Monday, December 20, 2010

Baking :: Cranberry Lemon Loaf


I was trying to find the recipe for a delicious cranberry loaf I made last Christmas, or was it the Christmas before? Anyway, I couldn't find it, but did find a "Cranberry Orange Loaf" recipe in one of the Company's Coming cookbooks. I made a few changes to it and now have 3 loaves in the oven.

Here's my version:

1/2 cup butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
Juice of 2 lemons and water to make 1 1/2 cups

4 cups flour
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
Grated zest of 2 lemons
3 cups fresh, chopped cranberries

Combine butter, sugars and eggs in mixing bowl. Beat until smooth. Stir in juice/water.

In second bowl, measure flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir in lemon zest and cranberries. Add to batter, stirring just until moistened. Scrape into greased loaf pans. I used 2 large loaf pans and one small and filled them each just over half full.

Bake in 350° oven for 1 hour. Test with toothpick. Let stand 10 minutes. Remove from pan. Cool on wire rack. The recipe says it tastes even better the next day, which I hope is true cuz I'll serve one for breakfast tomorrow and give away the other two!

I will glaze the loaves with a simple glaze made from icing sugar and milk. Or I could make a lemon candy-ish glaze by cooking sugar, lemon juice and water in a pot until it thickens. Hmmm... which would you do?


* So, now that we've had a chance to sample (and give away!) the loaves, I have to say it is a blog-worthy recipe! There's a nice balance between tartness and sweetness and the glaze finishes it off well. I went with the milk and icing sugar glaze. Next time I might try it with 3 lemons instead of two for even more intense lemon-y goodness!

Baking :: Smoky Nuts and Bolts


Here's one of my family's favourite Christmas recipe!

1 box cherrios 
1 box shreddies
1 bag pretzels
1 pound  peanuts
1 tablespoon seasoning salt [lawry salt is what I've used]
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder

3/4 cup butter, melted
1 tablespoon liquid hickory smoke seasoning

Mix spices together and mix with other dry ingredients in large roaster. Mix melted butter with the liquid hickory smoke and drizzle over everything, mixing well. Bake at 250 F.  for 45 minutes . Stir often.


Thanks for the recipe, Aunt Shirley! Scott made these this morning while I was knitting this Swiss Cheese Scarf. They are really good! Next on the list of things to make is Lawrence's Poppycock.


Saturday, December 18, 2010

Second Annual Christmas Brunch


This week a group of friends and I had our second annual Christmas brunch, as I mentioned the other day. Andrea's home is so lovely, beautifully decorated for Christmas and she's so warm and hospitable that it was a really beautiful, fun and relaxing day. Everyone brought such yummy food, too. There was ham & cheese dip in bread bowl, cran-apple mulled cider, surprise spread (surprise! there's no shrimp in it - thankfully!), a nice assortment of fancy crackers, meat, cheese, spinach dip, hot spring rolls, and then a wonderful variety of Christmas baking

Andrea's Cranberry Bliss Bars! Recipe here!

Thanks so much for hosting, Andrea!

A fun part of our annual brunch is the handmade gift exchange! I received this gorgeous Christmas table mat from Andrea and a bottle of delicious smelling Peppermint Twist hand soap. The quiltie goes with my green kitchen perfectly!
When you brunch with bloggers this is what happens; no one can eat until everyone has taken pictures of the food!

You can read more about our brunch on Rhonda's blog, Andrea's blog and Sarah's blog.

Merry Christmas!


Friday, December 17, 2010

Baking :: Peanut Butter Skor Rice Krispie Squares


Mmmm... my kitchen smells like a bakery today. On Facebook, Michelle asked, "What are you going to do with all that baking?!". Well, this tin is on its way to a friend who lives down the street! I've filled it with soft and chewy gingersnaps, chocolate peanut butter cookies, peppermint pinwheels and peanut butter rice krispies squares. Another tray of home baked goodness will come with me to a Christmas party tonight, another one went to care group last night. I'll take some to Christmas dinner at my sister-in-law's, send some to school with the girls. There is no shortage of people to give my baking to! Notice I haven't given away my secret stash of brown sugar fudge my mom made the other day? It is safely tucked away and off limits to little fingers, friends and neighbors. lol

Here's the recipe I used for the

Peanut Butter Skor Rice Krispie Squares

Company's Coming 150 Delicious Squares page 9...

