Freshly baked yum

I have a weakness. It’s something that makes going to grocery stores first thing in the morning tricky. It makes running through neighbourhoods with bakeries or stores tough. It has made me tell Ben that he never has to get me another bouquet of flowers, as long as he brings home this.

It's baaaaath time! :)

Ground flax seeds, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, hemp hearts, sesame seeds, oats…just hanging out in the bath…chillin’…like seed villains

Hullo, sneaky lover. I love your yeastiness. (TMI? Probably.)

Hullo, sneaky lover. I love your yeastiness. (TMI? Probably.)

It’s freshly baked bread.

Good morning!

Good morning!

Well, aren't we pretty in the morning?

Well, aren’t we pretty in the morning?

Oh my gosh. The smell of the yeast and flour warming in the oven. The delicious aroma of the crust being formed. The incredible feel of warm-out-of-the-oven bread. Watching butter (salted…because, you KNOW) melt into the bubbles of newly baked dough and then eating said melted-butter-covered bread? Oh. My. Gosh.

It's getting serious - we're dumping in the flour!

It’s getting serious – we’re dumping in the whole wheat flour!

Yeast. Salt. Flour. The beginnings of something awesome.

Yeast. Salt. Flour. The beginnings of something awesome.

Seriously.

Magic trick step 1 - measure out oil

Magic trick step 1 – measure out oil

Magic trick step 2 - measure honey in same spoon and watch it run right out of the spoon

Magic trick step 2 – measure honey in same spoon and watch it run right out of the spoon

At the Mills house we’re pro-real food. Pro food that we have made from whole foods ourselves. Pro knowing what the heck is in what we are eating. Making our own bread just makes sense. Because if you have ever read the ingredients in your favourite loaf of bread, you may not know what half the stuff in it is. Or what it’s for. But this bread? This bread you’ll know. And that has to be the best part…beside the whole warm bread melted butter thing.

Dear dough hook, We love you. Love, Julia's hands

Dear dough hook, We love you. Love, Julia’s hands

Adding the flavour, baby. Oh, yeah.

Adding the flavourful Biga, baby. Oh, yeah.

When we were searching for a recipe, we wanted it to be whole grain and have lots of grains – the seedier the better. In fact, I’m now on the hunt for a loaf made up entirely of seeds…like a soft cracker. When I track down one, I will totally share it here. Promise.

All mixed up and ready for some rest.

All mixed up and ready for some rest.

You got big!

You got big!

For now, we’ll take a peek at this loaf of bread that starts with oodles of seeds and ends in melted butter. Hallelujah.

Let's do some folding on some flour. Totally normal day.

Let’s do some folding on some flour. Totally normal day.

The biggest issue with freshly baked bread at home is it takes planning. And time. You can’t rush it. You can’t zip past steps. You can’t force it to rise or fall or bake faster than it’s wont to do. You just can’t. It’s one of those things where time is required. And if you don’t make time or plan time, you’re going to be disappointed.

Smooth, elastic, perfect.

Smooth, elastic, perfect.

Now, there are breads out there that require very little babysitting. Like the No-Knead Bread, which we have made a bunch of times. It’s delicious. And perfect if you’re short on time but you want bread the next day. Even the ‘fast’ bread takes time.

Whoa.

Whoa.

This bread starts the night before and is worth every hour. Sometimes I ‘rush’ it, and set it up in the morning to bake it off later in the afternoon or evening. But that’s still not a ‘rush,’ is it?

Two pieces...or a bum. You pick.

Two pieces…or a bum. You pick.

In this world, you soak the seeds and oats, so that they are the most flavourful. I would guess dry-roasting them would also do something similar, but then you wouldn’t have little pockets of moisture, which every bread needs – who wants to eat dry bread?

A square-ish! ;)

A square-ish! 😉

Like a letter, ready to mailed!

Like a letter, ready to mailed!

Tuck up those ends - we don't want everything coming apart, do we?

Tuck up those ends – we don’t want everything coming apart, do we?

You also recreate what professional bakeries do to ensure the most flavour possible – they take a bit of the dough from today’s batches to put in tomorrow’s batches, so that deep, yeasty flavour exists without having to let the dough sit and rise and get happy with itself for days, instead of hours. Since I (and probably you) don’t make bread every day (we’re crazy, but not that crazy, amirite?), you put together a bit of ‘fake’ dough to sit around for hours so that you’re incorporating that flavour in without the time and dough volume required. Sneaky, sneaky.

Well, don't you look familiar! And bread-like!

