Thursday, 17 August 2017

Rustic Fruit Pies

My favorite new dessert this summer is a super quick fruit pie.  I always see photos on Instagram of delicious looking galettes, but I don't like that word.  It sounds too fancy shmancy for me.   They sound daunting.  I like hearing that things are rustic.  It sets the bar nice and low..... and then your mind is blown when you realize how damn delicious they are!  So, seeing all of these super delightful pastries inspired me to make several impromptu batches of my own.   Even my husband, (who isn't a big pie fan,) has to admit that they are a nice little treat.

It's hard to post a very specific recipe for this not-at-all-fancy-shmancy rustic fruit pie.  You see, when I make any kind of fruit pie, I rarely use a recipe.  Fruit pies are so forgiving.  A little of this, and a little of that just tends to work out.  If you don't add quite enough sugar, that's ok....just add some ice cream to cut the tartness.  There are endless combinations, and they can be whipped up quickly.  When you make these little rustic pies, they also use a small amount of fruit, so you can make several different flavors at once and have a variety.  So far this summer I've made peach, blueberry, rhubarb and saskatoon rustic pies.  I also combined the rhubarb and saskatoon varieties for a delicious combo.

Basically, the more tart the fruit is (such as rhubarb), the more sugar required, but it's totally a personal preference.   The basic recipe that I fiddle around with is as follows:

Ingredients:
-one batch of double crust pastry* (divided into 4)
-Between 3 and 4 cups of chopped fruit of your choice (such as peaches, berries, apples)
-1/4 cup sugar (you can use brown sugar for deeper flavor, which is my preference with peaches)
-2 tbsp flour
-a few dashes of cinnamon and nutmeg (again, this is a personal preference and is optional)
-1 tbsp of milk
-coarse decorating sugar

All ready to pop in the oven
*You could buy some pie crusts, but why?  Cut 3/4 cup vegetable shortening into 2 cups of flour and a dash of salt.  When it resembles coarse crumbs, lightly stir in 8 tbsp of ice cold water until the dough just holds together.  Divide into four discs and cover each individually with plastic wrap. Chill for at least 30 minutes before rolling.

To assemble the pies:
-Roll each pastry disc into a circle until it is approximately 1/4 inch thick

-Lightly stir the diced fruit, sugar, flour and spices together.  Divide them evenly between the 4 pastry rounds. Gently fold the edges of the pastry towards the center of each pie (leaving a nice center of fruit visible) and gently press seems together with your fingertips.

-Gently brush the pastry with milk.  Lightly sprinkle with decorating sugar,  Bake in a preheated 375F oven for approximately 30 minutes, or until golden brown.

Peach.  Definitely the house fave


Blueberry


Saskatoon Rhubarb


Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Chicken Parmesan Slider Bake

After another long hiatus I'm participating in this week's edition of Taste of Home Tuesday, as organized by Jolene from Jolene's Recipe Journal.  Be sure to check out the other recipes shared this week at the bottom of this post!

I love when the cover recipe of a cooking magazine is something awesome.  (Well, obviously it's always something awesome, or it wouldn't be on the cover).  I guess what I mean is that I love when it's something awesome that I would actually make....immediately....as in pretty much when I get home.   I really need to up my slider game, because there are so many amazing recipes out there for them.   One of these is the cover recipe from the all new Taste of Home special edition titled "Make & Take", for the Chicken Parmesan Slider Bake.  This magazine is such a great edition to pick up for all of the summer gatherings still to come.  There are a lot of stunning looking and delicious sounding recipes!  This one is no exception.


My favorite summer magazine!  

Friday, 28 July 2017

Maple Mustard Turkey Burgers #NationalHamburgerDay

Summer means more grilling!  Did you know that July 28th is National Hamburger Day?  I know....it seems like every single day is a "day" for something.  But Hamburgers?  I had to jump on board by sharing a new burger recipe I came up with a couple of weeks ago!  Heather, from Hezzi-D's Books and Cooks has kindly gathered a handful of fantastic burger recipes from other burger loving bloggers.  There is so much burger magic all in one place!  Be sure to check them all out at the end of this post...

