December 7, 2016

Sparkly Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies

Chocolate gingerbread cookies are festive looking rolled in sugar and dipped in chocolate and they have that wonderful ginger flavour that makes them so perfect for the holidays.


Sparkly chocolate gingerbread cookies are festive and delicious. 

When we were growing up our house was like a commercial bakery leading up to Christmas. Mom made at least a dozen different kinds of cookies, along with Christmas breads, mincemeat, plum pudding, light and dark fruit cake, cherry pound cake and I’m sure many things I have forgotten. By the time Christmas arrived, our 22 cubic foot freezer had to be locked shut it was stuffed so full.

Chocolate gingerbread cookies are festive looking rolled in sugar and dipped in chocolate and they have that wonderful ginger flavour that makes them so perfect for the holidays.

I used to dread being asked to go down to the basement to get something out of the freezer in November and December since it took so much digging to find anything that wasn’t the holiday baking, which we weren’t allowed to touch.

Chocolate gingerbread cookies are festive looking rolled in sugar and dipped in chocolate and they have that wonderful ginger flavour that makes them so perfect for the holidays.


I love the idea of doing oodles of Christmas baking but I rarely manage to bake more than a few different kinds of cookies and Christmas often arrives with unbaked cookie dough still in the fridge.

Many of the cookie that I like to make are a little fiddly (rugelach for example) which is likely part of the problem. But this recipe is simple.

Chocolate gingerbread cookies are festive looking rolled in sugar and dipped in chocolate and they have that wonderful ginger flavour that makes them so perfect for the holidays. The recipe also makes a good amount if you use tablespoon-sized balls of dough.



I stumbled upon this recipe years ago, the night before Christmas holidays began. I was packing up teacher gifts and the recipe looked so delicious that I baked them late into the night so I could share them with my kids' teachers.

Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies

Makes 3 dozen cookies

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 cups plus 2 Tbsp. flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 1 Tbsp freshly grated ginger
  • 1/2 cup dark-brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup fancy molasses
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar (for rolling)
  • 1 cup white or dark chocolate chips, melted (optional)

Instructions:


  1. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and cocoa.
  3. In another bowl beat the butter and fresh grated ginger. Add brown sugar and beat until combined. Beat in molasses.
  4. In a small bowl, dissolve baking soda in 1 1/2 teaspoons boiling water.
  5. Stir half of flour mixture into butter mixture.
  6. Beat in baking-soda mixture, then remaining half of flour mixture.
  7. Mix in chocolate.
  8. Chill for four hours or overnight.
  9. Roll dough into 1 1/2- inch balls and roll in granulated sugar.
  10. Bake at 325 F until the surfaces crack slightly, 10 to 12 minutes.
  11. Cool and dip in melted chocolate.
  

November 22, 2016

How to Make Your Home More Energy Efficient


The house where I grew up had heavy wood-frame storm windows that my dad would dutifully remove every spring, repair as required, and reinstall in October. He’d tie a big rope around his waist in case he lost his balance and hoist the windows up a tall ladder. It was a huge job but well worth the effort since it helped to keep the drafts out, and the heat in, through our long winters. 

Most houses these days are long past storm windows but there are still so many things that we can do, in newer and older homes, to stay warm without spending more than necessary. Since heating can account for up to 60% of your home energy bill (and most of your carbon footprint), doing efficiency upgrades large and small can make a big difference in heating bills. According to NB Power, one of the most cost-effective ways to keep your house cozy in winter is by air-sealing and adding insulation. (Draft-proofing your home and insulating well can reduce your heating bill by as much as 10 %.)

November 10, 2016

Spice Roasted Cauliflower Recipe is Extra Yummy

Spice roasted cauliflower is slightly sweet and mildly spiced with both hot and smoked paprika and a hint of cinnamon. Tossing it with olive oil and melted butter before roasting adds a richness to the flavour, turning sometime ho-hum cauliflower into an extra tasty side dish.