Well, don’t you look familiar! And bread-like!

A little bit of rest does wonders!

A little bit of rest does wonders!

On top of having way more flavour than a loaf of mass-produced store bread, this bread contains no refined sugar. There are two tablespoons of honey in this recipe. That’s it. That’s the sweet. The rest of the flavour comes from the other ingredients, as it should be. No flavour-boosters or preservatives or additives to make it taste like bread. It tastes like bread because it is bread.

A little bit of heat is a miracle worker!

A little bit of heat is a miracle worker!

This recipe is also perfect for me because I have crappy carpal tunnel (thanks, pregnancies and babies! Your gifts just keep on giving.), so kneading a bunch of bread is not really ideal for me. My fingers go numb typing. Or driving. Or sitting the wrong way (I’m SUCH a gong show!!!). Kneading thick, tricky bread dough?? So not up my alley. This recipe lets me haul out my sexy KitchenAid Mixer and let the dough hook do all the work. Genius, non? I thought so.

Because this is what we came for...this is what we were waiting for.

Because this is what we came for…this is what we were waiting for.

And finally, this makes two good-size loaves. Which means we have bread for around a week…which is perfect. We find we eat less of this bread than we do of store-bough loaves. I think it has a lot to do with the density of the loaf – it’s LOADED with seeds and goodness, and fills you up so much faster and for longer. Unlike store-bread which is light and fluffy and you can eat a few pieces of it and not even feel sated. This bread eliminates that. Which saves money. And time. And the world. You’re welcome.

Because wasting an opportunity for warm bread with melted butter is just nonsense.

Because wasting an opportunity for warm bread with melted butter is just nonsense.

If you’re scared about attempting bread, just know this: every rise of the bread makes it more awesome…and all mistakes can be overcome in these steps. It’s a three-rise bread, so you have opportunity to let the yeast and the water and the honey and the salt and the seeds and the flour do their thing and get you back on track.

Seriously. Try this bread. It’s worth every hour of waiting. I promise.

~ Julia

Multi-Grain Sandwich Bread

  • Servings: 2 loaves
  • Difficulty: easy with a dash of patience
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Ingredients

Soaker (You can come up with your own combination of seeds. The more seeds, the more water you’ll need).

1/4 cup ground flax seeds
1/4 cup sunflower seeds, raw, hulled
1/4 cup sesame seeds, raw
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds, raw, hulled
1/4 cup whole chia seeds
1/4 cup hemp hearts
1/2 cup large flake oats
1 1/2 cups water

Biga 

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup warm water (NOT hot)
1 tsp salt
pinch of active dry yeast

Dough

Soaker (see above)
3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup warm water (NOT hot)
1 tbsp salt
1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
2 tbsp honey
Biga (see above)
olive oil (around 3 tbsp)

Directions

The night beforein a medium bowl, mix together all the ingredients for the Soaker. Cover bowl and let rest at room temperature for 12 to 16 hours. In another medium bowl, mix together all the ingredients for the Biga. Cover bowl and let rest at room temperature for 12 to 16 hours.

The next day, add the Soaker, flours, warm water, salt, yeast into the bowl of a mixer with a dough hook attachment (if you don’t have one, you can totally do this by hand). Set aside.

Measure a tablespoon of olive oil in your tablespoon measure and pour into a large bowl. Grease the bowl with the oil. Set aside.

Take the oily tablespoon and measure your honey into the mixing bowl – it will just slide out (magic!). Using the dough hook attachment, mix until combined and the dough is pulling away from the sides. Add the Biga and mix again with the dough hook until the seedy dough and the Biga are combined. Dump the dough from the mixer bowl into your greased bowl, turning the dough until it is coated in oil. Cover and let sit at room temperature for at least an hour (or until it has doubled in size).

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and fold it in half several times, until the dough is smooth and elasticky (not sticky). Place the dough back into the oiled bowl, cover, and let sit at room temperature for at least an hour (or until it has doubled in size).

Lightly oil 2- 9×5-inch loaf pans with olive oil. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Separate the dough into 2 equal pieces. Taking the first piece, shape the dough into a 9×9-inch square. Fold the dough like a letter (into thirds), and tuck the ends under the dough. Place the dough, seam-side down, in the prepared loaf pan. Repeat with the second piece. Cover and let sit for at least an hour (or until the loaves have doubled in size), while preheating your oven to 425˚F. Uncover loaves and put in oven, side-by-side, baking for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the loaves sound hollow when you tap them on top. Let sit for 5 minutes in the loaf pans after pulling them out of the oven, then tip them onto baking racks to finish cooling. Feel free to ignore this last piece of advice and cut a loaf while still warm. Serve with butter or jam or eat a hunk naked. Bread will last for up to a week (cover to prevent drying out). ENJOY.

