Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Winter Wonderland

Today we woke up to the most beautiful frost of the year. We had to leave before I could take any photos to cut down our local Christmas tree (photos to follow), but when we came back it was still frosty and gorgeous! These photos are from right outside our front door. I am so thankful to be living here in our beautiful country!

Hope you are having a wonderful day!


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Christmas Baking

Every year, I go a bit (OK, a lot) overboard with Christmas baking. The entire month of December is pretty much a write off for healthy snacking due to the kitchen counters groaning under tins full of baked goods. I consider this a good, nay a great, thing. My mom always baked up a storm every Christmas, and I have the fondest memories of helping her in the kitchen. I have a routine when it comes to my baking, just as she did, making the same things year after year. I do not bake these goodies at any other time other than Christmas, so they are always a huge treat to have. I also have tried to incorporate both my childhood as well as D's into my chosen recipes, making it nostalgic for both of us. I have also added one entirely new recipe to my routine in the past three years that I found online and fell in love with. Here is what I make every year (in no particular order):

-Shortbread (my mom's recipe)
-Candy Cane Cookies (D's mom's recipe)
- Butter Tarts (my mom's recipe)
-Rugalech (new recipe)
-Gingerbread Cookies (D's mom's recipe)
- Sugar Cookies (my mom's recipe)

We also make a sweet walnut bread, called Gibanicia, that is a tradition in D's family for breakfast every year. D and I made it on our own (without his mom's help) for the first time this week, and it turned out great!

This last picture is from our batch last year.

Today I began the cookies by making rugalech, and also made a batch of the butter tarts. Now, I have a confession to make. I normally just buy pre-made frozen tart shells for my butter tarts. It is what my mom did, and I have tried making the shells in the past and they never turned out as nicely as I would have liked. This is strange, because I make my pie dough from scratch all of the time and it turns out beautifully. I don't like my tart shells to be very thick though, so I always roll out my dough thin and then it isn't as flaky as the pie crust. I attempted today to rectify this problem and make the shells from scratch, and I had the same issues. They look nice and rustic, but they were a bit too thin now and not flaky enough. Does anyone have any tips on making tart shells?

They look so pretty, but the texture isn't great. 

I actually only baked about half of the filling that I have and will be going out tomorrow to buy some shells to make the rest of them. Oh well! Here is the rugalech:

I am in LOVE with these cookies. They are a traditional Jewish cookie that is made with a buttery, flaky, cream cheese dough filled with apricot jam, walnuts, raisins, and cinnamon sugar. They are soft and sweet and have an amazing flavour to them. I will share the recipe later, as this post is getting too long. Up next are the sugar cookies and shortbread. I will make sure to take you along with me!

What do you bake for Christmas?


Sunday, December 4, 2011

Moroccan Chickpea Stew

Oh my, this is good. Bright flavours, and when paired with jasmine rice cooked in coconut milk, pure swoon-worthy taste.

The original recipe has been found on my newest blog obsession, Smitten Kitchen. I have made several of the recipes off of this site, and each and every one of them have been absolutely amazing.  I adapted this recipe a fair amount, so visit over there for the original, and for loads more inspiration!

Moroccan Chickpea Stew

Serves 4-6

1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. butter
1 medium onion, chopped
2 giant cloves (or 4 regular sized), chopped
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 cinnamon stick
salt and pepper
1/2 of an acorn squash, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
3/4 pound red potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 cups vegetable stock
1 28oz can chickpeas, drained
2 cups tomato puree (or one 14oz can)
pinch of paprika
pinch of cayenne (optional, for a bit of heat)
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 cup halved green olives (drained)
cilantro, for garnish
toasted slivered almonds, for garnish

jasmine rice cooked in coconut milk

Heat butter and olive oil in large pot. Add onion, garlic, cumin, and cinnamon and cook until onion is  translucent. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Add squash and potato and saute for 5 minutes or so. Add tomato puree, chickpeas, and stock, taking care to scrape any bits off the bottom of the pot. Bring to a boil and simmer until squash and potato are soft, about 20 minutes. Add lemon juice and olives and stir well. Serve over rice*, garnished with cilantro and sliced almonds. Season accordingly. 

*to cook rice in coconut milk, simply replace water with coconut milk. Makes a very creamy, nutty rice.

This is an amazingly delicious stew. I wasn't too sure about the olives and lemon, but they add a nice balance to the flavours. If you really dislike olives, simply leave them out-the recipe will taste just as good, but may need a bit more salt. 

Enjoy! What have you been eating lately?