Getting organized, seriously organized.


It’s something I’ve wanted to do for ages.

I love lists, after all. I make them every day. And I love baking, especially holiday baking

So I finally swapped precious sleep for a few extra hours* on my laptop and am absolutely tickled to bring you…

The Ultimate Holiday Baking Pantry Checklist!

It’s an A-Z shopping checklist of everything you need to stock your pantry for holiday baking. The PDF can be downloaded and printed to help you organize your baking ingredients – and be sure nothing is forgotten.

From my post on Simple Bites:

I designed this list with efficiency and thoroughness in mind. Here’s how I’m going to keep track of ingredients I need for my holiday baking this fall:

• Print the free checklist.
• Sit down with cookbooks, magazines and bookmarked online recipes AND the list.
• Go through recipes that I know I will be making and check the boxes on the printable.
• Keep the checklist on the fridge or somewhere visible for a few days, and add items as they come to mind (or remove items as ideas change)
• Go through my pantry and take note of anything that is running low or has gone stale. Check those ingredients off on the list.
• Head out shopping WITH the Ultimate Holiday Baking Pantry Checklist in hand.
• Highlight any items I am unable to locate or are temporarily out of stock, so I know I need to keep looking for them.”

Trust me, you’ll want to print this up. With Canadian Thanksgiving less than three weeks away, it is not to early to start planning for holiday baking.

Head to Simple Bites and download the tidy Holiday Baking Pantry Checklist pdf today. You’re welcome!

*I have to say, Danny gave up sleep as well, as he made the pdf pretty for me. Thanks honey!

Variations on Yeast Doughnuts


What would you say if I told you I made doughnuts twice in one week?
Well, I did, and there aren’t any left.

The coffee-glazed were the highlight of a recent Easter brunch, but not super kid-friendly.


These maple-glazed, sprinkles-topped were much more popular with the three-year-old’s at a weekend birthday party.


And perhaps the best of all (Danny’s favorite, anyway) were the very grown-up Bacon-Topped Maple Glazed Yeast Doughnuts.
(I know, right?!)


All doughnuts were variations on a superb basic yeast doughnut recipe from the fabu-tastic Gourmet Today cookbook, a.k.a. my new best friend.

I’ve tried the recipe twice–just to be double sure I can recommend it to my readers, you know. I taste-tested many of the results and well, as promised, here is the recipe.

You must try these doughnuts! Mix up the dough the evening before, let it rise over night in the refrigerator, then roll and fry in the morning. It’s very little work and believe me, your hubby’s going to love you.


Coffee-Glazed Doughnuts

slightly adapted from Gourmet Today which has this to say:

“For these doughnuts, an ethereal yeast dough is fried and then coated with a bracing coffee glaze. The result is a bit like having your morning cup of joe and a pastry in one incredible bite. Let the dough rise overnight in the refrigerator, and you’ll wake up to something truly special.”

Makes about 12 doughnuts


1 (1/4-ounce) package (2-1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
2 tablespoons warm water
3-1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus additional for sprinkling
1 cup whole milk, at room temperature
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, salted
3 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

About 6 cups vegetable oil for deep-frying

Coffee or Maple glaze (Recipes below)

Special equipment:
Stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment
a 3-inch round cookie cutter
a 1-inch round cookie cutter
a deep-fat thermometer

Stir together yeast and warm water in a small bowl until yeast is dissolved. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes (If yeast doesn’t foam, discard and start over with new yeast.)

Combine flour, milk, butter, yolks, sugar, salt and cinnamon in mixer bowl, add yeast mixture, and mix at low speed until a soft dough forms. Increase speed to medium-high and beat for 3 minutes.

Scrape dough from sides of bowl into centre and sprinkle lightly with flour, to keep a crust from forming. Cover bowl with a kitchen towel and let dough rise in a warm draft-free place until doubled in bulk, 1-1/2 to 2 hours.
Alternatively, let dough rise in refrigerator for 8 to 12 hours.


Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll out with a lightly floured rolling pin into a 12-inch round. Cut out as many rounds as possible with 3-inch cutter, cut a hole in centre of each round with 1-inch cutter, and transfer doughnuts to a lightly floured large baking sheet (or use a doughnut cutter to shape them, as I did)

Cover doughnuts with a kitchen towel and let rise in a warm draft-free place until slightly puffed, about 30 minutes (45 minutes if dough was refrigerated).