Now, we normally eat a lot of beef in our household so I was looking to switch it up a bit with a different meat.  Ground poultry is so versatile.  And lean.  And just delicious!  Since it doesn't have a very high fat content, I thought adding a glaze would be a good idea to amp up the greatness even more.  My obsession with maple has been well documented in the past, so I won't bore you with the backstory of my choice.  See Morning Maple Muffins, Maple Pepper Glazed Chicken Wings, and Gingersnap Maple Pecan Ice Cream for further rambling about the awesomeness of maple.  It's essentially the first sweet flavor that pops into my mind....

Maple mustard turkey burger with melted white cheddar

The simplicity of this burger, with the sweet sticky maple mustard glaze is definitely going to become a new favorite here!   Dress these up with any additional toppings you would like.  I highly recommend white cheddar (who doesn't love gooey, melty cheese), and bacon....because it's bacon.  Additional dijon mustard doesn't hurt, either.


Monday, 10 July 2017

The Health & Happiness Cookbook Review

A couple of months ago I received the most wonderful gift from Kimberley Copithorne - a copy of her recently published book, The Health and Happiness Cookbook.   I first came across her blog, Prairie Winds Life, when she joined the Food Bloggers of Canada.  I'm also a fairly new member, and when she was welcomed to the group, I immediately checked out her blog.  It caught my eye because she lives reasonably close to Calgary, on a ranch outside the Rockies.   Sigh.....can you imagine waking up to those mountains everyday?  What I soon discovered after poking around her blog was that she basically cooks and bakes all the foods of my dreams.  Seriously.  You need to check it out.  NOW.

Since I've been conversing back and forth with Kimberley for the last few months,  I've also learned that besides being food twins (my claim, not hers), we have kids that are essentially the same age.  I'm now kinda-sorta that creepy fan  that's like "lets be friends, let's be friends!!"  We're definitely hanging out soon.  Why did I share that here?  I don't know.  I'm just super pumped to meet her in person.

Here is the part where I need to tell you (I kind of already did), that I received this copy from Kimberley for free.  I am under no obligation to write anything (good or bad) about what I think of it.  All opinions are strictly my own.  I am not being compensated to tell you how darn amazing every page is.

So, about this book:

The Health and Happiness Cookbook is inspired by the Health and Happiness Society book series, written by Katie Cross.  I haven't read this award winning Chick Lit book series, but I can assure you I will.  In the foreword to the cookbook, both Katie and Kimberley stress the pursuit of a balanced and happy lifestyle, where it's ok (and encouraged!) to enjoy both healthy and nutritious foods, as well as the odd treat.  And trust me, after sampling one of the recipes from the chapter Healthy Girl-Power Recipes, I can assure you that Kimberley's healthy choices are so delicious that you can essentially call them a treat too :)


The recipes throughout this book are inspired by the characters in Katie Cross' book series.  (For those interested, these titles include Bon Bons to Yoga Pants and I Am Girl Power).  You can find out more about them and the author at www.kcrosswriting.com.  The recipes in the cookbook are grouped into chapters according to the characters that inspired them.  How fun is that?!  I picked one recipe from each chapter to try and tell you about here.  On that note, let me say it was almost impossible to pick one per chapter.  I basically could have cooked my way through the entire book (trust me, I will).  This is one of those cookbooks where every single page is flagged.  Read on to see the delicious discoveries I've tried so far!

the book you all need

Monday, 26 June 2017

Sweet Cherry Chocolate Ice Cream


A few weekends ago we were sitting in the backyard visiting with company.  Suddenly, I heard the faint music of an ice cream truck....almost indistinguishable, but it was there.    A few minutes later it got a bit louder, and yes, everyone agreed that they could hear it too....it was mere blocks away.  You see, I'm in my mid thirties.  When I hear an ice cream truck I may as well be mid three's.  Yes, single digit 3's.  Toddler age.   I grew up on a farm and there were no ice cream trucks.   Even when I moved to an urban setting I've always lived on streets where there aren't a ton of kids.  My current address has a lot of families, but apparently the ice cream man hasn't got the memo that his sales would increase exponentially if he just drove up my street.  Or just in front of my house.

