The Season of Baking

Apple cider caramels

And making, and cooking, and decorating …

If you are anything like me and a lot of people out there, this is a Season of stressing too. We want to make the holidays special for our loved ones, more so now when isolation and the pandemic seem to have taken over our lives.

Here in Alberta, and with the new Omicron variant out and about, restrictions for gatherings are still out in full force and they won’t be lifted in time for the Holidays. Or so it seems … although there’s talk of some changes coming up.

It’s been a busy year, full of challenges. But also full of good things: friends I couldn’t do without, a new business that’s keeping me busy and happy, plans for new program and lots of teaching and sharing online. By this time, usually, a large percentage of my holiday shopping is done and I know what I need to do to get ready. This year … I’m still pondering LOL, which doesn’t bode well for my organization. Hahaha, and you know what? For the first time, I’m not really THAT stressed. I know things will fall in place in the end. I have thoughts, and plans and yes, I’m making presents. Some are done, some are still in the planning stages. It’s a good thing that I work well under pressure! I will share after the presents have gone to their forever homes. For now, they’ll remain a mystery.

And then, there’s meal planning, what to eat, grocery lists, who’s coming, where am I spending my holidays …? Decisions decisions. And of course: Baking! We were talking about it over lunch on Saturday with friends: everyone is planning their baking and so am I. I usually bake cookies for my kiddos (and although they are not young kiddos anymore, cookies are always welcome).

On this issue of my blog, I thought I’d share some of my favourite recipes in case you are looking for inspiration or new recipes to try. These are favourites at my house: I’m sharing one recipe for cookies, one idea for brunch, and one idea for gifting from the kitchen. Oh, I’ve also included a Bonus!

Favourite Peanut Butter Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour (I use gluten-free flour)
  • 1 cup dry-roasted peanuts (if you have salted peanuts, you can wash them and dry them to get rid of the salt)
  • 1 cup butterscotch-flavour chips – I think I’ll use Skor bits this year

Beat butter or margarine and peanut butter in medium mixing bowl with an electric mixer on medium to high for 30 seconds. Add granulated sugar, brown sugar, baking soda and salt; beat till combined. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Stir in remaining flour, peanuts and butterscotch chips with a wooden spoon.

Drop dough by rounded teaspoons 2″ apart onto an ungreased cookie sheet (I use parchment). Bake in a 375 degree F oven about 7 to 9 minutes or until lightly browned and edges are set. Transfer to wire racks to cool. Makes 36

Peanut Butter Cookies

Baked Eggs with Cream, Spinach and Parmesan

Ingredients – Serves 2

  • 2 teaspoons butter, plus extra for greasing
  • Scant 3 cups baby spinach
  • 4 small eggs
  • 1/4 cup light cream
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F / 160 degrees C. Lightly grease 2 individual ceramic gratin dishes or similar,

Melt the butter in a large skillet over low heat and add the spinach. Cook for 1 minute stirring with a wooden spoon until the spinach starts to wilt. Season with a little nutmeg, then divide between the prepared dishes.

Gently break 2 eggs into each dish. Pour the cream over them and sprinkle with grated Parmesan, then season to taste with salt and pepper. Bake for 10 minutes or until the whites of the eggs have set but the yolks remain runny. Serve at once.

Note: as a variation, add some diced ham or smoked salmon to the cooked spinach.

Baked eggs

Marinated Carrots

  • 2 lbs. carrots cut in pieces
  • 2 small onions
  • 1 large green pepper
  • 1 – 10 oz can of tomato soup
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup oil – it can be corn, canola or olive
  • 3/4 cup red wine vinegar

Cook carrots until tender crisp. Slice onions and pepper in thin rings and add to carrots. Set aside. Combine remaining ingredients and bring to boil. Boil until oil disappears. Pour over carrot mixture. Let cool and pour into jars. Keep in the fridge (although they won’t last long).

Bonus: Apple Cider Caramels

I posted this morning on IG and FB about making Apple Cider Caramels with Sabrina yesterday. We had a great day. While the caramels were cooling, we cut and designed a quilt for one of her friends, and then cut and wrapped about 240 caramels or so. We doubled the recipe. A single recipe will yield about 60+ caramels, but we cut ours a bit smaller than the recipe calls for. The recipe is from Smitten Kitchen.

I hope you will have a chance to give some of these recipes a try.

Don’t forget to take some time for yourself to relax and recharge. I have been doing just that at night, drinking some Darjeeling tea I purchased a few weeks ago at Tea Traders while I watch some TV and do some stitching.

I wish you all a wonderful week filled with creative moments. Stay safe,

Ana

Similar Posts

4 Comments

  1. Thanks Ana,,sounds as if you are keeping the stress level down . My stress levels are because a major reno was started in my house , today was the third day , hopefully by the end of the week the worst will be over, so almost zero preparation is being done for Xmas.I keep my stress down by focusing on the end product and deciding on zero entertaining and gift giving a la Amazon., Looking forward to trying your recipes, especially the egg and spinach one, looks yummy. Thanks for sharing and have a wonderful holiday with family and friends. 🎉☃️

    1. Hi Marilyn,
      I feel for you. I’ve been where you are and having renos at Christmas time it’s not a lot of fun. But … think of how beautiful it’s going to be in the end and that’s what you focus on. As you said, someone else can entertain this year :).

      Glad you liked the recipes. the Egg and spinach one is a good one and everyone likes it.

      wishing you a fabulous holiday season (despite the renos). Hope you find time to create.

      Take care,
      Ana

    1. Hi Linda,
      Thanks for your note. I am happy to hear that your group liked the fabric collage you made in class. I really enjoyed teaching this workshop for SAQA Central. For my workshops and prices, you can go to http://www.anabuzzalino.com/workshops and there’s a list of workshops and lectures available for virtual teaching. There’s also a Pricing link you can click on to get to the contract for 2022. Hope this helps. If they have any questions, they can reach me at ana.buzzalino@shaw.ca

      Here’s wishing you a happy holiday season and a great start to 2022!

      Ana

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.