Adapted from Multi-Grain Sandwich Bread recipe on Spiced Blog

Childhood comfort

People generally have those comfort foods they turn to. I don’t have a lot of them as I’m more prone on a bad day to just go with a cup of hot canned soup.

I do have a couple, however, and although I don’t follow most cooking recipes, I usually follow baking recipes. Usually.
We have a childhood favourite, and they are our mom’s ‘Uncooked Cookie’ recipe.

She has different variations, and we each use those different variations, but because I am in her house, I have her original recipe!

So you will need some milk…
DSC_4222
…and butter and sugar. Throw that on the heat ’til it melts, and then let it boil for about a minute. Longer than that it tends to burn.
DSC_4208On the side, combine your rolled oats and cocoa!

DSC_4209Mix it well!
DSC_4210When the butter, sugar and milk are boiled, mix in your oats and cocoa mixture. Add some vanilla. Be sure to add more oats if it is a little too moist.
DSC_4211Be careful NOT to burn yourself. Like I did.
DSC_4216Put down some waxed paper, and spoon it out with some tablespoons!
DSC_4213Nice neat rows.
DSC_4212Let sit until they are good and solid, but still gooey.

Then EAT and enjoy. I recommend with some milk.

I remember helping our mom with this recipe when I was a bit shorter, so it’s always a sweet experience in more ways than one whenever I make it.

Like mom our moms awesome decor? Inspiring right!?

Like our mom’s awesome decor? Inspiring right!?

Mom's Uncooked Cookies

  • Servings: 2 dozen cookies
  • Difficulty: easy-peasy
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Ingredients

3 cups rolled oats
6-8 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup butter
2 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Directions

Lay long sheets of wax paper on a flat, cool surface (this is where your cookies will set, so make sure tiny fingers or helpful pets can’t get to them). Combine oats and cocoa in a bowl, mixing well. Set aside. In large sauce pot, combine milk, butter and sugar. Stirring constantly, heat on medium-high heat. Bring to a boil. Let boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and immediately add vanilla and dry mixture to the pot. Stir until combined. Using tablespoons, gently place mounds of dough on the prepared wax paper. Let the cookies sit until they are set. Enjoy with a glass of milk!

~ Andreah

Baking adventures with Andreah

I am not a great baker.

I once wanted to be a chef, but I never liked baking all that much. That, and whenever I think about baking I think of the mess I have to clean up after…not pretty.

But I do have a few choice recipes in my repertoire that I like, and a good, simple applesauce cake is one of the best things I can bake.

This one has no eggs and I also made a lot of it as a quick breakfast for Joe, because apparently he doesn’t like cooking in the morning (silly man).

Baking!_001

I made my own applesauce out of a jar of homemade pie filling my Elena gave me. But any applesauce can be used.

Baking!_002
Really simply done, you just boil it down and mash it/blend it.

Baking!_003
Mix together the butter and sugar and applesauce.

Baking!_004
Flour!

Baking!_005
It looks more like dough than a batter; strange, but at least you can see it will be spongy!

Baking!_006
See? Spongy!

Baking!_007
After 40 minutes you have deliciousness.

Baking!_008
So yummy and moist!

I’m a basic baker, but this one has minimal cleaning, so it’s one I don’t mind.

I hope, dear readers, you get to eat cake!

~ Andreah

Simple Applesauce Cake

  • Servings: however many pieces you'd like!
  • Difficulty: easy-peasy
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Ingredients

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 and 1/2 cups chilled applesauce
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 /2 tsp of allspice
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350˚ F. Grease and flour a 6×13 inch or 8×8 in pan. Cream butter and sugar together. Add applesauce and mix well. Stir in flour, baking soda and spices. If you’re using nuts, fold them in gently. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 40 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Enjoy hot or cold!

Adapted from Joanna’s Applesauce Cake I 

Salt cod and potatoes or Bacalhau à Gomes De Sà – WVS style

The youngest of the sisters had a recent birthday, and, for said birthday, requested a family favourite – salt cod and potatoes. Now, I have only known this recipe to be made the way that it was passed down from our Dad – and it seems he put his own twist on a Portuguese tradition.

We the sisters whose birthday it was not, decided to make a night out of making it – and a blog post. Please be warned we were all tired and on a sugar high. We do not suggest you do the same. Maybe make the dinner while sipping a gorgeous glass of wine – that would be what Maria would want!

