Saturday, September 29, 2012

Spiced Apple Pecan Oatmeal

I love love love dried apples, the kind seen in the background of the picture above. I remember my Opa (Grandpa for those not familiar with German/European languages) drying apples with some ufo-looking device when I was younger. And oh how I enjoyed those apple slices! Moist, chewy, almost gummy in texture, they're packed full of flavour and great for putting in oatmeal, or as I like them best, just alone as a snack!

This is a great breakfast that's very simple to make. It's the kind of oatmeal that 'sticks to your ribs', ie. meaning, it's pretty pasty/gummy. I don't mean that in an unappetizing way, some people love their oatmeal this way, including Sean. Personally it's not my favourite, I prefer the kind of oatmeal from Quaker  (ah-hem, yes, the instant oatmeal packages) where the oats are still in existence after cooking them. However, the flavour was great and it made enough to last Sean and I for the next several mornings.

2 tablespoons chopped pecans
3 cups apple juice
3 cups milk
2 cups uncooked regular oats (not quick-cooking)
1/2 cup coarsely chopped dried apples
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons cinnamon sugar (half cinnamon, half sugar mixture)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
brown sugar or maple syrup for topping

Toast pecans in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, for 5-6 minutes or until toasted. Remove pecans and wipe pot clean.

Bring juice, milk, oats, dried apples and salt to a boil in pot over high heat; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally for 15-20 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat. Cover and let stand for 10 minutes. Stir in cinnamon sugar, vanilla and toasted pecans. Serve immediately. If desired, sprinkle with brown sugar or drizzle with maple syrup for extra goodness. 

Source: Joanna L. Smith, Maylene, Alabama,  via My Recipes Pin It

Monday, September 24, 2012

Whole Wheat Cheese Bread


My head has finally made in into fall. Perhaps it's the turn of weather from beautiful, hot sunny days to absolutely freezing days (I don't exaggerate, this morning my thermometer said 2 degrees C). Regardless, one of the things I immediately think of when fall hits is warm homemade bread, and if that's combined with a hearty soup like corn chowder or chili, it's even better! The smell of freshly baked bread filling your house is amazing, and if it's cheese bread, you can smell it even more. This was one dish that I was so excited to cut into, and when I did, it definitely did not let down. It doesn't take a lot of work, just more time to let the dough rise, so it's perfect for a side to a dinner meal. The only tricky part is kneading all of those lovely chunks of cheese into the bread. Trust me, you'll want to use chunks and not grate the cheese, or else the cheese just kind of dissolves into the bread, and that's not what you want!!
Yield: 2 loaves
1 1/2 cups warm water
2 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
1/3 cup oil (vegetable or canola)
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups old cheddar cheese, cut into small cubes
extra Parmesan and cheddar cheese grated, for topping

In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the water, yeast, oil and salt with a rubber spatula. Beat in egg, followed by Parmesan cheese. Stir in white flour until just combined. Add in whole wheat flour, and using the dough hook attachment for the stand mixer, knead at low speed until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface. Knead just long enough to make the dough is soft and smooth, then shape into a ball.

Place the dough in a lightly greased glass bowl and cover with a tea towel. Heat oven to 350 degrees F for 2 minutes, then turn off, until oven is just warmed. At the same time, boil some water. Place boiled water in a small bowl, and then onto the lower rack in the oven. Place the dough bowl in the oven on the higher rack, directly above the bowl with steaming water (warmth and moisture produce the best environment for the dough to rise). Let the dough proof for 45-60 minutes, or until doubled in size.

Remove from oven and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead in the cubed cheddar cheese until well distributed (because the cheese is cubed, this step is a little challenging). Divide into 2 equal portions. At this time, it is possible to wrap the dough up and freeze for a later date.

Shape each portion into a loaf, and place seam side down in 2 well greased and floured 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 loaf pan. Again, warm the oven momentarily and have boiled water ready so that the dough may rise for another 45-60 minutes, or until dough has risen above the top of the pan in the centre and corners are filled. Sprinkle tops of loaves with Parmesan and cheddar cheese.