My point is, I love ice cream.  Once again, the ice cream man didn't show up last weekend.  Not shocking.

In the meantime, I'll continue to buy ice cream novelties from the store, and continue creating my own ice cream inventions.   My most recent creation combines my love of sweet summer cherries and rich chocolaty goodness.  This flavor combo also happens to be my favorite DQ Blizzard treat (it's actually chocolate covered cherries in the case of the DQ blizzard).    It's not on the menu anymore, but a polite request for one is almost always granted :)

Here's the recipe for my latest ice-cream love...


Monday, 19 June 2017

Grilled Peanut Lime Pork

Last week I pulled a bag out of my freezer of what I thought contained chicken breasts (I was going to make one of my new fave grilled items that I raved about a few weeks ago, the Bacon & Cheddar Chicken Sandwiches).   However, I clearly was not paying attention when I pulled out the bag because what I really grabbed was a small chunk of a pork loin I portioned out a few weeks ago.  I think my lack of labelling in my freezer is a bit of an issue....

Or is it?

I had a sudden bolt-of-lightning-brain-wave when I saw the three lonely little limes sitting on my counter.    I also had some cilantro growing like a rogue weed in my little patio herb garden.  What goes with lime and cilantro?  Peanuts!  Boom.  A delightful little marinade came together in my brain.  Then in a bowl.  Then to the fridge.  Then to the grill.  Yes, friends....this delicious concoction of grilled pork deliciousness is just that easy.

Peanut-lime pork


Monday, 5 June 2017

It All Begins with Food - Cookbook Review


Those that know me, know that I'm all about balance.   Well, that's a bit misleading.  My actual scale is probably tipped a bit too much in favor of sugar.  And chocolate.  And pasta.  It's not that I don't eat whole, clean foods, but I definitely eat a little bit of everything in moderation.  I probably would eat a lot cleaner with a little bit of inspiration.  I have my tried and true recipes for my family, and when I create new things, it's usually on the dessert spectrum.  I love the idea of eating better, but I need guidance.

So, when I was sent a copy of Leah Garrad-Cole's first family cookbook, It All Begins with Food, I was definitely inspired.  Leah is the founder of the nationally-renowned brand, Love Child Organics. Please know that although Appetite by Random House generously provided me with a copy of this book, all views expressed here are my own.  I was under no obligation to review this cookbook, nor am I being compensated for doing so.

Let me start off by saying that this book will be my new go-to baby shower gift.  If you know me personally, and are pregnant, this book is coming your way.  There are a few of you who's surprise I just spoiled, and I'm sincerely sorry.  This book covers eating for all stages of family life - from first foods, toddler finger foods, full family dinners, sides, and healthy snacks and treats.  Not only does it cover a fantastic range of foods, but the book itself is gorgeous.  Every photo pops and is so clean and bright.  It almost makes me want to renovate my kitchen to be as light and airy looking as every beautifully shot photo in the book.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Bacon & Cheddar Chicken Sandwiches

Every now and then I just have to shout from the rooftops about an awesome Taste of Home Recipe!  I am so excited to share this one, because it was definitely one of the biggest surprises in awhile. 

Have you ever read a recipe and thought, hmmmm...this sounds too simple....how is this really even a recipe?   I recently came across one where this was my thought process.  I read the ingredients.  Some chicken, a bit of spice, mayo, mustard, cheese....So what?  It's just a sandwich.   But, I had all the ingredients, so why not give it a shot?