Ingredients:

Salt cod   Salt cod is cod that has been preserved by drying and salting. We purchased it from a local grocery store that had a seafood department. The cod was sitting in a basket in front of the seafood counter. 

Potatoes – You can use any kind; we used the yellow fleshed potatoes. These just give it a nicer colour as you shove the delicious meal into your mouth.

Onions – Regular cooking onions will do. Be careful, though – your eyes will BURN for a lifetime afterwards.  

Paprika, Salt, Pepper, Garlic, EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)

We were making this recipe for an army – literally – so I am going to ask you to use your own discretion in regards to how much of each you use.

Step 1 – Salt cod needs to be soaked and drained in water in order to remove the salting process. Seems kinda silly since you are going to be adding salt back into the recipe, but trust me, you NEED to drain it. We suggest 24-48 hours, draining 3-4 times within that time frame, just depending on how salty you like it!

Salt Cod after it has been drained - YUMMMM

Salt cod after it has been drained – YUMMMM

TWO DAYS LATER  – I know I know, it seems like such a long time, but it is SOOOO worth it!

Step 2 – Prepare your ingredients by slicing the onions and the potatoes into rounds. We used a mandolin – not the small guitar-like instrument, but the vegetable slicer – there is a difference. I suggest you not go to Target like we did and run around the store making comments about the ridiculous price of some mandolins and the difference between the slicers and the guitars. Actually, scratch that. Don’t go to Target with two deliriously tired sisters while you yourself are tired and try to purchase anything. You will buy candy, pizza…and make friends with mean ladies in Echos…but I digress…back to the cod!

Mandolin - another tool on the list of tools Julia is not allowed to use.... oye

Mandolin – another tool on the list of tools Julia is not allowed to use…oy.

Our onions and potatoes

Our onions and potatoes…pay no attention to the large amount of candy…focus on the potatoes and onions.

FUN FACT – Onions make you cry. I know it’s not that fun and you all probably know about it, but what I bet you didn’t know is that those damn onions and their potent stench and burn TRAVEL!!! YEAH, that’s right, TRAVEL! Travel between rooms and across tables…seriously.

Tears... not happy ones, even though we look happy!

Tears…not happy ones, even though we look happy!

delirious...  they BURN people!!!

Delirious…they BURN people!!!

When you are cutting up all of your ingredients, you should probably have some kind of muscle around. We had Ben 🙂 He attacked our garlic, helped with the onion, listened to our insane midnight babble and tried to ignore the fact that he is stuck in this family and willingly married into it. MWAHAHAHAHAHA!

Ben - our muscle..

Ben – our resident muscle

Step 3 – Now that you have all your ingredients, it’s time to put them in the pan. You can use a glass casserole dish, which we would normally use, but since we were cooking for three families, we used a large portable oven. At this point you should probably preheat your oven to 350 F.

Now to create the deliciousness!!! Drizzle some EVOO on the bottom of the pan in order to try and stop any potatoes from burning.

EVOO - Extra virgin olive oil

EVOO – Extra virgin olive oil

Next take some potatoes and line the dish with the sliced potatoes standing up, then adding some onion, then a hunk of cod. Once you get in the groove, it gets easier. Just repeat the pattern. Try to put one side of the salt cod against onion, so that the flavours infuse…oooo I’m getting fancy!

Cod, onion, potato, cod, onion potato, cod, onion, potato.... and so on

Cod, onion, potato, cod, onion potato, cod, onion, potato…and so on

Continue the pattern until you have no more room! YUM YUM YUM!!!!!

Chop up your garlic. We used a whole head, but you only need about three to four cloves. Sprinkle them over the dish, trying to spread them out as much as possible.

Garlic - another Laurentino favorite

Garlic – another Laurentino favourite

Drizzle more of the golden juice from the olive gods all over pretty liberally. However, if you are using a glass dish, make sure you have some kind of drip tray under the dish when you put in into the oven, or else your oven will start to smoke, and you will have to explain to Cody that it was an accident, and it’s being taken care of as smoke billows out of the oven behind you. You will have to open up all the windows, and at this time of year, it’s not ideal!

MORRRREEE More EVOO

MORRRREEE more EVOO

IMG_2117[1]

President’s Choice Smoked Paprika

Now, to season this dish! We used sea salt and pepper. Shake and sprinkle and season to your own liking. We also used smoked paprika, President’s Choice brand! Again, use it liberally, but to your own taste!