2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
1/4 cup corn syrup
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
4 cups rice krispies

1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2 tbsp smooth peanut butter

Heat first 4 ingredients in large saucepan, stirring constantly,
until well mixed and thickened. Remove from heat.

Add rice krispies, stirring to coat. Pack into greased 9"x9" pan.

Icing: melt chocolate chips and peanut butter over low heat, stirring often. Spread over squares.

I also sprinkled mine with skor bits! I doubled the recipe and used a 9"x13" pan and used the red and green Christmas Rice Krispies to make them a little more festive.

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Thursday, December 16, 2010

{ winter wonderland }


This week I finally finished this Winter Wonderland quilt that I started in the spring of 2008. I'm so happy to have it hanging up on the wall in time for Christmas!


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

{ fetching gloves }

Happy Wednesday!

Today  I am attending the Ladies Who Lunch Christmas Brunch! We're having a potluck brunch at Andrea's lovely home and a handmade gift exchange. Here's the gift I made for Rhonda. They are Fetching gloves from the Knitty website. I used the exact yarn the pattern called for and needles half a size larger since my knitting tension tends to be a little on the tight side and I wanted to make sure these wouldn't end up little kid size! I purchased the Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran yarn at our local wool store on Ontario Street in Chilliwack. I love that store! They are so friendly and helpful in there, the prices are good and there are lots of free patterns. This yarn was so nice and soft and easy to work with. It shows up the cables very nicely, too.


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

{ christmas ball painting party }

Last week Madelyn had a group of friends over to paint Christmas balls. I'd never done this craft before, but had so much fun and love how the balls turned out!

The next day my youngest had some painting fun of her own! If I can find a really good sale, I'm going to buy more Christmas ornaments to paint!

What types of handmade ornaments have you made? Last year for Christmas I received some super cute embroidered, felt, stuffed ornaments that I would like to re-create. I even have all the supplies I need. It's just a matter of making the time to do them!


Monday, December 13, 2010

Baking :: Ginger Snaps


These cookies are so moist, soft and delicious. They taste almost as good as the ones Grandma makes. To dress these up for Christmas you can drizzle them with white or dark chocolate.

Ginger Snaps

1 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup real butter
1/4 cup molasses
1 egg
2 1/4 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp salt
Granulated sugar

Beat brown sugar, butter, molasses and egg on medium speed. Stir in remaining ingredients except granulated sugar.

Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour (I rarely do this).

Heat oven to 375°, spray cookie sheets (I prefer stoneware) with Pam.

Shape dough into balls, roll in granulated sugar. Place on pan and flatten slightly with the bottom of a glass.

Bake 9 to 12 minutes or just until set. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack.

Tip: you can also roll this dough out (if you refrigerate it first) on a floured surface and use cookie cutters to cut out gingerbread men or other cookie shapes.

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Sunday, December 12, 2010

Baking :: Best Chocolate Cake

One of my favourite cookbooks for baking is Betty Crocker's 40th Anniversary Edition Cookbook. I've never made a recipe out of this book that I didn't like. And, this cake is no exception! I've been using this recipe for "Best Chocolate Cake" since around 1994 and it turns out perfectly every time. This time I baked it in an 8" round, deep cake pan and then cut the cake into 3 layers once it cooled. Then instead of regular icing, I made chocolate whipped cream to frost in between each layer along with a generous sprinkling of Skor bits. Wow, was this ever a good cake! Everyone at our care group enjoyed it, too.

So, here's the recipe. I definitely think you should give this cake a try!

Best Chocolate Cake

2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup shortening
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup buttermilk (or make your own using milk and lemon juice)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 eggs
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled

Heat oven to 350°. Grease and flour pan. Beat all ingredients on low for 30 seconds, scraping bowl constantly. Beat on high speed 3 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. Pour into pan.

