Monday, 31 October 2011

coffee crisp pancakes

How do you like your coffee?
I like my coffee crisp.

Do you remember this commercial?  It's a classic and what I think about everytime I eat a one of these chocolate bars.  Mmmm.

Is it just me, or does Halloween mark the beginning of the 'sweets season?'  Usually, we buy way more candy than we have kids come to the door.  This, in addition to the loot the kids go out and get, results in a freezer full of chocolate until Christmas.  I suppose there are worse things out there...

So, in anticipation of having waaaay more candy, than trick-or-treaters.  I figured I'd use a few chocolate bars for breakfast.  Yes, you read it right.  Chocolate bars @ breakfast.  It's Halloween.  Hmmm, now which delectable chocolate bar will it be?  Coffee Crisp.  That's somewhat breakfast-y right?  Ah, who cares.  These little mini chocolate bars are about to be chopped up and folded into some pancake batter.  This is sure to get me in the Halloween spirit, no pun intended.

Now that my day has begun on a sugar high, it's only right that I end it the same way.  I foresee myself sifting through the kids candy and stockpiling my favourite treats tonight. Leaving the kids with the suckers, gum drops and other assorted non-chocolate (non-fun) goodies.  Being a parent is the best job in the world.

Coffee Crisp Pancakes

1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
4 mini coffee crisp chocolate bars, roughly chopped

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
In separate bowl, whisk together milk, eggs and vanilla.  Add to dry ingredients until just moistened.  Fold in chocolate bars.
Spoon batter in 1/4 cup portions onto lightly oiled griddle or pan.  Cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until bubbles form on top and underside is golden.  Flip and cook for 1 minute.  Repeat with remaining batter.
Enjoy with syrup!

yields 8 pancakes

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Spooky Cookies | Chocolate Sugar Cookies

 Since Halloween falls on the Monday this year, it seems like our entire weekend was dedicated to all things Halloween.  2 parties down, and it isn't even actually the big day yet.  My little guy was headed to another party this afternoon.  In what I would consider, the coolest costume ever.  He is a 'Lightening McQueen' race car driver.  Seriously, beyond cute, I could just eat him up.  I'm glad we aren't in the stage (yet) where he wants to be a zombie or Freddie Krueger.  Instead, he's still my cute little boy, and I'm holding on to this with clenched fists.
I never like showing up to places or parties empty handed.  So today, I decided to make chocolate sugar cookies.  The perfect back drop for black cats and skeletons.  L was pretty stoked that he would be able to share these cookies with his friends.  Or maybe it was that without me present, it's unclear how many cookies he was going to pound back.  The kid can eat.

Happy day before Halloween peeps!

Chocolate Sugar Cookies

1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp baking powder
3 cups flour 
3 oz melted semi sweet chip-its

Preheat oven to 350F.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper set aside.
In a large bowl (or kitchenaid artisan mixer), cream butter and sugar with electric mixer.  Beat in egg and vanilla.  Add in melted chocolate.
In separate bowl combine baking powder and flour.  Add one cup at a time to butter mixture, mixing after each addition. 
Divide dough in 2 portions.
On a floured** surface, roll each portion to 1/4" thickness.  Dip cookie cutter in flour before use.  Cut out shapes. 
Transfer cookies to prepared baking sheets and bake for 8-10 minutes depending on size.
Allow cookies to cool completely before decorating with frosting and candies. 
**in order to avoid white flour marks on your cookies, mix flour with unsweetened cocoa powder, and use this mixture to flour your work surface.
slightly adapted from wilton)

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Baked Doughnuts

Being from Canada when you think doughnuts, you think Tim Horton's.  The two are pretty much synonymous with one another.  In fact, I don't think I've had a doughnut from anywhere else in years (call me loyal.)  My favourite?  Old fashioned sour cream glazed.  Hands down.  In second place, chocolate glazed.  I guess anything covered in sugar is okay by me. 
Last year, I ended up getting a copy of 'Family Circle' magazine as a gift.  The cover story was on baked doughnuts.  It's almost as if the 'gifter' knew me or something.  These doughnuts looked absolutely delicious.  All I was missing was a pan.  Amazon to the rescue!  I ordered it, and the minute it came in, proceeded with the recipe.  I have been baking them ever since.  Deliciousness. 
Today, they were a birthday treat for my mother in law.  Happy Birthday LS! xoxo.

ps.  baked=healthy=have more than 1.  seems about right.  welcome to how i rationalize things.