IMG_2130[1]

Cover your dish in tin foil – this will help make the onions and the potatoes go soft and melt together. Throw it in the oven…okay, don’t actually throw it…place it in the oven for about 45 minutes to an hour. Check after an hour with a fork and push it into the potatoes – you want them to just fall apart. If there is any tension while poking them, cook them another 15 minutes.

Serve with a sprinkle of vinegar and you are good to ENJOY! Seriously soooo good!

Try it and let us know how you like it! From our kitchen to yours with love – Happy cooking!

Happy cooking, ladies!

Happy cooking, ladies!

~ Jacqui

Salt cod and potatoes (Bacalhau à Gomes De Sà) - WVS Style

  • Servings: 1 glass 9x13 casserole dish, or 1 roaster oven, your choice!
  • Difficulty: worth the effort
  • Print

Ingredients

salt cod
potatoes
onions
garlic
salt and pepper to taste
EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
smoked paprika

Directions

Soak salt cod in cold water in a bowl in the fridge for 24 to 48 hours, changing out water 3 to 4 times. Drain and set aside in a bowl. Wash and peel potatoes, then slice using a mandolin to make rounds. Set aside in another bowl. Peel onions, then slice using a mandolin to make rounds. Set aside in another bowl. Chop garlic and place into a fourth bowl. Cut salt cod into chunks about the same size as the potato pieces. Put back in its bowl. Preheat oven to 350°F. Drizzle EVOO over the bottom of the cooking dish. Arrange potatoes, onions, and cod pieces into dish, standing them up on one end, creating rows of a repeating pattern. If possible, put onion pieces on either side of potatoes and cod. Sprinkle garlic pieces all over the casserole. Drizzle with more EVOO. Season with salt, pepper and smoked paprika, to taste. Cover with foil and put in oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Casserole is finished when potatoes are fork tender. Serve with a bit of vinegar, if you’d like. Enjoy!

Brownie-licious

Here’s the thing about a house FULL of girls…chocolate is a must.

Elixir of life...with butter, which is also the elixir of life...so elixir of life SQUARED.

Elixir of life…with butter…which is also the elixir of life…so elixir of life SQUARED.

It’s there for you when you break up.

It's getting hot in here...so take off all your clothes...wait, wrong post.

It’s getting hot in here…so take off all your clothes…wait, wrong post.

It’s there for you when you birthday up.

Smoooooth

Smoooooth

It’s there for you to eat with coffee (or tea…or milk).

Way more than a spoonful, Ms. Poppins...WAY more.

Way more than a spoonful, Ms. Poppins…WAY more.

It’s there for you to spruce up your banana bread.

Chocolate, sugar, butter...what could go wrong?

Chocolate, sugar, butter…what could go wrong?

It can turn the greyest day to pure sunshine.

 

Chicken or egg? Who cares?! BROWNIES!

Chicken or egg? Who cares?! BROWNIES!

And apparently, if you eat the right kind, it’s GOOD for you (HOW AWESOME).

Vanilla and salt...ying and yang...yum and yummier

Vanilla and salt…ying and yang…yum and yummier

Chocolate is never that far out of reach in the Sisterhood and for good reason – it’s delicious and it’s delicious. Not to mention, delicious.

And the glue...flour...to keep everything together.

And the glue…flour…to keep everything together.

Before I got married and had babies, I found this delectable, decadent, fantastic brownie recipe that made the most delicious brownies of all time.

Are you ready, baby?

Are you ready, baby?

They became “The Brownies”, requested almost as much as my famous chocolate chip cookies (another recipe for another day), and reserved for the most special of occasions.

Oh....

Oh….

They are moist, not cakey, fully chocolatey, and absolutely unhealthy (no, seriously). They are also kind of expensive to make (8 eggs! 10 ounces of chocolate! 4 cups of sugar!)

...YEAH.

…YEAH.

They are best saved for that milestone celebration, for that fancy party, or for that much-needed, long-neglected, took-forever-to-schedule-and-now-we’re-here-6-months-later girls night.

Have a good sleep, dear brownie pan. We'll EAT you soon!

Have a good sleep, dear brownie pan. We’ll EAT you soon!

It is not a recipe to be taken lightly…but it is heavenly and worth every chop, stir, and patient waiting while they set in the oven.

Oookay...we're going to need a minute here. *DROOL*

Oookay…we’re going to need a minute here. *DROOL*

These are The Brownies. And they are the ones you’ve been waiting for. Now, excuse me while I have one with my morning coffee (just don’t tell Toni…).

Suggested serving. Trust me.