Bake 40 to 55 minutes depending on what pan you use! Test with a toothpick to be sure it's done. Cool for 10 minutes in the pan and then remove and cool completely on a cooling rack.

Chocolate Whipped Cream

2 cups Whipping Cream
1/2 cup Sifted Cocoa
1/2 cup (or more if you like it sweeter )Sifted Icing Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla
1 tbsp Meringue Powder

Whip whipping cream until it starts to thicken and then add other ingredients. Continue beating until it is nice and thick, but not butter!

Assemble cake and serve. Be prepared for lots of ooooohs, ahhhhhs, and yummmmms!

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Saturday, December 11, 2010

{ homemade christmas }


How are your Christmas preparations coming along? Here's a neat cable hat I finished a week ago. I was making it for my purple-loving sister, but it turned out wayyy to small, so I gave it to a small child instead! It looks very cute on her.

The apple doesn't fall too far from the tree... here's a toque my daughter recently knit for her little cousin for Christmas. Close your eyes, Amy.

What gifts are you making this  year?


Monday, November 29, 2010

{ Punch Rack 36 }

Introducing... a brand new Craft Rack made specifically to fit the new style of Stampin' Up! punches. As you can see, the Fiskars punches fit perfectly as well! Craft Racks are made in Canada and we are happy to ship world wide. Please email me to place an order at: Now, FOR A LIMITED TIME ONLY, we're selling the Punch Rack 36 (and all of the other Craft Racks) for $42 USD or $40 CDN plus shipping. In January, 2011 we'll be adjusting our prices.


Thanks for taking these pics, Sarah!


Cooking :: Baked Potato Soup


Last week when Mom was here we invited over my Grandparents, Aunt, Uncle, Cousin and her sweet Baby Girl for lunch. We made a huge pot of this soup, fresh biscuits, antipasto and crackers. It was good! The soup lasted for at least 3 meals for several people!

Baked Potato Soup
  • In a large pot saute a large diced onion, 3 diced celery stalks and 1 diced carrot with 1/2 cup butter and a glug of olive oil until veggies are soft.
  • Season with lawry salt and freshly ground pepper.
  • Add 3/4 cup of flour, stir and heat through then gradually add 1% milk, stirring constantly.
  • Bake 8 large potatoes in the oven or microwave. Peel after baking.
  • Cube half of the potatoes and mash the other half. Add to soup.
  • Add a large yogurt container of frozen homemade turkey stock, 2 cups of sour cream and some  cream. 
  • Add more 1% milk, if necessary, to make it the right consistency.
Add to your soup at the table: sliced green onions, crumbled bacon, grated cheddar cheese.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Recipe Box :: Orange Creamsicle Italian Sodas


For my daughter's birthday party, we wanted to serve something fun and different... not just the same old pop! We decided to replicate the Orange Creamsicle Italian Soda that the kids have had at our local coffee house. These were so delicious! Everyone loved them.
What a fun and tasty drink for a kid's birthday party!
Orange Creamsicle Italian Sodas
2 tbsp DaVinci Navel Orange Syrup
2 tbsp DaVinci Vanilla Syrup
2 tbsp Half and Half
Ice Cubes
Club Soda

 Stir and top with a dollop of sweetened whipped cream! Enjoy!

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{ slouchy beanie }

I can feel a slouchy beanie kick coming on! Last week when my Mom was staying with us we went to our favorite wool store more than once. She picked up the "Celebrity Slouchy Beanies" pattern book for herself on our first trip. I loved it so much that she bought me one the next time we went.  Here's the hat called "Truly Purple" from that book. I loved making it and love how it looks now that it's done!! Now to decide which one to make next and who to make it for.


{ holiday meatballs }

A couple years ago we had the "best ever" meatballs at Madelyn's Christmas party... this is our version of her recipe!!

150+ Honey Garlic Meatballs!

2.2 kg Ground Beef
3 Eggs
Bread crumbs (toast that I pulsed in my Cuisinart)
4 garlic cloves
Epicure garlic granules
1 jar of WalMart Honey Garlic Sauce
Salt & Pepper

Bake at 400° for 25 minutes. Flash freeze on the pan then remove and put in a ziplock bag. When ready to use put in a crock pot with another jar of Honey Garlic sauce and heat through.

