Monthly Archives: December 2014

The Best Butter Tarts Recipe (Placed 3rd in a Baking Contest!)

Cooking with Alison

Butter tarts are a wonderful Canadian dessert.  (Speaking of wonderful Canadian things, have you tried ice cider?)  Butter tarts are individually portion sized tarts that have a flaky pastry shell and a sweet and gooey filling.  If desired, the filling can include raisins or pecans.  I made both variations in the photo above.  If you like pecan pie (see my recipe here), you’ll probably like butter pecan tarts.  Personally, I prefer the tarts.  I made these butter tarts for the first time over Thanksgiving, 2011.  We were amazed by how good the pastry was.  This was the best, buttery and flaky pastry I have ever made and these were the best butter tarts we had ever had.  Although they can be a bit messy to eat, this pastry is the perfect compliment for this type and size of tart.  The filling is soft and gooey, you won’t get…

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Recycled Tire Trellis

The Family Chapters

My mom saw this on Pinterest a few weeks ago, and we both loved it. Then Mr. Gaunt and I were with her at a garage sale and we happened upon two mismatched tires, no bike frame in sight. I remembered the trellis and snatched them up for super cheap.

I delegated the project over to Mr. Gaunt, with the challenge of completing it for less than $10. We decided right away to leave both the tire and the spokes on (seems silly to lose the cool spokes!) Mr. Gaunt tried a long piece of wood, and a few other things to put the two tires together without success. Finally he removed the inner bolts of the tire, and bought a 5′ All Thread and matching nuts. We ran the All Thread through both tires and put nuts on each side of the tires to hold them in place.


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Classic Gingerbread Men (and Women!)

Crumbs and Nibbles


Happy holidays! In case you’ve been looking for a last minute treat to whip up for Christmas, I thought I’d share this recipe for Gingerbread Men from Taste of Home. I made these with a family friend (and fellow baker) last weekend, along with two other cookie recipes (Chocolate Mint cookies and Peanut Butter Blossoms, for those who are wondering). These, like roll-out sugar cookies, are fun to make and cut, but they’re even more fun to decorate! Let’s just say we got very creative with some of ours; you’ll see what I mean in a moment.

This won’t be a step-by-step recipe, mostly because of the fact that I was in the midst of making two other batches of cookies while assembling these. And maybe because of the fact that I had flour and cocoa and cinnamon ingrained into my hands throughout this process.


But anyway, here’s the…

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The Quickest and Easiest Mincemeat Christmas Cookies!

Lucy Daniels

mincemeat christmas cookies

So it’s Christmas eve eve and I bet your a little sick of the traditional mince pie by now right? They have been passed around the office, offered to you at every relatives house you’ve been to and eaten as dessert at every pre christmas christmas lunch! Well, I have a solution, whilst still keeping in the festive spirit, but steering clear of pies, I bring you Mincemeat Cookies. You can forget about having to kneed and rest that dough for your pies, because these are the easiest cookies in the world, yet they taste like you’ve been baking all day! These are kind of like your oatmeal and raisin cookies with added festive-ness. I originally saw this recipe in the Sainsburys magazine and adapted the recipe from there. Whilst I used my own home made mincemeat, i’ve tried with good quality shop bought and it works just as well.

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Favorite Swedish Christmas Tradition: Janssons Frestelse

Today has been spent almost entirely in the kitchen baking and cooking one of my favorite dishes on the Christmas table. The dish is called Janssons Frestelse and is a potato dish. It is a special version of the normal potato gratin and it is delicious. Of course I will share the recipe for this Swedish tradition as well!

3 big onions (yellow)
1 ½ kg firm potaytoes

2 tablespoons of butter to fry the onion in
300 g of anchovies
4 dl cream
2 dl milk
3 tablespoons of breadcrumbs
3 tablespoons of butter to put on top

How to do it
– Put the oven to 175°C (347°F)
– Peel the potatoes (fun fun fun) and cut to thin drumsticks, they should look like french fries.
– Cut the onion to thin shreds and fry in the butter.
– Put some of the potatoes in a oven form…

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Scottish Shortbread

Shortbread is a type of cookie which is traditionally made from one part white sugar, two parts butter, and three parts plain white flour, although other ingredients like ground rice or cornstarch are sometimes added to alter the texture. Shortbread is so named because of its crumbly texture (from an old meaning of the word short). The cause of this texture is its high fat content, provided by the butter. The related word “shortening” refers to any fat that may be added to produce a short (crumbly) texture. 