Chocolate Baked Doughnuts w/ Frosting

yields: 6 doughnuts

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1 egg
4 tsp butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 Tbsp milk
sprinkles, coconut, chocolate chips for decorating

Preheat oven to 325F.  Coat doughnut pan with non-stick cooking spray.  Set aside.
In a large bowl whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt.  In small bowl whisk together buttermilk, sugar, butter, egg and vanilla until smooth.  Add milk mixture to flour mixture; whisk until blended and smooth.
Spoon batter into large resealable plastic bag.  Cut off corner and squeeze batter into prepared indents, about 2/3 full.  Smooth tops.  Bake for 13 minutes, until doughnuts spring back when lightly pressed.  Cool in pan on rack for 3 minutes, then carefully turn out on rack to cool.
To make glaze combine milk and sugar in small bowl and mix until smooth.  Dip cooled doughnuts into frosting and allow excess to drip off back into bowl.  Transfer to rack.  Top with sprinkles, coconut or chocolate chips.
recipe courtesy Family Circle Magazine - April 2010

Monday, 24 October 2011

Fall = Soups

soup season is here.
comfort in a bowl, with a side of crusty bread.  
today's flavour of choice...Butternut Squash.   a few weeks back, my cousin A, sent me an email raving about this soup.  she said it was a fall favourite and insisted i give it a shot.  she was spot on, this soup is delicious!  creamy, with a little bit of a kick.  Mmmm. 

with a belly full of soup and A LOT of bread, i'm off to enjoy a family walk.  this is the best time of year for them, the sidewalks are scattered with crunchy leaves, made for stepping on.  i'm a giant kid when it comes to this, going out of my way to step on as many as possible.  oh how easily i'm amused...

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

6 Tbsp onion, chopped
2 Tbsp butter
6 cups peeled and cubed butternut squash
2 Tbsp olive oil
3 cups no-salt added chicken broth
1/2 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
6 oz cream cheese

Preheat oven to 375F.  Place squash into a single layer on baking pans, drizzle with olive oil, tossing to coat.  Roast, turning once, until fork-tender and caramelized 30-35 minutes.
In large saucepan, saute onions in butter until tender, about 5-7 minutes.  Add in cooked squash, broth, and spices.  Bring to boil; reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. 
Puree soup and cream cheese in a blender or food processor in batches until smooth.  Return to saucepan and heat through.  Do not allow soup to boil.

Yields: 4 servings
adapted from

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Cornmeal Pancakes with Vanilla & Pine Nuts

Two weeks have passed since we've had pancakes on the weekend.  Pretty sure that's a record in this house, since we are known to frequent weekends with pancakes.  Is it possible for your body to go through maple syrup withdrawal?  I think I'm experiencing this.  Correction, was experiencing this.  I've eaten said pancake and restored the maple syrup levels in my bloodstream.  
Today's pancake is not your typical pancake.  There are no eggs, sugar, flour or baking powder present in the recipe.  Instead, it more resembles a polenta cake.  Mmmm, hello cornmeal.   Yep, cornmeal pancakes with vanilla and pine nuts.  Crazy combination, but thanks to the creative mind of Mark Bittman and the NY Times, I'm able to start my morning off right!  Great flavour and texture to boot.  I love me a good pancake.