Heat 2-1/2 inches oil in a 4-quart deep heavy pot until it registers 350F on thermometer. Fry doughnuts 2 at a time, turning occasionally with a wire skimmer or a slotted spoon, until puffed and golden brown, about 2 minutes per batch. Transfer to paper towels to drain. (Return oil to 350F between batches.)
Allow to cool completely before glazing.

Coffee Glaze:
1/4 cup boiling water
5 teaspoons instant espresso powder, such as Medaglia d’Oro or instant coffee granules
1-1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt

Stir together boiling water and espresso powder in a medium bowl until espresso powder is dissolved. Stir in confectioners’ sugar, corn syrup, vanilla, and salt until smooth.
Set a rack on a baking sheet. Dip doughnuts into glaze, turning to coat well, and put on rack.

Maple Glaze:
2 cups confectioner’s sugar
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
2 Tablespoons corn syrup
1 Tablespoon water
(optional: few drops maple flavoring)

Whisk everything together in a small bowl until smooth. Set a rack on a baking sheet. Dip doughnuts into glaze, turning to coat well, and put on rack.

I love Gourmet’s suggestions for how the doughnuts are to be enjoyed; basically, consume them as fast as possible.
“The doughnuts are best eaten right after they are fried, but they are still great several hours later and very good for the rest of the day.

I seriously doubt you’ll have any left after brunch.

Stocking the Cheese Board with Rosemary Pecan Crisps

If you analyzed my diet over the past two weeks, you’d conclude that cheese and dessert had combined to make a new food group. I feel as though they have been the main staples of my diet since the holidays started and am scratching my head trying to remember consuming an actual ordinary meal–massive multi-course dinner parties excluded, of course.

I’m partially blaming Julie for this influx of artery clogging ripened milk products in my diet because she introduced me to these Rosemary Raisin Pecan Crisps, and once one has the perfect transportation for the cheese from wooden board to lips, there is no stopping the heavy traffic.


Similar to Raincoast Crisps, the deadly addicting, yet expensive cracker that Julie brilliantly patterned her recipe after, these treats, plus a wheel of triple creme Brie are a Girl’s Best Friend. They are delicately flavored with buttermilk & honey, scented with fresh rosemary and contain just enough nuts & fruit to eclipse the rest of the accompaniments on the cheese board.


OK, the crisps are very simple to make–and don’t worry, you’re not going to have to knead bread dough! The batter, which is leavened with baking soda, comes together quickly and two hefty loaves are baked off in a jiff. When cooled, the loaves are sliced and the slices baked again into the crisps you see here; yep, it’s a similar method to making biscotti.

The longest part is probably slicing the loaves, but if you do this while they are very cold or partially frozen, the result will be uniform, thin slices of bread which will produce lovely, lovely crisps.

Do visit Dinner with Julie for her entertaining post on the subject and a few ideas for alternative add-ins.

Rosemary Raisin Pecan Crisps
via Dinner with Julie

2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

2 cups buttermilk

1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup honey

1 cup raisins

1/2 cup chopped pecans

1/2 cup roasted pumpkin seeds (optional)

1/4 cup sesame seeds

1/4 cup flax seed, ground

1 Tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary

Preheat oven to 350° F.
In a large bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda and salt. Add the buttermilk, brown sugar and honey and stir a few strokes. Add the raisins, pecans, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, flax seed and rosemary and stir just until blended.

Pour the batter into two 8”x4” loaf pans that have been sprayed with nonstick spray.

Bake for about 35 minutes, until golden and springy to the touch. Remove from the pans and cool on a wire rack.
The cooler the bread, the easier it is to slice really thin. You can leave it until the next day or pop it in the freezer.
Slice the loaves as thin as you can and place the slices in a single layer on an ungreased cookie sheet. (Julie likes to slice and bake one loaf and pop the other in the freezer for another day.)

Reduce the oven heat to 300° F and bake them for about 15 minutes, then flip them over and bake for another 10 minutes, until crisp and deep golden.

Cool and store in an airtight container.
Makes about 8 dozen crackers.

Orange Madeleines and a Holiday Relapse Recap


I seem to be having a hard time saying goodbye to the holiday season and here we are almost two weeks into January. Valentine’s decorations are up in store fronts and my neighbor tossed her Christmas tree a long time ago (like on Boxing Day); everyone seems to be moving on except moi.