Bake at 375 degrees F on lower oven rack for 30-35 minutes, until light golden brown. Remove from pans immediately and cool on wire racks. And do me a favour, cut yourself a slice while it's still warm, and top it with a bit of butter. Heaven.

Source: adapted from Robin Hood Pin It

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Mini Lemon Raspberry Cheesecake

Please don't hate on me because it's now fall and I'm posting a very summery dessert;, scout's honour, I made this in August and it's just taken me awhile to post it. So many other food bloggers pounce on the first opportunity possible to make fall-inspired dishes (think apples and pumpkins). And while I too am eager for these flavours, particularly pumpkin (which I have been dreaming about since last fall), I'm equally reluctant to let go of summer days. In fact, I may still be in slight denial that it's now fall. Don't mistake me, fall is actually my favourite season next to summer, but right now it's inevitably making me think of winter, which is just downright depressing.

So, without much further ado I present the last summery dessert until next summer (*tear). These mini cheesecakes were absolutely delightful. A perfectly light and refreshing cheesecake, with a subtle tang from the lemon and raspberry. And if you don't get all cheesecake-crazed, they make for the perfect amount to last 2 days. However, I do know some people (*ahem- Sean) who would be glad to eat the whole cheesecake in one sitting. And if that's your style, go for it! I don't judge.

Yield: 2 4-inch cakes 
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
3 tablespoons butter, melted
3/4 tablespoon sugar

8 oz cream cheese (1 package)
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
zest of 3/4 of a lemon
1 egg

1 cup raspberries, fresh
2-3 tablespoons sugar (depending on tartness)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon cornstarch

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix together graham cracker crumbs, melted butter and sugar in medium sized bowl until combined. Mixture should be at the consistency that if you pinch it between your fingers, it stays together. If it immediately falls apart, it needs more butter.

Put 1/2 cup of the crust mixture into the bottom of 4-inch springform pans. Use your fingers or a flat instrument to help press and smooth the crust down. Bake the crust in oven for 5 minutes. Once finished, set aside and let cool completely.

In a medium sized bowl, beat cream cheese until light and fluffy using a hand mixer. Add in sugar, and mix until combined, making sure to scrape down the sides. Add sour cream, lemon juice and lemon zest. Add in the egg and mix well, scraping sides again.

Take your cooled pans and wrap the bottom and sides tightly with foil. Use multiple pieces if necessary. This is to ensure that no water leaks through (trust me, soggy crusts aren't attractive-- although they usually firm up if you wait a day or two). Divide cheesecake batter in half and fill each pan.

Place pans in a 9 x 13 baking dish (or any other dish that fits both pans). Place the dish first in the oven, and then fill with hot water, about 1 1/2 inches (or 1/2 of the way up the springform pans. This helps promote even baking and less chances of cracking). Bake cheesecakes for 35 minutes or until set but still wiggly. If doubling the recipe and making a 9-inch cheesecake, bake for 70 minutes.

Once finished, carefully remove the entire pan from the oven. Leave the cheesecakes in the pan with the hot water still in it, until the water has cooled almost completely (by gradually cooling the cheesecakes, again there is less chance of cracking). Once water is cooled, remove cheesecakes and unwrap from foil. Cool cheesecakes completely, then refrigerate.

To make the raspberry sauce, use a mini food processor to blend the raspberries. Strain the sauce using a fine meshed sieve to remove any seeds. Place strained sauce in a small saucepan over medium heat and whisk in lemon juice and sugar. Bring to a simmer and let sauce reduce for 5-7 minutes. Remove several teaspoons of sauce and place in small bowl. Whisk the cornstarch into the small bowl. Once cornstarch lumps no longer remain, stir the cornstarch mixture back into the saucepan. Stir constantly for another minute or two, until sauce thickens considerably. Remove and let cool completely.

Spoon cooled raspberry sauce onto cheesecakes, while still in the springform pan. Refrigerate cheesecakes for 4 hours, and upwards to 24 (cheesecake needs to rest and develop the flavours!).

To remove cheesecake from the pan, run a knife around the edge of the cake. Release the springform pan and force it to go larger. Carefully remove. Garnish with fresh raspberries and lemon zest swirl.