Suggested serving. Trust me.

~ Julia

The Brownies

  • Servings: 1-9x13 pan of fudgy goodness (however many squares you'd like!)
  • Difficulty: worth the effort
  • Print

Ingredients

10 oz unsweetened Baker’s chocolate
1 1/2 cups butter
8 eggs
4 cups sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup flour

Directions

Grease 9×13 baking pan. Preheat oven to 350°F. Coarsely chop chocolate. Cut butter into cubes. Place both butter and chocolate in a large saucepan set over medium-low heat. Stir constantly until chocolate is almost melted and there are still a few lumps. Remove from heat and stir until smooth. Set aside. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs until evenly blended. Set aside. Stir sugar into warm chocolate mixture until combined. Add eggs, stirring constantly until smooth. Stir in salt and vanilla. Gradually add flour and stir until just mixed. Pour the liquid heaven mixture (i.e. brownie batter) into prepared pan and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in the middle comes out with moist crumbs but not with raw batter. Cool before cutting. Cut into as many squares as you’d like, or grab a fork and a friend. YUM.

Adapted from Chatelaine Speedy Fudge Brownie recipe

Banana bread baking bonanza!

There are certain foods, desserts, breads, dishes that invoke memories. Some of childhood, others of your fiance and one of his friends making banana bread in your oven and almost starting a fire because the two of them have never baked before and therefore were not aware that banana BREAD rises (Needless to say, the mix ran over the side, and all over the bottom of my oven. Thank GOODNESS for self-cleaning ovens! That being said it was some pretty amazing banana bread). I couldn’t tell you what provoked them to bake, but now whenever I have bananas left over from the bunch, I remember the smoke…the horrible smell…my smoking oven… and how good that banana bread was.  If you ask Cody, bananas should only be bought to turn old and to then be put in the freezer to await the great baking of banana bread. So I thought I would share with you the adventure that our latest batch of bananas took.

There are some key components to making anything… first, it’s always more fun if you have people to bake with – I enlisted my sisters (duh) except Dee, as that trip would be ridiculous to just make banana bread and then have her go home…so we thought of her in spirit!

Toni arrived late…shockingly enough…but she came with about 20 bananas, and there is this thing called unconditional love!

Better late then never ...

Better late then never …

You can’t stay mad at that face – she was in charge of taking pictures for this extravaganza

First we peeled our bananas – we doubled our recipe, this way one pan would have chocolate chips…dark chocolate chips…and the other plain Jane for Cody who is lactose intolerant.

They look gross... but it will taste GREAT!

They look gross… but it will taste GREAT!

They look more slimy than normal because they were still slightly frozen.

We added our eggs, our oil, and the sugar

Banana, Eggs, Oil, Sugar ...

Banana, eggs, oil, sugar…

Combine your ingredients so they are still lumpy.  When I combined them, I used a fork and mushed the banana chunks a bit because they were still a little frozen.

Mushy and chunky!

Mushy and chunky!

In a separate bowl, add your dry ingredients, other than the sugar which was previously added with your banana and oil mixture – flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt cinnamon and nutmeg – and combine them together.

"No honey's no jam's .... just  dry" Ingredients that is

“No honeys, no jams, just dry”…ingredients that is!

I should tell you that at this point you should ensure that your “photographer” isn’t taking selfies…and that they are PAYING ATTENTION!

PAY ATTENTION!

PAY ATTENTION!

You are going to pour the wet ingredients into the dry! Normally it’s the other way around – banana bread can be a sneaky bitch!

Look at that action shot!

Look at that action shot!

Stir your wet and dry together just to combine them – you want this mixture to still be lumpy like pancake batter.

Lumpy yummy-ness!

Lumpy yummy-ness!

Toni and Julia at this point were delusional with giddiness – and constantly taking pictures of themselves, instead of the master pieces we were making!

Our resident baker and resident picture taker!

Our resident baker and resident picture-taker!

Back to business – grease two (because we doubled the recipe)  bread pans so your delicious-ness will sliddddeee right out!

We used butter ... mmmmm butter!

We used butter…mmmmm butter!

Pour your mixture into both pans about halfway. If you fill them to the brim then they will over flow, and make the biggest smokiest mess EVER! So half way… (Editor’s note: if you just make a single batch, put all of the batter in one pan. It’ll be fine. I promise. And if it’s not, just offer the firemen some banana bread. They’ll LOVE it.)

Half way! Take heed!  Half  Way

Half way! Take heed!
Half
Way

 

They looked SO Yummy!!!

