baked spring rolls

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healthy version of everyone’s favourite

Everyone loves a spring roll, and that’s no exception at our house.  I was a little worried about these getting too dry and hard in the oven but they actually turned out really well – still crunchy on the outside with a tender flavourful filling.  It is not as crispy as a deep fried spring roll and the wrapper takes on a slight chewiness, but I think it’s pleasant and the kids loved it.  These are surprisingly easy to make and much less messy baked because there is no grease splatter, plus your house won’t have that deep fried smell lingering after they are made.

You can easily make this vegetarian by eliminating the chicken. I made a few using grated smoked firm tofu and it was delicious as well!

prep: 30 min    bake: 10-12 min    yield: ~12 rolls

what you need:

  • 1 package egg roll or spring roll wrappers (square shaped, in the refrigerated section)
  • 1 large carrot
  • 2 cups bean sprouts
  • 1 handful cilantro
  • 2 green onions
  • 1 chicken breast, cooked (leftovers are great for this)
  • 1 thumb sized piece of ginger, finely grated
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp butter, melted

what to do:

  1. Prepare all the veggies by washing them thoroughly. Drain the bean sprouts and lay them on a dry tea towel or paper towel to make sure they are dry. Peel and finely grate carrot. Roughly chop cilantro. Thinly slice up green onions.
  2. In a large bowl, combine veggies and add grated ginger, sesame oil, salt and pepper. Toss to combine.DSC_0945.JPG
  3. Shred the chicken breast with your fingers (like pulled chicken) to somewhat match the length and size of carrots and  bean sprouts. Toss everything together in the large bowl. This is your spring roll filling.
  4. In a small bowl, beat an egg with 1 tbsp water to loosen mixture.
  5. Grab your wrappers and a clean working surface. Dip two fingers into egg wash and trace it along the outside of the square wrapper. Place filling in the wrapper, towards you (about 1/3 of the way) – then fold up the left and right sides, then from the end closer to you, fold tightly over the filling and continue rolling until spring roll is formed. If you can see the filling this is incorrect! You want to make sure it is sealed so that when it bakes the juices of the filling don’t escape (and if you are deep frying them, oil will absorb into the spring roll).
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    my board was a bit orange from grating the carrots…

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    wrap and roll tightly

  6. Lie spring rolls seam side down on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
  7. Brush tops lightly with melted butter.
  8. Bake at 425 F for 10-12 minutes, until golden brown on the outside. Serve with your favourite plum sauce or honey. Enjoy!

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    sillies dipped theirs in honey

cheddar & scallion loaf

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the aroma while this bread bakes is ridiculously good

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a happy piepie waiting for the bread to cool

I have to hand it to my husband, he makes an amazing loaf of bread.  There’s no doubt that I’m the head of the kitchen in our house – but he has me beat in the bread department. It is adapted from a “Taste of Home” recipe, super simple but you need some time for the dough to rise twice.  It works great for a lazy rainy Sunday! The kids love helping out and it is one of those very satisfying moments for me to see them interact with daddy in the kitchen.

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punching out the dough for the 2nd rise

We have made this bread dozens of times and the top two favourite combos are sharp cheddar & scallions, and cinnamon, raisins & pumpkin seeds.  You can certainly play around with different ingredients and find your favourites!

prep: 20 min + 2 hrs time to rise     bake: 30 min       yield: 2 loaves

what you need:

  • 1 tbsp active dry yeast
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 3 cups whole wheat flour
  • 3 tbsp sugar (you can use organic cane sugar)
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 2 tbsp grape seed oil
  • 2 1/4 cups warm water
  • 2 cups shredded sharp white cheddar
  • 3 scallions, finely chopped
  • *optional 1 egg and extra shredded cheese

what to do:

  1. In the large bowl of your stand mixer with dough hook, dissolve yeast in warm water, stir gently. Add the sugar, salt, oil, cheese, scallions and flour. Turn the mixer on (slowly) to combine everything. 
  2. Flour your working surface slightly.  Turn the dough onto surface and knead with your hands until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes.
  3. Grease a large bowl (quite a bit larger than your dough) and place dough in, cover with a damp tea towel and allow to rise in a warm spot for 1 hour.
  4. The dough should double or more in size after an hour – if it doesn’t try putting it in the oven on warm (low temperature, around 180 F) for about 5 minutes then turn off the oven and let it rise for another 30 minutes.FullSizeRender.jpg
  5. Remove the tea towel and turn the dough out onto floured surface – punch the dough to release the air. Cut the dough in half, then press it gently into greased loaf pans (we use silicone ones).
  6. Place damp tea towels over the loaves and allow them to rise until doubled, about another hour.
  7. If desired, you can brush the top of the loaves with egg wash (beat an egg) and top with a little more cheese.
  8. Bake loaves in the middle rack of your oven at 350 F convection for 30 minutes.
  9. When the top is evenly golden brown, it’s done! Remove and when cool enough to handle, turn onto a rack to cool some more. Slice and enjoy!IMG_0846.JPG