Oh.  My.  Goodness.  This sandwich is not just a sandwich.  It's HEAVEN ON A BUN!  I'm going to be grilling these up all summer!



Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Rhubarb Crumble Ice Cream

This past week, two amazing worlds collided!  Rhubarb.  And ice cream.  Rhubarb is my returning springtime friend, especially now that I have my own plants again.   It's definitely no secret that I love ice cream.  I make it year round, but the warm weather makes me feel like it's a little more appropriate to be making now.  I made my Gingersnap Maple Pecan variety on many days this past year while the snow was flying.  Let's think of that flavor as my cozy eat-in-front-of-the-fireplace variety.

If you've followed this blog you'll also know that I am also a huge fan of Tiger ice-cream.  This strange orange and black licorice combination that some people haven't even heard of is one of my favorite bring-me-back-to-my-childhood varieties.

This new flavor screams spring and summer to me.  I'm hoping this will become my serve-to-company-for-a-backyard-bbq-dessert variety.

Friday, 12 May 2017

Lime Cheesecake with Toasted Coconut

Last week was Cinco de Mayo.  We had a party to go to that night and I thought it was a perfect opportunity to make a cheesecake that I've been thinking about lately.  I'm starting to have a thing for all things lime.  I used to be pretty meh on limes....I'm not sure what has changed.  I can't get enough of them now!  After a recent trip to Mexico it seems that my need for this citrus deliciousness has increased even more.

So I have a newfound love of limes.  And I have a love for cheesecake that spans years.  Cream cheese was on sale last week.  It was a perfect storm.

There's nothing more to say here.  Just get in your car, on your bike, or walk to the nearest store and obtain all the provisions to make this.  Then have a little fiesta and eat the whole thing!

Lime Cheesecake with Toasted Coconut
Here's the recipe:

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Rhubarb Berry Upside-Down Cake


It has been a very long time since I've participated in any Taste of Home Tuesday recipe reviews.   I tried out a new upside-down cake recipe yesterday, and figured it was time to give another one a shout out again.  If you enjoy rhubarb, you will LOVE this!  I've had this recipe flagged for quite some time....ever since I received the Taste of Home Cookies, Cakes and Pies cookbook last fall.  So, when yesterday looked to be a perfect rainy baking day, and I had just enough rhubarb poking out of the ground, it was the perfect time to give this one a go.

Taste of Home's Rhubarb Berry Upside-Down Cake

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Classic Peanut Butter Confetti Bars #EasterRecipes

Butterscotch chips.  Peanut butter.  Rainbow marshmallows.  I feel like everyone has encountered these magical ingredients thrown into one delicious little treat.  If you haven't, my mind is blown.  I don't even know where this recipe originated.  I imagine it was one of those back-of-the-label recipes from one of the companies that sells one of the ingredients I just listed.  I've always associated this square with Christmas.  I'm not sure why.... they aren't red, green or white.  They have no rum or eggnog in them.  Sure enough though, they've been on the majority of holiday baking trays I've encountered in my lifetime, and are a staple to my holiday treat rotation every year too.

So the other day, as I was trying to think of a spring-like treat to whip up on a sunny Friday afternoon, it hit me.  What is more spring looking than an array of pastel colors?  Five minutes later, (seriously, five minutes later), these perfect treats were chilling away in the fridge.



Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Creamy Coconut Mini Tarts #EasterRecipes


It's no secret that I love coconut.  I can't get enough of it!   I was thinking about how awesome it would be to have a bite-sized little coconut pie.  I've seen recipes where people use sugar cookies as a mini crust.  I was thinking of this late one night when I should have been sleeping.   I had a batch of sugar cookie dough that I hadn't used sitting in my freezer.  I know, that's weird.  One day I was on a mission to make some cookie cut-outs but got distracted by another project, so into the freezer it went.  Perfect.  I popped it into the fridge to thaw when this idea struck me, and by the next afternoon it was ready to work with.