They are going to be so yummy!

We added a 1/2 cup of dark chocolate chips to one of our pans, and mixed it without disturbing the mojo of the mixture!

Adding our sweetness!

Adding our sweetness!

Pop those bad boys into the oven and let them cook to delicious perfection!

Two buns in the oven!

Two buns in the oven!

Let them bake for 55-60 minutes, which is just enough time to plan a little something something! Which you should stay tuned for a little later on this year!

Shhhh it's an EXCITING secret!!!!!

Shhhh it’s an EXCITING secret!!!!!

Okay, so 60 minutes have passed, the secret has been planned and now it’s time to take out those delicious treats we made!

Yum yum yum!

Yum yum yum!

I would suggest eating it warm – the chocolate chips are ooey and gooey, the top is crispy and there is nothing like a fresh out of the oven treat! YUM. Pair it with a cup of coffee and you have yourself pure morning bliss!

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And enjoy!

~ Jacqui

Yummy Banana Bread

  • Servings: 16/1 loaf
  • Difficulty: easy-peasy
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Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
2 beaten eggs
5 very ripe bananas, mashed
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup chocolate chips or walnuts (optional)

Directions

Grease loaf pan with butter. Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine all dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre. Set aside. Combine the rest of the ingredients, minus the chocolate chips or walnuts, in a medium bowl and mix until blended. Add egg mixture all at once to flour mixture. Stir until just moistened (batter should be lumpy). Fold in chocolate chips or walnuts. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes until a wooden toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan. Enjoy!

Adapted from Better Home and Gardens Best Banana Bread Recipe

My name is Julia. And I love pie.

I do.

Oh, hi innocent-looking flour

Oh, hi innocent-looking flour

I LOVE PIE.

Mmm...salt. Totally healthy.

Mmm…salt. Totally healthy.

I don’t care who knows it.

Just a spoonful of sugar...and then some more.

Just a spoonful of sugar…and then some more.

I don’t care what cake hears me.

Ben's favourite cooking tool...the humble fork...doing some 'whisking'

Ben’s favourite cooking tool…the humble fork…doing some ‘whisking’

I will take a pie over a cookie, over a cupcake, over a croissant, over a bagel, over anything any day of the week. Because pie, for me, is IT.

Butter. 'Nuf said.

Butter. ‘Nuf said.

When I was younger, I attended the funeral of a lady I didn’t know (I knew the family and was there to be a support). Often what happens when you get to hear loved ones speak of the person who passed away, you wish you had known them. That you could have seen them in action because (generally) you don’t talk about the crappy stuff at funerals. You focus on all the good stuff (and usually it’s a lot) that you’ll miss.

Ready for some cold water!

Ready for some cold water!

One of the things that was mentioned over and over again was how this particular lady was famous for her cakes. That you would hear that she would be bringing her cake to an event, and you couldn’t wait to try it.

Oh, it's happening...

Oh, it’s happening…

I wanted that. I wanted to be known as the lady who brings…pie. 

It happened.

It happened.

Growing up pie was feared. Not revered.

And then there were two.

And then there were two.

I vividly remember my mom trying to make pie and crying because her crust was breaking or not working.

Five cups of each, Granny Smith and Gala

Five cups of each, Granny Smith and Gala

As a kid, one of the scariest things ever is to see your parents cry. Your parents are supposed to have it all together. And my mom was losing it.

Getting 'er done

Getting ‘er done

Over pie.

Peeled...sliced...

Peeled…sliced…and Lillian’s hand…

So when I set out to make my first pie (because who doesn’t like a challenge), I remember being terrified.

Sha-zam!

Sha-zam!

I remember thinking that if at any point I’d start to cry I would just give up. And throw away the dream of being The Lady Who Brings Freaking Awesome Pie.

Sugar and apples...

Sugar and apples…

Thankfully, I made my first pie when I had no children. And therein lies the rub.

Sugar and spices and lemony goodness and apples, oh my.

Sugar and spices and lemony goodness and apples, oh my.

I’m pretty sure my mom wasn’t crying because the pie wasn’t working. I’m pretty sure she was crying because the children were screaming, and she wanted to do something nice/had to bring something nice somewhere, and was trying to make pie in a kitchen that didn’t have enough counter space/air conditioning/clean dishes/patience, and the crust wasn’t working and her life was hard because she had four young children and…yeah.

Bringing back our first star

Bringing back our first star

I would cry too.

Ta-da!

Ta-da!

Ben asked me once while I was making the crust, taking my time putting in tablespoon after tablespoon of water, how I could have patience for it.