Cornmeal Pancakes with Vanilla & Pine Nuts

1 1/2 cup fine or medium cornmeal
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk
2 Tbsp olive oil, plus more for pan
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup pine nuts

maple syrup or honey for serving

Heat oven to 200F.
Combine the cornmeal, salt and 1 1/2 cups boiling water in a bowl and let it sit until the cornmeal absorbs the water and softens, 5 to 10 minutes.
Stir in the milk, a little at a time, until the batter is spreadable but still thick.  Stir in the oil, vanilla and pine nuts.
Put a large skillet or griddle over medium heat.  When a few drops of water dance on its surface, add a thin film of oil and allow it to become hot.  Spoon out batter in 1/4 cup portions.  Cook until bubble form on the top and burst, and the underside is golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes; turn and cook on the other side until golden.  As they finish, transfer them to a plate in the oven while you repeat with the remaining batter.
Serve with maple syrup or honey.  (I vote maple syrup all the way)

Serves 4
recipe courtesy Mark Bittman

Friday, 21 October 2011

Smoothie ala Pumpkin Pie

Well, it's official, I had to 'break out' my fall jacket today.  As cute as my jacket is, I'm a little sad because that means it's only going to get colder.  Boo!  Have I mentioned that me and cold are 'friends off?'  We dislike each other very much.  I guess I'd better nip this pumpkin pie smoothie craving in the bud now, before the desire for a smoothie leaves me for good.

Happy Friday! 

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/2 cup vanilla yogurt
1/3 cup pumpkin puree
1 Tbsp flaxseed meal
1/2 tsp cinnamon
pinch ginger
pinch nutmeg
sugar to taste
5-7 ice cubes


In blender or food processor combine all ingredients except ice.  Process for 10-20 seconds till mixed.  Add in ice, blend further.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Halloween Cupcakes

I made these cupcakes last year for Halloween.  I had way too much fun decorating them and thought I'd share them with you. 
Man, just looking at this picture, makes me wish I had a cupcake in my house right now to eat.  So sad.  Nothing says Halloween like cake, frosting and chocolate all in the same bite.  Mmm...perhaps a trip to the store is necessary this afternoon...

These cupcakes weren't anything fancy. Just your standard boxed cake mix, homemade buttercream icing and candies (Reese's Pieces and Jelly Bellys) for decorating.  They tasted 'spooktacular' (haha, get it, spectacular + Halloween = spooktacular)

Looking forward to my creation for this years Halloween.  Stay tuned!   I promise it'll be from scratch.  This was prior to my 'blogging' days, so you'll have to forgive the shortcut on the cupcake portion (oh, and the fuzzy camera phone photo.)

Happy Early Halloween!!

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Sun-Dried Tomato & Basil Biscuits

What is it about bread at dinner that just makes everything better?  It's common practice at most restaurants that you are greeted with a basketful of bready/carby goodness.  This also happens to be my favourite part of the meal, well, until dessert.  The bread is J's favourite part too, mostly because it's free.  How easy am I to please?  If 'they' (being the restaurant owners) would let me get away with it, I would forgo the entree and just dine on bread.  This is frowned upon, so instead, I request refills.  The greatest bread basket I've experienced to date was at the Mesa Grill in LV.  We had it refilled 3 times during the course of our meal, it was unbelievable.  There was walnut bread, cornbread, and jalapeno biscuits.  A great mix of flavours.  Oh, I can taste it now...even though its been months.
Tonight, I wanted some bread to accompany our meal.  Actually, I wanted biscuits.  But not just your regular biscuit, nope, something different.  Well, I didn't have any jalapenos floating about, so I couldn't mimic Mr. Flay's version.  I did however have basil and sun-dried tomatoes on hand, so there you have it.  My newest creation.  Flaky, delicious and warm from the oven.  I could actually just eat these for dinner, pass me another.

Sun-dried Tomato & Basil Biscuits

1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1 Tbsp sugar
3 Tbsp butter
6 Tbsp milk
2 Tbsp egg, beaten
1 1/2 tsp dried basil
1 1/2 Tbsp sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and chopped

Preheat oven to 375.  Line baking sheet with silpat mat or parchment paper.  Set aside.
In large mixing bowl combine flour, baking powder, sugar, salt and basil.  Cut in butter.
In separate bowl combine milk and egg.  Add to dry ingredients, along with sun-dried tomatoes.  Stir to combine.
Turn out onto lightly floured surface and knead 5-10 times.
Pat out to form a circle 1 - inch thick, using biscuit cutter cut into 6 pieces.
Transfer to prepared baking sheet, brush with milk.  Bake for 11-14 minutes.