Source: slightly adapted from: Baked by Rachel

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Thursday, September 13, 2012


While I made these a few weeks ago, my mother's garden is still producing exorbitant amounts of delicious tomatoes, which she keeps attempting to pawn off on me. Don't get me wrong, I love free food, especially fresh produce, but after the 6th time being asked while still having a ton of tomatoes still in my fridge, I had no say no... multiple times. In an attempt to use some of them up, I had this amazingly flavourful and light bruschetta, clearly best served with fresh tomatoes!

On a different note, I just started classes this week! A little nerve-wracking after taking a year off and moving into a graduate program, but exciting nonetheless. It's going to be a ton of work, but worth it in the end when I get to write a 'MSW' beside my name. Yay!

3-4 medium sized tomatoes, chopped fairly finely
1 garlic clove, minced finely
1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
1/2 teaspoon oregano
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for later
1/4 cup fresh Parmesan, grated
salt and pepper
french baguette


Combine chopped tomatoes, minced garlic, basil, oregano, olive oil and Parmesan, and toss to coat. Let rest, covered in fridge for minimum of half an hour to let flavours meld.

To assemble: preheat oven to broil and set rack to the highest setting. Take sliced french baguette and brush top side lightly with olive oil, using a pastry brush. Place on baking sheet and broil for 3-4 minutes (watch carefully so as not to burn, as I did with one batch). Once toasted to a light brown, immediately top with fresh bruschetta mix. Serve while warm.

Source: A Sweet Treats & Healthy Eats Original (ideas taken from several different recipes).

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Sunday, September 9, 2012

Doggy Cookies for Tucker!

So I had some leftover cookie dough sitting in my freezer that has been calling my name... and we just got the cutest darn puppy ever so why the heck not make doggy cookies in honour of him? I mean... how can I not make something for this little guy? Look at him!! Thanks to my older brother for producing some lovely photos of Tucker that I'm going to share now with you. He's a Toronto Wedding Photographer and does some really fantastic work!

AWW I just love the little monker so much! And am totally and completely jealous of my brother's natural gift to take beautiful photos. I know my cookies don't compare to the real thing... but I tried. If interested in making sugar cookies, check out this post. And yes, that's supposed to be him below, minus the pointy ears (which let's be honest, is his best feature).

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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Caramelized Onion and Swiss Cheese Tart

I think I am slowly coming out of my blogging funk! Well, the actual writing of the blog part maybe not so much, but I've been on a roll with creating things to put on here this week, and have my next several posts planned already. I don't think that's ever happened. With all the time on my hands, I finally knuckled down and spent a good few hours searching out recipes that I was interested in trying, and started creating them.

I wasn't expecting greatness out of this tart... the ingredients were so minimal and simple, and I admit, I was too lazy (or too afraid?) to attempt making my own pie crust, which I have yet to do. But it turned out to be fabulous! The caramelized onions gave such a sweet flavour, which was balanced out nicely by the Swiss and Parmesan cheese. Paired with a spinach or Caesar salad, it is a simple, fresh and delicious meal that can be served hot or cold. I will certainly be making this again, and may even sub in half Gruyere cheese, which would make a nice addition. Yum!

7 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 lb onions, thinly sliced (about 3 med-large onions)
2 eggs
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup grated Swiss cheese
9-inch baked pie shell
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper

Melt the butter over medium heat in a heavy skillet. Stir in the onions and cook until they are well browned and caramelized. (This can take a long time, depending on the width of the skillet. The recipe book states up to 30 minutes, but mine took closer to an hour). Stir frequently to avoid burning.

In the meantime, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Beat the eggs in a mixing bowl, stir in the cream and season with salt and pepper. Add the Swiss cheese and mix well. Once the onions are done, add into the egg mixture.

Pour the egg and onion mixture into the baked pie shell, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and place on a baking sheet. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the filling has set and begun to brown (check at 20 minutes).

Remove from the oven and let rest for at least 10 minutes.

Source: Easy Vegetarian, Parragon Books Ltd. 2009

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