I finally got that snow I’ve been wishing for!!
It seems everywhere in Canada has had a major snowfall except for Toronto. The surrounding areas look like a Winter Wonderland, and yet the city is still bare.
I always used to complain about snow. Mostly about how much I hate shovelling it. For the record, shovelling is still at the bottom of my list of activities. But it now officially feels like winter to me. Even if I do have to ditch the snow crystals for pavement if five short days.
The snow is also making me want to do winter activities. Like tobogganing and ice skating. And of course… baking.
Let me tell you, a 28 oz can of pumpkin can go far. So far I’ve gotten a cake, a big batch of pancakes, two bowls of oatmeal and now a batch of scones out of it.
I feel like me and the mushy stuff have turned a corner this holiday season. I still like my oats better without it, but I no longer fear adding pumpkin to baked goods.
I asked my family if they wanted pumpkin chip bread or scones, and the scones won out. Most of the pumpkin scone recipes out there are meant to mimic the Starbucks version. You know, the one that’s 480 calories.
No thanks. I believe I ate enough of those triangle cakes when I was a barista and at my heaviest weight.
Instead, I opted for this Joy of Baking recipe with a few changes, of course.
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 6 tablespoon cold butter, cut into pieces
- 1/2 cup plain fat-free yogurt
- 1/2 cup fresh or canned pure pumpkin (if using canned pumpkin make sure there are no spices or sugar added)
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 tablespoon eggnog
Mix together the flours, sugar, spices, salt, baking soda and powder. Add your cold butter pieces and mix until crumbly. Some people do this with a fork, I find my hands to be a lot more effective.
Stir in yogurt and pumpkin, kneading a few times to get all the dry mix in. Shape into a circle around 7 inches by 1 1/2 inches. Cut into 8 triangles and transfer to a greased baking sheet. I stack two baking sheets to prevent burning on the bottom. Then mix up the egg wash and brush on the tops. Bake for 20 minutes at 400F.
They rose up big in the oven! I probably could have cut them smaller, but it also meant more scone for me.
I was barely done taking photos before my family started attacking these.
Scones fresh from the oven on a winter day, aahhh. These were a brimming success. Slightly spicy, a little hearty, with that soda-scone taste I love. My 12-year-old step-bro had two. And he’s never even had scones before.
Another day, another mess in my mother’s kitchen. Muhaha ;)
The scones acted as a great snack to hold us over until supper. We ended up going to the Old Triangle, an Irish pub here in Moncton.
From left to right: Me, my step-dad Mark, oldest sister Sara, Mom, middle sister Jane, and her partner Renaud. Behind the camera is Heather, who had quite the time trying to capture everyone in my zoomed 50mm lens.
Well, like mother like daughter. One of each colour!
Can’t we all just stay here together forever? I promise to bake scones!
But I can’t promise I won’t make a mess ;)
Now that the leftovers are gone, I feel ready to talk about their recipes!
These are some of the more unique dishes we enjoyed on Christmas Day. Ones we’ll definitely be making again.
First up is the Wife Saver.
The name of the dish comes from my step-dad’s family who make a very similar breakfast for Christmas Day. But it isn’t the same recipe as theirs. I also call this a savoury bread pudding and based it off of the Pioneer Woman’s version.
- 3-4 cups cubed stale bread (I used a fluffy French bread, but a denser bread works much better)
- 1 lb cooked ham, rinsed and cubed (rinsing it will make it less salty)
- 3 cups chopped spinach
- 1/2 cup chopped green onion
- 4 eggs
- 1 cup egg whites (or another 4 whole eggs)
- 1 cup milk
- 1 cup plain yogurt
- 1 tbsp dijon mustard
- 1 cup grated or crumbled cheese (I used old cheddar)
- Pepper to taste
Layer your bread, ham, spinach and onion in a greased casserole dish. Mix together the remaining ingredients and pour over top. Bake for one hour at 350F. This can be made the night before and popped in the oven in the morning. I made it the morning of and just let the bread soak up the liquid for an hour before baking.