I’m not a sentimentalist, it’s not like I am hanging onto decorations or playing carols over and over (dear me, I’ve had quite enough of those thank you), it’s more of that relaxed, unmotivated feeling that comes from no real schedule to speak of and too many late nights.
Quite honestly, I blame the cozy zen mornings I’ve been having with the little ones, snowed in with a real Winter Wonderland outside, reading the new books they got for Christmas and munching on the remains of the stolen and panettone. I don’t have to head back to school like some of my friends and I have no job to report to at 9AM that will shake me out of my White Christmas reverie, so what’s to prevent me from extending the holiday cheer a little longer?

One such relaxed morning was spent looking back at the photos from the past month and in doing so I realized I had a few food related shots that I could potentially share. A photo recap of sorts–or a relapse back into winter holidays, call it what you like.
So indulge me this one last jingle and then I promise I’ll eat the remaining lonely gingerbread man left in the freezer and move on with my life.


We enjoyed these madeleines fresh out of the oven on Christmas morning. The batter is a cinch to whip up the night before and all you have to do in the morning is bake them while you are brewing the coffee.


Orange Madeleines Makes 2 dozen
Adapted from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook

1/2 cup unsalted butter, plus more for pan
3/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for pans

1/2 cup ground almonds

1/2 cup plus 2 T sugar

2 Tablespoons finely grated orange zest

1 vanilla bean, halved & scraped

3 large eggs

1/2 teaspoon salt

In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Set aside to cool. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, ground almonds, and sugar; set aside. Add the orange zest to the cooled butter, stir to combine.
In a large bowl, combine the eggs, vanilla bean seeds and salt and mix until frothy. Whisk in reserved flour mixture to combine. With a whisk, fold in the butter mixture. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, at least 2 hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter two 12-mould madeleine pans, and dust with flour. With two small spoons, spoon batter into moulds, filling about halfway. Bake, rotating pans if needed, until the edges are a light brown and tops spring back gently when pressed, 12-14 minutes.

Immediately invert madeleines onto a wire rack to cool. Serve warm.

An Afternoon Outing and The Best Autumn Sandwich


Our annual apple picking outing is always more than a trip down memory lane (we pick apples in the same orchard where we were married) and buying bushels of apple for canning, but usually evolves into a gastronomical tour of the region as well.
We munch on wedges of local aged cheddar with our Mac’s, scarf warm apple-custard tart straight from the pie pan and sample maple taffy. Along Mont Saint-Hilaire’s Chemin de la Montagne (Mountain Road) apple growers are selling the best their orchards have to offer and at some places, that includes some pretty amazing organic ice cider. Yum!
We usually pick our apples and then sprawl out on the grass for a picnic lunch, but last Saturday the bitter winds blew us out of the orchard and back into the car where we headed for one of our favorite bakeries just down the road, La Femme et Le Boulanger.


Our pockets and bags bulging with crisp cold apples and various delicacies we had already picked up, we snagged a little table by the window and surveyed the tantalizing baked goods. It was hard to choose, but we selected several croissants for our sandwiches, rum & coffee cannelés for dessert and a bacon baguette to have with our poached eggs for Sunday breakfast. (If you’ve never tried a toasted bacon baguette with a poached egg on top, you haven’t lived, my friends)
I sliced some three year cheddar, cracked open a jar of confit d’onion, both purchased from La Vieille Cave, and with some slices of our Macintosh’s and the fresh croissants, constructed the best sandwich I have had since my pulled pork party.

Seriously, the tart apple paired with the strong cheese and the sweet onion jam was just fabulous packed between flaky croissants. With a hot latte to wrap our chilled fingers around and a bottle of fresh squeezed apple cider, we were in heaven.

So by now you are probably wondering-where are all the recipes?

Yeah, I know, it’s been a while; I’ve been giving you interviews, garden updates, and oatmeal, for pete’s sake, and now a sandwich??
Hang in there, there’s tons of good food coming, I promise. In the meantime, why don’t you head over to the Blogger’s Choice Awards and vote for me. Much appreciated and good luck to all the nominees!

Since I’m already on a rambling streak, allow me to get sidetracked for another minute with this sequence of photos from Noah’s apple picking experience…

Boy spies apple
Boy picks apple
Boy eats apple
Boy contemplates the meaning of life.