This beautiful little cup is everything I imagined it would be and more.  It is truly a bite-sized little coconut-cream-pie-sugar-cookie piece of perfection.  These would be a fantastic dessert for a spring brunch, or a baby or bridal shower.  They're light and fluffy and look so pretty on display.  They make a big batch of 48, so they're perfect for a crowd.



Friday, 31 March 2017

Thai Quinoa Salad

I first made this salad last summer for our annual stampede BBQ.  The original recipe actually comes from Campbell's (yup, the soup).  Over the course of the summer I tweaked the ingredients and quantities used to suit my tastes.   Then, winter hit us hard.  I sort of forgot about this delicious little salad because the slow cooker and warm, comforting dishes took over this household.



Monday, 13 March 2017

Brownie Mint Cream Cheesecake

Brownies.  Oh...chewy, rich, delectable brownies.  I have to say they rank right up near the top of my all-time favorite desserts.  Or dessert components.  That's right...I often break desserts up into components when I think about them.  Take for example, any pie.  You've got the crust component. The filling component.  And then a top-crust component.  Or maybe that top-crust is a meringue.  Or maybe it is a streusel.  Or maybe it is some sort of whipped topping component.  Who knows?   What I do know is that there are probably millions of potential combinations of crust/filling/topping components.  Throw on some kind of a garnish such as toasted coconut or chocolate shavings and there's another component.   I'm no mathematician, but that is a frighteningly obscene number of delicious options out there just waiting for us to taste.

I'm rambling.  My point is simply that the brownie is a magical dessert option, either alone, or as a component.  In this case, I used it as a base component to this super quick, no bake deliciousness that I have called the Brownie Mint Cream Cheesecake.  You're welcome.


Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Crusty Homemade Bread

I came across this delightful little bread recipe over the weekend.  It came up on my Facebook feed, and it jumped out at me immediately.  This is an unbelievably simple and delicious five ingredient bread from Taste of Home.  That's right, this isn't my recipe.  I wish I could take credit, because it's so awesome. Seeing this on Saturday was perfect, because it has been awhile since I baked bread, and I haven't participated in a Taste of Home Tuesday since last year.  So here we go..... if you're scared of bread, don't be.  I've made lots of it, and this is one of the simplest (yet best) bread recipes I can recall!   The outside is so crispy, and the inside is so soft and chewy.

My take on Crusty Homemade Bread from Taste of Home

Friday, 3 March 2017

Mint Sprinkle Ice Cream

Mint ice cream is right up there on my list of favorite ice creams.  It seems I've only ever posted about all of this frozen deliciousness in the winter.  The never-ending western Canadian winter.    I've said it before though.... ice cream has no season.  (see Tiger Ice Cream and Ginger Maple Pecan Ice Cream)

So here I am, with snow on the ground, making more ice cream.  My daughter asked for the "minty" ice cream.  We JUST finished the last of the 5 different quarts of ice cream we made for her ice-cream themed birthday party, so I was totally prepared with my captain-no-fun-mom response of N-O.   Then it dawned on me.......hey....it's March.  March means St. Patrick's Day.  Green minty ice cream would be so festive.  And you know what would amp up the festiveness even more?  Rainbow chocolaty bits!   I also have an abundance of this item in my pantry due to the ice cream themed birthday party that took place in mid-January.  (See....Ice cream has no season!)  Buckle up everyone, this is gonna blow your mind.  The recipe below is for a half batch, which is actually perfect because after it churns it makes just under 3 cups. That is the perfect amount to have a treat, but not have it linger in your freezer and tempting you every night after the kids go to bed.  That is serious business.