yields: 6 biscuits

Monday, 17 October 2011

A Gingerale & Soda Crackers Weekend w/ A Sugar Cereal Rebound

This weekend was not one of our finest.  All four of us came down with a horrific stomach bug.  I will spare you the details, but our diet included gingerale, soda crackers and toast.  Yum, I know. 
So the minute I got my appetite back, I went straight for the box of cereal in my pantry.  My favourite kind of cereal.  The cereal I buy in bulk from Costco.  Cinnamon Toast Crunch.  Nothing like making up for a bland diet, with sugar coated squares of deliciousness.  After multiple handfuls of yum.  I decided to mix it in with some rice cereal and jazz up the standard rice krispie square.  Awesomeness.  So thankful to have my appetite back in full force and be able to stomach my favourite foods!

By the way, after you taste these squares you may never go back to regular rice krispies.  I'm just saying... 

Cinnamon Toast Krispies

1/4 cup butter
1 pkg (250g) marshmallows
2 cups rice krispies cereal
3 cups cinnamon toast crunch cereal
multi colored sprinkles ('cause I'm fancy)

Melt butter in saucepan over low heat.  Add marshmallows and stir until completely melted.
Stir in both cereals until well coated.  Using lightly buttered spatula, press into 8 x 8 buttered pan.  Sprinkle top with multi colored sprinkles
Allow mixture to cool slightly, cut into 9 squares. 

Friday, 14 October 2011

Jam & Cheese

I'll be honest, there is something about strawberry jam and brie that makes me happy.  They go together perfectly.  Sweet & creamy.  It's almost like they're bbf's, the way they compliment each other.  Served along side some crackers, a glass of wine and you have the perfect dish to entertain with.   Best of all, this is super easy to prepare and is ready in no time flat.
Get ready for compliments, just don't let all of them go to your head. 

Strawberry-Pecan Brie

1/3 cup strawberry preserves
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/8 tsp fresh ground pepper
1 - 16oz brie round (rind removed from top)
toasted pecans, chopped

crackers for serving

Stir together strawberry preserves, balsamic vinegar and pepper in a bowl.  Drizzle over warm brie round.  Top with pecans.  Serve with crackers.

recipe slightly adapted from Southern Cooking

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

A Tribute to Dottie's

For those of you that know me.  You know that I'm in love, absolute love, with Dottie's True Blue Cafe in San Francisco.  For any of you that have been to this city, I've suggested, no, pushed the idea that you need to eat there.  It's worth the wait, which depending on the time of day can be over an hour.  I'm headed back in December and I am beyond excited.  In fact it's my first stop after I drop my bags at the hotel.  If you go there, aside from the delicious pastries you will see when you first walk in.  You need to get 3 things:

1. Buttermilk Dill Bread
2. Grilled Chili Cornbread w/ Jalapeno Jelly
3. Pancakes (with ginger and cinnamon)

Hmm, carb fan much?  Seriously, what's wrong with me?
J and I take multiple trips to this restaurant whenever we are in the area.  I can't put into words how fantastic it is.  In fact we love it so much, it actually is our breakfast every morning (except, Tuesday's, when the restaurant is closed.)

Okay, so the buttermilk dill bread is quite possibly my favourite.  Actually, the corn bread is my favourite, or is it the pancakes?  Ahhh, I love them all.   I can't decide.  However, if I could start everyday with the buttermilk dill bread, I would.  Thick sliced, toasted and buttered.  I think I hear angels singing.  Given I don't live in San Fran, this version reminds me a little bit of the city I love, on those 351 days I'm not there.  Dotties is pretty much untouchable, but for those days where I'm jonesing for my fix, this recipe ties me over.

Buttermilk Dill Bread

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp + 1 tsp baking powder
3 Tbsp sugar
5 tsp dried dill
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 1/2 cups buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350F.  Grease 9 x 5 inch loaf pan, set aside
In large bowl combine flour, baking powder, sugar, dill, baking soda, salt and pepper.
Add in buttermilk a little at a time until soft dough forms.
Turn in prepared pan.  Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until loaf is golden in colour
Serve warm; reheat when needed.