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christmas guacamole

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super easy, super pretty – perfect for the holidays

Who doesn’t love guacamole!? It’s such a great party appetizer, it’s healthy, and it takes minimal effort to make it. With December just around the corner, our weekends are already starting to fill up with Christmas parties and gatherings (’tis the season!). And along with that my mind starts spinning for new ideas for dishes while hosting and also thinking about what yummies I can bring to other parties. I was staring at my fruit basket on the counter and noticed the pomegranates beside the avocados…and it occurred to me that bright vibrant red beads of this juicy, tangy and sweet fruit might be a pleasant surprise in a smooth creamy bite of guacamole.  So I decided to give it a try…and guess what? It’s so good, so beautiful, and so much fun. The pomegranates not only add a festive touch but they are a sweet and textural pop in your mouth!

what you need:

  • 3 avocados
  • 1/2 pomegranate
  • 1 small garlic clove – finely grated
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped cilantro
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped green onion
  • 1 lime (zest and juice)
  • salt and pepper, to taste

what to do:

  1. Remove pomegranate fruit from pith. One way to do this is to shallowly slice along the outside of the fruit all the way around – then use the tip of the knife to split it open.  Carefully remove the red jewelled fruit from the white pith (juices will stain your clothes so be careful!).
  2. Cut avocados in half and remove the pits. (Best way to do this is to cut in half, twist to open, then carefully use your knife to spear the pit, twist and remove).
  3. Scoop avocado flesh into a bowl.  Add garlic, cilantro, 1 tbsp green onion, lime zest and juice – mash with a fork until mostly smooth.
  4. Add a little bit of salt and pepper – taste and adjust.
  5. Spoon mixture into serving dish and sprinkle pomegranate and remaining 1 tbsp green onion over top – serve with tortilla chips. Enjoy!CSC_0822.JPG

salmon lettuce wraps

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so good and good for you

We eat salmon at least once or twice a week and it’s usually pan fried to get a bit of a caramelized crust on the fish, seasoned with just a bit of salt & pepper.  This time instead of serving it alongside stir fried veggies, I decided to try it in a lettuce wrap. Creamy avocado, crunchy tangy cucumbers and carrots, and warm caramelized salmon, all wrapped up in a tender lettuce leaf – pretty delicious! I think this might be my new favourite!  Boston bib lettuce is not a lettuce I normally buy (it’s in a huge plastic clamshell and I always think it’s expensive!) – but it really does make a difference to use this type of lettuce because it is soft and pliable but still has a nice crunch along the middle stem part. It does make for a very nice vessel for the ingredients inside and holds up without ripping or tearing mid-bite.

If your kids are like mine, they like to see what they are eating! (Especially piepie, no mixing for her…) – this meal is easy for that and suits the kiddie divided plates perfectly.

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after seeing me take a picture of the above wrap…piepie reminds me “I don’t want mine all mixed up together mom”

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of course once piepie wanted it separate…so did boss…

You can definitely use store bought pickles or pickled veggies, but it honestly takes one minute to make your own quick pickled veggies and they still maintain a vibrant raw vegetable appearance. These homemade leftover pickled veggies are great to top off salads or other dishes for another day – it will stay good in the fridge for about a week.

prep: 15 min    cook: 15 min    yield: 4

what you need:

  • salmon filet (enough to serve 4, about 12 ounces)
  • grapeseed oil
  • 3 mini cucumbers
  • 1 small carrot
  • 1 cup or so white vinegar
  • 2 tsp white sugar
  • 1/2 jalapeno *optional
  • salt and pepper
  • small handful of cilantro
  • 1 green onion
  • 2 avocados
  • boston bibb lettuce
  • 1 lemon

what to do:

  1. Carefully remove one large lettuce leaf at a time, wash and allow to dry on a clean dish towel or paper towels.  Set aside.
  2. Wash carrots, cucumbers and jalapeno. Peel carrots, then cut all these veggies into bite size pieces. Remove seeds from jalapeno if you want it to be less spicy.
  3. Place carrots, cucumbers, and jalapeno slices into a mason jar and add vinegar and sugar, shaking it slightly until sugar crystals dissolve. There should be enough vinegar to cover almost all the veggies. 15 minutes should be enough time to get some pickled flavour into the veggies.
  4. Season salmon with salt and pepper.
  5. In a non-stick pan on medium heat, add 1/2 tbsp grape seed oil, then carefully place the salmon in the pan. Cover with a lid and fry for about 5-7 minutes – once the salmon is crusted and caramelized on the bottom side, flip it gently to cook on the other side – about another 5-7 minutes. (This will depend on the thickness of your fish. You can easily check the doneness by breaking it apart a bit at the thickest part of the fish and make sure it is solid pink and not opaque pink. Although some people prefer their salmon slightly medium or medium rare in the middle – it’s your preference).
  6. Remove salmon from pan and set on a serving dish to rest while you cut up your avocado into long slices.  The easiest way to do this is cut the avocado in half, remove the pit, then use a spoon and scoop out long lengthwise slices.
  7. Wash and roughly chop green onions and cilantro. Cut lemon into wedges (to squeeze on top of fish).
  8. Lay out all the ingredients and let your hungry eaters build their own wraps. Enjoy!

Ricebowl with turkey leftovers

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deliciously rich and fresh

How many turkey sandwiches did you eat this week? Be honest! We actually didn’t have any bread at home so our leftovers were literally eaten exactly the way we had it on Thanksgiving (and, still delicious!) but today we finally ran out of the sides dishes. You know, no more mashed potatoes, squash, green beans…etc…what we had left was the funny little bits of turkey (you know those, perfectly good little dark and white meat pieces but they aren’t in one big attractive slice!).

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rice awaiting saucy turkey & egg

So I thought a rice bowl with tons of crunchy greens, saucy turkey, and a runny egg (my favourite!) would be a nice change after a few days of repeated thanksgiving dinner.  It’s definitely a fresher taste and warms your belly at the same time!

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load it up with chopped greens!

Happy lunch time for me! I’ll probably make this for dinner for the rest of them fam! What you can do is chop up a bunch of veggies and let everyone load up their own bowls with what they want!

what you need:

  • left over turkey and gravy
  • rice (I cooked up some white and brown), about 1/2 cup per person.
  • shanghai or baby boy choy (about 2-3 per person)
  • mini cucumbers (1 per person)
  • green onion and cilantro
  • egg (1 per bowl)

what to do:

  1. If your turkey is in big slices, chop up roughly to bite size pieces or shred it with two forks (think pulled pork texture). Reheat it with your gravy in a saucepan on medium low heat (if you’re low on gravy, use chicken stock or some other broth to make it more saucy).
  2. Cook rice!
  3. Wash bok choy thoroughly (it can be very sandy inside so make sure you tear off each leaf from it’s bulb and wash well). Also wash the rest of your veggies.
  4. Chop greens up into small bitesize pieces.
  5. When ready to serve, poach or fry eggs so that the yolk remains runny (over easy).
  6. Assembly -put rice at the bottom of your bowl – then top with turkey gravy mix, egg, and lots of greens. Garnish with cilantro and green onion.
  7. Poke the egg to break yolk and mix everything to get a bite of all ingredients while eating. Enjoy!

banana muffins with a seedy crumble

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a school safe twist to banana nut muffins

Since pie pie started kindergarten, I’ve been tweaking my baking a bit to accommodate school safe snacks.  Sometimes for banana bread, muffins, or even cookies, I like to add ground up nuts into the batter for extra nuttiness and nutrition, but today I used seeds instead and made it into a crumble.  I am really pleased with how they turned out!  The crumble adds texture to the muffin and also makes them look really pretty.

