Chewy Date + Walnut Bars

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I love a good chewy bar, like a brownie only without the chocolate – these are essentially blondies, rich with butter and brown sugar, which acts as a blank canvas you could add anything to. These are made with crunchy nuts and chewy dates, which are a winning combination.

Soft Medjool dates are most often found in the produce department of the grocery store, and have pits that are easy to remove, but mean they stay soft, unlike the hard bricks of dates you so often find in the baking section.

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I’ve made these with soft brown sugar, but one time when I was out I used turbinado – the result was still sweet and caramelly, with a slightly crunchy texture I loved. They’re so fast to mix together, they may become your new go-to when you need a quick dessert or comforting after school snack. (After all, there’s nothing like coming home to the smell of something baking.)

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Apple-berry Pie for Pie Day

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Happy 3.14 – Pi Day! We can still get local apples at this time of year, and a handful of fresh or frozen berries make such a delicious accompaniment, adding a hit of tartness and colour to the usual apple filling. Virtually any kind of berry works, from blackberries to blueberries to raspberries – if you use strawberries, slice them first to more evenly distribute their juices. And get your kids in the kitchen to help! Since it’s Pi Day, you can even cut the Pi symbol into the top crust to allow steam to escape.

If it’s your first time working with pastry, just remember to handle it as little as possible, and don’t worry about it looking perfect – the best kind of pie is the kind that’s on your table. (And when it comes to pie, rough = rustic!)Read More

Gail’s Cantuccini

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Gail Hall has been a positive force on the Alberta culinary scene for decades – she was an award-winning caterer, broadcaster, food writer, educator and international culinary tour guide who knew everyone and shared everything from her cooking school and loft on 104th Street in Edmonton. We’ve known her for years, and like most others who knew her, have been inspired by not only her work, but her infectious energy and enthusiasm. She has done so much to build our culinary community, to teach home cooks and support new (and established) chefs.

Sadly, Gail passed away in November, but this past weekend her husband Jon along with her many friends and family members held a celebration of her life – a potluck, of course, and we baked a batch of her almond biscotti to bring along. Thanks Gail, for all the delicious things you’ve shared, and for bringing so many people together around the table.

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Fun + Festive Candy Pretzel Sticks

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Looking for ways to keep kids busy during the holidays? This tasty treat is easy for little hands to make – and they don’t require the same dexterity decorating rolled sugar cookies with frosting and candy requires. They make sweet and salty treats that are fun for kids to package up and share with their friends.

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Pick up some chunky pretzels, and melt a small bowl of chopped white chocolate or chocolate chips – or pick up a tub of frosting and warm it for about 20 seconds in the microwave, until it’s a dippable consistency.

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Set out bowls of coloured sugar, sprinkles and small candies and let kids dip first in chocolate or frosting, then in sprinkles and candy; set aside on a parchment-lined sheet until set. That’s it! Fun, festive candy sticks for all!

Chocolate-ginger Molasses Crinkles

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‘Tis the season for holiday cookies, and this year these chewy Chocolate-ginger Molasses Crinkles have become one of our go-to recipes for Christmas cookie exchanges. They’re easy to make, fun for kids to roll in sugar, and combine warm cinnamon and ginger with deep chocolate flavour. The recipe makes over 2 dozen, so there’s enough to package up and give away, plus a few to nibble on! Cookies are also perfect for teachers, coaches and other people kids want to thank at this time of year.

Make sure you don’t overbake these; they need to stay chewy. They should be set around the edges, but still soft in the middle – they’ll firm up as they cool.

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Russian Tea Cakes

It’s holiday cookie season! This is one of our annual must-haves – Russian Tea Cakes, otherwise known as Mexican Wedding Cakes or in our house, Mom’s Nut Balls. They’re bite-sized shortbread balls made with finely chopped pecans or almonds (some even use hazelnuts), rolled in icing sugar while they’re still warm, which creates a sort of buttery frosting on the outside. Whatever you call them, they’re irresistible – and look delicious on a cookie tray, or bundled up in cellophane and tied with ribbon to give as a gift. Since they last well and are nice and compact, they’re also perfect for cookie exchange parties – it’s one of my go-to recipes.

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