that there are lots of snitches while I’m making them!

Gluten, Dairy, Egg and Soy Free Cherry Almond Crisps

1 1/2 c. chopped candied cherries
1/2 c. blanches slivered almonds
1/2 c. coconut oil, softened at room temperature
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 egg replacer
2 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/3 c. brown rice flour
1/3 c. tapioca starch
1/3 c. sorghum flour
1 tsp. xathan gum
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/8 tsp. salt
Rice or soy-free almond milk to get cookies to right consistency

  1. Chop up cherries and blanch and sliver almonds. Set aside.
  2. Cream together coconut oil and sugar.
  3. Add egg replacer, lemon juice and vanilla. Beat to combine.
  4. Add in dry ingredients. Mix until combined.
  5. The dough will be fairly crumbly – add enough rice milk to get to a slightly sticky dough consistency.
  6. Add in cherries and almonds. Stir until well mixed in.
  7. Divide dough in half and shape into long rectangular blocks about 1 1/2″ – 2″ a side on a piece of wax paper. Wrap the dough in the wax paper.
  8. Cool in fridge for about 30 minutes or until the dough is firm enough to cut easily.
  9. Cut dough blocks into 1/4″ – 1/2″ thick slices. Place on cookie sheet.
  10. Bake in 350F oven for 12 – 15 minutes or until the bottoms start turning brown.
  11. Remove to a cooling rack.
  12. Enjoy!

What is your favourite Christmas cookie?

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Filed under Baking