Minty Ice Cream
-1 cup heavy whipping cream
-1 cup half and half cream
-1/2 cup sugar
-1/2 tsp mint extract
-Green food coloring paste (such as Wilton), as desired.
-1/3 cup assorted rainbow sprinkles OR mini chocolate chips (if you're not looking to create a festive Leprechaun-ish batch)

-Whisk together the creams, sugar, extract, and desired amount of food paste (a little goes a long way!)
-Pour the mixture into an ice cream maker and process according to manufacturer's directions. Mine takes about 25 to 30 minutes.  Just before it is complete, slowly pour in sprinkles and process just until combined.   Don't add them too early, or the colors will run.
-Transfer to an airtight container and freeze for approximately 4 hours, until firm.

Enjoy!

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Brownie Maraschino Cheesecake Bars


I've been playing around with cheesecakes involving brownies and mint, but I took a break from that to try and create something a lot more seasonal looking.  With Valentine's Day approaching, I went searching through my kitchen for things pink, red and white.  Luckily, I always have ample cream cheese, and I had a jar of maraschino cherries leftover from Christmas.   I threw together the brownie base I've been experimenting with and BOOM.  These lovely little treats were born.  Cut them small because they are deliciously rich.


Brownie Maraschino Cheesecake Bars

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Winter Comfort Food from Taste of Home's 100 Family Meals

It's the end of January, and it feels like it has been a long winter so far.  You wouldn't think it, because as I write this the temperature outside is well above freezing.  The snow is melting and the streets are slushy.  However, this was NOT the case for nearly the entire month of December, and at least the first ten days of January.  During those cold snaps, I cooked a LOT of comfort food for my family.  I prepared a lot of the usual suspects that we love (such as chili, slow cooked pasta sauces, and short ribs to name a few).  I realize as I listed that I don't have any of them on my blog.  They seem so ordinary because I make them so regularly that I never think to write about them.

This post serves double duty today.  First, I want to share three recipes that scream cold weather comfort food to me.  If there's one thing I know about living in Alberta, it's that it WILL get cold again, despite the fact that it's gorgeous out today.


Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Quinoa Caprese Salad with Chickpeas

Happy New Year!

It's over a full week into the New Year.  I ate my body weight in delicious food over a week-long span from December 23rd until January 1.  I felt sad to get rid of our beautiful Christmas tree.... to not have someone to go and see, or have someone come and visit on a daily basis, but normal life has to go on.  Along with resuming a normal routine means getting back on track and not eating a pound of chocolate a day.  Or filling my belly with cream cheese or meat-laden appies until I can barely breathe.  Less wine.  Less beer.  Less rum.  Gasp!   Oh glorious holiday season....I'll miss you.

So, moving along... What is the polar opposite of chocolate, eggnog and cream cheese?   Quinoa. Vegetables.  Legumes.   I know, it sounds so sad.  Trust me though, this salad will make you feel like it's all going to be okay.   It will feel refreshing to eat normally again.  Routine is better :)

To me, quinoa is like pasta or rice but with less guilt.  I feel like I'm eating a not-so-great-for-me white carbohydrate when I eat it.  I've successfully tricked my taste-buds!  I often make a Greek version of quinoa salad, but this time I had slightly different ingredients on hand.   This past week my fridge had some lonely looking grape tomatoes, a few sad little basil leaves, and a container of mini bocconcini that hadn't gotten used over Christmas.  I combined all of these with a little lemon, balsamic vinegar, quinoa and my fave add-in, the mighty chickpea, and this salad was born:



You will need:
1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed
1 cup water or low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1 can (19oz) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 container (130g) mini bocconcini
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1/3 cup coarsely chopped basil
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp oregano
coarsely ground pepper, to taste

-Bring quinoa and water (or broth) to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for approx 20 minutes or until all water is absorbed.  Allow to fully cool.

-Combine cooled quinoa, chickpeas, bocconcini, tomatoes and basil in a medium sized bowl.   In a measuring cup, whisk together lemon juice, vinegar, olive oil, salt, oregano and pepper.  Drizzle over quinoa mixture and lightly toss.  Serve immediately and refrigerate any leftovers.

Enjoy!