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fresh out of the oven

prep: 15 min    bake: 15 min    yield: 12 regular muffins

what you need:

crumble:

  • 1/3 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1/3 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1 heaping tbsp flax seeds
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar

muffins:

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup greek yogurt, plain
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 3 large bananas
  • 1/4 cup sugar (you can use white, brown, or coconut sugar)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract

what to do:

  1. Line a muffin tray with muffin cups, preheat oven to 350 F (or 325 F for convection).
  2. In a food processor or powerful blender (I used my Ninja), chop up seeds (not too fine). Place them into a bowl and add cinnamon and butter, mashing the butter with the ground seeds to evenly distribute. It should be mealy (sort of looks like partly wet sand).
  3. In a large bowl, beat bananas and sugar together, then add in vanilla, egg and butter (it is easier to incorporate if you melt the butter slightly).
  4. In a separate bowl, measure and mix together your oats, flour, salt, and baking soda.
  5. Add dry ingredients to banana mixture, mix just until they come together – do not over mix or you will have tough dense muffins!
  6. Fold in greek yogurt.
  7. Scoop to fill your muffin cups, then top generously with crumble (about 1 heaping tbsp each muffin).

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    ready for the oven

  8. Bake for 15 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean and tops are golden brown. If the toothpick comes out clean but the tops are not browned yet, switch your oven to broil just for 30 seconds – 1 minute to brown the tops.
  9. Remove from oven and when cool enough to handle, remove from muffin tins and onto cooling rack to cool completely.
  10. ENJOY!
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boss, my little helper

sweet potato, spinach & chick pea hash

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Tonight’s main was this hash, inspired by two reasons:

1. My kids love sweet potatoes but were getting a little tired of sweet potato fries (usually I just cut them up into sticks and oven roast them with olive oil, salt and pepper).

2. I decided to go lighter and vegetarian for dinner because over the weekend we hosted two BBQs and definitely had our share of meaty proteins.

The girls (piepie and boss) ate this sweet potato hash right up and didn’t even flinch at the green spinach.  It also packs easily for lunch the next day, delicious at room temperature or slightly cool.  You could even spice it up by adding cumin, cayenne pepper, coriander, and/or turmeric.

prep: 10 min    cook: 10 min    yield: 2-4

what you need:

  • 2 large sweet potatoes, washed/scrubbed thoroughly
  • 1 cup chick peas (cooked)
  • 2 large handfuls of baby spinach
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp mild tasting cooking oil (I used avocado oil)
  • salt & pepper
  • cooking oil

what to do:

  1. Place washed sweet potatoes in a pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil then turn down to medium low, parboil (partly cooking) for about 10 minutes. You want them to be tender but not falling apart.
  2. Once cool enough to handle,  roughly cut sweet potato into bite size chunks. (I like to leave the skin on for texture and fibre).
  3. In a large skillet (best to use cast iron) – on medium high heat, add butter and cooking oil. (If you are using a non-stick pan, use medium heat). Once the butter melts, add the cooked sweet potato chunks and mash slightly with a large fork or potato masher. Lightly brown the sweet potatoes to make them hash-like.
  4. Add in your chick peas and spinach – stirring to mix everything together – about 5 minutes – once the spinach wilts and the chick peas are warmed, season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Remove from heat and enjoy!

 

 

caramelized brussel sprouts with a honey balsamic drizzle

 

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with sausage for optional meatiness

I sort of forgot about Brussels sprouts until I saw a beautiful photo of a side dish in this fall’s Food & Drink (LCBO magazine).  Inspired, I purchased some this weekend and remembered how much I like them.  They are really easy to prep and take on flavours quite well, making them really tasty with this super easy balsamic honey drizzle.  Be sure to let them brown up in the pan to get a nutty sweet flavour out of them!

I have to admit they were not a hit with either piepie or boss (now ages 4 and 2) – but they did give it a try (mommy rules: you must try everything at least once).  My husband really liked it though! It went well with our Sunday local craft beers:)

what you need:

  • ~1lb Brussel sprouts
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • salt and pepper
  • cooking oil (I used avocado oil) & olive oil
  • optional* 2 honey garlic sausages (or if you like a kick, use spicy Italian)

what to do:

  1. In a large pot bring some water to a boil.
  2. Wash Brussel sprouts and then trim off the hard bottoms, then cut them in half lengthwise.
  3. Roughly chop garlic and set aside.  If you are using sausage, cut it up into small chunks.
  4. Place Brussel sprouts in boiling water and cook for about 2 minutes, they will turn bright green and soften slightly (but don’t leave them for too long, no one likes mushy Brussel sprouts!).
  5. Drain Brussel sprouts and set them aside in a bowl.
  6. *skip this step if you are not using sausage – In a frying pan, heat up 1 tsp cooking oil and add sausage pieces, browning them on all sides and making sure to cook through. Remove sausage from heat and set aside. Use the same pan for next step.
  7. Add about 1/2 tbsp cooking oil to a large frying pan on medium heat and add half the garlic, sautéing for about 20 seconds.  Add half of your Brussel sprouts cut side down, allowing them to brown and caramelize, about 1-2 minutes. Remove from pan and repeat this process with the remaining garlic and Brussel sprouts.
  8. Add everything back into the pan for a final sauté, season with salt and pepper, about 1 minute, tossing everything to mix. Remove and place onto your serving platter.
  9. In the same pan on medium low, add 1 tsp olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and honey. It will bubble and reduce a little bit – about 20 seconds – then drizzle onto your Brussel sprouts. Serve hot. Enjoy!