Devour.  Toasted w/ butter.  Mmmm.

recipe courtesy of

Monday, 10 October 2011

What I'm Thankful For...

Happy Thanksgiving Canada!  Who doesn't love holiday Monday's?  Especially holiday Monday's surrounded with good eats.
Today is the day we give 'thanks' for all that we have.  I'm thankful for so many things: family, friends, good health, being my top 3.  Cheers to that.  
Going forward I want to make it a point to give 'thanks' daily, not just during this three day stretch in October.  I think we begin to take for granted the little things in life, we forget/neglect to tell those around us how much we love them.  So that's my goal, thanksgiving  'giving thanks' year round.
Okay, now that the 'thanks' have been established, let's move onto the food side of this holiday.  Let me start by saying, I think this is my favourite 'food' holiday.  The menu is similar to Christmas, but without the stress of Christmas.  No crowds to contend with, as you try and find the last 'it' toy in the entire city.  No freezing weather or blizzards keeping you from your loved ones.  Instead, this is a low key holiday filled with carbs, carbs and sweets.  Oh and you know I'm a fan!  (you had me at hello carbs)
We had our big dinner last night, we always celebrate on the Sunday.  We need the extra day to recover from the turkey and sides overdose that occurred the night before.  Mom & Dad took the job of hosting the big family gathering this year, so I was only in charge of bringing a side dish.  Done.  This one is a favourite.  Sweet potato casserole.  Maple syrup, coconut, raisins and a pecan crumble topping make this almost dessert-like.  This pile of carbs sat right along side my turkey, and then 2nds were had.  This dish is only made a handful of times during the year, so when the time does come, I get my sweet potato on.  Until we meet again at Christmas sweet potato casserole, you will be in my dreams...

I hope everyone enjoys what's left of the long weekend, spend it with family and stuff your faces.  That's what its all about!

Sweet Potato Casserole

5lbs sweet potatoes, peeled & cubed
1/4 cup milk
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup raisins
1/3 cup unsweetened coconut

Pecan Crumble
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup pecans, chopped
3 Tbsp butter, softened

Bring the potatoes and enough cold water to cover them to a boil in a large pot.  Reduce heat and simmer till fork tender, approximately 20 minutes.  Drain and cool.  Mash the potatoes in a large bowl until smooth.
Preheat oven to 375F.  Spray baking dish with non stick spray.  Set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk together milk, syrup, egg and vanilla.
Add the milk mixture to the potatoes, stirring to combine well.  Add in the raisins and coconut and stir until blended.
Spoon mixture into prepared pan.
To make topping, combine sugar, flour, pecans and butter in medium bowl.  Working with a fork or hands, mix until ingredients are combined well and resemble pea sized crumbs.  Sprinkle the topping over the potatoes and bake uncovered until center is hot and topping is browned 25-30 minutes.
Yields: 14 servings
(slightly adapted from bobby dean)

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Kitchen Tips | How to Carve a Turkey

Happy Thanksgiving my fellow Canadians! 

Sunday mornings usually mean pancakes in this house.  

Not today. 

Today we have an enormous dinner scheduled.  Where, if last year is any indication, stretchy pants are in order.  So this morning I'm trading in my Sunday tradition of pancakes, for a healthy bowl of pumpkin oatmeal.  Still festive.  But instead, replacing a pancake recipe with a turkey tip that should no doubt come in handy at dinner tables across the country.

What is the right way to carve a turkey?  You've spent hours, cleaning, stuffing, and basting this bird.  So how do you get the most out of it, and yet still have a lovely presentation for your dinner guests?  Easy.  Turn to Martha Stewart for how to tips that are sure to impress your guests visually as much as much as their taste buds.

  1. Video Demonstration
  3. Step by Step guide
Pancake Sunday's will resume next week, assuming I make it through the food coma I'm about to enter later today. 

