Bakery Style Chocolate Chip Muffins

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups of milk chocolate chips

1/2 cup melted butter, cooled
1 cup milk, warm
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
1 Tbsp vanilla

Use a stick of butter (2 Tbsp) and coat a 12 piece muffin pan liberally. No Pam spray needed!!!!

In a medium bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and chocolate chips together and mix evenly.

In a large bowl combine butter, milk, sugar, eggs and vanilla until smooth. Add dry mixture a little at a time (3), gently folding until combined. Over mixing will result in flat tops. A little flour remaining or clumps are okay. I over mixed mine a little by accident. 

Fill them right up!

Bake in preheated oven at 425 for 5 minutes, then turn the oven down to 375 for 14 minutes. Let cool in pan until cool enough to handle and place the muffins on a cooling rack. Store in an airtight container once cooled completely. 

No sticking and easy to wash. Butter for coating!

Unbaked Cherry Cheesecake

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cup Graham cracker crumbs
2/3 cup softened butter, not melted
1/4 cup white sugar

1 package of cream cheese (8 oz)
1 cup icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup heavy cream

Cherry pie filling (a can or about 2 cups worth if buying from a bulk store. Though I find less than those amounts are better, more like 1 1/2 cups)

Begin by mixing the graham crackers, softened butter and sugar together. I personally find that if the butter is super soft, it mixes better, but if it gets melted, the mixture is too wet, resulting in adding more graham crumbs causing the bottom layer of the cheesecake to be dense and thick. This happened to me this time round. oops. Press the mixture into a pie plate or a cheesecake pan like I have. Allow the sides to rise to give a slight curve to hold the next step.

Oops. Blurry picture. Will replace with a better one next time I make a cheesecake.

Next beat together the cream cheese, icing sugar and vanilla until smooth. Add the heavy cream a little at a time. continue to beat for several minutes. The less beaten, the more runny the mixture (not good), the more beaten, the thicker the mixture (yes!).

Yummy!

Pour the creamed mixture over the graham crumbs and smooth out. Refrigerate until firm, 4 hours or overnight if you like. Less time may result in runny cream cheese mixture. (extra step to keep the mixture firm)

Add cherry pie filling and chill until ready to serve. Enjoy!!!

Delicious!
Super easy to make!

Homemade Hot Chocolate Powder

I asked Chris to help me find a great hot chocolate powder recipe. He does not fail! Here it is. 

I did not follow the exact ingredients, I used what I had on hand. I also cut the recipe in half (sorry hun!).  I am storing the mixture in a large Nutella container. I couldn’t put it in the recycle bin, such a great storage option, and I’m very low on the number of jars I have!

I love this chalk board idea of writing down simple recipes or even notes instead of paper and pen or white board and marker. So much less waste.
All mixed up!
Look at that foam!!!

We always add milk, usually chocolate milk, to the powder. It creates a great froth and helps to mix the powder with the hit water. Sometimes I like to use coffee cream, especially when the best before date is near, to help use it up.

I find the taste, ummm, a little dark. It could use more sweetener in it maybe. There is lots of sugar in it already though. I will keep an eye out for the proper ingredients, mainly the cocoa. I just used our regular light brown cocoa. I know Bulk Barn has 2 more kinds of cocoa.

This recipe was created at home, zero waste.

I also have a recipe for homemade marshmallows, I just have not tried it yet.

Update Feb. 12.

Not tasteful enough for Chris, and I agree, it could be better. So I will try to get unsweetened cocoa from Bulk Barn, my next trip in and see if this recipe is any better.

Homemade Waffles

The kids are loving these homemade waffles. Christmas of 2017, my dad and step-mom bought us a waffle maker. Chris took charge and found, I think, the best waffle recipe!

In a bowl, combine 2 cups of flour, 1 tsp salt, 4 tsp baking powder and a 1/4 cup white sugar.

In a separate bowl combine 1/2 cup melted butter, 1 + 3/4 cup warm milk, and 1 Tbsp of vanilla. Add in 2 beaten eggs.

Combine well and add the dry ingredients until well blended.

The waffle maker holds 2/3 cup of batter, so this recipe should make about 5 full waffles. (Sometimes I over full and so get 4.5 full waffles). I cook them for 6 minutes at a time.

Lay the cooled waffles on a pan and freeze them. Transfer frozen waffles in a container. I am using a cake tray from the bakery, just use it upside down, great container!

Goodbye store bought waffles/eggos and the packaging!