 

school safe energy bites

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a fun surprise in the middle

My last few posts look the same don’t they…I definitely still have an obsession with dates but I have been baking and cooking with other things too haha!  Now that pie-pie has started school, I am hoping to have more time to post more recipes regularly! Sorry for the lack of posts but I am pretty good at keeping instagram up to date since it’s super fast and easy:)

So my previous energy bites had lots of nuts in them…I had to post this one because so many of my friends are now mommies who need to pack school safe snacks! It’s tough nowadays, no nuts for sure, and in some cases sometimes no eggs, no seeds, no chickpeas (I have heard this it’s true!). Previously I had used rice crispies for crunch, but this time we didn’t have any at home.  There was some left over cornpops from our cottage vacation two weeks ago, so I thought it might be fun to hide one cornpop in the middle of the date ball. It’s like a little treat within a treat:).

This recipe is nut & dairy free.

what you need:

  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 generous cups of pitted dates
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of salt (if your seeds are not salted)
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • cornpops

what to do:

  1. Use a food processor or blender to grind your seeds (not too fine – or you’ll make seed butter!).
  2. In a food processor, buzz up the dates until they form a paste / giant ball shape that is whipping around your food processor.
  3. In a pot over medium heat, melt coconut oil and then add the pureed dates to soften them. Add cinnamon and salt. Mash with a large fork to combine evenly.
  4. Remove from heat and add vanilla and seeds. Use the fork again to mix evenly.
  5. Wet your hands slightly with cold water (this will prevent the mixture from sticking to your hands). Use a spoon to scoop up about a golf ball size of date mixture, place a corn pop in the middle and roll into a ball.
  6. Store in airtight container for up to 1 week. It will keep even longer in the fridge. Enjoy!

date balls (energy bites!)

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So I am officially a huge date fan now and remember that huge bag of pressed dates I had kicking around in the pantry?…Well it is gone and I had to buy pitted dates this time (I couldn’t find the pressed ones) and the 1kg container is at it’s half life already!

These are very similar to the previous post crispy oat, nut & date bars but they have a hint of peanut butter in them (which means less butter butter!), less sugar and lots of almond & pumpkin seed goodness.  Definitely experiment your favourite seeds & nuts – and the measurements don’t have to be exact but be careful to add them slowly to the date mixture because the important part is to be sure there is enough date ratio so the ball holds together well. These are a household favourite now and my kids just love them! They are a great snack to keep in your purse (they snacked on them this morning at the grocery store) with minimal mess!

*If your seeds and/or nuts are salted – you don’t need to add salt to the recipe.

what you need (give or take!):

  • 1 1/4 cup pitted dates
  • 3/4 cup whole almonds
  • 1/2 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
  • 1/3 cup rice crispy cereal
  • 2 tbsp natural peanut butter
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 tsp brown sugar (or coconut sugar)
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 small pinch of salt

what to do:

  1. In a food processor, pulse almonds until quite fine (you can keep it chunkier but it tends to stick better in the ball if it’s smaller). Remove.
  2. In the same processor, pulse pumpkin seeds. Add to almond mixture and combine.
  3. In the same processor, pulse the dates until it forms a ball going around and around – paste like.
  4. In a small pot on medium low, add dates, butter, peanut butter, cinnamon, salt and brown sugar – use a firm spatula or large fork to mash everything together, until evenly combined – then turn off the heat. Add vanilla and stir.
  5. Add about 3/4 of the seed and nut mixture to the date mixture – stir to combine – if it’s still quite sticky and date dominant – add the rest. Add the rice crispies as well – stir and either form balls or press into a 9×9″ square pan for squares.

*if you are making balls – grease your fingertips a little bit with vegetable oil or butter so that they don’t stick to you.

*if you are making squares – make sure they are completely cooled before you slice. a knife dipped in hot water will make the slicing easier.

ENJOY!