Meringues from Mayonnaise!

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Meringues from Mayonnaise!

So here’s the story… I’ll be honest with you, I didn’t set out this morning to make meringues, it wasn’t on my list today. Actually neither was making mayonnaise, all I actually wanted was a tuna sandwich. But here’s how it happened…
I opened a can of tuna to make a tuna salad sandwich, but then I realized that we didn’t have any mayonnaise. So I thought, “I’m pretty crafty, I can make my own mayo!” So I googled “how to make mayonnaise and found a recipe (with cooked egg yolk- just can’t do the raw egg thing) and, to make a long story short, I followed the directions, but 4 egg yolks later I ended up with a runny yellow liquid that I had no intentions of mixing with my tuna… It was pretty gross, don’t know where I went wrong…

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So, I felt a little guilty for pouring the mayo mixture down the sink, but the good news is that I ended up making a great tasting tuna melt by substituting ranch dressing for the mayo. (It was actually really good!)
But, I’ll save that post for another day….
After enjoying my delicious sandwich, I realized that I still had 4 egg whites left over from my mayo disaster. I couldn’t throw them out too! So, I thought, “I’m pretty crafty, I can make something out of these egg whites.” So I googled, “what can I make with egg whites.” And this recipe for meringues came up… So that’s how I ended up making meringues! I can’t tell you how many times I have said this, but how did people survive before Google? Seriously.
This was my first time making meringues, and I was pretty impressed with how easy they are to make!
Start with four egg whites and beat them until they are foamy, which only takes a minute or so.

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Then, very slowly, a sprinkle at a time, add two cups of icing sugar…

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And beat on high until the egg whites hold their shape when you hold up the beater.

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I spooned the mixture into a piping bag, because I wanted them to look a little fancier. Then squeezed out a tablespoon at a time on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

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By the way, here is a great trick I have figured out when using piping bags… Use a plastic clip on the end to stop the icing from squeezing out the end. I can’t tell you how many times I have ended up with a handful of icing without realizing it.

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With the clip you can also easily roll it around as you use up the filling inside.

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Anyways, it turns out that the piping bag was probably a waste of time because the meringue wasn’t stiff enough to hold the shape. A spoonful would have looked the same.
So I learned that the trick to meringues is to cook them for a long time at a low temperature. So, set your oven to 200 degrees, and the timer for about two hours. Essentially, the oven almost dries out the meringues. Be sure to leave the oven open a bit, I used a wooden spoon to prop the door open.

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Then after waiting two long hours, they were ready. Slightly browned and crunchy on the outside. They were delicious!

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The recipe actually made a few dozen meringues. I probably made them a little smaller, but still, there were tonnes of them! Next time, I might even halve the recipe. Nah… Who am I kidding….
Enjoy!

Easy team spirit cupcakes

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Easy team spirit cupcakes

What were we thinking? Today we had Dylan’s entire basketball team over for the afternoon… That was 13 ten and eleven year old boys running around our house!
They were going bowling first, so we were hoping that they would use up a little bit of their energy at the bowling alley! Not sure if that went the way we planned, they were bouncing off the walls (literally) by the time they got to our house 😃

I figured the best way to keep a large group of boys happy is to keep their bellies full. So we bought a bunch of snack foods, and I thought we needed something to show our team pride. So I decided on cupcakes. I have done variations of these cupcakes over the years. They are quick and easy, but look really cute! And who am I kidding, 10 and 11 year old boys are not going to stop and admire and compliment the hours I spent meticulously decorating their cupcakes, I am quite aware that there is about 10 seconds from the time they spot the cupcakes to the time where they shove them in their mouths. So I might as well do something quick and easy!

I started with baking the cupcakes. I always try to scoop out the cake mix as evenly as possible by using an ice cream scoop.

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Then, I dug up some orange candy melts, they are the chocolate disks that come in different colours.

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I melted a handful of chocolate chips in a mug of hot water. While I was waiting for the chocolate to melt, I laid out the Orange candy melts on a piece of parchment paper so the flat sides were up.

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Then, once the chocolate chips were melted, I snipped a tiny corner off of the sandwich bag, then used it as a piping bag to decorate the candy melts to look like basketballs.

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I also wrote their jersey numbers on a red candy melt. (And extras for the coaches)
Once the cupcakes were out of the oven and cooled, I evened them out by trimming off any lopsided parts with a knife. Then I piped some plain chocolate icing in a spiral pattern.

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I found some fancy silver sugar, so I added a little pinch of silver sprinkle to the top of each cupcake…

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Then, because I didn’t have the patience to wait until the chocolate had hardened a little, I decorated them while the chocolate was still wet. I would recommend you don’t follow my lead on this one… I stuck my finger in and messed up a couple, but hey, it’s not like the noticed or anything!
Anyways, they seemed to go over pretty well, they all picked their number, and it was quiet for a whole thirty seconds, so I am calling that a success!
Here is the final product…

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I am going to have to do the same for the baseball team! I would say soccer too, but I think soccer balls would be tricky, maybe I can just do their jersey numbers… At least I have a few months to think about it!
Have a great week!