Not only is having a "dine-in" pantry classy, it's also practical and convenient as well!

Monday, November 15, 2010

{ Christmas shop in your pajamas with CSN }


This year I'm going to sit back, relax, and do some of my Christmas shopping from the comfort of my kitchen. Already I've ordered a gift or two online and am looking forward to browsing CSN this afternoon to see what else I can find! There seems to be something for everyone... from toys, to kitchen appliances, to bathroom cabinets! Do you think my husband would take the not-so-subtle hint if I gave him bathroom cabinets for Christmas? Yes, I would love to have our bathrooms renovated!!

Thanks, CSN, for making my Christmas shopping even more enjoyable!


Sunday, November 14, 2010

{ project parade & giveaway }

There's a great giveaway now for a quilt book over at Kati Cupcake Quilting Co. She's also having a project parade from December 1-7. Be sure to check it out... and please tell her you heard about the giveaway on Thanks! There will be lots of free projects at the project parade, so you won't want to miss it!


{ my cuisinart food processor review }

Essential small appliance for my kitchen
By Cindy Keery from Canada on 11/14/2010
5out of 5

Pros: Sleek design, Very fast, safety features, Can handle wide food, Easy to clean, Powerful, Quiet, Easy to use.

Best Uses: Pureeing soup, Pureeing vegetables, Mixing dough, Making bread crumbs, Thinly slicing potatoes, Grating cheese, Mixing bread dough.
It would be handy if there were an additional blade that would great cheese finer. Overall I am very pleased with this product and happily recommend it to friends!
I love my new food processor!

Thanks, CSN Stores, for another great product!


Monday, November 08, 2010

Baking :: Glazed Lemon Poppy Seed Loaf

Lemon Poppy Seed Loaf
Don't skip the glaze! It's so lemony and delicious; almost candy-like. Serve with orange spice tea for a little citrus party in your mouth.

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk

1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
grated rind of lemon
2 tbsp poppy seeds

In your Kitchen Aid stand mixer, cream butter, sugar and 1 egg. Beat in second egg. Blend in milk.

In a separate bowl combine flour, baking powder, salt, lemon rind and poppy seeds. Pour over liquids and stir just to moisten. Pour into greased loaf pan. Bake at 350° for an hour. Cool for 5 minutes in pan, then remove from pan and glaze.


Juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup sugar

Combine lemon juice and sugar in small pot. Heat and stir until slightly thickened. Spread over top of loaf.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

{ not recommended for knitting }


Well, here's a review of a different sort; one of the negative variety. My Mom and I are what you would call avid knitters, and my Mom is more like an expert. She's been knitting for about 40 years or so and I've been knitting for almost 30 years. (hard to imagine when I don't look a day over 29, I know!). Anyway, between the two of us we've had a lot of experience with many different types and brands of yarn and we are good knitters - especially my Mom!

So, she recently purchased 3 balls of this new yarn put out by Bernat, called Mosaic. It is impossible to knit with. Mom has tried casting on more than a dozen times with each of the 3 balls. What happens is after casting on several stitches, she'll come to a really thin part in the yarn and it just shreds and breaks. She's been very gentle with the yarn and applied very little/no tension, and still has the same problem.

On the website, Bernat advertises this yarn as "Easy to work with, easy care". So far this has been the opposite of our experience. Bernat, what's up with this yarn?!


Update November 9/10: Bernat replied to my Mom's email. I have yet to receive any sort of response. Here's what they said to Mom:

Dear Alice,

Thank you very much for contacting our company. We are very concerned to receive your complaint about our yarn, and do appreciate you bringing this to our attention.

Mosaic is a Roving type yarn (meaning 'upspun') made with short fibre and very little twist so it will not be as strong as regular 'spun' yarn in ball form. However, once it is knit into 'fabric', it will strengthen and should not pull apart, this is the nature of any Roving yarn.