All wrapped up with a place to go

All wrapped up with a place to go

Some people get to that zen place doing yoga…

Not an empty pie plate anymore

Not an empty pie plate anymore

…or creating pottery.

Round two!

Round two!

For me, making pie is so relaxing…

Because I love pie, ya'll.

Because I love pie, ya’ll.

…at least it was, before I had children.

Gotta let the steam out

Gotta let the steam out

Now I work very hard to keep the stress out of my shoulders and neck so it doesn’t go into my pie.

Don't forget the apples!

Don’t forget the apples!

I don’t know if that’s a real thing, but I don’t have enough time or energy to try baking an angry, anxious pie and a happy, peaceful pie and then perform a taste test and tally the results and write a report and…so, let’s just go with I try hard to be a merry pie-baker.

Another wrap of love.

Another wrap of love.

Not a grumpy one.

Unfurling some magic

Unfurling some magic

Some of them have turned out underdone (blueberry seems to be my most not-cooked-enough pie, for some reason) and had to be popped back into the oven.

So darn pretty...yet a little undone still.

So darn pretty…yet a little undone still.

Some of them have had a crust that looked too brown (putting foil around the edges and pulling it off for the last bit of baking seems to help…also baking in an oven that’s not trying to be a volcano also helps…).

Tucking everyone in for the big bake.

Tucking everyone in for the big bake.

Some of them need lots of attention (like lemon meringue…holy high maintenance. This one I tried baking with just Sophie around. STRESSED does not even begin to cut it).

Edgy AND (about to be piping) hot!

Edgy AND (about to be piping) hot!

Some of them, like this apple pie, just require some assembly.

Some brushing...

Some brushing…

But all of them have been yummy.

...some magic...

…some magic…

SO YUMMY.

...and we're ready.

…and we’re ready.

Did I mention that I love pie?

Because I do.

*sigh* *swoon* *drool*

*sigh* *swoon* *drool*

I’m just not sure how pie fits into my current weight-loss quest. Maybe if I think about it while baking another pie the answer will come to me.

~ Julia

Deep-dish Apple Pie

  • Servings: 8-16
  • Difficulty: tricky
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Ingredients

Crust (for two-crust pie)

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
3 tsp white sugar
1 cup (1/2 pound) frozen butter, grated (I used salted)
ice-cold water
milk
white sugar

Filling

10 cups peeled, sliced apples (I used Gala and Granny Smith)
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
2 tbsp flour
zest and juice from 1 lemon
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
pinch of salt
butter (I used salted)

To make the crust:

Whisk the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Put the grated butter into the flour mixture and toss it gently together with your hands, being careful not to over-toss or over-warm the butter. Add water 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring the dough with a fork until the pastry can be formed into two balls, but is not too wet. If the dough is crumbly and isn’t sticking together well, add more water a tablespoon at a time. If the dough is too wet and sticky, add flour a little at a time until it isn’t so sticky (it shouldn’t feel overly wet). Cover the bowl with the two balls of dough with plastic wrap and place in the fridge to chill for at least a 1/2 hour.

To make the filling: 

Combine all ingredients into a bowl, minus the butter, and toss gently until all the apples are coated evenly. This will smell heavenly. Avoid eating all the apples before you get them into the pie.

To make the pie: 

Preheat oven to 400°F. On a lightly floured surface, roll out one ball of the chilled dough until it is a circle large enough to cover the bottom, sides, and the lip of the pie plate. Place dough into pie plate (I wrap the dough around the rolling pin and unroll it into the plate). Pour in your yummy apple filling (the leftovers, anyway) onto the dough. Dot the top of the filling with butter (at least 1 tbsp of butter, not more than 1/4 cup of butter). Roll out the second ball of chilled dough on a lightly floured surface until you have a circle roughly the same size as the first. In the centre of the dough, cut an x or use a small cookie cutter to make a hole. Place dough on top of filling, making sure the hole is in the centre of the pie. Tuck the top crust edges under the bottom crust edges and using your fingers crimp along until the pie is sealed. Brush milk all over the top of the pie. Sprinkle white sugar over the crust. Place a pan on the rack below the pie in the oven to catch any drippings, and bake pie for 10 minutes. Turn the temperature down to 375°F and bake for 40 minutes, or until you can see bubbling in the hole in the centre of the dough. Let cool for at least one hour before eating. ENJOY.

Crust recipe adapted from: Michael Smith’s Old-Fashioned Apple Pie

Filling recipe adapted from: Anna Olson’s Country Apple Pie