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Pumpkin Granola

Why is it so difficult for the granola jar in my house to stay full?  It seems to disappear in record time with each new batch I make.  I'm beginning to think there are little hands reaching into the jar when I'm not looking.  Either that, or I'm sleep eating the stuff?  Yikes, that's a scary thought.  Fingers crossed it's the first one.

Okay, twist my arm, I'll make another couple of batches.  One for me and one for my sister, I'm a giver.  She loves granola and loves pumpkin.  So, it goes without saying, she is bound to love me even more, with this killer combination.  This weekend is Thanksgiving in Canada, so pumpkin granola fits the bill perfectly. 

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a video camera to set up.  I'm going to find out once and for all what's happening to my granola.

Happy Thanksgiving Weekend!

Pumpkin Granola

2 1/2 cups oats
1 cup pecans, chopped
1/2 cup flax meal
1/2 cup sweetened coconut
2 Tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ginger
1/8 tsp cloves
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp maple syrup
1 Tbsp vanilla
1/3 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 250F.  Set aside two cookie sheets.
In large bowl combine first 9 ingredients.  Mix well.
In small bowl mix, pumpkin, maple syrup and vanilla.  Pour over oat mixture.  Tossing to coat.  Spread mixture evenly onto prepared baking sheets.
Bake for 40-50 minutes, till golden brown in color.  Tossing every 10-15 minutes.
Remove from oven, and allow mixture to cool.  Add in chocolate chips.
Store in air-tight container.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Peeling Garlic

image courtesy: wikipedia

We eat garlic a lot of garlic in this house.  I love garlic.  Garlic's only downfall is the peeling process.  Especially in those circumstances where you require multiple cloves, or even the whole head.
Solution?  A video demonstration on how to peel an entire head of garlic in 10 seconds.  Ya, I know, talk about a time saver.  I've got you covered.  With all that extra time saved you can all send me 'thank you' notes.  Win, win.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Butternut Squash & Couscous. A Perfect Pair.

If I could sum up fall with 3 ingredients, they would be: 
  1. squash
  2. maple syrup
  3. apples
The following recipe encompasses all three of these flavours, making it perfect for an autumn side dish.  Not only tasty, and in season, but pretty to look at too!

Butternut Squash w/ Couscous

1 cup whole wheat couscous
2 cups butternut squash, cubed
1/4 cup raisins
1/2 cup edamame, shelled and cooked
1/4 cup spinach, julienned
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
2 Tbsp maple syrup
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp dijion mustard

Bring 1 1/2 cups of water to a boil over high heat.  Add in couscous.  Stir.  Cover.  Remove from heat and let stand 5 minutes.  Fluff with fork.  Transfer to large bowl, stir in raisins and edamame, set aside
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine maple syrup, vinegar, 1/2 tablespoon olive oil and mustard.  Whisk mixture until blended and set aside.
In large non-stick skillet over medium heat add 1 tablespoon olive oil.  Add squash and cook, stirring often until tender and golden brown, about 8 minutes.  Transfer squash to bowl with couscous and toss with dressing.  Add sunflower seeds and spinach. 
This dish can be served warm, or refrigerated and eaten cold.  My preference, warm, given we have now stumbled into the colder months.  Brrrr.
Serves: 4
Recipe adapted from 20 minute supper club

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Pecan & White Chocolate Banana Muffins

Oops I did it again...(great, now I have Britney stuck in my head.)'s rotten bananas 'the sequel.' 
I'm pretty much hooked on my banana bread, it's honestly one of my favourite things ever.  It's been a while since I've made a batch, and the gloomy weather outside made today seem like the perfect opportunity.  That, and the rotten bananas on my counter that were screaming at me, 'do something with us already!' Okay, okay, point taken.   
Now for a challenge.  Is there anyway to make banana bread better?  Hmm, it's worth a shot.  Let's see, add a few chopped pecans here and a sprinkle of white chocolate there.  Sounds good.  Tastes better.
Oh, banana bread you never seem to let me down, so reliable. 