Please be assured that we take every possible precaution to avoid such problems. Unfortunately despite our strict Quality Control Procedure, much of the inspection process involves human interaction and occasionally faults are not always detected.

We sincerely apologize for the difficulties you have experienced, and appreciate your comments. Once again, thank you for taking the time to bring this matter to our attention and thank you for using our products.


Leah Cherrey
Customer Service

My comment to that: how are you supposed to knit it into a fabric when you can't even cast on?!

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{ owl pin cushion video tutorial }

Download accompanying PDF here: Owl Pin Cushion Pattern

Too cute not to share!

"The DIY Dish" web show is free to viewers and comes out each Monday evening. They demonstrate all kinds of how-to projects including home decor, sewing, quilting, paper crafts, and more.  Here is more information about what it is:

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Wednesday, November 03, 2010

{ check out Craft Critique }

Good Morning!

Guess what... remember a couple years ago (of course you'll remember, lol!!) when I was a reporter for the awesome website, Craft Critique? Well, today they featured my review of the Brother Laura Ashley sewing machine. You can check it out, and be sure to leave me a comment over there, right here: Reader Review - Laura Ashley - Brother Computerized Sewing Machine.

Once I get the kids off to school I will be baking a couple of these... Decadent Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Sauce. If you haven't baked this yet, you've got to give it a try! It's so light, but rich at the same time. The tartness of the raspberry sauce totally balances the sweetness of the chocolate.

Have a great Wednesday!


I Love

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Tuesday, November 02, 2010

{ broccoli salad }

Broccoli Salad

Finely chopped broccoli
Crispy, crumbled, cooked bacon*
Quartered, seedless green grapes
Toasted pine nuts**
Diced red onion
Coleslaw salad dressing (You can use the bottled stuff, or make your own like commenter Julie: 1/2 cup mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons sugar, 2 tablespooons vinegar.)

*I like to dice the raw bacon, put it in a cold frying pan with a splash of water and then cook on medium-high heat. The water helps it to crisp up quicker and better. Just another tip I learned by watching the Food Network while folding laundry!

**Pine nuts can be pricey, but to me they make the salad! If you really don't want to spend over $5 on them, you can get sunflower seeds for about .70 cents. I toast the pine nuts by putting them in a frying pan for a few minutes. Don't forget about them, or they will burn. Not that I have ever done anything like that!

Deliciousness in a bowl. Just as good the next day.

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{ a handmade holiday giveaway winner }

... and the winner of the $100 pattern bundle is:

darcey said...
This is a really fun prize. I love patterns...if I'm honest, I have a lot more patterns than completed quilts!:) Thanks for a great giveaway. October 28, 2010 10:27 PM 

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{ chicken fajitas }

One of my favorite suppers to make (and eat) is Chicken Fajitas! They are quick, easy and delicious; perfect to make on "fright night" (that night of the week when the family is so busy with their activities that fast food quickly becomes an appealing option). Here's how I make them:

Chicken Fajitas

Marinade sliced, boneless, skinless chicken breasts in the following mixture for 30 minutes:
  • Watkins Fajita Seasoning (or make your own. Click here for a recipe)
  • Grapeseed oil (or you could use canola)
  • Fresh squeezed lime juice (or the bottled stuff, if you're desperate)
While that's marinading in the fridge, thinly slice a few bell peppers (feel free not to use green ones -ick). I like to keep it colorful with one red, one yellow and one orange. Also, cut up a large onion in thin slices.

Heat up a deep frying pan over medium - high heat. Stir fry your chicken mixture - throw in all of the marinade (do not save this and do not add it later - it had raw chicken in it!!)

Once it's partially cooked, throw in the peppers and onions. Turn down the heat just a bit or you'll scorch the marinade. Keep cooking until chicken is nicely browned and veggies are softened slightly.

Serve in flour tortillas with a little sour cream. I've found some good, high-fibre ones that are full of flax. It's all about the fibre, baby! High fibre + low fat = low WW points.

Optional extras: freshly made guacamole, salsa, grated cheddar cheese, lettuce, black beans. We don't usually use all of these extras, but once in awhile we'll add one or two.

What's your favorite fright night meal to cook?


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