This also makes great leftovers and tastes almost as good cold!
Mom’s Layered Salad
The elements of this salad can be changed based on your preference. But a few things can’t be changed: the iceberg lettuce, peas, cheese and dressing. Why? Because I said so ;) Here’s the order of layers:
- Iceberg lettuce
- Sweet bell peppers, chopped small
- Celery, chopped small
- Red onion, chopped small
- Carrots, chopped small
- Frozen peas (using frozen helps the dressing seep through the salad)
- Dressing (1 1/4 cup mayonnaise + 2 tbsp white sugar to taste)
- Shredded cheddar cheese
- Bacon pieces
This is also best made the night before so the dressing has time to seep through the salad. This is one of the few salads that actually gets better with age. I like eating it best on Day 3!
Again, you can play around with what chopped veggies you use. Some people also add boiled eggs, or a little spinach.
This is a recipe I’ve been sitting on for months now and Christmas Dinner provided the opportune time to try it! This version came from this Smitten Kitchen recipe with a few changes because I have issues following recipes.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 cups french bread, cut into 1 inch cubes
- 4 large tomatoes, cut into 1/2 – 1 inch cubes
- 3 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup thinly slivered basil leaves, lightly packed
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 3/4 cup shredded mozzarella
Toast the bread in a pan with olive oil. Meanwhile, mix up the tomatoes, garlic, sugar, salt and pepper. Once bread is crispy and toasted, add the tomato mix and cook for about 5 minutes. Stir in basil then transfer to a greased casserole dish. Sprinkle cheese on top and bake in a 350F oven for 35 to 40 minutes.
This smelled soooo good thanks to the basil and garlic. And it tasted just as well! My only complaint is the bread gets mushy despite the toasting, but you can’t go wrong with the flavour combination. Fresh basil is the bestest.
Last, but certainly not least, the course I am most proud of – dessert.
I didn’t even know this dessert existed until I saw it on Jenna’s blog. It sounded like a nice light dessert as opposed to the heavy pie we usually have after Christmas dinner. Plus, I’ve never rolled a baked good before and I love a good kitchen challenge!
I immediately got concerned when I read I had to beat together the eggs and sugar for 10 minutes. My mom doesn’t have a Kitchenaid mixer, so I beat it with a hand mixer until it got thick and pale in colour.
Then of course came the pumpkin. As mentioned before, I’m slightly frightened of pumpkin. It’s tasteless, mushy, bright orange. It’s mashed vegetables in a can. I tried not to gag as I scooped out the grown-up baby food.
I have a really bad habit of not checking to see if I have the proper pans before baking. But this regular baking sheet seemed to sub well as a jelly roll tray.
Jenna’s recipe says to just remove the cake and roll it up with the frosting as soon as it cools a little. But every other pumpkin roll recipe I read instructed to roll it up in a towel first to set the shape before adding the icing.
This is where I started to get reeeeally nervous.
Dessert. In a towel. I let that cool for a little bit while licking the cream cheese icing bowl. I slowly unrolled it and evenly spread the frosting from corner to corner, then attempted to roll it back up without the towel. This is where it got tricky, as the cake started sticking to the towel and I could see it tearing a little. Slow and steady did it. I managed to get it in plastic wrap and in the fridge without making a scrambled cake!
- 3 eggs, room temperature (I used cold eggs, whatever)
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2/3 cup pumpkin
- 3/4 cup all purpose flour
- 1.5 tsp pumpkin pie spice (I used a mix of cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
for cream cheese frosting:
- 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
- 4 T soft butter
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350. Beat the eggs and sugar together with a Kitchen Aid on maximum high speed for about ten minutes. When done, the mixture will be very thick and very, very pale. Add the lemon juice, vanilla and pumpkin and stir gently.
In another bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt and pumpkin pie spice. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet and mix just until combined.
Pour the cake batter onto a sheet tray (or jelly roll tray) that has been greased and lined with wax paper. Spread out the batter evenly and bake for fifteen minutes, or until golden.