Banana Muffins w/ Pecans & White Chocolate

1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
2 eggs
1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp unsweetened applesauce
2 Tbsp oil
1/2 cup vanilla yogurt
1/2 tsp vanilla
3 ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
1/4 cup white chocolate, chopped

Preheat oven to 350.  Line muffin tin with paper liners.  Set aside.
Mix first seven ingredients in large bowl.  Add in pecans and white chocolate.  In a medium bowl, whisk eggs, applesauce, oil, yogurt and vanilla.  Add in mashed banana.  Mix well.  Fold banana mixture into dry ingredients and mix until just combined. 
Using an ice cream scoop, fill prepared muffin tins 3/4 full.  Bake until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 20-25 minutes.  Remove from pan and let cool on a wire rack.

Yields: 12 muffins

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

A New Restaurant Experience

You've heard me say it before, I love trying new things.  From restaurants to fashion, nothing scares me anymore.  Just call me adventurous.
Last week I ended up going on a much needed date night with my lovely, and very pregnant friend JC.  Because it wasn't that long ago, that I too, was 'with child.'  I vividly remember never knowing what I wanted to eat until 5 minutes beforehand.  Oh, and then I needed whatever 'it' was 5 minutes ago.  I was difficult to say the least.  JC - she's easy.  Still, the venue choice was up to her, and her pick?  Tapas.  Perfect!  I'm a newbie to the world of tapas.  This was going to be my first experience with a restaurant of this nature.  For those of you unfamiliar with this concept.  It's basically 'small plates,' ideal for sharing, and you order a bunch of everything.  Our table was eclectic to say the least.  We had a trio of dips, seared ahi tuna, truffle fries, gnocchi, chicken wings, and my personal favourite roasted root vegetables. 

Now I'm already a sucker when it comes to beets and carrots.  The thought of them roasted and then glazed in maple syrup makes for an exciting time.  So when I saw this was on the menu, immediately, I knew this was something I'd be all over.  Even more exciting, they were golden beets.  I've never had golden beets before.  They were delicious!

Can you say recreation?  Recreation!  (That was easy.)  Oh, with one minor you think I could get my hands on 'golden beets?'  No dice.  Looks like it's the regular red ones for us tonight.  Oh well.  Either way it was delicious.  Bold in color and scarfed down faster than you can say 'maple syrup.'

Roasted Root Vegetables w/ Maple Glaze

4 medium beets, washed (root end & stems intact)
16 small carrots, washed
2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
4 Tbsp butter, divided
2 Tbsp maple syrup, divided
2 Tbsp brown sugar, divided

Preheat oven to 375F.  Line two baking sheets with aluminum foil.  Set aside.
Place beets on one prepared sheet, drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil.  Cover with second sheet of aluminum foil, pinch sides closed.  Roast for 60-75 minutes depending on size, turning once
On second prepared sheet, arrange carrots in single layer, drizzle with remaining tablespoon of olive oil.  Roast for 20-30 minutes, turning once.
Remove vegetables from oven. 
Once cool enough to handle, cut off root and stems from beets, and remove skins.  Cut in quarters, then in half again (half moons)
In non-stick skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of butter.  Once melted add 1 tablespoon of each brown sugar and maple syrup to the pan.  Add in carrots, cook 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove carrots from pan, and repeat process with beets.  (Cooking the vegetables separately ensures the beets won't dye the carrots a red color, alternatively this can be done in two separate pans)

Serve warm.  Enjoy!
Serves 4

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Whole Wheat Cinnamon Spice Pancakes w/ Pumpkin Butter

Dear October,

Please hang around longer than it feels like September did.  I feel like I'm losing years, the months and seasons are whipping by so fast.  I would appreciate anything you can do.  Thanks in advance.


Okay, well it should come as no shock that today's pancake is going to feature the delicious pumpkin butter that I just made.  It's going to be the perfect compliment to the whole wheat cinnamon pancakes that I'm grilling up.  Something about these spices co-mingling, warms me from the inside out.  What an awesome start to a Sunday.  I Love Fall!