Quick and easy cannelloni and lasagna

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Quick and easy cannelloni and lasagna

So, the boys had a basketball tournament this weekend, (they got gold btw…Go MUMBA!) Anyways, it was just Sam and I all weekend, so we did some cleaning, and went to the mall and grocery shopping. The last game ended after 5, and we were going to order in, but strangely, I decided to cook instead. (I know, weird, right?)
When Sam and I were at the grocery store, I bought some fresh pasta, ground beef and ricotta cheese to make cannelloni. You could also use oven ready shells in the place of the fresh pasta. It is a quick and easy meal to prepare, it only take about 20 minutes to prepare, and it freezes well too!
So I started with some fresh pasta, tomato sauce, ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese, ground beef, red peppers and spinach. And, I ended up tossing in some frozen corn at the last minute.

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I started by browning the ground beef.

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Then, in a bowl, I mixed the ricotta, red peppers, spinach, corn, and once it had cooled down a little, I added the ground beef.

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Then I added a couple tablespoons of the mixture to each piece of fresh pasta.

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Then I rolled them up and covered them with some good old tomato sauce, and a bit of mozzarella. I also added about 1/2 cup of water, I find the pasta will soak up the extra liquid and makes the end result more moist and yummy.

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Great, done! But, I had a whole lot of filling left over…

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Don’t get me wrong, my philosophy on making stuff like lasagna is that once you have everything out, you might as well double it up… still have to wash the same amount of dishes, right? So, I kind of made extra on purpose.
I pulled out some oven ready lasagna, poured some tomato sauce, and a little water into another casserole dish then added a layer of pasta…

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Then, the ricotta mixture, pasta, tomato sauce, ricotta, pasta, tomato sauce, etc. until I ran out of ingredients, or space in the pan.

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Then, pop everything in a 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes, and voila!

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Best part is, dinner is done for tonight, plus enough for another night too! I will just pop it in the freezer when it has cooled, and its good at least for a couple months. Once again yummy!

Panettone French Bread

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Panettone French Bread

Hello everyone, happy new year! I haven’t posted in a couple weeks because we were away in Cuba from Christmas Eve to New Year’s Eve. Yes, I am trying to make you jealous! It was busy getting ready for Christmas, and packing, but while it Cuba, I had lots of time to relax, do some crafting and reading by the pool. Now we are back, and trying to pack up everything christmas and get ready for school tomorrow! Yay.
So, at Christmas, it is always a tradition in John’s family to have at least a couple panettones, John’s favourite is the chocolate, but I really like the fruit and raisin one. It is a special treat that we enjoy, but there is a lot of panettone in each loaf, so there are always lots leftover after the holidays. It freezes ok, but right now our freezer is looking a little cramped! Last year I tried this and loved it, so I will share with you this year!

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Basically, the procedure is pretty much the same as for regular French bread, but I do have a little trick to making it…
Start by cracking a bunch of eggs, I usually crack about two eggs for every three slices. I also add about a tablespoon of milk for every couple eggs. Use two forks to dip the bread into the eggs…

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Then brown both sides in the frying pan…

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The part I don’t like about making French toast is trying to make sure the middle has cooked properly. I can never seem to get the heat right so it is hot enough to cook the inside without burning the outside.
So, here’s my trick… After you have browned both sides, put the slices on a cookie sheet and pop them into the oven at 350.

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I cooked them for about 6-7 minutes on each side, and they were perfectly cooked. The great part is that if you are making a big batch, or are serving to company (or like me, if you just want to be lazy…) you don’t have to stand by the stove! And mmmm, I wish you could smell them right now!
I always check if they are properly cooked by checking the center of one of the pieces.

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Now, just add a little butter and maple syrup (yeah canada!), and enjoy!

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Candy cane reindeer craft!

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I have been so busy getting teacher gifts ready, baking, packaging, And wrapping, that I haven’t even thought about posting any ideas, or even taking pictures! I am such a bad blogger :( I only remembered I forgot after all the gifts were handed out, and the kids had eaten half of the gingerbread village! Oh well, there’s always next year! I will share a couple of the smaller projects. This one we did this afternoon was a quick and easy craft that Samantha and her friend made.
All you need to make the candy cane reindeers are a couple candy canes, some yarn, googly eyes, and a pom pom for the nose.

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Here are a few pics I found online for inspiration:

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To make it easier to handle, I taped the two candy canes together with a piece of making tape before we started.

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Then, we wrapped the yarn around the candy canes until they were covered.