Smooth Yogurt Drinks

I started to make yogurt drinks (vanilla) in jars instead of using the blender. This only works with yogurt and milk, as any fruit/veg needs to be blended.

Some benefits to just using a jar include:
1. Less to wash and easy to wash.
2. No foam so the drink is smooth all the way!
3. Easy to store leftovers in the fridge as a jar seals shut!

Even Julia likes them now! Im super happy!!

To fit in a regular size mason jar, add 1 cup of yogurt (or 8 heaping Tbsp) and 1/2 cup milk. Seal the jar and shake 10 ish seconds. Pour and serve!

To fit a spagetti sauce jar, like Ragu brand, add 1 1/2 cup of yogurt (or 12 heaping Tbsp) and 3/4 cup of milk.

My ratio is 1/2 cup of yogurt for every 1/4 of milk.

Daniel and Jack like having chia seeds added to their drinks. I get these at Bulk Barn too.

I still am in need to make my own yogurt, just did not get moving on that yet.

Ditching Store Yogurt Drinks

These are the last yogurt drinks to be washed and recycled in our home. We go through about 4 per day adding up to approximately 130 per month! That is a lot of single use plastic!

Not only does the bottle/package go for recycling, but the wrapper and caps are waste. 130 bottles, 130 caps, 130 wrappers and 21 plastic packaging pieces (comes in a 6 pack).

I asked a few groups of people for help on choosing recipes and how to make smoothies. I thought smoothies would be a great alternative, though I never made them before. I was worried too that the kids would not like them. My sister in law came to the rescue too! Offering lots of suggestions and recipes. Someone else also mentioned to just add some milk to yogurt to make a yogurt drink. Very simple!

So I got my blender and food together and started to try making some smoothies.

1/2 cup yogurt and 1 cup milk.
Fruit such as bananas, strawberries, peanut butter. It was just a no go taste wise. I felt I was wasting a lot of food. Pretty sure my mixtures were not balanced right; too much milk. We found the peanut butter was not pleasing either.

So that day I had to stop and re think what I was doing. Plus buy more product! My next grocery trip I did not buy any yogurt drinks! Skipped them completely!! I was determined to make this work.

The next morning I was all over it! Tried to keep everything simple. I decided to just start with yogurt drinks. Alaina wanted to call them smoothies still, so that is what we are doing! They love the sound of “smoothies”.

1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup yogurt
1/2 frozen banana
Alaina liked this one.

1/3 cup milk
1/2 cup yogurt
1 cup blueberries
Alaina liked this one.

1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup yogurt
1 Tbsp Nutella
1/2 frozen banana
Thomas liked this one.

1/3 cup milk
1/2 cup yogurt
1 cup strawberries (also with 1/2 banana)
Alaina liked this one.

1/3 cup milk
1/2 cup yogurt
1 cup raspberries
Alaina liked this one.

1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup yogurt
Daniel and Jack liked this one.

These recipes of mine are basically single servings.

Julia is not a fan of these drinks. I am not sure why. She really is not a fussy eater! She has taken a dislike to white milk lately. I am hoping she will come around. She does like yogurt. We buy the vanilla kind and sometimes the raspberry kind. Source, Yoplait.

Lately, Alaina like the raspberry yogurt with milk blended. She says it tastes like strawbrry ice cream.

I froze some berries and bananas, as the cold makes the drinks better for consuming. Otherwise it seems they are kind of warm. If there is no frozen fruit added, I simply just drop in an ice cube to cool it right down.

I freeze the bananas just as they are in the peel. Just let it sit on the counter for about 5 minutes and the peel comes right off.

I would like to add more to these drinks soon. Like Chai seeds for example. Also I so wish I had a frozen stash of berries! Next year we will be doing lots of berry picking and freezing. I will be needing a bigger freezer and  containers to freeze the produce in. Not using bags. I got lots of time to figure that one out.

I am so happy with the turn out! Next, homemade yogurt! I am more worried about this one! I myself am not a fan of yogurt, but Source Yoplait is the only one I found I liked. I hope the kids are not as fussy as I am about it!

Rocky Road Squares.

The start of Christmas baking! Rocky road squares. Such an easy recipe!! Jack helped me today!

Layer a 8×8 dish with parchment paper and Graham crackers. Melt in a sauce pan .5 cup butter, 1 cup milk chocolate chips. Add 1 beat on egg and 1 cup of icing sugar. Take off heat. Combine well. Once cooled add 2 cups of marshmallows and fold. Pour mixture on top of crackers and add sprinkles if desired on top. Refridgerate until cool and firm.