Whole Wheat Cinnamon Spice Pancakes w/ Pumpkin Butter

1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
3 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup milk

pumpkin butter for serving

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.
In separate bowl, whisk together milk and eggs.  Add to dry ingredients until just moistened.
Spoon batter in 1/4 cup portions onto lightly oiled griddle or pan.  Cook for 1 to 2 minutes or until bubbles form on top and underside is golden.  Flip and cook for 1 minute.  Keep pancakes warm in oven while repeating with remaining batter.
Serve warm with pumpkin butter

Yields: 8 pancakes

A Fall Inspired Topping

I'm sure you are not at all surprised that I'm featuring another pumpkin recipe this week. Remember, I warned you.  Big, orange, pumpkins, are currently filling my dreams and stomach.

Saturday mornings mean one thing.  Grocery Shopping!!  Now, I'm sure this is not an ideal way for the rest of the world to spend a weekend morning.  Hibernating under the covers is more appealing to most of you, I'm sure.  However, for me I look forward to it all week.  I get up early, coffee in hand, and all set to tackle the aisles.  J thinks I should put this 'passion' to use and become a personal grocery shopper.  Is it just me, or does it seem like he is always trying to find me a job?  Hmmm, hint not taken.
Anyways, I ended up in the baking aisle (obviously,) looking to stock up on essentials.  When I spotted them.  Cans and cans of 100% pure pumpkin.  So what's a girl to do?  I know, fill her cart with 6 - 29 oz cans worth.  Excessive?  Nah, with Canadian Thanksgiving all set to take place next weekend, I need to be prepared should a last minute pie or cheesecake be required.  Plus, lesson learned from last year.  Five stores visited in total, no stock to be found, frantic search ensued, and a new level of frustration reached (you'd think it was liquid gold it was so hard to come by.)  So, this year my pantry is sufficiently stocked with this canned delight, and I'm ready to have a little a lot of pumpkin butter accompany my oatmeal, toast, oh and pancakes.  

On a side note...
If you know of anyone that is out of pumpkin puree and can't find it in the store. I'd be willing to part with mine, at a ridiculous mark up of course.  (See J, I can make $$ afterall, I've got the market cornered)


Pumpkin Butter

adapted from all recipes

1 29oz can pumpkin puree
3/4 cup apple juice
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp cloves

In saucepan whisk together apple juice, sugar and spices.  Add in pumpkin puree, mix well.  Bring mixture to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Store in air-tight containers in fridge.

Enjoy!  Awesomeness & Deliciousness in two jars. 

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Honey-Cinnamon Almond Butter

This week I had a craving for something that I hadn't had in a long time.  Honey roasted almonds.  I've been trying to think of the last time I had this salty sweet snack, and it's been so long that I can't even recall (either that, or this getting older thing, is starting to show signs.)  Needless to say I wanted some, but I didn't have any.  I was also jonesing for a good almond butter and honey sandwich.  Which got me thinking that I should turn this craving into a new nut butter.  Genius! 
The next couple months are going to see their share of nut butter varieties.  I'm gearing up to sell them @ a local Christmas market.  I've got some awesome, and completely indulgent combinations in mind, which of course I plan on sharing (after the market, I don't want to give away all my secrets or potential profits)  
This nut butter is pretty much a merge of my vanilla almond butter and my cinnamon raisin pecan butter.   A little switcharoo of some ingredients here and there, and I just made eating an almond butter and honey sandwich even easier.  Put away that second knife, you now have the taste of both in one convenient jar.  You're welcome!

Honey-Cinnamon Almond Butter

2 cups whole raw almonds
3 Tbsp honey, divided
1 tsp cinnamon
1 Tbsp sunflower oil

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.  Set aside
Using 1 1/2 Tbsp of honey coat almonds and transfer to prepared sheet.  Bake for 20-25 minutes turning once halfway.
Allow almonds to cool for a few minutes.  Place roasted almonds into a food processor and process for 10-12 minutes, stopping occasionally to scrape down sides of the bowl as needed.  Once smooth and creamy, add remaining 1 1/2Tbsp of honey, cinnamon and oil.  Process for another 3-5 minutes
Store in air-tight container in refrigerator. 
ENJOY!  Give me a spoon!

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