Thursday, December 13, 2012

Have I Talked to You About Toaster-Tarts?

Have I talked to you lovely folks about toaster tarts yet?  Specifically, homemade toaster tarts?  They're super easy to make, and really convenient for breakfast or snacks on busy days.

All you need is a good pie/tart crust recipe, some jam, an egg, and some icing sugar & water to make frosting.  When choosing a crust recipe, you want to pick something that will be a little more solid, rather than flaky, since you want the tart to hold up in the toaster.

Roll out your dough into a large retangle about 1/8" thick, and then cut it into as many 3" x 4" rectangles as you can.  Match up pairs of rectangles that are about the same size & shape, brush both with some beaten egg, blob about a tablespoon of jam into the middle of one, and then plop the matching one on top and seal the edges with a fork.  If you've decided to do icing, mix the icing sugar with water until you get the consistency you want, and spoon it over the top of the tarts.
When all your rectangles are done, bake about 10-15 minutes, or until just lightly toasted (the idea is to make sure they're cooked, but to finish the final few minutes in the toaster later - unless, of course, you want to eat them now.  Then bake until fully toasted!).

The best part of making your own toaster tarts is that you can choose whichever flavour you like, especially if you make your own jams & jellies.  Even if you don't, there are a lot of great, good quality jams out there to use for the filling.

Half the batch I made recently (pictured above) were made with the peach-blueberry freezer jam I made earlier this summer.  The other half were made with my dad's homemade red currant jam.  I have one more tart left from the previous batch (made with strawberry-blueberry jam) before I can dig into the new ones.  I'm sure they'll be tasty when I finally do get to enjoy them!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Almost Winter Holiday Madness Extravaganza!

Holy shamoly you guys!  It is December freaking 5th today!  I'm sure I'm not the only one trying to figure out where November went.  It slipped by when we weren't paying attention I think.

I'm both excited about, and dreading, this coming holiday season.  I'm excited as this will be my baby's first Christmas, with all the ridiculousness that entails.  She'll only be 10 months old, so we have only got her two presents, and maybe some stocking stuffers, but I'm pretty sure her grandmas have gone a little crazy.  The potential aftermath is a little bit frightening, especially since we live in a small house.

I'm dreading this coming holiday season as this means I am that much closer to returning to work.  While I am extremely greatful to live in a country like Canada, where we get a paid year of parental leave (assuming you pay into our government employment insurance program and have worked the qualifying hours), I am also sad that I don't live in a country like Norway, where you get 2 years to spend with your baby.

Now that I have a munchkin, holiday presents are now complicated by so many things.  The gender issues I spoke about in my last blog post, along with toys that stifle creative play are my two major concerns.  Susan Linn's books are a great place to start if you want to find out how modern electronic toys and marketing affect children & how they play.  I also don't want to have to buy batteries or listen to the same twinkly song 50 times a day.

If you also have not finished your holiday shopping/baking/other related errands, here's a quick and filling recipe to help your evenings along. 

Lentil Couscous Salad
1 can lentils
1/2 cup couscous
1 medium to large carrot, peeled & sliced
1 stalk celery, sliced
any other veggie you have handy that you want to throw in (eg. broccoli florets, frozen corn, sliced radishes, etc)
1 green onion, diced
olive oil
white wine vinegar or lemon juice
salt & pepper to taste

1. Put the lentils,  and the vegetables that you want cooked (carrots, broccoli) in a pot with just enough water to cover.  Bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer and cook until vegetables are al dente.
2. While the lentils & veggies are cooking, prepare the couscous as per package directions (usually, equal parts boiling water to couscous, let sit for a few minutes and then fluff with a fork).
3. When the lentil & veggie mixture is done, drain, and add to the couscous.  Add remaining diced vegetables.
4. For the dressing, you can either pre-mix it in another bowl, or you can just free pour the olive oil and acid of your choice into the salad and then mix everything together and enjoy!

In case I forget to do another blog post before holiday insanity truly hits, have a good holiday season all!