Roasting cauliflower in butter and spices makes it easy to eat your vegetables.

Spice roasted cauliflower is slightly sweet and mildly spiced with both hot and smoked paprika and a hint of cinnamon. Tossing it with olive oil and melted butter before roasting adds a richness to the flavour, turning sometime ho-hum cauliflower into an extra tasty side dish.

We all have stories of when we didn’t want to eat our vegetables.

October 17, 2016

Family Favourite Macaroni and Cheese Recipe

Family Favourite Macaroni and Cheese Recipe: creamy, cheesy and simple to make. An easy and satisfying 30-minute meal.

This Family Favourite Macaroni and Cheese recipe is creamy, cheesy and simple to make. 

Years ago I wrote about the homemade macaroni and cheese recipe that has been a family favourite since long before I was born. It was dubbed Macaroni Nonie by my eldest brother Geoffrey. My entire family still refers to it as Macaroni Nonie and my kids have always considered my mom’s version the best of the best.
Family Favourite Macaroni and Cheese Recipe: creamy, cheesy and simple to make. An easy and satisfying 30-minute meal.

October 3, 2016

Think Dirty. Shop Clean App Makes it Easy to Avoid Toxic Ingredients in Personal Care Items.


Think Dirty. Shop Clean. app reads complicated labels for you and produces instant safety ratings for thousands of personal care items. 

Consider your bathroom cupboard and then consider this: there are about 82,000 ingredients used in personal care items and cosmetics, and it’s estimated that one in eight are industrial chemicals, many with known health effects. Most have not been fully tested on humans.

Who would have thought that everyday products on drugstore shelves -- shampoo, body lotion, aftershave, cosmetics and such -- could be so unhealthy?. Shouldn’t the government protect us from dangerous stuff?

Health Canada does regulate personal care products in Canada and maintains what it calls a “hot list” of ingredients that are either banned or restricted based on data that the government deems acceptable.

The problem is, there are ingredients that are banned in Europe and that many environmental research organizations consider carcinogenic, hormone disruptors or otherwise toxic, that don’t appear on Health Canada’s “hot list.” And there are all kinds are ingredients that haven’t been tested on humans so no one really knows if they’re toxic or not.

September 28, 2016

Chocolate Whole Wheat Zucchini Bread Recipe


This chocolate zucchini bread could pass for chocolate cake, it's that moist and extra chocolaty. It isn't too sweet and has a full cup and a half of zucchini.

This chocolate whole wheat zucchini bread could pass for chocolate cake, it's that moist and extra chocolaty. It isn't too sweet and just one loaf has a full cup and a half of zucchini.

My twin brother and I recently celebrated an almost-milestone birthday.Twins aren’t that uncommon these days but when Timothy and I arrived in 1967 we were the first twins born in our neighbourhood. Apparently it was quite an event. 

September 12, 2016

Green Your Fall Routine | 5 Tips for a Healthier Home


September is the back-to-routine month. Whether someone in your household headed back to school or not, this is the time of year that we all switch from our summer habits to our fall routine. If you’re making changes anyway, now is a great time to inject a little green into your routine.
The following ideas will help you and your family stay healthier, save money and lower your carbon footprint.

5 Tips for a Healthier Home:

Work as a family to “beat the peak.” Peak power is from 6:00 to 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 to 8:00 p.m. These are the times that there is the greatest demand for power (although the morning peak represents the largest spike in power use.) Working to reduce our overall household power consumption is important but simply spreading our power consumption throughout the day will save NB Power millions of dollars a year and save the utility from having to build more power plants in the coming years.


Think before you buy. Overall, consumers are responsible for more than 60 per cent of the globe’s greenhouse gas emissions, and most of our impact is from the stuff we buy. The more you shop conscientiously (from processed foods to manufactured goods) the easier it will be to reduce your individual carbon footprint.

Tackle indoor air pollution. Indoor air is typically two to five times more polluted than outdoor air. Follow these tips to keep your indoor air clean:
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