Let cool on the pan for about ten minutes and start your frosting.
Whip the cream cheese and butter together on medium speed for three minutes or until creamy looking. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla and whip on high for another six to eight minutes. Set aside.
After you have cooled the cake for a few minutes, turn over the sheet pan and gently peel off the wax paper. Spoon the frosting on top of the cake and spread out. Starting at the far edge, roll up the cake. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for about an hour before serving.
The end result was downright delicious. You really can’t go wrong with a spiced cake and cream cheese. With a scoop of frozen vanilla yogurt, it was the perfect end to the perfect meal. If I ever make this again, I think I will skip the towel step. Rolling it twice just gives more opportunity to screw it up, and I don’t mind a few torn edges to nibble on ;)
Hope everyone’s Christmas was merry! Even if you’re not into the Christmas thing, hope your Saturday was at least stellar ;)
We’re missing a sister this year so it didn’t feel quite the same. But she’ll be here for New Years to party. Which in my opinion is way more important ;) Muhaha.
My mom and I were up early Christmas morning worrying about things we still had to prep for dinner. We got started right away while the others slept.
Mom assembled her layered salad. Something my sisters and I request every year and is one of our favourites!
A layer of iceberg, sweet peppers, celery, red onions, carrots, peas, mayo dressing, cheese and bacon. Peas may sound strange in a salad but it is SO DANG GOOD.
Meanwhile, I was assembling The Wife Saver. Aka “savory bread pudding.” Called the wife saver because it can be made the night before and just thrown in the oven on Christmas morning.
Much like this savoury bread pudding I made last month, but with the addition of spinach and green onion.
Recipes for some of these dishes to come in a future post!
Mom also assembled a meat pie to add to our brunch line-up.
Mom’s meat pies are a mix of chicken, pork and beef slow cooked in spices and put into a pie crust.
My whole family makes meat pies every year for Christmas. As a kid, I always loaded them up with ketchup. But this year, I’m obsessed with the fancy relishes I keep finding in my mom’s fridge and pantry.
We patiently waited for the step siblings to arrive to finish unwrapping presents. It was tough! ;)
I asked for mostly camera stuff this year – including a Canon 50mm/f1.8 lens. I am in love with it already. I can’t stop snapping photos. I’ll do a post on the lens soon too!
Other gifts included a Snuggie for my Nana, and a cute specialty apron for myself.
Mom and I did quite a bit of food prep in advance so we wouldn’t have to spend all Christmas day in the kitchen. But we still had a couple hours where all four burners were going.
And in this household, the booze is always flowing.
I was DD so I stuck to a club soda with frozen raspberries. Deeelish!
We added a new dish to our rotation this year and it was a total hit! Scalloped tomatoes. A mix of tomatoes, croutons, basil and cheese. Super simple and waaaay delicious. The flavours fit in well with the rest of the dishes.
I insisted we have some roasted veggies on top of all the mashed ones. Sometimes I feel like I’m eating baby food on Christmas :P
A bit of the tomatoes…
Mix of white & dark meat (later loaded with cranberry sauce) & stuffing…
Lots and lots of layered salad.
The annual Christmas table shot!
Last, but certainly not least, dessert!!
I am so proud of this – a pumpkin roll! I thought for sure my family was going to end up with scrambled cake. Rolling up a sheet cake was a stressful affair. But it held up!
And boyohboy, it was goooood. Very spicy with lots of cream cheese. Paired with a scoop of vanilla frozen yogurt.
And a cup of decaf with a splash of eggnog (new addiction alert).
In all, a fabulous day filled with fabulous food and even better company. Best of all, is knowing I’m still here for another week!
Fret not, recipes for some of these dishes to come! For now I’m hunkering down for the 30-40cm (12-15 inches) of snow we’re supposed to get tomorrow. Finally – the snow I’ve been wishing for!!
Question of the Day: What’s are the best things you ate over the holidays? Mine include pumpkin roll, scalloped tomatoes, meat pie and chocolate trifle. Ohmy!