 

Remove from dish and take off parchment paper. Cut into bite size peices and store in a air tight container.

Update.

I made a second batch without the parchment paper. I just cut the edges along the pan and the whole thing just slipped out. Yay!!!

Also, Peanut butter balls, no parchment paper. I just put the pan holding the fresh balls into the freezer to cool down quickly and harden, then they just pop off the tray. Yay!!

 

Nuts and Bolts

When my brother and I were little, my dad would make us this delicious snack! It was his moms recipe, my Nanny. God love her! I wonder how far back this recipe goes!

Our house is in need of more snacks so I thought this recipe was the perfect fit as I can get these main ingredients from the Bulk Barn, no bags!

In a small sauce pan, combine 1/4 cup melted butter, 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce, .5 tsp celery salt, .5 tsp garlic salt, .5 tsp paprika and .5 tsp onion salt.

Pour this mixture over 2 cups Cheerios, 2 cups Shreddies, 2 cups pretzels (I break mine in half) and 1.5 cups salted nuts. Place on large baking pan. Bake at 250 for 1 hour, mixing every 20 minutes.

So yummy!!!

DIY Tomato Paste.

I found another recipe to try. Honeyed Tomato Paste, from The Zero-Waste Chef.

I made a half recipe (or tried).

I weighed 4 lbs of tomatoes, sliced an X and blanched them for 30 seconds. Peeled the skin and removed the seeds.

Put the cleaned tomatoes in a pot with olive oil and cooked on medium heat for 40 minutes. I added the tomatoes juice from the peelings and seeds. Of course, Jack wanted to watch and help if he could!

Once they cooked down, I put them through my food processor. Looked very much like tomato sauce at this point!

Here is where I went wrong. Instead of adding half of the ingredients, I added the full amounts. Salt, honey and bay leaves. I did not realize it until it was simmering for 45 minutes.

After it was done simmering, I put the sauce in a shallow pan. Set the timer for 3 hours and stirred every 20 minutes. This picture is 90 minutes in.

Done baking! Yahoo! Looks good!

My batch made .75 cup of tomato paste.

Had I put in the half amount of salt, honey and bay leaf, this would have been absolutely yummy!!! Even with the extra honey and bay leaf. BUT the extra salt ruined it! I can taste the flavour besides the salt and it is delicious! Too bad!

Maybe I can make a new batch and not add any of those ingredients, then mix that one and this one together?

Today was so worth it, I will be making more! Now, I need to find tomatoes locally!

Home Made Granola Bars.

The kids really enjoy the store bought granola bars. I was determined to find a recipe they all enjoyed and I did! Even Chris likes them! We both would like added nuts, but with a nut free school, that is “nut” going to happen unless they get eaten lots at home alone.

This recipe I found needed to be tweaked to the kids liking, so I will share our recipe with you.

First toast 3 cups large rolled oats at 350 degree preheated oven for 15 minutes, stirring up halfway through timer.

Next, heat in pot 2 Tbsp canola oil, 2 Tbsp maple syrup, 1/4 cup of honey, 1 tsp vanilla, 2 Tbsp dark brown sugar and .5 tsp salt. Heat up until brown sugar is dissolved, but don’t boil.

Once the oats are toasted put them in a large bowl, add the hot liquid mixture and stir for 1 minute to coat the oats. Add 1 cup of milk chocolate chips in the pot while the mixture is still hot so the chips will melt. They will act like glue to hold the granola bars together. Stir for another minute making sure mixture is coated very well.

Add .5 cup milk chocolate chips into the bowl when the mixture is not so hot and fold them in. (Optional).

(see update at the bottom for a waste free alternative to this step!) Line a 8×8 dish (pyrex) with parchment paper, enough to fold over itself once the granola is pressed. Add the mixture and press it down to all corners of dish. Use a flat utensil to firmly press the granola down.

I used a bit too much parchment paper

Cover the granola with the extra parchment paper and with your hands to smooth the mixture flat.

Keep on counter until cool, about 1 hour or more. If still warm, leave it longer! Remove the parchment paper and granola out of pan and peel off the paper. Cut the granola onto bar sizes and store them in an airtight container.

Enjoy!

Update November 22, 2018.

I figured out a way to use no single use material in tge making of the granola bars. Simply use a cheesecake pan!