Shortbread is generally associated with and originated in Scotland, but due to its popularity it is also made in the remainder of the United Kingdom, and similar biscuits are also made in Denmark, Ireland and Sweden. The Scottish version is the best-known, and Walkers Shortbread is Scotland’s largest food exporter.
Shortbread was chosen as the United Kingdom’s representative for Café Europe during the 2006 Austrian presidency of the European Union.
Scottish chef John Quigley, of Glasgow’s Red Onion, describes shortbread as “the jewel in the crown” of Scottish baking.



3 cups (384 g) all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup (225 g) butter
1/2 cup (115 g) sugar


Cream the butter with the sugar until light and fluffy.
Sift the flour and salt into the mixture and work into the fat and sugar until completely amalgamated.
Shape the dough into a ball and roll out to about ½ inch thick.
Cut into squares or rectangles and prick the tops with a fork in two parallel lines.Bake at 275ºF/135ºC for 30 to 40 minutes or until the shortbread is lightly browned.
Leave them on a cake rack to cool.
Store in a cool place in an airtight container.


Christmas Mincemeat – Fruit Mince

Cooking Up The Pantry


Middle son lifted the pan lid once this was made, cooled and the brandy added and assured me it definitely smelt of Christmas, always a good sign!

Traditionally made for filling mince pies, it’s also fantastic in cakes, scrolls and even apple crumble.

I use suet, from the butcher, as the shop bought version has gluten in it, however, for vegetarian options or non Coeliacs this is fine. I also don’t add nuts to my mincemeat, just one less allergy to worry a bought!

Makes 12 jars.


500g suet

300g currants

500g raisins

600g sultanas

200g mixed peel

4 oranges, zest and juice

2 lemons, zest and juice

5 large cooking or dark green apples, cored, chopped into a very fine dice, skin included

20g mixed spice

2 teaspoons cinnamon

a really good grating of nutmeg

600g brown sugar

180mls brandy


In a very large bowl, combine all…

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Steak and Bacon Pâté

Cooking Up The Pantry


Whether you call this pâté, paste or spread it is a lovely versatile recipe that can be dressed up or down.

To dress it up, serve in small ramekins topped with melted butter and beautiful bread for dinner parties or dress it down, dolloped on gluten free crackers or as a sandwich filling for the school lunch boxes.

To cook it you need to steam the meat for four hours, until it is falling apart. I use a large 8litre pan and a large Pyrex bowl with a saucer under the bowl to lift it away from the heat source.

As this recipe makes a large quantity of pâté I normally freeze half in two smaller boxes for a later date.


1kg steak, diced

600g bacon, back and middle cuts, diced

8 anchovies in oil, drained

2 teaspoons smoked paprika

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon cayenne powder

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Bacon + Potato Breakfast Skillet

I can see this being a huge hit in our house…. we will be adding the whole egg 🙂

Emerging Adult Eats

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I have a confession to make. I don’t really know how to say this because as a human being it seems unnatural. I’m just going to come out & say it. Here it goes. I hate eggs.

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Like, have to look away and plug my nose type of hate. I must be a mutant or something because everyone in the free world loves eggs.

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It’s really tough out there for an egg hater but brunch lover. Like, look at any brunch menu in the world. Eggs benedict, omelettes, egg bakes, they’re just freaking everywhere. I don’t complain as long as the mimosas are flowing, though.

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Unfortunately for me, I married a hunk who practically chugs raw eggs for breakfast. So after much trial & error, I’ve found I can tolerate egg whites in small doses.

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This skillet satisfies both of our egg requirements. Plus, it’s full of bacon &…

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Cranberry Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

Cranberry Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

Cranberry Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

Source: Mrs Happy Homemaker
Serves: 6 dozen 

½ cup butter, softened
½ cup shortening
¾ cup sugar
¾ cup brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2¼ cups self rising flour (or sub 2¼ cups all purpose flour, 1 tsp baking soda & ½ tsp salt)
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup chopped pecans

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Cream together the butter, shortening, & both sugars until light & fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Add the flour to the creamed mixture and mix well. Stir in the chips, cranberries and pecans.
Drop by tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake 9-11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on pans 2 minutes before transferring to wire racks.