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I glued down the end of the yarn with my glue gun.

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Then, with the glue gun, I attached the eyes and nose. You can really change the look of the reindeer by moving the eyes and nose around, and even try using different sized googly eyes.

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I added a little bell and ribbon and glued them down as well.

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Look at how they turned out using different colours of wool. I would love to do these for the kids in my class next year!

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Hopefully I will have time to post at least a couple more ideas before our holidays are finished, but if I don’t have a chance before The 25th, have a wonderful Christmas! Hope you have lots of time to celebrate as well as relax!

Ginger Snap cookies

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Ginger Snap cookies

Well, it’s the last day of November, that means it’s officially cookie baking season! Well, I use any excuse to bake cookies actually! I have my jam all made for presents, and this year I thought I would pair it with some shortbread and cookies, so I am looking for some new recipes to try.
We went to a friends party last night, and they had some delicious ginger cookies, and that got me to thinking that I have never made ginger snaps before, but they are one of my favourite cookies. And then, just this morning, I found this recipe in an email from the Yummy Mummy club…it must be a sign… so I thought I would give it a try!

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Here is the full recipe:

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Start by softening 1 cup of butter in the microwave (I usually microwave it for about 30 seconds) and beat it with 1 cup of brown sugar, and 1 1/4 cups of white sugar.

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Add a full cup of molasses, and beat for another couple minutes.

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Then beat everything until it is fluffy.

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Next, add 2 eggs and a tablespoon of vanilla extract and beat a few minutes more.

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Finally, add 4 cups of flour, 2 teaspoons of baking soda, and 2 1/2 tsp of ground ginger. I just dumped everything on top of the batter and I used a fork to mix the ginger and baking soda with the flour before I mixed it together with the batter.

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I actually took another look at the recipe because four cups of flour seemed like too much, but it was right. It actually mixed right in without too much effort. It was really sticky, and gooey.

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Before I put it in the fridge, I spread it around the sides so it would hopefully cool faster.

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After 15 minutes, I set up a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and bowl of sugar. The recipe said to refrigerate for 15 minutes, which I did, but 15 minutes wasn’t enough to cool it. I just kept putting it back in the fridge between batches.

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I rolled dough into balls in the palm of my hand, then I rolled them in the sugar and put on a cookie sheet.

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I spread them out about an inch and a half apart, then put them in the oven at 375 degrees.

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Check them out!

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OK, warm from the oven, these are the best ginger snaps i have ever had! They are sweet, but still have a sharp ginger taste.
I made the cookies a little smaller than the recipe said, so I only baked them for about 7 minutes. They came out perfect. Crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside.
I am so excited to make the rest of these… the only problem is that there is no chance that these will make it until christmas, and I am not even sure I want to give any away!

Pizza Fritta – or as we call it, Pizzetti

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Pizza Fritta – or as we call it, Pizzetti

I tried googling this, but came up a little more confused on what I should call this… so I am just going to call it what John’s mom calls it. Since she is actually from Italy, (and since she is my mother-in-law) I’m sticking with her name of Pizzetti. And besides, when she makes it, it is delicious!
What I am talking about is fried pizza dough. Whatever you call it, it is delicious, and pretty easy!
All you need is some canola oil, pizza dough, and salt, and if you are a little more adventurous, some anchovies.

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I guess you could make your pizza dough from scratch if you wanted to, (which John’s mom does sometimes) but this still tastes delicious with store bought fresh pizza dough.
Start by pouring enough Canola oil to cover the bottom of your frying pan, and give it a few minutes to heat up.
Then, pull off a couple tablespoons of dough at a time and try to stretch it out as best as you can without ripping it. I just use my hands, I don’t know how else you would do it…

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Then, drop them in the pan, and sprinkle them with a little salt.

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Let them cook until they are golden brown.

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And, flip them over to brown the other side. That’s it!
If you want to try them with anchovies, rip the anchovies into pieces (I use tiny pieces) and place them into the dough, then fold the dough in half to seal them in the middle for a little anchovy surprise! Note -not everyone enjoys the anchovy surprise, so I keep the anchovy ones on a different plate :)
Once they have browned on both sides, sprinkle a little more salt on and I let them cool on some paper towels.

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Just so you know, if you try skimping on the oil, they don’t really cook the same way. Instead of browning evenly, only the parts directly touching the frying pan will brown, and this is what they look like:

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Hey, if you are frying pizza dough, it’s not like you can even pretend it is healthy, so just add a little more oil and enjoy!
Make sure you serve these warm! They don’t taste the same at all cold. You can make them ahead of time and warm them up in the toaster oven.
They are great as an appetizer, or snack. They would be great with a dip too – maybe even some hummus (just don’t tall my mother in law) lol. I bet they would also be delicious with cinnamon sugar! mmmm